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If you admire Donald Trump, voting for the Charter Amendments is the thing to do.
They will make it harder for citizens to influence the vast building program of the county government, which has included the Municipal Building, Justice Center, White Rock Fire Station, Visitor Center, attempts at a Civic Center with internet café, a Bypass Road to the ski hill, and innumerable roundabouts. Trump would not be dismayed to learn that our building costs are about twice the national average ($400 vs. $200 per square foot).
The county government suggests that citizens can make their voices heard at public meetings, but hardly anyone wants to participate. Better tests of public opinion are the ballot box and petitions.
However, the purpose of the Charter Amendments is to make it hard for citizens to petition. This purpose is concealed in the proposed amendments within language about clarifying the Charter, and in letters, advertisements and columns in our newspaper.
What is written can be totally misleading.
A story in the June 13 Los Alamos Monitor quoted John Hopkins, who stated that five attorneys gave opinions that there is no logrolling in the amendments.
He did not mention that four out of five opinions were oral, leaving no real record. Nor that one opinion was actually by an author of the amendments, another by her husband. One oral opinion was by an acting county attorney, now departed. The sole written opinion was by a county employee, but it discussed only minutiae.
The really essential issue is that there are two programs involved in the amendments. The first involves attempts at clarification, which are pretty much superficial. The second program severely restricts petitions by increasing the number of excluded subjects, the number of signatures required and reducing the allowed time.
This second program is artfully concealed in letters of support and in the ballots. This is actually what laws against logrolling are concerned with, getting votes by manipulating the voters.
County overbuilding is what the amendments are actually defending, but the Charter Review Committee has duped the public with a red herring, claiming clarification.
Fight manipulation, vote AGAINST all 4 Charter Amendments.
P.S. I am greatly indebted to Councilor Stover for making it possible to unravel the statement by John Hopkins quoted above, with the gracious cooperation of County Attorney Ehler. Their efforts were made in response to a P.S. in my previous letter of Oct. 17, reporting that the county had informed me that the opinions of Hopkins’ five attorneys were not available because of attorney/client privilege.