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Petition drive to “can the ban”

The backlash against New Braunfels’ ban on disposable containers on the rivers has begun.

The New Braunfels “Can the Ban” petition drive, up and running days after the City Council banned disposable containers on the city’s rivers, slowed to a crawl Tuesday when it ran into state election laws and confusing government databases.

The citywide coalition, which has been collecting signatures for five days in an 11th hour effort to force a November referendum on the ban, could turn in only 600 names.

Backers reached out to angry residents in offices, at their homes, in bars, and at drive-by locations in shopping center parking lots. They had gathered more than 2,000 names by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline for the first petitions.

But less than a third of those names could be verified as registered New Braunfels voters, said Mark McGonigal, owner of NB Media, the print shop serving as the movement’s hub.

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State law gave the ban’s opponents a small window in which to operate. They’ll need the signatures of 5 percent of the town’s voters to make the ballot. The group says it has an ultimate goal of 2,500 names, which would provide a cushion in case some names are thrown out.

The law also allows organizers to accumulate more names in the next few weeks. McGonigal says they’ll turn in another 600 names early Wednesday.

Apparently, a lot of the people who have been eager to sign the petition are visitors, which is both not surprising and not helpful to the effort. This article from Tuesday has some more information about the organization.

Organized primarily via a Facebook page that drew support from 2,500 users in less than 36 hours, the group was in the middle of counting names late Monday.

Using slogans such as Can the Ban, Yes We Cans and Let Us Decide, the group is a wide-ranging coalition of people who own and work for merchants and tourist-based businesses, as well as others who say the council overstepped bounds with last week’s vote.

Organizers consulted an attorney and election officials and learned, late last week, that they need to turn some petitions in by late today to get on the November ballot.

They held petition drives at local stores and bars over the weekend. The law requires that the petition contain names of 5 percent of the town’s registered voters.

Here’s the Facebook page, and here’s the website of the petition movement. I don’t have a strong opinion about this either way, I’m just interested in seeing how this plays out. Given that there has been a successful recall effort against a New Braunfels City Council member who had previously spearheaded new river regulations, I would not bet against these guys.

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