Make yourself heard on the entrance
Dear Editor:Having done some test marketing of the new petitions for the Entrance to Aspen, (entrancesolution.com) it is clear that although many people have a preference for either the cut and cover tunnel version, or the at-grade version, there is agreement that Aspen residents would gladly accept either design rather than live with what we have now. Out of 100 signers, only five or six declined to sign both petitions.Among those who are not about to sign anything, it is often due to the perception that taking the citizens’ initiative approach to resolving the Entrance problem is about as serious and productive as complaining to the principal about the food at the high school cafeteria. Not so.The Aspen City Charter requires voter approval of any “change in use” of property originally acquired for open space purposes, such as the Marolt property.The city initially tried to block the circulation of these new petitions, and one of their complaints in District Court was that the petitions “mandate” that previous inconsistent approvals will be rescinded. We never quite knew what to make of this argument except to conclude that the city considers all previous “change in use” open space votes to have been advisory only – because they were placed on the ballot by City Council.However, under state law, a citizens’ initiative is placed on the ballot, adopted and takes effect purely from voter approval. That is certainly a mandate, but any objection to that fact is essentially a challenge to state law. Our final revision to the petitions in late April made it clear that the people are taking direct action without requiring any involvement from City Council. That’s what an initiative is – the direct adoption of policy by the people themselves, and that’s what the city had to finally accept as a valid exercise of the right of petition.A “citizen initiated ordinance” is the only means to have a binding vote on an open space change of use question in which the wishes of the electorate are guaranteed by state law to be adopted as the new city policy. Anything short of this process is merely giving the council some advice which they asked for, and which they would be free to ignore again.If we find enough personnel to staff all the tables, petitions will be available near all polling places during today’s election. Voters at St. Mary Church can find us across the street by the courthouse. Rio Grande polling place will have a petition on the library plaza. At the Common House, we should be by the parking lot, or on Vine Street. For the west-enders voting at 7th and Francis, look for us across the street by the Forest Service office.At a minimum, we will consolidate all the downtown tables at one location at the corner of Galena and Main, directly in front of the courthouse, and have one additional table at the Forest Service. See you at the polls.Jeffrey EvansBasalt
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