Denver voters who make it all the way through their ballots may get a surprise this year. They’re being asked to vote on something no American city has done before. You could say, it’s out of this world.
Full text of Initiative 300 (opens as a .pdf)
The truth is out there. That at least is according to Denverite Jeff Peckman. And if his initiative wins next week, the truth will also be up on the Denver city website.
PECKMAN: "The Extra Terrestrial Affairs Commission would essentially serve as a citizens task force to begin disclosure about what it known about visitations by extraterrestrial beings to our planet, and how that might impact our daily lives."
That’s right; Initiative 300 asks if voters want to create an Extra Terrestrial Affairs Commission to “help ensure the health, safety, and cultural awareness of Denver residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles.” What the commission would do, says Peckman, is sift through all the blurry photos, close encounters, and conspiracy theories out there and sort fact from science fiction.
PECKMAN: "There are millions of websites that have references to UFO and extraterrestrial and there’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation and confusing information and it’s hard to wade through all that because you don’t really know where to start and know who to believe."
Of course, plenty of people just don’t believe, period.
CHARLIE BROWN: "It’s amazing. You know, a year ago when this was put on, I thought it was wacky. And then we had the gubernatorial mess. It didn’t seem very wacky any more after the governors race."
Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown laughs about the E.T. Commission, but he’s also really hoping it doesn’t pass. Brown says Initiative 300 is proof it’s too easy to get things on the Denver ballot. He’s pushing for the city to raise the signature threshold. There’s also the question of cost. The initiative states the commission will be entirely paid for by gifts, grants, and donations and Peckman says he’ll personally write the check to cover it. But Brown argues all commissions cost the city some amount of staff time and resources. And what, he asks, would it do to Denver’s reputation?
BROWN: "People have a tendency to laugh at Denver and it’s tough enough to attract jobs and companies to Denver. We don’t need this way out, looney tunes fringe image for our city."
Of all the places where a UFO commission might get support, I figured none could be friendlier than the Mile High Sci Fi Convention, held at the Tech Center Marriott last week. In the convention lobby, Basil the robot prototype is rolls himself around between Star Trek officers and heavily made-up elves. But while people here may spend a lot of time fantasizing about intersteller travel, attendees like Mark Vappi have a laugh at the idea of a city commission investigating alien life.
VAPPI: "I’m really irate that nobody is actually seeming to be concerned about the mole people! We hear about extra-terrestrials, we hear about people coming in space ships. Nobody’s starting up commissions about the mole people."
Vappi admits he hasn’t paid enough attention to Initiative 300 to know whether or not he’ll actually vote for it. And that's something a lot of people here say. But in an election year marked by out-of-this-world vitriol and plenty of terrestrial mudslinging, Vappi doesn’t mind being asked to contemplate aliens.
VAPPI: "Yeah, there’s a lot of grim stuff on the ballot. It’s nice to have something that’s not quite so heavy."
If Initiative 300 does pass, there is one thing you should know before you apply to serve on that commission. To qualify, you’re going to need either a Ph.D or quite a heck a lot of experience with extraterrestrial encounters.