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Good government?

Dear Editor:Black is white.And up is down, and yes is no. And the anti-housing petition drive is now being passed off as a good-government initiative. It’s hard to imagine how you can improve the integrity of Aspen’s city government by requiring it to default on its contractual obligations, nullify an election, neuter its elected officials, and kill its housing program. Even George Orwell might be surprised.A founding principle of the petitions on the street is that the first step toward good government is to require your elected officials to abandon commitments built on good faith and default on contracts they have entered into, even if they received permission from the voters first. So much for the notion that your word is your bond.If these petitions became law today, the preannexation agreement voted on and approved four years ago would become illegal, and that election would be nullified. And Aspen voters would never again be able to vote on a preannexation agreement of any substance because such agreements would be forever illegal. So much for non-hostile annexations and the integrity of voting.Then there is the petition language that, if it becomes law, would require affordable housing developments to provide a study, by a certified public accountant, delineating all on-site, off-site, direct and indirect impacts. There are no limitations in this requirement; the language is open and could mean anything. It would apply to city projects, nonprofit projects such as those done by Habitat for Humanity, and even housing required by the Growth Management Quota System.Affordable housing, which has a direct public benefit, would then have a potentially impossible and prohibitively expensive reporting requirement to meet. Nothing of the kind would be required for any other kind of building, including luxury condo development for example, or exclusive golf courses. In a stunning policy absurdity, a free-market development reviewed under GMQS might have to study and submit to a vote the impacts of its required housing component, but not its commercial component. So much for putting the public interest on a level playing field.Then there is the requirement that for affordable housing development, unlike any other development, a vote would be required, and the city would have to publish and mail a list of all the impacts of the housing. But the city would also be prohibited from publishing and mailing a list of the public benefits. Taxpayers would fund paid advertising of all the negatives and none of the positives. Anyone in favor of affordable housing would have to use their own money to publish the benefits. Opponents of affordable housing could go play tennis. So much for the legal restriction on using public monies to promote political issues.That anyone would say the Kronberg petitions are good-government initiatives is laughable. Or, it would be if there were anything funny about subverting democracy, reneging on your word, turning your back on your neighbors, and playing fast and loose with the truth.Frank PetersAspen


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