TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Town council passed citizen initiative calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, now getting inundated with angry calls, e-mails.
Who knew impeaching the president would be so controversial?
Just a day after the Telluride Town Council passed a citizen initiative calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, town officials said they were feeling a backlash.
The town fielded angry e-mails, calls and letters, most from out of town. One businessman said cancellations will cost his company and the town tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s true democracy at work, but it’s backfiring in a number of ways,” said Henry Lystad of Telluride.com and Alpine Lodging.
Lystad said he has received a handful of e-mails from groups saying they couldn’t imagine ever vacationing in such a Bush-bashing place.
One of those was a 175-member ski group from Florida, which has visited in the past but now say they’ll steer clear.
“We do have Republicans who visit Telluride, and what are we saying to those Republicans?” Lystad said. “We’re saying, ‘Don’t come here. You’re not welcome.’”
Lystad said that the people who brought the petition to council “obviously didn’t think through the ramifications” of the move.
On Tuesday, when the town council was listening to the one-sided debate over the impeachment — torture, endless war, illegal wiretapping, the list went on — Mayor John Pryor tried to hurry the speeches along so the council could get to a really controversial topic: center-lane parking.
Mark Buchsieb was the only council member who voted against passing the ordinance. The council’s other option was to put the ordinance on the November ballot.
“I was really surprised at the vote,” Buchsieb said. “I figured the thing to do was let the entire community vote on it. Seven people cannot be making a decision that important for the entire community.”
The council needs to vote again on the ordinance at its next meeting for it to go on the books, and it still has the option of sending it to the ballot and letting voters decide.
The Letters to the Editor section of this newspaper has been brimming with angry letters from people who claim the town is out of touch with everything except its own navels and rectums. One Texan even seemed to threaten military action.
Scott McQuade, CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board, said he’s received about five angry e-mails.
“We’ve certainly gotten some e-mails from concerned groups saying they’re not happy with Telluride’s stand,” McQuade said. “And we have heard some people say they’re canceling their vacations.”
McQuade said it’s impossible to tell how many e-mailers were actually planning to come to town, and how many are just grandstanding.
But semi-boycotts are nothing new in Telluride. Every year as Gay Ski Week approaches, McQuade gets “hundreds” of e-mails from conservative-minded families who swear they’re not coming to town because they don’t want their children “exposed” to the “gay lifestyle.”
(Oddly, a handful of gay-friendly travelers have threatened to boycott Telluride after hearing about the “Straight Pride” joke float on the Fourth of July. Which makes Telluride one of the few towns to be boycotted both by gays and by conservative Christians, virtually at the same time.)
And, even though it’s his job to sell Telluride to people from every walk of life and every political affiliation, McQuade isn’t sure he wants to see the town turn apolitical.
“This community cannot be all things to all people,” he said. “We’re a very politically charged community — that’s one of the things that make us so unique. … We don’t want to silence our community because it has an impact on tourism.”
Telluride Daily Planet