Jerry Kopel


I tip my hat to motel owner Harvey Blasdel and his buddies....this man has chutzpah!

Never in the history of the Colorado constitution have I ever heard of, much less seen, a constitutional amendment designed to make multi-millionaires out of named individuals. And it's on the ballot, put there by Colorado voters!

This is Amendment l3, designed to allow "limited gaming" in Manitou Springs. Under Article l8, Section ll, subsection (6) (H):

"Only ten thousand (l0,000) limited gaming devices or tables shall be allowed within the gaming district as defined in subsection (6) (A) and ARPRT, LLC will own the rights thereto subject to assignment, to such devices or tables, as defined in subsection (2) (A) of this Article."

Subsection (6) (A) refers to Manitou Springs and subsection (2) (A) refers to the type of casino gambling presently allowed in Colorado.

In the earlier June 1, 1993 version of this constitutional amendment the language then read:

"Only twelve thousand ( l2,000 ) limited gaming devices shall be allowed within the gaming district as defined in subsection (6) (A) and such parties named will own the rights to such devices as defined in subsection (2) (A) of this Article in their proportionate share.

"Colorado Win Committee, Inc., 2000 devices, Equity Syndications, 4200 devices, Robert Franklin Randolph, 2700 devices, William W. Harfert, 550 devices, Pamela A. Harfert, 550 devices, Harvey W. Blasdel or Barbara L. Blasdel, l000 devices, David H. Vance or Guy Vance, 500 devices, George L. James or Joanne P. James, 500 devices, and it is further understood, that all the covenants and agreements shall extend to and be obligatory upon the heirs, executors, administrators and assigns of the respective parties."

The Colorado Legislative Council and Legislative Services wrote back to the promoters as to the June l993 language, in part:

"...There may well be more than one individual in the state with the name, for example, of Robert Franklin Randolph. Have you considered adding...addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers...?

"Similarly, creating vested property rights in `Harvey W. Blasdel OR Barbara L. Blasdel' via a constitutional amendment seems risky. If these persons are married to each other, what will happen if they later become divorced? What right will devolve to the heirs if one of them dies? What if the right remains unexercised at death and they leave no heirs...?"

On the constitutional issue, Legislative Council and Legislative Services then asked:

l. "Does (6) (H) conflict with Article XI, Section 2 of the Colorado Constitution prohibiting public donations or grants to corporations?

2. "Do you anticipate a challenge...under the U.S. Constitution on the basis that grants of special rights to named persons violate federal equal protection guarantees? In other words, does the naming of certain organizations and individuals create a class of persons with special rights not available to those outside the class?"

The Amendment 13 promoters attempted to avoid the first question by changing the corporations and individuals into one limited liability company, but they still face the second question as to ARPRT, LLC.

And I think there is a splendid possibility that the Colorado Supreme Court could compare the attributes and protections afforded a limited liability company with those of a corporation, and determine that what walks like and quacks like a duck really IS a duck.

Besides gazing in amazement at the boldness of these entrepreneurs in debasing the Colorado Constitution for their personal gain, I want to emphasize the uselessness of the constitutional amendment placed on the ballot and overwhelmingly endorsed by the voters in November, l992.

Amendment 13 starts out in subsection (1) "Any provision of Section 2 or 9 of this Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution or any other provision of this constitution to the contrary gaming in the City of Manitou Springs shall be lawful and exempt from all provisions of Section 9 (6) of Article l8 as of May l,l995."

Section 9(6) of Article 18 is the 1992 constitutional amendment language sponsored by Sen. Tebedo and Rep. Salaz entitled "Local vote on legality of limited gaming - - election required." It required a vote by voters of an area which has been granted constitutional authority for limited gaming before such gaming could go into effect.

I argued strenuously in the House in l992 against language in the amendment and against the ability of the amendment to do any good. Proponents "pooh-poohed" my comments and there were only four House votes against the final version: Reps. Entz, Kopel, Ruddick, Swenson.

But Manitou Springs Amendment l3 did exactly what I said could be done - - simply ignore the Tebedo language by saying it doesn't apply.

If Amendment 13 (which promises to provide money for education) is passed by the voters in November, and approved by the courts, then prepare to see a constitutional amendment by me in 1996, as a limited liability company, to give me the exclusive right to sell or assign the rights to sell all lottery tickets in Colorado. In return, I'll give half the profits to education.


Jerry Kopel writes a column for the Statesman based on 22 years past experience as a state legislator.

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