Todd Hartley: The most stupid idea I have ever heard
October 18, 2002
As a well-known sportswriter (pause for laughter), I am often asked my opinion, and more frequently offer it unbidden, on all manner of sports topics. From golf to boxing to football and figure skating, if you’re looking for someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about but talks good and loud anyway, I’m your man.
But when it comes to politics, I admit to being a complete neophyte, and thus I generally spare people my rants. I feel I am, for the most part, politically neutral and singularly unqualified to form an opinion on most political subjects, and I kind of think all that Republican-Democrat crap is pretty silly, so I just try to stay out of it.
However, every so often an issue comes along that is so inane, so overpoweringly nitwitted, that I feel I must chime in with my 2 cents’ worth if it will help just one more person to vote no.
I am referring, of course, to the trolleys, those rotting hulks scarcely hidden by tarpaulins out at Cozy Point Ranch that a vocal minority in town would like to see tooling up and down Galena Street. Don’t let these hucksters fool you. Just say no to this one.
Before I go any further, I feel compelled to offer the following disclaimer, because this may get harsh: As in all political issues I have no idea what I’m talking about. Thus, any and all of the following “facts” may be utter fabrications. I have no idea which points are true and which are not, because I have once again failed to do any research.
Also, I’d like to point out that I don’t necessarily, and in this case in printed fact, speak for The Aspen Times, the editorial board of which inexplicably endorsed this imbecilic idea in an editorial in this weekend’s edition of the Aspen Times Weekly and in today’s daily edition of the newspaper. (Sources at The Times say that the editorial board doesn’t necessarily speak for the rest of the employees, many of whom threatened to walk off their jobs in protest.)
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First of all, the trolley folks, who I’m guessing spent all their time on the merry-go-round at the amusement park while the rest of us were on roller coasters, would have you believe that offering tourists a ride on an old-fashioned trolley a couple of blocks is the balm that will assuage Aspen’s economic woes. Get real. There is one economic boon that can save this town: snow, not some fabricated, lame joy ride.
Secondly, the Galena Street Shuttle, which the trolleys would replace, to the best of my limited knowledge never has more than one or two people on it. Paying more for a new system to replace one we probably don’t need in the first place is ludicrous, especially at a time when money for vital programs is being cut from the budget.
Third, if this trolley program involves installing tracks across Main Street, it shouldn’t even be considered. It most likely won’t, if CDOT has anything to say about it. And on that note, if the trolleys would require redesigning to give them tires and make rails unnecessary, that expense, as well as the expense of refurbishing the cabins themselves, should be undertaken by the trolley proponents before they try to cram this harebrained scheme down our throats. Don’t offer the city some decrepit relics that a few people hadn’t the foresight to recognize as bad investments and expect the rest of us to pay to get them running again.
So, to any Aspen voter who happens across this column and reads this far, I implore you to go to the polls in November and vote no on the trolley issue. It would be a further strain on the city budget, it’s not necessary, and most importantly ? to quote Peter Sellers as Inspector Sidney Wang in the film “Murder by Death” ? “Is stupid.”
And to the trolley folks, may I offer this little tidbit of advice: If you really want to do something worthwhile with your trolleys, deck them out yourselves and give well-heeled tourists rides from their condos to the real estate sales offices in our vibrant downtown core. I’m sure all the land barons currently inhabiting the malls would cut you a sweet commission deal on a big sale.
Or better yet, refurbish just one of your precious trolleys, use it to tow those other eyesores off of Cozy Point, and ride the hell on out of town.
[Todd Hartley has been known to travel to Denver International Airport just to ride Denver’s niftiest tourist attraction, that neat subterranean train that runs between the terminals. His column runs on Fridays in The Aspen Times. E-mail at email@example.com]
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