| AspenTimes.com

Fort Basalt

The schematics of Basalt River Park LLC presented by developer Tim Belinski might better be christened Fort Basalt. I'm not sure a military strategist intent on defending the shores of the Roaring Fork River from Basalt residents could do better than the bulwark of commercial development shown in these drawings.

Hard to fathom that a town presented with its one and only opportunity for a decent park on the river would have 100 meetings over the years and then come up with what is essentially a brick barrier between the town and the river. Basalt may as well just not have invited citizen engagement in the first place.

You don't have to be a planning genius to see that this plan cuts the town off from the river. You don't need to be a genius of any sort to see that throwing up a football field's worth of buildings directly between downtown Basalt and the river does not encourage "connectivity." Connectivity is a term that planners use to describe easy access to public amenities such as parks. And the first rule of creating connectivity between a park and a city is literally don't create "design features that act as physical barriers and impede access to key destinations."

With all the creative talent in the valley there has to be a better way to take advantage of this singular opportunity to create a green space that — 10 or 20 years from now — residents will appreciate, admire and enjoy. I think there have been several plans presented by laymen citizens and professionals alike (some drawn on a napkin) that are far better than this dividing wall presented by Basalt River Park LLC.

Otherwise let's call this plan what it really is: Fort Basalt.

Mark Harvey


Mitsch-Bush cares about Colorado

I am writing about the Congressional race between Diane Mitsch-Bush and Scott Tipton. I am voting for Mitsch-Bush for many reasons.

First, we need to have a more balanced representation in Congress. Women need an advocate for their civil and financial rights. They need to have control of their reproductive rights. We need women to be able to realize their full potential.

Next, Mitsch-Bush is not beholden to corporate interests. She has no financial ties to the fossil fuel extraction industries. She is for clean environmental policies, which keep Colorado's open spaces less polluted. I feel Coloradans value our land and water and want to have clean spaces to enjoy our beautiful state. She will support clean air, land and water rules and prevent more public land from degradation.

Finally, she will work on immigration policies. We need to reform these policies and give the Dreamers citizenship. The United States has always been a country of immigrants and now that we have immigrants of color is no reason to demonize them. Immigrants are here to give their families better opportunities in this land of opportunity. They are not criminals; they work hard and pay taxes.

I urge you to use your day-to-day experiences and not politician's talking points or party dogma to help you make your decision on whom to vote for. We need a check on our current political situation.

Please vote this November, and I urge you vote for Diane Mitsch-Bush.

Frankie Hannah

Steamboat Springs

Weiser the wise choice for Colorado AG

As a relatively new resident of Colorado, it has taken time to research candidates running for office. No small task, but a necessary one. Having attended an information session held by Phil Weiser and having reviewed his credentials and issue positions, it is clear that he would be a great attorney general for Colorado.

His proposed actions on environmental protections are important as the federal government's overreach begins to erode the safeguards that keep our water, air and public lands safe. Weiser knows that it is easier to prevent damage to our environment than it is to repair it.

Weiser's responses to questions on the opioid crisis were important – citing the litigation needed to stop harmful promotional practices by drug companies. He understands the incredible toll that addiction takes on our citizens, their families and our communities. It is an epidemic of frightening proportions that requires a diverse set of solutions, ones that Weiser had the courage to lead.

While his experience working with everyone from rural communities, students, Supreme Court justices and presidents is impressive, it is his positions on issues that capture my vote. From women's rights to education, health care, immigration and common sense gun safety, he cares about issues that affect all Coloradans.

Having spent my adult life in New Hampshire state government, working for seven governors, both Republicans and Democrats, and serving two terms in the State Senate there, it has become easy to determine the "doers" from the "talkers." It is clear to me that Phil Weiser is a doer and the person we need as our Attorney General.

Kathleen Sgambati


Ballot projections

I look forward to receiving my ballot soon and to placing my votes for Patti Clapper, Joe DiSalvo and Deborah Bamesberger. They have given us good service and will continue to do so if we support them now.

Helen Palmer


Health insurance is just math

Dr. Georage Bohmfalk is correct that there is a huge difference between the expenses (overhead) of private health insurance (20 percent) and Medicare (3 percent).

An even larger issue is that health insurance (not always synonymous with health care) adds no value to the system. It is just math.

Insurance companies take in money (premiums), deduct expenses (overhead) and pay out the remainder to providers.

It does not matter whether you pay the premiums to the government as taxes (Medicare) or to private insurance companies (employer or personal premiums). Employer-based premiums come out of your salary and personal premiums, or taxes, come out of your pocket.

Health insurance should not represent a political philosophy; it is just math.

I look forward to more columns by Dr. Bohmfalk.

Michael Marek


Kudos: Sept. 23, 2018

Thank you, Wheeler Opera House

My name is Loren Wilder and I am the creator of "NU·TOPIA," an original show produced last spring at the Wheeler Opera House. Thank you for allowing me to use this forum to thank the city of Aspen, Gena Buhler and the incredible staff at the Wheeler for all the support and encouragement to produce our multi-media dance show.

I am an individual theater artist who has worked over the past 30 years with essentially every producing entity in our valley as a technician, artist, designer or teacher. The privilege to produce my own event after years of working with and supporting others was due to the backing afforded me by the city of Aspen and the Wheeler Opera House. They made it possible for me to realize a concept of love and hope wrapped in Beatles music and beautiful dance. Thank you for the time and freedom to create a large-scale project and present it to our community in such a beautiful and special place.

Many thanks are also due to Colorado Audio Visual and its owner Michael Burns for technical and strategic support as well as the Aspen Dance Connection who fed and cared our dancers during the performances.

I would like to add that the overwhelmingly positive reaction we received from the audience included lots of encouragement to continue this venture. My greatest pleasure would be to re-produce "NU·TOPIA" and carry the Aspen Ideal, the renewal of body, mind, and spirit, into the world at large. We will keep the community posted on that account. Many, many thanks to all who attended the shows, your energy and appreciation amplified its spirit. To the city of Aspen, the Wheeler Opera House staff and Gena Buhler; please accept my heartfelt thanks on behalf of the entire "NU·TOPIA" team for this rare opportunity to create original work. As an artist and a community member, I will be forever grateful.

Loren Wilder


A Way Out is a great nonprofit

I want to give an enormous thank you to our local nonprofit A Way Out for putting on the symposium at the Hotel Jerome on Tuesday. This event hosted three experts in the field of addiction and provided lifesaving information for our community. I am grateful that organizations like A Way Out fundraise and put on these events to change the culture and patterns within our amazing community.

Kimberly Reil


No more RFTA taxes

It's been reported in the press that a campaign is about to be funded and launched to try to convince Roaring Fork Valley taxpayers to approve a new mill levy to support the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. Proponents use the word "only" to describe the purportedly minimal impact of such an addition to a homeowner's property tax bill.

Citizens already are taxed to support RFTA through a sales tax on virtually all your purchases. It's a bit here and a bit there so you might have overlooked it, and it's practically impossible to figure what it adds up to at the end of each and every year.

I can almost hear the thought process of those advocating a property tax mill levy: if you don't support being taxed, it must mean you don't care about the environment and don't favor mass transit. Don't fall for that. Most families make decisions about what they can afford given their financial resources. They certainly can't raise a tax so they can spend more.

While a public agency such as RFTA might like to do a number of additional things, don't forget that once a tax is created, it won't ever go away. I'm sure I'm not alone in stating that in the past three years alone, my property tax went up 52 percent, including a 53 percent increase in School District tax, 33 percent more for Crown Mountain Park, and a doubling for the Basalt Regional Library (even before the new library bond). Say "No" to more taxes.

Bob Hubbell


Julie McCluskie committed to Colorado

I had the honor of serving as the Lt. Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2016 and, during that time, I worked alongside Julie McCluskie, now a candidate for House District 61. She served as the Director of Communications and Community Outreach and I had the opportunity to witness her commitment to Colorado every single day. Our shared focus was education, from early childhood to post-graduate, and Julie led the way in helping to develop policies that served all kids and all families, regardless of where they lived or their family background. She traveled the state with me as we visited schools and libraries to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy and she helped formulate the policy that led to the passage of the READ Act to improve third grade literacy.

Julie was also a strong advocate for rural Colorado and her commitment to communities west of the continental divide was unwavering. She and her husband established a small business in Summit County decades ago and she has been active as a parent, a volunteer, and a school district employee. She has been an outstanding public servant and I hope the voters in her district will join me in supporting her election to the Colorado legislature. I can think of no individual better qualified to serve in that role.

Joe Garcia


Kudos to A Way Out symposium

I want to give an enormous thank you to our local non-profit A Way Out for putting on the symposium at the Jerome on Tuesday 9/18. This event hosted three experts in the field of addiction and provided lifesaving information for our community. I am grateful that organizations like A Way Out fundraise and put on these events to change the culture and patterns within our amazing community.

Kimberly Reil


A few clarifications concerning Aspen School District

Re: the troubling situation at the Aspen School District. As I have ended up being quoted several times, I hope to use this forum to clarify a few misconceptions.

1) Nepotism does not refer to teachers marrying each other. That would be silly, and does not meet the definition "the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs." Teachers don't hire each other. Rather, it refers to John Maloy hiring his inexperienced daughter to fill the highly placed role of district psychologist.

2) The slide in our rankings is a bummer, but it is also the truth. I am sorry that is a downer, but I believe it is better to shed light on our reality than to stick our heads in the sand. The district can spin the information, but every public school in the state is judged the same way. Even if the test changes, it changes for all. Why bring it up? The slide speaks to morale.

3) This is all about supporting our principals, teachers and children. If you want them happy and healthy, sign the petition.

Bettina Slusar