The City Council today rejected a proposal that would have required hearings on any petitions signed by at least 500 Boston voters.
At-large Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), acting on a proposal by Roxbury activist Jamarhl Crawford, had proposed giving residents the right to "free petition" as a way to increase citizen involvement in government, by getting the council to at least consider ideas important enough to residents to warrant going out and getting 500 people to sign petitions.
She said that officials in other communities in the state that already have such a program do not actually get a lot of such petitions.
But district councilors said they don't want anybody bypassing them in a rush to get something before the council. Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) said he was actually "apathetic" towards the general idea but then said it "cheapens us and it weakens us" because district councilors work hard to stay in touch with their constituents, including getting them hearings on matters of concern to them and that the measure would prove an end run around them.
Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) also opposed the idea but said she would be willing to give it a chance because "this city was born as an experiment in democracy" and that she would not oppose a measure that "opens up the tent" to citizens.
But she added, "I am sure I will be quoted - and it's Lydia with a Y - that the crazies will be let in," should the measure pass.
The council defeated the measure on a voice vote. Council President Andrea Campbell (Dorchester), who also opposed the idea, did not call for a roll-call vote, and Wu did not request one.