Ireland: No freebies for me
ASPEN Meet the new boss – same as the old boss? Hardly.Mick Ireland, Aspen’s mayor-elect, said he will not accept free passes to events such as the Food & Wine Magazine Classic or Jazz Aspen Snowmass, which both are considered the area’s marquee summer events. That’s a change from Mayor Helen Klanderud, who has been known to attend huge numbers of events, often on passes organizers provide. Ireland has a scheduling conflict with Food & Wine, June 15-17, but said he would go to a part of the event to deliver an official welcome from the city or something of the sort. “This is a wonderful event and a coveted ticket,” Ireland said. “It’s like going to the NBA Finals of food. To accept something like that for personal use would be inappropriate.”
Klanderud traditionally has attended many Food & Wine events through a pass all Aspen Chamber Resort Association board members receive; all ACRA board members receive two complimentary passes. Klanderud has served as the city representative to ACRA.”I checked with the city attorney to see if there was a problem,” Klanderud said. “If you buy them, they’re rather expensive. It was his position that it is important and worthwhile. It’s important to show the city supports these events. When the mayor is present, it shows community support.”ACRA President Debbie Braun said that if Ireland were invited to an event such as Food & Wine, she would expect him or another city representative to attend. Klanderud turned down many gifts as mayor. For instance, she said the owners of the now-defunct Stage 3 theater sent her and other council members free annual passes that she always returned.
Klanderud paid for seats at many of the benefit events she attended and felt that showed her support for community organizations. This year, Klanderud paid for her ticket to Food & Wine well in advance. There were galas and parties, however, where she said she was provided a complimentary ticket during her time as mayor. “Look at The Denver Post, read The New York Times – where is the mayor of New York?” Klanderud asked. “Particularly for the mayor, there is an expectation to extend yourself a bit to show support. I’m not suggesting anyone try to follow my schedule, but there is a part of it that goes with the job.”In 2006, state lawmakers passed Amendment 41, a citizen initiative restricting public officials, government employees and their immediate family members from receiving gifts in excess of $50 – and banning gifts from lobbyists outright. Aspen is not subject to Amendment 41 because of the city’s home-rule charter. A pass to the Food & Wine Classic costs roughly $1,000.
Aspen’s rules of conduct for allows city officials to accept: “Reimbursement for or acceptance of an opportunity to participate at a social function or meeting which is offered to such person which is not extraordinary when viewed in light of the position held by such person.”Regardless, Ireland said he will not accept gifts more valuable than a bottle of water. He said he will pass things like expensive tickets to world-class events in Aspen on to staff employees and give an official speech if need be.”When it comes to free tickets, I don’t think public officials should partake,” Ireland said. “It’s one thing to attend and another to avail yourself of something of value.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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