Letter: Pitkin clerk has no right to refuse petition
Judging from recent events, area residents greatly value the tools of direct democracy. A charter amendment and development approval in Aspen and a recall effort in Snowmass Village all seem to be taken for granted as nearly inalienable rights of registered voters.
It’s a different story in Pitkin County. I and two other petition representatives submitted an initiative petition to the county clerk for approval for circulation (www.entrancesolution.com). We were denied on two points; the first being a section of the Pitkin County Charter which prohibits the initiative power regarding the “levy of taxes.” The second reason is the clerk’s perception that other jurisdictions might not want to participate in the funding and construction of a new four-lane highway Entrance to Aspen.
Point 1: The charter provision is in direct violation of the state Constitution.
Point 2: The denial of a petition effort based on the belief that an initiative, if approved by the electorate, might not be enough to independently achieve the desired result, is a pure invention of the county clerk. There are no such grounds in any state law.
Given the importance of the situation at the Entrance to Aspen and the local commitment to the powers of initiative, referendum and recall, why isn’t the action of Janice K. Vos Caudill, in her position as clerk of Pitkin County, considered newsworthy? No reporter has asked her or the county commissioners why they have not proposed a charter amendment that would respect the initiative power reserved to the people in the state Constitution. No reporter has asked the county clerk to explain how it is possible for her to make up law on her own in regard to the acceptable subject matter of an initiative. In the “old” days, the situation was easy to understand. Bil Dunaway owned The Aspen Times, and Dave Danforth had the Aspen Daily News, and it was a toss-up as to which was the most opposed to fixing the entrance to town.
We still have Danforth, but what is going on with Colorado Mountain News Media, aka Swift Communications? Was it a condition of their purchase of the Times that they never produce a report or editorial which might advance the cause of fixing Highway 82?
The story in Pitkin County may not be as juicy as a county clerk refusing marriage licenses in deference to God’s law, but any county clerk making up their own law and ignoring their own state Constitution ought to be worthy of a bit of ink.
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