Times in bed with City Hall | AspenTimes.com

Times in bed with City Hall

Dear Editor:

I withdrew my request for a recount of the mayor’s race in the election because of the unquestioned success of the greatly expanded post-election audit. I’m convinced that the Aspen municipal election met higher standards than any other municipal election in the state this year, and that the voters’ clear intent to elect Mick Ireland, Steve Skadron and Adam Frisch was fully recorded.

Unfortunately the classic bias and journalistic carelessness of The Aspen Times created a negative political spin on the requested recount. I’ve requested that the Times correct their falsehoods in their Tuesday article, “Ireland Foe to Pay for Recount,” but they have refused.

Painting my election efforts as anti-Mick activities, the Times published false claims that I disputed the city election tabulations for the formula for a recount, and that I was understating Ireland’s support in the tabulation numbers. Despite their ongoing efforts to fan the flames of a desired Marilyn versus Mick battle, they are inventing non-existent controversial smoke where there is no fire. There was no dispute with the city numbers, which were checked repeatedly with officials before requesting the recount. The mayor’s race had avoided a forced recount by three votes, so I had requested an optional recount.

The Times reported that I contested the 2009 election and implied that a wider victory margin for Ireland resulted. Facts are, I conceded the election the morning after the election and never requested a recount or contested the election. There are no facts to support any notion of contesting the election – only the Times’ claims. I purposely chose not to contest the election, and instead chose to work on election transparency policy issues. The Times stubbornly refuses to correct their biased misstatement, while their reporter claims that “everyone knows” that my work as an election quality activist in Colorado is merely fighting Ireland and his 2009 victory. While they may hope such ridiculous personal attacks sell newspapers, decent journalism should have some minimum standards – including to correct errors they make.

Mayor Ireland and his followers at the Times find it politically beneficial to attempt to discredit me at every opportunity by alleging that my passion for election quality work is the fruit of bitterness over a narrow loss to Ireland in 2009. The 2009 IRV election indeed piqued my interest in Colorado’s election quality even prior to my unplanned candidacy. The 2009 experience was a fabulous learning experience to see firsthand how our most basic democratic function can, like so many other government functions, go completely off the rails. I have devoted two years working locally, in Denver, and in other Colorado counties on election quality activities and legislative efforts. I’ve turned to the courts to help force more transparency into the election process in litigation that should positively impact all Colorado’s elections.

In a healthy democracy, the press demands election transparency, and sues the government if such efforts are resisted. In Aspen, it’s “opposite land.” The Times supports the government’s lack of transparency and demonizes citizens who devote their time and money to pursuing solutions in court when the government resists. Aspen and Colorado in general are decades behind more enlightened jurisdictions in the citizens’ rights to verify their elections.

To be clear, Aspen made great strides to enhance the controls and quality of the election process in 2011, but went backwards in transparency and verifiability of the elections. In March, City Council voted for three anti-transparency measures that took away press and public’s previous election verification opportunities. Sadly, the two local newspapers sat quietly by, abandoning their watchdog role to give the government yet another pass.

Marilyn Marks

Aspen

Editor’s note: The Aspen Times has published a clarification regarding Marks’ concerns on page 3 of today’s edition.


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