Green space proposal gets education campaign

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published September 25, 2013

ROCHESTER HILLS — City officials want to make sure voters are not confused about an upcoming green space ballot proposal.

All registered voters will receive two pieces of mailed educational information about the proposal, which will come before voters on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

“This is not advocacy, yes or no,” Rochester Hills City Council President Greg Hooper said. “It is simply educational.”

In 2005, voters passed a green space millage to generate funds for protecting and preserving green space areas in the city.

The city’s Green Space Advisory Board provides guidance and recommendations for use of the millage funds. The board wants to expand the use for stewardship designed to protect, care and maintain those green spaces, and the ballot proposal addresses the matter.

By a unanimous vote Sept. 16, City Council approved spending $12,500 of budgeted city funds for the educational materials addressing the ballot proposal.

“A number of times, the city has provided educational information in connection with ballot proposals,” City Attorney John Staran said. “They are carefully vetted to make sure the city is acting in compliance with the campaign finance law, which says that no public dollars or resources should be expended to advocate for or against any candidate or proposal. It is permissible to put forth material that is factual, fair, neutral and objective. There can be an art to doing that, but that is the requirement. Anything that goes over the edge or is unbalanced is something that we need to stay away from.”

In 2012, the City Council approved $25,000 to conduct an educational campaign for a police funding ballot proposal.

Council member Michael Webber said educational materials are not always needed for ballot proposals.

“This green space — it is probably not the easiest thing to comprehend,” Council member Michael Webber said. “I don’t think we should make a practice of doing this every single time. If it is a straight-forward issue, we certainly don’t need to do it.”