Letters to the Editor
Letter: The mind of a maestroLearn more »
Skico making a difference
Dear Editor:Learn more »
I wasn’t able to attend the immigration forum Monday night, but from what I read in the papers Tuesday morning, it doesn’t appear I missed much. I especially enjoyed the comment that “a roomful of job applicants mostly cleared out when told they’d be required to take a drug test on the spot.” Is that because all Americans are on drugs or because we’d rather not have to pee in a cup for the chance to clean your toilet?Learn more »
This is an open letter to Colorado District 3 Rep. Scott Tipton regarding the proposed cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) via the farm bills being introduced in the House and Senate.Learn more »
Dark cloud hangs over Windstar sale
Dear Editor:Learn more »
Letter-writer should heed own advice
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Emmersed in big-city politics
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Letter: More on hydroMay 13, 2013 —
More on hydro
On April 30, Scott Writer wrote a letter titled “Hydropower still makes good cents.” Not really. I gather he hasn’t read Amory Lovins’ letter to the Aspen City Council, which goes into great detail about how the Castle Creek hydro plant does not make any “cents” one way or the other.
The city asked for letters and suggestions back in December. Amory, a world leader in energy economics, responded, confirming previous studies that show Castle Creek Energy Center would be the most expensive hydro plant in the world.
Scott ignores all this and says that the energy center, after 25 years “can get the power from hydro for virtually nothing, creating a profit center for the city and a means to reduce taxes.” How? There will still be substantial maintenance and personnel costs. And profit? All the electricity will go directly to the Aspen Recreation Center, wastewater and water treatment plants. It’s not for sale on the grid at all, so it can’t turn a profit. Nor is it likely to reduce taxes.
Scott points out that the energy center can run in a way that doesn’t harm the streams, and he could be right. Unfortunately that isn’t how the city is planning to operate. If they did, the energy center would produce even less energy and cost more. As it is, the energy center would have been shut down or running very little since last September because of low flows and ice.
That unreliability brings up the issue of water rights. Even if the city loses its right to use water for hydropower it will still have by far the largest and oldest water rights portfolio on Castle and Maroon creeks. More rights than water most of the year.
First, the city does not “own” any water; the people of Colorado own it. The city “owns” a right to beneficially use water. If the water isn’t used for that, the right can be taken away. The city hasn’t used water for hydropower in over 50 years and that right could be deemed abandoned. But that’s up to the water court, not the “court” of public opinion.
If the court decrees the hydro right abandoned, Aspen will lose very little, and certainly not any “real value” as Scott claims. The hydro right is non-consumptive, and right now can only be used for hydropower. Its long history of non-use pretty much guarantees no convertible value or volume, even for non-consumptive instream flow needs. This right can be abandoned, but it can’t be “stolen” as some claim.
The city also holds conditional rights for reservoirs on Castle and Maroon creeks. Reservoirs are the only way to ensure a truly reliable water supply for generating hydropower. The city could also lose these 1960s rights from lack of development.
These are the facts, not some charade trumped up to “win” anything. Unfortunately it was mainly City Hall that cherry-picked the facts, created diversions and steadfastly refused to answer the real concerns about cost or tell the whole story about water rights.
Emmer a professional in every senseMay 1, 2013 —
I am writing in ardent support of Maurice Emmer’s mayoral candidacy in Aspen. Maurice and I were colleagues and partners in an international professional-services firm for 12 years. During that time, I was privileged to work under Maurice’s global development and leadership of a key area of our firm’s practice. I observed Maurice working with others at all levels — internal and client — and from many cultures and geographies, always in a collaborative and respectful way.
He has a natural talent for facilitating discussions and reaching resolutions on complex matters involving diverse stakeholders in a way that feels comfortable and inclusive. Beyond bringing out the best in others, he constantly brought solutions of his own, being creative to a degree that I have rarely experienced in my professional career. Any project that he touched was always the better for having him involved.
These qualities were recognized when Maurice was recruited to our firm after a long and distinguished career elsewhere. I was a little skeptical that someone as prominent in his field coming from another culture would be able or willing to adapt to a new environment and role, but Maurice did this with ease and distinction and then took the practice to a whole new level. I believe that was because he was passionate and committed to what he was doing, with a keen interest in the views of others combined with a zero-tolerance policy on politics getting in the way. He is always interested in what others have to say and truly listens — whether it’s a CEO of a Fortune 100 company or my teenage sons. He is able to join any group, quickly finding the ways in which his particular abilities can contribute to the goal at hand.
Maurice was my mentor for many years. I valued and took his guidance because it was always insightful, objective and completely honest. To this day, in tough situations I will still ask myself, “What would Maurice do?” I miss that day-to-day working relationship, but I am glad that what endures is a wonderful friendship with Maurice and with our families, as well.
His passion for all things Aspen is clear and contagious as my family looks forward to coming out to your wonderful town again this summer. I know that that passion combined with Maurice’s thoughtfulness, creativity, honesty and team spirit can only result in great things for Aspen.
Aspen has a unique opportunity to elect Maurice as its mayor, and I would strongly recommend that you do just that.
New York City
A rich lesson learnedMay 1, 2013 —
Folk singer Richie Havens died last week of a heart attack at his home in New Jersey.
When I was a sophomore at Syracuse University, I met Richie backstage at a small, off-campus venue, years before he became the opening sensation at Woodstock. I was impressed by his unusual guitar tuning, his string fretting with an island-sized thumb and his size-14 black shoe that pounded out his rhythm — and I told him so.
We got to talking — him, a very urban, soft-spoken, black dude in his late 20s and me, a cocky but sincere white college kid looking for purpose. One thing led to another, and he invited me down to his place in the East Village in New York City.
I took him up on his offer and drove my beater Chevy the five-hour trip to the Big Apple. Soon after arriving at his hike-up flat between C and D streets, I did what any weekend college kid with a guitar jones did then — and now: I gave Richie’s bass player, a skinny street musician named Natoga, a 10-spot for a dime bag of pot. It came in the typical unlabeled, palm-sized manila envelope and was probably a bit “light.” The problem, as it turned out, was not the weight but the quality. Pot in 1966 was not today’s sativa, and Natoga’s weed was just a step up from slightly dried oregano, which it oddly favored.
I did the I’m-a-little-disappointed dance in front of him, to which he threw a shrug or two and walked off.
Feeling a bit like a taken-advantage-of stranger, a white honkie in a very dark neighborhood, I padded over to Richie, who was doing guitar riffs in the next room. “Richie,” I said, “I think I’ve been played a little off-key by your bass guy.”
Richie stopped his riff, wagged his great mass of untethered facial hair a twitch, and putting his huge Deuteronymous but philosophical hand on my proverbial shoulder, like a father explaining the facts of life to his son, he spoke these rich, guttural words: “Gaard, it seems to me that my guy went out and procured a dime bag for you, which you paid him for fair and square. Now, my bass player does not make a whole pile of cash from backing me up; he lives in a one-room walk-up that costs him more than he’d like, and it smells like cat pee.”
He looked me right in the eye and continued, “Now you, on the other hand, drove down here from your upstate university for a weekend with more money in your pocket than Natoga could fold into both his socks — if he had any — and you asked him to score you a favor — it seems to me that what you paid him for was a little bit of dope with an inch of oregano thrown in, but what you bought was a whole handful of experience!”
With that, he gave me a wink and went back to strumming his Dreadnought.
That experience, bought for 10 bucks, has lasted a lifetime and has helped me “write off” dozens of rip-offs at prices that have substantially exceeded a five or a dime.
Let’s rally behind AdamMay 1, 2013 —
We would like to express our support for Adam Frisch for the next mayor of Aspen. Adam was the first full-time Aspen resident we met when we were considering our move to Aspen. He overheard us discussing the merits of Aspen at the Wild Fig restaurant, and he leaned over to our table and introduced himself.
His passion about Aspen was evident in the first few minutes of conversation, and after finishing the evening with Adam, both of us were hooked on moving to this special place. His extraordinary commitment to the future of Aspen is evidenced not only through his current council position, where he has shown both exceptional leadership and integrity, but also through his past voluntary terms with the Pitkin County Financial Advisory Board and the Housing Frontiers Group.
Adam is committed to preserving Aspen’s small-town character while providing opportunities for vitality and economic stability. He values local businesses and will work to improve the regulatory struggles that they face. Most important, Adam is a respectful, balanced and honest person who continually seeks the input of all interested parties and is able to make informed decisions to meet the current challenges facing Aspen. Adam understands the unique character of Aspen, and more than anyone we know, we trust Adam to safeguard Aspen’s future. Please join us in supporting Adam Frisch for the next mayor of Aspen.
Sue and Ron Hopkinson
Mullins for AspenMay 1, 2013 —
We are supporting Ann Mullins for City Council. We met her in her capacity as chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Commission, where she clearly was skilled at running what could be contentious meetings and dealing with difficult decisions both knowledgeably and fairly. Her background and talents are highly relevant to many of Aspen’s current issues. As a landscape architect and urban designer, Ann developed her own successful businesses on the Front Range and then in Aspen and along the way put her skills to work in campus facilities planning and management for the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Her varied experiences have given her an informed view of the need to balance preservation and development in Aspen. Ann is also a ski instructor. She gets what Aspen is about. We need Ann Mullins on City Council, and she is ready for the challenge.
Loyal and Bernice Durand
Art and Ann for councilMay 1, 2013 —
I have had the pleasure of knowing both Art Daily and Ann Mullins for more years than I would like to admit.
Art has always illustrated a kindness and compassion that is comforting to all who come in contact with him. He has the knowledge and history of Aspen that will serve as his compass on the Aspen City Council.
Ann has been successful in business and brings a well-rounded perspective with her wherever she goes. Her unselfish service to our community has been well-documented.
Aspen is fortunate to have such qualified and wonderful people to consider in the upcoming election. Please vote for Ann and Art.
Linda P. Vieira
Emmer will reel in spending habitsApril 30, 2013 —
It's very difficult to write a letter to the editor in support of a candidate when you are friendly or at least acquainted with all of them. However, the election of our mayor should not be a popularity contest. I want to encourage voters to get to know a candidate who is very well-qualified to receive strong consideration for your vote.
Aspen's city budget this year is more than $90 million. That's 90 million dollars! It is by far the largest budget per resident of any mountain resort town in Colorado. I am among the Aspen residents who feel we have not gotten and are not getting our money's worth for such a large budget.
The city spends it because it has it. There has been and still is significant waste at our expense. The financial acumen of some of our elected officials, city management and professional staff in some cases is inadequate to ensure the projects are financially sound.
It takes a dedicated, trained professional to understand the complexities of our city's finances. The current City Council may be well-intended, but most are light on financial experience. The council needs leadership that will help council undertake a more proactive investigation and understanding of spending than has taken place. Maurice is a retired certified public accountant and tax lawyer with a broad array of financial and legal experience. He was recognized repeatedly by his peers as one of the top tax lawyers in the western U.S.
Maurice will challenge proposed projects and intends to help City Council better understand the financial implications. He will invite City Council members to join him in understanding the complex budget and searching for ways to improve the bang for the buck the residents get from such a large spend. After a great deal of thought and time getting to know Maurice Emmer, I feel he is best suited for our supporting him as our mayor.
Please vote for Maurice Emmer for mayor, and help City Council get the city's spending under control.
Wanting it both ways?May 1, 2013 —
Since Ann Mullins (candidate for City Council) feels the nonbinding vote on the hydo plant “was won by a very narrow margin, so we are far from a consensus on this project,” can I assume she will not take office if she only wins by one vote?
Torre respondsApril 30, 2013 —
I submit this letter to clarify a recent misquote in a letter you published. The letter writer, Michael Goldberg, quotes the Daily News to say “Torre endorsed Mullins and Carlson...”
Here is the letter I have sent to Mr Goldberg in response:
Just wanted to write to you in reply to your letter to the editor, and set the record straight. I actually did not endorse John Carlson. After endorsing Ms.Mullins and giving reasons I could not vote for Dwayne or Art, I said that if I were to cast my second vote, it would go to John. Hardly an endorsement, though I am proud of his initiative to participate in this election.
If this were your only concern about my qualification to be Mayor, then rest assured I, as much as anyone, know the seriousness and issues in this election. I know that you are supporting another candidate but I feel we probably share many goals and hopes for Aspen.
Even more so, I would suggest that I am your candidate. I am the most experienced and capable of invigorating business, and stimulating both community and resort economies through events, marketing and access to Aspen initiatives. I have the record and vision that I believe make me the best choice for the next two years. I look forward to working with you, SkiCo, ACRA and other partners for a fun, vital, prosperous Aspen.
Freedom trumps fearMay 1, 2013 —
I want to congratulate Andy Stone on his very excellent column, “Big Brother saved us” (April 23, The Aspen Times). It was intelligently laid out and very insightful. So many times “prophets” have warned us about this very thing and do we listen? We simply will not learn from history. “Never mind our liberties, never mind our freedoms, just save us!”
I would rather die free than have my every movement on camera and my every communication screened by a government. The hell with being safe, I want to be free from being spied on!
Story falls flatMay 1, 2013 —
In your rush to publish a press release as an “article,” (“Crystal Theatre embarks on a $70K fund drive,” April 26, Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times), there is an omission and some clarifications your readers might find helpful.
First the omission: This was a piece about fundraising, and yet you failed to inform your readers that in the press release there were several ways to donate. They are: by Paypal or credit card at www.crystaltheatrecarbondale.com, at any Alpine Bank, by mail to Crystal Theatre, 251 Euclid, Carbondale, CO 81623, or directly at the theater at 427 Main.
To clarify why your call (I only received one) wasn’t returned is simple: I wasn’t home. As to the “names and whereabouts of theaters that have resorted to public fundraising campaigns,” I would have been happy, if you had talked to me, to share with you the successful campaigns run by the Catlow in Barrington, Ill., the Ragtag in Columbia, Mo., the Capri in Montgomery Ala., the Coolidge in Cambridge, Mass., the Lyric in Fort Collins or the Kress in Greeley, to name a few.
No one, including me, knows when film will be final. Each theater owner must make the difficult digital decision for themselves — whether or when to convert. We have decided to keep the Crystal Theatre going, and our time to convert is now. Thank you to so many of our patrons who have already shown their support and generosity.
Hydropower still makes good centsApril 30, 2013 —
What I hate about politics is the selective omission of facts that are politically inconvenient. Winning often trumps facts, and both sides cherry pick “maybes” and exaggerate their side. Ends justify the means. Like in the hydro debate, “we have to be careful not to damage the river ecosystem” becomes “they will destroy miles of Castle Creek.”
Look, I believe most of the opponents of hydro have sincere, intellectually based issues that I respect, but in my view, the vote (out of 4,000 votes, it lost by 110) was tipped by opposition that was based on political opportunism and exaggeration — they finally found Mick Ireland's Achilles heel, and they were going to spend and say what they had to to take him out. And Mick being Mick didn't help with his antagonism of the opponents.
Why I remain in favor of hydro is that the opponents used a 25-year (the loan term) analysis of the economics and said it was more expensive to pay for the project than to buy electricity from other sources during that period. What they didn't tell the electorate was that Aspen will still need electricity after 25 years (duh), and at that point, we can get the power from hydro for virtually nothing, creating a profit center for the city and a means to reduce taxes.
The water rights (50 cubic feet per second — minimum streamflow is 14) we are abandoning forever. Aspen owns those water rights now, and opponents don't seem to care that there may be real value (environmentally and economically) for Aspen in those water rights.
All I ask is that the same respect be accorded to those of us who believe the stream can be protected, are for reducing dependence on carbon-based power systems, think a 25-year economic analysis does not reflect the reality of a system that could be with us for centuries, think Aspen's water rights are valuable, are thrilled that the city of Aspen was finding a way to create revenues without having to raise taxes and had nothing to do with the way Mick (poorly) handled the process.