Marolt: Of Aspen elections and anonymous investors
October 23, 2015
Here's my election analysis for the easily distracted:
Issue 2A, Base2 affordable hotel:
"No" is the answer for two reasons:
First, the truth is that I don't spend any time in Aspen hotels or in most of Aspen's stores except for Carl's Pharmacy and Ace Hardware. So it doesn't matter to me what is inside most of Aspen's buildings. What matters to me is size. The proposed Base2 hotel, through ill-advised variances granted, will be three times bigger than whatever else Mark Hunt is threatening to build there. I'll take the much smaller building, whatever it is. If it's another drugstore, all the better. Then there will be three buildings in town I actually visit.
Second, Mark Hunt is a front for anonymous investors. By definition, if you are anonymous, you are hiding something.
Take it from a guy who began his writing career by submitting hundreds of letters to the papers for almost half a decade under dozens of fictitious names — anonymity can swell the muscles in the upper hand. Using false identities, I regrettably twisted facts, distorted reality and said things that just weren't true. I could make false promises, too, because there would be no blowback on the real me. When I was finally busted, more than a few critics looked back and claimed that my fictitious letter writings were a big reason we don't have a commuter rail system here. I don't believe I had that much power in anonymity, but there is no doubt that I had undue influence undercover and free from consequences. Anonymity is dangerous. Don't take it lightly.
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Issue 3A, mill-levy override to preserve quality local education:
Absolutely "yes" on this one. As straightforward as I can say it, education is the greatest thing under human control that can either solve or ameliorate every single problem in the world today.
This proposed bolstering of education is cheap, too. It will cost just $30 per year for each million dollars your home is worth.
School Board Candidates:
Vote for two — Sheila Wills and Sandra Peirce. They have the experience and knowledge to continue guiding our school district in the right direction. The learning curve for this job is steep and long. I believe it takes about two years to get even a rudimentary handle on the complexities of school finance, budgeting and policy governance. It would be a shame and a mistake to throw away the level of knowledge and experience these incumbents have attained.
Lee Mulcahy stirs the pot by making half-true claims about the state of Aspen schools. I don't think he's dishonest; I believe he is naive. While there have been problems and issues (which no school district is ever without, by the way) most parents with kids in the district have undoubtedly seen incredible positive changes in our schools over the course of just the past six months. The energy and atmosphere in our schools is great. We have talented, dedicated, intelligent and happy people throughout the teaching staff and administration. You have to give credit where credit is due.
Of course, Mulcahy will claim this is a "hatchet job" by me, as he has done to everyone who has disagreed with him throughout this campaign. I like you, Lee, but you are not ready for this job. Ski instructing is a great and noble profession, but it hasn't prepared you to oversee a school district.
Issue 5A, extending the Aspen Valley Hospital mill levy for another five years:
Hmmmm … I suppose "yes," although at some point we have to address the mushroom-clouding of medical costs. Ah well, we can wait to do that when it becomes a full-blown crisis. We do our best work under pressure.
Finally, Advisory Question 2B, converting the historic City Hall building (technically Amory Hall) back into a community center, which is what it was before the politicians commandeered it in the late 1950s:
Remember I mentioned all the buildings in Aspen that none of us ever or very rarely go inside? Well, what about a community center in the middle of downtown across the street from Peach's to buck that trend? It would be returning a historic building to its original use. A nonprofit group is going to raise $8.5 million for the interior remodel that would bring back a wood-floor gymnasium and auditorium above and gathering spaces and meeting rooms down below. What could be cooler than that? You gotta vote "yes" on taking back City Hall and turning it into a friendly gathering place once again.
Disclosure: Roger Marolt's wife, Susan, is a current member of the Aspen Board of Education who is not running for re-election this year. This means he may be biased in favor of the current administration, but also that he has to pay attention. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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