High Plains Patriots have counter effect

Freedom New Mexico

When citizens rise up to fight city hall we usually applaud the effort.

Not this time, however. It smells like sour grapes.

And it hints at a never-ending war between elected city leaders and a few hundred disgruntled citizens who, every time they dislike a vote, could try to disrupt community business and cost taxpayers about $17,000 per special election.

Imagine what that final tab could cost us all.

The dispute

Clovis’ High Plains Patriots have filed their second petition of 2011 seeking a special election. This time the members disagree with the City Commission’s May 5 vote adopting an “affordable housing plan.”

Commissioners say the plan will allow Clovis to offer tax breaks and low-interest loans to builders who have otherwise failed to fill Clovis’ need for more affordable homes.

The Patriots contend the ordinance will create unfair competition for “favored investors” and they want voters to decide.

The problem

The city charter allows a “negative referendum” special election to be called if a petition is submitted and signed by enough registered Clovis voters to exceed 20 percent of the previous municipal election’s turnout. That means only 456 registered city voters’ signatures are needed to force this election.

The sour grapes smell arose because this Patriots’ effort came just two days after they lost their first negative referendum vote — by a 55-percent to 45-percent margin. They sought to overturn the Commission’s vote to raise the gross receipts tax for 10 years to help defray the city’s cost to build the Ute Lake water pipeline.

The solution

Do not sign the petition the Patriots are circulating. It has to be submitted to City Hall by June 6.

Tell the requesters you don’t want your tax dollars spent repeatedly on ballots, voting machine rentals, mandated legal notices and election workers.

Tell the requesters the best solution is for some of them to run for office and clear out those who don’t champion limited government.

Until then, we encourage the Patriots or others at public meetings to continue to voice their concerns about the dangers of socialistic tendencies.

But we discourage their efforts to force one expensive election after another.

All that repetitive foolishness might do is to help justify a tax hike. Or it could signal it is time for voters to amend the city charter so more petition signatures are required before a special election can be held.