Letter: A petition is just a request

In reflection on the city of Aspen’s response to the request by a number of residents for input on the staffing of the department currently named Community Development, I am perplexed. The response was that “we do not want to politicizes the process.” I guess I am not clear on what the means.

As a supporter of the petition, I can express how I view the request to the City Council. From the broad view, I believe it is a valid point that the direction of Community Development has been in favor of development. Roughly 60 percent of the voters in Aspen have voiced their objections to this direction as evidenced by Referendum 1, Base2 and Ordinance 19 in 2014. From a broad prospective, I want a direction that reflects the views and desires of the people who live here.

To zoom in a bit, it seems apparent to many that the City Council has not crafted a policy to guide Community Development. Or if it has, it is contrary to the aforementioned 60 percent. If policy guidance has not been given to the city manager to pass on to Community Development, then the director has been free to follow his own policy. In the absence of direction, this is what will happen. It is the duty of the City Council to set policy.

What I feel the petition does is ask for City Council and resident input on staffing and direction of perhaps the most important department in the city government as it affects the future of our town. A petition is nothing more than a request to do something. The charter leaves the actual power of hiring staff in the office of the city manager. It is the manager’s duty to follow direction from the City Council. Where there has been no direction handed down, or if that direction is not in harmony with the majority, we ask that director of the department be directed by policy.

If asking for policy that is in harmony with the majority is politicizing, something is broken in our representative democracy.

Ward Hauenstein