Still in violation |

Still in violation

Dear Editor:

We are in receipt of your certified letter of Feb. 20 in which you reject our petition to increase tax and debt, for the purpose of improving the Entrance to Aspen and other roads within Pitkin County, because of a possible conflict with provisions of the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter.

In this same letter, you note that the format of our petition follows “municipal code” rather than the format found in Colorado statutes under Title 1, Election Code; and that the petition therefore will need “a few adjustments.”

The Title I Election Code is clear that provisions in the article you cite are applicable to “state ballot issues,” and that “laws pertaining to county petitions … are governed by” Colorado statute 30-11-103.5. This statute then advises us that we should, “follow as nearly as practicable the procedures for municipal initiatives” as described in Title 31, Article 11, Municipal Elections.

Consequently, the fact that our petition format follows municipal code is exactly as it should be, and we are greatly concerned that you might not fully appreciate that procedures for municipal elections are the primary source of guidance for reviewing and processing a county petition. In particular, this section of the statutes informs us of the only legitimate basis for the rejection of the subject matter of a citizen initiated petition.

Title 31, Article 11-106(1), Form of Petition Sections: “The clerk may reject a petition … on the grounds that the petition … does not propose municipal legislation pursuant to section 1 (9) of article V of the state constitution.”

You have correctly made no issue of the fact that our petition does propose municipal legislation as defined by the state constitution. You also have correctly stated that the Pitkin County Home Rule Charter may take precedence over “state statute and municipal code in regards to initiative process,” but by your own omission you obviously are aware that the Pitkin Charter can not take precedence over the Colorado State Constitution.

State law provides no substantive grounds for the rejection of a petition other than the failure to “propose municipal legislation” for the very specific reason that there are no other grounds for rejection which would not violate the state constitution. Under state law, there is no provision that a petition can be rejected based on a conflict with a county charter, because neither statute nor charter may supersede the state constitution.

Your decision to reject our petition is so obviously in violation of state statute and constitutional law that it cannot avoid being subject to suspicion of ulterior motives. As a reminder, your office is elected precisely so that your decisions may be independent of political pressure from other branches of county government. Your responsibility is to the citizens of Pitkin County and to your oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions, neither of which is served by your decision to reject this petition.

Jeffrey Evans