Letter: Three reasons to say ‘no’ to Referendum 1 | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Three reasons to say ‘no’ to Referendum 1

I am voting “no” on Referendum 1. Here are three reasons; any one will suffice:

1. The proponents contend that their elected officials cannot be trusted with any discretion to do their jobs on land-use applications. The charter amendment, they say, is needed to stop such unchecked power by the City Council and mayor. But the same proponents are currently running (and in some cases previously held office) for the same jobs — I can’t be trusted, but elect me anyway?

2. The level of stridency and sanctimony by the proponents is unacceptable. My sensors go up wherever someone contends, “I am the arbiter of what is good, and you are completely wrong — there can be no compromise.” It is rarely that simple, as the current debate illustrates.

3. Both sides agree that the land-use code needs to be overhauled. That effort should be within the context of the code itself and not the city charter. The charter is our constitution and has served us well as the basis for representative government for over 40 years. That is, we do not govern by petition. The obvious unintended consequence of passage of Referendum 1 will be to embolden other single-issue groups to mount petitions on narrow issues and erode our vibrant form of government.

But the proponents say (over and over) that we cannot trust elected officials because they can change the land-use code and only the charter can tie their hands. So be it — I don’t want them or their referendum running Aspen. I will gladly take my chances voting for candidates with the guts to make tough decisions based on the power the charter gives them and not straightjacket them with this referendum.

Neil B. Siegel


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