Stone: Who can you trust when you can’t trust the despoilers?

Andy Stone
Stone’s Throw

Incompetence, that’s what it is.

Sheer, damnable incompetence.

I hate to use the word, but there’s no other explanation.

And there’s really no excuse. If this were private industry, people would have been fired long ago.

We need to focus. We need to pay attention to detail. We need to get the job done.

What job? Destroying Aspen, that’s what.

Oh please, don’t look shocked. If you’ve been paying any attention — newspaper headlines, editorials, columns, letters to the editor — you know that we’ve been working full time to destroy this town. Ever since Aspen’s renaissance (that’s “rebirth”) we’ve been working on our “redeces” (that would be “re-death”).

The bastards have been doing their damnedest for decades to destroy this perfect little mountain town.

And this is the best they can do?

“Construction activity up 37.5 percent in Aspen” — The Aspen Times, Dec. 29,

“Spec builders return to Aspen market” — The Aspen Times, Jan. 13.

“Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits up 20 percent” — The Aspen Times, Jan. 14.

Not to mention Mayor Steve Skadron chatting with the Aspen Daily News about Aspen being nearly 100 percent occupied over Christmas and New Year’s.

Does this sound like a town that’s been ruined? Despoiled?

I think not.

Bottom line: Our despoilers are doing a rotten job, and we cannot settle for this kind of sleazy work.

So, OK, if we’re going to demand better work, our first question needs to be: Who exactly are these incompetent despoilers?

Well, those who have read this column over the years know that I — in my pathetic, bitter, jealous, left-wing, damned-near-Communist way — have long proclaimed that it’s the “damned greedheads.”

(Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever used that exact term. Too many others used it first, and that kind of — um, despoiled it for me.)

But still, I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that profit-crazed developers and speculators, egomaniacs and arrogant billionaires have torn the heart out of this town. Torn out the heart, I say! And fed it to — I don’t know. Who do you feed the bleeding heart of a town to? Packs of wild dogs? Sure. Wild dogs and rabid Realtors.

I’m sure I don’t need to repeat the entire jeremiad right now. You know the gist: ruination as far as the eye can see. A slag heap of broken dreams, abandoned condos and bankrupt T-shirt shops.

Shorter version: They’ve ruined it!

And yet — well, see above: Activity spikes! Skier visits up! 100 percent occupied!

Shorter version: Not ruined.

I would match our rapacious developers and greedy speculators against any in the land (I’m a hometown boy, after all. Our team is red hot!) but they’ve done a terrible job of despoliation.

On the other hand, I have it on very good authority, from some very successful people that it’s actually local government (especially a certain thuggish leprechaun who used to be mayor) that absolutely has ruined this town.

No one is going to build anything here. Too many regulations. You can’t sneeze without getting a permit! Damned Commies!

And the fees! Fees for permits, fees for water, fees for zoning, fees to pay your fees! (That’s how a bureaucrat tunes his ukulele: [singing] “My dog has fees!”)

There’s no way for an honest developer to make an honest living. Or, as Bruce Springsteen (almost) sang, “I’ve got fees no honest man can pay.”

And it’s not just recent administrations (see, above: leprechaun, thuggish) that have been hell-bent on despoiling the innocent, pure, free-market beauty of this town.

The first major story I wrote for this newspaper — way back in 1974 — was about local developers bringing in a political consultant (from “Dirty Tricks ‘R’ Us?”) to crush the politicians who were ruining Aspen.

So it’s been well known that the bureaucrats and damned left-wing politicians have been fighting to destroy this town for at least four decades.

And I would match our obstructionist bureaucrats and Commie politicos against any in the land. (See above: Red hot!, our team is)

But they seem to have done a terrible job of despoliation.

(See above: Activity spikes! Skier visits! Yada, yada.)

And they’re not the only ones.

How about those greedy landlords? Ruining this town for years with outrageous rents that drive striving local businesses out of town, while they spread their brick-and-mortar legs wide for the soulless national chains.

And Skico! Ever since the days of DRC Brown, those flinty bastards have been raising lift-ticket prices, screwing locals and wringing every last penny out of every tourist who wanders into town.

And don’t forget the stoner/hippie/slacker locals. The ones who light up a joint on the chairlift just to scare the tourists. The ones with the “Turkeys are my bread and butter” bumper stickers. The ones with the arrogant “I’m a local — and you’re not!” attitude. Doing their best to destroy this town!

Pardon my language (I know, it’s a little late for that), but this is a real despoilers gang bang.

The developers, the politicians, Skico, the billionaires, the locals, the landlords — all determined to ruin this perfect mountain paradise.

And what do we get?

We get a spike in building permits. We get a boom in speculative development. We get 100 percent occupancy.

People, you really are doing a terrible job.

We may have to let you all go.

It’s like we’re caught in a “Hotel California” nightmare. You know, “They stab it with their steely knives, but they still can’t kill the beast.”

Maybe it’s “Vietnam Through the Looking Glass:” We need to save this village in order to destroy it.

Or maybe it’s just Aspen, the Zombie Town. Aspen, shambling through the mountains howling, “I’ll eat your Body, Mind and — Brains! Brains!”

Aspen the Undead and Unkillable.

Our town.

Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His email address is


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