Roger Marolt: Roger This
Aspen, CO, Colorado
There are a lot of mysteries in Aspen such as: If the skiing is so good on Highland Bowl, why is it considered a local cop-out to ride the snowcat part of the way up so you can get more runs on it? Why does Aspen Skiing Co. make massive amounts of snow on Buttermilk in order to promote the X Games to bring people here to ski mostly on our other three other mountains, where the natural snow is getting thinner by the year? Or why do true local aficionados drive all the way to Loveland Basin to ski in October on one patch of man-made snow and then scramble to Moab in March and miss some of our best conditions of the year?
The biggest mystery, however, might be why so many wealthy, conservative businesspeople in town hate Mick Ireland.
I understand that Mick cannot take credit for all the good things he’s done for these people, but first as Pitkin County commissioner and now as mayor of Aspen, he has pretty much carried the torch for the many politicians before him with the goals of preserving the town and standing up for the little guy. Regardless of these intentions, the fact of the matter is that he gets no respect from the property owners and businesspeople who owe him the most gratitude.
Mick is criticized most for his stands on land use. He doesn’t want to let developers go hog wild having their filthy ways with this town, building whatever wherever they please. You can see why this would make developers mad – if you haven’t put any thought into the matter at all.
Who has made more money in this town than developers? The answer is, unequivocally, nobody. How else can you explain why there are so many of them here? While it might be in part for the gondola rides up to the Aspen Mountain Club, it is certainly not for the skiing back down. I think downloading, with a signed real estate deal concealed next to a smartphone in the oversized Bogner parka pocket, was invented by developers.
This is the group that gives Mick the messiest hair, but he is not their problem. Their problem is jealousy over the throng of developers before them who made all the real money and the current property owners who will make lots more with every new restrictive covenant put in place.
Very close behind developers in this line of Mick haters is a large group of homeowners who can’t do exactly what they please with their multimillion-dollar estates. Sure, it sounds unfair that they have to jump through all kinds of hoops wrapped in flaming red tape and spend all kinds of money and time to add a 12-person Jacuzzi to the caretaker’s barn, but they never stop to consider that these hoops are what jack prices of their property up to even make the improvements worthwhile.
Property owners like to talk Constitution. The Constitution was designed, in part, to prevent the taking of private property by the government. Our government land-use codes have effectively worked to take good useable land from the average citizen and redistribute it to super-wealthy people in the form of 35-acre building sites and merged building lots in the West End. This truth is self-evident.
Which brings us to the Realtors who love nothing more, other than both sides of a 6 percent commission, than to bash Mick Ireland. How often do they stop to consider how much easier and lucrative it is to sell one $28 million gentleman’s ranch than it would be to sell individually the 63 two-bedroom suburban working folks’ homes that might otherwise be on these 35-acre sites?
I don’t think we need to dwell too much on the comfortable livings Aspen attorneys and land planners have earned fighting Mick, either. They can continue to complain about the headaches and unfairness about the rules as they wait in line to make deposits at the profitable local banks.
Retailers and restaurants rarely acknowledge that Mick’s machine has built deed-restricted housing that allows their employees to work for wages they can afford to pay. For most local businesses, this has a larger positive effect on the bottom lines than a reduction in rent would.
Look around this town. Could Aspen be better? Sure. But not much. Certainly not enough to warrant sweeping political change. The great irony is that the policies Ireland has supported have done more for the wealthy than the working man, and yet the wealthy people are perpetually hell-bent on recalling him from office.
Hmm – when you think of it like this, it makes you wonder whose side he’s really on.
Roger Marolt wrote this from his hospital bed all jacked up on who knows what. Contact him at email@example.com – I think.
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.