From the City of Houston:
The petition to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) adopted by City Council in May has fallen short of the City Charter and Texas Election Code requirements for a voter referendum. As a result, the ordinance will not be reconsidered by City Council or placed on the ballot.
The petitioners submitted a total of 5,199 pages of signatures. Based on application of City Charter and state law requirements, only 2,449 pages qualify for consideration. As a result, the number of valid signatures totals 15,249, which is short of the 17,269 signatures required by the Charter.
“The Charter requirements are in place to ensure a fair and legal process, absent of fraud,” said City Attorney David Feldman. “In this instance, there are too many documents with irregularities and problems to overlook. The petition is simply invalid. There is no other conclusion.”
According to the Charter, a valid petition must contain enough signatures of registered voters to at least equal 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last mayoral election. Each signature must be accompanied by the printed name, address, voter registration number or date of birth and the date signed. Anyone who collected signatures must also have personally signed the petition, and have appeared before a notary to acknowledge under oath that the signatures were made in their presence. Thousands of the signatures submitted with the HERO petition failed to meet one or more of these requirements and had to be disregarded. The City utilized a similar process in 1996 when faced with a petition to repeal its Affirmative Action program. However, in the end, that petition still had enough valid signatures to qualify.
“I fully expect the petitioners will want to fight this decision at the courthouse,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “I am confident the courts will agree that the rules set out in our Charter and state law to protect the integrity of the process should be followed and that the results of our review will be upheld. The judicial review will provide additional assurance to the voters that the process has been fair.”