Letter to the editor: Should voters be able to decide city policies?
January 6, 2014
There are two separate and distinct initiative petition processes currently underway in South Lake Tahoe. One relates to marijuana sales and use and the other relates to eliminating paid-parking meters on city-owned streets and right of ways. Both measures have advocates in support of them and likely those who oppose them.
City voters who sign an initiative petition are not enacting or repealing a law. They are simply agreeing by their signature to have the matter placed on the ballot if sufficient signatures are gathered to do so. Then, all voters in the city limits can decide the matter. The initiative and referendum tools have been part of our democratic process for more than 100 years. The initiative process in California was part of Progressive Era reforms in 1911 that were a response to the perception that elected officials at that time were out of touch with the will of the people.
Sometimes elected officials in cities decide to place contentious matters on the ballot (i.e. if the proposal is legal) to get the pulse and sense of the community. Elected leaders have this choice. Asking the voters of the city for their opinion is a good-government principle because it allows those who are governed with a choice in deciding the rules under which they live.
David M. Jinkens
South Lake Tahoe