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A double standard

This letter was originally sent to Dave Danforth, owner of the Aspen Daily News.

Dear Editor:

You gave a little rap on the knuckles in the form of a two week “time out” (during good spring skiing conditions) to your senior executive at the Daily News for his compromised attempt to trade good press in exchange for a police officer overlooking his drunk driving.

Your actions, and words from your Sunday column reinforce the message of your paper’s double-standard. In it you again, as you have in the past, imply that Marilyn Marks, and the Election Commission she lobbied, were guilty of some vague “embarrassing” transgression rising to the level of Nixon or the Detroit mayor, and somehow equivalent to Hooper’s misdeeds. After reading much documentation, it seems that the Daily News, not Marilyn Marks, should be the “embarrassed” party here.

Hooper, presumably with your blessing, refused to report the story of the city’s cover-up of the election problems, their coordinated efforts to discredit valid concerns of well-known election activists. The Daily News has been using its credibility, waning though it is, to protect the city against Marks’ legitimate questions. Hooper failed to report:

– The mysterious disappearance of the election contractor’s copies of the ballot image files Marks seeks, shortly before the contractor’s deposition was to be taken.

– Thirty percent of Aspen’s votes unsecured in an “early voting” unlocked ballot box near the mayor’s office.

– Election eve software glitches tabulating a win for the candidate with the fewest votes.

– Additional election eve undisclosed and erroneous software changes hidden from the public, press and the election commission. Not only is it highly irregular, but highly illegal!

– The city failed to disclose known significant software and tabulation errors for 10 days while they waited until the deadline for election contest to pass.

– The fabricated claims in the city’s press release about manual verifications of the vote.

– The prohibitions in Colorado law on the type of IRV system Aspen adopted.

– The failure of your two council people to achieve enough votes to legitimately take office.

The discrepancies that Marks, Branscomb, Millard Zimet and other known election activists like volunteer Mike LaBonte of Massachusetts, Black Box Voting’s Bev Harris, Voting News’ Joyce McCloy, Coloradans for Voting Integrity’s Al Kolwicz have documented is too extensive for this letter – but not for your newspaper.

You’ve put Marks in the penalty box for almost a year for her brave activism in the face of your thinly veiled attempts to quiet her. Hooper was willing to exchange favorable press for no DUI. You gave Hooper two spring skiing weeks off for his indiscretion and promise of better behavior. What kind of deal could Marks and her colleagues make to get some fair treatment?

The city pays you premium rates for the office space they lease from you. The taxpayers might wake up to see that your deal with the city might just be the example Hooper mirrored to strike his quid-pro-quo deal with McFarland. But this time – it’s taxpayers’ money funding the conflict of interest.

Aspenites need to think for themselves and support Marks’ efforts to win back control over their election process.

Andy Lang

Jackson, Miss.


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