Aspen Police presence at housing authority meetings will continue | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Police presence at housing authority meetings will continue

Aspen police plan to continue posting an officer outside housing authority meetings for the foreseeable future because of perceived threats from a local artist with a housing beef, an official said Friday.

The police department began posting an officer outside Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority meetings about a month ago at the request of the agency's executive director, Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said.

"(Housing office employees) were alarmed by some of the online statements and letters to the editor coming from one of their customers," Linn said. "Some of the statements … and artistic displays caused some alarm."

That customer is Lee Mulcahy, a 53-year-old artist who has been fighting the housing authority's efforts to make him sell the affordable home he spent five years building at Burlingame Ranch because of alleged rule violations.

Asked Friday if anyone on the housing board, in the housing office or anyone in general should be afraid of him, Mulcahy said, "No sir."

"We just want love and peace in the community," Mulcahy said.

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The artist got into a confrontation with Mike Kosdrosky, housing authority executive director, at a Basalt restaurant about a year ago that resulted in Mulcahy being banned from housing authority offices by Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick.

Recently, Mulcahy also hung pictures of bombs outside his home at Burlingame, Linn said.

"There have been some confrontational situations," he said. "They requested our presence (at APCHA meetings) to help keep the peace."

The officer is to be posted at the meetings only during public comment periods, Linn said.

Kosdrosky declined Friday to comment about the situation, though he did say Mulcahy is not banned from APCHA board meetings.

Mulcahy said the bomb pictures outside his home were a misunderstanding. They were his way of "expressing that APCHA was bombing me," he said.

"I'm being harassed and they're accusing me of harassment," Mulcahy said.

The Colorado Court of Appeals recently confirmed a local District Court judge's ruling that Mulcahy violated APCHA rules. Mulcahy has said he plans to appeal the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.

"We will never sell," Mulcahy said when asked Friday what might happen if he exhausts all the remedies available in the court system and still receives word that he must sell his home. "We intend to counter-sue, so this is going to go on for years."

Linn said he believes publicity surrounding the placement of an officer outside APCHA meetings is responsible for any fear sown in the community over the situation.

"Honestly (it sows fear) only when it appears in the newspaper," he said. "I don't think publicity is particularly helpful.

"This has been just a low-key support of a community board. And, really, we would have preferred it stayed low-key and not become public at all, but here we are."

jauslander@aspentimes.com