Ridge to speak at private conference | AspenTimes.com

Ridge to speak at private conference

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is scheduled to speak today to corporate leaders at the Forstmann Little and Co. conference in Aspen.According to an Aspen local who has seen the itinerary for the elite private conference taking place at the Hotel Jerome, Ridge is to speak at the conference this morning, followed by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.Ridge’s speech at the Forstmann Little conference is not on the daily schedule of appearances by government officials that is routinely given to the media. He was at an exhibition of security technology in Washington, D.C., midday on Thursday and is expected to be in Pennsylvania for a ceremony on Saturday.On Tuesday of this week, Ridge was on Capitol Hill lobbying for passage of legislation to create a Homeland Security Department. The bill has been stalled over whether workers in the new federal department would have union rights.Forstmann Little and Co. is a leading investment firm in New York City run by Red Mountain resident Ted Forstmann, who is the major benefactor behind Aspen’s Silver Lining Ranch.His annual Aspen gathering has been put in the same “power camp” league by Time magazine as the Allen & Co. media meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho; the Bohemian Grove seminar; the Renaissance Weekend known for spending New Year’s in Hilton Head, S.C.; and the World Economic Forum.On Saturday, the Eagles are expected to play a private concert for the attendees at the Wheeler Opera House.Last year’s Forstmann Little conference had been scheduled shortly after Sept. 11 and was canceled.It was reported in the New York Post and the Rocky Mountain News that 300 people were expected to attend last September’s event, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, former NBA star Charles Barkley, Star Wars creator George Lucas and President Bush’s top strategist, Karl Rove.In prior years, the Forstmann Little conference has attracted South African leader Nelson Mandela, media tycoon Oprah Winfrey, former New Yorker and Talk magazine editor Tina Brown and Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.A similar stellar lineup of “A-list” personalities and power brokers are expected at this year’s conference.Disney chief Michael Eisner was at Thursday night’s dinner at the Jerome, and Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is thought to be attending the conference, was seen almost getting pegged with an errant rugby ball near Aspen’s Wagner Park on Thursday.

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