Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bubbles, letter to the editor

This is a letter to the editor regarding the Telluride inspired ballot proposal to amend the home rule charter and take all building permit variances to a public vote instead of a vote by City Council.

There are plenty of opinions on this:
Neil B. Siegel
Andy Stone
Lee Mulcahy
Blanca and Cavanaugh O’Leary
Mick Ireland
Curtis Wackerle
Chad Abraham
Maurice Emmer

and many more…

I couldn't find a copy of the petition or the ballot proposal on line.

Here's some backstory.

and here's the letter:

I wish the authors of the "Keep Aspen Aspen" and City Council had met Bubbles.

Bubbles was a student of human nature. Not that Bubbles had any reason to trust humans they'd been pretty awful to him before he made it to Anderson Stables. His previous owner had used a 2x4 as a training tool.

He was a stout little quarter horse with a sure step who'd take you down the steepest slope, weave through deadfall or rocket through the barrels at top speed like a horse half his age.

He was a sweetie but every once and awhile he would jump. There wouldn't be anything in on the trail, nothing to spook him, he'd just give a big ol' sideways hop and if you weren't paying attention- you'd be on the ground. Then he'd stop and look back and I swear he'd be laughing at you.

That was the point of course, to see if you were paying attention. Given his history Bubbles could have turned into a biter or a fighter but instead he became a teacher.  He'd test you just enough to let you know this was a dance for two, not just the one with a sloppy hand on the reins or swinging the 2x4. All he asked for was your attention and your attention had better include respect.

Mutual respect. That was Bubble's lesson.

The "Keep Aspen Aspen" charter amendment is a big ol' 2x4 to the head.  Before you pick up that 2x4 think about what this amendment achieves. The message to Council is that we're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Fine and good. Beyond that what are some of the possible outcomes? Developers could turn tail and suddenly comply with all existing code… and there'll be pork in the treetops come morning.

Council could weaken current code and make everything compliant taking the voters out of the equation entirely…soon to be an Oliver Stone conspiracy movie.

Citizens could suddenly become proactive and delve into the minutia of each variance request leading to the democratization of every issue ... and we all become Gandhi.

Citizens could rely on the best advertising soundbite for their vote….like "keep Aspen Aspen" which is a sterling example of a catchy soundbite.

We  could all just vote our emotions unencumbered by facts.

Yeah, those last two, those I believe.

The problem is this won't just be a one-off. Changing the charter hamstrings this Council and all future Councils. You don't use the 2x4 once you use it repeatedly in perpetuity. The last time we did that in Colorado it was the TABOR. Will we be de-Berting in a few years?

Yep Su Lum "This is no way to run a railroad". The train of City Hall and the train of Citizen outrage threaten to meet head on leaving a ton of twisted anger and smokey unintended consequences.

How do we achieve mutual respect?  One thing for sure it's not with a 2x4 to the head.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Voter Variances, letter to the editor

This is in response to the anti-variance petition article in the Aspen Daily News My major concern which I didn't put in the letter is opening the building variance permits to a ballot questions also invites big money into the process in a way we've never had in Aspen before. Can an election in Aspen be bought? This would be the test.

Oh joy, voter variances.

Do we really think making each application a ballot question will be better?  You think you have information overload now, just wait.

What on earth makes you think the voting public will read each permit application? I soooo look forward to the building permit ads. Don't you want to see ad campaigns for parking spaces and increased roof to floor area? What if it's easier to "spin" the electorate than our elected representatives? Should we vote ourselves out? Nominations are open.

for those who need a refresher course on the definition of "Republic"

No one pays attention until things turn into a screaming match. 

Don't kid yourself the only reason ordinance 19 was rescinded was due to fear. Fear works. A whole bunch of people showed up after public comment was closed and yelled. Yep that's what we need more screaming matches at City Hall, more finger pointing. It's gonna be greeeeeeeeeat. Just like the good ol days, yippee. (No beatniks allowed)

In my opinion all 91 pages of ordinance 19 sucked.The original intent which was to help older properties renovate was a good one. 

Wheeler Opera House, did it need renovation?

or this?

The ordinance strayed from that original intent, greatly. The Council chose to listen to the majority of citizens who showed up for public comment. Badaboom- enact ordinance 19. So where does the fault lie? In my opinion it's two fold there was insufficient feedback to staff when they strayed off point and there was insufficient input during the public comment and work sessions.  The "rethink" of ordinance 19 suffers from the same malaise. Clicker sessions with questions crafted to silo the answers and using the failed ordinance as a template is not the way to win friends and influence people. 

Asking for public participation in these sessions only on weekdays during working hours is the height of class discrimination.

My vote goes to the next representative who is forthright enough to give clear direction to staff and brave enough to point out when the focus is getting blurry. My vote goes to the next representative who will go out and talk with people who don't write letters to the paper or start petitions. My vote goes to the next representative who has the guts to clean our bureaucratic house and start fresh.  My vote goes to the next representative who has the courage to listen.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pas "je suis" mais "nous sommes".

Je suis… Charlie?

It was never a magazine I read. The humor was too arch for me. Ridiculing others is easy. I prefer irony. Laughing at ourselves. We point inward and can call ourselves idiots… and that allows the hairline crack of change to open. I like that, laughing at our own foibles. It's healthy.

Let's be honest, the Muslim population in France is predominantly from former North African colonies which means they are the same social underclass as African Americans in the USA.  The difference being that by French law you are guilty until proven innocent.

Mocking the powerless is easy. It's also wrong. Let's get that straight from the start… kicking people when they are down is wrong.

Mocking the powerful.. now that's different… 

that's an obligation. 

as Voltaire would tell you, 
that is the heart of free speech.

That would be mocking, not killing….ridicule not destruction. 

Unlike the Taliban 

As I've said in a previous post "The greatest responsibility always rests with the most powerful." 

In my mind the Paris shootings at Charlie Hebdo and the recent protests against US police killings are opposite sides of the same coin. 

The protestors carry signs which say "Black lives matter

These could be followed by "Nigerian lives matter", 

"Muslim lives matter", "Christian lives matter" "Afghani lives matter" "Iraqi lives matter" "Syrian lives matter" Atheist lives matter….. polar bear lives matter…. penguin lives matter…. live trees matter…. 

Let's keep it simple. 

"Lives matter".  Period. Full stop. 

Until we stop this endless division and divisiveness we will continue to be brutes bent on destroying ourselves and everything around us. It is not "je suis"; it is not "I am". It is "nous sommes";  it is "we are".