Note to Durango's vision-impaired

To the people of Durango and the City Council,

This is a gauntlet. I challenge City Council to create an inclusive Vision for Durango. And, I challenge the people of Durango to hold Council and staff’s toes to the fire.

Well, we can all sleep at night, now that Durango has voted to keep fluoride. But those nasty neurotoxins, hmmm ... those might be a problem. Why would almost all of Europe and nearly all of the rest of the world (about 95 percent of the world population) know enough NOT to fluoridate their water? They must be Socialists! But hey, we Durangoans have it figured out. We know. Fluoride’s been around forever. It’s gotta be safe. Every Council member voted to keep fluoride. Really?

I’m curious about our little town, and the stunning lack of leadership and vision (Melissa Youssef, this does not include you! Go get ‘em!) when it comes to any for- ward-thinking issues.

Here are a few more examples:

• I’m curious why the City of Durango has decided to make parking a game of gotcha (and to stick a finger in the eye of tourists and others). Rates go up, parking tickets get heftier, and now we have an army of meter read- ers, so you can be confident you’ll be greeted with a ticket on your windshield if you’re a few minutes late. Tourist-friendly? I think not. A visionary solution? Nope.

• Same with the homeless situation. Obviously, it’s a tough issue. How do you act with compassion yet protect the interests of business owners and people walking the streets? And yes, we have an issue (and apparently no coherent plan or policy). Visit any other Colorado mountain town. Nobody is in Durango’s homeless league. Yes, we have great weather. So do Pagosa, Mancos, Cortez and Salida. One hotel in town has had so many break-ins and sleep-ins they felt compelled to hire their own private security during events and install security systems. Or ask

the police in town. They’ve been frustrated because their hands have been tied. The ACLU must be really scary. Vision? No.

• Solar? Um, not so much. We get 320 days of sun a year here. Saratoga Springs, N.Y., gets 180. They just broke ground on a huge solar project that will sit atop

a landfill. It will provide 40 percent of Saratoga’s power for all government services and buildings. Durango has ... next to nothing. Oh wait., we have 4CORE (a nonprofit) leading the solar charge. But the City (or really, the city manager), has eliminated funding for 4CORE.

• How about concerts? Nah. Go to Telluride or Pagosa. We do the mini street gigs pretty well, but a festival? Fuggedaboutit. Who needs the tourist revenue? And who wants to see Mumford or Neil Young, anyway? Where’s the leadership here?

I know, I know. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and throw stones. But I have been asking. I talked to the mayor about the homeless. Nothing. I emailed a City Council member asking their position on fluoride and the other issues I mentioned above, and asked him why I should vote for him. No reply.

Where’s the curiosity? Where’s the leadership? I don’t pretend to have the answers. I do feel like the questions aren’t even being asked. Durango is becoming the most white bread, conservative and in some ways, unfriendly mountain town around. Is that what we want?

In Durango, anything resembling a vision for the town seems to be held by the city manager. And, in my view, it is not a positive, welcoming or environmentally conscious vision. Saying no! with dismissiveness is not a vision I can get behind.

Durango deserves better. City Council ... do your job!

– Tom Mann, Durango