Check the facts first | AspenTimes.com

Check the facts first

(This letter was originally addressed to Rachel Richards, candidate for City Council.)

After serving on City Council for many, many years, I’m sure you would agree one of the most important tasks for a councilperson is the ability to separate fact from fiction, gather truthful necessary information, and do the appropriate homework required before reaching a decision.

Even though I can appreciate how time-consuming running a campaign for council can be, I was nevertheless disappointed in your recent allegations toward me without any attempt to contact me or someone else to get the facts.

A few inaccuracies:

– I never requested the code changes you state.

– I did not change any rules as a member of the Housing Board, as you state.

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– I did not benefit by a higher price by the rules change, since I sold the unit for the APCHA restricted price.

– I never pursued a precedent setting change; the Music Associates requested the rental sales policy be expanded to include RO 18 months ago.

The facts are, city policy for years has allowed and encouraged the sale of affordable housing category rental units to for-profit companies. You may recall how it was you who advocated selling the rights to PUBLICLY funded Truscott units to for-profit companies, and it was you who approved the Draco project selling AH units to for-profit companies at prices in excess of APCHA price caps.

The MAA requested extending this policy to include RO units 18 months ago, which was discussed and approved by the appropriate boards. I offered one of my privately funded RO units to the MAA, and after they declined, decided to sell it to the Alpine Bank, which was my right under previously approved policies of the city.

You also approved the publicly funded City Water Place project, which sold RO units to city employees with the condition they lose their homes if they ever retire or leave the city’s employ, a form of indentured servitude not allowed to private developers.

After your years in government, you know it is impossible for me to have changed housing rules and processed the change without board approvals, much less accuse me of doing such for personal gain without the slightest facts to back you up.

I can believe in the heat of a campaign you have forgotten how government works, forgotten the code of civility and forgotten how to pick up a phone to find out the facts.

The fact you now find a privately funded AH unit sold to a for-profit company objectionable is interesting, since it is a policy you supported in the past, and I would welcome an informed review of this past city policy.

In the meantime, please feel free to call me at any time if you need current information on our housing program, or want to know the truth before making public accusations.

Tim Semrau

Aspen City Councilman

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