Use the broom
Dear Editor:Squirm Night reinforced what I have known for years, that our current council does not grasp the importance of complying to Colorado’s Sunshine Act or Open Meetings Act, which I feel is Colorado’s most important public law in assuring that the public gets a fair shake. My question to the mayoral panel was: “If you are elected to office and you witness a violation of a state law by your fellow council members when conducting public business, say the violation of the Open Meetings Act or Sunshine Act, will you inform the public of this?”Only one candidate said clearly he would inform the public of any malfeasance and that was Bert Myrin. Terry Paulson did say that he had concerns of possible transgressions. The others, all current council members, skirted the question by echoing each other on how important the Open Meetings Act was. They definitely did not answer the question and they did not say they would notify the public of any transgressions of process.I have suspected for some time from my own personal experience and the observations of others that council members, with the blessing of the city attorney, routinely run afoul of the true and narrow of the Sunshine or Open Meetings Act.Informal council meetings before the public meeting are not uncommon, and this is routinely practiced by numerous municipalities against their state laws throughout the nation. This seemingly benign deviation from the law is where two or more council members communicate with each other behind the scenes to assure continuity of council policy, or to minimize council conflict and maximize council unity, and/or to sometimes predetermine a meeting’s outcome prior to the legal public meeting.Pre-meeting communication between council members can create a bias which is difficult to overcome by the limited presentation time given to the public at meetings, and may also dissuade council members from meaningful inquiry to the public, for they may have already made these inquiries prior to the meeting with their fellow council members and feel it would be redundant if they made the same inquiry again. Not abiding to the Open Meetings Act by our city government I suspect contributes to why Aspen’s government is wrought with gross duplicity, willful ignorance, sandbagging and most important, a lack of cogent reasoning, which is very frustrating and irritating to say the least.After nearly 20 years of observing the broken-record politics of modern Aspen, most of our City Councils seem to me as nothing more than a cabal of fence-sitting, duplicitous, largesse-promoting self-righteous frauds. I believe if Aspen’s government can be cleaned up just a little, Aspen will be a better place for everyone. The voters have the broom, let’s see if they know how to use it.Scott McDonaldAspen
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