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A language lesson

Dear Editor:I commend the recent suggestion that we view the anti-Burlingame initiatives as a chance to improve our vocabulary and to review the history of democracy and dissent in Aspen.Lord knows I had to look up the plethora of pejorative terms thrown at me in Scott MacDonald’s missive, big words such as “obfuscation, sectarian and sycophantic” but other terms he used, like “equivocation, dysfunction, feudal, unscrupulous and pernicious” are attitudes or behaviors that I’ve been exposed to before. First some history: The city is not proceeding with Burlingame “just because the local government has the power to do so” as claimed in a recent letter. The city is building Burlingame Village because 60 percent of Aspen voters said “yes” to this much-needed affordable housing in August 2000. Proceeding now could be termed “respecting the will of the voters.” Secondly, Burlingame opponents spent more than $25,000 in the 2000 election to broadcast their negative views and to solicit a “no” vote. But they failed in a 1,162-to-790 vote. So what we are hearing now by many of the same voices is a call for a “do-over.”Additionally, every City Council or mayoral candidate elected in Aspen since 2000 (except Terry Paulson) has run on a platform of respecting the 60-percent yes vote. Politically speaking, proceeding with Burlingame is called “fulfilling your campaign pledges” or, in layman’s terms, as “keeping your word.”And to clarify, while I embrace and often engage in the right to dissent, democratic governments are not bound to inaction because of a dissenting minority, otherwise the country would still be on the silver standard and Aspen would still be a mining town. Beyond linguistic lessons, there are some concepts that need to be interjected into the anti-Burlingame lexicon, such as “breach of contract,” “abrogating your responsibilities” and “reneging on your obligations,” all of which are activities the petitioners would like the Aspen community to engage in. These types of actions are known to result in “liquidated damages.” In legal parlance, this is a monetary judgment levied by the courts for “acting in bad faith” or for “failure to execute” a “binding contract.” A good example of a “binding contract” is the pre-annexation agreement signed by the city after receiving the voters’ direction on the 2000 Burlingame ballot. That’s probably enough for now. Later, we can refresh ourselves on what it means to “act in good faith,” “respect the process” and “honor past commitments.”Trying to draw a parallel between those who speak in favor of affordable housing and Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Baath party, which murdered, raped and tortured their fellow citizens, is by all definitions ludicrous, over the top and outright insulting. With apologies for being so verbose, Rachel E. RichardsAspen


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