New group challenges Hometown Democracy
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09/12/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

A movement to require voter approval of land-use changes has drawn some organized opposition.

The Hometown Democracy group needs to get 609,000 signatures turned into the Florida’s Secretary of State’s office by the end of this year to get the amendment proposal on the ballot next year.

Currently, organizers say they have close to 500,000 signatures, with 330,000 of those officially counted by the Secretary of State’s office.

But a new group called Save Our Constitution has been sending letters to petition signers urging them to revoke their signatures, the St. Petersburg Times reported today.

If approved, the amendment would let voters approve or deny changes to local long-term land use plans that require zoning.

But powerful developers want to make sure the initiative never gets on the ballot.

Save Our Constitution was formed with the express purpose of exploiting a new law that went into effect last month allowing groups to solicit voters who signed petitions.

Leslie Blackner is one of the organizers behind the Florida Hometown Democracy. The organization filed suit last month to try to get the new law thrown out.

The suit also argues that it is unfair for the state to require election supervisors to provide revocation forms to voters when there is no requirement to provide the petitions themselves.

Opponents of the Hometown Democracy amendment aren’t just challenging signatures on petitions, they’re also collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment that would allow for citizen referendums.

But there’s a catch.

The group Floridians For Smart Growth would require the signatures of 10 percent of the local electorate before a vote could be conducted – and those signatures could only be collected at the Supervisor of Elections office – and it would supercede any other growth control amendment on the ballot.

Blackner says she has seen the letters sent out to citizens who have signed petitions for her amendment; and she says she’s disgusted by them.

The letters are signed by John Thrasher, the former Florida Speaker of the House.

Blackner says the opposition is proving the adage if you can’t beat the message, destroy the messenger.

We hope to hear from the group Save Our Constitution and air their views on a future broadcast.

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