Letters to the Editor

Letter: On Aspen hydro, fracking and ISIS

September 30, 2014 — 

As you deliberate on the residents of Aspen’s best alternative-power sources, I urge you to reconsider that the proposed (and fortunately) delayed Aspen hydro project is inefficient, ineffective, will cause more problems than it solves and has unforeseen maintenance and operational costs. Other than that, it is a near-perfect solution, but highly uneconomical. Aspen residents have voiced their majority opinion that this project — lofty in purpose but a likely failure economically — may not be viable.

Is it better to ignore valid calculations that suggest that Aspen hydro is a boondoggle? That it reflects a public that has the audacity to question the religious beliefs of a former mayor who attempted to impose his will on “his people?”

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Letter: Give meat a break

September 30, 2014 — 

On Sept. 21, hundreds of thousands of people marched throughout the world demanding action on climate change. One hundred and twenty world leaders gathered in New York City for the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. What can we do?

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent.

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Letter: A warm thought

September 30, 2014 — 

About 90 percent of people believe climate change is real, yet 80 percent of Republicans on the government Science Committee deny it even exists.

Carl Heck

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Letter: Give the Aspen Art Museum a chance

September 30, 2014 — 

I appreciated reading the letter of praise for the museum by Emilie Trice (“Praise for the Aspen Art Museum,” Sept. 24, The Aspen Times).

She is looking at the museum from the point of view of a thoughtful Aspenite interested in art as an expression of human value and inspiration. These are the people — young and old — for whom museums are built.

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Letter: No age boundaries for organ donors

September 30, 2014 — 

We’d like to first thank The Aspen Times and writer Andre Salvail for the three recent articles about living kidney donation in the valley. Pepper Gomes, Marguerite Benjamin and Arturo Garcia have received the gift of life thanks to the selfless and heroic decision of their kidney donors.

In the most recently published article, “Aspen police official provides kidney to sheriff’s deputy’s daughter,” we noticed an error regarding the maximum age of living kidney donors. According to the article, “Kidney donors need to be younger than 50,” when in fact they can be up to 60 years old and are sometimes older. Organ donors in general can be all ages, and one donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 50 others through tissue donation.

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Letter: Highway robbery?

September 30, 2014 — 

Ali Baba and his 40 sidekicks were thieves. Now there’s a real nice bridge down in Glenwood Springs ...

Pat Milligan

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Letter: More exchange between letter writer, columnist

September 29, 2014 — 

Glenn Beaton,

First off, thanks for the dialogue (“Columnist responds to letter-writer,” Letters, Sept. 20, The Aspen Times).

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Letter: Thompson Divide area is vital to environment, community

September 29, 2014 — 

In the Sept. 17 Glenwood Springs Post Independent, David Ludlum, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, made the claim that the Thompson Divide area is a political concept and not an area based on the Thompson Creek watershed or any other biological or geological considerations. For those of us who live and work in this community, we know this is not true.

Public lands in the Thompson Divide area provide invaluable grazing opportunities for local ranches, clean water for our crops and towns and endless recreation opportunities — including hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and biking — that support hundreds of jobs in our local economy. The Thompson Divide area also is defined by 15 different watersheds, all of which are connected through one of the last great swaths of undeveloped roadless areas on the Western Slope. Our communities rely on this area for the direct and indirect benefits it provides. Those benefits are very real and help to support our recreation and tourism-based economy in the region.

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Letter: Catholic Church bigger than its crimes

September 29, 2014 — 

Jim DeFrancia is wrong (“Archaic mindset plagues Catholic Church,” Letters, Sept. 24, The Aspen Times). The Catholic Church is not the only organization guilty of covering up sex crimes committed by a tiny few in power.

During my schoolboy days in Aspen, it was widely known that at least six teachers had sex with high school and middle school students, resulting in at least two pregnancies. Nobody went to jail, was fired or was even reprimanded.

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Letter: Councilman: Thievery cannot be condoned

September 29, 2014 — 

This from The Aspen Times’ most recent editorial(“Soul-searching through Aspen’s parking-meter fracas,” Editorial, Sept. 26.): “It bothers us that Mayor Steve Skadron reportedly was quick to agree with Councilman Dwayne Romero’s sentiment that ‘the conduct of the citizens is far more malicious and dark than the management issues inside the city.’” Huh?

The apparent and purposeful theft of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of dollars of parking fees is somehow more acceptable than the actual and now admitted deficiencies of the parking-meter system itself? Really?

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Letter: Willful ignorance by city’s parking department

September 29, 2014 — 

I appreciate The Aspen Times’ perspective on “Parking Gate” (“Soul-searching through Aspen’s parking-meter fracas,” Editorial, Sept. 26.) The city got this wrong — badly.

To be clear, contrary to your editorial: “Second, it was only three years ago that the city acknowledged that its parking meters were collecting money after hours. The parking director knew about the problem in 2008 but (as he himself acknowledged) let it slip. The city said it could not estimate how much money was collected from the after-hours meter feeders. Thus, the city kept the money — we don’t know how much — before the meter vendor corrected the problem through a software update.” The issue of after-hours collections has not been corrected — after hours, i.e. after 6 p.m., has been corrected, but as I believe was confirmed by Tim Ware on Sept. 22, the meters continue to collect fees after required hours all day on parking holidays — Sundays, holidays and offseason when parking is free both on Saturday and Sunday.

Learn more »

Letter: Kindergarten approach to parking department

September 29, 2014 — 

Aspen’s “Parking Gate” represents a failure of governance. One or more city officials should be fired if the loss was due to incompetence. One or more city officials should go to jail if it was due to corruption. These are the only two possible explanations. No other explanation is possible.

I make the assertion as a former U.S. Treasury official and a consultant to the International Monetary Fund. At the Treasury, I was responsible for a group that was required to estimate the revenues from various energy taxes. With the IMF I worked with nations to design programs to estimate revenues from taxes. In Yemen and Turkey the revenue estimation programs we developed significantly boosted tax collections, much to the disgust of government officials who were on the take.

Let me be clear, revenue collection is key to good governance. Revenues are required to provide services. Every competent government — every one — develops sophisticated systems for collecting tax revenues. A forecasting system is a key component.

Revenues from parking meters are a source of revenue for the city of Aspen. The program has been scammed for three years, costing the citizens almost $1 million. (My guess is that the ultimate cost will reach $2 million if the city ever allows an independent investigator to look into the matter.) The error would have been caught if the city had a systems of projections officials bothered to compare actual receipts against projections. Such a system, though, requires competence.

Now those in city government are attempting to blame the individuals who did not pay their fees. Some city officials say these individuals are to blame for depriving the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority of financial support. Let me be clear: The city officials are wrong. It is one thing for a scam to go one, two or three months without detection. It is very different for a scam to go four years. The scam would have been caught much earlier if Aspen had developed decent revenue estimation teachings — as all competent governments do.

City officials should look in the mirror. They are to blame for depriving RFTA of $800,000.

I am tempted to assert that Aspen is being run as a country club, not a government. However, the analogy is incorrect. Any country club that survives relies on estimates of revenues and expenditures. A country-club bar is not allowed to give away $800,000 in free liquor.

The correct analogy for Aspen is to a kindergarten. Kindergartners know nothing about expenditures, budgets and revenue forecasts. Neither do the current officials of Aspen.

Philip Verleger


Letters: Kudos and Kindness

September 28, 2014 — 

Kudos & Kindness

ARC pool is ‘liquid silk’

The staff of the Aspen Recreation Center pool is to be commended for an especially nice job cleaning the pool this fall. The new lighting really makes a difference, and the water is like swimming in liquid silk! Thanks so much!

Linda Johnson


A lovely gesture

I want to thank the wonderful man who not only helped me up the steps at the restaurant in Marble but also so generously paid for my lunch with my daughter. It was most appreciated! Thank you!

Ruth Perry


Thank you, supporters of Mercy and Sharing

On Sept. 20, Mercy and Sharing, collaborating with the Kiwanis of Glenwood Spring, held a pancake breakfast to raise funds and awareness for the 20-year-old nonprofit.

Mercy and Sharing extends a warm thank-you to everyone who supported us at the pancake breakfast. A special thank-you to the Kiwanis, a wonderful organization and a great group of people — who provided the opportunity and much of the manpower for the event. Thank you to all the other volunteers who gave their time and effort. Thank you also to The Aspen Times, City Market, Express Yourself, the Glenwood Post Independent, McDonald’s of Glenwood, Starbucks of Basalt and Theatre Aspen for sponsoring the event. And a huge thank-you to all who showed up to enjoy pancakes to help children in Haiti.

Mercy and Sharing is a Haitian-registered, nonprofit organization operating in Haiti rescuing abused, abandoned and disabled children and providing them with a home, rehabilitation, education, hope and opportunity. In addition, Mercy and Sharing operates two medical clinics, three primary schools, a vocational school, an adult literacy program, a large nutrition program that feeds thousands, clean water wells, a physical-therapy center and three greenhouses.

Mercy and Sharing programs are funded predominantly by private contributions. All donations received go directly to the programs in Haiti because Mercy and Sharing’s advisory board and board of directors are committed to covering 100 percent of all U.S. overhead and administrative costs. For more information, please go to www.haitichildren.org or call us at 970-925-1492.


Mercy and Sharing

Football thanks to coaches, sponsors

Hi, my name is Miller Clapper, and I just wanted to say “thank you” to all the people who make the Youth Football League amazing. First of all, all this could not be done with out Ron Morehead — he is tireless. Thanks also to the Aspen Recreation Center’s Keith Bulicz, the Aspen Parks Department’s Blair Elliot and the Aspen Elks Lodge No. 224 for sponsoring. My coaches, coach Ward, coach Williams and coach Sweeney, are the best coaches around. You guys have made me a better player.

Thank you.

Miller Clapper


Letter: Keep Crystal River Valley wireless

September 27, 2014 — 

Keep Crystal River Valley wireless

Dear Dee Malone, chairperson, Crystal Valley Caucus:

As we speak, informed communities keeping up with the collapse of wireless communication systems (health impacts, flaky reception, pork-barreled government finance, hacking and tower fires, radiation impacts on wildlife, birds, livestock, trees and humans) are now opting for a superior system wireless can’t touch.

Silverton, Colorado, as you read this, is putting the finishing touches on its high-speed, affordable fiber-optic system which will provide hard-wired connectivity to the entire community.

Delta Montrose Electric Association (Paonia and beyond) has announced its launching buried fiber-optic service — hardwiring all smart meters, providing phone, radio, TV and Internet — all at speeds five times what cell towers and WiFi can. No dummies over the hill, as the litigations, health effects, environmental impacts and wireless cell-communicating smart meter fiasco garner tidal wave proportions in the courts and hearing rooms globally.

Google has seen the light and is getting into hard-wired/fiber-optic systems fast.

Ironic, when we offered the Crystal Valley Caucus board (Dee is both the chairperson and a biologist?) a free screening of “Take Back Your Power,” they labeled (the now approaching 30 percent) the incidence of Electro Sensitization, wireless environmental effects and documentation you’ll find below as “paranoia running deep,” “problems that don’t exist,” and too risky for public exposure.

You might want to have a look at some of these and get involved with the Pitkin County Master Plan Revision which, if the corridor was up to speed, would have these environmental protections included.

It isn’t going to happen through your caucus representation with the county. Just like so much of the sandbagging of information and democracy — you’re apparently on your own.

My own conclusion, 20 years now on the wrong side of Electro Sensitization is that it’s horrifically painful, very real, totally destructive and completely avoidable, given you do the homework and pull the plug on the needless sizzle. Otherwise, buy a tent and a lot of warm clothes.

The Crystal is one of the last remaining wireless-free, pristine corridors left in Colorado. Keep it that way; you won’t be sorry.

Gary Duncan

Crystal River Valley

Letter: A lawsuit might be next

September 27, 2014 — 

A lawsuit might be next

Two fine gentleman, Bob Sirkus, chair, Snowmass Village Planning Commission, and Greg Rulan urge council to get Base Village started again. But, here’s the problem. The 2004 PUD died in the abandonment by Related and the foreclosure. The reasons and legal opinion were given to council on Aug. 18 at a public hearing.

There are other ways without all the “trust me’s” to get Base Village going again, such as zoning variances.

I love it when Aspen Skiing Co. jumps in at the last minute to help Related and get 14 townhouses approved with the promise of a hotel. Once they get the 14 lots, they don’t have to build a hotel.

Comrades, Related and the Skico are “market driven.” If the market is not to their liking, they don’t have to build or finish anything, unless bonded 150 percent of cost.

Here’s my final word. If the town of Snowmass Village tries to extend vesting or approves any new and incomplete buildings without 150 percent bonds on public and private work, I will sue everybody attempting an illegal act. If the above is satisfied, then the Metro District should go bye-bye.

Richard C. Goodwin

Snowmass Village

Letter: The money train

September 27, 2014 — 

The money train

The U.S. has laws about going to foreign countries in support of the enemies such as ISIL/ISIS/IS, Taliban, al Qaida, Hamas, Boko Harum, etc. Oh, wait, I forgot — Hanoi Jane/John Kerry set the precedent that those laws don’t apply, as long as you are in the correct political party and have money!

Michael Galvis

Woody Creek

Letter: Put an end to Aspen homophobia

September 27, 2014 — 

Put an end to Aspen homophobia

Dear community,

What if we started something that could grow and provide new frontiers in Aspen? Is there room for a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Bible class? Does God truly love us all the same — gay and straight? Will we have churches in Aspen that will open their doors to same gender weddings by Aspen Gay and Lesbian Ski Week 2015?

We are a “gay friendly” town, but some people believe that means that they can go on acknowledging us as second-class citizens. Being banned from lodges and drugstores feels like the banning of “people of color” from the lunch counters of “white people” in the ‘60s. As we are all aware, that resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then in 2009, with the brutal death of Matthew Shepard, we now have the 2009 Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act.

If we had a trial in Aspen resulting in federal prison time for the perpetrators of discrimination, bias and prejudice, how many people would be found guilty and spend the rest of their lives in a federal prison? If the current suicide rate increases, we will make national news negatively, which could hurt our tourist trade. Is this what we want? How many more have to die before we do something? Call or email me if you want to join this project to eliminate homophobia in Aspen and decrease deaths in both the straight and LGBT communities. A venue to find common ground could be a start. What did Jesus say about same-gender love? Answer: nothing!

Jan Hamilton


Letter: A bridge to nowhere

September 27, 2014 — 

A bridge to nowhere

After reading a lot of letters lately about the proposed bridge replacements, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:

One, if that misbegotten monster gets built I’m going to ask my boss if I can move into his up-valley basement for the construction duration.

Two, widening that perfectly serviceable and maintainable bridge will increase car and especially truck traffic through the heart of Glenwood.

Build it and they will come. Aspen can discourage traffic and we need a bridge to facilitate it?

And to those whining ninnies who claim great fear while driving on our Grand Bridge, I say take some driving lessons and get your eyesight checked.

Bruno Kirchenwitz


Letter: It’s the GOP that demeans women

September 27, 2014 — 

It’s the GOP that demeans women

In her letter to the editor, Susan Gomez says that Democrats demean women by assuming they are concerned only with their reproductive rights (“Dems demean women,” Sept. 24, The Aspen Times). This is a myth being perpetuated by Republicans, the party that wants to take these rights away. In fact, intelligent women know that the Democrats support the environment and sustainable energy, that they support raising the minimum wage, that they support civil rights, public education, the middle class, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

The Republicans don’t — and they want to take away access to birth control and, even in the worst scenarios, abortion. All of these are women’s issues as well as men’s issues. There is a party that demeans — and hurts — women, but it isn’t the Democrats.

Karen Glenn


Letter: The Catholic Church’s staying power

September 27, 2014 — 

The Catholic Church’s staying power

When in his letter“Archaic mindset plagues Catholic Church” (Sept. 24, The Aspen Times) James DeFrancia declares that “the church is running about 300 years behind the rest of Western culture,” he reminds me of precisely why I chose to become a Catholic.

Let’s see, 300 years ago is when the French Enlightenment began its crusade to stamp out belief in the existence of Satan, as being nothing more than backwards, archaic mythology.

It succeeded so well that — fast forward — The Church of England is now setting about removing all references to Satan in its Rite of Baptism.

Tell me again, what is the purpose of baptism? With Satan out of the picture, isn’t it rather like vaccinating a child against a disease that doesn’t exist?

And if Satan doesn’t exist, then tell me, what need do I have of Christ (who, strangely enough, spoke of Satan frequently)? I mean, why did he even show up in the first place, dropped like a paratrooper behind enemy lines, as C. S. Lewis characterized it?

Not surprisingly, 18th century enlightened rationalists concluded that, indeed, they didn’t need him (after all, claims of his divinity were also mythological): All they needed in order to navigate the waters of life was to exercise their reason.

Fast forward again: How’s that working out? Our spiritually sterile school curricula and social sciences have not kept us from becoming a nation of dependents, addicts and suicides, with many more of us leading lives of quiet desperation. And this is the world that Mr. DeFrancia says the church “needs to join ... in order to be relevant.”

No, the reason the church is fondly called “The Rock of Ages” is that rocks are not easily moved or eroded. The church is in the world, but it better not be of the world. The more it accommodates its orthodoxy to post-modern tastes and values, the more irrelevant and useless it will be to anyone and everyone.

Western culture is on a suicide mission. My hope is that the church will be there to pick up the pieces.

Chad Klinger


Letter: Stop destroying Aspen’s character

September 26, 2014 — 

I’m writing as a concerned 25-year resident in beautiful Aspen. I fell in love with this town years ago because it was unique, small and picturesque and had lots of character and interesting people.

When I read about building taller buildings and doing away with parking requirements, it makes my blood boil. Why do the City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission even consider relaxing our codes? Let’s be strong and do what’s best for the city of Aspen and not relax the zoning regulations that have made Aspen what it is and has been for years.

Susan Welsch


Letter: Defending their faiths

September 26, 2014 — 

So interesting to see two columns from writers defending their religions — Roger Marolt (“Defending the Catholic Church,” Commentary, Sept. 19, The Aspen Times) and David Segal (“On anti-Semitism, from Aspen,” Commentary, Sept. 6).

When I read Roger’s column, I was just amazed! So perfect explaining something lacking in our lives. I honestly have lately heard more criticism of Catholicism than Zionism, and Roger sets us straight on this issue.

I am a Lutheran now (Methodist by birth) but have for a long time had a strong belief that the Catholic Church has it right about reproduction. And anti-Jewishness is something coming in the guise of helping the Palestinians. Be careful of what you think, and if you haven’t read these two guys’ columns, please go back and do so. Roger must give some credit to his mom and dad — God love them!

Marlis Laursoo

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Shouldn’t Skico, developers pay their own way?

September 26, 2014 — 

The Sept. 19 Aspen Times reported Aspen Skiing Co. executives’ lachrymose pleading to the city for even more privilege than the bountiful benefits already a part of their grand entitlements and hegemonic presence in the upper valley.

Both CEO Mike Kaplan and Senior Vice President David Perry expatiated on the topic of incentives reported by Scott Condon, of The Aspen Times. Condon wrote “that the two delivered a one-two punch” at the Thursday Aspen Chamber Resort Association meeting.

How about a half punch?

The idea that incentives carry the corporate real estate development in the upper valley is poor and disingenuous. “Inconsistent,” Kaplan quotes his domestic and international tour operators regarding Aspen’s lodging inventory, and some of it overpriced for the quality, he told a group of about 220.

The problem here is not the stars, Kaplan and Perry nor the lack of incentives. The crossroads that Kaplan and Perry refers to is not blocked by those who dare ask for responsibility by developers. Nor is it, as pleaded Kaplan, “that we should protect every single view corridor that’s existing,” nor, perish the thought, that we should disincentivize current lodge owners or condo owners. What if the current laws and zoning are adhered to? Would this satisfy?

May I be so bold as to write that developers need pay their own way? Do you not pay your own way? Is this but a part of the American way? Have we, as Kaplan noted, but “the false choice that development be stymied to preserve the Aspen Idea”? Perish the thought!

Consider vesting incentives offered for Base Village. A decade of incentives left an albatross around the neck of the town of Snowmass Village, a plague, and shockingly, the original vestors are back at the table begging more. Have you vested the village lately?

Perry closed with, “I would beg you to stand up; let your voices be heard in this dialogue of these lodging debates. Don’t let the noise, the hyperbole drown out the truth, so that we can truly have a civil dialogue,” and the crowd gave a loud ovation.

To this I am adding my voice. Will you?

James Herrel

Snowmass Village

Letter: An angel among the confusion

September 26, 2014 — 

I was involved in a three-car accident on Sept. 20, at about 1:20 p.m., on Highway 82 by the turnoff to Emma Road. There was a small, white dog in the middle of the highway. I was in the left lane, I came to almost a complete stop as to not hit the small dog, and when I did, I was hit from behind by a small, silver car that was hit from behind by a large, white truck with a trailer hauling a Bobcat. He must have been going pretty fast; the impact was unreal.

I am writing this today to thank the young man from New Jersey, who has lived here for eight years, for the comfort he provided me at the scene. I forgot his name, but he calmed me and gave me some water as I stood there for what seemed like hours as everyone attended to the lady and two kids who were in the car that hit me and that the truck hit.

I eventually was treated by the Basalt ambulance — thank you, Marlin — and taken to Aspen Valley Hospital. I had not been in a car accident before, but it amazed me that I never received a call from anyone, including the State Patrol, until I called it Monday. Is this normal? Then when I did call, the State Patrol had no idea a third car was involved. Well, whom did they think the lady in the silver car hit? This has definitely been one of the strangest experiences I have ever been through; I have no car, and no one really seems to care!

Anyway, thanks again to the nice young man. He was a true angel that day! I sure appreciate you!

Feeling left out!

Rhonda Coxon

Snowmass Village

Letter: Recycled brews

September 26, 2014 — 

To be or not to be? That is the question of the day in today’s question, “To recycle or not to recycle?”

If you take the great and amazing news that once an aluminum beer can enters the recycling stream, it only takes three months for it to be transformed into another beer can, you begin to get sustainable beer cans. We’re talking nirvana on Earth.

Tom Mooney


Letter: Sen. Udall will support women’s rights

September 26, 2014 — 

If you have seen the latest ad from Crossroads GPS, you know where I am coming from. It undermines the fundamental rights and freedoms of Colorado women. Apparently, Karl Rove thinks his dark money can trick Coloradans into believing that a woman’s right to make a health care choice is not an important decision in this election.

It shows that Congressman Cory Gardner and his allies are desperate. Coloradans already know that they cannot trust or protect a woman’s right to make decisions about health care. Rove is not going to change that.

Though he keeps trying to run away from it, Gardner’s record speaks for itself. In 2008 and 2010, Gardner supported the statewide personhood measure (yes, the same one that Colorado voters rejected by a 2-1 margin twice), and currently he sponsors the federal version of the bill. His long history of blocking access to birth control and to ban abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, proves that he would only take Colorado women backward.

Sen. Mark Udall, on the other hand, is someone we can trust to protect women’s basic rights and freedoms. He has fought his entire career to do right by us. We are not a box to just check off.

When it comes to choosing between Udall and Gardner, it is clear who will stand up for the rights of women.

Won’t you join me in supporting Mark? As women, I believe this is our choice.

Colleen Scissors


Letter: No audit needed for parking department

September 26, 2014 — 

No audit needed for parking department

I’m fascinated by the course taken by the Aspen Daily News in describing the latest parking scam, saying that parking had been “given away” by the city, and that somehow city officials should take primary blame for “the unfortunate events resulting in the unfettered use of empty pre-paid debit cards for free parking procurement” (“It’s time for an independent audit of the city’s parking department,” Paul Menter, commentary, Sept. 24). And hooray, instead, for the Aspen Times for focusing on the issue more objectively.

Lest we all forget, the city didn’t give away anything — people took it. And guess what? They’ve been taking it in Aspen for decades. When I worked there in the ‘90s, people stole parking by rubbing chalk, by using false receipts, by doctoring handicap and construction permits, by painting over residential permits with colored markers, and even by using fake plates. And guess what else? Some of those people worked for newspapers in Aspen. We didn’t give it away; people took it. And in retrospect, the only unfortunate event back then is that we honestly thought that we could trust most of the people in Aspen to follow the law. Most did, but a few people constantly caused us to repeatedly tighten the reigns.

Only in Aspen can you find someone who says, with a straight face, “Yeah, I know it’s wrong to take from people, the bus company, and the city coffers, but parking for us ‘worker bees’ is just too expensive.” If the city prosecutes this guy, and the 20 or so others who did the same thing, it won’t have to change or audit anything.

Tim Schnacke


Letter: Questions abound over parking scam

September 25, 2014 — 

Questions abound over parking scam

An accountant who stole more than $600,000 from his or her employer could be certain he or she would be spending years in prison if caught. In fact, several Aspen-based accountants have been sent away for steeling far less. Yet the city of Aspen seems willing to gloss over the loss of such a sum by its parking department. The citizens of Aspen should ask for a full accounting. Exactly who in the city knew about it and when did they know about it?

One very disturbing finding is that city Manger Steve Barwick evidently knew that batches of tickets were being purchased on a single card. Barwick told the council he was not surprised. According to the article in the Sept. 24 Aspen Times, by Karl Herchenroeder, “Barwick told the council that in some cases a driver used one debit card to purchase multiple parking tickets. Barwick assumed the tickets were then handed out to friends, employees or co-workers.” If true, this is an astounding admission.

Mr. Barwick did not say how many times this occurred. If it occurred often, it was surely a red flag that a fraud was being perpetrated on the city.

Mr. Barwick also apparently stated that personnel changes were occurring while the fraud was taking place. I am curious as to how much time long personnel changes require. Aspen lost $227,000 to the fraud in 2013 and $448,000 in 2014. Does it take more than eighteen months in Aspen to make personnel changes? The length of time hints at incompetence at the top.

However, I find it hard to square the “personnel change” explanation with the fact that Mr. Barwick knew people were buying bunches of permits. This suggests he knew more than he has admitted. To ask an old question, “When did Mr. Barwick know of the fraud and what did he do about it?” One should also ask: Were one or more individuals working for the city involved?

Someone should also ask why the city did not arrange a sting. If the city knew, as Mr. Barwick states, that individuals were buying “batches” of permits at a single location, it could have arranged surveillance and identified the scammers. I have a suspicion that those in City Hall did not want take such action, fearing friends would be legally trapped. Better to write off the losses and ignore the scam.

These questions can only be answered by a full and complete outside investigation. The city cannot investigate itself; no organization can. There must be no cover-up. The city should hire an outside investigator who does not live in Aspen or Pitkin county. The investigator should be given full powers to interview city employees under oath. The results should be made public.

Philip Verleger


Letter: Cracking the whip

September 25, 2014 — 

Cracking the whip

NFL teams really know how to crack down on players who commit domestic violence. A Carolina Panther player has been suspended, can only watch the games, but still receives $700,000 a week in salary. That really showed him who’s in charge!

Carl Heck


Letter: Pounding the data to set the record straight

September 25, 2014 — 

Pounding the data to set the record straight

A mentor’s words — “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When not, pound the table” — resonated while reading Auden Schendler’s attack column (“Where were the fact checkers on Sturm column?” Commentary, Sept. 16, The Aspen Times) in response to Melanie Sturm’s delightful Sept. 11 column (“Inconvenient truths denied by climate faithful,” Commentary, The Aspen Times).

Pounding hard, Schendler accuses Sturm of “falsehoods,” “sleight of hand,” “misinformation,” and “cherry-picking” while urging the Aspen Times to “defend the truth.” You’d think Sturm’s column was error-packed. It was not.

Schendler derided two of Sturm’s claims: Global temperatures have ceased rising for nearly 18 years, and Arctic sea ice has rebounded over the last two years by an “Alaska-sized expansion.” Both claims are uncontroversial among the climate-change community and are thus inconsistent with Schendler’s claims of dishonesty.

The nearly 18-year “pause” in global temperatures can be seen in Remote Sensing Systems’ lower troposphere (satellite) temperature series, which is updated monthly (http://www.remss.com/research/climate) and is well below even the lower confidence bounds of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models.

Other major global temperature data sets confirm a statistically significant warming pause of 16 to 26 years: The English HadCRUT 4 — the most often-cited temperature record — shows 19 years; UAH satellite data shows 16 years; and RSS data show 26 years. This data from professor Ross McKitrick’s peer-reviewed paper (published in the August 2014 Open Journal of Statistics) confirms Sturm was not “cherry-picking” data.

In fact, it’s Schendler who ignores the very surface temperature data that 1980s and ‘90s era warmists predicted would increase — it no longer supports their theory.

Instead, Schendler believes excess heat is going into the oceans, which is one of countless theories warmists posit to explain zero warming since my high school senior was born. Though possible, the oceans top 2,000 feet show no warming, according to ARGO ocean temperature monitoring floats, over their 12-year life.

That the heat might be going into the “deep” oceans below 2,000 feet is a recent theory, and hardly “debunks” Matt Ridley’s Wall Street Journal piece. Data debunks theories, not vice versa.

How about Arctic sea ice? This year’s rebound from 2012’s summer minimum has been dramatic and is viewable at University of Illinois’ Cryosphere Today website. But the real dialogue should be about global sea ice as the earth contains two poles: Arctic and Antarctic. Global sea ice is today (Sept. 22, 2014) 470,000 square kilometers above the 35-year average. One day is too short. The last 12-month average shows roughly 400,000 square kilometers more sea ice than average.

It is true that there’s been a decline in average Arctic sea ice over the last 35 years, but there’s also been a roughly equal rise in Antarctic sea ice, currently setting record highs.

Put into context, earth has had roughly 20,000,000 square kilometers of seasonally varying sea ice over the last 35 years, displayed and updated daily by Cryosphere Today. Down 7 percent in 2011 — its lowest year — sea ice is currently about 2 percent above its 35-year average.

This small variance in global sea ice coverage is inconsistent with hysteria over climate change — unless, of course, one looks at only one pole or cherry picks data.

The data is the data: Earth’s surface has warmed a modest 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last 160 years. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 280 ppm to 400 ppm due mainly to the burning of hydrocarbons. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that should cause a warming of the atmosphere, which has been modest to date. Global sea ice coverage has bounced up and down a few percentage points. There has been no increase in the average occurrence of global hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, etc http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2013.20.pdf

These facts, which Schendler ignores, are not controversial. Before accepting doomsday predictions — such as the claim I heard while a 1980s Colorado high school student that there’d be mass starvation by 2000 — become familiar with the past.

Lets put a climate-change debate on the Aspen events fall calendar. I can’t imagine a better place to hold an informative and thoughtful dialogue.

Chris Wright

Cherry Hills Village, Colo.

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