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‘Studies’ and ‘analyses’

Dear Editor:

In preparing for the mayoral race, The Red Ant is struggling with the sometimes-baffling language differences between ants and humans. When The Ant uses the words “analysis” or “study,” she means a written document of assumptions, comparisons, reasoning and verifiable background facts to devour. Apparently “analysis” and “study” mean something different to human city officials. In the strange tongue of city hall, those terms have a more metaphysical, abstract meaning.

Given the increasing focus on belatedly disclosed details of the 2007 $18.25 million BMC land deal for affordable housing, The Ant is trying to comprehend it. The city ordered an after-the-fact appraisal in September 2008 which The Ant persistently requested, in October, November, December and January, as the officials repeatedly told her “it will be ready in two more weeks.” Finally, in March, the “appraisal,” was released to the public, based on make-believe conditions, not conditions reflecting the actual market value. Despite the fact that the newspapers swallowed the fairy tale-style appraisal, the real estate and banking professionals in town are laughing out loud. The Ant loves a good fairy tale, but this one is a little pricey!



The ever curious Ant then asked the city officials for the BMC “market analysis” performed for the city by the commissioned broker in the absence of an appraisal at the time of the purchase, (The Aspen Times, Nov. 29, 2007). Earlier this week, officials responded that they have no such analysis, as the “analysis” was unwritten. (This is not an Ant joke!)

While the “hypothetical” appraisal is 38 pages, the “broker’s market analysis” upon which the $18 million deal was made is on not so much as a matchbook cover?




Perhaps The Ant should not have been surprised. The Burlingame “budget” was only on a McDonald’s napkin and in Ed Sadler’s head. (This is not an Ant joke, either! It’s true.)

And the much-referenced “Burlingame cost study” pitched to the voters by the city officials in 2005 was found to be non-existent … after the election. No one admits to even having that in their head, or on a Starbuck’s napkin.

Mick Ireland, as lead voice on the issue committee for Burlingame in 2005, wrote to the voters about “city studies and analyses” which purportedly showed Burlingame to cost only a fraction of other housing alternatives. Yet again, it was just Mick’s ‘magination runnin’ away with him.

The Ant now knows that humans mean something different by “studies” and “analyses” than do Ants. The Ant is looking forward to the analyses and studies that value the city property to be potentially sold to the art museum. Frighteningly, this time, she knows what to expect.

It’s tough being a lowly bug in the strange world of city hall.

Marilyn Marks and Elizabeth Milias

The Red Ant

Aspen


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