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‘Decades of citizen engagement gone’

The guest column on May 19 by Blake Frederickson, “Outside consultants detrimental to local democratic process,” is sadly spot on.

City Council pledges inclusiveness and appoints five men and one male alternate to the seven-member Finance Advisory Board.

They allege undue staff influence over advisory boards, and the city manager drives a process that excludes the public and affords staff undue influence over advisory boards.

The two “lame duck” councilors (Kim Baxter and Barbara Noseworthy) Blake Fredrickson references in a recent guest column, started upending “the establishment” (their words) when they were elected. Except the establishment includes people who live here, were born and grew up here, started and run businesses, and volunteered here.

As a friend said recently, “You want to take control of local government, you get rid of everyone who went to high school there.” Well played, councilors!

The other reason they abolished the Parks & Rec, Multimodal, Natural Lands and Infrastructure Advisory Boards – violating the will of the people who voted for the initiatives with the boards and their expertise in place at the time – is to take control of them, starting with the 2005 Parks, Rec and Open Space tax up for reauthorization in 2025.

If you want to continue to see tax dollars go for those initiatives – get involved. The advisory boards that largely championed them no longer exist.

With one City Council meeting and one vote, decades of citizen engagement are gone. And the county relegates the new Board of Health to advisory only and loses three excellent volunteers.

It’s a sad chapter in Durango and La Plata County’s history, though hopefully not its future.

Ellen Stein