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Supporters of a referendum to require Camden employers to disclose large companies to release the number of local residents they hire gather at city hall. (Photo: Camden We Choose Coalition).

Camden group asks judge to order referendum on ballot

Coalition seeks vote to force Camden businesses to reveal hiring practices

By David Wildstein, July 22 2022 7:05 pm

A coalition of Camden activists have filed a lawsuit to force a vote on a proposed referendum that would require large companies in the city to reveal how many local residents they hire.

The ordinance being offered for a vote is aimed at lessening “the well-known glom and economic misery in Camden” and is seeking to help potential employees learn “which employers are willing to hire Camden residents for fair pay.”

The city clerk, Luis Pastoriza, rejected a petition with 1,422 signatures.  The lawsuit says that Pastoriza lacked the legal authority to deny the referendum.

In court filings, the group claims that “citizens enjoy the right to function as lawmakers, through the statutory process of initiative and referendum.”

“The decision of the citizen lawmakers about the benefits of this ordinance cannot be second-guessed by either the City Clerk nor the courts,” said the attorney for the group, Flavio Komuves. “The people can propose regulatory ordinances on any topic that is reasonably related to furthering public health, safety or welfare.  Here, the people are making real efforts at reducing Camden’s unemployment and economic misery –  something that elected officials have failed to do for decades.”

The organizers said that one a petition is first filed – in this case on June 21 – the city council has 60 days to pass the proposed ordinance or allow the voters to decide in the next election.

The Camden We Choose Coalition, which is supporting the initiative, includes the Camden Parents Union, the New Jersey Working Families Party, and Watu Moja, a social justice advocacy group.

The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Mark Chase, a former first assistant Camden County Prosecutor who worked at worked at the politically-connected law firm of Liebling Malamut before Gov Chris Christie nominated him to the bench in 2017.

A hearing is set for August 3.

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