August 27, 2014 Updated: August 27, 2014 at 4:15 am
If members of the City Council want to lose one or more major military installations, as the Pentagon determines how to allocate $900 billion-plus in budget cuts, they should just keep easing the way for recreational pot. Just imagine a pot store in every neighborhood and a giant empty space where Fort Carson once lived.
Rather than working on important issues that could move this community forward - think airport, economic development, military hosting and tourism - council continues messing around with an issue they should view as settled.
Council member Jill Gaebler constantly pushes for a resolution to put recreational marijuana on the April ballot. It was delayed two weeks ago, generating headlines about pot. It came up again Monday, generating more headlines. Now we're looking at another delay, and more talk about marijuana in the Springs, while council members ponder whether to eliminate all obstacles to getting the issue onto a ballot. We don't need more drug talk, just as the Pentagon determines which communities throughout the country are best for the armed forces.
Council already decided on marijuana last summer, voting 5-4 against retail sales. If enough residents oppose that decision, then pro-pot activists should have no trouble gathering the 19,861 signatures needed to force an election. This isn't a tax or a proposal for new debt. Nothing is gained when elected officials needlessly abdicate their responsibilities to voters who have a reasonable procedure for demanding an election.
Council President Keith King, along with council members Andres Pico and Joel Miller, are openly miffed with deputy city attorney David Andrews for not moving fast enough on drafting a resolution for council members to consider. Each wants to create abundant time for activists to gather signatures in the event a majority on council say no to the ballot measure. Talk about unwillingness to lead.
Counselor Andrews, thank you. Take your time on this one.
Here's the solution for council members who are frustrated. Don't wait on Andrews. Just move to reiterate opposition to legalized pot, vote, and move along. Stop worrying about politic appearances and do what's right. This community is in the fight of its life to maintain its role as a host city for military operations. Military leaders have made perfectly clear their desire to work in environments that support them, rather than fight them, in their constant struggle to keep young personnel off drugs. If council ushers in a pro-pot election, as it clearly wants to do, then council members can take a huge chunk of responsibility if we see the exodus of 10,000 or more troops.
"Gaebler said she sympathizes with the military leaders but noted that surrounding communities - Denver, Pueblo County and Manitou Springs - have regulated, retail marijuana stores," states a Gazette news article by reporter Monica Mendoza.
It's a specious argument that says four pot environments can't be worse than three. We're surrounded by pot zones, so what's to be lost? Plenty is to be lost. The need to travel for marijuana is something of a barrier. More stores, closer to every person in town, lowers the barrier. It means marijuana will become greater in abundance and more convenient. It also means we don't really care what military leadership wants.
City Council, snap out of it. Our community has real problems local politicians need to solve. You made the right decision last summer and were resoundingly applauded. Stop flirting with an idea that stands to devastate this community so seriously that we would long for the problems of today.