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New petition misleading

Posted: January 19, 2012 11:31 a.m.
Updated: January 20, 2012 5:00 a.m.

We were under the impression that the new petition being circulated regarding the Camden Sports Complex was a petition for a referendum. After all, the motto of the petition effort is “Let the People Decide.” An analysis of the petition website frames it in a similar way. Indeed, the name chosen for the petition group is the “Camden Recreation Referendum Coalition,” and the reason given for creating the organization is to present Camden’s City Council with a petition requesting a binding referendum to allow the registered voters of Camden to choose between supporting this project or not supporting it. 

 However, all of the above is in stark contrast to the actual petition language people are being asked to sign.  This language presents an ordinance to flat out stop any further spending or planning of the sports complex and to establish a commission to propose “alternative plans.” The text even goes into great detail dictating how this commission should be designed. If the ordinance is not accepted by the council, only then does the petition language state that it should be put to a vote. Therefore, as clearly stated on the petition, the first and foremost intent of this petition is not to propose a referendum, but rather to stop the sports complex as proposed by council and as operated by the YMCA. The ordinance would only “let the people decide” if the petitioners don’t get to decide in the first place. This makes an actual referendum only a secondary goal, at best. While this type of language and position may be required for an ordinance that would lead to a referendum, the ordinance is clearly against the proposed project.

 When our group was first organized, we believed the new petition was for a referendum. This caused us not to form a position on the referendum because our goal remained the same either way. However, this new petition is clearly against the effort to build the sports complex, and as already stated, we support the sports complex.  By default, this means that we do not support the petition effort. We respect the opinions of anyone who signs this petition. Many of them are our dear friends and lifelong acquaintances, and we intend to keep it that way despite our different positions on this issue. However, we do not think it is a good idea to let 700 people decide what is best for the 7,000 people who live in this city. We have elected representatives for that purpose, and we hope they continue to move forward with this effort to enrich the Camden community.

The full petition text is available at www.CamdenfortheY.com under “About the Petition.”

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