Letter: Ignoring the issue
Intimidating people into silence is not necessarily difficult. We tend to self-censor if we think we are in the minority, and when we disagree with someone with authority over us, few people see any good reason to risk retribution by revealing their opposition.
The proportion of Aspen residents who would like to fix the Entrance to Aspen (i.e., expand the highway to four lanes that everyone can use and eliminate the S-curves) is a solid majority but is made up of people who think they are in the minority. Most people have been led to believe that most people don’t want to fix the entrance. Preservation of this misconception is a guiding mission of the local print media.
Having been involved with the entrance issue since 1984, I don’t claim to have read every weekly and daily newspaper since that time. But I can still state with a high degree of confidence that there has never been an editorial or article that presented the idea of fixing the entrance in a positive or supportive manner. There may have been a regular columnist or two who dared to suggest a highway solution to a highway problem in the span of the past 30 years, but the average reader is left to assume that there is only that one crazy guy down in Basalt who agrees with them that Highway 82 needs to be fixed.
As for defying authority, everyone understands that the Aspen political establishment treats the entrance issue as the litmus test for inclusion in its club. You really can’t contradict City Hall if you work for any of the three upvalley governments, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Aspen Skiing Co. or any other major company or organization with regular business to conduct with the city of Aspen. Small businesses don’t want to potentially alienate some portion of their customers, so their silence is assured, as well, etc.
Hard-core supporters of the status quo, of which Andy Stone, Dave Danforth, Rachel Richards, Mick Ireland, Steve Skadron are just a few examples, won’t publicly defend their position for two very good reasons. First, they can’t do so without employing imaginary facts or silly rationalizations or both. More importantly, they don’t want to create the impression that there is any issue to discuss.
All this silence is very effective, but it also generates a lot of frustration, which the anonymous ballot is perfectly designed to relieve. Which is why, if you are a qualified candidate for mayor or City Council and run on the promise to fix the Entrance to Aspen, you will win by a very comfortable margin.
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