Lum: Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t listen
December 29, 2013
I've been watching City Council meetings for decades, run by Mayors Bill Stirling, John Bennett, Rachel Richards, Helen Klanderud, Mick Ireland and Steve Skadron, and I have never, ever seen such a display of stonewalling and abuse of power that was exercised by Bill Boineau, mayor of Snowmass Village, at the Dec. 16 council meeting.
There must be one hell of a backstory of the relationship between the Krabloonik dog-sledding operation and the town of Snowmass Village that makes it so hot to handle that the council, with the exception of Jason Haber, won't touch it with a 10-foot pole.
When first faced with reports of dog abuse, Boineau said the council couldn't talk about it unless someone filed a police complaint. Several someones complained to the police, but Boineau didn't want the council to discuss it in public unless both sides were in the room.
That's pretty much a laugh because the main person on the other side — Dan MacEachen — hasn't said a thing since his "no contest" plea to dog abuse back in 1988 despite numerous attempts by the press to reach him for comment in the midst of the maelstrom that ended with his recent indictment and the seizure of eight of his dogs.
At the Dec. 16 council meeting, some dozen people showed up to ask the council to form an oversight committee to prevent this from happening again, no matter who ended up owning the kennel, which is for sale. I guess you'd call that a watchdog committee.
But Boineau took it upon himself to decide in advance that they were all just going to repeat prior statements to get publicity and concluded that he would not let them speak at all during the public-comment portion of the meeting.
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He did not, however, have the cajones to announce this decision at the start of the meeting but went merrily on with council business, skipping public comment entirely.
I can only guess that he hoped the people would pack up and go away, but after an hour and a half, they were still there. Boineau then got up and said that he was not going to take any public comment.
Boineau reminded me of George Wallace ("segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever") when he was trying to block black kids from entering a public school during the fight for civil rights.
Not only would he not take public comment, but he would not recognize members of his own council if they tried to say anything! Haber managed to say he was completely opposed to this tactic, Markey Butler mentioned calling the police, and Fred Kucker said he was in favor of Boineau's decision. Are the people of Snowmass Village paying attention to their council?
Ireland, on his very worst day, would never deny the right to public comment, much less try to put the muzzle on his own council. And if he did, his council would not have stood for it.
Mayors have the right to set the agenda, but public comment is part of the agenda. Mayors do not have the right to stifle comments, and the entire community should be screaming.
Talk about getting publicity. Boineau got plenty of it. It was not pretty.
Su Lum is a longtime local who smells rotten cheese. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy horror daze.
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