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HERO repeal petitions announcement today

Today’s the day we find out what happens.

The city’s controversial HERO ordinance prohibits discrimination based on federally recognized groups such as race and age, but also extends those rights to sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents of the ordinance led a petition drive to bring the issue to a public vote. It now appears the city attorney will announce whether that petition drive is valid this Friday.

Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein is a longtime city hall observer. He says there are a few possibilities at Friday’s announcement.

“One, of course, is they have enough signatures that have been validated, I think about 17,000. Second option is they don’t have enough and if that’s in contention you might see those who petitioned the city go to court and have them checked,” Stein said.

A third option, Stein says, is that the city attorney could rule the petition inappropriate or ill-timed under ballot initiative law. The city previously used that rationale on the petition to overturn red light cameras but lost that battle in court. Stein says the most likely outcome is that the opponents do have enough signatures to put the ordinance on the November ballot.

Actually, that was the opposite of what happened in the red light camera lawsuit. That referendum was presented as a charter amendment, with the petitions presented well after the 30 day window for repeal. Council voted to put it on the ballot at the urging of Mayor Parker and over the objections of CM Anne Clutterbuck, who argued that it really was a repeal effort and thus invalid. That’s exactly what Judge Lynn Hughes ruled. Here there’s no question this is a repeal effort, and the petitions were submitted within the required time frame. This is not to say that there couldn’t be an issue with timing, or other issues we don’t yet know about. I have no idea what Feldman might pull out of his hat. But we’ll find out soon enough.

Having said that, I do agree that the single most likely outcome is that the number of valid signatures is found to be sufficient, at which point it goes to the ballot. (I’m assuming there’s no Council vote for that.) From there it’s a matter of campaigning and turning out voters. You can see the petitions and their signatures for yourself here, by the way. Note that there are claims about how the signatures were collected that may lead to legal action of some kind, so whatever Feldman has to say, it likely won’t be the final word.

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7 Comments

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    I don’t want to reopen the debate on Red Light Cameras but I do want to say that your legal analysis of what happened with the Red Light Cameras is just wrong. They lost in court and the Charter Amendment stands.

  2. Souperman says:

    I see that the records, as they are presented, have not been checked for if they are actually in Houston (I found a non-struck voter who is quite clearly a West University Place resident); it will be interesting to see once they are digitized and can be sorted how many are invalidated that way.

  3. Paul kubosh says:

    You think since the mayor is putting the signatures from the referendum on the internet (which I approve of) she can also put the signatures of the food charter on the internet?

  4. Noel Freeman says:

    Paul – you can always post them yourself. All you have to do is request copies under the Texas Public Information Act from Anna Russell. HEROpetition.com uses Scrib to host them, which is a free or inexpensive service.

  5. Paul kubosh says:

    Noel..did the city post them or some private entity?

  6. Paul kubosh says:

    Thanks noel…I am guilty of being lazy. It appears that a private entity posted the petitions. Thank you for the clarification. I still think you should have went with me on the rlc charter. :)

  7. Norman says:

    The haters ain’t gonna like this. A database of anti-HERO petition signers is now available online. Kudos to Towleroad for the heads-up.

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