By Cathy Yonker, Mike Finney, Betty Clark, Paul Bynum and Dave Peters
The facts surrounding the bag ordinance are clear and evidence to support a vote to repeal it.
Fact: The petition to recall the bag tax ordinance contained approximately twice the number of legitimate signatures of registered Durango city voters as the 800-signature petitions that the Durango City Council relied on, that only had approximately 180 registered Durango city voters on them.
Fact: The petitions relied on by the Durango city council were submitted by the Bag-It group that was facilitated by the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado. City Council member Dick White was a founding member and board member of the SASCO when the petitions were submitted and active supporter of the Bag-It campaign as seen on its Facebook page. The majority of the signatures were obtained from the online petition site, MoveOn.org.
Fact: The ordinance was passed without listening to the residents of Durango. The study group the city put together to review disposable bag options in 2012 did not recommend a bag tax. The city attorney was concerned about potential litigation if the ordinance was not put to a vote. The affected stores asked the city to try other options first.
Fact: The same City Council directed city staff to start purchasing reusable bags to promote this ordinance in February, and actually started purchasing them before the city even passed the ordinance. The city spent more than $10,000 on organic reusable bags at a cost of more than $2.50 each! Including other bags the city purchased in 2013, it has spent more $15,000! Yet there is no money for the Buzz Bus.
Fact: The proposed tax is on paper and plastic bags – not just plastic as some think.
Fact: Councilor Dean Brooke has donated money and held pro-Bag-It meetings at his home. In addition, he recently did a robo-call as a Durango City Council member advocating voting for the tax. At the end of the message you are encouraged to go to Durangogov.com! How can the City Council and the city itself take a position like this when it is charged with representing all of the people?
Fact: The bag tax is not being as universally accepted as is being claimed. The Denver mayor indicated he might veto a bag tax, citing the hardship to low-income families and our senior citizens. The city of Aspen is being sued for a similar ordinance. Fort Collins voted against a bag tax ordinance
Fact: Theft of merchandise and shopping baskets goes up in stores subject to the bag tax.
The proposed tax is based on the personal agenda of certain City Council members (exception is Keith Brant) and does not represent all residents of Durango. There appears to be a substantial conflict of interest/personal agenda between the council members representing the residents of Durango and their individual ideals. Does the city of Durango have a code of ethics or similar document that City Council is supposed to abide by? If not, it seems like the time is now to consider one.
Cathy Yonker, Mike Finney, Betty Clark, Paul Bynum and Dave Peters oppose the bag-fee ordinance. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.