Letter: The politics of fear
“We can work with fear,” say the Underwoods in “House of Cards.” Lest you think that is only a Brexit or a Trumpian problem, I ask you to look closer to home.
We have our very own Boris Johnsons. How different is “Keep Aspen Aspen” from “Make Aspen great again”? Fear and loathing have had unfettered success so far. Referendum 1 passed (albeit in a split election), the Power House has been squashed (sorry — tabled indefinitely), and now the paranoia patrol has set its sights on City Hall. Government is too big! Don’t let “them” — those evil politicians and city staff — gather in one building; they will plot against “us,” the public. Should the council not bend to the will of the Boris Brigade, then there is always the threat of referendum. Add to this a mayor who is on the eve of an election, and those vocal “no” votes may be too big a temptation to resist.
So what’s the argument against City Hall on Galena Plaza?
The building is too big? It’s still just a drawing, and if you think it is too big, then redraw the silly thing; design something that works instead of just saying, “No; I hate it.”
Government is too big? Do you realize that consolidating city government in one building actually reduces the size of government? Think of it like a merger; there will be redundancies.
It costs too much? Sorry — wrong again. Keeping city government where it is and spreading the other departments around town would actually cost $10 million more. Ten million — hey, I could buy a house in Aspen for that!
You want City Hall in the center of town? Get a map. City Hall would move — literally — across the street. If you’ve been walking around Aspen trying to find where the county offices have relocated during their own game of musical chairs, you might appreciate consolidating government in one spot. (I swear finding the county clerk was like “Button, button, who’s got the button?”.)
You don’t want another big building downtown? Yeah, saying “no” is easy, and solutions are hard. We said “no” to the art museum on Galena Plaza and got the box on Hyman instead. How’s that “no to everything” been working for you?
The arguments for the new City Hall? First, ask anyone who works in the current City Hall. I dare you — ask a worker bee, and they will tell you what a “joy” that building is. Then remember how you felt when you walked into the last council meeting. Did it feel like a welcoming, comfortable place where we could gather and calmly voice our mutual concerns? No? Architecture does matter. (Grrr — the Given Institute — biting tongue.)
I could go on and on about designing a functional building for a specific purpose and how much less it would cost in time and money, but what good is logic when trying to counter the politics of fear?
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