Iowa State University removes Aigner video

Community Alliance organizer: Video wasn't meant for public



Brian Ray/file photo

Steve Aigner

— Iowa State University has removed a video from its Web site featuring Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley organizer Steve Aigner, who is a professor emeritus in the school's Department of Sociology. A university official said the video was removed at Aigner's request.

"The simple reason was that Steve Aigner asked for us to take it down," said Steve Jones, director of communications for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Jones said the university has an unwritten policy to honor such requests. "It's kind of a non-issue to us."

In the presentation titled "The Case of Steamboat Springs - Experiencing the Classroom," Aigner discusses the history of Steamboat and his and the Community Alliance's views about a number of local issues from a sociological perspective.

In the video, Aigner says Steamboat "lives on growth" and that the Community Alliance has "fought growth forever." He says the fact city government relies on sales - rather than property - tax revenues is the result of "bad leadership" and pressure from real estate and development interests that have historically controlled local politics and "didn't want to deter the buying of property."

Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush denied Aigner's claims in the lecture that he had received "inside information" from her, and Aigner has drawn back from some of his statements. The Community Alliance and some of its members have risen in Aigner's defense. President Jack White also acknowledges that the organization's positions were exaggerated in the lecture.

"I think if he was doing the lecture here in Steamboat, he would have talked differently, used different words," White said. "He was speaking to a different audience."

In e-mails Wednesday, Aigner wrote that he requested the video be removed because he never intended the lecture for public consumption and that it was intended for a specific audience with a scholarly understanding of terms such as "growth machine" and that he only gave "permission to make CDs for professors who said they wanted to be there but had other committee meetings they needed to attend."

The video, however, was publicly available on the Internet. Jones said the university asks for lecturers' permission before posting their presentations on the university Web site.

White said Aigner was not directed by the Community Alliance's board to ask that the video be removed, and he said he thinks the lecture has no local relevance. White said neither he nor any of the Community Alliance's board members had watched it.

The Community Alliance has grown from 144 members last year to 198 this year, according to the organization. The organization reports it is "committed to the mission of preserving the natural environment of the Yampa Valley, enhancing the quality of life, retaining the unique character of our community and building a sustainable society in harmony with nature."

The Steamboat Pilot & Today was asked to remove the lecture video from its Web site by Nick Van Berkum, a communications specialist in the university's sociology department. The newspaper has not removed the video of Aigner's April presentation from its Web site.

"The newspaper respects the right of the university to control its intellectual property rights in the video, but in this case, the First Amendment rights of the public in having access to this newsworthy and important information outweigh any copyright interest in the video," Pilot & Today Publisher Suzanne Schlicht said. "Because of the substantial significance of the video to an ongoing matter of public concern in the Steamboat Springs community, the newspaper's decision to make this video available to its readers is protected by the 'fair use' doctrine under the federal Copyright Act."

In a Tuesday e-mail to a group of residents that was forwarded to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Aigner wrote that the video and a newsletter advertising the lecture were never publicly available and that, "I think it took a private detective with a grudge to do the work."

The video was discovered during a Google search by a Pilot & Today reporter looking for Aigner's recent scholarly work. The Pilot & Today published the initial story about the video after being contacted by Mitsch Bush, who expressed her concern that Aigner's comments about her were false and could damage her political career.

A Department of Sociology newsletter dated March 25, 2009, advertising Aigner's presentation about Steamboat remains available under the department's "news" link.


exduffer 7 years, 9 months ago

Looks like the getting together for a beer thing just isn't going to work out. Maybe the wine festival this weekend will smooth things out.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 9 months ago

What better proof could Steve provide that this video is an inconvenient truth than to have it taken down. His comments and those of Jack White only confirm this is true and better yet that the public is not worthy or capable of understanding their plans. I'm glad that Steve and his friends clarified the meaning of ignorant for all of us or the past week as without knowledge. I feel so much better knowing that he has come here to save us and knows more than the amazing people that make Steamboat great. His choice to move here out of pity is heart warming.

Some choice quotes that tell the story with enough clarity that even the people of Steamboat can understand

-"I think it took a private detective with a grudge to do the work." or just someone capable of typing Steve Aigner into Google.

  • "I think if he was doing the lecture here in Steamboat, he would have talked differently, used different words," White said. "He was speaking to a different audience." He would have maintained his cover and not been forthright with his real opinions nor been able too look down his nose as blatantly at the poor ignorant people if he thought they were smart enough to use Google and hear what he really thinks about us.

  • "White said Aigner was not directed by the Community Alliance's board to ask that the video be removed, and he said he thinks the lecture has no local relevance. White said neither he nor any of the Community Alliance's board members had watched it." - This may be the most disturbing point of all. They think it has no local relevance and have been responding to all of this without even watching the video? They are either lying, completely clueless or both. I watched the video twice because I care about Steamboat and feel that the Community Alliance has been mis-representing themselves as representing our community when they can't even be honest about their goals and have no respect for the people they claim to be protecting. These attempts only cement the voracity of what Steve said in the video and I commend the Pilot for having the courage to keep it up.

Simply unbelievable! I can't wait to see the reception they get at the next public meeting where they try to represent the poor unwashed citizens of Steamboat. It's just not cool to be this elitist anywhere much less Steamboat.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 9 months ago


Didn't he and his friends just finish saying that the paper took his comments out of context and that in the proper context the controversy was all hype?

So now he takes down the video because the full context is too difficult for the people of Steamboat to understand?

I'd expect that a university professor would be happy there was broader public interest in a lecture. And if there were technical terms used that needed to be explained then the professor could use links to the academically accepted definitions.

And the biggest joke is that his comments regarding property tax vs sales tax shows historical ignorance and that he is no economist or business expert. Sales tax is the choice for funding city government because so much is paid by tourists. There would be minimal effect on the real estate industry if there was a city property tax. The city property tax would be minimal compared to the total property tax bill and the people of SB have agreed to a property tax to pay for library and so on. So the idea that the real estate industry is being protected by the lack of a property tax is simply wrong. I think it is highly likely the people of SB have a better idea of what "growth engine" means than he does!

If the community alliance wants to stand behind this sort of ignorant and arrogant person they destroy their own credibility.

If Steve Aigner had any intellectual integrity, he would put the lecture back on the internet and make arrangements to show the lecture locally with an extended question and answer session.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 9 months ago

Well said on every point Scott. He couldn't have done a better job of proving that his statements were truthful and his disdain for Steamboat authentic.


JLM 7 years, 9 months ago

"res ipsa loquitur"

The thing speaks for itself.

It is not possible to agree more fully than I do with Scott Wedell's comments.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 9 months ago

His own words tell the story very clearly. As a friend told me this afternoon "What happened in Iowa doesn't stay in Iowa" ... it looks like that is true even if you have them delete the video.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 9 months ago

I have never seen an article in this town like the one the Pilot presented on Steve Aigner. It was a mistake, to pull the video, but I suspect Steve is more concerned about his family at this point.

The harm of Steve's video to Steamboat? None.


JLM 7 years, 9 months ago

The harm?

Au contraire --- it was of the greatest service to SBS as it revealed this poseur for his true sentiments, it smoked out the CAYV's steadfast support of its leader thereby revealing a bit about their agenda and it has revealed you to be the truest friend and supporter that a guy could ever want!

Tonto and the Lone Ranger have nothing on the two Steves! Airedale puppies loyal? Slackers! Not like the two Steves!

If Brent Boyer will host it, I will be glad to swing for a "Corona Beer summit on the summit" up at the top of Mt Werner. With the two Steves and President Obama --- hey, he's good at this kind of thing!

I will buy the beer, pretzel and nuts! We can screen the tape and sing kumbaya! Hell, we might even sing Kum Ba Yah! LOL

Maybe Joe Biden can attend?


Fred Duckels 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't think that Aigner issued the ultimatum to city council on his own. He's on his own now.


Kristopher Hammond 7 years, 8 months ago

Palin is a great analogy: Aigner is to the CAYV what Sarah Palin is to the GOP: Embarassing and counterproductive. They should both stop talking and fade away for the good of their respective teams. If they don't, they should be off the team.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 9 months ago

Steve Aigner is a professor emeritus so he is certainly someone that can speak for himself. Except that regarding this video he decided that his words are indefensible.

If he and his friends think he is the victim of a terrible injustice then present the lecture in Steamboat with a question and answer period. If it was much ado about nothing then it would be an evening learning the academic theories of the sociology behind a city's growth decisions.

And Steve Lewis thinks he pulled the video because he is concerned about his family??? This video is a threat to his family? Is Steve Lewis writing a skit for Pirate Theater and trying out his punchlines?


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

Great Steve, shame on the Pilot for quoting Mr. Aigner's own thoughts on the video. They were far more revealing than anyone could have made up. Concern for his family? Are you kidding? They couldn't be safer in Steamboat and his family is well liked by all that know them. He lives in another world if he thinks otherwise. Steamboat is a place that all but maybe Steve respects the other players in our communities governance even when we disagree.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

"Steamboat is a place that all but maybe Steve respects the other players in our communities governance even when we disagree."

steamboatsprings, please read your own posts. You've been showing respect for Steve Aigner?


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

Scott, The video is out there. You likely would acknowledge, via his public retractions, that Steve is embarrassed for overstating his case in Iowa.

I did not say this video is a threat to his family. But if you think this story has not been difficult for his family, its only because you haven't talked with them.


Tubes 7 years, 8 months ago

this clown comes to town a couple years ago and wants to close the gate behind him. you hear that a lot around here. the guy that moved here 15 yrs ago (the one that likes to brag about how long he's been here--like anyone really cares) whining about all these people moving here and all of this growth.

go back to the maize fields!


JLM 7 years, 8 months ago

How does this "retraction" business work? One says something offensive and stupid and gets absolution, forgiveness and a kiss on the cheek for acknowledging he got caught?

Steve Aigner showed himself to be a liar, a prevaricator, a dissembler, a hypocrite, a fibber, a maligner, an equivocator --- you get the drift, right?

And now, he has "retracted" his carefully thought out, painstakingly prepared and professionally delivered lecture and we are supposed to just ignore its existence and its implications?

I believe in confession, forgiveness and redemption but not so much in "retraction".

Steve Aigner owns his words and his reputation is built on their accuracy. You cannot make chicken salad out of chicken excrement --- though he has made a damn good try of it!



jk 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe if he grabbed a 12' wood cross and dragged it around town saying god made him do it we could forgive him?


Tubes 7 years, 8 months ago

what about bozo, and his sidekick...i think his name was cookie. so that's really a rule, huh?

your insistence on people using their real name is a little creepy dude. i thought you said you were gonna quit that tired urging.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

My comment wasn't that you need to have your name to post. That is the argument I gave up.

I'll put my comment another way. My comment is that insulting real people from your invisible perch is...

Its so obvious, I don't even need to say it do I?


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

It showed up through a nefarious google search so he said we simply didn't understand, when that didn't work he tried to say that's not what I said, that didn't work so he took down the video and retracted his statements, that didn't work either. JLM's comments are spot on.

It is regrettable that his family has to go through this but good families are there in tough times too and I am sure they will help Steve get through the times that he brought upon himself. It must be difficult to have to face his adopted community after saying the things he did. That should be uncomfortable. He often had some good points but he has discredited himself far beyond a retraction because we can now no longer trust him.

Perhaps he should have thought of that first. Perhaps he will have a chance to learn from his mistake just like each of us have many times before.

Steve talked honestly about his views and our community in prepared remarks. Neither he or the Community Alliance seems to think there is anything wrong with calling their fellow citizens ignorant, using deceitful practices and not speaking honestly about their goals within Steamboat as evidenced by both Steve A's and Jack W's statements to the paper. Quoting them and calling a spade a spade is not dis-respectful.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

steamboatsprings, Thanks. You do understand that Steve has paid a price. You still need to be "honest" and not take his words out of context as you have.

Steve said: "And the other side of that is the extreme rugged individualism with total ignorance, I think, of how the collective depends upon everybody pitching together. They may have built log cabins together a hundred years ago, but:they forget that when they talk about rugged individualism."

Ignorant; a lack of knowledge about a particular thing.


Ignorant: detitute of knowledge.

Lets' acknowledge what actually was said. Aigner was obviously applying the former meaning.

Also, Aigner was not speaking as a representative of Community Alliance when he made this presentation. You'll need to back up that Community Alliance "was using deceitful practices and not speaking honestly".

I believe this website has an agreement you, steamboatsprings, have to live up to.

You have a choice.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 8 months ago

What Steve Aigner did probably seemed like a good idea at the time, I think the more important question is: who is the community alliance? I have been questioning the character of this organization for some time now, I see some good and I also see a group essentially trying to takeover and deny the less competitive natives, a voice in the shaping of our community. I watch as Sarah Palin is butchered by the elitists and I somehow feel anger for the total ignorance of elitism in our society. I think that we are Sarah Palin, regular people, and we don't bow to self appointed rulers. We work hard and are sometimes too tired to be activists, but if we are to have a voice, it will be necessary, to avoid being relegated as servants. I went to Hawaii recently and the native people mostly work for outside masters. I would like to see local folks making decisions, even if we don't follow the role corporate America has us programmed for. CA roots do not start in Routt County and they are following an agenda set out for them by outside interests. I think that I like the term rugged individualist better than being a sheep.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

If a professor's lecture is so bad that he wants all record of it to be removed then doesn't he owe the audience in Iowa an apology for wasting their time?

And from what I saw in the video, he is far more interested in himself and presenting his travel pics than the facts or the history of this area.

Does he go more than a minute without making a serious factual error? And he was treated, if anything, kindly by the newspaper. This lecture is about 62 minutes of why people in SB should not like Steve Aigner. By his own accounts he is so smart that knows all of the right things to do and is responsible for just about everything good in Town and we are dumb ignorants.

I can see why he wants the video pulled and why he would never dare present this video locally and answer questions about it.

We are the only one in North America that did not impose a real estate transfer tax.

And people here were afraid to publicly support Obama? Excuse me, in a public caucus that had the highest turnout ever, Obama beat Hillary by 3-1 and Obama stickers are all over cars around town.

This guy is just so proud that he is so smart and we are so ignorant.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago


You earlier said, that Community Alliance "was using deceitful practices and not speaking honestly".

I asked you to back that up, and referred you to this policy:

By contributing to this Web site, you agree not to post any defamatory, abusive, harassing, : material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others.

I gave you opportunity to amend your words. You have not. You have chosen instead, to move on to other threads where you continue with insulting posts.

You have completely justified my seeking both your identity and removal of your rights to this forum.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

I'm merely quoting Steve A's video and quotes. He laid it all out on the table for each to make their own judgments. The judgment of the community has been pretty clear. It is ok to be offended when someone and his organization who have declared themselves and their secret members as self proclaimed representatives of our community have so openly showed their lack of respect for the members of that community. That is not defamatory. Please remember that none of this would be an issue had Steve A not laid it out so clearly in a forum where he clearly thought no one in Steamboat would hear going on to say that he wouldn't talk this way if he did.

It's too bad that you and the CA don't seem to get that this is important or that there are plenty of genuine, caring and smart people who just happen not to agree with you. The president was even quoted this isn't important and wants us to believe him when he says none of the board members have even seen the video. If it isn't important you wouldn't be commenting so much.

Steve A's actions have been and that is why we have seen such a big reaction here and a much bigger one in conversations all around town. I haven't run into anyone that thought after seeing the video and reading the quotes that, wow the CA is a great organization. If I had only known they thought so little of us I would have joined.

It will be difficult for Steve and the CA to have a credible part of ongoing discussions now that the CA's true goals, lack of regard for the community they purport to represent, tactics and baseless accusations have been so eloquently brought to light by none other than Steve A and your board president. You might focus on your own groups actions and the impact they have had on your cause. Everytime the CA has spoken since the hole has only gotten deeper.

It's too bad in a way as I had some level that your efforts would curtail or delay Steamboat 700 since I too am concerned that it is too much to approve at once. That's not to say that it is not as close as you could hope to get to the WSSAP which is the document the community put together to guide growth in the future and the past council confirmed.

I for one trust our community to make the right decision on this and will respect it even if it is not what I hoped. A big difference here is that I trust my community and accept it's decisions not look down on it and call it ignorant.

This whole community is far smarter than I am but it's clear that the CA does not feel the same.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

steamboatsprings, What's important to me is what you earlier said, that Community Alliance "was using deceitful practices and not speaking honestly".

Perhaps if you hadn't chosen the name - steamboatsprings.

Perhaps if you had amended the insult.

Perhaps if you hadn't been the first to post on every Aigner article so far. That's quite an agenda you have, so eager to insult. And its hardly impressive to watch you stain real people from the safety of your cowardly, invisible perch.


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