Steamrolling the log rollers

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By Joel M. Williams

Some believe that those who sought to restrict the spending limits of the county council got exactly what they deserved. This got me thinking about what actually transpired during that steamrolling.

I started with numbers. Everybody knows numbers: County operations (budgets), council (votes) and scientists (probability). So here are some: There are around 18,000 L.A. residents; 58 percent of the 6,210 who voted in the last bond referendum nixed funding higher education — in Los Alamos, no less; and 2,000 plus signed the petitions submitted.

These people take special interest in things monetary and already represent 32 percent of the votes cast in that monetary query. Even a non-scientist can see that censorship is probable.

If throttled, county council/operations would be left with Pinochle deck rejects. Councilors would play war with the twos and threes as they promise to serve the electorate.

Operations, which generates the budgets, sets forth capital outlay requests and actually spends the taxpayers’ monies, would be morose.

Persuading four councilors with whom they interact frequently is a lot easier than persuading several thousand taxpayers who have clearly indicated by petition that, “you are spending our money at levels we do not appreciate.”

So my take is that this sticky petition matter had to be stopped “now” by whatever means.

Enter the county attorney (appointed advisor to both the council and operations) who points out that the petitioners were log-rolling.

Indeed, the petitioners believe they were looking at a lot of heavy timber falling their way. The councilors, save two, were not about to cope with and resolve a legal issue even if it meant ignoring the wishes of a substantial number of those who actually vote on monetary issues.

The result: The county council and operations continued to play with their Pinochle deck – “aces and faces” — love those high cards. Steamrolling accomplished.

The petitioners were not interested in shutting down either the council or county operations that generally do a very commendable job.

They were, however, concerned about being committed to very large expenditures without having a personal vote on them.

The approval cap of $1 million was likely too low, but considering the snub they received, they should have submitted a single log petition that set the spending cap at $1.

When voter wrath is sufficient, no councilor is safe from recall at any time — even seated judges can face a “continuation” vote.

Joel M. Williams

Los Alamos