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Thou shalt not

Dear Editor:

It has been said recently that citizens stepping in with a petition and initiative to change the course of a government project is somehow not right. Petitions and initiatives are as right and perfectly acceptable as democracy itself.

This right is, after all, guaranteed by the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution and accepted here in Pagosa and across the free world. It prohibits the government from “abridging the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The right to petition is fundamental in a Constitutional Republic as a means of protecting public participation in government. Historically, the right can be traced back to English documents such as the Magna Carta.

The Friends of Reservoir Hill are practicing the noblest form of democracy and so are the folks who vote “yes” in the election.

It is also a guarantee of our government that no one has the right to know how any citizen votes.

It is also interesting and telling that this is the second time in one generation the question of developing a town park for commercial reasons has been rejected by town people exercising the right to petition. It seems like the government would get the message. There should be a line etched in stone above the entrance to Town Hall, “Thou shalt not mess with a town park.”

Norm Vance

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.