Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I can’t blame the council for not putting The Given Institute on the ballot – that deal has gotten so weird and dirty, with the price jumping around and the über-anonymous buyer (though we all know who the buyer is) changing the bids and the terms, there was no way to wordsmith it. I think we should have the property professionally appraised and put that price on the ballot, so we can at least have something. See if Anon Y. Mous matches it. All council members voted against it as it stood, which was good.

I couldn’t believe that Steve Skadron was the only council member to have the cajones to turn down the Silver Lining proposal to allow a single-family mansion on that property. The “public benefits” were absurd, and passage of the measure seemed to be just to shut the neighbors up and be done with it. Fie.

This is the second weirdest issue of late, finally concluded in a continued meeting. The proposal was to have voters decide if they wanted to continue with the Instant Runoff system or not and, if not, to decide whether they preferred winner-take-all (most votes win, with whatever margin) or to go back to the runoff system we’ve used in the past few years.

This seems simple enough, but it ended up with a huge wrangle over whether the voters are smart enough to understand what they would be voting for (or against), and another (overlapping) wrangle as to whether winner-take-all should even be on the ballot.

Those who wanted winner-take-all off the ballot entirely because they did not like that system were the most vociferous in saying that the ballot language was altogether too difficult and confusing.

I am not a fan of winner-take-all, after seeing Joe Edwards lose to Eve Homeyer by six votes in the ’70s and the close Richards/Klanderud mayoral race that led to our adopting the runoff method in the first place. There are problems with all of the voting methods and I am not sure if I will vote for IRV or the runoff, but although I definitely wouldn’t have voted for winner-take-all, it should have been one of the choices on the ballot.

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It came down to 2-2 with the deciding vote to be cast by Steve Skadron. Skadron did not appear to be philosophically opposed to the winner-take-all option, but he did not think the ballot language was clear and (I think short-sightedly) opted to support lopping off a third of our choices. We now will be faced with the choice only between IRV and runoff, which is pitiful and not very democratic.

This is the weirdest of all the council decisions, and I hasten to commend Steve Skadron for being the only one to vote against it.

This is an issue I do not agree with at all. We had won the first round of a lawsuit when the council turned down the development of the Wienerstube building, and it could have been a real landmark case in defense of our Aspen Area Community Plan if we had also won the appeal. I do not think the council should act out of fear of lawsuits and, if memory serves, Mayor Mick Ireland himself told the developers he’d spend every last dime in defense of the city’s position.

Further, after seeing the original Art Museum proposal absolutely trounced at the polls, I can’t understand why the council would embark on any kind of backdoor approval to put the new Art Museum in the Wienerstube space, and certainly they should not have been the least surprised that it triggered a huge community backlash.

Now, Mick Ireland says that since the deal was done we can’t renege on it, which I expect is true. The thing is, the deal should never have been made.

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks things are running amok. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.

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