Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

I used to have a photograph on my refrigerator showing a snake coiled around a

lizard. The lizard appeared to be losing the death battle, but when you looked closely you could see that the lizard was biting the snake, making the outcome inconclusive.

I don’t know which are the lizards and which are the snakes in the present imbroglio among the F.A.I.R. people, Marilyn Marks, Michael Conniff and other associated players but they appear to be eating each other alive and their escalating squabbles make entertaining off-season theater. May the final curtain come down and the bodies carried off the stage before the snows arrive in earnest.

The common denominator of what at first appeared to be a semi-united front was the attitude that Aspen, and Aspen’s government in particular, was seriously flawed.

Michael Conniff described Aspen as cancerous, Jerry Bovino said Aspen is a dysfunctional family, Marilyn Marks was so “troubled” by everything the city did that she started her own website, The Red Ant, and fires off so many e-mails that many recipients hit the delete key when they see the return address.

Another common denominator was that they denigrated the local press coverage and supported a new news outlet called F.A.I.R. (Factual Aspen Investigative Reporting), the known proponents being Tim Semrau, Bill Dinsmore and Roger Marolt, a group which Michael Conniff now claims to have originated, backed by, of course, anonymous donors. F.A.I.R. promised unbiased investigative reporting. Right.

The scant F.A.I.R. reports (which appeared on Conniff’s Aspen Post and in almost-unreadable condensed type paid ads in the Aspen Daily News) were “unbiased” only because they stated no conclusions. Hey, they didn’t say not to vote against the school taxes, they just enumerated how many taxes the district has already soaked us for.

After advertising for a fair and unbiased reporter, Jonathan Lekstutis, a kid from New Jersey, was hired by F.A.I.R. to take over these reports, highly touted on Conniff’s Con-Man radio show and website.

Alas, poor Jonathan ” he probably didn’t know that he had stepped into a pit of vipers, and whether he was the designated snake or the designated lizard, he ended up the sacrificial lamb.

Matters came to a head when F.A.I.R. decided to run an investigative report (fair, of course) on Marilyn Marks. Of course this had nothing to do with Marks having spurned Conniff, who moderated her first public political forum, in favor of Paul Menter to moderate the second.

When the dust settled Conniff was no longer associated with F.A.I.R., the “story” (such as it was) was quashed, Conniff ran it anyway on his website and so many erstwhile cohorts aren’t talking to each other that we might dare hope their vitriol will be replaced by the sweet sound of silence.

Even Paul Menter, Marilyn’s stated choice for mayor, who once e-mailed me that he would talk to ANYone, is no longer speaking to F.A.I.R. Andrew Kole has been thrown under the bus numerous times (Marilyn wrote that he was untrustworthy and she wanted to murder him ” surely a figure of speech from someone of her gentle and refined nature) and, always eager for attention, Kole let himself be plucked back out to appear on Marks’ Red Ant GrassRoots shows. There’s only so much room under the bus.

Both Conniff and Marks played the fear card, saying that people were so terrified of retaliation that they refused to speak out. That’s not what I see at the council meetings, but maybe they’re watching another channel. Then Conniff claimed that Marilyn Marks was the terrorist, cowing the board of F.A.I.R. into killing his story.

They have gone too F.A.R.

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