Aspen sits on a tripod
Roger Marolt’s columns are excellent! In his most recent missive about the proverbial mysteries of Aspen, he inquires, “Why do so many wealthy, conservative businesspeople in town hate Mick Ireland?” (“Might Mick be king of the Red Ant hill in disguise?” March 1, The Aspen Times)
Roger correctly points out that Mayor Mick has done many good things for our community, and he deserves credit for his successes as much as criticism for his failures.
Although Roger and I are usually on the same political page, I would like to offer a slightly different perspective. I do not think that most of the rich businessmen in town hate Ireland. I believe what they may dislike is a closed-minded view of the world that does not welcome or even entertain competing viewpoints. In my judgment, liberal thinkers should seek to encourage open debate rather than suppress it.
Sadly, that’s not what seems to happen here in Aspen. Moreover, there is an old aphorism that “the only thing worse than the two-party system is a one-party system.”
An insidious thought process in Aspen seems to promote the perverse idea that the city exists only to serve the locals. In contrast, I would respectfully suggest that a successful Aspen should sit on a tripod of “locals,” second-home owners and tourists. Each of these groups contributes to the vitality of our town and each is critical to our future.
I am always amused when I hear an Aspen worker criticizing the sometimes boisterous, always fun-loving tourists from Malibu or Miami. The implication is that these outsiders are unwelcome interlopers in our personal paradise. Who do these locals think is buying the $500 belt-buckles and $200 sushi meals that pay our bills around here? Probably not many of their friends at the Blue-roofs!
Therefore, I hope that our current candidates for political office will embrace a new paradigm that welcomes diversity of thought and respect for all the participants in this crazy place we call Aspen. Do we really want a town where second-home owners and tourists are unimportant or nonexistent? That would be called Rifle or Parachute! They are beautiful places, but I doubt they will have ski gondolas, food and wine gatherings, film festivals or pro bicycle races any time soon.