Letter: Don’t sell out
October 27, 2015
In a recent letter to the editor ("The 'old guard' resists change," Aspen Daily News, Oct. 22), the author seems to have twisted around some details relating to Hunter S. Thompson's bid for Pitkin County sheriff in 1970.
In 1969, Thompson encouraged Joe Edwards to run for mayor of Aspen. Edwards lost by just six votes to a member of the old guard, which at the time was politically conservative and mostly Republican. His campaign slogan was "Sell Aspen or Save It." In a 2013 Aspen Times interview, Edwards reflected back on his defeat and commented: "They sold it."
Thompson wrote in the 1970s Rolling Stone article "The Battle of Aspen": "Our program … was to drive the real estate goons completely out of the valley. … No more huge, space-killing apartment buildings to block the view. … No more land rapes, … zone the greedheads out of existence, and in general create a town where people could live like human beings."
In his run for sheriff, one of his platform points was to "change the name 'Aspen' by public referendum, to 'Fat City.' This would prevent greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name 'Aspen.'"
The old guard of 40 years ago more closely resembles the Base2 proponents of today. In 1976, Edwards and Dwight Shellman were elected as Pitkin County commissioners and were instrumental in establishing the land-use philosophy that allowed Aspen and Pitkin County to become the special places they are today. Would Thompson be supporting Base2 and Mark Hunt? I don't know. In 1969, Hunter saw an opportunity to create change in Aspen by mobilizing a youthful group of "freaks, heads and hippies" to make their voices heard at the polls. It's disingenuous to suggest that the "freak power" movement was about creating hotel rooms.
As a voter, I want my elected representatives to stand up for the laws, codes and regulations that they themselves have created over the years. They are our legislators. Their first responsibility to the community should be to respect the system that they chose to become part of. Doing what's "cool" and "fun" shouldn't dictate how they make their decisions.
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Forty years ago, a wake-up call was sent out to the people of Aspen by the aforementioned individuals and others who saw the potential danger to Aspen's character presented by out-of-control development. This has not changed. Are we to believe now that supporters of Base2 are able to look into the future and assure us that the room rates will be affordable (whatever that means), traffic will be less on that corner than at current levels and there will be on-site parking?
And if the nightly rate for a 191-square-foot room is $300 to $400 a night, hey! This is Aspen. And besides, predicting two out of three is pretty good.