Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Council Calls for a Do-Over -- Boulder Ballot Questions 2A and 2D

Last year, City Council put a couple of issues on the ballot that didn't pass, and this year they included variations of the same issues. Ballot Question 2B in 2007 asked us to give council members a raise of almost 200%, granting them up to $1,000 per month (based on attending two council meetings per month). At the time, I recommended voting for the change, but the measure did not pass. This year, Ballot Question 2A asks for a similar raise (including annual cost-of-living increases), with the exception that it is not tied to the number of meetings attended.

In principle, I agree with this. Being a council member is about a half-time job. Raising the pay from about $4/hour to about $12/hour makes it easier to recruit from a broader base of candidates. However, there is also the fact that one year after the voters rejected an almost identical measure and during a down economy the council is asking us for a huge increase. I would be much more comfortable with this with one simple change: Make it effective after the next council election.

Ballot Question 2A in 2007 asked us to allow City Council (with a 2/3 majority) to lease public property for up to 40 years (currently limited to a maximum of 20 years). I recommended a no vote on that measure and it failed. This year, Ballot Question 2D resurrects the issue in pretty much the same form.

The argument for this one is that nonprofits that lease space from the city can better borrow money, plan, and raise funds if they have the certainty of a 40 year lease. The examples given are The Dairy Center for the Arts, BMOCA, Chautauqua, the Boulder History Museum, Eco-Cycle, Boulder Day Nursery, Farmer's Market, and Meals on Wheels. However, no specific example has been given of even one of these organizations that has actually suffered because of the current 20 year limitation (although most of them do support this measure).

Meanwhile, paranoids in the community suspect the council is putting this in place as part of a scheme to ram through an unpopular project such as the suggested downtown conference center. I'm not sure this is a valid concern, but then I haven't seen an example of a valid reason for this expansion.

I suppose my bottom line is I'd like to see a better explanation of why this one is necessary. You'd think that after is was rejected a year ago council would have learned the lesson and told us more about why they need this power. But maybe they just figured the odd-year election was an anomaly and they'd have better luck this time.

Oh, and a message to City Council: Changing the question number on the ballot will not confuse us enough to remember that we voted on these same issues just twelve months ago.

Vote NO on Question 2A.
Vote NO on Question 2D.

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