New Blood But Not Too New

The Aspen Times recently opined that we need “new blood” on City Council. Hmm, why might that be?

Let’s start with the council member who also is mayor. He once went to Europe on a “Sister City Tour” for which the city reimbursed him $2,400. He tweeted (how hip!) that being feted in Chamonix, Davos and other swanky resorts “feels like work.”

He likes his “work.” A lot. He’s in his third term of this “work.” Before he became the mayor, he was the previous mayor; and before he became the previous mayor, he was the mayor before that. And before he became the mayor before that, he was a Pitkin County commissioner and on the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority (not sure what that is, but it can’t be good) Board.

And before that, he boasts, he became interested in politics at age 6. He was urinating on his enemies figuratively at an age when the rest of us were still doing it literally. He’s apparently been a politician of sorts ever since, interrupted only by a brief spell a few years ago so he could recover from a bicycle crash.

He wants to be mayor of Aspen the way Hugo Chavez wants to be president of Venezuela – for life, at least.

But the people passed a law that prohibits a mayor from staying in office from here to eternity. This term-limit law requires that once in a while the hand of graft shake a different tree.

Our precocious and hard- “working” mayor is one step ahead of the law, however. He’s scheming to run for one of the other four council seats while simultaneously endorsing for mayor the guy who currently holds that council seat. So the net effect would be for the two of them to just switch seats on the council (wink, wink).

After criticism that he’s violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the law, the mayor got a subordinate called “city attorney” to write a memo on city time saying it’s A-OK with him.

The mayor says the reason he has to stick around, like a wet booger on a 9-year-old, is that otherwise the “developers” (aka “vampires”) will take over. No, there aren’t any developers or vampires on council now, and none have expressed any interest. Maybe that’s because they have businesses to run. I doubt it’s because they’re busy visiting Chamonix and Davos at taxpayer expense.

Moreover, if the mayor lost his tenured “job” as the local taker-in-chief, he might lose his hall pass to taxpayer-subsidized affordable housing. Yikes!

Like the mayor, three of the other four council members are on the affordable-housing dole. It’s better than Mom’s basement because you can have sleepovers without Mom’s permission.

The council meetings are as much fun as a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Recently they talked about how to make Aspen more “welcoming” to businesses. This is long after they banned big businesses and shortly after they demanded a $100,000 tribute to (surprise!) affordable housing from a little gallery that showed local art in an unused hallway.

One of them worried at that meeting that making Aspen more welcoming to business might result in “pop-up” businesses. Don’t you hate it when a business pops up and crashes your business’s welcoming party?

The solution, they speechified, is to add to the city website a “welcoming” page that will be created and maintained by paid “staff resources” (a commodity that is apparently not in short supply – see “city attorney” above). And the “staff resources” will “outreach” to businesses – but not to big ones, little ones or pop-up ones.

Personally, if I were a businessman on the receiving end of an “outreach” from the council boys or their sandbox subordinates, I would immediately (1) bathe in rubbing alcohol, (2) take antiviral medication and (3) flee town faster than you can say “affordable-

housing mitigation fee.”

Yes, we could use a little new blood on City Council. But not too new. This time, let’s make sure it’s from people older than 13.

Published in The Aspen Times on Feb. 21, 2013 at

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