Camden group ask judge to order referendum on ballot
A coalition of Camden activists have taken legal action to force a vote on a proposed referendum that would force big businesses in the city to reveal how many local residents they are hiring.
The proposed order for a vote aims to alleviate “the well-known glom and economic misery in Camden” and seeks to help potential employees know “which employers are willing to hire Camden residents for fair pay”.
City clerk Luis Pastoriza rejected a petition with 1,422 signatures. The lawsuit says Pastoriza did not have the legal authority to refuse the referendum.
In documents filed in court, the group says “citizens have the right to function as lawmakers, through the statutory process of initiative and referendum.”
“The decision of the citizen legislators on the benefits of this ordinance cannot be questioned by either the city clerk or the courts,” said class attorney Flavio Komuves. “The people may propose regulatory orders on any subject reasonably related to the promotion of public health, safety or welfare. People here are making real efforts to reduce Camden’s unemployment and economic misery – something elected officials have failed to do in decades.
Organizers said once a petition is first filed – in this case on June 21 – the city council has 60 days to pass the proposed ordinance or allow voters to decide in the next election. .
The Camden We Choose Coalition, which supports the initiative, includes the Camden Parents Union, the New Jersey Working Families Party and Watu Moja, a social justice advocacy group.
The case was assigned to Superior Court Judge Mark Chase, a former Camden County first assistant district attorney who worked at the politically connected law firm of Liebling Malamut before Gov. Chris Christie appointed him to the bench in 2017.
A hearing is set for August 3.