Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
As a member of not one but TWO (count ’em) contentious city task forces ” Instant Runoff Voting and Historic Preservation ” I think it behooves me to say a few words in favor of the city’s policy of feeding the participants. The policy is not so much a reward to participants for the pain and suffering involved when more than three Aspenites get together and try to agree on the alphabet, but to avoid exacerbating the situation by trying to get a group of hungry citizens, in varying degrees of protein-lack-attacks and low blood sugar levels, to discuss anything without killing each other.
The Historic Task force spent the bulk of its first meeting determining when it should meet in the future. Twenty-something of us, all with different commitments (jobs, families, pilates, therapy appointments), finally landed on Thursdays at noon. When we splintered off into sub-committees, the logistics of finding places for everyone to meet were staggering and the food requirements began to go through the roof.
We were fed quite lavishly at first, but when it became apparent that this might go on forever our rations were cut accordingly and I can safely say that no one attends for the food (“Crackers and ketchup,” Amy Guthrie quipped). On the other hand, without any food at all we’d be in a mess of trouble, the ones who forgot their brown bags assailing the others (with plastic forks) to steal the provisions of those with more foresight.
One Historic Task Force subcommittee meets at weekly at 8:15 in the MORNing. I don’t know what the city feeds them, but no amount of eggs Benedict would get me over to City Hall at that uncivilized hour.
My preferred method of cutting down on the city’s food costs would be to do away with the task forces and COWOPs and advisory volunteer boards entirely. Watching democracy in action is only slightly less repugnant than watching sausage being made and makes me long for the days of representative government and sometimes even to wish for a benevolent dictatorship.
We are constantly being admonished by these advisory groups that because they worked SO HARD, and for SO LONG, their conclusions should be, ipso facto, accepted by the council. And their conclusions are so often off the wall (the Lift 1A development comes to mind, and I bet their food bill was hefty) that they ARE rejected, rightly so, begging the question: why do we continue with this merry-go-round?
Meanwhile, maybe the city can turn lemons into lemonade by setting up a small cafeteria or soup kitchen, or perhaps an underpaid councilperson could start a concession stand in the Sister Cities Room, a place where staff can use their p-cards (ID by fingerprints) and the huddled masses in the task force rooms can continue their bull sessions with warm, full tummies. Win-win.
The council people, who regularly suffer through six and seven hours imprisoned in the opposite of solitary confinement (which would you rather?), should have gourmet meals catered by The Little Nell ” pheasant under glass, sauteed humming bird tongues, champagne, the works ” and we should be happy to foot the bill for it.
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Milias: The dilemma in Aspen’s workforce housing is that it houses few of the workforce, and that must be acknowledged before it can be improved.