September has arrived as many wonder what happened to summer. But we need to slow down the calendar now.
OK, that's not possible. Instead, let's sound a very loud warning here.
The 2010 general election is coming. Much sooner than you probably realize.
Just six weeks from now, more than 100,000 El Paso County voters will receive their mail ballots, with more expected to vote at the polls Nov. 2. Six weeks, and Coloradans will begin deciding who should lead the state and county; whether we should structurally change Colorado Springs' form of government; whether to enact ballot-driven measures designed to limit or alter how our state operates; and even whether to allow or prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in the county's unincorporated areas.
It's an exciting, yet scary, scenario that's about to unfold. Brace yourself to be inundated with endless TV ads, from the cleverly deceptive to the outright dishonest, playing to voters' ignorance and fears about issues and candidates. If you aren't paying close attention, you might wander down some wrong paths.
The focus here today isn't about individual races, though they certainly are important. We'll hear plenty from all sides about the hottest battles for public office. But we're also looking at another bloated ballot filled with between 15 and 20 other questions, propositions and philosophical issues.
For many, the temptation might be to ignore all those ballot issues, or single out a few and vote only for those. That would be a serious mistake, because the ones you ignore could disrupt your life the most.
Just to give you an idea, let's roll through those that demand a closer look. Then it's up to you, because the time to learn about ballot issues is now.
Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101: Together, these comprise the nuclear bomb that would decimate state government and create chaos. No exaggeration. Medicaid for the elderly and disabled, human services, public education and more would face huge cutbacks or even shutdowns if these measures pass. Some say they'll vote yes because they want less government. They don't realize the disaster that would follow.
Amendment 62: It's the "personhood" issue, back again. Sounds like just another anti-abortion campaign, but the language (with life beginning at conception) would affect many more medical procedures, even access to birth control.
Amendment 63: This is Colorado conservatives' effort to say no, if only symbolically (federal legislation takes precedence), to efforts to increase health coverage while reducing health care costs.
Strong mayor: Tired of Colorado Springs having city managers? Want the mayor to rule city government, with City Council taking a lesser role? We'll be hashing this one out in weeks to come.
Medical marijuana: The city said no to having voters decide the fate of dispensaries (officially called centers), but county commissioners are asking the county's voters to determine how MMJ is dispensed in unincorporated areas. That makes it a referendum, likely setting the course for the future. But be careful: "Yes" apparently will mean no dispensaries; "no" will allow already-regulated centers to remain open.
County term limits: Late in the process, with no public debate, commissioners opted to ask for a possible third four-year term for themselves, the district attorney and selected other offices. Really.
City finances: To be decided on Thursday, Sept. 2, with City Council weighing whether to request a local TABOR (Taxpayer's Bill of Rights) timeout to help economic recovery and whether to use some trails and open-space money for helping maintain all city parks.
Your self-education can begin at ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Colorado_2010_ballot_measures, with more materials coming soon. It's also imperative to confirm your voting eligibility — especially if you haven't voted lately. To do that, go to sos.state.co.us and click on verify/update my voter registration, or start by calling 520-6222.
If none of that works, call the Independent at 577-4545. We'll be happy to point you in the right direction.
But this time, you really must do some studying. Because if the next two months go by as fast as the past three, it'll be too late before you know it.