Check your rights at the door | AspenTimes.com
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Check your rights at the door

Dear Editor:Welcome to Aspen; check your citizen rights at the door.The right to the citizen initiative is the most highly held and preserved right of the people in the state of Colorado. Within the state statute it is stated, “The right to the citizen initiative shall be widely construed to the benefit of the citizens.” This is our only method to effect change.After an initiative is circulated, there is a venue for challenge. It is described as an independent hearing to determine its validity. It is considerate for the city to send in an “independent hearing officer” to hear arguments; however, the moment the city attorney is introduced to oversee, conduct and render opinions to the officer, the independent nature of such a hearing is stripped from us.In my case, our city attorney wrote my initiative, initialed it and instructed me to circulate exactly that document. After circulation, the city attorney in my “independent hearing” called my document insufficient and instructed the hearing officer to consider my initiative invalid. When was the last time you ever heard of a lawyer writing a document and arguing against its validity?The same holds true for the unfortunate petitioners of the Burlingame petition. When a city official who sits on the proceedings of matters at council then presides over an “independent hearing,” all is lost. Of course he has predisposition. Of course he is biased. He sits at and listens to the opinion of our government officials, and by coincidence rules in favor of the government decision of every matter. Each initiative in the last two years which challenged council has failed based on the opinion of the city attorney. This is not coincidence.If we as a people continue to allow slimeball attorneys like Herb Klein to argue towards the minimization of our rights, we all lose.Tell your city officials that you want independent justice, or you might be next.Peter FornellAspen


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