Scott: Oh, it’s a strange little community
For The Aspen Times
I’d like to welcome our newly-appointed chief of police, Kimberly Ferber, to this strange little community called Aspen.
When the city of Aspen has employees moving to Basalt and farther away for housing and had two local candidates for your new job, already on the payroll, with housing secured, and one of them already acting in the position you’ve been hired into, it’s somewhat of a preliminary mystery why the council members and mayor, under the direction of the city manager, under the advisement of a consulting firm, would hire someone away from another community, offering a moving bonus, and a housing unit in such short supply.
With no disrespect, the question must be asked: Who benefits with the hiring of someone who does not know this community, someone without experience acting as a police chief in prior roles? Do some folks in positions of power want a chief of police who will be playing catch up, who might not know the intricacies of policing such a unique community?
Aspen has a long history, over 50 years, of having a hands-off policy in regards to drug use and of being a friendly place for heads of all sorts. Maybe it has given primacy in friendliness to greedheads over the years. But some of these folks in the greedhead variety have benefited from the drug trade, if not high-end clothing or art. Import, export – these businesses have been lucrative for thousands of years.
But Aspen’s electeds just elected to not hire from within but rather just hired someone who has training from the FBI and who served in enforcement capacities at the Colorado Department of Transportation, and in various somewhat conservative Front Range communities like Littleton (aspentimes.com/news/final-aspen-police-chief-candidates-meet-with-public/).
Aspen’s historically hands-off approach to drug enforcement has included explicitly prohibiting undercover work. Aspen is a tourist town, and many of these tourists like to do more than just ski powder.
Former Councilman Skippy Mesirow has been advocating to make Aspen a hub of psychedelic-drug use, protected for medical purposes. I hope he asked candidate Ferber how she feels about this, considering her FBI training, and the fact that most of those drugs he’s advocating are still federally against the law. Did Skippy consider this when he was exerting his last thrusts of political power, that he could take the ayahuasca and mushrooms and go directly to jail under federal law?
I did not find one marijuana dispensary in a cursory search for one in Sterling, Colorado. Aspen has how many now? Seems like there is a pot shop on every other block, that is to say, a federally illegal drug is for sale all over our little town.
So welcome to LaLa Land, Chief Ferber. We are all wishing you good luck. Can one make a dent in the intoxicated driving and rampant drug use or enforce the many laws our community has a long and stoned history of ignoring? Does one want to?
If the bar at the Jerome or Woody Creek Tavern could talk, I promise they would talk with their jaws clenched and as though what they were saying was really important. Yes, Hunter S. Thompson was a very close friend of our longest-serving sheriff, and a few of our drug dealers are on Medicare. Some of our most treasured ski-instructors, bartenders, real-estate brokers (Some of them are all three),also have extracurricular forms of income that help them afford local housing, housing which the city has just so generously given to you, even though “Aspen owns 67 units for 368 FTE employees and would like to have enough to house a third of those employees”(aspentimes.com/opinion/stavney-a-case-for-public-entities-housing-their-own/).
If some of these folks seem wary or resentful that you’ve gotten a housing unit when so many current city employees still don’t have one, you don’t have to be an expert investigator to figure out why. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense — unless you assume that these people are high. And maybe it’s not just the altitude.
If you don’t want to build a jail big enough to house nearly all the locals and tourists, let me suggest just taking it slow on arrival; and if you are starting a clean-up campaign, please start the drug testing with the elected officials and city employees first.
Feel free to reach out to the Ute City Investigation Agency any time for more pro tips. (“We put the U in front of CIA.”) We’re available 24 hours a day so long as we aren’t searching the shag carpet for crumbs from our last case. This is America, after all, where “somebody up there knows everything, but nobody around here knows anything.” So if you’re here to ask questions, please remember to read us our rights first.
Andrew Scott, of Snowmass, is the manager of KSNO radio and director of operations of the Open Mind Project.