Three easy questions
August 30, 2010
Mr. DeFrancia’s comment about me “revisiting middle school civics” after learning a referendum petition had been submitted on the City Council’s land-use approval of the Aspen Art Museum vested property rights and site-specific development plan reminds me of the TV show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader.”
Mr. DeFrancia believes City Council should have dictatorship authority just because the people we elect are supposed to decide the issues. Our democracy is a “constitutional” democracy, and we have a fundamental right to refer legislative decisions for a vote.
Just to make sure my understanding was correct, I could not resist asking five fifth-graders three questions.
Question 1: “If you don’t agree with the decision your elected officials make, what can you do about it?”
The first respondent said, “We can vote them out of office in the next election.” (representative government)
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The second one replied, “We can recall them.” (fundamental right of initiative)
The third mused, “We can try to convince them to follow their own rules and regulations.” (public hearing)
The fourth chimed in, “We can referendum their decision at the ballot box.” (fundamental right of referendum)
The firth yelled, “We can do what my attorney-dad does … sue them.” (right of judicial review)
Question 2: “Who wins elections?”
“Majority wins,” they unanimously agreed.
Question 3: “What principle is our Constitution based on?
“We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” they sang.
The Blame Game
• Voters rejected rezoning for the “big box infill project” (visitor center) on Main and Galena. Then Mayor Klanderud’s council rezoned anyway as this “infill mixed-use project” would provide vitality. Five years later, only the affordable housing second floor is occupied. The rest sits empty.
• The recycle center rezoning was rejected by voters. The most compelling reason was the cost associated with building and maintaining it. As if those voters had a crystal ball, Pitkin County recently asked the city of Aspen for help with the $600,000 as the county cannot afford it.
• I campaigned to downsize the recycling drop-off to the similar size of Basalt’s efficient, clean and smart-looking site. Then a picnic area with a fountain, bike parking and a skateboard streetscape could be added. With curbside recycling mandatory, the drop-off site is redundant.
We know Mr. DeFrancia is concerned about wasting public money, yet when I ran for City Council, Mr. DeFrancia, along with Andrew Kole and Ron Erickson, filed a baseless complaint challenging my residency based on “hearsay,” prompting a 10-month “criminal investigation” by the D.A. Now that was a real waste of public money and took the D.A.’s office on a wild goose chase away from investigating real crime.
I agree with Mr. DeFrancia, “Enough is enough!”