City Council votes to begin scanning petitions that want training facility to be put on the ballot

ATLANTA — There are new developments in the Atlanta Public Training Facility.

The Atlanta City Council voted Monday evening to allow the city clerk to begin the process of scanning and publicly posting submitted forms related to the referendum petition.

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Mayor Andre Dickens said on Monday that he supports the action taken by the City Council.

“I fully support the action taken by City Council today. As I have stated before, I support allowing the process to run its course in an open and transparent manner. Like many, I want to know exactly what is in those boxes and this moves us one step closer,” Dickens said in a statement.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was live on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. outside of Atlanta City Hall following the latest developments.

Monday’s council meeting started at 1 p.m. and just before 6 p.m., Councilwoman Liliana Bakhtiari introduced a resolution that would allow the city clerk to start scanning the over 116,000 petitions.

Last week, the clerk accepted the petition that came in the form of several white boxes but didn’t begin verifying them because city officials were not sure if they legally could.

In addition to that, Bakhtiari and Waites tried to draft legislation to get this on the ballot, but found out they didn’t have the authority.

So, on Monday, two council members found a way to move things forward by getting the council to agree to start the scanning process.

“I think we’re all in agreement that we do want the petitions to be counted and seen – and I think that’s where we all are so I prefer we take care of it today,” said Marci Collier Overstreet.


Monday night, Atlanta City Council member Keisha Sean Waites released a statement following the discussion around the Public Safety Training Center. She said the petition process has “lacked integrity” from the beginning.

“The petition process surrounding the recent events has lacked integrity from the beginning. The threat to verify signatures is tantamount to voter suppression. These tactics erode public trust and confidence and cause the voters to tune out and believe that the government does not support or work for them,” said Waites. “Today, I had planned to join my colleague in introducing legislation to allow a referendum vote on the public safety training facility issue. However, I was advised the Council lacks jurisdiction and authority.”

Bakhtiari released a statement saying the council voted unanimously to start the process of scanning over 100,000 petitions.

“Today, the Atlanta City Council voted unanimously, 15-0, to start the process of unsealing and scanning the over 116,000 petitions we received last Monday to put the Atlanta Public Safety Training Facility to a public vote. I am proud to see the Council use its authority to ensure a victory for good government and democracy proponents alike. By directing the City Clerk to immediately unseal, digitize, and disclose the thousands of public signatures submitted by the Cop City Vote Coalition, we are lifting up the voices of the countless volunteers who organized thousands of registered voters to contribute to the future of our community. If we are serious about our City’s civil rights legacy, then this must be the first of many steps from the Council –– including consideration of the City’s immediate withdrawal of their appeal of Judge Mark Cohen’s June 27th injunction. We must give residents of this City a real opportunity to be heard, which starts with the immediate validation of these historic petitions.”

The Atlanta City Council also issued the following statement after approving legislation to begin scanning forms related to the referendum petition and making them available to the public:

“This afternoon, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved legislation directing the Office of the Municipal Clerk to scan and publicly disclose the forms related to the Public Safety Training Center referendum submitted on September 11. Petition-driven ballot initiatives in Georgia are relatively new. The procedural and administrative authority still needs to be settled in state law. From the beginning of this process, we have encouraged organizers to participate through the democratic process, and we have no reason to believe that they have operated in anything but good faith. On multiple occasions, this extraordinary legal process has prevented the public and the Council from moving forward. We recognize that we are in unprecedented times. While we await a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue, the Atlanta City Council acknowledges the public interest in continuing to advance the democratic process. In place of the Municipal Clerk’s legal authority to formally begin validating signatures, it is incumbent upon the city — for the common good — to immediately unseal, digitize, and disclose to the residents of the city of Atlanta — by Friday, September 29 — the contents of the submitted petition boxes.”

—  Atlanta City Council

Editor’s note: Headline and story revised to correct the Atlanta City Council’s action.

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