Meredith C. Carroll: Whatever the Base2 outcome, winners and losers are clear
Regardless of the outcome of today’s election, Mark Hunt has already emerged victorious. Sure, the final results may very well show more people are against his brand of development than for it. But it can’t be said that he did his job poorly — literally. Hunt plied voters with $50,000 worth of newspaper ads, direct mailings, pizza and beer to try to convince them growth is good. His ostentatious style may not sit well with everyone, but then again, it’s called show business, not show friends, for a reason.
On the other hand, the loser is arguably Aspen City Councilman Bert Myrin, who’s shown for the second time in as many elections that he’s a one-note politician. It was nothing short of alarming last spring when Myrin was asked in a Squirm Night debate about Aspen’s high suicide rate, and his reply was it can be traced back to the city’s land-use code. (Really. No, really. Seriously.) In the current election, Myrin stopped short of saying Aspen will essentially be committing suicide should Base2 Lodge on Main and Monarch streets (located a block from Myrin’s house) come to fruition, although he still left no room to imagine a scenario in which the community and its visitors may actually benefit from it.
Perhaps sensing he hadn’t articulated his point often enough or loudly enough, or maybe fearing not enough people believe as he seems to that Hunt hides horns under his bouffant, a couple of weeks ago, Myrin emailed Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper and alleged election impropriety by Base2 supporter Rabbi Mendel Mintz of the Chabad Jewish Community Center, which was the location of last week’s walk-in voting center.
“To see an ad promoting one side of a ballot issue by the person who the (Jewish Community Center) is most associated with” is disappointing, Myrin said. He suggested walk-in voting be moved to “another location where more neutrality exists.”
Forget Mintz’s right to express an opinion publicly, not to mention his kindness in offering the lobby of the Chabad Center for civic use. By extension of Myrin’s logic, any future polling place in an election where his own name appears on the ballot cannot possibly be held in City Hall. And Clapper — as well as Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill — will also obviously need to move the tallying of ballots on which their names are printed out of the County Clerk’s Office to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Or is Myrin’s definition of impropriety only applicable for that which is in opposition to his own opinions? It’s one thing for elected officials to fight against something they believe is not in the best interests of the community they serve, but to use their titles and positions to influence personal agendas sets a chilling precedent.
In addition to attacking Mintz, the Crown family — which owns Aspen Skiing Co. — also has been a target of Myrin’s election ire. The exact origins of the whispers that the Crown family are Hunt’s so-called mysterious investors are unknown, although Myrin might take a page from Oliver Stone and put more elbow grease into his conspiracy theories. The Crown family actually manufactures weapons of mass destruction, and yet we’re to believe they’re going to great lengths to keep secret their connection to a 37-room hotel. Is being a prospective vessel for bedbugs really the worst skeletons we’re apt to find in the Crowns’ closet?
Hunt’s job is to keep his eye on the prize. Myrin’s job is to keep his eyes on the people of Aspen — the city’s website says the council’s job is to provide “leadership, stewardship and service to the town.” Nowhere are council members encouraged to maintain strict tunnel vision.
The job of voters after today will be to wait for the opportunity to ensure that the people they elect in future City Council races will be capable of making things happen, not just preventing them from happening. Big buildings may very well be bad, but politicians with a singular focus and an overinflated and misguided sense of purpose have the potential to do even more harm.
More at MeredithCarroll.com. And for details on her latest venture, check out SpecialODDcasions.com.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.