An ugly affair | AspenTimes.com

An ugly affair

I wish to report on the proceedings Tuesday during which the City Council rejected our (the Aspen Street Railway Co.) request to allow voters to decide the future of Aspen’s turn-of-the-century, American-manufactured trolleys.

It was a depressing display and would have been regardless of the outcome. Our elected leaders simply were not listening and clearly had their minds made up before the meeting.

Councilman Tim Semerau told me before the meeting that he wanted to know nothing about the trolleys, only our excuse for not holding a May election. When offered the fact that my last surviving parent had died in December, causing distraction and emotional upset in my life, it was dismissed without any comment.

When confronted with the reality of a low and unrepresentative voter turnout in a special May election, he chose to ignore it. Could he still be holding a grudge because in two election attempts I refused to editorially endorse his candidacy?

Councilman Tom McCabe had told me last fall that there was nothing I could do or say that would change his opinion. He made several ignorant and false statements about the trolleys, in particular that they squeal going around corners and that they would be expensive to maintain (I can prove absolutely that he is wrong) – and there are no corners on the proposed route.

Tony Hershey made statements that showed he had never even read the trolley feasibility study and spewed a litany of wrong information. For the most part he just sat there with his back to us, scribbling notes, whispering to McCabe and making “cute” remarks.

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Helen Klanderud, when presented with letters from two former mayors in support of a citizen election, did not even address their points but instead attacked them because they didn’t call for an election while they were in office.

It was an ugly affair, close to a lynching of an idea of merit, presented to them not by some mega-wealthy developer, but a group of long-time local citizens – volunteers who have spent years and countless hours trying to make Aspen a better place to live.

Councilman Terry Paulson, as usual speaking from principal, was the lone reasoned voice for voters’ rights.

Said Tom McCabe about his vote, he had never seen any support for the trolleys. Well, you have one last chance to make your voice count – assuming they are not in such a mad rush to dispose of them that they give them away in the coming week.

The council next meets April 8. Help us. Help Aspen. Show up for citizen comment at 5 p.m. Let them know you do want an election. Call me, or Bill Dinsmoor, Gaard Moses and Bob D’Alessio. Ask us what you can do.

Aspen’s economy is foundering with no end in sight. The trolleys, in a privately funded system, may not be the answer, but it’s a piece of it. You’ll never know how much unless you have a vote.

Jon Busch

Aspen