Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com
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Su Lum: Slumming

Su LumThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

The Aspen Times has recently taken to listing the names of its editorial board, of which I am a member, adding the disclaimer that We dont always agree with each other. For full disclosure, however, we should also show who voted how on the various issues and who didnt know until they read it in the paper what the editorial position was going to be.Often the events of the moment change the plans. This week we agreed to say something about the Lift 1A turn-around: John Sarpa, after years of saying this was the bottom line, this was the smallest acceptable project, then coming back again and again and again with something better, something smaller, but always saying that this was absolutely IT. And when the issue it was coming up for a public vote and the tide seemed to be turned against the project, wanting to come back yet AGAIN with something more acceptable.City Council should have held the developers feet to the fire, insisting on putting the question on the May ballot, but its an election year, no one wants to ruffle feathers, so here we go into Round 1,572 of the Lift 1A boxing match. With any luck, well all have died of old age before ground is broken up there (except for the fait accompli destruction of the Mine Dumps apartments).Left in the lurch, a substitute editorial appeared last Friday, Campaign civility 101, and I was dismayed to see my name appended to an opinion piece with which I do not agree at all. Or, to put it more bluntly, and perhaps uncivilly, the use of civility as a campaign promise, issue or platform damns the incumbents by implication.John Sarpa introduced the political civility issue several years ago, wanting candidates to sign pledges to be civil. It kind of boiled down to, You can lie all you want, but smile politely when youre doing it and dont use the f-word. I didnt buy it then and I dont buy it now.I dont care how the candidates say it, but I want them to say what they mean, mean what they say, and make their positions clear on the values they embrace.Our communitys values have been laid out very consistently in the last three Aspen Community Plans. We want to keep Aspen smaller, with more reasonable lodging rates, buildings built in scale with the neighborhoods, affordable housing for our employees. We are concerned with scrape and replace incentives and maintaining the historic nature of our unique community.On the other side, there are those who want free rein to flip properties to the highest bidder, claiming intrinsic property rights, demanding that any project meeting the letter of the law should be approved and fighting any changes to the laws. Divided? You betcha! But the division is not equal more voters want to save Aspen than to destroy it, and I dont think anyone will be elected on the basis of who is more civil or more polite, and I hope that in the debates, the candidates will be asked to address questions about Lift 1A (how they would have voted?), the selling of our public property to the Aspen Art Museum (our most beautiful amenity), the expansion of the Wheeler Opera House (claimed to be fully endorsed by the community). Raise your hand if you would have approved the Dancing Bear. Thats what voters want to know.It is ironic that Andrew Kole has jumped on the civility bandwagon, resurrecting his GrassRoots TV show as a self-serving bully pulpit, interrupting and talking over his guest on the show, Aspen Times reporter Carolyn Sackariason, while claiming hes the civil one.For those who havent been closely following the city council meetings, I think that you should start now by watching GrassRoots and see for yourself how rude, uncivil and intimidating the council is NOT. They spend HOURS listening to public comment. Mick Ireland has been unfailingly civil to Toni Kronberg, who often brought Helen Klanderud (never accused of incivility) to the verge of rage.Marilyn Marks has sent the majority of the council over the edge in her own sweet (civil) way, including Steve Skadron, who never blows up at anyone, so I dont think you can count that against them. Her most recent Red Ant broadside accuses the council of, among other things: dishonesty, corruption, cover-ups, reckless squandering, cronyism, incompetence and gross mismanagement. How civil is that?

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks its time to take the gloves off. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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