On Tuesday, December 27, representatives of the Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento campaign submitted petitions to the Sacramento City Clerk with more than 49,000 signatures of Sacramento voters calling for a vote on a ballot measure to require fair and open competition for construction contracts of the City of Sacramento. The campaign needed to submit 32,230 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the city ballot in 2012.
Article 2 of the California Constitution gives voters of cities and counties the right to exercise initiative powers. Article 2 begins with the statement that “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”
Unions and their political friends hold this right of the people in contempt.
During the six-month campaign to put the Fair and Open Competition charter amendment on the ballot, signature gatherers were repeatedly harassed and physically assaulted by individuals with apparent ties to local construction unions. Eleven reports were filed with the Sacramento police in response to these incidents. An article in the December 22 Sacramento News & Review reports on union operatives gloating about getting a signature gatherer removed from a public area. In addition, advertisements sponsored by a construction union front group during the summer claimed to listeners of news and talk radio that their identify could be stolen if they signed petitions to place measures on the ballot. Governor Brown signed a bill (Senate Bill 202) that requires initiatives to be on the November ballot, apparently based on the idea that the union political machine will be more effective in the November 2012 election than in the June 2012 election. Finally, Governor Brown signed a last-minute gut-and-amend bill in September (Senate Bill 922) that nullified Fair and Open Competition policies for counties and general law cities (where the state legislature has full authority over contracting policies). This bill derailed the simultaneous signature-gathering campaign for a Fair and Open Competition charter amendment for the County of Sacramento.
Note that these incidents occurred in California, not in Venezuela.
As a charter city, Sacramento is able to establish its own contracting policies for city construction, so the governor and the legislature were unable to use their new anti-democratic law to suppress the will of the people there. If the enthusiasm of the public for signing these petitions is a reliable indicator, politicians in the City of Sacramento will soon lose their coercive power to force construction contractors to sign costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with union leaders for proposed projects such as the $387 million arena for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team. Taxpayers will get the best quality work at the best price.