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Nonprofits would benefit from FAMLI Act

I direct a small nonprofit with not a penny extra, and I am in full support of House Bill 188, the FAMLI Act.

This law would give employees partial pay replacement during a personal or family medical situation. We have covered the full salary for our employees on medical leave. Is it hard when someone is off for an extended period of time? Of course, but staff pitch in and help because they know that when they need the coverage, their peers will step in for them. As a result, we have loyal employees who are able to really focus on the job when they are at work. FAMLI insurance will cost us less because employers and employees will pay the small premiums with a 40-60.

Our employees do not abuse this; they are eager to get back to work. Donors rightly expect a high level of accountability, and we take that very seriously. When we make the decisions to pay people while on leave, we do so because it is good business, not because it is “nice.” However, shouldering the entire cost is hard for us as a nonprofit. The FAMLI Act would help tremendously.

In summary, as a nonprofit employer with 30 years post-graduate experience, I can say with confidence that FAMLI is good for Colorado nonprofit organizations.

Julie Reiskin

Executive director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

Aspen is overgrown, its residents overtaxed

Regarding the Aspen Daily News article of April 15 — “City Hall/Municipal Workers” — the times have changed! What a difference the years make! Back in the early ‘50s, it was just Puppy Smith, John Loushin, Eudora McCabe and Ethel Frost. Puppy took care of the streets, John was the town marshal, Ethel was city clerk, Eudora kept the books, and Gene Robinson was the mayor. City Hall was just two rooms in the Armory.

Go back in time to 1925 — the annual budget was only $4,000. In 1950, 25 years later, $42,380; in 1975, $4,185,000; in 2000, $46,000,000 and in 2019 $120 million. The past 94 years have seen phenomenal growth! Now, per the Aspen Daily News, there are 326 city employees!

If you include the other public entities i.e.: county, school, fire, hospital, RFTA, all these combined local taxing entities are in the upper hundred millions and will soon exceed a billion dollars. Wow! No wonder we can’t afford our taxes! We long-time Aspenites are being taxed out of town!

So if you get on a RFTA bus, remember: It’s not a free bus! The popular slogan “Bring Back the Quiet Years” is an impossible dream. Those years are gone! But our “Aspen memories” remain.

Jim Markalunas


A Beaton column I can agree with

A compliment to Glenn Beaton — I am almost always totally disagree with his views. On Easter Sunday, though, he produced an excellent column with which I fully agree (“In an age of terror, what is the responsibility of Islam?” The Aspen Times).

His concluding paragraphs said everything: “In short, the responsibility of Muslims is the same as the responsibility of Jews, Christians and all other people of faith and civilized secularists. In the battle against violent bigotry, there’s no middle ground. You’re either with us or against us.

“Be with us. Be our brothers and sisters in our battle for humanity. We want you.”

On a day when more than 200 were killed in Sri Lanka, we must all redouble our efforts to fight for humanity and against those opposed whatever their color and what ever their religion.

Mr. Beaton, I will read your columns with a more open mind.

Philip Verleger


Aspen City Hall mastodon

The new city hall is massive. The open space of Galena Plaza will give way to a dead-end courtyard. The building flaunts the building city’s own building code.

Why does the city need so much space? It has plenty now.

Does City Council see its workforce growing that much in the future? Why does the bureaucracy have to grow exponentially faster than the population is governs? Are we that difficult to manage?

Harry Teague is right that the space this building will occupy a very important; that the details of this edifice will make a significant statement about this town to both visitors and its residents. Its position between the downtown core, the river, the John Denver Sanctuary and the adjacent residential areas is highly significant.

And though City Council has ordered city designers to open the design of the building to citizens, it plans to ratify the financing before the design of many of its basic features are not finished (landscaping, mechanical systems, energy efficiency, etc.). How can they know the final cost?

How does Community Development allow the city to commence construction when many of the details are still in the works when it denies residential and commercial permits until every last detail has been accounted for?

Does local government get a pass on its own building regulations?

A thoughtful discussion about these issues can be found in these two videos, check them out. https://vimeo.com/330087865 and https://vimeo.com/287066141

Pay attention and get involved!

Bryan McShane


Let it blossom, let it flow

Start growing! The weather is variable but many plants like the cool weather. The Basalt Community Garden is open and now accepting applications from gardeners of all varieties — flower gardeners, vegetable gardeners, young gardeners, old gardeners, inexperienced gardeners and knowledgeable gardeners.

The garden is just west of the Basalt High School and 8-foot-by-10-foot plots are only $40 for the entire season. It’s time to get dirty!

To sign up for your plot, go to the town of Basalt website, basalt.net, or email the garden manager at basaltcommunitygardens@gmail.com.

Gerry Terwilliger


A natural reaction to a witch-hunt

The CIA and FBI chased a fictitious rumor that led to no finding of a crime committed by the president or his campaign. But the president’s complaints about the investigation, complaints that were prompted by the baseless investigation itself, complaints that wouldn’t have occurred but for the baseless investigation, are said to “cast the president in a bad light.”

Here’s an idea. Level some baseless charge against Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerrold Nadler, and Adam Schiff. Then surveil their behavior at home, in their offices, in their cars, in their bathrooms. Let’s see how seemly is their conduct.

All the president’s liars

Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and William Barr. What a lying group of worthless sacks of … I mean, most politicians lie here and there, but these criminals do it everyday. Without shame. I feel bad for the Secret Service having to protect bags of fertilizer everyday. I hope Americans who vote in 2020 will send a message to this crew.

Miles Knudson

Aspen Village

Marijuana has lost its luster

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “people who use marijuana or are involved with it in any way fail to have ‘good moral character,’ a prerequisite for people who have legal permanent residence to gain American citizenship.” (April, 20, Aspen Daily News, ironically).

Does this mean all those ass-hat politicians use pot or work in the marijuana industry?

Pot was more fun when it was illegal! Now it’s on par with doctors, lawyers and other white-collar professionals buying Harley Davidsons in the ‘90s or getting tattoos in the early 2000s — uber trendy! Those who used to look down on us illegal-weed smokers are now looking for gummies or other edibles to go see a show at Belly Up or go to the Caribou Club.

Alcohol and tobacco were the gateway drugs. But now it is harder to get cigarettes in Aspen and easier to get weed and cocaine too … just go to a high school kids parents’ party!

Even though I no longer smoke weed, I would argue that engaging in marijuana or working in the industry makes one lack “good moral character”!

John Norman


Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (April 21, 2019)

Appreciation for Aspen Elks Lodge

Basalt Recreation would like to thank the Aspen Elks Lodge for their support with our scholarship program. Their financial support helps us support the youth of the valley so we can include everyone in our programs. We appreciate the dedication they have for kids to be involved in activities and helping them to be a part of our community. The Aspen Elks also helps us provide better facilities for our kids to get the most out of their sports. We had the opportunity to provide sheltered dugouts for the new baseball field at Basalt Middle School field. Thanks so much for helping us help kids!

Dorothy Howard

Basalt Recreation Department

Hollinger’s legacy lives on

Our community lost a special person this spring in longtime resident and nature lover Jon Hollinger. Thank you, Jon, for all that you did for our natural world — your legacy lives on.

Our all-volunteer board thanks the family of Jon Hollinger for requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Roaring Fork Audubon. These donations will help us in our efforts to continue to bring awareness of the wonder of birds and of the natural world by sending young valley students to naturalist summer camps, by conducting bird walks and hikes, by installing educational signage and by helping conserve the last best places.

If you choose to honor the memory of Jon Hollinger by supporting our work, please visit our website to donate via PayPal at roaring forkaudubon.org or send a check to Roaring Fork Audubon, P.O. Box 1192, Carbondale, CO 81623.

Mary Harris


Kudos go to …

• Sheriff Joe DiSalvo for asking that fireworks be canceled and the chamber following through with the request. Hopefully it’s forever.

• Rick Carroll for writing about the low pay Aspen City Council members receive — they deserve a raise.

• Beth Hoff Blackmer for being the president-elect of the American Rental Association, an international organization. There is no greater honor than being elected by your peers.

• The Pitkin County commissioners for looking at whether to lower the size of houses from 15,000 square feet. Duh!

Ruth Harrison


Your time is up, freeloading Aspenites

Wow, I feel like I’ve spent too much time complaining about Aspen’s socialist policies and about and the constant demands of the freeloader voters who pretend to be accomplished and intelligent.

How’d it feel when you won your first national championship? How many world championships have you won? Tell me about the feeling of the thundering applause. Tell me how it felt to you after you perfectly played a Chopin waltz for your new love?

Get a job in New York or San Fan. And if you’re good, I’ll help you. john@vraspen.com

John Hornblower