Please reconsider Amendment 22
September 29, 2008
As I listened to last Monday’s City Council meeting I was reminded of the album “Combat Rock” by The Clash. The one song that came to mind was “Know Your Rights.”
If I may quote one verse, “you have the right to free speech as long as you are not dumb enough to actually try it.” The Aspen City Council seems to take this quote as their battle cry, but I witnessed many brave souls that raged against the machine and told the council that they were against Amendment 22 or asked that the amendment be passed with some serious changes. This is democracy at its finest.
These urban warriors weathered constant attacks by Mayor Ireland and Councilman Johnson, who were obviously against any opposition to the amendment and were more than generous to lap praise (or at least given a free pass of criticism) on those who were in favor of it.
One of the most critical attacks (once again) was against Marilyn Marks. Mayor Ireland and Councilman Johnson fought each other to be first to attack Ms. Marks for her beacons to the public on this ridiculous amendment. Ms. Marks showed her true commitment to the betterment of the community by making her point even after Mr. Johnson attacked her for her style of politics and that he didn’t feel that she represented the public.
She stood and called council down on its biased favoritism. Then Councilman Dwayne Romero voiced his disapproval of that very favoritism. I thought the councilman’s statement that the council must represent all of the people, regardless of which side of the argument, was spot on. His analogy that council is not judged by an arbitrary batting average that reflects that they treated most of the public with respect, but not those who are against the issue, was brilliant.
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As far as the passage of Amendment 22, it is a dark day for the hard workers of Aspen. I believe that many free-market property owners that were considering renting their properties to the Aspen work force will now reconsider.
Then there are those who purchased their property several decades ago and held it, hoping for a big payday, only to find that real estate market had slid downward and now this amendment. Not only are these people employees or business owners in Aspen, but for some, these properties are their pensions; when they sell, they retire and move on.
In the council’s passage of Amendment 22, there was a promise that they would revisit the amendment language in the near future. I surely hope so, but council seems awfully busy.
Finally, what of the public comment during council meeting? Are we all expected to carry the party line, dressed in our khakis, wearing our floppy hats with the red star on it and carrying our little book of party doctrine, or will we be allowed our freedom of speech?
James H. Perry