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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

It wasn’t a warm winter day, but it was sunny, and low-angled winter rays beat through our dusty alleyway windows to penetrate the dark commercial-grade carpeting in our front office. Nobody was breaking a sweat or in danger of dehydration. The room was not exactly hot, only uncomfortably warm. This is nothing but an explanation for why the front door of our second-floor digs was ajar in February.

We live in a town where we need to explain an open door. I would have thought little of it except I knew the tried and true method of cooling off in the diminutive indoors might soon be illegal. The obvious alternative would be to open a window, but that’s the oldest trick in the book. Surely that, too, would be covered by the ordinance against fresh air.

“Doggone it,” I thought, “We’ll have to run the air conditioners for relief from future January thaws.”



I assured myself that the idea of receiving a citation for an open shop door is ridiculous, because it is. There are a lot of storefronts and offices in town. It’s not possible for the city to patrol every mall, hall, and toilet stall throughout the entire downtown core area to ensure that no business has a door ajar or window cracked. Then I remembered the sign code. So efficiently does the city police those laws that an unapproved “lost pet” sign can’t stay up long enough for a cat to climb down from a tree.

I remembered what my dad used to holler when we’d stand too long on the threshold taking our mittens off after playing in the snow, allowing a chill breeze to race past and find its place next to the fireplace where he sat in his recliner watching “The Nightly Business Report” on PBS: “Put a board in the hole! We don’t need to be heating the whole outdoors!”




It struck me. He was right. And so is the city. I couldn’t see any way to honor my father’s wisdom in his early attacks on global warming while at the same time pooh-poohing our government. My father’s command could soon be Aspen’s law.

Someone last week said something in the paper that many have said in the past – “The city of Aspen has done a good job of running things around here.”

The words nearly cut off my air supply as I say them, but maybe we need to give our government a little slack. It has done a pretty fair job in keeping this place desirable. Perhaps we should give it all the slack!

Under the theory of “if a little is good, more is better,” then why not? Turn all the businesses over to them, and we can all become government employees. You laugh, but it might give every last one of us exactly what we are looking for: steady pay, a decent health plan and paid holidays off for skiing.

The city should own everything in town. It already controls all of it. Why go through the bother of drafting, passing, enacting, enforcing and then complaining about all the rules simply as a formality? If the city owned everything, it could do as it pleases to make this place even better – just like now, only more efficiently.

Let’s make a deal. The city will buy all local businesses at appraised value, hire the current owners as managers to continue running them and put everyone else on the government payroll with nice pensions. The massive profits it will rake in from the formerly locally owned businesses will finance the project. Then the city can open or close every door and window in the commercial core whenever it pleases. No fuss.

We would all instantly be “little guys” for whom our government can stand up. No more games at the housing office – they’ll know exactly how much they pay us and plunk us into the appropriate employee housing. They can convert Boogie’s Diner into an employee cafeteria that serves affordable vegan delicacies, make sure that all plastic bags in town are only large enough to carry a single dog turd in and guarantee that every gallery displays environmentally friendly watercolors painted with brushes wetted in local streams.

Goodbye, penthouses, and hello, virus-laden reusable coffee cups. They can even implement an overdue dress code requiring business attire to be made from recycled burlap! The color is up to you.

There is a lot of talk lately about the city creating a friendlier atmosphere for small businesses. I can think of nothing more merciful than just buying us out and being done with it.

Roger Marolt wonders what his efforts are worth to the city. Advise him of a buyout price at roger@maroltllp.com.


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