Aspen City Council to the people: Shut up

Here in Aspen, our city council has announced that the taxpayers who decided to elect them are too stupid and lazy to decide properly how to spend their own tax money. Here’s the story.

City bureaucrats for years have wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars on lavish new offices. The most recent price tag is over $23 million. This is for a city with a population of only 6,500 people.

Do the math: These nice new offices for the government bureaucracy would cost over $3,000 per resident — or over $12,000 per family of four residents. That’s on top of a city budget that exceeds $100 million a year, or about $15,000 per resident and $60,000 per family of four.

Part of the reason the building is so expensive is that they want to put it right in the middle of town, naturally, because that’s where the action is. Most of the rest of us can’t afford the middle of town because real estate there costs thousands of dollars per square foot. But it’s easier if someone else is paying for it.

Just to make sure this monument to themselves is sufficiently monumental, it will rise to 46 feet in an area where other development is capped at 28 feet in order to preserve the mountain views. Obscuring the view is evidently OK if the rule-makers do the obscuring.

There’s just one snag in this plan.

The snag is Continue reading

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Is the Aspen Art Museum a Parody or just a Joke?

03_1430C_09_4At the imposing new $48 million Aspen Art Museum that looks vaguely like a big, square bird’s nest, a new exhibit has hatched. You have to see it to believe it.

I did and still don’t. Here’s my story:

The first thing I saw upon entering the museum was a nice sign. It listed all the wealthy people who have donated big bucks to the museum.

In the old days, donating big bucks to the right recipients could make you semi-royalty, like a count or maybe a baron. Really big bucks could even buy you eternal salvation.

Today, big bucks buys you the title “patron of the arts.”

It’s disappointing. In a better world, patrons of the arts wouldn’t need their names on a list. They would just buy art. Then artists would flourish and culture would thrive.

But museum donators don’t do that because Continue reading