Elizabeth Milias: Hope, and a true bailout for the 100-day pin
The Red Ant
In this Easter season of hope, a cherished Aspen tradition sadly passes without the celebration so many of us have come to associate with the holiday, the sunrise service atop Aspen Mountain. This non-denominational annual community gathering often marks the end of ski season while ushering in the spring. And while we lament the prematurely thwarted winter, we cannot help but look forward to summer and the end of this forced sequestration. Hope. From the confines of our homes, for today, it’s what we’ve got.
Meanwhile, this community never ceases to amaze me. More often than not, that’s a pejorative. But in these unprecedented times, I am hopeful that some of our local electeds are beginning to face the harsh reality of making very difficult decisions like the rest of us. Others, however, are still behaving as though their lemonade stand burned down and that a little glitter and millions in government handouts are the solution, but reality is going to drop on their heads like an anvil.
In the meantime, hopeful things are happening: $1.3 million in financial relief is already available through the county’s human services department with more coming, APCHA has taken steps to financially assist its renters through rent deferrals and changes to the minimum work requirements, and the city will be tapping into the $30 million Wheeler Opera House slush fund for vital loans.
It’s a good start, but there is more to be done. We have to find a way to get our economy moving again, as soon as humanly possible. I hope our electeds:
• Recognize the need for relief/stimulus funds for as wide a segment of the local population as possible. Means testing is appropriate for grants, but loans should be widely and equitably available.
• Realize low- and no-interest loans are both helpful and fiscally responsible because they inherently promise reimbursement to the public coffers.
• Redefine “essential” as directly related to the delivery of integral services. The size of our local governments is staggering and it’s time to right-size these institutions post haste.
• Reconsider the construction moratorium immediately. In quiet times, construction activities can ramp up without significant impacts. These projects keep people employed and the capital to see them completed is already in place.
• Take special care of our locally owned businesses. How about low- and no-interest loans for rent and utility payments for their exclusive use? And for a set period moving forward, establish these businesses as tax-free zones, waiving city sales tax to establish a competitive advantage to attract customers.
• Shift their focus from increasing government handouts that will require future service cuts to designing a robust “back to work” strategy, albeit with necessary precautions.
On a much lighter note and for some holiday levity, I am still hopeful for a 100-day pin. While not among the elite who earned a 100-day pin for each of the first 10 seasons that Skico counted and who received the ultimate prize last spring, the 1,000-day pin, I am a proud member of the 50% club, achieving this feat five of 10 years running. This season, I was well on-track for pin number six, with 83 days under my belt on Saturday, March 14, the day the music died and the lifts closed for the year. Thirty-six days of skiing remained, of which I only needed 17. I had visions of an IKON Pass road-trip or two, but I digress.
Now that Skico is giving the 100-day pin on the honor system to those who have been uphilling during this crisis, I have a proposal that impacts the downhill diehards like myself who don’t have AT gear and have been riding our bikes instead. Don’t get me wrong, no one wants a participation trophy. The point is and has always been to earn it on the hill. The concept is a bailout loan for downhillers, a contractual IOU where the commodity is skier days.
Skico, for my 2019-20 100-day pin, I owe you my first 17 days next season. On my 17th day skiing, I’ll show up at the ticket office for my pin and you can reset my pass to zero. No handout, no subsidy, no fooling. My challenge will be to get this done early, especially if I plan to embark on another 100-day odyssey. (There are only so many possible days to ski each season.) An early opening would be to my advantage, but that is never assured. Skico, you know who we are, the ones who came so so close. What do you say? Hope springs eternal.
Easter blessings and good health to you, your family and friends. Contact TheRedAntEM@comcast.net
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