Voters in a democracy should always get the final say. A recent poll indicates that 76% of those asked believed that the voters should have been allowed to weigh in on whether public dollars should be spent on the Howard Terminal project that would create a new home for the Oakland A’s. Twelve thousand people signed a petition to encourage our City Council to put the question to the voters as to whether any public monies — local, state or federal — should be used to build the stadium, affordable housing or to finance infrastructure in an around the Howard Terminal site. The City Council rejected this reasonable request, and it makes us wonder, “Why?”
Why would the Mayor and the City Council be reluctant to hear from the voters, even if it was a “non-binding” vote? A representative democracy requires that we listen to the will of the people.
Lots of measures have been approved by the Council for voter approval over the years — a set aside for youth services, a progressive business tax, publicly financed elections, bond measures to finance improvements at Lake Merritt — just to name a few examples.
Some argued that it would be confusing for voters. Some argued that the extra time required would delay the project to the point that it might not happen.