Posted by Allentown Area News.
After the voter referendum was stricken down last month, supporters asked city council to approve a referendum placing the water lease on the ballot themselves.
A last-ditch effort to place the proposed Allentown water and sewer lease before the voters failed tonight.
referendum questions originally planned for the May and November
elections were stricken from the ballots last month due to legal
But members of the grassroots committee who
pushed for those referendums appealed to city council tonight to place
the questions on the ballot themselves.
Eichenwald, a vocal opponent of the lease, attempted to do just that by
introducing an ordinance before the seven-person council.
proposal would have required any sale or lease of the city’s water and
sewer facilities be subject to voter approval at the election
immediately following council’s approval of the lease.
ordinance failed before it could even be introduced, as council voted
4-3 against approving a procedural step that would have allowed the law
to be considered. Eichenwald expressed frustration, noting that about 4,500 people signed the petitions for the original voter referendum effort.
was recently asked how I always feel being the one against the six
other council member,” she said. “I don’t feel myself as one in
opposition to six. I see myself as one of the 4,501 in opposition to
The original referendum question was removed from the May
ballot due to conflicts between the Allentown city charter and state
The referendum process as defined by the city
charter was followed: more than twice the required 2,000 signatures were
gathered and submitted on time.
But because the referendum
sought to amend the charter, state law required it to follow other
procedures that were not outlined in the city charter, so the measure
was rejected for noncompliance.
Several members of the original
referendum committee urged council to take action even before Eichenwald
introduced her proposal.
William Hoffman said by failing to do so, council was turning their backs on the voters who signed the original petitions.
got 4,500 signatures and had we had time, we could have gathered twice
that, or three times that, or four times that,” he said.
Ringer noted that three council members who will vote on the lease —
Mota, Glazier and Joe Davis — were appointed by council to vacancies,
not voted in by the public.
“I find it amazing you’re making
probably the most important decision in the history of the city in the
last 100 years, and three of you people weren’t even elected,” Ringer
Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or email@example.com.