There are so many headlines The Durango Herald could have chosen to reflect the 4-1 City Council vote to pass a disposable bag ordinance and the interests of the majority of residents who elected them. Instead, the Herald chose to continue the shock-jock reporting on the topic with, “City Council smothers bag-fee foes” (Aug. 7).
What’s with all the emphasis on foes – a minority of city residents and many from the county who are ineligible to vote in the city. Because the Herald left the Aug. 6 meeting early, Herald readers did not know that in the interest of our city, council also voted to acquire $5 million of water from Lake Nighthorse to meet the future needs of a growing Durango population. As well, City Manager Ron LeBlanc explained how our sales tax dollars are distributed, including how if the foes from Bayfield and Ignacio shop outside Durango they will hurt the sales-tax revenue of their own communities.
Though the coverage has been consistent, few, if any, bag articles have helped to inform or educate readers about the ordinance. For that, read the Aug. 8 Durango Telegraph or visit durangogov.org. The July 17 Herald editorial about the topic lauded council for the bag fee being in keeping with council’s commitment to a 2007 community vision and led readers astray, suggesting council is not basing its decision on popular vote or majority opinion.
Let’s look at the real numbers: Elected in April, Dean Brookie (2,564 votes) and Christina Rinderle (2,392 votes) campaigned on environmental values. The bag-ban petition collected 850 signatures. In contrast, the Chamber of Commerce survey cited in the editorial used 63 percent (actually 231 respondents) opposed to the fee.
This citizen-initiated disposable bag ordinance is a policy based upon majority interests. Council’s decision is a compromise representative of the people who elected it. That’s democracy. What should be the cause for concern and, hopefully, the future focus of council and the Herald is that a minority – a mere 10 percent of voters (344) in the last election – can petition to overturn policies of the majority.