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A vote for authenticity

Dear Editor:I recently wrote a letter outlining what I believed to be Mr. Semrau’s obstructive behavior and delaying tactics during the Burlingame approval process (April 3). As my family was the landowners who had already been working with the city for over five years when Mr. Semrau came along, I have an insiders’ perspective.Ms. Roy, a former county commissioner turned real estate agent, wrote by way of a refutation that my negative views of Mr. Semrau might have been colored by stress (letters to the Editor, April 4). She extols Mr. Semrau’s virtues. Well, I might have been indeed “stressed” by so many years of the endless circus of politics in smart-ass mountain towns, but that didn’t render me unable to observe the machinations of the various players and the creaking and groaning of the several involved institutions.We had years of public process on the development of Burlingame and our ranch, endless public meetings, endorsement through the COOP process, and endorsement by 60 percent of the community in a public vote. Then Mr. Semrau takes office, the process screeches to a halt, and he insists on yet another study. The study costs over $170,000, and tells us nothing that the housing staff hadn’t already told us.He also objects to the housing office actually developing housing, even though they had a long and successful track record, and he was instrumental in decisions that stripped the housing office of staff with development experience.This was pure neocon behavior – trying to force the city’s housing program into the free market for ideological reasons and without paying attention to its history or the practicality of the endeavor.Many of Aspen’s worthwhile potential projects have been killed in the cradle through this process. We have a good start up, enthusiasm, plenty of appropriate analysis and planning, then the death of a thousand cuts. Burlingame came close to being lost through this shell game. Death by delay creates plausible deniability. And Mr. Semrau would have been one of the grinning pall bearers.Mr. Semrau pays lip service to public-private partnerships, but in Burlingame, when the Zoline family was the private partners, he was neither a competent nor a coherent public partner. In terms of the citizen COOP group, he was not a team member. Not the qualities that make for a good leader.Mr. Ireland does have an abundance of genuine leadership qualities. His honesty is impeccable and a matter of record. His integrity is legendary. His vision is generous, compassionate and community-based.Our family gained value from an approval that created 225 affordable housing units, the housing buyers got homes. Mr. Ireland got only the satisfaction of doing something good for the community. He had nothing else to gain.And finally, having noted a discussion of candidates’ personalities in these pages, I have to say that I personally find Mr. Ireland charming, though, like many bright and dedicated people, he has little in the way of small talk. For those who think Mr. Semrau’s “people skills” are somehow superior, I think that gets filed under the tragic “vote for Bush, he’d be more fun at a barbecue” American moment.A vote for Mr. Ireland is a vote for what matters most in Aspen: community, environment, authentic culture.Pam Lifton-ZolineTelluride


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