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In a recent letter, John Hopkins suggested that the members of LAGRI distrust the citizens of Los Alamos and are trying to block democratic processes.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
The CRC recommended and county council approved proposals consisting of 21 ordinances to be condensed into four questions for voters to approve. The reason there were 21 ordinances is because the county charter requires that ordinances be on a single subject. We have all heard repeatedly that it is important for ballot questions to be on a single subject. So why are they being squeezed into just four questions?
LAGRI members believe that voters deserve to vote on the changes encapsulated in the ordinances individually. This is particularly true for the changes that will affect citizens the most, ones that significantly raise the requirements for various petitions. The CRC and county council would seem to believe so as well. They proposed a rule that would REQUIRE that ballot questions to amend the Charter be on a single subject. However, they feel free to disregard it for now.
LAGRI has taken out petitions for referenda on six of the most substantive proposals. If we obtain enough signatures, then a vote to rescind those ordinances will be held unless the county council does not rescind them themselves. Yes, it does seem a little crazy to petition for a vote on whether or not proposed charter amendments can be bundled into larger amendments to be sent to the voters; however, the referendum is the only safeguard available to the public to ensure that we can vote on these important proposals separately.
One argument for only putting out four questions is that, in addition to raising petitioning requirements, the relevant sections of the charter are being rewritten for clarity and therefore need to be presented together. This is a false argument. The cleanup and requirement changes could be done in two steps thereby avoiding this situation entirely. Another argument was to save space on the ballot. Really? Is that such a priority?
So, despite repeated exhortations on the importance of voting on single subjects, our government is bundling multiple issues together. And doing so despite proposing a rule prohibiting the practice under the guise of improving textual clarity. So I ask, honestly, who is it that distrusts the citizens?
Robert A. Pelak,