Some Reflections on the Supertower Bill

I am pretty disheartened by the last few days. As I wrote in a response to one of the many emails in my inbox this evening, regardless of whether you support or oppose the proposed tower, the issue of the last several days is how our elected representatives should make decisions that affect us. I believe deeply that government should conduct its deliberations and make its decisions in the open. I supported televising our city council meetings for this reason. I supported posting our agendas and documents on the web for this reason. I maintain this blog and regularly send emails to my constituents for this reason.

I respect the right of Senators Allard and Salazar to make decisions I disagree with, but I think it was extremely disrespectful of their constituents and of the democratic process to try and sneak through a decision like this – a significant and controversial decision – under the cover of darkness, in the last few days of the session, without any warning, with no deliberation or discussion, without any hearings, and without even informing the affected parties (except the Lake Cedar Group itself, which presumably wrote the bill from which they will now benefit so greatly).

And in this case, the issues are significant. To what extent should one local community bear the impacts and risks associated with a regional project? Is it appropriate for Congress to usurp the ability of a local government (in this case Jefferson County) to make its own land use decisions? Is it appropriate for Congress to pass a bill that specifically benefits a single corporate entity (in this case the Lake Cedar Group)? Whatever your answers are to these questions, they are serious questions and deserved better than a dark-of-night rubber stamp. I believe deeply that democracy – messy and inefficient though it may be – depends on the government acting openly and transparently. What happened over the past several days was precisely the opposite.

Incidentally, Coloradolib (“More federal trampling of local concerns”) noted some of Senator Salazar’s campaign contributions, and Colorado Confidential (“Congress Does Zoning”) gave a somewhat detailed account.

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