On our Facebook page recently we were asked “Did anyone explain why they support or oppose the propositions?” That is a great question!
To our knowledge no one has provided an explanation on their decision to oppose the initiatives. Generally the rational to opposing them leans towards one of three possibilities. Lets look at them?
The first is “We have a representative government.” It seems inconsistent that a candidate could ask for a citizen’s vote, then reject the notion of having citizen’s vote on an issue if it may conflict with their own agenda? From a citizen’s stand point, we cannot imagine somebody willingly giving up their authority to vote on an issue in a representative democracy. At the local level we have the ability of requiring a “pure democratic” process on various issues. Always on a General Obligation bond, and if the initiatives pass, on a Combination Bond or Lease Agreement.
The second is “The elected officials have a better understanding.” That may well be true at higher levels. At the local level, Town Council members rely on the advice of Town Staff engaged full-time to understand the issues. They also rely on outside vendors. The advice comes through a “filter” of whoever is providing the advice. The reality is, as a part-time position, the time constraints would be too significant to fully research and vet each issue. Generally speaking, a good process results in a good outcome. There are times when people may not like the outcome, but again, if there is good process, then the outcome is good. The initiatives will force a “good process” as any future project that triggers them will need to have clear and concise arguments as to the benefits and to convince the general population on the merits of a project. No smoke, no mirrors. A good process ensuring the voice of the citizens and a “good outcome.”
Finally, there is concern that it will “Tie the hands of government.” We are still undecided if that is a bad thing? But let’s say it is for now? Both have “triggers.” That is they are not “triggered” and do not come into play on routine issues.
The Lease Initiative, 401, has numerous “carve outs.” For example, communication(s) easements, utility easements, airport commission leases, and intergovernmental agency agreements are exempt from being “triggered.” The initiative is only triggered on leases of three years or more OUTSIDE of the predefined carve outs for public land.
The Debt Initiative, 402 is a bit more complex. That is only triggered if there is a guarantee of funding via the general fund and the debt is over $1,000,000.00. A pure “Revenue Bond” at any amount could still be issued without a general vote. This link, or the one below explains the debt issue in more detail. So what about other forms of debt? Say the fire department needs a 1.2 million truck. Simple, put $200,001.00 as a down payment, and the initiative is not “triggered.” Short term loan of 1.5 million? Again, the obvious work around is two loans, each below the one million trigger.
As to why candidates support them?
Maybe because the candidates who support them are the same candidates who value citizen’s input and wish for a transparent process?
Again, a great question! Thank you for asking Mr. Collins!
The link below explains the debt issue in a bit more detail.