Odd bedfellows, small mammals and Burlingame
So, we’re going to have an election on the Burlingame affordable housing project – cool! I love elections. People call each other names. They accuse each other of lying, cheating, stealing and stomping on small helpless mammals.What could be more fun than that?The only thing that’s puzzling to me is that, gosh, I’m pretty sure we had an election on this one already.No, really, we did.I remember it because I was editor at The Aspen Times back then and I wound up writing our editorial supporting Burlingame – even though, personally, I was opposed to it. That was fun. I thought the project was too far out of town for something that big, but none of that mattered because – after a frank and open discussion (which involved only a small amount of lost blood and minor damage to one chair) – our Editorial Board came down firmly in favor of Burlingame.So, I swallowed my bile and wrote the editorial supporting the damn thing … and then I was amazed when the voters gave Burlingame a virtual landslide of approval. But what I really remember about that election was the bizarre coalition of odd bedfellows who gleefully climbed into the sack together to oppose the project.As I recall, there were: 1. the conservatives, who thought the government shouldn’t be spending any money on anything and certainly not on employee housing; 2. the elitists, who thought Aspen’s workers really ought to live in Silt; 3. the environmentalists, who thought the scrub oak and sage (and small helpless mammals) of Burlingame Ranch were far too lovely to disturb; and 4. the oddballs, who shared my opinion that if we were going to build a housing project that big, we ought to build it right smack in the middle of town.(Maybe the voters’ firm rejection of that collection of odd bedfellows was a sign of things to come, since one of the major political issues sweeping the nation these days is a fierce opposition to odd bedfellows.)Anyway, it seems as if those same bedfellows are gleefully climbing back into that same sleazy sack (I hope they’ve had it dry-cleaned – or fumigated – since then). But, no matter who’s in bed with whom on this one, here we go! We’re gearing up to vote on re-voting on the vote we’ve already voted on … or something like that.It’s not as if this is the first time we’ve had an election to overturn the results of a previous election. In fact, “serial electioneering” is probably Aspen’s favorite sport. (All the fun of skiing into a tree, without the need to buy a lift ticket. All the mud of rugby in the rain, without the need for extensive dental work.)I don’t recall how many elections we’ve had on the Entrance to Aspen. We just keep votin’ and votin’ and votin’ on that one. Good clean fun every time.What’s different about Burlingame, of course, is that after the voters approved the project, the government (evil fools that they are) went right ahead and got to work on it. What were they thinking? They spent money, signed contracts and all that. Just as if it was really going to happen.Why, that alone is reason enough to vote the project down. If the darned government is going to go ahead and start work every time the voters approve something … well, there’s no telling where we’ll wind up.Now that I think of it, maybe we should go back and have another election on the Ritz. For those who may have forgotten, back in the ’80s, the entire town engaged in many months of vicious high-stakes mud wrestling (biting and gouging allowed), leading up to an election on whether to grant a building permit for the Ritz-Carlton hotel.That was a nasty one … so let’s do it again!Sure, the hotel’s been built already. Heck, it’s been built, run into trouble, and come back as the St. Regis – which seems like a perfectly nice hotel. But so what? Let’s have an election to take back our approval … and see if we can’t make them tear it down and leave us with a great big hole in the ground.Now that sounds like fun!Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com
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For those of you who follow my monthly missives, and occasionally read between the lines, you may have noticed a trend toward a bit of cognitive dissonance and some internal conflict on my part.