Blumenthal: The elected-leader circus show goes on |

Blumenthal: The elected-leader circus show goes on

Mel Blumenthal

Some of the most interesting and informative programs in the valley are taking place under the auspices of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Prodded by a couple of environmentally knowledgeable buddies, an environmental novice friend of mine and I joined them in a two-day journey through the geologic history of Aspen and Snowmass.

Our guide, geologist Kayo Ogilby, with the aid of bicycles, took us on a tour of the geologic history written in the rocks of the upper Roaring Fork Valley starting almost 2 billion years ago.

Our journey focused on the upper valley’s most prominent and stunning geologic features. We examined the extraordinary history of this area written in the sedimentary, glacial and uplift features all around us. As a result of Kayo’s extensive knowledge of the geologic history of this area, we not only gained a greater understanding of the geologic makeup of our favorite ski area, but also expanded our knowledge of the processes that shaped the western United States. Kayo successfully and succinctly bridged the gap between familiar landscape and deep time.

If you’re looking for something different, exciting and informative to do during the lazy days of summer, check out the full schedule of courses at ACES. I’m sure you’ll find several of interest that will open a window on a whole world of exciting and thought-provoking environmental topics.

At the end of this week, my buddies and I are signed up for “Bright Wings of Summer: Butterfly Ecology & Behavior,” a two-day course focused on the study of butterflies. Our leader, Boyce Drummond, will help us decode the intricate scales that pattern their wings, which are the canvases of evolution where the survival strategies of each species are painted in intricate detail.

On a more mundane level, our local papers have been replete the past couple of weeks with wacky stories involving some of our valley’s elected and appointed leaders.

Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and her Town Council colleagues, along with their new town manager Mike Scanlon, after totally bungling the investigation and subsequent unfortunate resignation of the respected and well-liked Basalt Police Chief Rod O’Connor, finally decided to honor a prior settlement agreement they entered into with him and paid him the second half of an $83,944 compensation package that has been due him since May 1.

This gaggle of elected and appointed looney-toons ended up costing the taxpayers of Basalt in excess of $250,000 because they weren’t bright or savvy enough to figure out a way to mediate what turned out to be a cheesy cat fight between a disgruntled female police officer and the chief of police. They all deserve to be recalled.

Meanwhile, the former Aspen City Council and mayor, in their zeal to take down Marilyn Marks and strike a blow against election transparency, are facing a claim from her for $300,000 in attorney fees. Marks was the victor in this legal skirmish, and the appellate court awarded her attorney fees against the city of Aspen, which in all likelihood will end up costing the taxpayers of Aspen well in excess of $500,000 when all the litigation bills are totaled. All of this in a quest to salve the bruised ego and hurt feelings of former Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland.

And our Moron of the Week award goes to Dr. Barry Mink, president of the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors. Dr. Mink took great pride and apparent joy in describing how he and his fellow board members arrogantly skirted Colorado’s Sunshine Laws in the selection of a new board member to replace John Sarpa, who stepped down from the board to serve as interim CEO of the hospital.

AVH is a public, tax-supported facility and thus bound by the Colorado Sunshine Laws to conduct its business transparently with the public having an opportunity to weigh in. It appears from Mink’s own words that he and his colleagues did not wish to conduct the new board appointment in public view or seek public input, so they bent the rules to suit their desire. For this circumvention of the law, Mink and his cohorts should be severely sanctioned.

Your iput and comments are welcome at

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