Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore |

Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

Tony Vagneur
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“You done done me wrong,” she said sweetly, her voice coming from a disc of 33 RPM vinyl, making the inarguable point that, at least in the vernacular of the Old West, she had “been screwed.” Whatever she was talking about, you can bet that it had to do with money, love, or a combination of the two.

Leaving the gondola plaza last week, I fell into lock step with a renowned European ski racer, also a local businessman. After the usual back-and-forth about how good the skiing has been, he offered that the Skico was remiss in not doing something to get more people into town. I offered that they may be resigned to taking their lumps in this recession-laden winter rather than coming up with some panic-driven scheme that could prove embarrassing at ski season’s end. “Just the same,” he said, “they are having a negative effect on the lives of people trying to make a living in this town.”

I can’t fathom a stretch like that, but it’s kind of like blaming your parents for lack of success in your life, even though you’re 40 years old. If you’ve tied business success in with the fortunes of the Skico, then “Good luck” should be the title of your business plan. The ski company has provided some of the world’s best skiing right out the front door, and it’s folly to believe it has a bigger obligation than that. Yeah, you’re right, it needs to be a good citizen, and it has been.

Bob Daniel and John Sarpa have been using a similar rant with their development on the Lift 1A side of town. “To be successful, our developments need to be this big,” and then they stretch the power point to enunciate the exclamation. Instead of the people leaning on the Skico, this is a case of the developers leaning on the people. They (the developers) knew what the zoning was when they bought the land, and trying to get variances to fit their vision of “reasonable” profit was a crap shoot, and they knew it going in. Try that the next time you go to Vegas ” tell them that, based on your projections, you “require” a certain return on the roulette wheel.

Naturally, in a recession such as this, loss of jobs is a foregone conclusion and the Roaring Fork Valley is no exception. Beware, however, those that will attempt to have you believe that employment is the most serious issue facing our enclave. We don’t need jobs badly enough to do something metaphorically stupid, such as bus people in from Denver or Salt Lake to ski at cut-rate prices, nor do we need those jobs badly enough to vote in favor of massive developments on the southern end of Aspen Street. Or anywhere else.

Just as Aspen is being called on to demonstrate resolve during trying times, so too is the state legislature in regard to regulations on oil and gas drilling. Even though new rules (the Habitat Stewardship Act, set to take effect April 1) are still embarrassingly weak, they will serve to give more weight to the public health, environment and safety than current regulations do. Of course, toadies for the industry such as state Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma (where again on the eastern slope is Yuma?), bemoan the fact that anyone would dare impose further controls on the oil and gas industries.

Those companies he’s protecting would have you believe they’ve slowed drilling and production because of the threat of onerous regulations, but let’s get real: With the price of oil and gas plummeting for months, those fat cats had no choice but to cut back their rate of plundering the natural environment.

It will all turn out however it does, and in the meantime, we’re all looking around like harried jet fighter pilots flying through enemy territory, wondering who’s gonna own the line, “You done done me wrong.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User