City out of touch with citizens

This letter was orginally addressed to the Mayor Steve Skadron and Aspen City Council.

Some wonder why a group of five earnest, community-minded, intelligent folks (that would be the five of you) so often is out of touch with the public mood and will. Please think about this.

Members of council have told me you are inundated daily with scores or more of emails from city staff. Each council meeting book is hundreds of pages prepared by city staff. Council members receive loads of communications from staff but hardly any communications from constituents, the voters of Aspen. What council does hear from voters mainly comes from those outraged by this or that council action, not the average voter. This would have to skew any council member’s point of view toward the wishes of staff and away from any contrary wishes of voters.

Aspen has a city manager form of government. Staff is supposed to report to the city manager, not the mayor or city council members. Yet it seems there is a flood of communication between staff and council, with the city manager a mere bystander. City council in effect is managing staff and has become its captive.

Please consider requiring the city manager to do his job and be the conduit of information between city council and staff. Require the city manager to analyze staff’s work and make his own recommendations to city council, distilled down to the essences of each issue. At the same time, city council should adopt an aggressive program of reaching out to voters through attendance at local civic organizations, churches, and so forth, including extensive Q&A. This would rebalance the information received by city council in favor of communication with average voters.

Maurice Emmer