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Baseless allegations

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to Toni Kronberg’s allegations of conflict of interest in the Aspen Daily News on Monday.

To allege ethical misconduct against a public official is a serious matter. To make false allegations is an even more serious matter.

Not only did I not vote as a member of the ACRA board on the issue to engage in a campaign to support the new visitor center, but I recused myself and left the ACRA meeting room during earlier discussions on the visitor center. I did not participate in the discussion, and I did not vote.

I did serve on the Visitor Center COWOP as the appointed representative of the City Council. COWOP is a process whereby representatives from the City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission (if historic properties or districts are involved), the applicant, neighbors and the general public are actively involved in a development proposal from the beginning. When that process is complete, the COWOP makes its recommendation to City Council. The COWOP meetings are open to the public, and public comment is taken at every meeting. My representation on the visitor center COWOP is a matter of public record.

City Council approves contracts and leases only at its regular meetings. Council members and/or citizens may request that these be pulled from the consent calendar. Public comment is allowed. A formal public hearing is not required. I did not participate in any discussions or decisions with ACRA regarding its lease with the city.

It is blatantly false that the developer and ACRA had “exclusive” access to me because of the boards I served on. My contacts with the developer were during open COWOP meetings with all other members of the COWOP and members of the public who were in attendance.

As stated above, public comment was permitted and encouraged during the entire COWOP process. At the public hearing on the visitor center during City Council’s regular meeting on April 12, 2004, City Council took public comment for nearly three hours. Toni spoke during this time. When public comment was closed, Toni continued to demand to speak. Never once did I tell her or any other citizen to “shut up.” I did request she stop speaking and eventually to please “sit down.” I further informed her if she would not stop talking, I would request that she be escorted from the room.

Toni alleges I have a “substantial interest” in the visitor center, and that I did not disclose this fact. I have no personal financial or other interest in the location of the visitor center, nor in the Main Street property, nor with any of the involved parties. I did disclose that I have no such interest at the April 12 meeting.

These allegations are serious. More importantly, they are not based upon fact. I take my ethical responsibilities seriously. I do not take false allegations lightly.

Helen Kalin Klanderud

Mayor

city of Aspen


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