Mulcahy Painting

Lee Mulcahy, right, accepts a painting of his last week that was on display at a booth he set up on the sidewalk to collect signatures for his self-styled petition asking the city of Aspen and Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority to find a way to let him keep his affordable housing residence. City officials earlier had picked up the painting and other items that were left unattended. APCHA filed a motion recently seeking to recoup attorneys fees in its case against Mulcahy, whom APCHA alleges violated qualification guidelines requiring full-time work in Pitkin County.

Lee Mulcahy’s long, unsuccessful court battle with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority to keep his home may cost him more than just the Burlingame residence.

APCHA on Friday filed a motion asking a judge to order Mulcahy to pay $13,225 in attorney fees after Mulcahy, who lost at the district court level in 2016, took the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals. That’s on top of Mulcahy being ordered to pay $15,419 in costs and attorney fees at the district level, bringing the total of what APCHA believes it is owed for the legal fight to $28,644.

The appellate court last year upheld the ruling in APCHA’s favor by Judge Chris Seldin of Pitkin County District Court in 2016. The Colorado Supreme Court in late April declined to hear Mulcahy’s case. While he has said he hopes to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mulcahy has acknowledged that is a long shot, and the case is no longer stayed.

The next step, besides the attorney fees, is for APCHA to send Mulcahy a listing contract for the 1,900-square-foot home, which is expected to sell for between $700,000 and $995,000. It’s unclear if the contract has been sent. Efforts to reach APCHA’s attorney, Tom Smith, on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

During the public-comment period of Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting, Mulcahy presented pages of petitions to Mayor Steve Skadron. Mulcahy said the petitions represent over 700 signatures of locals who agreed with him that the city should be “in search of a peaceful compromise” that would allow Mulcahy to keep his house.

“In those signatures, there’s priests, pastors, rabbis, policemen, sheriff’s deputies, many brave city and SkiCo employees who aren’t scared of you,” Mulcahy said. “Many are afraid of you, many are afraid of retaliation. Are you aware of that?”

The council accepted Mulcahy’s petitions and a city staffer said she would make copies to send back to him.

At one point, Mulcahy read a Bible passage; at another point, he knelt.

“I am begging you, I will get on my knees, and say please, mayor, please allow me a public hearing,” Mulcahy said, pointing out that his elderly mother also is confused about why the city won’t work out a compromise that would allow him to keep his house.

“I am begging you to meet with us and the sheriff,” Mulcahy said.

Neither Skadron nor the other council members offered much in the way of responses. Mulcahy continued, asking the mayor if he’s a registered Democrat.

“That’s not germane to this discussion,” Skadron said.

 

Legal history

The housing office, after receiving a tip from a neighbor, sent Mulcahy a compliance letter in July 2015, stating that it had reason to believe he was violating policies requiring full-time employment in Pitkin County, that he was not occupying the property, that he was illegally renting it out and other violations. After Mulcahy did not satisfy APCHA’s concerns related to rules requiring 1,500 hours of work annually in Pitkin County, he was issued a notice of violation. That gave him 14 days to demonstrate compliance or request a hearing and plead his case directly to the APCHA board of directors. 

Mulcahy, who said he was consumed at the time with the recent passing of his father, did neither, instead traveling to Africa on a humanitarian mission. When he returned in October, he made overtures to APCHA seeking to show his compliance through work as an artist, property manager and fundraiser for his parents’ charity. APCHA proceeded to sue him in district court, seeking an order that he be required to list his home for sale.

At both the district and appellate levels, APCHA argued that because Mulcahy failed to work out the compliance issues with the authority by the deadline or request a hearing before the housing board, the courts had no jurisdiction to consider Mulcahy’s pleas that he be allowed to show compliance or that APCHA acted in bad faith.

Mulcahy did not return a message seeking comment on the latest motion for attorney fees.

But he continues to crusade to keep his home, collecting signatures around town in the hopes public sentiment will cause APCHA to rethink forcing him to sell the residence. The housing authority’s executive director, Mike Kosdrosky, said last week, however, that the names will have no bearing on the board’s decision.

 

Aspen Daily News staff writer Andre Salvail contributed to this article. 

chad@aspendailynews.com