Explore the possibilities | AspenTimes.com

Explore the possibilities

Roger Marolt

The city of Aspen absolutely must buy Explore Booksellers. This small, locally owned bookstore has been part of our community for more than 30 years. As with every quaint town in our imaginations, we need a book store on Main Street. It defines us.Who cares if the asking price is $5.2 million? That’s the going rate in this town. So what if a completely arbitrary and meaningless deadline has been set for the deal to go down? That’s what real estate brokers with convoluted personal financial interests in projects create in this town.Aside from all the obvious benefits, like preserving a place to buy affordable last-minute coffee table gifts, there are others, too. If our government finances the purchase, we the people will have the final word over what ends up on the shelves. Think about it: This could be the only place left in the country (outside Alabama, of course) where a local government can effectively ban books by simply refusing to sell them. Ha!Far from giving us pause, the Explore deal should open our minds to other opportunities. The Isis is a no-brainer. The city should buy it to redevelop with subterranean theaters, highly profitable street-level retail space (where it can open other stores), a new fire station, with city offices upstairs, right beneath a new penthouse, timeshares, and employee housing. Since the government would own it, presumably it could be as tall as they wanted. Plus, under city ownership, we can ensure that the fabled porn nights, promoted by the perverts who owned the theater back when Aspen was decent, are history, forever.The Red Onion may be the next victim of Gucci lease syndrome. That eating establishment has been giving locals heartburn longer than Explore has been giving ski bums a sense of intellectualism.Think not only of tradition, but also of the improvements that could be made to a restaurant that we, as a city, own. The mayor could pass an edict that only organically grown produce be served. The government would have the power to outlaw red meat!Tailwinds, the snack shop at the airport, is rumored to be on its way out, too. That’s a locally owned food place that’s had a monopoly for quite some time. Imagine the danger we open ourselves up to if this lease is turned over to operators from elsewhere. Remember, this is at the airport.What better way to make air travelers feel at ease than to have a government-managed airport cafeteria. They could ship over food from the jail, more effectively utilizing that facility! A local ordinance could be passed requiring on-site medical examinations before ordering chili or other culinary concoctions conducive to producing explosive gasses.And don’t stop there. The city should make an offer to purchase this newspaper. As you know, we’re 125 years old. I believe that a grossly inflated offer would get the owner’s attention. If not, local government should commence condemnation proceedings, simply because this town can’t risk the possibility of someday not having this local paper. Besides, it’s about time that the electorate controlled the local media, rather than the other way around.And that’s just the beginning; the more businesses that our government has its fingers in, the easier our lives become. Eventually, we won’t even have to think for ourselves. We can hire (or buy out) a consulting firm to draw up a perfect master plan for the town. Henceforth, local taste and preferences will be dictated by majority rule. Can there be a better way to administrate paradise than through government?With that, I’m giving it away. Most of you have caught my gist and can clearly see where I am going with this. By extending the discussion about the city’s contemplated purchase of Explore Booksellers, the logical and obvious conclusion presents itself. If our local government endeavors to participate in the markets of free enterprise, then the object becomes expansion and growth, and thus the question arises: Who will do the accounting?Here I would like to offer for sale the CPA firm in which I am a partner. We are all locals and have been members of this community for a long, long, long, long time. The city of Aspen must buy our business. In return for a reasonable price, we would agree to continue operating it on behalf of The city, maintaining our current salary structure, of course.So, go ahead. Make an offer. I won’t even bother to set a deadline.Eventually, when we’re all working for the city of Aspen, Roger Marolt wonders where he’ll be able to get a cup of coffee on legal holidays. Give him directions at roger@maroltllp.com

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