One man’s emergency
In the latest iteration of pulling the “emergency” card, our mayor wants an ordinance fast-tracked to ban anonymous campaign contributions of less than $20. Apart from the wisdom (or lack thereof) of such legislation, it cannot pass muster as an emergency ordinance under Section 4.11 of the city charter. It is quite clear that such is expressly reserved “for the preservation of public property, health, peace or safety.”
Such legislation is, by definition, to be sparingly used and only in those circumstances meeting the strictures of the code. This proposal does not come close to fitting into any of those criteria.
That the mayor contends that “The safety of our elections is at stake” as a rationale is laughable. What is he talking about (people being “mugged” by robo-calls and fliers), and where is his evidence that campaign money is a matter of public safety? And has this issue silently crept up on our current City Council to the point that time is of the essence and we must act now?
The city attorney, acting as the mayor’s scribe, must specifically present “facts showing such urgency and need,” and it will be interesting to read what creative writing and fiction he uses to provide a nonexistent rationale to this proposal. Perhaps the mayor should first properly ask his counsel, “Do the facts here in any way justify the use of emergency powers?” before sticking his head under the guillotine of public scrutiny.
Under this mayor’s watch, the city has been subjected to the unfortunate and wrong-footed use of emergency ordinances, the most striking being ill-fated Ordinance 30 dealing with historic preservation. One would think that the lesson would be learned, but no, we have yet another example of the illusory demons creating real-world problems.
At least council members Derek Johnson and Adam Frisch are opposed (dooming passage), but the issue should still be presented on March 11 to see how the other three stand on the matter. If they would be prepared to vote “yes” on this “emergency,” the voters should vote “no” to them as candidates for office.
Neil B. Siegel
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City of Aspen officials are trying to figure out what the downtown core looks like this winter as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state and in some parts of the country.