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Letters – March 4, 2021

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To the Carbondale community
Despite our incredibly strong and compassionate community, Carbondale is not immune from
unfortunate situations arising from time to time. My expectation is that the Town will carefully
evaluate the incidents that took place at City Market last December in more depth and in a
manner that is consistent with Carbondale’s vision of community policing and the values that
shape that vision.
We are resolved to more fully understand what happened and why.
While the particulars as to how an evaluation happens, and who will be involved, remain to be
determined, please know that an evaluation will occur, and that the Town as an organization is
fully committed to learning all that we can from the events that took place.
For now, I would ask that we all approach this situation thoughtfully, and with due
consideration, until we all reach a better collective understanding. I also would respectfully ask
for your continued patience as the Town works through this situation.
My thoughts go out to all who this case has impacted, and I so am grateful for our community’s
continuing efforts to support one another.
Thank you,
Dan Richardson
Mayor of Carbondale

Roaring Fork family
As you should be aware from the article by James Steindler in last week’s Sopris Sun, Roaring Fork Valley community resident Michael Francisco was arrested by Carbondale Police on December 24th.
I have known Michael since he moved to the Valley and I can say that the word “gentleman” is personified by Michael. He is a gentle man. Michael is quiet, sincere, intelligent and – as one person on social media said – “a ray of sunshine.”
The controversy surrounding Michael’s arrest calls into question, was there an overreaction by management at the Carbondale City Market by a manager that should have actually managed a situation? If, as was stated in the Sopris Sun article, this all came to fruition simply due to Michael pointing at a gas station employee, the response by Carbondale Police seems completely uncalled for.
The question stands, did this happen because Michael Francisco is black? This is not a partisan reaction to what happened. Everyone should be outraged that a private citizen of the Roaring Fork Valley is being treated this way. To be forced to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by no less than four officers as the Chief of Police stands by is troubling at the least.
In a conversation I had with Michael, he expressed the fact that he always felt safe in Carbondale and now he doesn’t. Please don’t forget about this, I know I can’t.
April Crow Spaulding

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Let’s do better
I am appalled to read about the arrest of Michael Francisco in City Market. The image of officers forcing him to his knees as he attempted to check out in the self-service line horrifies me. It makes me want to not set foot in City Market again. I certainly will not buy gas there again.
I know Michael from his participation in the community garden that I helped to start behind Roaring Fork High School. He had a small plot there in our first year and was always gentle, quiet and considerate. There is nothing aggressive about him. The school district trusted him with kids until COVID terminated his job. The fact that he has been promoted to managing the floral department in Aspen’s City Market reflects the Michael I know.
Why did the police not interview the person accusing him first? Why did they force him to his knees and handcuff him? I suggest a full psychological evaluation of the person who accused him of inappropriate aggression and of the police officers involved in Michael’s arrest.
I suggest every person who participated in this shameful event read “Caste” by Wilkerson and take a good, honest look at her and his attitudes toward people who look different than they do.
Please, let’s do better than this in Carbondale.
Illène Pevec

Content of character
In the summer of 1963, in front of 250,000 people – the largest demonstration ever at that time – Martin Luther King Jr, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Over the past year we have been in the street, gathering as the multi-colored citizenry that we are in this country, but still we see our fellow community members being treated differently because of the color of their skin.
Michael Francisco, a longtime Carbondalian, beloved KDNK DJ for eight years, florist at the Aspen City Market, is having to go through an embarrassing and expensive legal process – all because, at the end of the day, he is black. Michael has said he has always felt safe in Carbondale. He no longer feels that way after City Market employees, the same City Market in Carbondale where Michael’s son works, handled a miscommunication that has landed Michael in a situation that he doesn’t deserve. That no person deserves.
The content of Michael’s character, as he has demonstrated over many years and as so many community members can attest, is not enough to ensure that he can walk safely in our town and be treated with the same respect due any citizen.
My heart is broken, but every time our hearts break there is the potential that they get opened wider, and get stronger in service to a world where we are better, more compassionate, and more able to learn and grow our way into a braver and more connected future. Whoever may be listening, let’s forgive those involved with this scenario while still holding them to a higher standard, and let’s drop these charges against Michael and do better, because we are better than this.
Gwen Garcelon

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Slice of sun
Through my east window
Harbinger of spring’s return.

Anybody ever heard of a guy by the name of Bill Gates? I don’t curse him every time my computer goes weird – anymore. I mention his name because he just came out with a new book called “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.” He has been on the tube talking about it. What he says is that not only are we facing an imminent disaster, but it will mean the end of humans. This century.
Bill also says that there is a very big problem with how people have a really hard time trying to envision the future. We live in the present. But he says he talks to farmers all over the world and they tell him things are changing. Not in a good way. The migrations away from the equator are happening already.
Bill is spending tens of billions of dollars on many things that might make a difference. He reads about all the science and innovation all the time. We are going to need the new stuff, but we also have to come to grips with what we are doing.
Carbondale passed a Climate Action Plan back in 2006. We updated it in 2017. The first big milestone is in 2030 and that is to have cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent. That is a really big ask. In fact, these climate plans are all over towns, states, and countries. But nobody is on track to meet their deadlines.
The problem is simply that the plans are really just aspirational suggestions. Nothing is mandatory. There are no timelines for any specific projects. There are no budgets. There is no accountability. Additionally, Carbondale is in a building boom and every one of the new buildings will add to the greenhouse gas emissions that we said we would cut.
Folks, don’t you think we ought to make a few changes?
Pat Hunter

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Re: Limbaugh
A truly despicable American is finally gone.
It was a relief to know he would no longer suffer the airwaves, professing his demented, racist, right-winged rants, based more on speculation than evidence. His immense non-excellence and narrowness in broadcasting was more satirical and laughable than reality-based. The whole story was rarely told by him due to his blind-sided biases.
He amassed over 600 MILLION dollars of net worth. His yearly salary, including perks, was reported as 85 MILLION dollars. He was part of a very exclusive financial elite – to say the least. I doubt he remembered or thought about the men and women in the ranks of “the little guys.”
The crass harshness from decades of his irreverent, and often irrelevant diatribes, served to erode the natural goodness of millions of people in this country. limbaugh (not worth capitalizing) was nothing less than a propagandist who consistently did immeasurably more harm than good. He spoke haphazardly from his self-proclaimed big brain. He thought he was speaking truth to power, but apparently Joe, Kamala and sanity seems to have won the day, nonetheless.
limbaugh was nothing short of a bigoted racist, who along with certain others, represent the very worst human examples America can offer.
It is always ill-advised and delusional to think you are the smartest person in the room.
The Devil now gets his due…
Jeff Finesilver

Tags: #Dan Richardson #Michael Francisco #poetry #policing
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