Blogs

Board Meeting – This Thursday 11/16 in Oakland

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RECYCLING ASSOCIATION

BOARD MEETING – THURS November 16, 2017

Location: John Moore’s Office, 1970 Broadway St, Oakland, CA 94612

Food served at 6 pm; meeting begins at 6:30 pm.

Open to the public – all welcome to attend. Please RSVP to the NCRA Office if you wish to attend.

Draft Meeting Agenda

Reusable Plastic – Who Says So?

By Arthur R. Boone, Center For Recycling Research and Total Recycling Associates

Several years ago I started collecting so-called reusable plastic bags from the streets of Oakland and Berkeley. I eventually turned them into a string for a hula-type skirt with 100+ bags on the string. I have worn this bag-ban item on several occasions and if any NCRA member would like to use it for their own educational efforts; let me know. ARB”

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Should This Genie Be Let Out Of The Bottle?

Should electronic signatures be allowed to count to place initiatives on the statwide ballot?

By John Douglas Moore, co-chair NCRA Zero Waste Advocacy Committee

Feedback invited: jmoore@recyclelaw.com

California has a citizen form of government. Its citizens may pass laws (initiatives), strike down laws that have been passed (referenda), and remove from office those lawmakers passing offensive laws. (recall). California also has a recycling-friendly electorate- witness the defeat of the plastic bag business on the two referenda against bag bans in 2016. Closer to home, Alameda County Measure D with its 75% diversion mandate, landfill surcharge, and agency creation (Stopwaste) passed with over 60 % of the vote in 1990.

There is big catch to the idea of placing a statewide initiative on the ballot: To place a statewide initiative on the ballot one must collect 365,880 (5% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election) signatures “personally affixed” by registered voters and witnessed by a “circulator” of the petition collecting the signatures.

Big business can place initiatives and referenda on the ballot because they can pay signature gatherers the market rate per signature, a cost in millions of dollars. Plastic bag makers, waste haulers and landfill owners, and beverage manufacturers and distributors all have the resources to put laws before the voters. In many situations it is all the opponents can do to fight against initiative and referenda, leaving those opponents so tapped of energy and resources that they cannot fight to pass laws they support. Last year’s Proposition 67 battle is a good example. Outspent by many millions of dollars, the recycling community including NCRA and CAW mounted an effective campaign to keep California’s plastic bag ban. But proposing a statewide law itself- say banning disposal of organic material at landfill, or constructing a new bottle bill that works- is too much to contemplate, mainly the required 365,880 signatures. (585,045 signatures to pass a Constitutional amendment).

But what if the signature gathering process was made easier? In the Twitter age is it too arcane to require “wet” signatures witnessed by a circulator. Can’t the internet be used to equalize the strength of opponents as it does it many ways already?

In 2011 a California Court of Appeals held in Ni v. Slocum that an e-signature drawn on a smartphone could not be counted towards the requisite number of votes in a county-wide (San Mateo County) initiative campaign to legalize marijuana. No California appellate court has taken up the issue since. One Utah court decision before Ni and one West Virginia court decision following Ni have held electronic signatures to be adequate for electoral purposes. Each Court examined the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act that was adopted by both states and California that gives e-signatures the same binding effect as wet signatures.

The Court in Ni found that the UETA did not supplant a more specific provision of the state Elections Code that does not provide for e-signatures. The Court also held that the state statutory requirement of a circulator to witness the signature of the registered voter negated the validity of e-signatures obtained on the internet and not through circulators. The Court further pointed out that a law to permit e-signatures to be used on electoral documents was passed by the state Legislature in 1997-98 only to be vetoed by then Governor Pete Wilson. Perhaps it will be technically possible in the future to satisfy the need for a “circulator” of petitions collecting signatures. Since the Ni decision is hostile to the very idea of sanctioning judicially the collection of signatures on the internet, it seems doubtful that a technology change rather than a law change would change the result in Ni. A non-profit, Electronic Signature Records Association and a for-profit technology vendor, Verafirma, are active in this field.

So Zero Waste advocates frustrated with the mills of the Legislature grinding slowly (if ever they grind at all)[1] could focus on legalizing the use of e-signatures to place statewide initiatives. The Legislature could again be convinced to pass such a law with the idea that Governor Brown would not veto it. The issue of permitting e-signatures itself could be made the subject of a statewide initiative. These pathways would require massive energy and time.

Which leads to the question- would this even be a good idea? Making the process to pass new laws easier for positions that one likes also makes it easier for positions one does not like. Look how many votes our current President received. Would letting this genie out of the bottle make for not a citizen government but for a CocaCola Government or a Waste Management government?

The political commentator, Kathleen Moore, says that “Our technology is moving faster than our morality”

I solicit your views.

[1] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HELP STEER CALIFORNIA TOWARDS ZERO WASTE! JOIN THE NCRA BOARD!

Be at the heart of a thought-leading recycling organization! NCRA has been a leader in zero waste thinking for almost 40 years and is still leading and inspiring innovation in our industry. You can help develop the cutting edge of recycling, while getting to know many of your regional recycling colleagues, by serving on the Board of Directors.

Five (5) Board positions will be open in January. It’s a two-year working post. Attendance at nearly all ten meetings a year is important, as is working between meetings on at least one committee. Meetings move around the greater Bay Area. Phone participation is possible at some locations, but not all, and may be especially difficult at tour sites. Directors discuss policy issues, hear debates, and influence regional and national recycling thinking. They track and comment on legislation; listen to leaders in the regional industry; work on behalf of colleagues who need a boost; tackle issues that can’t be ignored; tour facilities; and talk business with operators. Benefits include free entrance to the annual Recycling Update.

Notify NCRA staff by NOVEMBER 17, 2017 that you want to run.  To run, tell us you’re a candidate, and then submit a campaign statement of up to 200 words. Say who you are and why you’d like to serve. Please include your LinkedIn profile link. PLEASE read last years statements.

Help build your industry! Have fun with your colleagues! Get your statement in!