Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Much to my delight, there are only three state questions on the ballot, one on the state personnel-hiring system, one on legalizing marijuana and a third on campaign financing.

Amendment S: It strips the five-member state personnel board of some of its power to hire new employees and limits them to two three-year terms rather than unlimited five-year terms of office.

Employees now are hired from a pool of the three top test-scorers, and Amendment S asks for more flexibility and to shift the power from the board to the governor’s office.

Alaska had just become a state when I moved there. I was hired as secretary for the assistant state forester (a position that did not exist) and quickly became disabused of any notion that statehood had brought efficiency to Alaskan government.

Shortly after I was hired, it was decreed that all state employees of a certain level had to pass a standardized test or be fired. Being a lowly secretary, I didn’t have to take or get an opportunity to see the test, but Mary, the assistant to the state forester (who did exist), took the test, failed and was canned.

I don’t know how many years Mary had worked for Mr. Plourde, the state forester, but when I arrived, Mary was running the whole show and was everyone’s go-to person for information on every aspect of the forestry office. Mr. Plourde fought like hell to keep his treasured assistant, but bureaucracy won out, and that was that.

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It might not fix anything, but I’m voting for Amendment S so that the governor – whom we actually elected – will have more power than a perpetual board, which we did not elect, and one hopes that hiring people on their true merits rather than on the results of a standardized test will be a benefit to all.

Amendment 64 – marijuana: If our species manages to survive another generation, people will look back at our antiquated marijuana laws with a combination of hilarity and head-shaking. Forget alcohol and the hard stuff, with more than 20,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs and even more from over-the-counter meds, which we’re constantly warned about in their own TV ads, and you’d think we’d be past wrangling over pot (0 deaths) by now.

Hell – grow it in the fields, make it our state crop, tax the crap out of it (look what they did to cigarettes – $7 to $8 a pack for a different weed).

I found it especially amusing and ironic that the first $40 million raised in marijuana taxes is to build new schools, where they no doubt will hold classes in “Reefer Madness.”

Where the states go, the feds will – kicking and screaming – eventually follow. Or so we can hope. I’m voting yes on Amendment 64.

Amendment 65 – campaign finance limits: This is basically a feel-good amendment designed to put pressure on our Congress members to limit campaign contributions and spending.

Being in a swing state has subjected us to such a blizzard of political – and largely anonymous – ads that I’m sure we’d breathe a collective sigh of relief if every candidate and issue were limited to $1,000, and this amendment gives us a chance to say, “Enough is enough!”

Only Congress can actually change the existing laws, but it won’t hurt to give this amendment such rousing support that our representatives get the message.

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