Letter: People’s rights first
I hope it’s becoming clear to everyone who attended the recent Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in Glenwood Springs and who read your article that many laws are stacked against citizens, especially those living in rural communities, and that the system needs to be fixed.
The real question here is, “Who should determine what happens in your community?” Is it large corporations that profit from paying poverty wages, a slumlord who has no limit placed upon him or her to charge whatever rents they want, a mining company moving into your neighborhood and writing the rules that “regulate” their practices for extracting valuable resources and dumping the resultant waste back into the environment?
Or should the decision be given to the residents of the community affected? I choose the latter. That’s why I vote, and I let my elected official know how I feel about issues I’m affected by and familiar with. Unfortunately, many of us are learning that our opinions don’t matter as much as those who offer large monetary rewards for the few who seem to matter most.
Fracking is just one piece of the larger puzzle of community rights. In Garfield County we are also being disenfranchised with having no livable wage, no rent controls and continued development on lands some of us feel are best left open, to name a few. Because of a few constraints like Dillon’s Rule, pre-emption and corporate personhood, the state has the first and final say in how local municipalities do business. Laws written and ratified at the state level pre-empt any statutory municipality from writing and enacting tougher laws to protect people and places. Communities like Glenwood Springs and Carbondale are home rule, so they have the opportunity to amend their charter to enact measures that safeguard the citizenry and natural environment. Many of us, like those in Battlement Mesa, live in unincorporated Garfield County, which is statutory.
The complete puzzle to creating a community that works for everyone is the process by which all laws, regulations and ordinances are created. They must derive from citizens, not corporations and government officials. We must elect our representatives based on whether or not they believe they serve us, or we bow to them. I choose the former.
The Colorado Community Rights Network is working to fix the problem of government oversight and disregard for the need for local citizens to be self-determining. When corporations are given pre-emption by the state to operate at will, throughout the state, there is no fighting the inevitable decisions we saw in Glenwood Springs. When this issue goes before our county commissioners we already know what the outcome is.
Someone asked me at the first P&Z “hearing” in October, about the county P&Z members, “Don’t they care about us?” I responded, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Learn more about bringing democracy back to our communities by going to http://www.cocrn.org. Help us petition for the 2016 Colorado Community Rights Amendment.
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