Marolt: We’re not as dumb as they thought we are

Roger Marolt
Roger This

Most Aspenites can’t figure things out for themselves, don’t know what’s good for them and are just plain intellectually lazy. That’s what three (the majority of) Aspen city councilmen told us this week, or don’t you know how to listen, either?

The develeopards revealed their spots on council Monday when they learned that a group of residents circulated a petition to have the recently approved lodge-incentive program overturned, which would have allowed new four-story, 60-foot-high lodges next to Aspen Mountain, bigger free-market units along with those projects, and decreases in the number of affordable housing units normally required for the privilege of building.

On Tuesday, the council stumbled awkwardly backward and rescinded the legislation while it was still in the outbox, but a bigger issue remains — City Council believes they are smarter than us.

Here’s where they began insulting our intelligence: According to a report in this paper, “Councilmen Daily, Frisch and Romero were all of the opinion that the ordinance would be shot down if it were subjected to a vote.”

Say what? You mean they knew ahead of time that this legislation they just passed would be unpopular with the electorate they supposedly represent?

In a word, yes. They knew. In fact, they knew it would be wildly unpopular. Frisch was quoted as speculating that support for overturning this ordinance would be at least 60 percent at the polls. He called it a “home-run issue for the opposition.” (The majority is “the opposition?”)

Why, then? Please give me a plausible explanation why three councilmen voted for a developer’s dream legislation that they knew was crazily out of line with the vast majority of their constituency. Wait. There is no need to speculate. Councilman Frisch told us why. He basically said that people who are opposed to bigger, higher, faster buildings at the base of Aspen Mountain might not know much about council politics. In other words, council knows best!

These guys believed they could sneak this past us. Apparently, we can’t take our eyes off them for even a second reading of an application.

Voters might be resting easier with the rescission of the ordinance — but not me. Backed into a corner by the will of the people, a petulant Frisch responded with a Vailed threat of something worse to come. He suggested developers are now free to request 10-story buildings at the base of Ajax. “If that’s the way we want to go, that’s the way we should go,” he said. Great. So, now we have at least one rogue councilman on a revenge tour of the issue.

This is a frightening conceit. People called Mick Ireland arrogant for pushing an agenda. That was a false accusation. His was confidence, because he represented the will of the majority. Argue all you want; he has the long re-election record and recall rebuffs to prove this.

What this council has supposed is, first and foremost, that we don’t understand what is good for us. Obviously, I don’t agree.

They also have supposed that it is a foregone conclusion that this town needs to enlarge its “hot bed base.” I don’t buy that, either.

Lastly, they have supposed that developers are finished with Aspen and need incentives to come back for more. Ha!

Let’s talk about reaching “the right answer.” If we are talking about science, physics, math or even good vs. evil, there are absolute answers, and they are worth pursuing, even if we can’t arrive at them immediately. But, if we are talking about something like how many hotel beds this town needs, I assure you there are no right or wrong answers — I don’t care how many studies you have conducted on the subject.

Facts may be facts, but the answer doesn’t always lie in them. The issue of building gargantuan hotels is all about priorities, not about arriving at “the truth.” If your priority is to make money by flipping real estate developments, then the recent lodging legislation makes sense. If your priority is living a contented lifestyle with what you already have here in paradise, then the newly passed then rescinded-to-be-re-worked legislation may make no sense whatsoever. The studies, data, facts and expert testimony that have swayed our City Council are not indicative of anything we need; they only serve to justify what some (a minority of?) people want.

The three councilmen who voted against most of this town on this legislation may believe that they are armed with infallible information that they are uniquely gifted to interpret and, because of that, they are superiorly equipped to make big decisions for us. What they have completely ignored are this town’s priorities. That is a far bigger concern than four-story hotels.

Roger Marolt appreciateas Mayor Skadron and Councilwoman Mullins for respecting the voters’ intelligence. Contact him at