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Why we need Mick

Dear Editor:The interrogatives of journalism are to discover the Who, What, Where, When and Why of How events occur. Politics is the process that determines Who gets What, Where, When and How. During Mick Ireland’s five years as a reporter for The Aspen Times, he asked these questions while observing and reporting on numerous meetings of the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).Four of the sitting members of the BOCC in October ’93 selected Mick as a compromise candidate to break a deadlock between Jim Breasted and Pat Fallin. They did so because they had been reading Mick’s reportage of their public meetings and felt assured that he was always listening to both sides of any question.As a reporter, he designed and produced five surveys of five different elections totaling 1,770 voters, of which he wrote that every time he finished one, he wished that he had asked more and different questions. He had the candor to admit that analysis of their true accuracy was less than the hypothetical accuracy because they were based on phone surveys done before noon with the result that Republicans tend to be over-represented. Be that as it may, the surveys demonstrated a deep intellectual interest in why certain issues are more predictive of election results than others.For four tax years, Mick produced a series of articles on the theme of “tax savings not limited to the rich.” He would compose a line-by-line explanatory text to accompany a graphic copy of a worked-out supplementary tax form based on an income representative of the working class. His examples included fictional taxpayers with pseudonyms of Joe Grunt and Rufus Lowrent. Even if he is a liberal, he has an accountant’s willingness to work out the numbers. One of many examples.In 1981, he worked the numbers and demolished the argument of the right-wing citizens group headed by Dick Knecht and Michael Hernstadt to eliminate public funding of valleywide bus service. He has vindicated the wisdom of their choice by winning three regular elections and two recall attempts. He is not afraid to face down his opponents. More significantly, he has shown that successful people create their own luck. Just as successful managers of nonprofits have to raise funds for their mission and also for their own salaries, Mick has learned how, more than any active local elected official in memory, to search out and energize the political constituencies he wants to help.As mayor, he is but one of the five votes. He once told me that, as a member of the BOCC, “no matter how carefully I craft a legal instrument, a different majority can throw it out.”Aspen is always on the verge of losing the slim majority we liberals have on the BOCC and the City Council. For short-term issues, we need Mick. And for long-term version, we need him even more.David BentleyAspen


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