After a lifetime of politics (Democratic national finance committee, 15 years as chair of the Pitkin County Democrats, chair of the state Democratic platform committee), very little in the political fray surprises me.
Even so, I was surprised and even taken aback to see my name and my husband’s (Raymond Auger) name used in an ad in the Aspen Daily News on Friday, Oct. 5 opposing the city’s proposed hydro project. I was even more surprised to hear from others that our names are apparently being used in fundraising letters sent out by this opposition group. (Actually, it is these opposition groups: American Rivers, Western Rivers Institute and Citizens for Responsible Projects). This use of our names is entirely unauthorized.
We have followed the debate concerning the merits of the hydro project and believe that the opposition has some good, well-informed, trustworthy members and some strong arguments. Why then do they feel it is necessary to stoop to the name-snatch game? This is not helpful to their cause any more than the refusal of Aspen Citizens Committee to reveal their own names, as Bruce Berger points out in his Oct. 8 letter to the editor. On the contrary, this behavior is very unsettling and disconcerting. As an example, the claim that the Koch family is actively supporting the opposition behind the scenes, given everything else that they stand for, if true that alone would settle the debate for many of us.
Since I wrote the above, I have complained to one of the lead groups and been informed that the use of our names was an error made in good faith and that they will try to correct it. Since the source of the information is a reliable person, we must conclude that this was not use of a sleazy tactic as it appeared, but more likely a careless error. The experience does, however, highlight the unfortunate proliferation of different organizations, some transparent, some not, charges and counter charges, misinformation and lack of credibility which has come to infect an important local issue as it has become pervasive at the national level of political battle. In Aspen we used to be better than that. We should work hard to regain that ground.