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City’s petition stance not final chapter

Posted: November 23, 2011 3:53 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2011 5:00 a.m.

I appreciate this opportunity to inform the thousands of Camdenites who are interested in the progress with the referendum, what occurred at the Council meeting Tuesday morning. As expected, the plan for the Camden Sports Complex was the grandiose reveal on the agenda. But another great surprise came in a revelation from Mr. Cushman (city attorney) advising Mayor Graham and Council Members that the initiative petition calling for a referendum had not been presented according to State Code. Well, I should say his interpretation of State Code.

My colleagues and I acted on advice to present the certification of the petition to Council. The State Code does not mandate that the signed pages of the petition be presented. The petition wording is the petition, according to one opinion. Certification was correctly executed by a neutral agency -- the Kershaw County Election Commission. Once certification is presented to Council, it is up to them to involve the Municipal Election Commission. Had we done that, it would have been improper, as only the city Council can convene the Municipal Election Commission. I could go on and on about “interpretation” and “opinion,” but in this instance, we will agree that we have no choice but to honor Mr. Cushman’s opinion and move forward, as we are players, not rule-makers.

Immediately following the Council meeting, I attempted to find out exactly what the City’s terms of procedure are. I met with both Mr. Bronson (city manager) and Mr. Cushman, not to seek legal advice or opinion, but to simply try to discover the ground rules so we can play.

Neither of them was forthcoming with information on procedure. Both parroted “I work for the City, not you,” in refusing to provide guidance. In referencing the State Code, Mr. Cushman went so far as to say “If you can’t read, then get legal advice,” just after informing me that he “did not have an open door policy.”

Attempts to reach Mayor Graham resulted in a message from his secretary to schedule a meeting next week, which I have done.

Every attempt has been made by my colleagues and myself to represent the petition signees with integrity and honor. We have taken the high road, been respectful and accommodating to the best of our abilities. I admit that today I was challenged with Mr. Bronson and Mr. Cushman, and may owe an apology if I was testy. But I don’t tolerate rudeness very well, and I am growing weary of the games the city employees are playing. All I can do, at this point, is reassure all of you that I will stay the course. Please do not give up hope. Thank you.

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