Council needs to stop bickering and take action | AspenTimes.com

Council needs to stop bickering and take action

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

Fortunately the anticipated slugfest concerning whether to terminate Gary Suiter’s interim town manager consulting agreement did not come to fruition Monday, but that’s not to say that there is any peace or collegiality amongst our elected representatives concerning this issue.

All in all, it appeared to me that councilmen Jason Haber and Chris Jacobson handled the barbs directed their way by the council majority — comprised of Mayor Boineau and council members Markey Butler and Fred Kucker — in a very thoughtful and respectful manner, and without the emotion and anger evidenced by their colleagues. And this is from someone who often disagrees with positions taken by Haber and Jacobson.

The majority members, likely in my opinion in violation of Colorado’s Open Meeting Laws, had prepared a joint statement read by Mayor Boineau recounting their version of the search process that led to their engaging Suiter to act as a part-time interim town manager. The statement also addressed several decision items they made outside the public meeting process.

Prior to the mayor’s reading of the majority’s statement, and in an attempt to short circuit a rehash of all the old conflicts between the majority and minority council members concerning this issue, Haber suggested that it would be more productive and in the best interests of the community to move forward with a discussion concerning an extension of Gary Suiter’s consulting agreement on an interim basis and concurrently continue the search for a permanent full-time town manager. Blinded by their desire to take a pound of flesh from their minority colleagues, Mayor Boineau, on behalf of the majority, pressed forward with the reading of their statement to no apparent good result — other than to reconfirm how hopelessly and irreparably divided this council is.

The minority members made it clear that in a democracy the majority rules, but that is not to say that they have changed their position concerning the decision to hire Suiter. Although, with the exception of the council majority, just about everyone with knowledge of this matter — including a significant majority of the seven-member, council-appointed Advisory Group — have indicated that Suiter was not the preferred candidate for town manager, both minority council members agree that if the majority wishes to hire Mr. Suiter as our permanent full-time town manager, then they should do so. The problem in executing that decision is that Suiter has repeatedly stated, and confirmed at Monday’s council meeting, that he will not accept the position without the full consensus of the entire council.

No consensus, no Gary Suiter.

We should not tolerate any more game playing by our elected representatives, some of whom would like to drag this unfortunate and detrimental situation out until after the November elections when there will be a new council in place, which they pray will include more members in favor of Suiter’s continued services. Based on all of the negative opinions floating around this town concerning Mr. Suiter’s long-term continued employment, I think that outcome very unlikely.

Let’s stop all the internal cat fighting. In the best interests of the town, and it’s now time to move on expeditiously with the search. In order to deal with the critical issues facing our town, we need a full-time, highly qualified town manager who has the backing of the entire council.

*****

On a slightly less somber note, last week while escorting the last of my 14-member brood to Sardy Field for the evening direct flight back to Los Angeles, we decided to take an early dinner at the Woody Creek Tavern. Although we’ve all been there many times during the summer months for lunch, I can’t remember ever going there for dinner, which I now understand from those of you in the know is a totally different experience when the sun begins to set.

My twin grandsons, my daughter and son-in-law and even jaded little old me were captivated by the patrons that began to assemble shortly after we arrived, particularly those who occupied the seats at the bar. According to my grandkids, they look, move and talk a lot different than the folks back home, as well as in Snowmass, Aspen and Basalt … they weren’t quite sure about Carbondale.

They kept plying me with questions concerning these folks who I understand are lovingly referred to as Woody Creatures. Although I couldn’t give them much in the way of detailed answers to their questions, the Woody Creatures’ appellation seemed sufficient to calm their inquiring minds, or perhaps it was the arrival of a heaping plate of the Tavern’s world-famous cheese nachos.

*****

I’m now back in my quiet condo alone and beginning to miss the sounds and energy of my brood. Fortunately my final week of the winter season will be filled with screenings of more than 70 short films and special events all a part of Aspen Shortsfest. It’s a great way to end the season and I encourage all of you to take in as much of it as you can this week — you won’t be disappointed.

I’ll be back in Santa Monica during mud season but you can always reach me at secondview@earthlink.net.


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