As the Greenfield City Council headed into last night’s regular monthly meeting at the Greenfield High School auditorium, the Safe City Ordinance had been passed the previous month. Since then, two different things had happened:
1. Council Vern Sund (Precinct 1) had filed a motion to reconsider the Council’s July vote to pass the ordinance.
2. A citizens’ petition to rescind the Council’s vote had been filed and certified.
In a series of motions and votes during last night’s meeting, the Council reaffirmed the Safe City Ordinance. However, with the citizens’ petition having been certified, the issue will now be on the ballot in this November’s municipal election.
Opposition to the Safe City Ordinance fell into several categories:
– People worried that the measure would put the city at risk of various forms of federal retribution, e.g., loss of funding, criminal or civil liability, etc.
– People scared that there would be an increase in crime and disease
– People who think that the question should be decided upon by voters, not by the City Council.
There was some cross-over between this last point of objection and Al Norman’s group of French King Highway activists, a number of whom also spoke at last night’s meeting in support of putting the FKH zoning changes on the November ballot even though that topic was not on the agenda. It’s probably the topic of a different post, but the issue of citizen petitions and ballot questions seems like one we have not likely seen the end of.
Supporters of the Safe City Ordinance spoke about the fear-mongering and misinformation that has been spread about immigrants, documented or otherwise, pointing out that crime rates are lower among immigrants than among natural-born U.S. citizens, as is the consumption of public services. Both the public comment and the Council’s discussion/debate touched on the potential economic benefits of increased immigration as well.
In the end, the votes broke down along fairly predictable lines. Councilors Allis (P3), Mass (At Large), Pyfrom (P4), and Sund (P1) generally spoke and voted against the Safe City Ordinance, while Councilors Berson (P2), Dolan (P5), Gilmour (P6), Stempel (At Large), and Wheeler (P7), as well as Council VP Ricketts (At Large) and President Renaud (At Large) spoke and voted in favor. Councilors Mayo (P8) and Hirschfeld (P9) were absent.
Because the citizens’ petition had been certified, the Council vote there was restricted to approving the language of the ballot question.
So now it is on to the November election, in which a Yes vote on the Safe City Ordinance ballot question is to keep the ordinance in place, while a No vote is to rescind the ordinance.