Place Parks and Libraries as Separate Referendum Questions on the November 2018 Ballot.

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STOP DELAYS, INCREASING COSTS: Place Parks and Libraries as Separate Referendum Questions on the November 2018 Ballot.

This petition is for two purposes:

(1) to give citizens a CHOICE to vote for or against issuing Dorchester County bonds to construct parks and libraries as SEPARATE questions in an upcoming November 2018 referendum, and, by doing that,

(2) to stop increasing costs and time delays caused by the lawsuit pending in the SC Supreme Court challenging the failure of County Council to have allowed citizens a CHOICE to vote on parks and libraries as SEPARATE questions in a previous November 2016 referendum.

According to an opinion of the SC Attorney General dated September 30, 2016, it was illegal for County Council to have combined the parks and libraries issues into one question in the referendum in 2016, based on legal precedents and public policies. Despite knowing this, Council went forward and allowed the referendum combining the two issues into one question. Both issues passed, but because they were combined, no one knows if one of the issues passed only because it was combined with the other issue and voters were not allowed to vote on the issues separately.

Plaintiffs have appealed to the Supreme Court because they know that if Council can combine two issues – parks and libraries – into one referendum question, they can combine many issues in the future, and there will be no limit to the number of issues Council can combine into one question in the future, thereby ensuring that an issue that would never pass on its own merits might pass merely because it is linked with another issue that a majority of voters do support.

Council claims that the appeal to the Supreme Court is holding up construction of the parks and libraries. However, that is not entirely true, because Council itself held up and is continuing to hold up the issuance of the bonds. Council could have conducted the referendum in Nov 2016 properly by separating the questions, but did not do so. Council has the power now to put the parks and libraries issues on the ballot as separate referendum questions in the November 2018 election only six months from now, but has not done so. If Council puts the two issues on the Nov 2018 ballot as separate questions, bonds immediately could be issued for whichever issues – parks, libraries, or both -- receive a favorable majority in that election. Council has the power to stop the delays caused by the Supreme Court appeal by holding a new referendum in November 2018 on the two issues separately, and should do so.

Why does Council not do that? Why did Council not put the two issues as separate questions in the Nov 2016 referendum? The answer is obvious. Based on our information, Council did not allow citizens to vote on the two issues separately in November 2016 and are not allowing the same in a November 2018 referendum because they fear, with justification, that one or both of the issues may not pass if voted on separately. Further, Council wants to establish the precedent of combining those two issues into one referendum question so they can combine many more issues together in referenda to tax us in the future.

We, the citizens of Dorchester County, would like to see the parks and libraries bond issues voted on in the upcoming November 2018 election as separate issues, so those questions can be decided the correct way - by giving voters a choice of accepting or rejecting one or both issues separately – once and for all, and to stop further delays and increasing costs by allowing the parks and/or libraries bonds to be issued without further delay if a majority votes for parks and/or libraries in the November 2018 election. Council members should not claim they want to stop the delays of parks and libraries if they are unwilling to stop the delays by putting the two questions on the November 2018 ballot separately, as they are empowered to do.

To give voters a choice and to stop delays and increasing interest and construction costs, We, the citizens of Dorchester County, URGE County Council to place parks and libraries as separate questions on the November 2018 ballot. Our County was not given the choice of voting for Parks and Libraries separately, and was forced to vote for one even if we did not support the other in order to obtain the one we support. That is neither fair nor legal, and we ask County Council to correct its error by allowing a vote on the questions separately in the November 2018 election.

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