Aspen city manager bans Mulcahy from housing offices
An Aspen activist’s eviction plight took another turn this week when City Manager Steve Barwick put Lee Mulcahy on notice that he is banned from the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s offices.
The letter was delivered to Mulcahy on Monday and came after the housing authority’s executive director reported to police that Mulcahy publicly harassed him Sept. 9.
“Your verbal assault of APCHA Director Mike Kosdrosky and threat of physical violence towards him at a restaurant in Basalt, and your bragging about it on social media, has indicated to us that you cannot control your anger and are a potential danger to every APCHA employee,” said Barwick’s letter, which The Aspen Times obtained Wednesday through an open-records request.
Mulcahy said he did not threaten Kosdrosky and the incident actually took place in the bar section of Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar.
“We’re in the Wild West, and if a man can’t express his opinion in a bar, … ” Mulcahy quipped.
Kosdrosky reported the episode to the Basalt Police Department, telling officers that Mulcahy pointed his finger in Kosdrosky’s face and said, “I’m going to punch you” and “You’re a liar,” according to a police report.
Kosdrosky was at Heather’s with his wife and a friend. His wife was not at the scene of the confrontation when it happened. There was no physical contact between the two, the report said.
Mulcahy said he confronted Kosdrosky over comments he made in an Aspen Daily News article about the housing authority’s victory in an eviction suit. Kosdrosky was quoted as saying Mulcahy failed to provide the housing authority with the documentation showing he worked the required 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County to be eligible for employee housing. Mulcahy, an artist, said he did just that in the fall of 2015 but the housing authority wouldn’t accept it and sued to evict him in December.
Mulcahy said he told Kosdrosky, “Shame on you for being corrupt.”
“I apologize to Mr. Kosdrosky if he perceived a threat from our exchange, however there was no threat intended by any means,” Mulcahy wrote in an email sent Wednesday to the Basalt Police Department. “I was merely expressing my opinion at my disappointment of his handling of the case. It appears that Mr. Kosdrosky is posturing. Mr. Kosdrosky’s rendition of the events is false, accusatory, harassment and totally out of proportion to the events that occurred.”
Kosdrosky declined comment about the Mulcahy matter, saying he didn’t want to escalate the dispute.
Meanwhile, Barwick’s letter goes on to say that police will be called if Mulcahy enters any of the housing authority’s offices. The main office is located in Aspen and the other two at the Marolt and Truscott apartment complexes.
“Should you attempt to assault or otherwise harass any APCHA employee outside of their offices, the police will be called and a restraining order will be sought to prevent you from any further engagement with APCHA staff,” the letter said.
Mulachy, on the Facebook page “Lester Crown: Lying Crook” — which is a reference to the Chicago businessman whose family owns Aspen Skiing Co. — mentioned the Basalt incident. The post said, “I stuck my finger in his face and told him ‘Shame on You’ — maybe three times. I have a great sense of humor, but when a man cheats and lies to steal my house, it was everything I could do not to grab him by the collar.”
The housing authority is trying to evict Mulcahy from his deed-restricted home at Burlingame Ranch and have him sell it. Pitkin County District Court Judge Chris Seldin in June ruled that Mulcahy had run afoul of housing guidelines. Mulcahy is challenging the order and has received the court’s permission to remain in his house during the appellate process.
Mulcahy bought a vacant lot, located at 0053 Forge Road, in October 2006. Serving as general contractor, Mulcahy spent the past five years building the single-family residence. He obtained a certificate of occupancy March 1.
Mulcahy has been critical of Seldin and recently tried to have him removed as the presiding judge in his lawsuit against Skico. Mulcahy’s suit claims Skico violated his rights to free speech when he criticized the company over its policies and sought to start a union for ski instructors, which he had been for 15 years until Skico fired him in January 2011. Skico claims it fired him over performance issues and violation of company policies.
Mulcahy is banned from setting foot on properties Skico both owns and leases, including U.S. Forest Service land.
Mulcahy, who has run unsuccessfully for the Aspen School District Board of Education and the Colorado Senate, a seat he plans to seek again, recently filed a motion to have Seldin disqualified as judge in the suit.
An affidavit to the motion he filed Aug. 23 accused Seldin of having a bias against Mulcahy because he is a Republican. Seldin was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and while he was Pitkin County’s assistant attorney, he worked for a Board of Commissioners controlled by a majority of Democrats, Mulchay’s affidavit said. The city also is run by a Democrat mayor, Steve Skadron, while Skico is run by the Crowns, a blue-blood Democrat family from Chicago with close ties to President Barack Obama, the motion suggested.
All of these local ties to the Democrat Party conspire against Mulcahy, his motion offered.
Seldin denied the motion to disqualify him Sept. 8.
“The court is unaware of any authority to support such an argument and concludes that such a political-affiliation approach would result in overbroad grounds for disqualification that would seriously hamper the judiciary’s ability to do its work,” Seldin’s order said.
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