Letter: Does Aspen need a beat down?

Does Aspen need a beat down?

I wish the authors of the “Keep Aspen, Aspen” and the City Council had met Bubbles.

Bubbles was a student of human nature. Not that Bubbles had any reason to trust humans; they’d been pretty awful to him before he made it to Anderson Stables. His previous owner had used a 2-by-4 as a training tool. He was a stout little quarterhorse with a sure step who’d take you down the steepest slope, weave through deadfall or rocket through the barrels at top speed like a horse half his age. He was a sweetie, but every once and awhile he would jump. There wouldn’t be anything in on the trail, nothing to spook him, he’d just give a big ol’ sideways hop, and if you weren’t paying attention, you’d be on the ground. Then, he’d stop and look back at you and laugh. That was the point of course, to see if you were paying attention. Given his history, Bubbles could have turned into a biter or a fighter, but instead he became a teacher. He’d test you just enough to let you know this was a dance for two, not just the one with a sloppy hand on the reins or swinging the 2-by-4. All he asked for was your attention and your attention had better include respect.

Mutual respect. That was Bubble’s lesson.

The “Keep Aspen, Aspen” charter amendment is a big ol’ 2-by-4 to the head. Before you pick up that 2-by-4, think about what this amendment achieves. The message to the council is that we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Fine and good. Beyond that, what are some of the possible outcomes? Developers could turn tail and suddenly comply with all existing code — and there’ll be pork in the treetops come morning. Council could weaken current code and make everything compliant, taking the voters out of the equation entirely — soon to be an Oliver Stone conspiracy movie. Citizens could suddenly become proactive and delve into the minutia of each variance request leading to the democratization of every issue — and we all become Gandhi. Citizens could rely on the best advertising soundbite for their vote, like “Keep Aspen, Aspen,” which is a sterling example of a catchy soundbite. We could all just vote our emotions unencumbered by facts. Yeah, those last two. Those I believe.

The problem is this won’t just be a one-off. Changing the charter hamstrings this council and all future councils. You don’t use the 2-by-4 once you use it repeatedly in perpetuity. The last time we did that in Colorado, it was the TABOR. Will we be de-Berting in a few years?

Yep, Su Lum, “This is no way to run a railroad.” The train of City Hall and the train of citizen outrage threaten to meet head o,n leaving a ton of twisted anger and smokey, unintended consequences. How do we achieve mutual respect? One thing’s for sure: It’s not with a 2-by-4 to the head.

Ziska Childs