Friday, March 12, 2010

County Didn't Need to Spend Money Defending Lawsuit.

Here are a couple of great Letters to the Editor in response to this one in the Durango Herald.  Both of those pasted below appeared subsequently in the paper as well. 


Riddle's lawsuit need not cost county

by Bill Zimsky

I am Joelle Riddle's attorney and am writing to respond to the letter to the editor (Herald, Feb. 28) criticizing Commissioner Riddle's decision to mount a constitutional challenge to the state statutory scheme that allows political parties to set their own affiliation deadlines for their candidates, but imposes the most restrictive deadline in the country - 17 months before the general election - on unaffiliated candidates.

The letter writers suggest that Riddle is hypocritical when she advocates fiscal responsibility while causing the county to spend thousands of dollars to defend against her lawsuit. These charges are vacuous because the county is under no obligation to spend one dime of the taxpayers' money to defend the lawsuit. If the county chose not to defend the lawsuit, the federal judge nonetheless would undertake a thorough and vigorous legal analysis of Riddle's arguments and come to a reasoned determination on the merits of Riddle's case. (If you think a federal judge is not going to closely examine a constitutional challenge to a state statute even if the defendant does not participate in the case, then I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.) A great example of this course of action occurred in 1988 when the Democratic Party sued the secretary of state challenging a statute that imposed an affiliation deadline on political party candidates. The secretary of state chose not to defend the lawsuit. The judge nonetheless carefully considered the merits of the lawsuit and ruled that the state of Colorado cannot impose any type of affiliation restriction on political parties.

Obviously, the letter writers disagree with Riddle's political positions. The proper way to voice their displeasure is through the ballot box, not by making false accusations cloaked in manufactured outrage. The answer, as epitomized by Riddle's lawsuit, is more democracy, not less. America would not be the greatest country ever if its citizens followed the advice of the letter writers and docilely allowed the government to enforce laws that violate the Constitution.

Bill Zimsky, Durango


County chose to spend money on lawsuit

by Andrew Dougherty

A small faction of La Plata County Democrats decided to use the Herald's Opinion section (Feb. 28) as a platform for their petty partisan battle with Commissioner Joelle Riddle, who left the Democratic Party last year and now is unaffiliated.

They are angry Riddle thinks for herself, studies issues and votes in the best interest of all residents of La Plata County, instead of kowtowing to party leadership. They call her current lawsuit to overturn inequity in election law as “self-serving" and ask us to be outraged that the county is spending thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit.

The county chose to defend the lawsuit. Let me repeat: That money did not have to be expended. Perhaps voters should ask commissioners Wally White and Kellie Hotter and County Clerk Linda Daly why they decided to pursue the lawsuit. What does La Plata County have to gain in not having a more equitable system for independents to gain ballot access?

An editorial in The Denver Post recently stated: “Restrictions should be the same for all groups, whether they be major players or the growing number of people who feel disenfranchised and are choosing to eschew political parties altogether."

More than 40 percent of Americans are unaffiliated voters because they feel disenfranchised from the two major political parties and are sick and tired of partisan politics. The crafters of the letter against Riddle in the Feb. 28 paper provide a perfect example of how the parties are failing us - by ignoring real issues and instead confusing and inciting the electorate with personal grudges.

Andrew Dougherty, Durango

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