Governor’s volunteers to begin gathering signatures

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons said Wednesday that his team of volunteers will begin collecting signatures next week for his petition to require that collective bargaining sessions for public employees be held in public.

Signatures can be collected because a 15-day period allowed for challenging wording of the petition passed a deadline without any challenges being filed, according to the governor.

Stacy Woodbury, Gibbons’ deputy chief of staff, added the administration will create a website and announce next week where the Gibbons’ Open Public Employee Negotiations petitions may be signed and how supporters can acquire petitions.

Woodbury added they intend to use volunteers but hope to raise contributions to hire professional signature gatherers if necessary.

“All around Nevada hundreds of hard-working public servants are losing their jobs because their union leaders will not reopen their contracts and accept salary reductions and benefits adjustments,” said Gibbons in a statement. “We are losing talented government workers to the unemployment rolls. Unions have a stranglehold on local government, and it’s time for that to stop. Collective bargaining involving public funds must be open to the public. Secret back-room deals between public employee unions and state and local governments must stop.”

His petition would require those participating in public employee collective bargaining sessions to follow the open meeting law. That would make them give advance notice and post agendas of all meetings and to include a period when the public ask questions about the negotiations.

The steering committee for the Open Government Initiative has until Nov. 9 to gather 97,002 valid signatures from registered voters to place the petition before the Legislature in 2011. If the Legislature does not adopt the petition, the petition would be placed before voters in the 2012 general election.

This is not the first time Gibbons has circulated petitions. He and wife Dawn successfully circulated petitions to require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature to raise taxes and to require legislators to approve education budgets before all other types of state budgets. The Gibbonses are in the process of getting a divorce.

Besides Gibbons, the steering committee includes former state Sen. Mark Amodei, now chairman of the Nevada Republican Party; former state Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas; and Republican Party Executive Director Cory Adair.

Woodbury said they are confident of Republican support and are trying to secure support from Tea Party advocates.

For further information, contact NVOPENGovernment@att.net. Those without e-mail access can call the governor’s office at 775-684-5670 or send a letter to P.O. Box 4807, Carson City, NV 89702.

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