Guest column: On leadership | AspenTimes.com

Guest column: On leadership

Skippy Mesirow
Guest column

What we witnessed Tuesday night was leadership malfeasance, an all-too-typical lack of foresight or vision, at the sake of immediate appeasement. Leadership takes commitment, it takes candor and it takes risks.

Lets step back.

The protest in this letter is not meant to address the use of the Power Plant building. I work for the Science Center, I like and frequent the Red Brick. Rather, my protest lies in the lack of leadership and the absolutely corrosive effect it will have on our town in the long term. Lead has been dumped in our waters to kill an infestation. The parasites are gone, but tomorrow — Flint, Michigan.

Where is the vision?

We should recognize an honest and full-hearted attempt by City Council to diffuse local tension — a virtuous goal. The near tears in their eyes were evidence enough of that. However, City Council has inadvertently and without foresight guaranteed an escalation of the very tension they hoped to diffuse. In nullifying a year of public process and public input, they have rendered impotent the table at which they sit and fundamentally subverted the process in which they attempt to uphold. They have just encouraged every moneyed interest and rusty wheel in town to circumvent the process for the foreseeable future. Hello, rancor and derision!

What we need is leadership, not counseling. Yes, leadership absolutely starts with listening first, an open process and broad community concern, but when it fails to come with a backbone, then it is all for naught. Would you watch the NBA Finals if you knew an owner could purchase points and reverse the outcome retroactively? Of course not. You would deem the process corrupt, unfair and infuriating. You would grow disdainful, distrustful, and ultimately fail to show up. Your team, your belief and the joy you derived from it would go bankrupt and fall out of existence.

Welcome to your new body politic. This is what we just watched. Our leaders are well-intentioned, yes. I honestly believe that. But intention does not leadership make.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, if you are upset by this letter but were not at the council meeting Tuesday, this is as much your fault as theirs. They vote based on the pressure you create with your actions and votes.

Time for a change, Aspen, and it starts with you. If you don’t want two people to determine the future of our town, then show up with 10. The people in the room are the ones who make decisions, so start showing up or resolve to have a town curated for you by the second-home owners, angry isolationists, “leaders” and reactionaries you so deride.

Stand up, Aspen. We’re in this together or we’re not in it.

Skippy Mesirow is chairman of the Aspen Next Generation Advisory Commission.


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