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The Los Alamos Monitor reports that the “search for county attorney commences.” The candidate must, according to the first item on their list of qualifications, provide advice and counsel on topics that include development and interpretation of county ordinances and policies.
In the county council meeting of Feb. 28, county attorney Brian James likened logrolling to fraud and said that his office would never recommend putting a logrolling ballot proposal before the voters, and this was so reported in the Los Alamos Monitor.
The logrolling issue has been around since former County Attorney Mary McInerney introduced it in connection with the LAGRI petitions. But those concerned have not bothered to define logrolling, except the Los Alamos Monitor, which reports that it is the practice of joining multiple issues into a single ballot proposition. This is an oversimplification. Furthermore, it has not been proven that there are multiple issues; that has often been repeated, but that does not make it proof.
Logrolling is trading or combining votes for gain. Actually there are many definitions, but those that concern the law all include the concept of gain for those involved. From Harvard Law it is, The act of trading across issues in a negotiation.
In the original usage it referred to neighbors helping one another. It is not simply having two items together. It would be a very simple world indeed if we could not combine things and thoughts.
Logrolling involves quid pro quo. Alternatively, ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. I have collected many pages of quotations on the subject, and they all involve trading and gain. (File on request) This sort of thing had no role in the LAGRI petitions.
My concern was with prudent spending when I joined LAGRI. There was at the time the intent to build a by-pass road to the ski hill. The county had spent over a $1 million on the design and planned to spend over 15 million more. This was outlandish for many reasons: inexpensive alternatives, ecologically disastrous, unlikely to be needed. Happily, the council killed the project after much public protesting. But for me, concern with imprudent spending became a major issue, and I was happy to join LAGRI. I was present when the petitions were formulated, though I had little to add. At no point was there any idea of gain for the members, or trading favors or votes. We were concerned with lack of fiscal prudence. I collected signatures, and about three-quarters of the people I approached were horrified at the level of county spending, and most of them signed our petition. That is the real issue. Logrolling is merely a red herring.
James’ implication that fraud was involved in our petition is absurd and insulting. Furthermore, his positions are not sound. He refers to logrolling without any concern for its definition or any subtleties in its usage. (There are actually several kinds.) He has ridiculed public voting on issues and demeans us as ignorant lay people.
We need a county attorney who will treat citizens as democracy’s highest office holders (Justice Brandeis), and who will consider citizens to be at least the equals of the county officials whom they elect.