Milias’ actions almost defeat Ittner | AspenTimes.com

Milias’ actions almost defeat Ittner

Dear Editor:

Supporters of Jack Johnson are pursuing a nauseatingly overpowering negative campaign. It features incessant complaints about a citizen’s simple revelation of Johnson’s less admirable moments as a public official. Jack’s supporters are smearing his unaffiliated opponent, Rob Ittner, with a conspiracy theory implying that Ittner coordinated with Elizabeth Milias on an unnecessarily infamous website. Even Milias’ straightforward, but caustic, negative campaign is more responsible and palatable than the diversionary sideswipes against Ittner taken at the voters’ expense – utilizing guilt by association and deflection of facts. I imagine a Nov. 3 headline: “Milias almost defeats Ittner in close contest.”

The “fault” of Ittner’s supporters was republishing some of Johnson’s more ill-chosen words, found in the public record. What’s wrong with that? Some Ittner supporters expose what they as individuals see as problems with Jack’s record. Johnson’s supporters complain too, but about Milias’ activities instead of Ittner’s campaign or record.

The election could be about candidates’ merits, intended policies, and, in especially dire cases, demerits. Instead, this Pitkin County election is about watching the party in power demean opponents’ supporters and try to scare opposing candidates into civic isolation. Jack’s interruption of squirm night to announce the Dems’ door-to-door canvass plans is an example of a domineering attitude.

One candidate’s words and actions, mostly as an elected official, have been selectively copied from public

records onto a website, http://hittheroadjackj.com. Citizens hand-built the inexpensive website to attempt to level the playing field. This rudimentary tool of civic engagement seeks to inform voters about Johnson’s record using his own words. Some see these as salacious or rude.

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What could have been a conversation about Jack’s extensive public record has been strategically twisted into a flame war about Elizabeth and even more surprisingly, Marilyn Marks, as if either one or even both could determine the election outcome. The two very different women have been given immense political power as an imagined duo – a side effect of their involuntary demonization. Dave Danforth told me that Milias’ website will give an extra 1,000 votes to Jack. If Danforth is right, that is real, decisive power.

Recall that as if in a parallel universe, Johnson himself, acting as citizen, personally crafted an editorialized exposure of the public record of volunteer city officials he did not trust (Dem and GOP) – an act that led to their retro-active downfall from the election commission after a process too embarrassing to be explained.

Can Milias’ exposure of e-mails from Johnson’s public record be at the peak of nastiness while Johnson’s is a shining example of responsible activism? Only in dark corners around Aspen where hypocrisy rules and ends justify means. As I learn more I see that Johnson has, as citizen and elected official, acted at times as unseemly as Milias has been said to be. Remember, though, Milias isn’t running.

I’ll support Jack on IRV and many other issues. But his demands for partisanship and unwillingness to listen to all citizens -including myself – is an Achilles heel for a commissioner.

Harvie Branscomb

El Jebel