Letters to the Editor
When the Wheeler decided last week to present “Mountains of the Moon,” I discussed the idea of supporting the Crystal Theater in Carbondale. But the Wheeler was presenting movies because of the demise (nationwide) of film projection and the rehauling of all theaters in America to the digital format.Learn more »
Responding to Scott Writer’s guest column (“When you’re in a hole, stop digging,” May 22, The Aspen Times), first, I for one never claimed that Castle and Maroon creeks would be “destroyed.” Changed, yes, but nature abhors a vacuum. There will still be plants on the stream edge, and fish, but it won’t be what stream ecologists call a healthy riparian gravel-bed stream system.Learn more »
To the honest and caring person who returned my wallet, thank you so very much for taking the time and effort to return my wallet that was full of credit cards and all the “stuff” a person needs for identification and medical needs.Learn more »
A word of appreciation to all those who took the time and effort to bake, create and buy all the goodies donated to the Senior Matters Booth at Dandelion Days in Carbondale.
Our efforts in keeping programs running and active for the most important people in this wonderful valley and in our lives, our seniors, is a goal that we take pride in. Your hands help us make this happen.Learn more »
Forget recall, vote for Torre
Dear Editor:Learn more »
An easy decision for Carbondale
Dear Editor:Learn more »
Clark’s Market in jeopardy?
Editor’s note: The following letter was written to members of Aspen City Council.Learn more »
A challenge for the candidates
Dear Editor:Learn more »
Letter: A shot in the armMay 17, 2013 —
A shot in the arm
The Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors would like to publicly extend a heartfelt thank you to the Aspen City Council and city staff for their support of the final two phases of the hospital’s master facilities plan. The council provided us with the time needed to present our plans and the opportunity to exchange ideas with public input. Our project improved as a result.
In addition, we appreciate the strong community support received on the street, in writing and at meetings. Your endorsement and words of encouragement were constant reminders of who and why we serve.
We have literally worked for years with administration, physicians and staff to develop all aspects of this project. To see it move one step closer to fruition is extremely gratifying. Now, with final approval, we can fully engage our fundraising efforts and continue to develop design documents in preparation for groundbreaking once the funds are secured through the generosity of our donors.
Our medical and professional staff has earned our trust and support. With this new facility they will be able to continue to provide the best in health care services in our community for years to come.
Board of directors, Aspen Valley Hospital
Dr. Barry Mink
Dr. Mindy Nagle
May 17, 2013 —
Letter: The mind of a maestro
Letter: Skico making a differenceMay 17, 2013 —
Skico making a difference
Kudos to the Environmental Foundation of Aspen Ski Co.
Your recent grant to the Thompson Divide Coalition and to Wilderness Workshop is so appreciated and timely. Let us hope that it helps to make a difference and accomplishes the canceling of the leases or letting them expire in the Thompson Divide area, which is such an environmental asset.
Board member, Wilderness Workshop
Letter: Remember the fallenMay 17, 2013 —
Remember the fallen
Memorial Day ceremonies will be held at noon Monday, May 27, at the Roaring Fork Veterans Memorial located on the east side of the Pitkin County Courthouse at 506 Main St.
The public is cordially invited. Veterans are encouraged to wear items of military memorabilia.
Following the ceremony, Aspen Elks Lodge #224 is hosting a community picnic at Connor Park next to Aspen City Hall. Congress is asking all citizens to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. in memory of our nation’s fallen military men and women. Grassroots Community TV will be continuously running interviews of local veterans participating in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project throughout Memorial Day.
For more information contact Dan Glidden at 970-927-4183 or Dick Merritt at 970-927-5178.
Lt. Col. Dick Merritt
U.S. Marine Corps (retired)
Letter: King’s EnglishMay 17, 2013 —
My hat is off for England’s Prince Harry. Paying respect to the fallen and wounded that keep us free.
Our King Pinochio knows more about the greens on his golf courses than the greens at Arlington.
Letter: Squeezed outMay 15, 2013 —
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?
Sounds like most of the comments at the forum centered on the tired old argument about immigrants taking only the jobs Americans don’t want. That is such bull! Take a stroll around Aspen, and check out those jobs that Hispanic immigrants have because we Americans presumably don’t want them: bank managers, loan officers, bank tellers, secretaries, store managers, store clerks, stockers, checkers, carpenters, roofers, siders, painters, snow shovelers, Bobcat drivers, landscapers, window washers, property managers, maids, nannies, food servers, chefs.
Hispanic immigrants might have started out in the fields and ditches, but not all of them stayed there. The smart ones learned English, and being bilingual got them jobs. But we refused to learn Spanish. We pompously declared that, by God, this is America, and in America we speak English.
Now they have the jobs, and we are starting to look a little foolish! And unemployed. Unless we learn Spanish, the problem will only get worse. Like it or not, right or wrong, more and more Hispanic laborers will be imported, and more bilingual service workers will be required. And the rest of us will just keep getting squeezed out of the work force.
Letter: An appeal to Rep. TiptonMay 15, 2013 —
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.
I urge you, Rep. Tipton, to please visit a food pantry before casting this critical vote and/or to view the documentary “A Place at the Table,” about the epic hunger issues millions are facing, which features Collbran, a ranching community in your district.
Quoting “Bread for the World,” “(The) Senate farm bill cuts $4.1 billion from SNAP, a cut that could result in thousands of households losing up to $90 a month in benefits. The proposed House farm bill is even more severe: $21 billion cut from SNAP. If enacted, the House bill would kick as many as 3 million people out of the program and deprive 280,000 schoolchildren of school meals. Additionally, thousands more households would see their monthly benefits reduced. This is in addition to the drop in benefits all SNAP households will see this fall when a temporary increase in benefits expires.”
Rep. Tipton, this is appalling and morally wrong!
Two years ago, the Child Nutrition Act was paid for, in part, by taking $4.2 billion from SNAP. That’s like robbing Peter of his dinner to pay for his son Paul’s school lunch!
I’m a hunger-fighter seeing the effects of the recession ongoing among my neighbors and those tearful and embarrassed former community and business leaders I see at the back doors of our food pantries.
Two important facts were reported in our local media recently; our seven Lift Up food pantries experienced a 51 percent increase in demand in 2012 over 2011 and we have 8,651 fewer jobs in the Roaring Fork Valley than prior to the 2008 implosion of the economy.
How does it make sense to take money for food away from your constituents who are trying to get back on their feet? The money goes right back into the economy!
According to Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, SNAP has a stimulus effect of $1.73 for every dollar spent. He said Moody’s study shows that the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the SNAP/food-stamp program.
“If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it’s very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need — groceries,” he said.
You can view the very interesting stimulus comparison chart here: http://frac.org/initiatives/american-recovery-and-reinvestment-act/snapfood-stamps-provide-real-stimulus.
It’s estimated that 65 percent of people who qualify for SNAP have not applied. Forty-seven percent of SNAP recipients are children. Hunger is a matter of national security.
Please study the food-insecurity rates in the 29 counties of your district, Rep. Tipton, in the Feeding America “Map the Meal Gap” interactive map of every county in America. Visit http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/map-the-meal-gap.aspx.
One in six Americans, or 122,368 of your hungry constituents, deserve to eat, sir.
Kim Doyle Wille
Letter: Dark cloud hangs over Windstar saleMay 15, 2013 —
Dark cloud hangs over Windstar sale
Having been a volunteer for the Windstar Foundation for 10 years, I know firsthand what the conservation easement meant to all of us.
I’ve read the deed. There are strict guidelines set up to protect the land and preserve public access, and selling the land to make a profit does not fit any where into that picture. I stood with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Marty Pickett and the conservancy’s Karmen Dafslaff last October at Windstar’s farewell gathering and listened with others while they told us that neither organization could financially care for the land any longer and that’s why it had to be sold.
How was that possible when a portion of proceeds from every John Denver Tribute Concert at the Wheeler was to go to the Land Conservancy? Ms. Dafslaff was supposedly one of those responsible for making sure the contributions were distributed to the Windstar fund. Ron Deutschendorf, executive director of the Windstar Foundation and John Denver’s brother, also told me that day that his position had been eliminated without his knowledge and that he knew that both the foundation and the conservancy had the money it needed to care for the land.
No one from Rocky Mountain Institute or Windstar told me or any others that day that half the proceeds of the sale would go to the institute, which just might be used to help build their new offices in Basalt.
Ms. Dafslaff claims that the proceeds from the land sale will go to the “John Denver Aspen Glow Fund.” There is no such nonprofit listed anywhere in any records at this time.
Pitkin County commissioners would not return my calls to them when I requested information in October about the sale, about zoning laws in the area and what their responsibility was to the conservation easement.
How can all this happen? As a Windstar member who put time, energy and concern into this land, I deserve some answers. All of us who committed to making a difference worldwide through Windstar deserve answers. And John Denver did not deserve to have the land he worked so hard to protect turned into just another land deal that a few individuals could make a profit off of.
Letter: Letter-writer should heed own adviceMay 15, 2013 —
Letter-writer should heed own advice
I totally agree with T.J. Krest. One needs to “look it up.” (“Read something other than Fox News,” letters, May 10, The Aspen Times.)
After Krest got his or her information from the Daily Kos, Mr./Ms. Krest failed to look it up. The vast majority of 54 attacks that Krest cites took place in Iraq during the war. In addition, the reason there were only three hearings was that there was no attempt to hide the truth.
The State Department and administration at that time did not change CIA talking points to reflect a political agenda, did not make up a story about the cause (and actually lie directly to the families of the fallen), refuse to send aid during the terrorist attack and try to cover it all up.
In addition, they did not fail to supply increased security when actually begged for, after an attack at the consulate the month before. That is exactly what happened at Benghazi. Look it up!!
Instead of listening to what partisan websites wrote, one only had to listen to the actual hearings to realize what a failure of leadership this really was.
If you listened to Mr. Hicks testify with an open mind, even Krest would see things differently. One no longer has to just watch Fox to follow the story but can read the recent reports from ABC news. Even that organization now sees that what happened there needs to be uncovered.
As for the account that Republicans voted for decreases in the budget, that is true, but when Charlene Lamb, the State Department assistant secretary for International Programs, was asked during the hearings (October 2012) if the failure to provide the requested security was due to budgetary considerations she answered simply, “No, sir.”
Again, look it up.
No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, the government needs to be held accountable. Mrs. Clinton may not understand that Benghazi is important, but thankfully many of us do.
I will continue to follow Krest’s advice and look it up. I only wish he/she took their own advice.
Snowmass Village and Muttontown, N.Y.
Letter: None of the above?May 14, 2013 —
None of the above?
A choice between Torre and Steve Skadron. Mayor Torre would mean we have a council made up of elected representatives instead of appointed ones.
Mayor Skadron would follow in the large footsteps of Mayor Ireland.
But policy differences? Vision? Negotiating skills? Decorum? Gravitas? Forbearance? Willingness to represent all of the citizens of Aspen, even those with whom they disagree?
I would like to be assured that the 1,000-plus votes for the more moderate and conservative candidates are not ignored. Whichever of these two is our next mayor, I hope they realize that they are there due to the bungled strategy of their opponents and not because they have a mandate.
There’s only one way I can think of that our next mayor will know what percentage of Aspen voters actually support their policies. Boycotting won’t work. If those 1,000-plus voters abstain from voting, Torre and Steve just might think they’re all in Canyonlands.
I am tempted, very tempted, to write a third choice on my ballot. I think I just may be writing in “Sal A. Mander” (vivat Chris).
Letter: Emmersed in big-city politicsMay 14, 2013 —
Emmersed in big-city politics
Aspen is the antidote to Maurice Emmer’s big-city lawyer, “gotcha in a corner” type politics.
I say, leave the big city behind. Keep the real Aspen spirit alive!
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?