County, petitioners at odds

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Staff to recommend that council reject amendment election

By Roger Snodgrass

County officials and reformers will face off this weekend on the fate of two petitions facilitating citizen participation in the local government. One calls for an annual election related to county expenditures and the other proposes reforms to the petition and ballot process.

Los Alamos County Council meets in special session Saturday morning at 10 a.m. to discuss the two amendments to the County Charter. They may then decide whether or not to put them to a vote.

The petitioners say they are trying to reform county government with better checks and balances and provide more direct citizen participation in the decision making process.

At a meeting on Jan. 5, council certified that there were sufficient signatures on the two petitions to qualify for an election.

According to the staff reports for Saturday’s meeting, County Attorney Mary McInerny will argue that the petitions are not legal under state law and should not go to a vote.

McInerny said Friday that the plural items within the two proposed amendments create a legal problem known as “logrolling,” which has to do with joining more than one issue in an election, so that it isn’t clear that voters would approve both questions if they were presented separately.

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