Charter candidate emphasizes home-rule facts

Dear Editor,

Don’t vote based on fear and disinformation. These are the facts.

* The vote on Jan 15 is to begin the home-rule process, NOT to decide if Salida will become a home-rule city. That happens at the end of the process after the charter is written and reviewed by city residents.

* The commission will have 180 days to write a charter if the Jan. 15 vote gives the authority to move forward with the process.

* The process is guided by state statue, which specifies what the charter can cover and requires public input.

* The charter does NOT override state laws. Sunshine Laws and Tabor still must be followed, so the city still cannot raise taxes without a vote of approval. However, the charter can change the size and composition of the districts taxed.

* At the end of the process, voters will study the charter and vote next summer on whether to accept or reject the charter. If the charter is voted down, the commission returns to address the concerns of citizens and there is a second vote. If the charter fails to be accepted on the second vote, the home-rule process is dead and the city remains statutory.

* The cost of the process is between $22,000 and $26,000, not $50,000 to $75,000. This is based on costs to cities similar in size to Salida.

* All cities in Colorado stated out as statutory cities governed by state statues. All statutory cities follow the same statues, whether they are small, rural, mountain communities or large metropolitan cities. It is a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Home rule became an option so that cities with different needs could have regulations that better fit those unique needs. No city that has become a home-rule city has ever gone back. There are procedures to revise the charter as well as to cancel the charter.

* If there is not a statue addressing a specific issue, a statutory city cannot deal with that issue. For example, most everyone wanted a motel tax that was a percentage of the nightly fee charged, but state statue only allows a set amount to be collected, whether the room is a $20- or a $120-per-night room.

* The charter can address the structure of government and processes for making decisions.
If you believe that more transparency is needed, that can be written into the charter by developing processes that require transparency. A system of checks and balances can also be written into the charter.

* If the city remains under state statues, the city government can continue to make the kinds of decisions it has made in the past and in the same manner.

* Most importantly, voters have complete control over this process. The City Council and the mayor have no say in what goes into the charter or its approval.

Bill Smith

Salida

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

70 Responses to “Charter candidate emphasizes home-rule facts”

  1. Merrell Bergin

    Well said Bill. It is ironic that the oponents of Home Rule have similar desires for transparency and accountability. Why are they so afraid then that a Home Rule Charter Commission even sees the light of day to work out the details we all seem to want?

    The misinformation and flat out lies that are being promoted by the CAG and aided by our only print medium are beyond belief. Next, the conspiracy theories and muck-raking will come out. Any one looking at Salida from the outside must think we are a bunch of hysterical losers to allow this kind of myth be printed every day, scaring the wits out of people for nothing.

    Yes, Home Rule should have been brought to the agenda in a better way with a little consensus at least, but it is here and not going down without a fight from people who care about the city.

    If Salida votes it down out of hand, all the people here will be the ones who miss out on an opportunity to better their government. I'll be on KHEN tomorrow (Friday) at 4pm, with other supporters. We are hoping to engage the CAG in a factual dialogue. Tune in and maybe you'll learn something more useful than the junk that the Mail is publishing.

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  2. Joe Judd

    This whole Home Rule discussion reminds me of the famous movie line. "What are you rebelling against?" The answer, "What do you got?"

    If folks don't like the way things are going at the City level, they should be a part of the change they want to see. This process is truly democracy in its one of its purest forms. Seldom do the People get a chance like this at any state or federal level. Because it is a local government, it is also one political decision which has the potential to directly affect citizens with the greatest impact, either positively or negatively.

    I am puzzled by this group that seems to distrust the members of Council and City officials, yet seems unwilling to change the system which allows these decisions to be made without the consent of the voters or their representatives. If these folks don't like the way things are going they will not be happy when the same situations continue to occur. As the saying goes, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

    I disagree with some of the decisions which the City has made in last 12 years. I am happy to get an opportunity to change things for the better, or at least give it a good effort. And if the Charter does not fit what I believe it should be, I will be empowered (by vote) to deny it. What more can one ask for?

    The process for Home Rule seems to be the most equal and fair among any government process which I have seen. I feel like many of those who oppose this process must be either misinformed or simply a part of the conspiracy theorists who distrust government, no matter which form it takes. The world needs more people who step up to create change the way they feel it should be.

    Home Rule could turn out to be a debacle. It could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Salida. Likely, it will be somewhere in between. Regardless of what the Charter looks like, we will all have a chance to allow it to be enacted or not. How could a choice of options NOT be a positive thing in the end?

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  3. Merrell Bergin

    Just back from a 90 minute discussion at KHEN that included Lisa Malde, Billy Carlisle and Melodee Hallett. It was a chance for me to express why the Home Rule process should go forward, I also detailed some of my ideas about what topics a charter might include for consideration. Lisa Malde offered her platform and did a great job of countering much of the misinformation that has been pushed by the opposition. In a lively give and take we all had a chance to engage in dialogue, something all the candidates wanted to have after the League of Women Voters forum.

    A couple of interesting takeaways: first, Lisa said: “I don’t have any agenda other than helping write the best charter we can”. (My belief as well) Lisa then asked Billy Carlisle what he was interested in and he said “my goal is to turn over every elected seat on the Council during the next few election cycles”. So I guess we now have a preview of what is in store for us come November as Mr. Carlisle is alre4ady lining up candidates to turn out the current Council. To me, running for the Charter Commission with a stated goal of making sure it doesn’t get past January 15th then topping it off with a wholesale effort to replace the Council does not provide solutions. Instead it adds to the divisive nature of this Charter election - but at least we now know his real motives.

    The second interesting angle from the show is the clear alliance the CAG has with Marilyn Marks, community activist from Aspen. During a prearranged call-in segment, she proceeded to play out a script with Mr. Carlisle and Ms. Hallett in an attempt to describe the upcoming ballot counting process as being in total disarray. “What-if” and speculation were rampant, and as predicted, the conspiracy theory people are out in full force. The only positive suggestion they did offer was for the City to consider doing a hand count rather than using a machine. If that would make the sniping attacks go away, then that might make sense, assuming it is possible at this late date.

    Taking a cue from Joe Judd’s well-spoken comments above, I can’t believe that Salida government is either all bad or perfect. We are not some 3rd world province run by dictators or corporate interests. If you really care about Salida, just cast your vote and be sure your views get counted. Don’t toss it into the trash where “evildoers and dumpster-divers” can take away your say or sell your vote to someone else (come on people, this isn’t a reality TV show).

    And as with reality TV, this is far from the end of this spectacle.

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  4. Mike Harvey

    Merrell you and Lisa did a great job. I am sorry I could not make it.

    Home Rule has become a receptacle for every fear, paranoia and displeasure with government that CAG can come up with. It's really kind of amazing to witness. Now in addition to the City Council's evil plot to tax all of us out of house and home they are in the process of rigging the election through faulty election equipment. The connection to 9/11 and JFK has to be right around the corner.

    The reason that CAG is always looking for something other than home rule to talk about (golf courses in Delta, ballot counters, meetings with the municipal league) is because they don't have any factual basis for opposing Home Rule. The reason they don't have any factual basis for opposing home rule is becuase the Charter hasn't been written yet and thus there is nothing to oppose.

    The question for us in this election is can you find 11 of your community members you trust enough to try, in good faith, to write a charter that will serve our community well going forward. And following that process you will have a chance to evaluate the Charter for yourself and vote it up or down.

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  5. Chuck Rose

    Mr. Carlisle is setting a pretty low bar for himself. Councilmen Moore and McCormick are termed out in 2013. Who knows if Councilmen Stewart will choose to run for a second term. We are guaranteed to have at least two new faces in that year.

    What I hope is that the new candidates will be able to tell us what they are for, not just what they are against.

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  6. Billy Carlisle

    Dear Merrill, The city govenment would not be avocating for home rule so strongly, if they thought it would restrain them. The way to change the direction of council is to change its make up. I think all who have expressed interest in home rule would serve the community and themselves better, if they got more involved in city government and consider running for office. They, we all, should be recruiting and encouraging folks to run for mayor or council. Look at this as a civic duty. The home rule charter process is just one brief flash in the pan. The real work is in staying involved over time. I believe you misunderstood me, so I will go through this again. You and Lisa and I were lamenting off microphone that we have all been disappointed with some actions of the council and the one just previous. You seemed to think that a charter is a blue print that will keep the council in line. I agreed with you that this was your best argument for home rule. The problem with it is that there are a mulitude of vehicles one can use to alter a home rule charter. One of those paths can be initiated by the council. Home rule will committ us to a never ending drumbeat from special interests seeking special elections, or councils seeking special elections to alter the charter or come up with some new tax. I think it would be very difficult to rope in or box in a council with a home rule charter. We also chatted about positions on council which will term out soon, and some who will have to run to hold their seats soon. Healthy competion for those elected positions will be good for our community. The opportunities to affect the direction of Salida City Government are there for folks who are willing to run and serve. There is nothing sinister about this. It is not an agenda, it is a civic duty we should all be thinking about.
    When I look at home rule I see a much more turbulent path. The current off year, special election, is costing us significantly more than a regularly scheduled election. The series of elections that could follow this one, if the dicision is made to draft a charter will be costly. There will also be legal costs. This is just the start and many elections for charter amendments and competing tax initiatives that will follow, if home rule passes. These mulitiple municipal elections will be a burden to the community in time and money. The easier path is to step up in communicating with coucil and citizens. Look inside your neighborhood for leaders and encourage them to run for council.
    I thought you and and Lisa were the ones criticizing our current council. I am not thrilled with them myself, but I do believe they have mostly good intentions. I think citizen ativism and good competion for their posts in the future will move us in a better direction. You seemed to think that home rule could be a rule book that would make them do right. The type of charter our current city government is lobbying for will be flexible. Asking this city government to guide the process of writing the charter is like asking a fox to build a chicken house that would keep him out. The fox is clever. He will design trap doors that will let him in.
    Our city is paying $250,000 for a lawyer when other comparably sized cities are paying a $100,000 or less. This lawyer's job one is to develop a charter that will give the government more control over citizens lives, taxes, and fees. We need to elect council members who will seek harmony and consensus with the citizens. That sort of council won't need a $250,000 a year lawyer to keep them out of trouble, and keep the citizens in line.
    The advocates for home rule from the previous charter research group and others have told me how hard it is to find people to run for these offices in Salida. They openly criticize the citizens as being disintered in the direction city government takes. I find this line of talk inflamatory, offensive and unproductive. We all bear a responcibility for this problem, if it exist. Apathy is a problem to be sure, but I think hopelessness is sometimes caused by uninspiring leadership. The first council meeting I attended was very contentious. At least three citizens stepped to the podium to say they were tired of being bullied and talked down to by the council. They seemed to be stepping into the breach for some of the meek among us who had felt threatened by the process in few previous meetings. These problems must be cured and we are the people to do it.
    It seems disingenuous to denegrate the citizens for not stepping up to run for office and then out of the other side of your mount denegrate someone like me who says we should all be out recruiting good candidates for local elected positions.
    Sincerely, Billy

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  7. Billy Carlisle

    Chuck,
    Why not set the bar higher for us all? I am not going into a he said she said here, and I have given you my expanded position about encouraging folks to seek office in Salida. Debate me on what I said rather than what Merrill said that I said.
    Kind regards, Billy

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  8. Jay Moore

    Billy,

    I think this ongoing conversation, with your contributions, is quite positive. When I first ran for Council in 2005, unopposed, after having lived here for a bit over 18 months, there were a number of people who basically asked if I was crazy. They were not going to do it because of the abuse they would have to take from the general population. Their take was any decision, no matter which side, would be critized with great enthusiasm. No one with a business could take the risk of offending any one because the business would leave if a wrong decision was made. Also, the local newspaper was almost always negative about the City government.

    I know the present Council is not especally good in either its decision or communication processes. But this Council, as were many others, was created by the citizens with their attitudes about running, voting, and right to second guess all decisions.

    Best of luck in changing the underlying ethos.

    Jay

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  9. Lisa Malde

    Billy, let me clear up some of this misinformation before you start dragging me personally into your web of deceit. I have mentioned that I have heard a number of concerns from residents about how some matters have been handled by the City in recent years. I also believe that the home rule process is opportunity for us to increase transparency and public involvement. But at no point have I criticized council. Not once. I have worked in public service for over ten years and I know how difficult it can be to hold a public office and I have nothing but respect for those who are willing to step up and represent the local citizens.

    I also want to remind you that there are three candidates for the charter commission who have been serving on the planning commission for some time now, including myself. There are also two candidates who are currently on the recreation advisory board and a couple others who have served time on various city boards and commissions in the past. I find it ironic that you should be talking about doing your civic duty when many of us who are candidates are already doing exactly that and only hope to contribute even more by serving on the charter commission.

    I believe that in order to create true sustainable change in a government setting you cannot be solely dependent upon specific individuals; you also need to change the underlying policies. As a community, if we come together and spell out what we want our future to look like and we lay out a clear and concise way of getting there through a home rule charter, all future city council members will have some clear ground rules and residents will also have an understanding as to where they will be taking us. This would also be a great way to grow trust between citizens and local city government. It would allow us all to get on the same page and would prevent drastic shifts every two years based on who are holding those elected positions. Your idea of making sure you get the proper elected official in place to push forward your agenda while also being against home rule as a long term solution is very short sighted in my mind.

    In regards to this “off the air” conversation, it stemmed from a question I posed to you. I asked, “if you are not happy with how things are being run as a statutory city and you also do not like the idea of home rule, then what is your solution?” The reason I asked this is because I have heard a lot of complaining, but not a lot of answers. There are complaints about the timing of the election, how city council decided we should put it to a vote, how city councilmen should not have the right to voice their opinion on home rule, how the city has an agenda, the ballot collection, the machines that are being used and why we aren’t hand counting ballots.

    I encourage you to think positively and be solution oriented in your approach because at this point, after months of hearing nothing but pessimism about the home rule process, any points you are trying to make are getting lost in the fear and negativity of your message.

    Lisa

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  10. john

    Is home rule a good idea for Salida?
    Who knows.
    I can tell you why I'll be voting for it, however:
    I have friends both on the city council and on the charter ballot and I can say with confidence that these folks have Salida's best interests at heart. They paint home rule in a positive and hopeful light - not because they harbor some secret and nefarious agenda - but because they are hard working, thoughtful people with jobs, businesses, young kids and who have a stake in the future of this community.

    Meanwhile, the NO! folks.......well, that seems to sum up their whole approach doesn't it?

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  11. Billy Carlisle

    Lisa, The solutions should come through a dialog between the citizens and the council. I think there are a handful of issues that the citizens are agitated about and I think some public meetings about those issues would be helpful. The council makes two complaints about the citizens, one is that we are apathetic/disinterested, and two that we only come to the table, if we are angry about some decision the council made that we did not like. I think more open and more frequent public meetings would solve some of those tensions. You mentioned committees. I think that is another way to involve citizens and would encourage the formation of more of those.
    Is it reasonable to criticize citizens for being appathetic on the one hand and angry spreaders of misinformation on the other hand? Pick one. Both cannot be true at the same time. I began taking interest in the council meetings in late August of this year. I apologize for being late coming to the table, but I have not missed one since. At almost every council meeting someone will lament how disinterested the citizens have been in their city government over time. Most of the same people are criticizing CAG or Friends of Salida, recently formed groups that have been coming to council meetings, of being negative spreaders of misinformation. It is the equivalent of shut up and get in the back seat; we will let you know when we get to the next town. Once again, you can't have it both ways; do you want the public engaged or apathetic. Pick one.
    Your idea that the home rule charter can be some confining set of rules that will drive the council in a direction that the citizens have chosen is a dream that will not hold up. The first premise is that the charter should be flexible and the second one is that it should be confining; those two goals are not compatible. More important than either of those is that the process to shape the charter over time is a series of special, elections, and general elections. The level of diligence if will take to make the charter a confining document is a high bar. Also, don't forget we, the citizens/taxpayer dollars, are paying a lawyer whose job it is to make sure the city can do what it wants. He and Dara will be driving the engine to get a flexible charter. The other piece of the lawyers job is to keep the citizens in line. We, the citizens, do not stand a chance unless we can elect council persons who will rein in the the excesses of the city administration and the lawyer.
    The vote, and the security and accuracy of elections is hugely important in any democracy. The current process for this election is dramatically flawed. That is not me complaining. It is an emerging set of facts. The machines we will be using are not certified. This election could easily be thown out if it was a county or state level election. We can ignore the rules as a municipality, but I can not imagine who thinks it is a good idea to do that. The watchers that are apart of any election process are not being allowed to watch. They are being sequestered on the other side of blue tape lines that put them in a place where they cannot hear or see what is going on. This is also diffrent and more restrictive than the process that would be followed in a county, district or state level election.
    Home rule will consist of a series of elections to get approved the first time, and if approved it will be an evolving document shaped by a costly series of special and general elections. These costs make little sense for a community of our size. This being said, the costs and elections, if they are to come should be handled fairly, and transparently. Citizens will lose faith in a system that does not assure them that their vote is secure, and properly counted. We should all be very interested in how this municipal election is being handled. Keeping the elections fair and the public involved in a transparent process is key to the long term success of our city government whether it is statutory or home rule.
    Not putting words in your mouth; look as this paragraph as a question. So you are hunkey dorey with the way things are going in Salida, and you like and respect the council? What is it you will correct in a charter? Are there a few little things that the council has done that made you unhappy that you think you could fix in a charter?
    You have accused me of unfairly characterizing your off air comments. I don't think I was off the mark. Also, I think you and Merrill have mischaracterized what I said. My effort to find some common ground with you and Merrill has failed. We are both acknowledging a similar set of problems: Vandeveer, Non-Profit which is non-transparent, and over priced out of town lawyer, and a lack of transparency and accountability in city government. We seem to be acknowledging a similar set of problems. You should tell me what you think the problems are. You should not just accuse me of mis-representing you. Tell me where you stand. Are you willing to be on the record or not?
    We have two diffrent prescribed solutions. I have said win lose of draw, whether home rule of statutory rule prevails the long term solutions will require citizen involvement. I will stay involved, win lose or draw, no matter which way this current election goes. I hope you plan to do the same. I respect and appreciate respect your past and current activism and contributions. When I say we should all encourage citizen participation at the ballot box to get good representation I am not taking any sort of sideways swipe at you. I am saying all of us who are involved should be trying to broaden the pool of interested citizens and candidates for local office. I thought we could all agree on that. Accountabiliy is a key word here. I think the city administration, city lawyer, and city council are responcible for those decisions that have frustrated some in the city. The non-profit and the Vandeveer purchase and sales should have been more transparent in my view. In order of priority we could start with the council. I think they are wonderful well intentioned people too, but they are accountable to the citizens for their actions. They should not be on council or have ever run for council, if they are too thin skinned to hear criticism. The voracity of my complaints and criticisms has been in direct response to what I think has be an effort by council and administration to shut down complaints and criticism (lack of tranparency). For the record, I do not think I am over-reacting, or fearful. Governance can be a messy business, but we will get through this and come out better on the other side. Best regards, Billy

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  12. P.T. Wood

    The arguments against home rule seem to be;
    1. Local government needs to be fixed so we must avoid fixing it.
    2. We should be more involved in local government but not in it's design.
    3. Taxes will go up
    I have a hard time following the circular logic in the first two points and the third is a potential outcome that could be addressed in the process.
    I am certain that committed citizens can and will design a local government that is better suited to our unique city than the cookie cutter statutory approach.
    Thanks Bill, Lisa, Mike, Merrell etc. for trying to keep the conversation on track.

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  13. Mike Harvey

    Home Rule does not usurp the rest of the democratic process. The citizens of Salida will still need to elect City Council members, the City Council will still make decisions based on their judgement of what is best for the City. Citizens will still have to voice their opinion to their council members when they want their opinion to be heard. Home rule changes none of these basics.

    I am in favor of a more flexible charter. It would be foolish to create a charter that is overly restrictive. That would guarantee that we will end up in a long process that requires multiple amendments. Charters are meant to be guiding documents for long periods into the future, not detailed documents that dictate every action of a democratically elected Council.

    The reason I am comfortable with a more flexible charter is because I have fundamental trust in the democratic process here in Salida. Does that mean I always agree with every decision that the City Council makes? Of course not. However I have faith that I can call up one of my neighbors who is sitting on Council and be heard to a much higher degree than any other level of government (County, State, Federal).

    I think the simplest way to distill the two "sides" of this election is: one group has a fundamental mistrust of City Government and assumes Home Rule can only produce more of what they don't like, the other believes that by being active and involved in our City Government via the Charter process we can, in the balance, have a City Government that represents us well. You are welcome to tell me I am wrong.

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  14. Merrell Bergin

    Billy, I want to respnd to just two points for now:

    1) The BEST way to contribute positively to the direction of the City is to show up at the WORKING MEETINGS held in the mornings of City Council public meeting days. There you can listen to to the thought process behind the decisions that get voted on that evening. It is far more effective than just pitching a problem with no solution in the 3 minute citizen input portion of the public session.

    2) The current City attorney will NOT be the the lead resource for the Charter development. At least TWO of the candidates (Bill Smith and Mike Scott) are practicing attorneys. In addtion there is provision to engage other attorneys with specific skill sets for charter language, if need be. One of the goals of the Charter and adopting Home Rule is to stop having to engage an out of county attorney who is one of the smaller set of those still dealing with the arcane langauge of state statutes. So you can both have your cake and eat it also - use local attorneys with no paid ties to current Council AND save money in the long run by having Council be able to hire more of a generalist and hopefully from within Salida.

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  15. Billy Carlisle

    Mike H.,
    I think you are missing one big piece of this. Many of the proponents of home rule also say they mistrust city government, and look at the home rule charter as a way to direct and restrain the city government. The facts on the ground in other home rule charter cities provides many examples of home rule charters regulating the the citizenry more closely in many ways. Home Rule charters do not restrain city government. The home rule cites wind up with more ordinances, fees and taxes. It is the home rule charter process and the more flexible city powers that leads to less freedom for the citizens. It is a sort of tyranny of the majority that can trample on individual freedoms and property rights. I know you guys will again try to label me as paranoid. Taking my freedoms seriously and carefully challenging rules and laws that I think could erode my freedoms is not paranoia. It is about limiting government and protecting as high a level of personal freedom as possible. You are turning a blind eye to the obvious, if you don't think this current city government wants to come up with more regulations, fees, and taxes. Home rule in my view is the means to that end. It is statutory law and city structure that is constraining them, and home rule will do just the opposite.

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  16. Billy Carlisle

    Thanks to Everyone,
    There are a lot of good ideas being kicked around. I am getting a better feel for some of the core concerns and goals of the players, candidates for the home rule charter commission. If you could go back through these threads and edit out some of the personal attacks you could make yourself think there are a few adults in the room. We may get there. I feel like a kid in a 60 year old body, maybe I will be a grown up one day.
    Billy

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  17. mcs

    Is there any feel for the percentage of townspeople for and against this Home Rule issue .

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  18. Mike Harvey

    Billy please site one example, supported by verifiable data, that supports your assertion that taxes and fees increase as a direct result of the adoption of home rule.

    For those of you interested there is a dissertation that was completed by a PHD canidate at CU Denver that asked whether tax revenue increased as a result of home rule. You can read the executive summary if you don't want to wade through the whole document. The conclusion is that tax collection did not increase as a result of the adoption of home rule. http://www.jasonstilwell.com/dissertation

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  19. Lisa Malde

    MCS - We will know after the 15th obviously, but we can tell you that of the 18 candidates around 13 support the home rule process.

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  20. MCS

    Well , if this will lead to more transparent actions by the city council , then I think it's a good thing . After all , I think it's a shame that local contractors didn't get to build the new DOW buildings at Vandaveer and keep the money being spent in the local economy . Lord knows , we can use it .

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  21. MCS

    P.S - I am not always around to go to the Council meetings , and I try to watch the meetings when they are on tv , but I just wish the quality of the audio at these meetings was better ( it seems very muffled ) so that we could hear what is going on better .

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  22. Billy Carlisle

    Mike,
    These statistics you can find: Lower income people and seniors pay a higher percentage of there income in sales taxes (typically 8 to 14%). Upper income people typically pay 1 to 4% of there income in sales taxes. You can deduct that higher sales tax rates that are the trend in home rule communities affect lower income citizens diproportionately.
    Your study, the one you are sighting, shows tax rates go up and revenue goes down or stays the same. I looked at your study; it supports my position not yours. We do not know, but I think the reasonable conjecture is that people avoid the highrer sales tax rates by shopping on line or in neighboring counties and municipalities. We will be shooting our local businesses in the foot by going up on fees and sales tax rates. This by the way will adversely affect the job market and the overall economy. Lower income people will have difficulty with shopping on line and traveling to other communities. Lower income citizens and many seniors will be taking up the slack so middle and upper income folks can skate.
    The council will be discussing a 7 million dollar pool exspansion tonight. That will be a high end amenity that only the middle and upper income folks can afford to enjoy. The question becomes are we willing to extort our seniors and lower income families to pay for a facility they cannot afford to use? Home rule will be the pathway to a source of revenue that dipproportionately comes from seniors and lower income citizens.
    Best regards, Billy

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  23. Jeremy

    "Lower income people and seniors pay a higher percentage of there income in sales taxes (typically 8 to 14%). "
    Fascinating Billy, Could you please tell us where this information can be found, or better yet provide a link? I've searched but so far have had no luck finding any info.
    Thanks

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  24. John Langdon

    It seems to me that most home rule supporters are trying to twist the words and motives of the anti-home rule crowd.

    I think it comes down to:

    1. The Salida city council engages in a lot of sketchy, secretive, duplicitous, and economically and environmentally irresponsible behavior - Vandeveer being one instance that comes to mind. I think a lot of the pro-home rule people (but certainly not the city council cronies) share this concern.

    2. Home rule would, whether immediately or ten years from now, give the city council more power. Certainly, we can draft a charter that is more restrictive than statutory rule, but I'd imagine that would last about as long as the United States Constitution restrained the Federal government. Statutory rule at least provides some limitations, even if obviously they aren't enough.

    Many residents believe, with good reason, that this combination would be akin to handing whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

    I'm not sure why the pro-home rule residents concerned about the council's activities think they could ever hope to restrain government. It's never happened for any length of time in this country. To several people's point, regardless of whether home rule passes or fails, if people want change, they are going to have to give the current council the boot.

    Home rule is a distraction.

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  25. Lisa Malde

    Home Rule Cities that use self collection and have the same city sales tax rate or a lower sales tax rate that our current 3%:

    Alamosa, Aspen, Breckenridge, Broomfield Flatiron and Arista Improvement District, Canon City, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Delta, Durango, Frisco, Golden, Grand Junction, Greenwood Village, La Junta, Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Loveland, Montrose, Parker, Silverthorne, Sterling, Timnath, Wheat Ridge and Woodland Park

    So of the 70 Home Rule cities that self collect sales tax, 25 (36%!) are at the same rate or less than Salida. That means switching to home rule does not directly result in an increase in sales tax, therefore home rule does not affect lower income citizens disproportionately.

    Here is my source – The State of Colorado:
    http://www.colorado.gov/cms/forms/dor-tax/dr1002.pdf

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  26. Lisa Malde

    @John Langdon - "Statutory rule at least provides some limitations, even if obviously they aren’t enough."

    Do you have some examples of how remaining a statutory city would provide limitations that becoming a home rule city would not?

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  27. Billy Carlisle

    Jeremy,
    I am looking at 30 to 50 documents a week on home rule related subjects. I am not likely to spend time looking for one isolated fact for you. It is out there. While you are looking you should look at records on sales tax rates across Colorado. That is raw data, and if you cross check it against the lists of home rule and statutory communities you will see that generally the home rule municipalities have higher tax rates. You can find charts on the fees too; they are also generally higher. You can see the raw data on both these in Colorado State and Colorado Municipal League sites. There is precious little time and four Holidays between the cities first reading of the city ordinance and the election date, January 15th. I will start posting a few links here, but I think you will have to sink or float on their own research. There is not enough time to properly research the ramifications of home rule. I think once again you are making my point for me. You haven't got time to do a thorough job on the research and niether have I. I am working and trying to maintain my job in the midst of all this too. I will think about trying to find my way back to those sites and the dates if I get some free time in the next few day.

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  28. Lisa Malde

    Billy, all of the candidates are trying to work and maintain our jobs while educating our citizens, but those of us who support the home rule process are at least citing our sources rather than throwing arbitrary unfounded information around. I would encourage you to cite your source so we can have an apples to apples comparison...and by apples I mean facts.

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  29. Mike Harvey

    Billy, the study that is listed above does not address Sales tax rates. It looks at revenues and concludes they do not increase as a result of Home Rule. I am not sure how you came to that conclusion.

    The City Council is not voting on a "$7 million pool expansion". They are voting to continue the master planning process for pool improvements. The estimated cost of those improvements right now is in the neighborhood of $3 million, however no one is at the point of seeking funding for the project aside from the cost of the planning work.

    Furthermore if you pay attention to nearly every large project that our community has completed in the last 10 years I can not think of an single project that was funded with a sales tax increase.The last time sales tax rates were increased was 2008 with 2A which passed a vote of the community and the funds were dedicated for street maintenance. If I am wrong I am sure someone will correct me.

    Again that doesn't mean that I think that every thing the City has chosen to spend money on in recent years was wise or what I would have chose, but your argument that the goal of the Home Rule process is to raise sales tax rates on people is not supported by the facts.

    Arguing with you is impossible because you either choose to ignore the facts if they do not support your predetermined conclusion or you change the subject.

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  30. Billy Carlisle

    Information for Lisa and Jeramy,
    This will be quick and easy. http://www.itepnet.org/whopays3.pdf
    I googled something like Sales Taxes Regressive on Low income citizens to get to this link. This particular site has tons of data and all types of tax ramifications by states. Scroll down near the bottom and look at the figures on % of income going to sales taxes in various states. Every state is a little diffrent because the rates are diffrent. They all have in common that low income people pay a significantly higher % of income to sales taxes than do upper income folks. At the top end (million and up the figure is as low as 1%). On the other end 8% and more are common for low income folks. It varies by state depending on which states rely more heavily on sales taxes. The states with the higher rates exact higher percentages of low income folks incomes. So let's assume from that the home rule commuities where income tax rates go up there will be a higher percentage of low income folks incomes eaten up by the taxes.There is tons of this information available on the web. I will write again when I find more.
    Glad to help, Billy

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    • Jeremy

      Billy,
      Thanks for taking the time out of your day to find that link for me, but It doesn't seem to support the 8 to 14% that you mentioned earlier.

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  31. Billy Carlisle

    Lisa,
    On the subject of facts. I have not noted that your writings are packed with facts, but I just now thought about this when you talked about facts. I am not trying to push you to busy work and I am not planning to split hairs with you on facts. I just want to know whay you think are some of the relevant facts. I will think about them and research them. I will try not to pounce. I am really seeking information. Most of the folks pushing for home rule have been short on facts and long on platitudes. Things like: We get to write it. Wouldn't you want to participate in writting a constitution for your city. I am not wanting platitudes. I would like to see more of the candidates on record in terms of specifics they want to see in a charter.

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  32. Robin

    Billy, I have tried searching for that "data" regarding taxes as well. I would appreciate it if you could site your source, so I can be better educated. I appreciate that you are looking at so many documents daily, but if you spout a fact, please site it, so we can get more details. Hearsay can be dangerous is what you are about to embark on...which is public service, as you know.

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  33. Robin

    Also, Billy....what are some specifics that you would like to see in the Charter, not that you want to see a Charter...but you are running for some reason, so what are some specifics?
    During your interview the other day, I was looking for these kinds of details, and maybe you can share them? Thank you so much.

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    • Billy Carlisle

      Robin, the information is there on tax rates but it is tough to extract. It is easy to find but takes time to cross reference and make sense of it. You have to print out reams of paper about 10 sheets (just a guess) that show which are home rule and which are statutory communities. Then you go to a Colorado State site that shows the sales tax rates for all the communities, statutory and home rule. Then you cross reference. It takes about a day to do all that. I did that two months ago. I am not a statistician and I really at the time did not think I would need to regurgitate that for you guys. You can go look for yourself. I will most likely look at it again as it is an interest of mine and the next time I do I may try to distill it for the rest of you. I am satisfied. Dig into it if you are not. Billy

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      • Robin

        I understand that this is difficult. It is not easy to extract information from data, especially when it is complex, hence why I thought I would ask you to site something simplistic, as what you provided seemed to be black and white. Guess it is grey. Thanks for trying. :)

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  34. Lisa Malde

    Billy, this is not a discussion on who pays what percent of their income towards sales taxes, this is a discussion about your insinuation that home rule results in higher sales taxes (and I'm not exactly sure why you specifically want to talk sales tax). I clearly cited the State of Colorado which shows that 36% of home rule cities that self collect are at the same sales tax rate or lower than Salida. Since we have proven your deduction that home rule causes higher sales tax rates and will affect lower income citizens disproportionately is incorrect, is that why we are changing the topic once again?

    We need to put an end to misinformation being thrown around as if it were fact.

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    • Billy Carlisle

      Just a heads up. There was a land deal discussed in coucil last night that will be a significant new community issue.

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  35. Billy Carlisle

    Tax rates are typically higher in home rule cities and that is a fact. I will get back to you with more information soon. You should look for yourself. The information is there. The question was what are you proposing in a home rule charter, or are we still on that platitude about we won't know until it is written. You are pretty darn busy attacking me. Just put some ideas on the the table.
    Billy

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  36. Joe Judd

    If sales tax is 8% (as an example), wouldn't someone have to spend EVERY dollar earned on things that are taxable at that rate to pay a percentage of 8% of their total income? I find that to be virtually impossible, as is the fallacy of one paying more than 8%. It is true that those who make less money will pay more sales tax AS A PERCENTAGE OF INCOME. The only way to rectify that is to bring lower income earners up in earned income. Furthermore, it appears that Home Rule does not necessarily lead to higher sales tax rates. Plus, Tabor will protect the citizens of Colorado from that. One need only to look at the school bond issues of recent years to see that process in action.

    The reality of this discussion (and this vote) is this: things are changing in Salida. They have been for years (100?). The choices are: 1) Do you want to keep things as they are? 2) Do you want to change things from the current situation? The upcoming vote on January 15 does nothing to affect #2. It only keeps things the way they are.

    The decision to form a Charter Commission can not change anything. It can only explore the options and hopefully come to a better solution, as judged and voted on by the citizens within 180 days.

    If you are a realist, as I am, you will probably realize that things will continue to change. This is an opportunity to affect that change in a positive way for years to come. To those who oppose Home Rule, please offer a better option than "No." I have heard several of you express that you don't like the way things are with the Council. Simply complaining rarely creates positive change. So step up and offer some better solutions!

    The folks who I know that are running for the Commission are all concerned citizens who have dedicated a significant amount of their time to make Salida a better place. That fact alone makes me give them a certain amount of trust in crafting what may become the Charter.

    Remember, the citizens have the right to vote on the Charter after it is written. If it is best for Salida in the eyes of the public, the majority will decide to move forward (or not).

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    • Billy Carlisle

      The solutions are activism, including running for office or encouraging good people to run for office. Whoever, is on council needs to engage the people in this discussion. The solutions could come through citizen committees to explore options for the city. Sounds a little like home rule, but I am not talking about a complete overhaul of the structure of our local government. We should spend time in public dialog about many important issues in the community and not turn our community upside down in one fell swoop.
      The potential for abuse of power is more rampant under home rule than it is under statutory rule and your recouse as a citizen is less clear. This by the way is not a tirade agaist the current council. I am not thrilled with them, but I am willing to concede that they are well intentioned and try to do the right thing. I do, however, think the dialog between the citizens and council has broken down. I think the administration is overly activist and that a stronger council could constrain that. Look at court cases involving citizens who are in conflict with home rule cities. The courts will defer to the home rule communities right to regulate its citizens. There is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority. In home rule communities it can become a fun pass time to regulate your fellow citizens. In the end the citizens are more regulated and less free. The taxes and fees will go up to be sure, but the ordinances can become a burdent too. Home Rule will give more power to the city government not less. Citizens will, in my opinion, lose freedoms in a home rule charter community.
      Billy

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  37. Billy Carlisle

    Another fact for you. We all know that the state sets a maximum rate for sales taxes for counties and municipalities combined which applies to statutory cities. I think that number is around 8%. You probably also know that Salida's sales tax rates combined with the county are very near that rate. We will be required to stay below that rate, if we remain statutory. We can, if the voters approve it, go above that rate as a home rule community. I am telling you as you raise that rate you will be exploiting seniors and lower income working families. Those increases will fall disproportionately on the poor. I know what your response to that will be, but I look forward to hearing it again. It is, by the way a platitude, something like, we wouldn't think of doing that. The point is that home rule would give you the tools to do it, and I can't know your intent. Only a few in the home rule crowd will admit that it is about the money. Those of you who are going along with them will be guilty, well intentioned or not, of pursueing this agenda of raising the taxes and exploiting the poor. This is not an accusation. Call it a speculation. The good news is, if home rule is voted down we will not have the misfortune of seeing our taxes go up. We can stop you, without judging you or pretending to know your mind. We will just withhold the tool, home rule, which if misused will lead to higher taxes and fees.
    Billy

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  38. Joe Judd

    I do agree on some points. However, two things stand out which are glaring in your argument.

    1) "The taxes and fees will go up to be sure"

    You can not be sure, nor can anyone. This is just a fatalist argument with nothing to back it up. To most open minded listeners, statements like this make the speakers sound like conspiracy theorists.

    2) "There is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority."

    This is called Democracy. I didn't like it when my candidate for President didn't win in the past. I was simply appalled at the recent County Commissioner election. But the majority spoke, so I accepted it. If one can not accept that the majority believes differently than they do, they are destined to a long life of feeling victimized. Democracy isn't the best system,but it seems to be best system available. If you desire to rule by minority, there are still some communities and countries in the world where they still rule that way. It goes by many different names, such as communism and tyranny.

    You have to understand, when one uses terms like 'to be sure', they better be able to back them up. Otherwise, the public will simply tune out the entirety of the message.

    Maybe the local people who support Home Rule have good intentions. I prefer to think the best and plan for the worst, instead of expecting the worst, so I'm not disappointed.

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  39. Merrell Bergin

    Billy, I spent over 90 minutes with you on and off the air at KHEN last Friday with Lisa Malde. I explained my platform in detail for nearly 30 minutes about what I would like to see explored in a charter - IF the Commission agrees that it is what voters might want. Likewise, Lisa explained her ideas. If the Mountain Mail would give me a forum I would also put it in writing there, but they won't unless I take out a paid ad.

    We are making it very clear as to the positive things we stand for. On the other hand, you are doing nothing but knocking current Council and ranting. The more words you write, the less effect they have and frankly I am tired of reading it. Can you come up with something original or at least factual to discuss?

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    • Billy Carlisle

      Significant land deal was voted on by council last night. It will be come a hot topic over the next 2 weeks. Read my note on this or better yet look at the tape of last nights council meeting the first chance you get.
      Best regards, Billy

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  40. Billy Carlisle

    One bit of local news you will want. This seemed like an easy way to get in touch with a few of the home rule candidates. An ordinance was read and had its first vote last night that will give 307 West Sacket Property to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. In an effort to make this more palatable to the public hearings may be held and may be in the process of being scheduled. Just for the record, I have not formed any strong opinion about this land deal. I am advocating a thorough public vetting of the issue. Some are saying the citizens should have a vote on this issue. A vote is scheduled for the next council meeting which could seal this deal.

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  41. Joe Judd

    I can't help but comment on the front page story in the Mountain Mail today. Ms. Marks appears to be a big supporter of CAG. She is also filing a lawsuit that will likely cost the City of Salida well over $50,000. Is this the kind of thing we can expect more of in the future if the CAG team pulls out a win? Is this a positive thing for the city?

    Responses from CAG would be most welcome.

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  42. Cory Scheffel

    I must say, this whole discussion has shaken my confidence in the ability of the proposed commissioners to create a balanced representation of Salida view points in a charter.

    What I would love to hear from the candidates are their positions on who holds the power (voters or our representative chamber) in the following issues our community is facing:
    -New taxes (I don't see taxes as bad and I believe in the citizens of Salida to vote for taxes in areas of need...Ex. the high school and Longfellow bonds)
    -Buying and selling of city property
    -annexation of surrounding developments

    (I must admit, I missed the radio interviews, and I also must admit that I know some of the candidates addressed these issues in their bios. I think we know where Mr. Carlisle stands, but I'd like to briefly hear from all the candidates.)

    We all love Salida because of what it is. So far, statuatory has helped to create a wonderful community. I think we will continue to be a wonderful place whether or not home rule is adopted.

    Coming back to the above discussion, I've watched as candidates have traded barbs over one person's "gloom and doom" view of what could happen. I think we need to consider everything including the "gloom and doom." I was saddened by Merril's characterization of people against home rule as being "afraid". Maybe they're nostalgic?

    Overall, I think a healthy respect for the differing perspectives of our neighbors is the only way this process can work. Otherwise, it seems fruitless to embark on this venture.

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    • Lisa Malde

      Cory, if you haven't taken a look at the bios on the candidates I would recommend checking them out:
      http://salidacitizen.com/2012/12/home-rule-candidates-share-bios-part-1/

      http://salidacitizen.com/2012/12/home-rule-candidates-share-bios-part-2/

      There was also a great forum put on by the League of Women Voters last month where the candidates each spoke about what they stand for. Most of the candidates have the same concerns including many which you mention.

      Personally, I would be willing to work with any of the other 17 candidates. I have simply been trying to put an end to the spreading of misinformation by some of the opponents to the home rule process.

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    • Bill Smith

      Corey:

      I think what I have heard most of the candidates say is that they want to hear what the citizens of Salida want to see in the charter. As far as I am aware no one who is candidate has taken a position on the issues that you presented. (I think that we can infer from his voluminous postings that Billy would oppose any effort to raise taxes ;)

      The point is that people are not running for the commission with different viewpoints on individual issues. They are running to write a charter for the city. Every candidate I have spoken to wants to encourage a lively public discussion on issues before they are included in the charter. I myself find it refreshing that candidates are not coming to the table with pre hardened position on issues.

      I fully agree with Lisa, I'd be willing to work with any of the other candidates.

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      • Billy Carlisle

        Bill Smith,
        What are your thoughts on this? The other problem with home rule is that more and more the courts defer to home rule communities rights to fees, annexations, and out right seizures of land. Courts defering to home rule communities means that a citizen may have less standing in a civil or civil rights suit against a home rule community than he would against a statutory community. To me this translates to less rights and protections for citizens. I hope Bill Smith will comment on this as he may have given this some thought. I am not pretending to have the facts or knowledge on this. It is a concern for me and I am reaching out to others for feedback.
        I will miss this discussion, but if it snows Friday night, I will be off skiing for a few days.

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    • Billy Carlisle

      Cory asked about some of my stands. What would I want in a charter if it was written. I begin by saying vote no and I do not want a charter. A charter should include, if it is written: High bars for council to bring amendments. Low bars for citizens to bring initiatives or amendments if they are to be brought in general elections. Higher bars for citizens to bring initiatives if they are to be brought in general elections. General elections are less costly than special elections. Low thresholds for recall elections. Maintain current Ward System of Representation on Council, with two Council Persons for each of 3 wards. Raise pay for councilman so average folks could afford to run and feel they would get modest but fair return on their time. You should not have to drive your family into the poorhouse to participate. This could reduce possibilities for corruption. Some may be tempted to run for council for possible secondary gain like favorable treatment as a contractor of developer if the pay is too low. Strict rules about disposal and sale of any assets and requiring a vote of the people in prescribed situations. Civil rights for citizens and protections from onerous fees, penalities and frivolous regulations. The problem here is I think the most difficult task will be protecting the citizens from the over regulation possibilities. Over regulation and loss of freedom would be, in my view, an inevitable by product of home rule. On a home rule drafting committee that last concern might be my biggest concern and the area I would work hardest to understand and protect against (I.E. over regulation and loss of citizen freedoms).

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  43. Billy Carlisle

    Good comments from Bill, Cory, and Lisa.The taxes, by the way are not my only concern. The city has found funding in multiple ways and by concensus. You can check my history. I have not opposed bond issues for example and our city has made choices to fund schools and that infrastructure may will draw young families, a trend that will be vital to the future of Salida. The taxes issue is mostly for me about sales taxes which can be harsh for seniors and the working poor. Regulations and fees can effect citizens and businesses alike and the tendency in most home rule communities is to over regulate. Jefferson Counties list of ordinances specific to open space is a good example. There are many things prohibited in Jefferson County that we routinely enjoy in Chaffee. Things like camping and camp fires just to name a few.
    The other problem with home rule is that more and more the courts defer to home rule communities rights to fees, annexations, and out right seizures of land. Courts defering to home rule communities means that a citizen may have less standing in a civil or civil rights suit against a home rule community than he would against a statutory community. To me this translates to less rights and protections for citizens. I hope Bill Smith will comment on this as he may have given this some thought.

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    • Lisa Bova

      Yes and Jefferson County is huge compared to Salida and they have huge amounts of open space, (probably even more than Boulder County now) way too much to keep track of, especially in area's of high fire danger. Those rules, I am sure were applied by careful consideration by the County to protect their open space. I find it amazing that we keep trying to compare what one area does, in this case a whole county, bigger than Chaffee and then apply it to Salida. I am glad to see people involve and passionate about this discussion and I hope no matter what it will encourage more people to become involved in city governance.

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  44. Wiggy

    After reading though this discussion, I am still mystified about what is the compelling reason to switch to "Home Rule". I agree that transparency is an issue but couldn't that be rectified with better citizen involvement? If the statutory model is working why change? Since Home Rule seems to have roots with the city council this time around, I am skeptical that they would be trying to address transparency. I am concerned that if well intentioned citizens convince a majority of voters that Home Rule is the way to go that in the future there will be other causes that tug at our heart strings for funding and somehow in the new charter a funding mechanism will be found. You know who pays.

    I don't know the particulars about the Sacket Street annexation but in other communities that set aside land for open space, the property is taken off the tax rolls and the burden of supporting government becomes heavier for the remaining private property owners. So the emotional side says set aside the land for everyone and wildlife, but everyone's costs go up as a result. So what seems like a good idea on the surface can have unintended consequences.

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    • Lisa Malde

      "If the statutory model is working why change?"

      Do you feel that it is working? The reason so many citizens have been attending city council meetings lately is because they have a number of concerns about things have been handled including but not limited to the Vanderveer project, the creation of the 6320 corporation and how the land was then transferred to the corporation. A new concern is how the Colorado Parks & Wildlife property, which is owned by the City, may be simply transferred over. Many of the concerns surrounding these projects and how they have been handled could be addressed in a home rule charter.

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  45. Bill Smith

    Billy:

    This is my impression, take it for what it is worth.

    First let's be clear about government and its power. The government can do whatever it wants, and can take anything it wants. They can, put you in jail without a reason, take your property, take your kids, and then you get to complain after the fact. They can even take your life.

    Courts always defer the government. Federal, state, county municipal, whatever. Anytime you are suing the government the odds are against you. There are a number of reasons for this. The big one is that the government writes the laws which make it harder to sue them. The other big one is that courts believe (and the believe it because it is true) that citizens generally have other ways of resolving issues with their government. These include initiatives, referendums, amendments to the constitutions, home rule, and electing people who won't do those things that you are complaining about.

    I don't have any evidence that home rule cities get more deference from courts. You may see it more because there are far more home rule cities than not. But I think if you look at the cases and the statutes that cover this, there isn't any difference.

    There are timelines for for suing cities that are far shorter than for private actions. In many cases cities can do what ever they want as long as the action is not arbitrary and capricious, a very low standard.

    In many places and instances you cannot sue a government in small claims, rendering the costs of an action against the government prohibitive.

    Many things a city does, when challenged, has a presumption of validity that the plaintiff has to overcome by presenting evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is a very high standard.

    And let's never forget, the municipality gets to use unlimited funds provided by taxpayers to fight you.

    I don't think home rule really changes any of that. The challenges to cities may be related to home rule or the charter, but the rules and the amount of deference appear to me to be the same.

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  46. Billy Carlisle

    Thanks for that insight, Bill. I am not sure where the evidence or facts would lead if we had more time to study this. You are saying suing city hall is tough whether it is statutory or home rule and I have no hard facts to refute that. You can if you search the web find some horrow stories with folks feeling the home rule city ran rough shod over them and the recourse did not work for the citizen, because the courts gave deference city sighting that it was home rule. This information is only random cases; it would be almost impossible to quantify if you did study it. I guess I just have to decide for myself if my concern/fear is reasonable.

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  47. Joe Judd

    Ahem....May I once again ask for a response from the CAG group regarding the filing of lawsuits against the city? Billy, Melodee? I believe Melodee invited Ms. Marks to speak on behalf of CAG on the KHEN forum recently.

    I would really be interested to know how this group feels, given that one of their backers (or just verbal supporters) was potentially going to sue the city. At the very least, her actions will cost the city (read, taxpayers; you, me and everyone) at least $2,000 in additional cost to count ballots by hand.

    I worry that this apparent strategic alignment may lead to more legal battles at the expense of the citizens. I think we can all agree that paying more legal fees is not a step in the right direction.

    Please enlighten me as to how the CAG may proceed if they win, lose or draw. I would love to expect the best from all parties, but I have to say, I am concerned.

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  48. mcs

    There is a story about Ms. Marks' side of the story in the Mountain Mail today . It seems the City Attorney and others have assumed that certain things ( lawsuits for one ) are a sure thing . But where is the proof . And I feel it is a good thing that a group such as the one she is involved in , is looking over and checking the facts on things such as voting issues . If we the people don't keep a watchful eye on those in power and the decisions they make , who will do it ? The other issue is that we really don't know if what anyone says is really the truth . I hate to be someone that doubts every word that is said ,but , there have been many times that a person ( seeking a public office for example ) says what they think others want to hear and not what they really want or believe , just to get in a position of power . I am really getting disillusioned with all of the negativity we see every day in the news and amongst our elected officials on very important matters that affect us and our children and grandchildren . I need to go for a hike to clear out my head .

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  49. Billy Carlisle

    In brief, Marilyn Marks made inquiries independently of anything CAG, was doing. I was the Secretary at CAG, but once I became a candidate for the Home Rule Charter Commission I resigned as Secretary at CAG so I could speak for myself as a citizen and a candidate. Marilyn Marks was involved on her own initiative for several weeks before I heard of her involvement and my knowledge of that came from the newspaper just like yours. I do not believe that Ms. Marks intends to sue the city of Salida. She is a free person and if she chooses to do that it will be her decision, not mine.
    Look at voting and the rule of law in the broader sense. We need to have a voting opportunity that is transparent and fair to maintain our representative democracy. We should all be able to have confidence in that process, our form of government depends on that. Rules and laws are necessary to a civil socienty, and the alternative is anarchy and vigilante justice. Our society is based on the rule of law and as such, Ms. Marks has a right to access to the justice system.
    Her last big set of battles involved identifying marks on ballots. We know that several citizens were able to access ballots by open records rules and identify their own and other folks ballots by scanning barcodes. The situation was that any moderately computer savvy individual could take a cheap laptop and scanner into the clerk's office and find out how you voted. As a result of Marilyn's efforts and other's the Secretary of State was compelled to issue an order instructing all county clerks to remove identifying marks from the ballots for the 2012 general election. All but a handful, 3 to 5, colorado counties had identifying marks on them. Some people are timid, some people might fear retribution from the government or an employer, if they voted a particular way. In our representative form of government we insure maxium participation in voting by guaranteeing the right to a secrete ballot. As citizens we must defend this right. I believe that it iss Marilyn's goal to ensure the citizens can vote without fear of unfairness or retribution. Democracy in a Republic 101.
    Billy C

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  50. Melodee Hallett

    CAG never aligned with Ms Marks and Marilyn is not a supporter of CAG.

    CAG is an issue committee that was formed for the election and will dissolve after the election.

    Marilyn was invited to speak on KHEN to address voting issues.

    Since I have taken a back seat to a regular radio program I used to do at KHEN, I fill in periodically doing radio interviews on various issues and came on Dan's program where he has tried to address all sides of this election process.

    It is regretful that this election has created division when we are neighbors. Elections do that. The focus becomes on our differences instead of the many similarities, contributions, and talents we all bring to the table. I do not like politics for that reason.

    As for the perceptions around suing by Ms Marks. I believe she stated her point. People either choose to believe her comments and fruits of her efforts, a lawyers comments( whose business is around the court system), or somewhere in between.

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  51. Joe Judd

    Thanks for the confirmation. I had only heard second hand that Ms. Marks was 'supporting' CAG. I was not able to hear the interview myself.

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  52. Joe Judd

    Billy and Melodee - Just to be clear, are both of you stating that you are in no way tied to Marilyn Mark's group? Personally, professionally, individually? Has Marilyn been invited to participate in this election by anyone associated with CAG? As our voting should be 'transparent and fair,' so should the associations of our candidates.

    BTW, don't assume I'm for one side or the other on this issue. I will say that those who are for Home Rule seem to be giving a lot more compelling reasons and facts. Most important to me, they seem to be working from a stance of positive input for the better. I'm still waiting for any CAG candidate to express clearly what they would like to see, should the process move forward. I really dislike the idea of a small group of monkey wrenchers just running for the Commssion for the sake of mucking it up later for the rest of the voters who don't share their view.

    Come on CAG candidates, tell me what you will stand for, should this issue pass next week. I know what you are against. I certainly agree with some of your points, but the other side is making a pretty compelling argument.

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    • Billy Carlisle

      Joe Judd, Sorry I missed this comment earlier. I took a short vacation, a prescheduled non-refundable trip.
      The no vote prevailed, but most of us are still decompressing in a way. I am relaxing still. Many of us worked tirelessly on this whole thing since late August. I was out Saturday through Wednesday on a vacation that was scheduled before this all came up.. My wife and I skipped decorating for Christmas, a Holiday we normally enjoy. I am sure everyone sacrificed. Others working on the campaign discussed strategies and activities by phone, when their visiting kids and grand kids were in the background. I am guessing we are all tired and jubilant at the same time.
      The council in the main ignored us and in the part they were sometimes hostile from August and until today. The voting/election process was far from transparent. The city grudgingly made concessions, but always under pressure. Watchers that were not allowed close enough to see was just emblematic, there were many more examples, some centered around chain of custody on the ballots. Those of us involved will debrief each other shortly. None of us is building the argument for a legal case, nor would we. The election flaws do make it subject to challenge. I do not think this will happen, but why should we as citizens accept an election process that is/was flawed.
      Additionally being ignored is infuriating. I am already expecting that we will list our grievances and as a result be ridiculed. At this point the perception and perhaps the propaganda will say, “Nothing will satisfy them and they are just a bunch or paranoid complainers.”
      There needs to be some sort of never again position paper. We need, somehow, to get the public to understand that non-transparent election processes will disillusion voters to the point that they disenfranchise themselves and just drop off of the voting logs.
      Marilyn Marks came in on this for her own reasons; we did not invite her. She did, however, get good results and the city made several important concessions under pressure from Marilyn. Most of us who have been involved in CAG understand the importance of correcting the election policies for the future, but we are hard pressed to envision a strategy that would put the city on a path to make constructive changes. I hope that we will not leave this chapter in our lives without planting seeds that will make our election processes fairer and more transparent in the future. Fairness, anonomous ballots, and transparency are important cornerstones of our representative democracy. When citizens bring the government's attention to these kinds of issues, all of us should applaud and support them.
      I participated with CAG, but once becoming a candidate for the HR charter I resigned as an officer at CAG. The organization did great work and although I supported and helped them, I do no speak for CAG officially.
      This is Billy Carlisle, a Candidate and a Citizen, speaking his mind.

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  53. Melodee Hallett

    Joe, I am a member of Citizens Center and that is my association with Marilyn. I am loosely a member of CAG and CAG will end after the election. CAG is not associated with Marilyn.

    I have stated numerous times my stance on the League of Women's Voters forum, the paper, and on the radio. I have not said much else because once I mentioned why I was not for home rule at this time, if ever, the negatory reactions from some pro people led me to not take the conversation further. Those who were listening either got it or rejected my stance and me.

    If the election is for creating a charter and I am elected to be on the committee, then lets go for it and make ours exemplary. I, also, feel 6 months to create a charter might be confining when there are aspects most of us have not explored yet. This is a document if done swiftly, might bring up more than we asked for.

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  54. Merrell Bergin

    This issue has generated a tremendous amount of comments, some interesting but a lot of repetition. The newly added layer of of the possibility of "election conspiracy" only adds to the media circus.

    Yes, by all means, attend Marilyn Marks' Election Watcher workshop on Monday. Better yet, vounteer to HELP and not hinder the arduous hand counting process the City will be undertaking. Just be sure you keep an open mind and make your motivation a positive one.

    This is not the Spanish Inquisition, it is a sinple election whose purpose is only to allow a Charter Commission to BEGIN the process of wriitng what YOU want into a charter that YOU vote on again. Give it a chance and stop obessing about vote fraud.

    I'd like to leave it today with a thought often quoted: " It's always better to try and fail than accept the status quo" - Charlotte Druckman.

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