Our stubborn City Council
Dear Editor:People of my generation likely remember parents responding “because I said so,” when we wanted explanations of their seemingly unfair decisions.My parents did not pretend to be running a democracy. They were fully in charge. But as an adult attempting to participate in a so-called democracy, I am exasperated with City Council’s repeated “because we said so” attitude toward the public.Monday night’s council meeting was a series of irrefutable examples of council’s iron-fisted rule. Citizens first lined up to express concern about the lack of public process for the art museum approval. While I personally like the museum architecture and location, I agree with the critics’ concern with the lack of a transparent process. Perhaps because I like the plan, and got my way without a discussion, I have more responsibility to encourage those who disagree to have their say. Perhaps opponents relied on Councilman Skadron’s July 8 comments, when he said, “Nothing will get done without the appropriate land-use process. All the appropriate review mechanisms will be in place.” Noting that the typical, extensive P&Z process was circumvented, critics were told Monday night, “Council signed a contract. It’s over.” Citizens also spent hours relaying their concerns about the growing list of hydroplant surprises. The city made inadequate disclosures when council asked for our money and support for the 2007 ballot issue on hydroplant debt issuance.Spending is approaching $3 million while the city begins the long overdue public process to obtain and share needed information. They bought the turbine, although the project has not been approved. The plan appears to bypass federal approvals and Aspen citizens’ input alike. Burlingame-style budgeting and management is alive and well at the hydroplant. Asked to halt the project until more information can be developed and absorbed, council did not respond. They alone decide. I voiced my objection to illicit “emergency” ordinances of the type directed at the Given last week. I asked, what is to prevent overnight rezoning of anyone’s property on “the list” despite the prior assurances? What is to stop overnight rezoning of your property? I asked for an explanation to the public of those “emergency” powers of rezoning. Council refused to respond. Councilman Derek Johnson justified the “emergency” rezoning ordinance, claiming it was to encourage a “community dialogue!” The Given was the final agenda item. Those of us who waited four hours for that “community dialogue” to begin were shocked that, when the agenda item came up, Derek and his fellow councilmen immediately voted to go into executive session and removed us from the room. Why? “Because we said so.”Council also refused to define instant runoff voting on the November ballot. If voters retain it, council wants no citizens’ limits on their arbitrary power to choose their own election rules. The rules are “whatever they say.” Our City Council has lost sight of the fact that they were elected to be leaders of our democracy, not autocrats.Marilyn MarksAspen
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