Milias: Time to stop the madness |

Milias: Time to stop the madness

Elizabeth Milias
The Red Ant
Elizabeth Milias

I read that Torre announced is seeking a third, final term as mayor of Aspen. After four years in office, he hopes to continue “working for Aspen on the issues that impact our community.”  

Stating an unabashed pride in the accomplishments of his two terms and optimism about where he sees Aspen headed, Torre asks for support so that he can continue his “good work.”

Atop his list of good works is the hiring of City Manager Sara Ott. That’s your job, Torre. In the absence of a city manager, you hire one. It’s hardly a notable accomplishment. It’s odd that he didn’t list actually reviewing this hire, probably because it went something like: “She has nice penmanship and she shares her snacks, let’s give her a raise.”

Next was moving the seat of Aspen’s government into the new 37,500-square-foot Taj Mahal City Hall, the same monolith for which during 2019 campaign season Torre famously promised “a review and changes to the final design and programming” of the project because “the current iterations have unclear space/program allocations” and “do not appear to address community goals.” Once in office, however, did he think we’d forget? Torre will say whatever it takes to get elected.

He boasted about “important land use code revisions” and the regulation of “some STRs” without mentioning the deliberate, rushed moratoria on false “emergency” pretenses, employed to concoct extreme policies that resulted in punitive restrictions for private property owners and a convoluted excise tax that punishes traditional condo-hotels as though they are nuisance rental properties.

I was astonished to learn that Torre claims council’s action resulting in the closure of not one but two long-time child-care providers at the Yellow Brick was an act of “stabilizing early childhood care.” Perhaps the 100 affected local families can comment on the “stabilization” that befell them.

And he “supported more local businesses.” How could anyone forget Torre’s unwavering support of local businesses last summer during the catastrophic Living Lab experiment? That is some support when the business community turns out to beg you not to proceed with an ill-conceived gimmick yet you move forward in spite of them.

“More funds for arts and culture” were actually approved by the electorate in 2021, not Torre, with a reallocation of some Wheeler RETT dollars towards the arts. Since that time, there has been no formation of a public arts commission, no arts endowment and no public art show. Instead, “the arts” received only a paltry $60,000 for 15 $4,000 grants to creatives in 2022.

These are just his stated accomplishments. Torre is a good guy, which is often the litmus test for voters in Aspen. (I think it’s time we leave the voting for prom king to the kids at Aspen High.) We have a $155 million enterprise to run, and if 2022 is any indicator, 71 of 72 official 5-0 votes from this council have resulted in widespread community discontent. Everything they’ve touched has gone to hell.

So before we vote, let me dispel one of Aspen’s great urban myths. The widespread belief that “the housing bloc” controls the vote here is patently false. Looking at the 2021 election, of 6,336 total registered voters, 59% (3,761) were in the free market while just 41% (2,575) were APCHA owners/renters. However, of the 3,761 free market voters, only 31% bothered to vote! The 2,605 who didn’t vote are more than the total number of votes cast in the entire election (2,351). Voter apathy can obviously be very costly.

Furthermore, who says the housing bloc isn’t similarly aligned with free market voters, especially this election cycle?

Given the actions of Torre and this council, the subsidized housing folks are surely outraged by his touted “strategic housing plan” that focuses exclusively on building new housing projects like the Lumberyard, while ignoring and neglecting the construction defect lawsuits at Centennial and Burlingame, as well as underfunded reserves, expiring deed restrictions and widespread malfeasance throughout the APCHA portfolio.

If these good works, plus dusting off a 25-year-old plan for a “straight shot” into Aspen, the conversion of Aspen’s cherished historic Victorian homes into dense subsidized housing projects throughout town, real growth through the annexation of the Lumberyard and plans to grow our population by nearly 10% when it’s complete, and a future that ignores West End traffic because it’s merely a symptom of the larger “entrance” issue, are good for you, then stick with the status quo. Torre and his group-thinking council are really proud of what they have accomplished.

On the other hand, if this horrific record of detrimental decisions with real life implications, made consistently in 5-0 echo chambers, disturbs or disgusts you, vote to stop the madness. This is your opportunity to weigh in on Torre’s record of “good work.”

The municipal election is on March 7. Please register if you haven’t and check your voter registration mailing address. You’ll be receiving your ballot in the mail within the next 2 weeks. Your vote absolutely counts. Let’s put an end to this horror story.

The future of Aspen is in your hands. Contact


Mountain Mayhem: Spring flings

Casa Tua hosted a dinner last month in partnership with Wyld Blue, the chic boutique in the Elks Building downtown featuring a collection of housewares, childrens’ clothes and women’s fashion.

See more