Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su LumThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

I never got a census form at my house on Cooper Avenue and neither did my friends Nancy and Roger, who live on McSkimming Road. We had to do considerable tracking down on April 1 before finding forms at the Senior Center – who would have thought?The census people told Nancy they didn’t have the money to pay for public announcements telling us “What to do if you didn’t get a census form,” but they wasted plenty on expensive, inane commercials during the Olympics.The census-taking operation in the valley was, according to the papers, a botched job. I can’t wait to see the results.

Aspen’s Chamber should quit this organization at once and with as much fanfare as possible, in the hope of encouraging other communities to do likewise. It is an embarrassment for Aspen, of all liberal places, to be associated with these wing nuts, who not only came off to the right of Sarah Palin on climate change, but were responsible for the reprehensible TV ads full of lies about the health care plan and are now gearing up to fight financial reform.What does ACRA get for its $800 in annual dues? And what anonymous donations are paying for the U.S. Chamber’s smear campaigns?If the U.S. Chamber has decided to become a de facto arm of the Republican Party, we can exercise our displeasure and horror by just saying NO to membership in it or any connection with it.Speaking of ACRA, let’s have a full-on city-wide vote on the lodging tax this November.

Before we get too deep into the subject of recycling food garbage, we need to beef up the existing recycling program. Currently, our trash collectors are required to provide plastic recycling bins to its customers for free pick-up, which, if you ask them, they will do.However, there are no requirements or incentives to do so, and most people don’t. I pay Waste Management (which owns the lion’s share of the market) $229 per quarter to empty, once a week, the smallest bear-proof container I could find ($400 for that), and it doesn’t matter a bit whether I fill it up with plastics and aluminum cans or half-fill it with pigeon droppings.In my area, pick-up day for the recycling (paper, plastic, metal, glass – note, the glass is too worthless to actually recycle) is Friday, and you would think that if you went around town on Friday morning you would find many green recycling bins along the curbs. Instead, you will find a scant handful of them, while a quick tour of the local alleys reveals them piled high with cardboard boxes, beer cans and soda bottles, all headed for the (non-recycled) trash.

I can fix the post office’s problems, and make a dent in the recycling, with a four-word proposal: STOP THE JUNK MAIL. It seems like an exercise in insanity for our society to spend so much time processing and delivering tons and tons of crap mail that goes directly into the recycling containers at the post office or into the non-recycled trash in the alleys, and the whole circus so financially stresses the post office that they want to stop Saturday mail delivery. Want to send me a catalog? Pay first-class postage.

At last week’s special City Council meeting about the Aspen Club’s expansion, Michael Fox expressed the frustration that we have heard from developers of all stripes for many years. It goes like this: “Planning and Zoning approved our project, the city staff approved our project – what’s it going to take to get the City Council to approve our project?”It has always been puzzling to me why the city appoints P&Z members, and hires staff members, who seem to be working at cross-purposes with the aims of the City Council and the Aspen Area Community Plan, but the bald fact is that both P&Z and staff approve atrocious projects on a regular basis and the Historic Preservation Commission (for one, approving the destruction of the Bidwell building) is also not innocent in this regard.This impasse is so common that it should come as no surprise to any developer familiar with the vagaries of the approval process.

Su Lum is a longtime local who’s keeping lists. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.

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