Whining for more respect | AspenTimes.com

Whining for more respect

Andy Stone

“You never listen to me,” whines the sulky child.”That’s not true,” explains the patient parent. “I did listen to you.””But you didn’t do what I want!” screams the child.”That’s because you wanted cotton candy and ice cream for dinner,” replies the parent.”You never do what I want!” howls the child. “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” And with that, the child begins wailing and shrieking and rolling on the floor, tears and snot flying everywhere.And that, in a nutshell, is the story of how the mature professionals of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association reacted when Aspen City Council rejected the Lodge at Aspen Mountain.Actually, the ACRA honchos didn’t roll on the floor, kick their feet and scream, “I hate you!” They screamed “You hate us!” But in the end, the effect was the same.(Last week I noted that the Lodge at Aspen Mountain is referred to as LAM, which is a verb for what crooks do after they rob the bank – they take it on the lam. So it’s only fair that I note this week that the Aspen Chamber Resort Association is referred to as ACRA, which, when pronounced, sounds mighty close to “acrid” – which means, “unpleasantly sharp or bitter in smell or taste; for example, the smell of burning rubber.”)So, not having gotten its way, the chamber is taking drastic action. They’re forming a committee to issue policy statements. Wow! A committee issuing policy statements! Talk about taking getting serious! Look out world! We’ve got a committee!Excuse me while I catch my breath.Of course, the ACRA’s idea that they need to make sure City Council is listening seems to miss the basic point about the LAM rejection: City Council was listening; they just disagreed. It is, as my wife often tells me, possible to listen and then disagree.Anyway, the chamber’s heading out onto thin ice here.One of the issues they want to focus on is what to do about a new visitor center.In case you’ve forgotten, a few years ago, the ACRA was pushing to build a visitor center at the corner of Main and Galena. The city council listened and approved the plan – and then the voters rose up in rebellion and voted it down. Soundly.For the ACRA to bring that up right now is like George W. Bush saying he doesn’t get enough respect and, hey, now that Alberto Gonzales is unemployed, let’s put him on the Supreme Court.And, if bringing up past failures isn’t foolish enough, the chamber is talking about endorsing candidates in city elections.Now there’s a stunningly bad idea.After all, it’s not as if everyone doesn’t already know who the ACRA would be backing in city elections. For example: In the last election, was there any question that the chamber’s official endorsement would have been Tim Semrau for mayor (instead of that commie, Mick Ireland)? Would an “official” endorsement have helped Semrau avoid the solid thumping he got from voters? Would that “official” endorsement have made Mayor Ireland any more likely to listen to the ACRA after the election?And, really, the more often and the more publicly the ACRA embarrasses itself, the more people will begin to ask just exactly how well the chamber is representing the local business community.As has been pointed out, the ACRA’s membership list is wildly inflated by the reduced-price ski passes that are available only to employees of ACRA-member businesses.Take away the ski pass and you might say bye-bye to the ACRA.Don’t get me wrong. I think the ski pass discount is a great thing for the community – and it’s good for the Skico, too. The pass helps keep local businesses well-staffed, which supports a vibrant community, which provides a major boost to the Skico’s product.But I’m not really certain that there’s any reason for the ACRA to be the beneficiary of the Skico’s community contribution.Sure, it saves the Skico some logistical headaches to have the ACRA act as gatekeeper for the discount pass. But if the ACRA keeps acting like that whining, spoiled child, rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming … well, maybe the Skico might want to find a new, better-behaved partner for the program.Are you listening, ACRA?Andy Stone is a former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com