Hold Our Representatives Responsible

RECEIVED Tue., May 23, 2006

Dear Editor,
    In his May 19 column ["Point Austin," News], Michael King notes that when you entered the voting booth to vote on Prop. 6, the recent domestic partner insurance proposal, “you knew precisely what you were voting for or against.” Come again? Prop. 6 read, “Shall the City Charter be amended to restore a city employee’s ability to purchase additional benefit coverage, by repealing Article IX, Section 4 (Employee Benefits) of the City Charter?” Where in that language would a voter without any background knowledge on the matter divine that expanding benefits to “domestic partners” of city employees was what was at stake under that proposed amendment? A similar hide-the-ball effort was made in the ballot language for Prop. 5, where an increase in the contribution limit for council elections was proposed, without any specifics on the amount of the increase. As any pollster will tell you, it’s all in how you ask the question, and clearly the council played politics in the wording of more than just Props. 1 and 2. Whether we’d be better served in the future with an independent panel or task force crafting ballot language is an open question, but let’s at least hold our elected representatives to account when they are less than forthright with the voters.
Christopher Bell
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