Letters to the Editor

Letter: Road tripping

May 24, 2015 — 

This poem is about driving across America on the freeways with, as George Carlin said, “all the idiots and maniacs,” and how some people drive very fast but never seem to get anywhere.

I like to drive the freeway

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Letter: Bert has the cure

May 24, 2015 — 

Recently on Aspen Public Radio, Carolyn Sackariason moderated a discussion between the City Council runoff candidates Bert Myrin and Mick Ireland. When asked, “Isn’t it time for a fresh voice on City Council?” Mick respondedthat if one needed a doctor for a medical problem, one would want the doctor who had cured the problem many times before.

We have seen Dr. Ireland’s “cures” many times before. The Aspen Art Museum cure, the Lift 1 cure, the hydroplant cure. Ignoring signs and symptoms of “parking gate” and huge cost overruns on numerous city projects, it’s time for a second opinion. Please vote for Bert.

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Letter: Quakers and climate

May 24, 2015 — 

On April 27 in The Aspen Times, Paul Andersen wrote the best column on climate change that I have ever read (“Climate change is a moral failure.”) He ties in Quaker values that make the doubter of climate change a “moral failure.” I am from Philadelphia, where Quaker teachings are in the culture of Pennsylvania and New Jersey schools and societies.

The Quakers have always been a shining light on moral issues. Their concerns about climate changes as a “moral” question deserves everyone’s thoughts as to our future generations.

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Letter: Don't let greed prevail

May 24, 2015 — 

Over the past 40 years, I have planned several projects in Basalt for both public and private clients (Basalt River Corridor Plan, Elk Run, Stott’s Mill planned-unit devlopment, early work on The Roaring Fork Club and others). During that period, which preceded the 2008 recession, Basalt experienced rapid growth at a rate that alarmed many residents. In response, the community spawned vocal special-interest groups derogatorily termed NIMBYs (Not in my back yard). The concerns of most NIMBY groups are perfectly genuine. During the time I was actively engaged with the town, I anecdotally identified five specific interest groups, all entirely legitimate except the fifth as follows: • Lifestyle — Many residents live in Basalt for lifestyle reasons (security, cultural richness, convenience, neighborliness, amenities, etc.) and for whom any growth may be viewed as a lifestyle threat.

• Environment — Many folks have deeply passionate local and global environmental concerns whereby any development may have negative environmental consequences if not properly executed.

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Letter: Thanks for the article

May 24, 2015 — 

Let me thank The Aspen Times reporter Karl Herchenroeder for featuring me in an article, “Veazy comes, Veazy goes” (May 23) that many people liked reading. He and I were born in the state of Maryland, so I consider his newspaper assignment historical.

However, may I clarify that I first visited Aspen in August 1977 and a second time on Halloween 1977? Both times I crossed over Independence Pass to get to Aspen. The first time, a golden eagle flew over the top of the pass. Think “77 Sunset Strip” to remember 1977.

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Letter: Carbondale has proud coal-mining heritage

May 24, 2015 — 

I’m used to backhanded compliments and people “objecting” to my comments and decisions that I make in my role as mayor of Carbondale, but Jill Soffer’s I felt recent letter to the editor (“Let coal mining die,” May 22, The Aspen Times) deserved a response. First of all, nowhere did I state that the Carbondale Board of Trustees is “not opposed to coal mining” — Soffer, read that article again. Carbondale is committed to bringing permanent preservation of the Thompson Divide region, and in our efforts to preserve, our board has been careful not to interfere with other communities’ choices in regards to their local economies. Carbondale is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and is well versed at the factual information Soffer shared in her letter. Carbondale is working diligently to have control of our own destiny. We have worked over these past decades to enhance our way of life, and protecting Thompson Divide is paramount to those desires.

Since Soffer decided to make her feelings known and called me out personally, I’d like to address a few things. I would imagine that if Soffer resided in Carbondale for 20 to 30 years, she would know that coal mining once was the life blood of our community. Soffer would maybe realize that her comment regarding coal mining — “It’s choking and gasping to stay alive but dying nonetheless” — is completely insulting and cruel to those miners and their families who perished 34 years ago in a tragic coal-mining explosion that claimed the lives of 15 miners. Soffer, I’m sure we can agree on many things, but you’ve demonstrated your inability to be thoughtful, let alone forward-thinking, and definitely not empathetic to “reducing the pain of families,” as was stated in your recent letter.

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Letter: Bert supports opportunity for locals

May 24, 2015 — 

When I ran for Aspen City Council in 2010, I sought Su Lum’s support. Her comment to me was basically, “Let’s see who supports you before I make any decisions.” The entertainment value of who supports whom in this election between Bert Myrin and Mick Ireland is awesome. It’s almost like middle school again. Who hangs with the cool kids?

I say the same thing now that I said to Su Lum then: It should not be about who supports whom, it should be about whom you trust to carry your priorities as an Aspen resident forward. Righties shouldn’t “hate Mick” because of prominent lefties who support him, and lefties shouldn’t oppose Bert because of high-profile righties who support him.

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Letter: Calling all valley teachers

May 24, 2015 — 

We need your help! Summit 54 sponsors a nationally acclaimed summer-learning program called Summer Advantage USA in cooperation with the Roaring Fork School District. This free, five-week, academic and life-enrichment program is dramatically improving lives for 750 kindergarten through fourth-grade students in Basalt, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. But we need more excellent teachers and assistant teachers.

Many people in Aspen and Snowmass Village do not realize that more than half of the students in the school district receive Title One free or reduced luncehs. National statistics demonstrate that children from low-income households

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Letter: Cost of flouridation is higher

May 24, 2015 — 

Your piece on May 22 regarding water fluoridation in Snowmass was very informative. I would like to respectfully note that the cost to the district of $3,500 annually for the fluoridation program is not a full account of the costs associated with fluoridation. If we factor in the need to repair dental fluorosis, including about 5 percent moderate to severe fluorosis among young teenagers, the cost is much higher, and the economic benefit of fluoridation vanishes.

Michael F. Dolan

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Letter: Sheriff endorses Ireland

May 23, 2015 — 

On June 2, voters will fill the last remaining City Council seat. I will be supporting Mick Ireland. Say what you will about Mick, but he is clearly a dedicated public servant who, for unselfish reasons, gives his time to our community. I’ve known Mick for many years and consider him a friend. Mick has integrity of the highest level and speaks his mind honestly, which is refreshing as a politician.

I also know Mick to be a man who passionately believes in this community and represents all of us equally. Mick has devoted much of his life to serving Aspen and Pitkin County. Mick is truly a man of the people who lives a modest lifestyle in employee housing, works hard, gives back and makes decisions without special interests. Some may consider Mick abrasive and relentless; however, when there’s an issue that matters, isn’t that the person you want on your side?

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Letter: Remembering Kellie Schenck

May 23, 2015 — 

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts. Kellie Schenck left some deep ones on mine. The world will not be the same with out her. She was an amazing teacher, but she was so much more. She took a scared little girl on her first day of public school and helped her belong.

I owe so much to her. My life would not have been the same without Kellie. She spent countless hours helping me get through classes and was always there for a hug. She has touched so many lives and I am truly blessed to have been able to spend even a little time with her. I will always be your Hilbug Kellie. I will never forget you. Team Schenck forever!

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Letter: The Benedicts would approve

May 23, 2015 — 

I bet Fritz and Fabi Benedict would approve of and love the Verena Mallory Trail and the memorial to Verena Mallory.

Ruth Harrison

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Letter: Vote for Mick to protect Western Slope water

May 22, 2015 — 

It’s a point of interest that opinion surveys in Aspen often place the importance of keeping water in the Roaring Fork through town at or near the top of the list, yet I can’t remember a single question during Squirm Night that dealt with this issue.

Here’s a point to consider: The name of the game over the past four decades has been for Front Range water interests to ask for additional water diversions but contractually agree to protect Western Slope water through various forms of “mitigation.” But when it comes to making good on those promises, the performance has been at a remarkably low level. This is usually accomplished by hiring teams of attorneys who point out why these commitments are invalid or point out that the terms have expired through some obscure deficiency in the contract or other agreement.

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Letter: Thanks for supporting education

May 22, 2015 — 

On May 12, with a lucky break in the unpredictable spring weather, the Roaring Fork Charity Classic witnessed successful fundraising and an outstanding afternoon of golf. Close to 100 players took to the links at the Roaring Fork Club for an annual and spirited golf tournament to benefit the Basalt Education Foundation. Thanks to our generous players and sponsors, we raised $45,000 to enhance education in the three Basalt public schools.

This great day could not have happened without our event sponsors. A hearty thank-you to Willits Town Center, Alpine Bank, Holy Cross Energy, FirstBank, Berthoud Motors, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, the town of Basalt, Thinking Bigger, Ted Borchelt of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s, Umbrella Roofing, the Mid-Valley Metro District, Ehlers Financial, SMG, JKA Group, Poss Architecture + Planning and Interior Design, Austin Pierce & Smith, Olsson Associates, Maley Building Corp., the Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District, Lipkin Warner, Willits General Store, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s, Waas Campbell Rivera Johnson & Velasquez, Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork, Community Banks of Colorado, Sopris Engineering, Peck Feigenbaum PC and CCY Architects.

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Letter: Let coal mining die

May 22, 2015 — 

Congratulations to Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot and Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron for signing on to the Mountain Pact letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (“Carbondale and Aspen mayors sign to require coal companies to pay royalties,” The Aspen Times, May 10). This letter supports closing the loophole that allows coal companies to pay so little for coal with no remuneration to the Western states from whence that coal was taken. This is an important step in reducing the hidden subsidies that coal receives in this country, making it artificially cheaper than other, less carbon-intensive fuels.

However, I object to Bernot’s statement that her board is “not opposed” to coal mining.

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Letter: A great time for the kids

May 22, 2015 — 

Writing on behalf of Carbondale Middle School students, we would like to thank the Aspen Youth Center and Aspen Recreation Center for allowing us to spend time in their facility during a recent field trip to the Aspen Recreation Center. Our valley is truly blessed to have this valuable resource for teens. Most towns could only dream of having a facility and organization like this!

The Aspen Youth Center is a welcoming, safe and fabulous space for teens. This organization provides a structured setting for them to learn interpersonal skills, gain confidence and be in a secure environment. The staff members are positive role models and have caring personalities and patience for every teen who walks through the door. Our students had a tremendous amount of fun playing games with one another and made connections with both youth staff and students from other schools. If you are reading this, please consider making a donation to this treasured program right here in our backyard.

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Letter: Shame on columnist, newspaper

May 22, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Aspen Times columnist Meredith Carroll.

Ms. Carroll,

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Letter: Loss of a critical resource

May 22, 2015 — 

Aspen has a history of challenging norms, be it through offbeat politics, embracing environmental issues or having an independently owned, world-class resort. Within the school district, however, when the status quo gets challenged, the visionary resource gets lost. Kim Martin recently resigned as the principal of Aspen High School, and when Kim leaves, we lose that norm-challenging vision, that resource and that resolve to provide the best education possible for our children. There are, of course, a host of detractors and perhaps a system that does not stand behind the leadership within the building, but her focus over the past three years has been on our children. Kim’s chosen career path in life is her true passion, and she does not see it as simply a way to earn cash, as some do. While there will be some people breathing sighs of relief, ultimately, we should have sighs of grief about the loss for our high school, our district and most importantly our kids. Kim brought a perspective to the school that was questioning and curious, but most of all, her desire was to build an environment that embraces our community values while striving for educational excellence. Yes, we are fortunate to have received “District of Distinction” accreditation from the state of Colorado, but the question is, “Can we do better?” Of course we can. Unfortunately, we have lost that voice, that vision that was willing to stand up and say that, yes, we are good, but with the resources at our disposal, this district could actually be great. Unfortunately, down the road, when the dust has settled and the administration bases its success on those “District of Distinction” laurels, we should ask ourselves, “Are we OK with our kids’ education as simply a status quo?” Ultimately, we could have kept an integral resource, yet we are losing the third principal in the past few years — one who was actually willing to question the status quo and be an agent for change!

We as a community find many topics of concern to challenge and embrace, yet we rarely question our school administrators, our board or our system of policy and governance on what could very well be the most important issue we face as a community: the education of our future. We had a resource to challenge the norms, and we let it go.

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Letter: The importance of scale

May 21, 2015 — 

There has been a great deal of debate regarding the possible new hotel in Basalt. Arguments pro and con have focused on the need for more business versus the value of open space next to the river.

Absent from this discussion seems to be a focus on scale. Basalt is fundamentally a one- and two-story Town Hall, and main street is primarily one- and two-story buildings.

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Letter: Don't let greed win

May 21, 2015 — 

I doubt that I am the only one who has noticed a big increase of congestion in our valley, especially in the Basalt and El Jebel area. Do you think 400 new housing units, 127,000 square feet of commercial space and hundreds of new vehicles will improve this situation? Didn’t think so. That is exactly what is going to happen if Eagle County gives final approval to the Ace Lane Tree Farm development across from Willits Town Center. We need this project like we all need a hole in the head! I am pretty sure most of us will not be able to attend a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at 2:30 p.m. on June 4 at the Eagle County Building in El Jebel. You can bet Ace Lane, his slick lawyers and his big-money backers will be there while we working folks are doing what we do: working. Let’s all send Lane and all the other greedy land developers a strong message. We will not sit back while you try to destroy our quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley. We have three new county commissioners in Eagle County who will ultimately decide on this issue. They are Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jill Ryan and Jeanne McQueeney; please email them at eagleadmin@eaglecounty.us.

Hopefully, if enough of us voice our opinion, they will listen to the majority of their constituents instead of the big-money developers. This project will have a negative effect on the entire valley, not just the El Jebel area.

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Letter: Great info on construction mitigation

May 21, 2015 — 

Let me praise Aspen City Engineer Tricia Aragon of the Aspen Engineering Department on her superb chairwomanship over the May 14 city of Aspen Engineering Construction Mitigation Plan and Learn event at City Hall, which Mark Gould and I attended.

Aragon and her Construction Mitigation and Permit Officer Tony Kornasiewicz were more than well-prepared to answer questions and to go into depth, using plain English, to address the arising questions and concerns from the audience. They provided clarity. They fine-tuned issues, ideas and points of worry in the present 51-page Construction Management Manual. Also, they were open to constructive suggestions for mutual benefit.

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Letter: Thanks to the Elks Lodge

May 21, 2015 — 

I want to thank the Aspen Elks Lodge 224 for another great year of support for kids in the valley. The Aspen Elks allow kids to do all kinds of sports and activities that kids want to do. It is fun to participate in all the sports activities like basketball, football, soccer and tennis, just to name a few of those in which I have been involved. In addition to sponsoring sport leagues, they also sponsor my Cub Scout Pack 224. Throughout the year, the Elks host our monthly meetings at the lodge in Aspen. I love the fact that the Elks Lodge sponsors free events like the free-throw shoot-out. The Elks also hosted our football team’s banquet again this year, and the food was delicious. To all the members of the Aspen Elks Lodge 224, I want you to know that I think you are awesome!

Peter de Wetter

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Letter: Kidnapping with a capital K

May 21, 2015 — 

How disappointing that a fair and astute observer like Meredith Carroll spent the better part of a full page in your May 21 edition attempting to justify the kidnapping of the two local Burns/Alianelli children (“More than meets the eye in custody case,” Commentary).

That’s right. Kidnapping with a capital K. Forget the balderdash and hysteria of he or she is a bad person, parenting, friends, abuse, insensitive, along with all the rest of the excuses that get put out there by the criminal (felonious) parent. This is the fodder that has turned “custodial” kidnapping into a billion-dollar industry for lawyers, psychologists and social workers. We are on the verge of outgrowing this nonsense as a culture because we, as a society, value our children more than we will indulge their parents’ temporal desires.

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Letter: Things will be worse

May 21, 2015 — 

The Aspen Daily News tells us “Obama gets tough” with Republicans. His primary gripes are two: trashing the Iran deal (what is the alternative?) and “do nothing” Congress.

Between now and the 2016 election, cheer up — things could be worse and probably will be worse.

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Letter: Waste in the water

May 21, 2015 — 

I can’t believe that there are people willing to let their town continue to dump toxic waste into their water supply. The fluoride you are drinking is not naturally occurring. It is a toxic waste byproduct from aluminum industries. If it came from a natural source, it might be a different story, but it’s not.

This is an unethical form of mass medication, and it cannot be controlled. So I will tell you exactly what you are drinking: fluorosilicic acid. This is a toxic waste substance from the production of aluminum, fertilizer steel and nuclear industries. It is not the natural element.

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Letter: Stop blaming all Muslims

May 21, 2015 — 

There is freedom of speech, there is hate speech, there is stupid speech, and there is really, really stupid and ignorant speech. I think all of the above speech is what Pamela Geller has used in the past few weeks. There is no way that was the only time, either. I am betting that if Geller approached the Aspen Art Museum about any of her ideas, two things would happen. They would politely say “no,” and the Roaring Fork Valley community would say “hell no.” Most likely the whole state of Colorado would agree with that.

Also, I am not surprised at all that a Texas community agreed to her “art ideas.” Texas is a great state with a whole lot of really great people, but Texas also has a whole bunch of problem people with bad ideas and ideals. Just like anywhere, to be fair. Think about this, though: Why throw 10,000 gallons of Middle Eastern-derived fuel on a really huge and worldwide problem? That would be like a middle-aged white guy like me or a slightly older white dude like Chad Klinger going to Ferguson and telling other-color people to settle the hell down and act “civilized.” Yes, constitutionally we have the right to do something like that, but would it really be a smart and rightous thing to do?

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Letter: Myrin the right choice

May 20, 2015 — 

I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth Milias and The Red Ant and so many other locals that Bert Myrin is the right man for the City Council job.

Bert listens to others’ opinions. He considers how his decisions affect others. He gets things done amazingly well. He is approachable. He respects speaking and meeting time limits. He takes disagreements respectfully and in stride. He is friendly to all residents of all political viewpoints. He is smart in the best sense of the word. He does his homework. Aspen needs a fresh, new voice on the council. Vote for Bert!

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Letter: Bring alternative transportation into Basalt discussion

May 20, 2015 — 

At Tuesday’s town of Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, I was encouraged to hear the commissioners voice support for a forward-thinking master plan. Especially as it concerns the historic downtown, an improved streetscape, clustered storefronts and appropriate density will address many of the goals of the Downtown Area Advisory Committee report.

It may be worth mentioning that parking is always a hot topic in these discussions. Why not engage in a conversation about decreasing our dependence on the automobile? Do we really need to continue to cater to the car? The flagship Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center, currently being built in downtown Basalt, is all about long-term sustainability and being green. A town that relies on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and transportation hubs will bring our community to the forefront of that green future.

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Letter: Remember the future

May 20, 2015 — 

Remembering is a sacred act. Regardless of our feelings about a particular war or military service, Memorial Day invites us to remember the sacrifices of others and the intricate interdependence of life. Our country has a long history of men and women swearing the oath of service to their country, placing their lives on the line, literally and figuratively. Generation after generation has suffered the aftermath of war and the terrible damage done upon the hearts and minds of those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Though anxiously anticipated by many as a three-day weekend, a day of big sales in the shopping malls and barbecue, we should enter Memorial Day in silence and remembrance. It’s a day to slog through the mud of the battlefields, the searing heat of the deserts, the dripping humidity of the jungles and the icy snowbanks of wintertime battlefronts and to remember. We are meant to cry this day — to weep over the loss of American life, and all life, in the face of hostility and war. We are meant to honor and remember conflict, pain and loss — conflict that doesn’t have an easy fix or any fix at all. Something within us rebels at the notion of meaningless death, yet all the euphemisms glorifying the dead — “patriotic warrior,” “fallen hero” — only muddy the waters of truth of the hatred and suffering of war. Throughout history, widows and orphans became metaphors for the struggle for survival in the face of unjust situations. But they were and are tangible and real. No elevation of status, no mythological proportions romanticizing sacrifice, bring the dead home. Family members, friends and neighbors continue to mourn.

Remembering is an act of worship. Love is personal; war is impersonal. Terror and hate will always be part of our lives. The question remains: how to reconcile this harsh reality with a spiritual practice that is based on opening the heart and transforming our conflicts to higher, divinely directed energy. Memorial Day is an opportunity to look above and beyond a particular administration and its agenda, beyond the war of words, ideologies and political climate. Imagine, instead, a world where all governments, legislation, businesses and schools use an approach of compassion, generosity, love and justice for humanity and for the planet. Imagine the world as it is, the world as it was and the world that is to come — love being the only thing that can meet the depth of suffering within our being and without. May the words “Lord have mercy,” inscribed in the sacred writings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, be chanted again and again throughout the world, universally confirming our all-knowing. “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love.” — Buddhist dharma of Dhammapada

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Letter: A poem for the earth

May 20, 2015 — 

Kudos for Paul Andersen and his column Monday (“Thinking like an earthworm,” Commentary, The Aspen Times, May 18). We do need more thinking like that regarding Mother Earth, who is a living, breathing body. Without her health, we are nothing. To add to that, I enclose a poem I wrote echoing those same thoughts.

“She Cries for Love”

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