Beaton: Roasting the Greedy Fat Cats
September 5, 2013
The City Council is fomenting a new scheme to punish people the president name-called "greedy fat cats."
You know who they are. They're the people who worked hard and risked everything to transform Aspen from a near-abandoned ex-mining town with all the charisma of Gypsum into a world-class resort that attracts everyone from Hillary Clinton to Hunter Thompson.
As usual, the council's weapon of choice for its class warfare is the housing regulations.
Here's the story: A certain greedy fat cat would like to exercise his property rights, for which he paid millions, by renovating his building to include a top-floor residence. The owner's plan is in compliance with the building code.
The comrades on the City Council haven't earned enough money for similar digs. So they naturally hope to deny them to anyone who has.
Their hoped-for scheme is breathtaking in its audacity. They propose to exclude greedy fat cats who own expensive digs from the protection of the law, beginning with the noise ordinances. That's right: The council proposes to prohibit rich people from complaining about noise violations.
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Notice that the council does not propose abolishing the noise ordinances. No, that wouldn't do, because the council members know that noise ordinances are a good thing — that's why they're on the books, after all — and they want their favored persons to be protected. But under their proposal, if you're not one of their favored people, then you won't be.
Leaving aside the violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, imagine the irony and humor of this in practice. If a bar has an affordable-housing unit on one side, where someone enjoys taxpayer-subsidized housing, and an expensive residence on the other, then the guy receiving the taxpayer subsidy could complain about the noise, but the greedy fat cat who is subsidizing him could not.
What about when the greedy fat cat is just walking along the street? Can he call from the street to complain so long as he's not in his residence? If he leaves his residence and rents a room at The Little Nell, can he call from there?
What happens if the greedy fat cat and the subsidized guy become friends and visit each other? Can the subsidized guy call to complain from the greedy fat cat's residence? Or does he have to go back to his own residence to make the call?
What if a passing police officer hears the noise by happenstance? Is he permitted to enforce the law only if he determines that the noise does not bother the greedy fat cat and not permitted to enforce the law if the noise does bother the greedy fat cat? Does it matter if the officer is married to a rich lady on Red Mountain? Does it matter if he's acquainted with the greedy fat cat and thinks he's not so greedy and not so fat and, really, kind of a cool cat?
How far will the council go in exercising its envy? Will it exclude greedy fat cats and their families from the protection of the laws against burglary, vandalism, assault and rape? Will it prohibit them from calling an ambulance if they need emergency medical attention?
Will greedy fat cats be guillotined at the fountain and their heads mounted on ski poles? Burned at the stake on a rare day when the fire danger is not deemed "extreme"? Won't this be bad for local business?
A reader advises that the former mayor who was term-limited out of office three months ago still nurses a Facebook page. And on it, he'd posted a rebuttal to my recent column about the government-mandated restaurant. His rebuttal was to advise that Aspen is "not for everyone" and to invite me personally to "move on."
That rebuttal failed to persuade me that my column was in error.
I noticed two other items on his Facebook page. The first are his pictures of himself that he posts almost daily, often in spandex. The second is his boast in the first line that he has been mayor from "June 2007 to present."
I wonder if the mayor sworn in three months ago is aware that the former mayor is the "present" mayor. Maybe he just means mayor of his Facebook page.
The contest to name that upcoming government-mandated restaurant and its entrees nearly boiled over. First place with the prize of one free dinner at said restaurant goes to Maurice Emmer for the entree "Pol Pot Pie." Second place with two free dinners goes to Paul Menter for the name Castro's Corner.."
The third-place prize was all you dare to eat from the government-mandated restaurant. I can't bring myself to award that prize — it's just too dangerous.
Speaking of danger, remember that Mountain Rescue Aspen is raising tax-deductible donations for a new headquarters. Mountain Rescue members spend thousands of hours of personal time risking their lives to rescue everyone, from greedy fat cats to altruistic skinny cats. Not a single one gets paid a single cent. And they like it that way. There is hope.
Glenn K. Beaton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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