Elect someone who will fix the Entrance to Aspen
The day-to-day administrative actions of elected officials are not subject to the review and approval of the voters, except as part of the decision of whether to retain them in office.
A few summers ago, some volunteers and I collected enough signatures on initiative petitions to place two proposals on the Aspen ballot. Six years later, the Colorado courts finally determined that the questions could not go to the voters because the subject matter of the petitions was administrative in nature, and therefore beyond the reach of the initiative power held by the people. Those petitions were meant to allow the voters of Aspen to express their preference for the design of a new Entrance to Aspen.
The Court of Appeals summed up the complete context of the situation by stating that making a choice regarding the number, type and mode of the transportation lanes at the entrance is “indeed administrative in character — reconfiguring lanes.” In a single sentence, the court diminished the importance of the entrance question itself, gutted the scope and power of the initiative process at the local level generally, and relegated voter approval to the status of a minor technical matter of no particular significance. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld and expanded the opinion of the lower court.
So when I tell people that the Entrance to Aspen can only be fixed by a mayor and two council members, I am not stating my personal opinion; it is the opinion of the highest courts in Colorado. If no candidates pledging to build a functional highway come forward in the few days between now and the filing deadline March 13, nothing can be done to fix the entrance until the next municipal election in the spring of 2019. After that, we move to 2021.
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Imagine trying to persuade the people of Glenwood Springs that they should remove two of the lanes running between 19th Street and Wal-Mart. Imagine the traffic congestion that would result. Arguing for that proposal would be no different than arguing to keep Highway 82 two lanes wide at the Entrance to Aspen — it is the starkly ridiculous equivalent — and that appears to be the position of all current elected city officials and their aspiring challengers.
People in Aspen have been silenced through intimidation. They do not dare speak out in favor of an expanded highway if they work for or with the city, the county, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Aspen Skiing Co., etc. Anyone who does not recognize the potential avalanche of frustrated votes that could be unleashed within the safety of the anonymous ballot does not understand Aspen.
It should also be mentioned that 70 percent of the people who signed our petitions some years ago are still registered to vote in Aspen. That list represents more than enough names to swing an election.
The opportunity to be the mayor or a council member who finally resolves one of the worst public policy debacles any of us has ever lived with is laid out before you on a silver freaking platter. Do something.
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