Online petition to have little effect on cellphone ban

Last week's vote by the Amarillo City Commissioners to ban cell phone use while driving is still a hot button topic this week. A new petition has been posted online to try and make the commission reverse its decision, allowing voters to have the final say.

But even though that petition is getting some signatures, they may not be valid, because the creator is not following the instructions set for in the city charter.

You'll recall last week, by a 4 to 1 vote, City Commissioners followed suit of other cities by banning the use of wireless communication devices while driving.

Over the weekend, the website, "Go petition" posted a page where anyone can sign their names, asking commissioners to reverse their decision and evidently, turn this issue over to voters.

"The city commission can do what the petition is requesting to do away with the ordinance it's referring to but they'll still have to get it on the ballot. The commission does not have to do it, because it has to be done in the way the city charter sets it," according to city secretary, Donna DeRight.

After the initial 5 people register as the initiative committee, they have approximately 6 months to gather the signatures needed to present their case. According to the city charter, that's close to 4,000 signatures.

"They have to get 25% of the number of the registered voters for the last election. that number is needed and they bring it to me and we can verify the signatures and then it goes to the city commission if they have the signatures," said DeRight.

Once those names have been verified, it can be presented, but in this case there are two potential problems. First, the petition if reversed can not go before voters until 2013.

"There's not enough time to get it on the November ballot, it's too soon, so it will have to be next year," according to DeRight.

And even though the website shows more than 250 signatures, they're not valid, since no one has bothered to register as the initiative committee, as is required by the city.

"As far as (the online petition), it can make a statement that they don't like it, but the commission does not have to act on it since it has to be done in the way the charter says," said DeRight.

We asked her, "As of now, no one has contacted you?"

She responded, "No one."

We left an email for the petition's author, a "David D" requesting an on camera interview. As of the time of this posting, "David D" has not contacted the KVII newsroom.