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Aspen City Council: Tax, spend, repeat

Aspen City Council proposes to tax all informal short-term rentals because a $130 million annual budget just isn’t enough.

Maurice Emmer

Aspen

Glenwood knows what Glenwood needs

Having grown up in a small town that was once a mining town and became one of the premiere tourist towns (Aspen) in the nation, it is interesting to note I have never seen a tourist town become a mining town. Which is why the citizens of Glenwood are concerned about Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI) expanding mining operations into a tourist town.

Thus, in response to RMI’s CEO Gregory Dangler’s “editorial” (Aspen Daily News, Feb. 18), I was offended that Mr. Dangler would accuse me and the other members of Glenwood’s council of being controlled by Glenwood’s “wealthy elite.” Mr. Dangler’s baseless accusations are slanderous and offensive.

Additionally, Mr. Dangler is wrong on the facts and wrong on what the city of Glenwood Springs wants or needs. First, we have an approximate 2% unemployment rate here and we don’t need his 10, 50 or 100 new mining jobs if they result in the destruction of our quality of life. Secondly, the hot springs pool, Sunlight Ski Area, the hotels and our Adventure Park are the amenities that drive our economy, not a limestone mine. Without them, our tax base would evaporate. These businesses are Glenwood and when RMI threatens our aquifer(s), the beauty of our area and attempts to place hundreds of big trucks on our older roads, you don’t just threaten these amenities and businesses, you threaten the people of Glenwood Springs.

As the people’s representative, I will never allow that and will continue to fight RMI until they inevitably give up their attempt to expand. “When in Rome,” Mr. Dangler, although if RMI went to Rome I imagine they would demolish the Coliseum, strip mine the Vatican and demand the Romans thank them for the jobs they might temporarily create.

Tony Hershey

Glenwood Springs City Council

Ignorant commentary about North Star

The piece in the recent Roses and Thorns article (Feb. 21, aspentimes.com) damning the hard work that’s being done to protect the North Star Preserve was both remarkably uninformed and self serving, perhaps by someone who wants to paddle the river, unimpeded by rules.

Calling the problem of the huge number of illegally parked cars basically “fake news” demonstrates a lack of awareness and care about the damage being done to a nature preserve. This beautiful preserve was intended to protect the diverse flora and fauna of the area, with recreation a lovely but secondary goal. We are losing our elk population there as well as our water birds; this is not a bunch of cranky wealthy people complaining that we don’t like having to slow down for a few minutes on Highway 82 to pass the rowdy crowd at the bridge.

These are concerned citizens watching one more nature area being devastated. The cars all over Highway 82 next to the preserve demonstrate the over-use of the river which has caused significant harm already. The plan to safeguard an area given to the county as a protected environment is a necessary, critical step, if we are not to destroy the very nature people come to Aspen to enjoy. We all need to start taking responsibility; the environment cannot survive without us acting as stewards.

Beth Weissman and Kevin Boru

Part-time Aspen residents

Force-feeding KAJX listeners

I once sat on a jury in Santa Barbara, California, where the foreman was of the mindset that father knew best and the jury were little kids sitting around a table just to learn from him. To make a long story short, the jury told the judge we wanted another foreman. Evidentially the judge was familiar with this phenomenon and sorted things out.

Observing the recent KAJX board of directors meeting, I found myself back in the jury room as I probed the solid wall of resistance emanating from the top of the table occupied by two men and a woman — evidently the board big shots. I did not pick up this negativity from the 10 board members who for the most part have resided here from 10 to over 40 years.

Those 10, like the audience — who for the most part have lived here for decades — did not decide to move to Aspen and stay most of their lives because the atmosphere felt like water bugs swimming around in a void. There was and to some extent still is a culture in this valley in general that is dynamic, intelligent and, when called upon, warmhearted. One gets the feeling in this valley that certain elements are trying to force a culture change by bashing everyone over the head.

If the people at the top of the table remain, there will not be any meaningful improvements to the KAJX format because father does not know best, especially when expressed through corporate CEO bottom-line mindsets.

A few years ago, a senior citizen conference was held at the Hotel Jerome. Hundreds of seniors showed up from one end of the valley to another. I would guess 1,00 vibrant, intelligent people attended. KAJX claims a survey was taken, which brought on recent changes at the station. I’ll bet not five people were included in that survey, which is weird because a good percentage of the attendees had probably been the main supporters of KAJX over the years. If you are going to take a survey at the high school pompom-waving cheerleader practice session or a snowboarder apres ski hangout, you are going to get manipulated results. KAJX’s survey is useless and only reflects a predetermined point of view.

As far as bringing in the young people to the NPR sphere, the best idea I heard was to bring young, local interns. That makes more sense than the inverse of imposing programs like “Hidden Brain,” “Commonwealth Club” or “On Being” on listeners of a south-side-of-Chicago rap station. Forced integration doesn’t work and that is wisdom. Why screw up a good rap station? Why screw up KAJX and NRR? What is NPR’s true agenda? Who in Washington would like to see NPR and affiliates fail? Now there is a subject for a good investigative reporter.

Pat Milligan

Aspen Village

Sean Beckwith: Put that in you pipe and … vape it?

If you paid too much for weed in high school, you were considered a duck. Everyone knows that guy. Drug dealers hate getting his phone call because a duck is usually annoying — and lingers — but they have to field the request because Chris Gebert is a consistent, albeit maddening, source of revenue.

So when I bought my first (legal) eighth of weed in Colorado however many years ago and paid more than I paid in Omaha, I was perturbed to say the least.

The industry has corrected, though, and thankfully I don’t have to set up an appointment with the weed man anymore. No more awkward “appointments” where I’m not sure if you want me to go or if I should wait the minimum amount of time to make it not look like a drug deal or if we are courtesy smoking.

But there’s a burgeoning sect of the business that I find interesting. This notion of high-end weed is comical.

Flower more or less stays the same relative to the current industry standard. If I find a seed, I’m pissed. There used to be a time when you couldn’t use a grinder because you didn’t want to season your blunt with a smashed seed like an unwelcome peppercorn.

If you approach me with expensive booze, at least I can taste the difference. A $16 four-pack of hazy deliciousness is drastically better than a $7 six-pack of PBR tall boys.

You literally light weed on fire. I’ve had better cigars than others but I still need two brushings and 16 hours to get the taste out of my mouth. And similarly, the last rips of a bowl or joint will always taste awful.

I’m sure shitty weed still exists but no dispensary is slanging ditch weed. The quality of product varies store by store but if any dispensary is charging you more than $50 for an eighth — and you bought it — you’re a duck. Hell, I don’t even go above $25.

I don’t care if the weed came from Snoop Dogg’s personal garden and is wrapped in a gilded Zig Zag; if it’s more than $10 to $15 for a preroll, I’m out.

And maybe it’s because I generally stick to flower that I don’t understand the tincture, shatter, dab, wax or vape pen phenomenon.

Take caviar for example. It’s a nugget of flower dipped in hash oil and rolled in keef. It’s the weed industry version of KFC’s Double Down. I’m pretty sure caviar or a bacon sandwich with fried chicken patties instead of a bun violates like four of the seven deadly sins.

The whole process of dabs is an equal picture of gluttony. In my personal opinion, anything that takes a blowtorch to light shouldn’t be hitting my lungs. Have you ever done a dab? It ends your day. Like, if you can function after huffing a scorched glob of THC, you deserve weed’s 100-day pin equivalent.

Edibles make sense to me to an extent. Special brownies have been around for a long time, but an indica butter reduction over duck l’orange is a waste of weed. A professional marijuana chef is a person who wasn’t good enough to be a real chef. I want my lo mein laced with MSG, not THC or CBD.

I guess it’s the pretentiousness of it all that turns me off. It may be a slight that was ingrained in me since first encountering pot snobs in high school, but give me a joint or a blunt or a fun-sized bong. When you start filling balloons with vapor smoke like it’s a hit of helium, you’ve been led astray.

How many people have to die to from knock-off mango vape pens before you further question the chemicals in what I’m guessing is a less-regulated version of the tobacco industry? I imagine cancer tastes a lot like fruit punch vapor.

I used to, and still do, scoff at naming strands. If you’re like “I got strawberry banana bundt cake,” it better be an actual pastry, not something you bought at Best Day Ever.

Rich people are trying to gentrify marijuana, and I’m not here for it.

You should be able to tell how good the bud is by looking at it, not how it’s marketed to you. I’m not going to knock the entrepreneurship of it all. The more products you offer, the better than chance you have of landing that whale.

But if I ran a dispensary, I’d sell nickel, dime and dub sacks. All you have is $5 on you? No problem.

High-end marijuana products from overpriced peace pipes to designer paraphernalia to skin creams and pocket vapes are excessive.

At the end of the J, you’re still smoking weed. No need to take a simple pleasure and bedazzle it. Why mess with the golden goose — or is it goat? Or duck? Who cares; just spark it up.

Sean Becwkith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email him at sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.

Plenty of alternatives to KAJX

Former KAJX classical music listeners, don’t despair. There is hope and a simple fix, by tuning into another FM radio station that happens to have outlets in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, as well as Aspen. I’m delighted KDNK will give residence to some of the DJs that attracted and kept a following for many years, and will probably now tune into KDNK to hear the music they’ve always heard, hopefully with the same DJs?

For the classical music lovers, there is Colorado Public Radio (CPR.org), which plays classical music 100% of the time, and has three separate transmitters in the Roaring Fork Valley, so reception isn’t (often) a problem. There are CPR frequencies on the FM band in Glenwood and Carbondale, and one in Aspen. The frequency for Aspen is 101.5 on the FM Band.

David J. B. Singer

Aspen

Curious moves in Basalt

First, Basalt forcibly removes a block of affordable housing, then creates an open park and emphasizes the need for a restaurant on the site. Is the Roaring Fork Valley bubble really that “too big to fail?”

Robert Porath

Boulder and Meredith

Weinstein pardon forthcoming?

Curious if Donald Trump will pardon this guy Harvey Weinstein? Weinstein was big supporter of the Republican party!

Michael Dobson

Aspen

Glenn Drummond for Basalt Town Council

I have had the pleasure of knowing Glenn Drummond for the past 12 years. I have come to know him as a person who has the wisdom and insight to educate himself on issues that have an impact on his life and those around him. Discussions, and sometimes debates, with him have always given me more information and insight than I had when the conversation started. He brings an understanding of the issue from an educated position. To me, it is valuable and expected that our elected officials and volunteer committee members educate themselves on the impact every vote they cast has on the community.

Running for a local government board or committee requires people that care about the community and are willing to put forth their time and effort for the better good. I would never vote for an individual that had not volunteered time, attended public meetings or did not understand how government functions. We do not need to elect people that need to learn Government 101 and haven’t participated in their community. We need qualified, educated and willing individuals that want to serve their community. I feel that Glenn fits that need and will bring knowledge, energy, understanding and the community’s best interest to the table.

Temple Glassier

Carbondale

Giving Thought: Exercise your rights and vote on March 3

The run-up to the 2020 presidential election is in full swing. Debates, caucuses and primary contests are underway across the country. Colorado is no exception. There will be three statewide elections this year and the first occurs in just a week, Tuesday, March 3.

The upcoming contest will help decide the Republican and Democratic nominees for president of the United States. It’s known as Super Tuesday because 14 states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia — will have their say in choosing the two parties’ nominees for the nation’s highest office.

For Colorado, this is a momentous occasion.

“The state of Colorado has not had a presidential primary in more than 20 years,” said Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill. “In terms of (voter) turnout, I don’t really know what to expect.”

If you care about the presidential race, then now would be a good time to get involved. If you still need to register to vote, then grab your Colorado driver license or ID card and visit your county clerk’s office, where you can both register and fill out your ballot anytime on or before election day.

“We cannot mail out any ballots after Feb. 24,” said Vos Caudill. “So my recommendation is to come in to our service center and early vote.”

Before addressing some potentially confusing aspects of the March 3 ballot, I’ll first touch on the other two statewide elections coming our way in 2020.

On June 30, Colorado will hold another primary election. Voters will choose Republican and Democratic nominees for other elected offices, including one U.S. Senate seat, seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (Roaring Fork Valley residents live in Congressional District 3), and other state offices. The upcoming Super Tuesday primary involves only one office — the presidency — but the June 30 election will involve a longer ballot with more races to consider.

On Nov. 3, comes the general election. As of today, we don’t know all the issues and races that might appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, but we do know that Coloradans will vote on the U.S. president, one U.S. senator, seven U.S. congressional seats and a host of other state and local issues.

Now back to Super Tuesday. If you’re a registered voter, then you should have received your ballot by now in the mail. The Republican ballot includes six candidates, but it’s a practical certainty that incumbent Donald Trump will be the party’s nominee.

If you’re a registered Democrat, then your ballot includes 17 names. It’s important to know that many of these people have dropped out of the presidential race since the ballots were printed, so check online to see who remains in the running. As of Feb. 20, there were eight Democratic candidates remaining: Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren. This list could change by March 3, so a good place to double-check is the New York Times home page. First click on “politics” and then “presidential candidates” to see who’s still in.

If you’re an unaffiliated voter, then you’ve received two ballots, one Republican and one Democratic. You may fill out only one of them, and the other must be discarded. If you send in two ballots, they’ll both be disqualified.

It is recommended that you deliver your ballot to a county-controlled drop box. By mailing the ballot, one runs the risk it won’t be delivered on time, and ballots must be received by your county clerk — not just postmarked — on or before election day.

Why am I, as the executive director of Aspen Community Foundation, devoting a newspaper column to this topic? Because we all live in a representative democracy and one sign of a healthy, functioning democracy is civic engagement, which includes political participation. Exercising your right to vote is important and fundamental to being American. Voting is your chance to make your voice heard, to influence the laws that frame your life and to choose the decision-makers in your local, state and federal government.

So, whatever your beliefs or your political party, I say participate and cast your ballot.

Tamara Tormohlen is executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.