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On Wednesday, May 9, the county council passed a record 21 ordinances, 598 through 618 in 4 hours. These were not just any ordinances; these were proposed rewrites of entire sections of your county charter, some of which drastically change your rights as a Los Alamos voter!
How did they do it? They rolled them together and passed them in four groups like a bad piece of pastry, also a first for our county.
Wait, aren’t ordinances, especially ones that introduce new legislation to voters, supposed to be considered separately? Well, yes, unless you want to speed up the process by leaps and bounds and save space on a ballot. Save space on a ballot? Yes, that was the main reason given by County Attorney Brian James for presenting ordinances in this new manner. It will also mean that since the ordinances were bundled into four packages, you the voter will only have to read four ballot items in November.
Won’t those ballot items be very lengthy with 4-6 ordinances for charter change contained in each one? No, because you don’t get to READ the full text of the charter changes on the ballot. The council can also use a 2010 charter change about the publication of ordinances that we voters passed as part of another set of “bundled” ballot questions. That means council can now officially summarize the proposed charter change in publication.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the exact changes will be? Yes, but plan well ahead of the election for that, and do your research. There will be copies available somewhere on the county’s website, at the county clerk’s office, and at the November polling station. The ordinances were also published in the May 22 Monitor. Exact charter changes will also be available to view from the home page at www.lagri.org and by writing to email@example.com, where you will also find information on LAGRI petitions formally requesting council to separate the ordinances properly on the ballot. Please sign the petitions and remember the advice from the Municipal League on charters and charter changes: “When in Doubt, Vote it Out;’’ undoing a charter change is almost impossible.