Campaign finance, executive session on Aspen council’s agenda |

Campaign finance, executive session on Aspen council’s agenda

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council is expected to take up a campaign finance reform issue at its regular meeting Monday, which starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 130 S. Galena St.

Last month, Aspen City Attorney Jim True said he would craft an emergency ordinance for the council’s consideration that seeks to ban anonymous campaign contributions of less than $20. However, it appears that Monday’s ordinance is not in the “emergency” category, which would require four of the council’s five votes for passage. Non-emergency ordinances only require three votes.

The ordinance will be introduced Monday; if other council members agree, the matter will come up for a second reading and a final vote on March 18. If successful, it would take effect April 17, 20 days before the May 7 municipal elections.

State regulations allow campaign donors to remain anonymous as long as their contributions are less than $20 during a single election cycle. True’s proposed ordinance requires candidates for mayor or council to provide names and addresses of donors for all contribution amounts on campaign finance reports required from April 17 through the runoff period. A runoff, if necessary, would be held on June 4.

Mayor Mick Ireland, who won re-election to a third term in 2011 in the face of a well-heeled “Sick of Mick” campaign that was said to have relied on anonymous contributions, has long complained that such donations are unfair.

At least two council members, Adam Frisch and Derek Johnson, have said they would rather entertain the idea of campaign-finance reform through the normal ordinance-approval process than deal with an emergency ordinance.

Council members also are expected to review Aspen Valley Hospital’s plans for Phases III and IV of an ongoing expansion project. A hearing to allow public comments on the hospital’s further expansion plans is scheduled Monday.

An executive session, which is closed to the public, also is scheduled at the end of the meeting. It will deal with the Mountain House Lodge bed and breakfast, which is headed for a March 27 foreclosure sale at the Pitkin County Courthouse.

Ireland has suggested that the city should consider purchasing it in order to keep it from becoming residential property. His preference would be for the city to secure it and then sell it to another party that would agree to continue to run it as an affordable hotel, a community need the council has identified in its top 10 goals.

Frisch has said that he opposes the idea of discussing the Mountain House Lodge issue in executive session.

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