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Letter to the Editor: Proposed Charter Amendments Appropriately Packaged

on October 12, 2012 - 9:17am
Councilor David Izraelevitz
 
By David Izraelevitz and Mike Wismer
Los Alamos County Councilors

Among the many important decisions facing us as a community this November, is the issue of several proposed amendments to our County Charter.

Much has been written about the process by which these amendments were composed, aside of whether each is a good idea or not.

In a subsequent column we will discuss the merits of each proposed change, but here, let's talk about the process itself, and specifically logrolling, because we want to correct some erroneous comments in this area.

Logrolling is the practice of combining multiple unrelated topics so that different constituencies will vote for the “whole”, although they only support a “piece.”

Most of the discussion about the structure of the ballots relates to whether the four proposed amendments constitute “logrolling.”

Councilor Mike Wismer

However, the key word that distinguishes logrolling is “unrelated”, not “multiple.”

For example, a citizen initiative to clamp down on loose dogs (a leash law, fines for not cleaning up after your dog, fines for excessive barking, etc.) would certainly not be considered logrolling because the multiple parts of the initiative form a consistent multi-pronged approach to address a community issue.

Similarly, citizen concern with unsightly signage (or business concern with overly restrictive signage), might lead to a petition to tighten or loosen a whole range of sign requirements, again in a consistent effort to address a community issue.

However, if Alice wants a stricter sign code, and Bob wants a stricter dog law, they can't join forces and have a single petition to gather support from both camps.

That would be logrolling, and a court challenge would likely ensue.

 Returning to this November's ballot, each of the proposed amendments addresses one of four areas related to citizen petitions: initiatives, referendum, recall and process for further charter amendments.

Each of these areas is appropriately packaged into individual ballots by our County Attorney in a way that avoids logrolling.

In a future column, we'll discuss the merit of each of these “packages”, but we are confident that each ballot is a fair and appropriately presented decision for the citizens of Los Alamos County to make.


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