At the July 23 Livermore City Council meeting, a letter to the State Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee supporting SB 47 was unanimously approved. The measure requires individuals who are asked to sign state or local initiatives, referendums or recall petitions to be provided with information about the committees and/or funders paying for the measures. Their names should be attached to the document. Councilmembers also unanimously agreed to craft a separate letter supporting AB 1451, making it a misdemeanor to pay a signature collector based on the number of signatures collected.

Mayor John Marchand asked Christine Martin, Deputy City Manager, if it were possible to craft a local ordinance to do both what SB 47 and AB 1451 were proposing. Martin replied that staff would return with information concerning those possibilities.

Councilmember Bob Coomber said he just wanted to see truth and transparency, and names that people can refer to and understand exactly, as if there were an agenda from those backing the initiative.

Referring to an initiative organized by the big tobacco company, JUUL, Councilmember Bob Woerner stated, “Transparency is really important since right now we’ve got another big funded organization paying the same signature gatherers.” He noted that previously the council had been accused of “being in the pocket of big developers like Eden Housing”. Now with the JUUL initiative, the signature gatherers “are saying we’re in the pockets of big tobacco.”

Councilmember Trish Munro said, “I used to think the initiative process was put into place to give people a voice and to give them a way to participate in democracy in a more direct way.” She continued, “I now realize that wasn’t the case. The more money and the more signature gatherers you could pay, the more this process had been corrupted and perverted by big money in one way or another. We need to have some accountability.”

Vice Mayor Robert Carling stated, “More information is better for everybody.” He added, “I am not sure that putting the names of the backers is going to change the attitudes of the people trying to get signatures.”