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Addison Gardner: Always Right

Addison Gardner
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I agree with my friend and fellow columnist, Andy Stone, that Marilyn Marks should probably run for mayor someplace other than Aspen; but we’ve arrived at that conclusion for different reasons.

As a son of alcoholics ” and 17 years sober, myself ” I understand why it’s sometimes necessary to study the pavement “up close and personal” before deciding to take responsibility for one’s life.

I know a drunk when I see one, and Aspen is a drunk that needs to hit bottom before it can stage a recovery ” not just an economic recovery, but a recovery based upon a repudiation of the childish, “p-card” (“let somebody else pay the bill!”) mentality that pervades here.

Mayor Mick Ireland, Aspen’s prime-time enabler, will continue to facilitate an important, “hit bottom first” process.

Mick sells the snake oil of “worker paradise” to the drones packed into Aspen’s “affordable” hives. Here the unpropertied can squat on the most overvalued 3 square miles on planet Earth. Here they can rub elbows with Kevin and Goldie and Antonio and Kurt.

Free buses. Free concerts. Free eats. Pass the bill to somebody else: Vote for Mick!

In Aspen, we demonize the successful (a.k.a., “”greed heads””) and celebrate the winos. In Aspen, derelict vans become local shrines. Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely released two local heroes (habitually cited for drunken driving, domestic abuse and public urination) back to their home-on-wheels with the instructions, “Here’s the deal: You can’t consume alcohol or controlled substances.”

Verily, I say unto you, “Go forth and drink no more.” And ” hey ” help yourself to some free loaves and fishes on your way back to the van.

Interviewed, post-release, outside her replacement 1977 Dodge home (purchased by Valley Information and Assistance officials after she’d wrecked the first one), Jane Patterson commented, “It’s hard to be a celebrity.”

She feels your pain, Goldie.

You may wonder how the vehicular ambitions of Aspen’s winos can be elevated above the sidewalk safety of her taxpayers. Or how the penniless can mooch, perpetually off the productive, or how a city with an operating budget of more than $100 million can be run by a mayor who can’t keep track of his bicycles.

Easy. It’s Aspen; that’s how.

Mayor Mick has suspended the laws of supply and demand and banished dated concepts like private property rights: If you want to remodel your house, ask Mick. If you hope to open a restaurant, you’ll need Mick’s nod on your menu offerings and pricing.

Workers need stuff, and stuff has got to be “affordable.” Enter Mick, stage left.

If Mother Mick taps the taxpayer for $18 million to purchase a lumberyard for his chirping proletariat, then that lumberyard is worth $18 million, and you’re a meddling “gadfly” for pointing out that the retail reality is closer to $6 million.

Which brings us back to Marilyn Marks, and her uppity insistence upon overlaying Mick’s decrees with an accountant’s business template, and subjecting his decisions to scrutiny in the town square.

This simply won’t do.

It’s far easier to mischaracterize Marks as being “anti-art museum,” when she’s actually in favor of building a new Aspen Art Museum, downtown, but believes that the city hasn’t done its homework, and the voters haven’t been consulted.

It’s partly about “process,” and doing things in an orderly way. It’s about good governance, professionalism ” and maybe it’s even a little bit about not showing up for work in yesterday’s biking togs, looking like you overslept your alarm clock.

Maybe it’s also about hiring a grownup who doesn’t believe business people and second-home owners have fangs and hidden “666” birthmarks, but are, instead, an essential element of Aspen’s future ” maybe even as important as the sainted heroes in public housing.

I interviewed Marilyn for this column, and I became skeptical because I’m a conservative, and she has very liberal views on a wide range of social issues, including the usual over-hyped environmental concerns.

We both graduated college during the ’70s, when America was bumping off the bottom of the gas tank, literally and figuratively. I spent months interviewing at Chicago newspapers and publishing firms in a $50 suit, trying to sell jaded editors that I was a budding Edward R. Murrow.

It took me that long to decode the first “Catch-22” of my 22-year life: A degree in English lit wasn’t the same as a “portfolio of published news stories.” The Chicago Tribune wouldn’t hire me as a reporter-trainee, until I could prove I was a seasoned reporter.

While I was waiting for Godot in Chicago, Marks was graduating with an actual marketable skill, and she spent the late ’70s working as a CPA, paying off her college loans, and saving up $75,000, which she then leveraged into a multimillion-dollar bank deal that placed her at the helm of a $150 million, 1,000 employee company.

A half-dozen years later, Dorsey Trailers Inc. was doing $250 million in sales, and Marks was the subject of magazine mentions in Forbes, plus appointed to the boards of various directorships, etc.

My biggest problem with Marilyn is her gravity-defying belief that Aspen can be rescued by coalescing the interests of business people, property owners, government workers, and conservationists, alike, instead of continuing the current City Hall policy of business demonization and mindless “we vs. them” warfare.

I think Aspen needs to hit bottom, hard; but Marks wants to intervene.

Vote for Mick on May 5.


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