City’s behavior is unacceptable |

City’s behavior is unacceptable

Dear Editor:

The tactics the city of Aspen is employing to misdirect attention from the important and disturbing issues of the hydroelectricity project are straight out of the conservative playbook. The city is spending thousands on what it says is correcting misinformation. Has the city pointed to one piece of misinformation?

These are Swift Boat and weapons-of-mass-destruction tactics. Keep repeating a lie often enough, and people will start to believe it. It is the city that has engaged in misinformation, deception and perhaps fraud.

The “emergency drain line” is the most blatant deception. In order to speed the project toward completion, avoid environmental review and prevent public input, the city wanted to gain approval for the hydro project via a conduit exemption. This process allows a fast-track approval if the water that turns the turbine that produces electricity comes from an existing water project. The problem for the city was that there was no pipe to deliver water to the proposed site of the plant. The city’s solution was to construct an emergency drain line from Thomas Reservoir to the plant.

The city misrepresented this as a hydro project and paid for it with hydro funds. When this deception was discovered, the city transferred funds from the water fund to pay for it, thereby avoiding a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation for fraud. When the public shed light on the city’s misinformation and deception, the city was forced to seek approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

There are two approval processes with FERC: traditional and integrated. Traditional avoids much public input and scrutiny. The integrated process allows for more public engagement and discourse. Your city government wanted to avoid public discourse, so it applied for a traditional process, and against the protests of the U.S. Forest Service, Saving Our Streams and other groups, the city was granted a traditional tract.

The city does not want to discuss the issues related to the hydro project. It wants to divert attention and cry WMD, Swift Boat. It wants the public to be distracted from the city’s deceptive process and to avoid fiscal responsibility. The city wants to make the public fear a group that has exercised its legal and ethical rights to oppose the hydro project. Saving Our Streams is not the dark, sinister, extreme right-wing boogeyman that Mayor Mick Ireland tries to project it to be. The city government is trying to use fear to distract attention from the real issues. WMD. Swift Boat. “You are with us or against us.” These tactics are despicable and damaging to democracy. I think the people of Aspen can see through them if they just see them for what they are.

I am outraged by the behavior and culture of my city government. The many irrational rants delivered by our mayor and condoned by council are a disgrace to the democratic process. My sponsorship of the petition on the hydro project was a protest of the city’s behavior.

Be a critical thinker. Be a skeptic. Be a cynic. Who is engaged in misinformation?

Ward Hauenstein