Poschman can’t muzzle the public | AspenTimes.com

Poschman can’t muzzle the public

I express my concern about Pitkin County commissioner and chair of Pitkin’s Board of Health Greg Poschman’s statement at the Jan.13, 2022, Board of Health meeting.

Regarding the Board of Health’s decisions and responses to COVID-19, Commissioner Poschman said: “This Board of Health is entrusted with … setting the policy for the safety for the community with our public health department. …This isn’t the sort of thing that you have a public process and debate over, unfortunately.”

Commissioner Poschman should hear this loud and clear: There is no public policy issue that is beyond public process or debate. Not one. This is government by the people. His suggestion that there are issues he and his government agents should have total control over is offensive to our democratic system — and scary. What’s more concerning is this statement followed the commission’s undemocratic decision to disallow any public comment at the Jan. 13 meeting on public health orders except written public comment submitted in advance.

When a topic is so hotly contested as this one is, it’s even more important that our elected officials provide space for public comment and actually listen. Commissioner Poschman’s comments show not only is he willing to shut down discussion, but he arrogantly thinks comments on this topic are not even worth his consideration.

Commissioner Poschman, this is not the People’s Republic of Aspen or Moscow or Beijing. This is America, where public input and debate is a coveted — and necessary — right of the people. If you think COVID-19 could take our community to utter deterioration, think again. What will be the demise of Aspen and America is the shutdown of essential public debate.

I, and many others, demand you permit oral public comment at your next Board of Health meeting. I will look for your apology to our community at the next meeting, where I will be present to give you my comments — orally and live — on your public health orders. See you then.

Jill Teehan Edinger