Letter: City of Aspen needs new employees | AspenTimes.com

Letter: City of Aspen needs new employees

More questions about parking scam

The curtain hiding Aspen’s “Parking Gate” crisis has been lifted, at least a bit. Thanks to the diligent reporting by reporters from The Daily News and The Times, we now know that those employed by the city did ask a few questions as early as 2009. However, we also know that the people employed by the city did little to follow up. For example, in July 2011 it was decided to do nothing although the unpaid debt in the previous year had totaled $27,000.

The decision made in 2011 may make sense. Before accepting it, though, one should ask two questions. First, how large was $27,000 relative to total revenues in 2011? Second, why did it take until July to make the decision? I suspect the figure was a small percent of revenues and thus merited the decision. I am surprised, though, that the city waited so long.

A more interesting question is why the city did not insist on getting information on declined transactions. The vendor had the information but did not provide it in daily reports. One presumes that an individual employed by the city, if persistent, would have gotten the information

The most serious question is what took so long? The rise in declined transactions rose to ten percent at the end of 2012 from an average of 3 percent to 6 percent. It took an additional 20 months for the city to take action. Couldn’t the people employed by the city have moved quicker, perhaps skipping a ski day or two?

One explanation for the relaxed view was offered by Chris Lundgren. According to the Times, Lundgren believes the banks have to identify the holders of the cards or make good on fraudulent charges if the cards were not registered. I suspect Lundgren is delusional, but the city’s incompetent attorney may waste more city money suing. The banks can legitimately respond that Aspen knew of the fraud and did nothing for years. The city’s failure to take prompt action probably makes the claim moot. Further, I am sure the city will find notifications from Precise ParkLink that were ignored. But what the heck — what not throw good money after bad.

This leads me to the conclusion that the people who are employed by the city are essentially “coupon clippers,” rather than employees. By coupon clippers, I refer to the type of people who lost their money by investing with Bernie Madoff. Madoff embezzled billions over the course of a decade but no one noticed because the checks kept coming. The same is true with the city of Aspen. The people charged with watching the city’s business had better things to do with their time, such as ski and party. The city does not need an investigation, it needs new employees.

Philip Verleger


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