There was an interesting letter in last week’s papers from a relatively new, but very vocal, addition to the local political scene. Since the hydro plant showdown, Maurice Emmer has inserted himself into local politics with almost the same aplomb as Elizabeth Milias and Marilyn Marks. I sometimes read these rants and wonder if they are all the same person, but I am assured that even if they do walk in lockstep, they have been seen in same room at the same time.
It sounds as if I’m suspicious that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same. All of these people, and Superman for that matter, have much in common. They come from somewhere else and they sure as hell don’t like the way things are done around here, so they intend to enlighten the rubes. Although to be fair, Superman wields his power more judiciously.
In letters and blogs there is no shortage of sound and sage advice to save Aspen from its out-of-control government leaders and its equally incompetent and mismanaged city staffers. To hear it from these particular critics, you would never know that the people that run Aspen have made it into one of the top 10 resorts in the world. Damned slackers.
Critics, myself included, usually try to improve our surroundings by working with what we’ve got. Sometimes, in the interest of entertainment, we might stick a knife into the target of our critique, and then slowly and gleefully twist it until a trickle of whatever passes for blood runs out. Usually this knife twisting is directed at 800-pound gorillas with “Inc.” after their name. I personally try to refrain from attacking names that have a person attached to them, preferring to rip into institutions with my witty banter.
It is with that in mind, and taking into account that I singled these folks out at the beginning of this column, then skewered them and, therefore, hypocritically made a claim of saying one thing and doing another within four short paragraphs, I will now critique a few of the concerns Mr. Emmer mentioned in his letter.
To summarize, Mr. Emmer laid out the issues facing mayoral candidates that he feels should be addressed beginning with:
1. Strengthening sense of community.
Excellent point. Prior to the 1980s people actually lived inside Aspen’s city limits and then a bunch of rich people started buying up all the old miner’s shacks and turned them into McMansions to celebrate their altered egos (Superman!). The poor workers were exiled downvalley and now spend their time commuting through Aspen’s S-curve maze. The rich barely visit their homes and the town has no one in it after 5 p.m. except tourists. Let’s tear down the mansions and put up tenement apartments full of local bellmen and hottie waitresses. Let’s forget the bellmen while we’re at it.
2. Whether City Council and the mayor should be uncompensated positions, restoring them as citizen positions, not careers.
I don’t know about you but $23,000 a year doesn’t sound like much of a career. However, Mr. Emmer may be right on this one. We don’t need a bunch of public servants who need to be compensated for their time. Hobbyists who have already made fortunes should run the local government and share their brand of public (self) service. You know, the types with so much time on their idle hands that they spend all their waking moments telling the rest of us how to run things.
3. Whether to enforce time limits on City Council meetings, including limits on the mayor’s and council members’ comments.
I wish they all would just shut up, especially when I don’t agree with them. Take the Red Ant blog ... please.
4. Whether important or especially controversial questions should be submitted to the voters instead of enacted only with City Council action; whether the voters’ guidance from ballot measures should be honored, or excuses should be invented to disregard the voters.
This sounds like some sort of sour grapes. How do we decide what is “especially controversial?” When five millionaires are affected? Didn’t the voters approve the hydro project before Mr. Emmer and his billionaire buddies decided that the vote should be disregarded and voted on again? Wasn’t the hydro vote an ADVISORY question? Can’t advisory questions be disregarded without inventing any other excuse?
5. Whether affordable housing should be rationalized and how, i.e.,
ii. How to avoid affordable housing becoming subsidized housing for retired citizens;
iii. How to rationalize current and future inventories to needs, not to political agendas.
Employees suck. They shouldn’t be allowed to rub shoulders with people that can afford a home in Aspen. Retired employees are even worse. Can’t get a decent day’s work out of them. And the crux of the problem is they vote for those enablers that give them free government stuff. Damn 47 percenters. Make them all use the trash entrance. Maybe that’s what we should change the name of the S-curves to: The Trash Entrance.
That’s all I have room for today. I look forward to Mr. Emmer’s letters and urge him to write more often than his weekly diatribe. Like Aspen City Council, my columnist position with The Aspen Daily News is meagerly compensated; perhaps he can do it for free. If so, I would suggest growing a very thick Superman-like skin — starting now.
Don’t bother with a cape; someone will tug it.