Letter To The Editor: Our System Is Supposed To Be A Democracy

By JOEL M. WILLIAMS
Los Alamos

I did not comment in the County’s Forum before and see no need to do so now. The opinion of the vast majority of those who commented was clear to me.

Our system is supposed to be a democracy. This means that the will of the majority is to be legislated, and not the will of a minority who would dictate/mandate that “their morality” and their view of the “right thing to do” be imposed.

On April 14, the County Council received a citizen petition requesting that “Council pass an Ordinance prohibiting retail establishments from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers and mandating a $.10 fee on paper bags to be collected and retained by the merchant”.

Surely, imposing a tax on the user and giving it to the collector who has NO responsibility for cleaning up the county must be illegal. Council 4-3 sent the issue to the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB).

At the ESB meeting on May 13, supporters asked the board to withdraw the option of an outright ban. Rather than banning the bag now, they would rather have “Los Alamos County mandate pay-per-bag for both paper and single-use plastic”, indicating that this would give everyone, environmentalists and free choice consumers alike, pretty much what we (the royal we?) want. Note that the NEW (latest, final?) proposal does NOT even preclude the use of plastic bags!

Thus, this request does NOT even do what the “proponents”, and the minority of the previous forum, wanted in the first place: a total ban on bags. Bags are apparently OK now, as long as the merchants charge for them. Do you think merchants give them out free, NOW? This new direction of the plaintiffs is simply a tiresome Nuisance.

I applaud the many merchants who are encouraging “bring your reusable totes”; some are even giving an incentive! Let them continue to lead the way! The county Parks and Environment divisions are working hard to keep the public lands tidy. I suggest that the plaintiffs see that all of the highways/byways are “adopted” and get the proper county advisory committees hopping on citizen who are not keeping their property tidy as required already by ordinances.

For perspective, what was in that 1/2-ton of trash that was collected May 2? Now that the trash dump has been closed and we have those special garbage containers, I would guess that the number of wayward, windblown bags has greatly decreased in Los Alamos county. What other things should the bag-ban plaintiffs be having the LA Councilors mandating a “pollution tax” on?

I coordinated a trash pickup by the Los Alamos Tennis Club along N.M. 502 in the airport area about six years ago. I do not remember there being a particularly noticeable preponderance of plastic or paper grocery bags when that cleanup was done. White bags seem to stand out in my memory, however. Are the plaintiffs going to include McD, Sonic, Subway, etc., take-outs in their crusade?

While I support efforts by organizations who want clean air and water and tidy surroundings, I find this bag-ban effort unsupportable. The councilors should simply have bitten the bullet and said, “thank you” to them back on April 14!

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