Roger Marolt: Roger This
September 5, 2008
Are our Pitkin County commissioners elitists? Of course they are. Why else would they believe Sen. Orrin Hatch cares two bits what they had to say in a letter they drafted to him?Apparently the commissioners took offense to Hatchs comments on the Senate floor in a debate about a one-year moratorium on leasing federal oil shale land in western Colorado. In response to Rep. Mark Udalls support for the suspension, and mistakenly assuming Aspenites were amongst Udalls constituency, Hatch said, I guess there are not too many poor in Aspen its no secret that it is home to plenty of wealthy elites and environmentalists. I have no problem with Representative Udall choosing the elite anti-oil crowd over the poor. But, lets be honest about the choices were making around here.The commissioners indignantly characterized Hatchs remarks as, inaccurate and inappropriate.When I originally read Hatchs comments a few weeks back I admit that I was mildly irritated too, but after thinking about it for a moment I realized that what he said was fairly accurate. Aspen doesnt have many poor. It is no secret that our town is home to plenty of wealthy elites and environmentalists. We are, for the most part, members of the anti-oil crowd, whatever that is. Our police officers patrol in Volvos.But, whats to hang a head about being an environmentalist, anti-oil or wealthy anyway? Heck, it seems to me that these are elements of the Aspen Idea modernized and stated in plain terms. You could hardly fault a person for being proud at having become all three.Besides, we do all we can to publicize these attributes that our commissioners are suddenly insulted by. The local government-sponsored Canary Initiative is not part of the pro-oil movement, whatever that is. Can Aspen Skiing Co.s national ad campaign about global warming be construed as anything but environmentalism? Dont we like to subtly show off all the local amenities that are the best money can buy, like the state-of-the-art ARC, the beautiful school campus, the miles and miles of paved bike trails, and the outdoor propane-fired warming pit on the mall? Arent we all just a little smug that we are able to shrug off the Burlingame employee housing fiasco as a mere eight-digit small town governmental typo?What are we if we are not the first choice of the rich and famous? Its no secret that our visitors dont want to vacation in places where ordinary people hang out. Thats Branson, Mo. Our second-home owners dont want to live next to the wannabe wealthy. Thats Miami. And, we dont wear suits to work every day. Thats The City. Admit it. Aspen is the best! Its reflected in the price.As for being elitists, we generously fund our uniquely venerable and internationally recognizable organizations like the Aspen Institute, the Music Associates of Aspen, and Morris & Fyrwald Realtors to ensure that we continue to garner the worlds attention. We discretely brag to one anoter other about which celebrities, dignitaries and industrial tycoons we have seen around town. What local hasnt at least mentioned, in a subtly self-congratulatory way, that the average price of a home in town is more than $5 million? (Remember, we are being honest here.)Year after year skiers from all over the United States vote Vail as the No. 1 resort in the country in numerous industry publications. Yet, not only are we so brazen as to declare that Aspen is superior, we loudly and proudly proclaim that Vail, get this, sucks. Perhaps it is not the eloquent snobbery that we easily recognize in East Coast elitists, but they have never been as comfortable with themselves to be coarse as we are. How cool it that?So, try as they might to portray the country bumpkin image, our county commissioners couldnt distance themselves with words from the acquired air of Aspen superiority. In an attempt to get back on track with the real issue of oil and gas drilling (so as not to appear to be writing the letter solely because they were miffed by Hatchs comments) the commissioners conclude and we respect those who live in neighboring Utah who share our concerns.Now, it may appear innocuous enough to those of us conditioned to highbrow political speeches on GrassRoots Television, but, honestly (again), could this quote be any more condescending? Do we really respect only those who share our concerns? Blessed are the few amongst the myriad backwater nimrods of neighboring Utah who recognize the shear stupidity of electing a moron like Hatch and agree with us, who are always right.The commissioners letter also proudly states that, anyone who watches the politics in western Colorado understands that we are much too independent to subscribe to a belief in elitism. Well, is there really anyone in this country who doesnt watch the politics of western Colorado (i.e. Aspen) from the edge of their BarcaLounger? I didnt think so. Therefore, everyone should understand how darn independent we are, thus proving with unarguable logic that there is no way we can be elitist.Given this incredible inherit independence, I hate to fall out of line wondering why the commissioners took it upon themselves to write a letter on behalf of all of us. It seems to be an abuse of privilege. Some might even call it arrogance or, ehm, elitism. Not that I would ever bust out of this herd of mavericks, but if I actually give a damn about what Orrin Hatch has to say, Ill sit down and scribble out my own letter, thank you, and it wont be all stitched up with pious self-righteousness, either.We dont need county commissioners speaking our minds on national issues that they have no more influence in than we do as individuals. Whether or not we agree with their sentiments is irrelevant. Their letter assumed that we are their sheep. We are certainly better than that.
Roger Marolt wrote this column on behalf of all you fiercely independent thinkers. Let him know when the next group meeting is. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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