Aspen’s elected officials show support for commissioner drawn into housing dispute with local man
Local government officials recently have had some choice words toward Lee Mulcahy, who has refused for five years to leave his deed-restricted, taxpayer-subsidized Aspen home after failing to comply with the rules governing the affordable housing program.
The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners spent almost a half hour at their June 24 meeting chastising Mulcahy for his repeated attacks on elected officials.
They all came to the defense of Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury, who is Mulcahy’s latest target.
In recent months, he has called her a Nazi and a tyrant in public forums, as well as arrogant and “Queen Kelly” who wants war, not peace.
As neighbors in the city-developed Burlingame Ranch subdivision, Mulcahy has overstepped his bounds by approaching McNicholas’s children playing in the front yard and telling them that their mother is trying to throw himself and his family out of their house, McNicholas Kury said during the June meeting.
“It’s completely inappropriate,” she said. “It has crossed the line.”
Commissioners George Newman and Greg Poschman called it a “new low” by Mulcahy.
“I have to say I’m offended by Lee’s recent activities in his neighborhood,” Poschman said. “We’ve got your back, Kelly. I think the community has our back as well so I just want Kelly to feel comfortable and safe, living in her home in her neighborhood, without being confronted or assailed in front of her children by anyone.”
Mulcahy said in a voicemail this week that there were many untruths levied by the commissioners.
“When politicians speak lies that’s very concerning because people innately trust them and elect them,” he said.
He has recently pulled papers to recall McNicholas and has paid for airtime on Grassroots TV to further his cause.
McNicholas Kury said during the county’s June meeting that while she has reasons for feeling threatened and intimidated by Mulcahy, she refuses to be.
“I think probably most alarming is Lee’s unpredictability,” she said. “On one hand, within the same week he invites me over to dinner at his house and yet he calls me a Nazi and puts protest art out in the neighborhood. … I have been mocked by people because I take Lee’s language seriously and his threats seriously.”
She had been negotiating for a solution earlier this year, and said this week that his behavior changed toward her in May.
Mulcahy, who was found out of compliance in 2015 for not proving that he works the required 1,500 hours in Pitkin County to live in deed-restricted housing, has repeatedly asked for a hearing in front of the commissioners, as well as Aspen City Council and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.
That’s despite that he has lost numerous court battles with APCHA, and his home is in the hands of a receiver and eviction is imminent.
The commissioners, along with County Manager Jon Peacock, explained that because the matter has been ruled on by the courts and the county government has no purview over the housing program, a hearing is not appropriate.
“The board of county commissioners has no authority, no dog in this fight, as far as APCHA and the Burlingame property in the city of Aspen,” Commissioner Patti Clapper said.
Mulcahy, who has routinely suggested that local authorities will use force and a SWAT team to remove himself and his 84-year-old mother from their home, said in an email and voicemail to The Times that he will fight for his constitutional rights with his life.
“The government, both APCHA and the judge, broke the law multiple times and multiple ways,” he wrote in an email.
Local law enforcement officials have said they will not use force to remove Mulcahy and do not have a SWAT team.
Mulcahy also said in an email that he has apologized to McNicholas Kury about speaking with her daughter and also called the commissioner a “limousine liberal who preaches tolerance yet has none.”
McNicholas Kury, along with other officials representing the APCHA board and county government, had backchannel conversations earlier this year with Mulcahy to reach a settlement with him.
They discussed giving him more money for the property if he would peacefully exit when he is forced to sell.
After those talks broke down, Mulcahy began focusing his energy on McNicholas Kury.
“It’s in his play book to single someone out,” she said.
She told her fellow APCHA board members Wednesday that she wishes the negotiations hadn’t occurred, even though she has empathy for him.
“He says we won’t negotiate with him and I have to say that over the last 18 months of my service that our direction to Jon Peacock to try and negotiate with Lee was probably the thing I regret the most not because I don’t think a peaceable outcome is ideal for everybody but Lee is not a person who operates in good faith,” McNicholas Kury said.
Her colleague on the APCHA board and City Council member, Skippy Mesirow, called out Mulcahy during a July 1 board meeting.
“The behavior I have seen from you in the last weeks specifically calling out individuals in personal ways might not be nothing new but it seems like something that has escalated from you,” Mesirow said. “You have made claims at almost every public comment about the desire for unity and community, and your actions serve to do the opposite, they serve to divide and blame, and point fingers at community members who are serving.”
Mulcahy has lost his case at the district court level and the Colorado Court of Appeals. The Colorado and U.S. Supreme Court denied hearing the case, which upheld previous decisions that Mulcahy violated the deed restriction on the property.
He is fighting the decisions in higher courts through appeals but they are not enough to stop the sale of the property, according to APCHA attorney Tom Smith.
A local judge also has denied two recent motions filed by Mulcahy.
APCHA has spent roughly $145,000 in legal fees on the Mulcahy case and has filed liens on the property to recoup as much as $60,000 that is directly related to the compliance case.
APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky told the board Wednesday that the court already has approved between $20,000 and $30,000 in legal fees that Mulcahy owes. Any debts will be taken off of the sales price of the house.
“It’s not going to be the taxpayers and we will continue to petition the court for additional costs associated with our legal fees that APCHA has directly had to bear,” Kosdrosky said. “The more he fights the more it’s going to cost him.”
A court-appointed receiver, Greenwood Village-based Cordes & Co., has entered into a listing contract with APCHA to purchase the property, which has a maximum resale price of $995,000, according to the deed restriction on the property.
Cordes & Co., which has retained the law firm Sherman & Howard, is expected to file a motion with the court seeking approval of certain aspects of the sale and closing, Smith said.
“They don’t want any ambiguity about it, for obvious reasons,” he said.
According to the purchase contract, if Mulcahy fails to allow APCHA possession of the home at closing, he will be subject to eviction and will be required to pay $500 a day until he leaves.
If he refuses to leave, APCHA will have to get a court order to enforce the receiver to take possession.
“Then the rubber is going to meet the road pretty quickly,” Smith said. “It’s in the best interest of everybody in that neighborhood to get this resolved.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday announced the final U.S. World Cup schedule, a lineup that includes the Aspen World Cup from March 3 to 5 on Aspen Mountain. Those races will include a men’s super-G and two men’s downhills.