Brown Bag back
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen will revive its Brown Bag Lunch forum with the City Council, but citizens shouldn’t expect to bend the ears of more than two council members at a time.
Three council members called for reinstituting the meetings during a retreat Monday at the Aspen Meadows. The weekly Brown Bag, discontinued in the fall of 2001, was an informal noon meeting held each Monday where Aspenites could meet with their elected officials.
Council members quit attending when most of them agreed that having a council quorum at the meetings was resulting in informal decision-making, though they couldn’t actually vote at a Brown Bag.
The Brown Bag Lunch was replaced by Lunch With the City Manager, attended by City Manager Steve Barwick and Councilman Terry Paulson, and often no one else.
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Paulson has long decried the end of the Brown Bags. “I have had tons of phone calls since it was discontinued,” he said.
When all, or most of the council used to attend, citizens used the meetings to move agendas forward without any formal public notice, complained Mayor Helen Klanderud, who lobbied to end the sessions more than two years ago.
“I would speculate that the reason the public is no longer coming to those meetings is that [pushing agendas] can no longer be done,” she said.
“We were making ad hoc decisions ” badly,” said Councilman Tim Semrau. “As far as I was concerned, it was a poor forum for decision-making with no information or notice.”
Councilwoman Rachel Richards, however, argued that the council has become more isolated from the citizens and vowed to start attending the sessions, along with Paulson.
“I’d like to support bringing them back, at least a couple times a month,” Richards said. “I don’t think it’s working as a funnel for citizen concerns anymore.”
Other council members are free to attend, as well, but Councilman Torre ” who also advocated bringing back Brown Bags ” said his work schedule will often interfere with his ability to participate.
Neither Klanderud, nor Semrau, voiced support for reviving a Brown Bag that includes a quorum of council members.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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