Impound-initiative backer says delay tactics knocked it off Lakewood ballot

LAKEWOOD — The so-called impound initiative will not appear on the ballot when this Denver suburb’s residents vote in November. The controversial initiative missed the deadline to be referred to the ballot, and the man behind the initiative, Daniel Hayes, said the cause is legal maneuvering that amounted to delay tactics.

Hayes’s initiatives, however, will be considered by voters in Denver and Aurora. The laws they would create require police officers to seize the vehicles of anyone driving without a valid license. But, as investigations have made clear, the initiatives aren’t primarily concerned with traffic safety; they are meant to bolster anti-immigration policy, using traffic laws to find undocumented immigrants and to bring legal action against them.

Law enforcement and city authorities have opposed the initiatives as onerous and misguided. Officers on the ground require discretion, they say, but the new laws would unnecessarily tie up officers on the road, turning them into proxy immigration agents, and drain municipal resources.

Resident Sigrid Higdon challenged the signature-petitions for the initiative in Lakewood and was joined by Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Safe Communities. Lakewood authorities threw out some contested signatures but the validity of the petition was upheld by Hearing Officer John E. Hayes.

The groups appealed that decision, and because the Lakewood City Council can not rule on a petition currently under appeal, the initiative failed to make the September deadline to appear on the November ballot. If the initiative is upheld by the court of appeals, it may be placed on the ballot in a special election.

Daniel Hayes told The Colorado Independent that he thought opposition attorney Mark Grueskin could have filed the paper work before the Sept. 4 deadline had passed.

“They managed to stall the election, so maybe that is what they wanted to do.”

Grueskin said the allegation ignored the facts.

Even had he worked through Labor Day weekend to file the paperwork, he said, the city would not have had the opportunity to file its paperwork and the court would not have gotten a chance to hear the case.

“The only reason the process is where it is at is because the proponents waited so long to put their petitions in.”

Colorado Ethics Watch also filed suit against the initiative in Lakewood. The suit forced the Lakewood Safe Streets Committee to register as an issue committee there, a designation that required it to reveal its financial backers. The Lakewood Safe Streets Committee proposed the initiative in Lakewood but accepted signatures collected through a company paid by Hayes.

“A Lakewood city clerk told me I didn’t have to file [as a donor],” said Hayes. “She was wrong about that. So, I went ahead and filed. I followed all the rules. I’m not trying to dodge anything. The last thing that I want is trouble.”

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