Mick Ireland: Guest opinion | AspenTimes.com

Mick Ireland: Guest opinion

I will defend to the utmost Ken Neubecker’s right to be wrong.

The Constitution allows and protects Neubecker’s right to call me a liar, unethical and worse. And Neubecker has exercised that right over and over again in the course of dozens of letters.

I don’t worry much about these personal attacks, and I think the community and the voters know better: For all my faults, few fair-minded people believe I am dishonest. Even those who don’t support my community vision get the basic facts about my character.

Nonetheless, I must call Neubecker out for taking money from those litigating against the city and for not telling the public that his nonprofit is funded and the salary he derives from Western Rivers Institute is funded in part by opponents to hydropower.

How do I know that Neubecker solicits and receives donations from the litigants trying to take city water rights and block clean energy?

Simple. Investigative reporting? Deep-throated sources? Much easier: Neubecker posted on my Facebook page on Oct. 1 at 3:12 p.m., “I have received some additional funding from New Land, a small amount from SOS (note: A co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against Aspen) and general support not necessarily related to the Hydro issue from the Arches Foundation. I’ve also received a few small donations from local Aspen citizens.” – http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/mayormick.

Were Neubecker actually an Aspen resident, he might understand that this community demands transparency from political advocates.

Neubecker, a registered voter in Carbondale, compares himself to more transparent nonprofit directors who actually file their federal 990 tax returns where they can be reviewed at http://www.guidestar.com. Overpaid or underpaid, at least the other local nonprofit directors aren’t hiding their salaries.

Neubecker has been soliciting money for his “Western Rivers Institute” since 2010 and attacking the city for almost that long. There are no federal nonprofit tax disclosures (Form 990) and no salary declaration for Western Rivers Institute posted on line as required (see http://www.guidestar.com).

I think the local papers should alert their readers when a paid advocate insists on demeaning those who disagree with his donors’ positions and fails to disclose his funding sources.

Neubecker, not an attorney, also claims I do not understand water law. He claims that “nobody can take” Aspen’s nonconsumptive rights.

I am sure Neubecker’s belief that the city has no way of losing its water rights would come as a surprise to his litigant-donors and the corporations represented by Bill Koch’s learned counsel. A lot of money is being spent by experienced attorneys to urge the court to invalidate millions of dollars’ worth of Aspen water rights.

I do not agree with Koch’s war on renewables (wind, solar) for business and financial reasons; he’s into coal and oil – I get that, respect it and disagree with it. Coal burned here or anywhere is harmful to the planet and community. Water helps develop coal, second homes, ghost towns, water parks, etc. Having the city’s water rights invalidated would make competing rights more valuable.

Please say “no” to the interests trying to take your water rights by voting “yes” on 2C for renewable, clean and cheap energy.

Thank you.

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