Meditation measure for stress-reduction programs defeated
DENVER — A measure that would have required the city to sponsor such calming activities as music in public buildings and meditation was soundly defeated Tuesday.
Supporters, including the former meditation teacher who dreamed up the idea, said the programs would make Denver a role model. Opponents called it a ridiculous waste of time for a city trying to deal with millions in budget cuts.
“My 15 minutes of fame may have just expired,” author Jeff Peckman said, but vowed to continue to promote the benefits of meditation.
City Councilman Charlie Brown had feared the proposal — which drew international attention and ridicule — made Denver look like a laughingstock. “Common sense and good western values prevailed,” he said.
With 95 percent of the vote counted, the measure failed 68 percent to 32 percent. It would have required the city to implement “scientifically proven” stress-reduction programs.
The votes cast against it totaled 53,112, compared with 24,854 votes in favor.
Peckman, 49, collected about 2,500 signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
Some of the ideas that were floated by supporters of Initiative 101 included playing calming music in public buildings, recruiting people to meditate and improving the quality of school lunches.
Peckman said the initiative would have paid for itself by helping to reduce crime and other negative social trends that could mean a net financial gain for the city of $80 million a year.
“The central question that comes to mind is, ‘Is this possible?’” Peckman said. “Yes, it is. The group practice of transcendental meditation can generate a field of peacefulness and calm over a wide geographical area.”
The initiative, however, met scorn across the nation. Political commentator George Will said it gave California “a run in this summer’s absurdity sweepstakes.”
Myriam De Leon, an elementary school nurse in Denver, said worries about the economy, losing health insurance coverage and longer commutes are stressing people out. She said those are problems politicians should work on, but admitted businesses could help by give employees time to exercise and relax.
Construction worker Doug Ahlf disagreed. He said he doesn’t want the government interfering with how he deals with stress.
“Stress is a personal management thing,” he said. “If the government takes care of its affairs then we’ll all have less stress.”