Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Let me disclose at the outset that I have no idea what the hell is going on over at Cozy Point, who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s better qualified to run the horse operation out there or what the fuss is all about.

If you asked me, I’d say that land should have been used for affordable housing as was stated and intended at the time, not for a private pony club, which it was, is and will be no matter who is in charge.

That being said, there is something intrinsically “new Aspen” about this brouhaha, starting with it being a battle between two LLCs, Cozy Point LLC versus Red Barn LLC.

When you read the real estate transactions in the paper, it’s almost always one LLC selling to another LLC, which seems to translate to “nothing is our responsibility and we don’t want you to know who we are.”

We do know who got unprecedented coverage in the June 8 issue of The Aspen Times (“The quarrel over Cozy Point”). The article started taking all of page 1, continued to page 6, then 7, 8 and 9 – whoa!

I still didn’t know who or what was right or wrong, but there were plenty of devils in the details.

Another “new Aspen” aspect of the Cozy Point saga was the appointment of a task force to sort it out. The incumbent managers, Cozy Point LLC, were being challenged by disgruntled defectors, Red Barn LLC. What to do? We have a problem, Houston – bring on the facilitators.

The task force found for the Cozy Point LLC, causing the Red Barn LLC to respond by hiring a public relations firm to run a slew of full-page ads touting what they will do for the pony club, implying that the Cozy Point LLC has failed in those areas, a “new Aspen” Red Ant-y tactic. Those who remember that Cozy Point used to be Michael Hernstadt’s ranch will see a little irony here.

An astounding revelation in the news story was that Cozy Point trainers and boarders had been required to sign agreements “forbidding them to speak with the city, the public or the media about the conditions of the ranch.”

And then, further on, the article said, “Task force members have been asked not to speak publicly about their decisions.”

Wait a cotton-picking minute, here! Members of a city-owned, city-financed private pony club cannot voice complaints (or praise?) to the city? And members of the task force to look into it are under a gag order as well?

My babies, my beloved co-citizens, NEVER agree, in writing or otherwise, to keep your mouth shut. What started with Grand Juries is ending up with a society of anonymous wimps.

Scott Dolginow, owner of the Aspen Animal Hospital, was the only one who wasn’t afraid to speak to the press. Nothing earth-shaking, he thought Cozy Point LLC made a better case. Big deal. What has happened to us? Is this, too, the “new Aspen”?

I was reminded of the early days of the Aspen Community School when one of the directors declared that the media could speak only to him because “there is only one truth.” He was trounced down by the group as fast as a terrorist brandishing a box-cutter on an airline would be today.

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