Myrin goes back to the drawing board
Local resident Bert Myrin intends to file a new complaint against Aspen City Councilman Jack Johnson in an ongoing fight over Johnson’s right to call himself an architect.The latest complaint stems from a comment Johnson made during a City Council meeting last week, when he referred to himself as an architect during discussion of the proposed Limelight Lodge redevelopment.Myrin said Wednesday he is waiting for a videotape of the proceedings from GrassRoots TV, the local cable access channel, and that he will forward the footage to the Colorado Board of Examiners of Architects, along with the new complaint.At the council meeting, Johnson said, “I’m an architect, not an attorney, so …” or words to that effect, according to Myrin, who attended the session.Myrin lodged a separate complaint with the state board last summer, after Johnson – then a candidate for office – described himself as an architect. At a candidate debate, Myrin accused Johnson of misrepresenting himself, as he is not a licensed architect.In response to that complaint, the board ordered Johnson to quit calling himself an architect or face possible criminal sanctions. The councilman responded by filing a lawsuit that charges the board with violating his constitutional right to free speech. Early this month, the board reversed itself and rescinded its cease-and-desist order after deciding the statute it was enforcing does not apply to speech in the context of political debate.Johnson, who is still pursuing the lawsuit, said Wednesday that he welcomes Myrin’s latest challenge, since it, too, addresses the First Amendment issue.Johnson contends the board of examiners has authority to regulate only commercial speech – that its job is to ensure only licensed architects refer to themselves as such in soliciting architectural work.The First Amendment issue, Johnson said, is broader than whether an individual can describe him- or herself as an architect during a political debate – the narrow context the state cited in rescinding its order. Myrin’s promised new complaint, Johnson reasoned, addresses the very issue that is at the heart of the lawsuit – whether the state can regulate the ability to refer to oneself as an architect outside of the commercial context – at a council meeting, for example.
Johnson, who has a degree in architecture, said he has done everything that is required to become a licensed architect except take and pass the required test. He works as a designer but said he has no interest in obtaining a license because he doesn’t want to practice architecture.The councilman does not dispute that he prefaced his remarks at last week’s council meeting by referring to himself as an architect.”We were talking about architecture,” he said. “That’s my background. I’m an architect.”Myrin said he is undeterred by the board of examiners’ decision to rescind the original cease-and-desist order, given that it reversed its position within the narrow context of political debate.”I think he’s just screwing the integrity of the profession,” Myrin said. “I’m a little surprised the licensed architects aren’t outraged by the decision. Maybe they are.”In addition to filing a new complaint with the board of examiners, Myrin said he will express his concerns about Johnson’s actions to the professional organizations that are “concerned about protecting the public image of licensed architects at a state and national level.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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