chris/CO149 (co149) wrote,


It's raining like hell, and other people are doing it, so I'll spout off about the citizen initiative process, too.

I am a firm believer in the unrestricted access of citizens to petition the government for redress of grievance and to legislate directly when necessary. I would not support any restrictions on this right (and there are a few being bandied about), especially in an emotional reaction to a single self-appointed citizen watchdog. (Or watchcur perhaps.)

Not the phrase above, "when necessary". Before you start hitting the bricks collecting signatures, I want to see you perform a few basic steps first.

First and foremost, research, research, research. Read the laws, regulations and standards that apply in your case. Don't have time? Tough. Your representatives work long days doing that; if you don't like the way they work, you have some long days ahead of you too.

If there's a specific agency you have a problem with, see if you can solve the problem at the administrative level. Figure out where the regulatory conflict is, then write the director if that institution.

Next, I want you to sit down with your elected representatives and talk about your problem. That is the job you pay them for, after all. Don't be afraid to go to that person. Even if your representative is a dickless wonder (and we have a goodly number, it seems), start there. That person will tell you how your personal problem relates to government. He might not give you the answer you want, and you need to be open to that. Maybe you want to shop around for a legislator who's a little more open to your problem.

Try and get a bill passed. If you're going to go to the trouble to write an initiative, start by writing a bill your legislator can propose for you.

By the way, have you considered running for office? If you can't get satisfaction from your representative, maybe they don't belong in office. Run against that person.

If you can't get satisfaction from the executive, or the legislator, then and only then do you start the initiative process.

If you shoot from Big Idea to Citizen's Initiative in one step, you are abusing the system that is intended to protect you from your government. People will start talking seriously about reducing your rights and the rights of all citizens.

Mr Eyman, your constant battering of the government through the abuse of the initiative process is a danger to our state's democratic process and may eventually restrict my rights. This is regardless of whether I agree with any of your positions. I understand and respect your desire to change the way government does business, and I humbly suggest that the best way for you to participate in that process is my joining the governing of our state by running for office.

Just as an electrical short-circuit can burn down a house, a legislative short-circuit can burn down our democracy. I agree there are times when there is no other choice. But Please, use the initiative procedure for when there really, and provably, is no other choice.

Unless you can show me that you've done this work, I won't sign or vote for your proposal. Use the system first, come to me directly only when that fails.

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