Letter: Council was elected to make tough decisions | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Council was elected to make tough decisions

The comment made at Tuesday’s Basalt Town Council meeting by one councilman that the issue of building a hotel on the riverside parcel will go to a vote caused me real concern.

As a whole, we the public do not have the time, depth of information, or access to experts to make informed public interest decisions. We elect officials to study issues in depth and make those decisions. We do that at every level of government in this country. We elected this council to do just that and the issues they were elected to decide upon were on the horizon as they ran for office.

This trend of offering referendums on emotional issues seems to be growing more common. Often the referendum is a stalling tactic, or a last-ditch effort to win a public vote by crafting language on the ballot that plays to the “values” most of the public have, without allowing explanation of the complex implications of their votes. At the least, unless promulgated by the public itself, it’s an avoidance of responsibility by the folks chosen to decide those often complex or divisive issues.

I hope our Basalt council will not abrogate their responsibility by sending this to the voters. If councilmen feel they need to do this, maybe they should resign and let a person who is willing to represent the public take the job.

Additionally, I hope the council members will not vote at a meeting based on the number of people who speak. Decisions are always somewhat affected by volume and time spent talking. Yet, many of our citizens who have small children or work evenings and many others can’t go to these meetings. Not being there doesn’t mean they don’t care or shouldn’t count.

Basalt put together an amazing process with the Riverside Master Plan and Our Town programs and others. It so successfully brought in hundreds of citizens who made time to have their voices heard and participate in guiding their town’s future. Thousands of hours of voices spoke, and I hope our council will listen to that, and weigh them appropriately against the loudest or most recent.

Bill Hegberg