Streetcar Referendum Petitioners Plan New Strategy to Gather Required Signatures
Data was presented indicating that the current effort will fall short of the goal.
CRG Network hosted a meeting of top petition circulators to review petition performance data and gather input and ideas for collecting the 31,800 signatures required to force a binding referendum on construction of the proposed downtown streetcar and any future expansions.
Data was presented indicating that the current effort will fall short of the goal of 35,000 signatures by approximately 5000 signatures. A more detailed examination of signature collection patterns coupled with first-hand reports from top circulators on conditions at the street level pointed to weather that brought “historic cold” and bitterly low wind-chills as the primary factor affecting the key metrics of total circulators, total number of circulation person-days, and ultimately, total signatures collected. A lengthy discussion and debate produced three options.
1. “Roll” the petition drive additional days past March 5th to add signature gained during the projected warmer weather to offset the fewer signatures collected during the first days of the drive that would be lost. It was statistically determined that the drive could not roll forward more than 12 days in order to maintain the large number of signatures collected on January 17th which, not coincidentally, was a 42 degree Saturday.
2. End the current petition drive and restart it at a later date to take advantage of warmer weather, longer daylight hours, more events where large numbers of Milwaukeeans congregate, and the opportunity to do more advance planning.
3. Abandon direct legislation as a strategy to force the voice of the people to be heard and rely on other mechanisms such as potential legal challenges to the streetcar project.
After considerable deliberation, Option 2 to restart the petition drive at a later date was unanimously selected. Planning is to begin immediately to select dates, establish infrastructure and logistics, and raise awareness.
CRG spokesperson Chris Kliesmet commented, “It became both statistically and anecdotally clear that the brutally cold weather conditions limited both the number of circulators and their length of the time in the field. Those that were able to brave the cold had no trouble collecting hundreds of signatures and in one case over 1500 signatures. In the end, restarting the petition drive at a time when the weather is more cooperative was an easy call for the petitioners to make and one that CRG had no trouble endorsing. Longer daylight hours, more ‘high density’ collection events, and, from CRG’s perspective, more time for planning are also helpful.”
For more information contact CRG Network Executive Administrator Chris Kliesmet at 414-429-9501 or Field Operations Director Orville Seymer at 414-573-8709.
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