10/8/08

Colorado voters should curb gov't corruption

Amendment 54 backed by Aspen Times editors

Colorado’s election ballot is long and confusing, but late last week it got a little bit simpler when four measures were withdrawn. Voters needn’t waste their time studying or voting on Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 because they have been pulled from the ballot by the labor groups that supported them.

The amendments might still appear on your ballot, depending on where you live, but any votes cast on these measures will not be counted by the Secretary of State. So don’t worry about them.

Whew.

Now here’s where it gets a little thorny. The four canceled measures were withdrawn from the ballot as part of a deal last week between business and labor groups in Denver. In exchange for pulling the pro-labor measures from the ballot, the labor groups have accepted $3 million from business groups to fight Amendment 47, the so-called right-to-work measure that would bar employers from requiring new workers to join unions as a condition of their employment. That’s right — business and labor interests struck a somewhat bizarre deal (some have already called it an unholy alliance) to remove several onerous measures from the state ballot; the good news for voters is that there are fewer complex issues to consider.

The only measure in this group that addresses a basic aspect of governmental operation is 54, which would bar certain government contractors from making political contributions during the terms of their contracts and for two years thereafter.

The idea here is to prevent payoffs to government officials in exchange for no-bid government contracts, which we feel is a common-sense move toward clean government. Isn’t that what constitutions are for?

Vote yes on Amendment 54.

Amendments 47 and 49 also remain on the ballot, and are seen as union-busting measures, but 47 is by far the most damaging. Unions fear the amendment will erode their membership rolls and coffers by making membership completely voluntary. Amendment 49 would prohibit government agencies from collecting union dues in the form of automatic payroll deductions.

To us, the first question to ask about all these measures is whether they merit a constitutional amendment. There should be a compelling reason to amend the Colorado Constitution, and we don’t think a tug-of-war between business and labor belongs in the state’s most fundamental guiding document — regardless of which side you’re on.

We actually see some merit in Amendment 47, which despite its anti-union roots would nonetheless protect workers’ freedom of choice, and Amendment 49, which would take the government out of the union dues-collecting business. But we don’t believe these issues deserve treatment in the state Constitution.

Vote no on amendments 47 and 49.

- Editors

(aspentimes.com)

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