Civility a two-way street | AspenTimes.com
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Civility a two-way street

Dear Editor:Recognizing that he did not have the votes, the mayor, at Monday’s work session, withdrew his request for emergency action on a proposed ordinance that would extend disclosure requirements for campaign contributions to less than $20. But the mayor did not go out with grace, lashing out at his fellow members of council as “hiding behind technicalities of emergency ordinances” and his opponents in the electorate as spreading “vicious crap.”When properly challenged by Steve Skadron on the “hiding under a technicality” comment, the mayor went on another rant calling for opponents to “get out from underneath the rock” and relying improperly on the Second Amendment (right to bear arms). Don’t take my word for it – here is the link: http://aspenpitkin.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=793 start at 2:48.Our city charter is the basis of governance; it is a keystone of our rule of law. The requirements for determining, by definition if an emergency is present, are clearly set forth. Those criteria are no more “technicalities” than the requirement of four votes for passage (which presumably the mayor also would say is a technicality since it is in the same section of the charter). That the mayor deems all of this as superfluous demonstrates that, in his view, the results justify the means even if the action itself is illegal. Stated differently, he has no reservations about bending or ignoring the law to suit his purposes. Thankfully, council properly rebuffed his attempt to scrap the requirements of the charter.But here is the important point. A conjured-up justification for this proposed ordinance, which will now follow the normal path toward passage or defeat, is that disclosure of identity of all contributors will encourage civility in discourse. Before engaging in that debate, the mayor should reflect on his own behavior, the latest outburst being typical. If he wants civility he should lead by example and not browbeat his peers on the council with spurious rhetoric, and not pollute the room with palpable invective. In short, if he wants respect, he needs to show respect.Mike Tyson famously said that everyone is a tough guy until they get hit with the first punch. Our mayor talks tough, but in reality he has a glass jaw and needs to cool off by getting out of the ring.Neil B. SiegelAspen


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