Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

Aspen comes to Durango

Dear Editors,

After spending a very enjoyable weekend in Durango and reading your paper's article on "Fighting the Aspenization of Durango," I can only wish you the best of luck in your study and goal to make Durango economically sustainable and an affordable place to live. If your readers have any doubt about the importance of the study you are undertaking, just have them come to Aspen for a weekend, and the sticker shock alone will send them back to join the Healthy Communities study circle. If you want to save some study time however, just look at what Aspen has done to create a sustainable economy and then do the opposite, you're bound to succeed.

To Councilman Joe Colgan, I hope you will listen and not be tempted to direct discussions. This is one of the grave mistakes made by our council and city staff. They came to the economic sustainability subcommittee of the Aspen Area Community Plan with a clear directive on what economic sustainability was, is, and should be. They didn't listen and still don't have a clue because of it, and the leaking bucket described by your business consultant and study circle member, Tim Wheeler, continues to leak like a sieve. Tourist dollars that come to town don't stay here because many of our stores are now nationally owned chains.

I hope you'll bear with me for a moment while I tell you what we've lost in Aspen, because it's what Durango still has. We had lots of mom-and-pop stores just like you do, but the city councils of the past 10 years have been more interested in sales tax revenues than economic sustainability, after all, it takes a lot of sales taxes to feed a $62 million annual city budget. Not a bad budget for a small mountain town with a permanent population is just under 6,000. But as I said before, the tourist dollars don't stay here long, let me tell you why.

Our small mom-and-pop businesses, like your main street stores, were put out of business by Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic, Sam Goody's, Sharper Image, the Gap and more. They came into town and stayed a few years, but then they were displaced by Gucci, Fendi, Lana Marks and a trove of high-end jewelry and fur stores. You can buy an $8,000 handbag in Aspen today but you can't buy a decent pair of socks. And that leaky bucket your consultant spoke of? Well here's how it works in Aspen.

A guest of Aspen comes from New York and brings a dollar with him. In a typical economy this dollar gets spent in the community approximately 20 times, generating $20 of economic activity for every new dollar spent. Economists call this the multiplier effect, and this is what keeps the economic engine of a community running smoothly. Unfortunately, in Aspen, that dollar turns over a few times and it's gone. Here's why: The new dollar comes in, but it's now spent at a company store like the Gap and a portion of the dollar goes to pay for supplies that were shipped from the corporate warehouse in another state. A portion of the dollar goes to pay for the employee who lives down valley because he can't afford to live in Aspen. He takes their paycheck with him and shops where he lives, so that money's gone too. A portion of the dollar goes to the City of Aspen for taxes, and they spend some of that on consultants from Denver to tell them why they have no economic sustainability. Any profit that might be left after all these little leaks from the economic bucket are sent back to corporate headquarters in L.A. or N.Y., and therefore the effect of one dollar coming into the community is less and less each year. And perhaps worse, the 4

can be heard to say, "I'll just wait to get back home to buy that, there's a Gap store just down the street, and it's cheaper there."

So yes, take it seriously, shop at your local stores, use local services and consultants, hire locals for your jobs and instead of wishing for a Starbucks, ask your local coffeehouse to make you a caramel macchiato just the way you like it. Then they can spend your dollar at the sport store, who will send a portion to the bank so they can lend money on a house so your children can stay in an economically healthy Durango.

Gary Beach,


Another anti-Israel cartoon

Dear Editors:

Your repetitive anti-Israel biased cartoons re: the wall show no creativity, are not thought provoking and are frankly quite lame. Why not try to do one about why a 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two young children would crave to be a martyr ("the only wish I could ask God for"-story in Durango Herald -Jan. 15) rather than live to bring up her young children? To add to the craziness this was done at a border crossing location, with her action preventing thousands of her fellow Palestinians from getting to work at their badly needed jobs in Israel. According to an article in the Durango Herald , Israel is calling the wall the "Terror Prevention Fence." A wall to try to separate you from psychotic killers seems quite logical. Your cartoonist doesn't agree.


Gerald M. Sheldon, Durango

Palestinians are more to blame

Dear Editors:

I am tired of only reading about how Israel is blocking the road map. The lack of effort by the Palestinian Authority to stop terrorist attacks is much more to blame for the stalled peace process. Why didn't your cartoonist show a homicide bomber blowing up the "peace car?"

Will Rottenberg,


A distasteful, inaccurate cartoon

Dear Sirs,

I find the cartoon, which I found on your web site, distasteful and, far more important, inaccurate. It is clear to ALL that the loss of lives on both sides (Palestinian & Israeli) is the primary matter holding back the implementation of the road map. What is not so well known is that the security fence is a major factor in reducing fatalities on both sides. The Palestinian terrorist organizations themselves have admitted that the fence has greatly reduced their ability to attack Israelis, and the effect is clearly seen in the casualty numbers themselves: a 50 percent drop in Israeli fatalities (451 in 2002 but only 213 in 2003); a decrease in the number of actual attacks of 30 percent (5,301 vs 3,838); and a reduction in the number of Palestinian deaths of 30 percent (approx. 1,000 to approx. 700). Should we not be applauding the reduction in the tragic loss of human life?

As for the question of the route of the fence, I have yet to see it mentioned in the media that the fence diverges from the unofficial Green Line on BOTH SIDES! The boundary was drawn in such a way as to maximize the number of Arabs on the Palestinian side and to maximize the number of Jews on the Israeli side. Is that not the goal of all? The Arabs have said they want their own country and that is precisely what Israel is seeking to do. Of course, it would be better if the route of the fence could be negotiated, but the P.A. has chosen not to negotiate. Please remember that when Ehud Barak offered Arafat essentially everything he wanted, Arafat responded not with a counter offer but with a renewed Intifada, resulting in bloodshed and economic disaster for both sides.

Finally, as for the fact that the security fence results in a net land gain for the Israelis, it must be understood that Israel cannot make a unilateral move without leaving land on the table. Were she to put the fence on the Green Line, then there would be nothing to trade for the other concessions that cannot be taken unilaterally, such as a formal agreement on the right of Israel to exist, which, although a part of the Oslo Agreement, has never been granted by the Palestinian Authority.

We all would like the route of the fence to be negotiated, but the Palestinian Authority is either unable or unwilling to reign in its violent elements (contrast the behavior of Jordan, for instance), so Israel is forced to take unilateral action after many years of patiently waiting and thousands of lives.

Nick Bartol,

via e-mail

Ignoring obvious realities

Dear Editors,

The cartoon at the bottom of "Soapbox" in the Jan. 15, 2004, issue is somehow consistent with your prejudice against Israel.

Your impressions are certainly tainted by a lack of five obvious realities.

First: Sharon informed those Israelis that they would have to leave many of their settlements on the West Bank. Hmmmn

Second: Who would intentionally dynamite themselves along with innocents? Would they be Israelis?

Third: Who turned down the opportunity to get almost all they wanted in negotiations? The Palestinian terrorist or Israel?

Fourth: Who is our most trusted friend in the Middle East? The Palestinians, Jordanians, Saudis, Syrians, Iran, etc., or the Israelis?

Fifth. Which of these countries were Nazi participants and sympathizers?

My suggestion is know who your real enemies are, then do something about it.

Marv Dworkin,

via e-mail





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