After reading Randy Gaylord’s comments on the Council’s decision to drop their lawsuit against a citizen for filing a referendum, I was flabbergasted and speechless all at the same time. This did not last long because I am not speechless now. In fact I have so much to say I hardly know where to begin.
For many years I have been a supporter of Mr. Gaylord. He has had a brilliant career as a champion of the people from the infamous “Jet Ski Ban” to his courageous and principled stand on the guesthouse issue. But somewhere along the line Randy has lost his way.
From challenging “free speech” in Supreme Court and entangling our county in one expensive loosing appeal after another he has squandered his good will. By suing a citizen for filing a referendum and threatening others who dare to do the same he has set a precedent of governing through intimidation. Listen to his comments here.
“It makes sense that this process includes fair warning to referendum sponsors that they
may have to appear in court and tell a judge why their proposal is consistent with the law,” said Gaylord.
And that isn’t all. If you dare to file a referendum in San Juan County armed deputies in squad cars may serve you with a summons at any hour of the day or night. You will have to pay your own legal fees for years until the appeals run out. You may be forced to pay the County’s legal fees if you lose! Governing by intimidation. This is what the Council termed “Repugnant”. But Mr. Gaylord disagrees.
“Frankly,” Gaylord added, “I found comments made about how ashamed we should be for having standard legal notices delivered to the petitioner, an attorney who knows how the process works, to be disingenuous at best.”
Since when is telling the truth disingenuous? Is “Home Rule” just another word for “Police State”? Lord have mercy!
Later in the day after the Council voted to drop this repugnant lawsuit they discussed the possibility of changing the Ordinance that started this whole mess. Our County Attorney put a halt to this conversation by saying basically that to do this would be handing a victory to the people who signed the petition. So this is all about winning a meaningless personal victory over the people not about government by and for the people. And it gets even more repugnant.
“The courts have ruled that when the state legislature specifically requires elected local officials to do something, local voters are not allowed to prevent them from doing it,” said Gaylord.
Let me be crystal clear about this point, the referendum does nothing to prevent the county from complying with state law. It simply questions the method of funding to carry out the mandate. All funds collected in 2007 under this ordinance are intact. To say that the people are not allowed to question a particularly repugnant method of funding is bunk.
The people should never yield local control over to a higher power especially when the local legislature seeks to impose an unfair and possibly illegal tax upon its citizens. The State did not mandate the County Council to impose a tax upon us and call it a fee so they could cleverly skate around the law that limits a tax increase to 1% annually. That is the real issue, not some GMA compliance smokescreen.
The only thing that could possibly keep the County from complying with State mandates is the Council’s own incompetence. They could change this funding ordinance at any time and substitute a fair one in its place. They have at least 5 months to do this and make no mistake they should do it ASAP. To sit around and twiddle their thumbs instead would be ridiculous, possibly even repugnant.