Thursday, December 3, 2009

Extra Terrestrial Affairs Commission Coming To Denver in 2010?

Reporting from Denver and Las Vegas - Forget sky-high unemployment and those two wars overseas. Jeff Peckman has more earthly concerns:

For one thing, if extraterrestrials were to descend on Denver, what's the best way to welcome them?

Thanks to Peckman's tireless efforts and taste for the limelight, Denver voters will be asked in 2010 to boldly approve what no electorate has approved before: an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission.

This week, Denver officials announced that Peckman had gathered about 4,000 valid signatures needed to place the issue before the 350,000 registered voters of the Colorado state capital.

If approved, the city panel would promote "harmonious, peaceful, mutually respectful and beneficial coexistence" between earthlings and extraterrestrials, in part by developing protocols for "diplomatic contact."

Its seven members would include an expert in taking testimony from people who've survived "direct personal close encounters" with aliens.

And in what certainly is good news for residents of Colorado Springs or Boulder who might feel left out, the initiative says: "Members who are not Denver residents may participate from anywhere in the universe."

When Peckman first launched the commission proposal last spring, it prompted some civic sniggering, even as he hit the talk shows, including David Letterman, to promote the idea.

"Ballot plan wants E.T. to dial 303," wrote the Denver Post. But now it's on the ballot, embarrassing just about everyone -- except Peckman.

"What would a commission demand of us as a city? Do they want to go to a conference on Mars?" deadpanned Councilman Charlie Brown. "We'll pay for a one-way trip."

That Peckman needed only 3,974 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot is a sign, Brown said, that the bar for initiative petitions is far too low in Denver.

"If someone was looking to locate a business here, they'd think, 'What kind of city is this?' " Brown said Wednesday. (What indeed? Peckman submitted 10,274 signatures.)

Colorado, Brown said, hardly needed another "E.T."-inspired effort so soon after a Fort Collins family turned one of its sons -- with the aid of a silver floating saucer -- into "Balloon Boy."

"It's like saying you're going to have a ballot initiative about the existence of Bigfoot," said Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine.

Peckman, 55, is undaunted. He's used to setbacks. He had grown discouraged in recent months with President Obama, whom he hoped would release information revealing what the government knows about extraterrestrial beings.