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All too quiet

Kaye Ferry

I’ve waited for the Hunter hysteria to die down before making my own observations.I have to admit, I was not in the cult. Before moving out West, I didn’t even know who Hunter S. Thompson was. But then I started hearing about the renegade guy in Aspen who periodically made the establishment nervous simply by pointing out the obvious.Of course, he also made law enforcement crazy by insisting on individual freedom and challenging every injustice that he perceived. Then I saw “Breakfast with Hunter” at the Vail Film Festival last year, and it all came together. Clearly he was a guy who should be remembered for his willingness to stand for what he believed even when few agreed with him. And he should be especially admired in this week which has been dubbed Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is a project supported by all phases of the media across the country that are concerned about the laws governing open government and freedom of information. Their main concern is that some of those laws are being ignored and/or abused.The Denver Post did an editorial on it. Otherwise I would not have known of its existence. But we all should be aware because the ability to have open discussions about issues that affect our lives is a cornerstone of democracy. As the Post states, “Too often, government officials act as though the public’s business is none of the public’s business.”But there’s a flip side to that. More often, the public isn’t interested in its own business, either. Or at least not until it’s too late. “Who approved that flagpole?” they ask. “What do you mean, they’re heating the streets?” ” I didn’t know box store were allowed up here!” “They’re going to move the Vista Bahn?” And it goes on. You name the topic and I can give you an example of meeting after meeting that has gone by with little attention from the community at large. Then all of a sudden, when the back hoes are pulling out their first shovel of dirt, out comes an enraged public.In today’s environment, particularly in the public arena, we are all too complacent. Or is it lazy? And then we blame it on public officials for not informing us. Oh, to be sure, there is some of that. Yet while it is the responsibility of our government to be open and informative, it is our job to be their watch dogs. The public must play a role in setting acceptable standards and seeing to it that they’re being met.Additionally, too often we allow others to speak for us and seemingly acknowledge agreement by keeping quiet, mostly out of the need to fulfill the “politically correct” mantra espoused mainly by those who do not want to be challenged. Of course, a strong statement in opposition to the majority runs the risk that you will be removed from the Christmas card list or, horror of horrors, not included on the invitation list for the next social event.But Hunter couldn’t have cared less. He was intent on pointing out hypocrisy and frauds and systems that don’t work.I am glad, however peripherally, to be included in the group that feels the only way citizens can make good decisions is if they have good information. Because our government is based on the opinion of the people. Thomas Jefferson believed that “free and competing voices” would arm the “opinion of the people” with “wisdom and common sense.” Now, don’t run to your phone and start dialing the much hated Tipsline to declare to the world that Kaye Ferry is not Hunter Thompson. I am not, and neither are you. But we should all admire his energy and his passion for calling out fools and incompetents and processes that do not serve the people as they were intended.He should also be remembered for the sheer brilliance of his writing. Whether you agreed with him or not was almost incidental to reading the words he combined in an almost poetic fashion. He always marveled at the fact that he could actually get paid for chronicling his opinions on the political scene and life in general. And I think secretly, many lived vicariously through him. He said things that people only say they should have said. He wrote things that most only compose in their mind in the shower yet never dare to put on paper after they dry off. He stirred thought-provoking discussions about the validity of things that have been taken for granted and accepted “just because” or “it’s always been that way.”Agree with him or not, the ability to question the status quo and demand better answers is a quality to be revered. Unfortunately, complacency has overcome the general populace to the extent that most don’t even recognize what a rare gift that is.SPRING STING: The Vail PD is getting ready for its annual spring sting. I really don’t like these sorts of operations. Actually, I hate them. I always thought the job of law enforcement was to serve and protect. This feels more like set up and catch. But they do send out notices. So liquor license establishments beware. If Hunter were still here, you can be sure he would have an opinion on this, too. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry. Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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