Amid low blows, Marks takes the high road | AspenTimes.com
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Amid low blows, Marks takes the high road

Dear Editor:

Tim Cooney throws some nasty punches but is wildly off the mark attempting to knock Marilyn Marks’ election reforms. Tim’s 90-word cluster bomb was cleverly buried in his letter responding to Elizabeth Milias on The Aspen Club (“Can’t trust the know-it-alls,” Friday, May 28, The Aspen Times).

Marilyn Marks’ election reform work is neither “self-interested,” nor born of “vanity.” Equally ill-informed anonymous Aspen Times bloggers have been bleating like annoyed lambs “why doesn’t she just let it go?” Some officials claim Marks is still on a “political campaign” and imply that campaigning is bad for the public. Contrary to all of this complaining about criticism – civic-minded citizens will be thanking Marilyn for an extremely tough effort to confront real mistakes made by a few people currently holding power.

Marilyn’s work is anything but self-serving. Investigations of Aspen’s many election irregularities are notoriously unpopular. I have watched Marks knowingly risk substantial political capital and spend tens of thousands of her earned income trying to protect the public’s interest in elections. Could Aspen be so crass and spun out of control that anyone thinks Marilyn deserves Cooney’s trashing of her volunteerism?

Marilyn did not have to stick her neck out to Aspen’s iron necklace (attached to virtual ball and chain). Average politicians would safely choose “politically correct” ways to demonstrate their civic responsibility. Instead Marks is pursuing a heroic effort to take back a fundamental democratic right unknowingly abandoned by “we the people” – our right and responsibility to oversee our own elections.

Maybe Aspenites are prepared to “trust” future elections but Marilyn’s “Don Quixote” campaign (Cooney’s description) demonstrates there is little chance for Aspen to “verify” and maybe zero chance to effectively critique elections. Cooney’s reference to Reagan’s memorable quote is well taken: “Trust but verify.” Marilyn’s lawsuit in Aspen only seeks to follow that worthy maxim.

Cooney gloats about the excessive and profitable $75,000 fine the city wants to charge Marks for what is supposed to be the expense of city attorneys’ salaried hours. Aspen’s statement in response to an unexpected leak of Marilyn’s filing of fact with the DA also suggests that city officials would discourage others from following her lead. Punitive blowback against citizens is no laughing matter.

Marks, like election activists in Michigan, Florida and elsewhere, wants to “verify” the public record from the election. Other states and counties within Colorado would allow or encourage this verification. Aspen’s data is already packaged on a CD. There is nothing “specious,” “demagogic,” “prudish,” “off the bus,” “pointless” or “dark” about seeking public access. Public review of ballots is good public policy, and Aspen deserves a lot more of that.

Roger Marolt describes: “a turd-throwing match where the sole objective is to see who can pack together the largest pile of crap, fling it wildly into the air, and then look around to see where it stuck.” Thanks to Cooney for demonstrating the technique, only one page-turn from Roger’s column. Meanwhile, Marilyn’s election work is still on the high road, and with my liberal help.

Harvie Branscomb

El Jebel


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