Letter: The barking dog
The Mick Ireland gang now demands supremacy for its ballot initiative, trying to bury by invective the reasonable code amendment proposed by the City Council. The council’s alternative provides a modicum of flexibility on land-use applications as opposed to subjecting all variances to a public vote. What is the apt metaphor for this recklessness whipped up by Ireland: the Charge of the Light Brigade or the barking dog chasing the car? Let’s stick with the barking dog. Query: What happens when the barking dog catches the car (i.e., the Ireland initiative passes)?
This proposed charter amendment is extreme in that it strips all discretion from the council. Recall sequestration, which was deemed so pernicious that it would never be invoked by Congress; now it smothers the federal budget. Hey barking dog, what certainty exists that once the dust settles and Aspen has a land-use code reflecting a collective vision, the voters will repeal your “solution”? How long will Aspen function with a City Council powerless on land-use applications?
What turns this situation inside out is that the collective outrage over development is directed at the wrong City Council. It was the prior one, led by Ireland, that created all this chaos by approving the art museum and other out-of-scale buildings. Barking dog, answer this: If the Ireland-whipped council had done its civic duty and rejected these outrageous proposals, or at least allowed the review process to run its course, would we have this mess today? I think not, and no amount of revisionist history that our former mayor is now spouting (at best, rank speculation) can turn aside the conclusion that his dirty hands and stamp of approval are all over these prime examples of development run amok.
And what makes this situation even worse and very bad precedent is that it encourages other single-issue groups to bastardize the city charter with provisions cast in concrete that should be the subject of code changes that can be amended and tailored by the council as conditions evolve. It is unquestionably true that the city charter is not the place to vent frustration or pursue personal agendas, but that is exactly what is happening here. Barking dog, what’s next on your list, a charter amendment requiring everyone to wear light-reflecting, skintight bike shorts when in public as a matter of “public safety”?
Neil B. Siegel
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