Oct 072007
Authors: Elden T. Holldorf

The toll the Iraq War has taken on America and Fort Collins is grounds to propose a resolution to the city council for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, says one local group, Fort Collins for Iraq Withdrawal Coalition.

But while other resolutions have been passed in similar times, some city officials say Fort Collins shouldn’t stick its nose in national issues.

“The people of Fort Collins have elected representatives for national issues; they have congressmen, senators, the president – these are the people who were put there to make those decisions,” Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson told the Collegian last week.

The proposed resolution states the war in Iraq has resulted in more than 3,700 American soldier’s deaths, an estimated 655,000 Iraqi deaths and more than $456 billion dollars being appropriated by Congress to fund military operations and reconstruction in Iraq.

“The war has gotten to the point where people need to take a stand and use their voice,” said Cheryl Distaso, a member of The Center for Justice, Peace and Environment. “We are fighting a war based on lies; it’s immoral, it’s illegal, and it’s taking away resources and making enemies worldwide.”

Concerns are brought to the Fort Collins City Council’s attention during the public comment portion of the meeting, which is every first and third Tuesday of the month from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

For a concern to become an item of business, it must be suggested by at least three out of seven members of the city council to be put on the agenda. To pass the resolution would require four of those members voting in support.

Lobbyists in support of the resolution have brought it up in the public comment portion of the meeting since May.

The issue has been met with apathy from city council members, supporters say. The council maintains that national issues should be left to national leaders.

“It is not appropriate, we do not speak for the city of Fort Collins on national issues,” Hutchinson said.

The proposed resolution highlights the strain on Fort Collins, and states: “The funds spent by Fort Collins’ taxpayers on the war and occupation in Iraq equal more than $179 million and could have provided enough money to have added 10 percent to the City of Fort Collins Operating Expenditures for each of the last four years, potentially adding significant percentages to police, transportation, and recreation budgets .”

Supporters of the resolution argue these figures make it a local issue.

“Those people in power have yet to put a stop to this war and citizens are now looking to their local officials – it is another small step in a coalescing effort that will cause this war to come to an end,” said David Roy, the only city council member openly supporting the resolution.

Hundreds of similar resolutions have been passed in cities throughout the country, and in past wars.

“We need to keep pressure on our national representatives, and we also know now from history, particularly the Pentagon papers, that the grassroots level pushed officials to find a resolution [during the Vietnam war],” said CSU Professor William Timpson.

“The university has a responsibility to lead where we can, and particularly if the country is going in a direction we disagree with; we need to be active in articulating another way forward,” he added.

According to a survey released by the New York Times / CBS in September, 71 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war.

“I would be very uncomfortable, making this rather presumptuous decision, because I know I wouldn’t really be representing the people of Fort Collins,” Mayor Hutchinson said.

The city council has, however, addressed certain large-scale issues in the past such as the Patriot Act, nuclear weapons, global warming and apartheid in South Africa.

The Fort Collins for Iraq Withdrawal Coalition’s website states: “While our city council appropriately focuses on local issues and leaves most national issues to the federal government, it does periodically weigh in on transcendent issues that cry out for action. We feel this current war is one of those issues .”

Though an Iraq War resolution has yet to be an item on the city’s agenda, CSU students and community members should weigh in on the comment portion of the meeting, said Ben Shrader, Associated Students of CSU chief of staff and Kosovo and Iraq War veteran.

“Patriotism is the ability to stand up and voice your opinion when things are wrong,” Shrader said. “It’s important that students voice their opinion because we won’t be able to make change if we’re not active.”

Students and community members who wish to weigh in can do so during City Council’s next meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Staff writer Elden T. Holldorf can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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