Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I don’t know why Judge Boyd waited until the last minute to dismiss Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit against the city, but it was significant that, when he did decide, he decided that the case didn’t merit a trial, didn’t even merit a hearing.
This is important because it is very rare for a judge to refuse to even hear a case. What Judge Boyd’s decision meant was that even if everything Marilyn Marks said in her lawsuit were true, there was still no basis for relief. Translation: no basis for deciding the issue in her favor. In other words, the suit was fatuous and was denied out of hand.
The meat of Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit was that the city should turn the ballots of last May’s election over to her for examination and analysis, and the city’s response, supported by the judge, was that it would be illegal to do so.
When this issue first cropped up, I thought, “Oh, what the hell – our elections are transparent, let Marks and Harvie Branscomb examine the ballots all they like,” but, as it escalated, I realized that if Marks prevailed it would mean that all future elections could be never-ending as our votes were counted, re-counted and sifted through endless parameters of inquiry and continuous re-examination. Whether the motive was to assess the efficacy of the Instant Runoff Voting method, or to ultimately challenge the results, the ability to dig up the ballots, at will, can only result in the perpetual lack of closure to our elections.
We voted. We spoke. It’s done. Over. It was a fair election; we accepted the results. Time to move on.
Marks’ lawsuit brought in everything except the kitchen sink, with peripheral allegations of election misconduct, keys in boxes, validations, hints of bribery and graft, but the meat of the lawsuit was simple: Did Marilyn Marks have the right, whatever her motive, to examine our ballots? And the judge said no.
Marks now says she will take the matter to a higher court, and I say god bless. Yes! Take it to a higher court. Take it to the Supreme Court, go for the gold, and may your efforts take you far, far away from Aspen.
We have had our share of Chicken Littles and boys who cry “wolf” in Aspen, screaming that the sky is falling or that the wolves are at the door, but after a few years of – in my view – inordinate patience with Marilyn Marks, she begins to sound like white noise.
Despite the alarms and diversions I think that, as a community, we believe that our city government (the people we elected and those they have hired) – if sometimes over-zealous and sometimes not zealous enough – is not a corrupt body and is not working against our best interests. And that we’re tiring of somebody sweeping in a la Joe McCarthy, turning over rocks looking for communists or other dirty dogs lurking behind the doors of City Hall.
I think the City Council should endorse going after full remuneration for all the costs entailed in readying the defense against Marilyn Marks’ lawsuit, the suit that was thrown out before it began. Perhaps we could charge by the pound for the paperwork.
You can be sure that if Marilyn Marks had prevailed, she would have tried to shake every last penny out of the city for her legal expenses.
There should be a lesson here: Bring frivolous lawsuits against us at your own peril. Developers have learned it, affordable housing antagonists have learned it, and Marilyn Marks needs to learn it.
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