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Now that the judge has approved the settlement we reached with the county council halting an election on the question posed in a petition regarding the location of the new municipal building, we feel an obligation to explain our position to Los Alamos.
After watching the various public hearings held before the council both on the petition and on the settlement, and after reading letters to the editor and popular blogs, we were struck by the lack of basic information on local government and the initiative and popular referendum processes that prevails both among the public at large and, regrettably, even among the principal players in our local drama.
We therefore offer, as brief as we can make it, a survey of the major legal factors affecting this process.
“Initiative” means proposing a statute by petition for voters to consider. “Popular referendum” means petitioning to present a legislatively passed statute to the voter. Both were non-existent in the United States until the late 19th century.
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