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ISSUE #145: tANTalizing Election Results  12/3/18

"Every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."

                               -- H.L. Mencken


As many of you know, the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE) is likely to be redeveloped in coming years.  This enormous project stands to be the largest infrastructure project on the western slope since Glenwood Canyon over 20 years ago.
Please consider participating on one of four volunteer advisory groups that are being established to inform decision-making on the airport modernization and improvement. There will be four distinct advisory groups: 
  • The Vision Committee will serve as the advisory committee focused on holistic project development.
  • The Community Character working group will evaluate and provide input on priority issues related to community values, neighborhood character and quality of life.
  • The Airport Experience working group will evaluate and provide input on how the overall airport experience integrates with the regional community.
  • The Technical working group will evaluate and distill complex technical topics into readily understandable concepts for community-wide discussion.
These volunteer roles will begin in early 2019 and will meet throughout a 14-month "visioning" process.  Six meetings are anticipated, and members should expect to commit to 3-5 hours per month.  I encourage you to apply.  Seriously. Just think of the usual suspects who regularly populate the critical committees in Aspen, and ask yourself, "Do I really want THEM making key decisions on the airport redevelopment?" (I didn't think so.)

To apply, visit for more info.  Questions? Call 970-309-2165 or email  The deadline for applications is December 7. Again, this is NOT a major time commitment, and your input is vital.  Please get involved!
The Red Ant had a particularly poor showing on November 6, however, one bright light managed to overshadow many head-scratchers and an abundance of outright idiocy.  Mick got whipped. Clobbered. Decimated.  In what was seen by many as a fait accompli, Mick's hopes of yet another elected post (this time: County Assessor), government salary and benefits, and power over those he disdains were surprisingly dashed by political newcomer Deb Bamesberger. Endorsed by her boss, outgoing assessor Tom Isaac, Bamesberger had neither the name recognition, mastery of local campaign how-to, nor support of the local political machine, but she prevailed in a not-at-all-close contest, 62%-38%.  Congratulations, Deb!  
As a reader recently wrote, "Hopefully Mick's crushing defeat was a wooden sword through his heart.  The margin was surprisingly large, which certainly reflects his unpopularity.  Hopefully we finally have him in the rearview mirror."  Amen to that.
In a quick rundown, here are the results from the ballot measures covered in Issue #143. (For more information on the various ballot questions and The Red Ant's endorsements, please refer to that newsletter.)

Aspen 2A:   To move Aspen's municipal elections from May to March.    
YES 68% - 32%
Look for electioneering to begin in the immediate term; candidates must declare by December 26 and will campaign throughout the winter season for a March 5 election.  Also, look for a concerted effort to register transient "seasonal workers" to the voter rolls.  

Aspen 2B:    To enable the city to issue debt for "enterprise funds" without voter approval.
NO 67% - 33%

Aspen 2C:    To enable city council to grant "franchises" without voter approval.
NO 57% - 43%

Aspen 2D:   To build the Taj Mahal City Hall or purchase a building from a local developer
OPTION B:  Build the Taj    57% - 43%
Look for an open checkbook for this folly as the city finally gets to play developer again and build an edifice to its own incompetence and largesse. While Option A presented a fixed contract price of $45 million for the completed buildings on Hopkins and Galena Streets which will be developed anyway, Aspen voters went with Option B to build the custom Taj based on unfounded construction cost estimates (no construction bids have been obtained but are guesstimated to be between $42 - $52 million, and this does not include the land cost), the perception that the city was over-paying for the Hopkins/Galena buildings due to dubious appraisals obtained by Steve Barwick, and because they didn't want to "put money in local developer Mark Hunt's pocket." Watch this one spiral out of control. City as developer, again. Like a bad re-run.

1A:   To extend and increase the property tax mill levy for Health & Human Services.
YES  69% - 31%
Look for the county to continue to manage an increasingly large budget ($120 million this year) while crying out for "critical" health and human services needs above and beyond this amount.  How about funding these "critical" HHS expenditures as part of the base budget and hitting up taxpayers for discretionary programs when and if money is additionally needed?  But that would make too much sense when the entitled Aspen electorate doesn't pay attention, doesn't hold its elected officials accountable, and instead unnecessarily taxes itself.  Or us, as is the case!

6A:  To raise the property tax mill levy by 1.325 mills to benefit the Aspen Fire Protection District.
YES 72% - 28%

7A:   To create a 2.65 property tax mill levy and bonding authority for RFTA.
YES 53% - 47%
Look for RFTA to be back rattling its tin cup in a short matter of time.  No way they stay quiet through 2040. This was yet another tax measure sold to local voters as "preparation for future growth." In reality, the new revenue will merely cover a budget problem due to underfunding critical capital replacement needs. RFTA inefficiency will continue, just in nicer buses.

7D:     To de-Gallagher Colorado Mountain College (CMC) and enable the elected board to adjust the CMC mill levy upward to maintain revenue levels that will be lost due to implications of the Gallagher amendment.
YES  73% - 27%
Look for potential abuses now that an elected board can monkey with a constitutionally protected mill levy in the name of "addressing revenue shortfalls."  What could possibly go wrong?

Amend A: To change the language in the state constitution to clarify that convicted felons are not slaves.
YES 66% - 34% (In Pitkin County, YES 81% - 19%)

Amend V: To lower the age qualification from 25 to 21 for a member of the general assembly.
NO 64% - 36% (In Pitkin County, YES 53%-47%)

Amend W: To group judges on the ballot by court type.
YES 54% - 46% (In Pitkin County, YES 62% - 38%)

Amend X: To change the definition of "industrial hemp" to align with the federal definition.
YES 60% - 40% (In Pitkin County, YES 75% - 25%)

Amend Y&Z: To develop new processes for congressional and legislative re-districting.
YES on both 71% - 29% (In Pitkin County, YES 83% - 17% and 84% - 16%)

Prop 73: To abolish Colorado's flat income tax rate in favor of income tax brackets, dramatically increasing income taxes on corporations and high income earners, ostensibly to benefit schools.
NO 54% - 46% (In Pitkin County, YES 59% - 41%)

Prop 74: To require compensation from the state/local government for laws and regulations that result in the reduction of private property values.
NO 54% - 46% (In Pitkin County, NO 56% - 44%)
Look for more frivolous, self-serving, idealistic government regulations in the absence of accountability and severe financial repercussions.

Prop 75: To attempt to "level the playing field" among candidates for office by raising the individual contribution limit when a candidate contributes $1 million or more of his/her own money to the campaign.
NO 66% - 34% (In Pitkin County, NO 59% - 41%)
Look for more wealthy candidates "buying" elections with their own money.

Prop 109: To issue $2.5 billion in bonds for transportation infrastructure.
NO 61% - 39% (In Pitkin County, NO 60% - 40%)

Prop 110:  To raise Colorado state sales tax to 3.52% and to finance $6 billion in bonds for unidentified state, local and multi-modal transportation projects.
NO 60% - 40% (In Pitkin County, YES 52% - 48%)

Prop 111:To limit interest rates on "payday loans" to 36% per annum.
YES 77% - 23% (In Pitkin County, YES 84% - 16%)
Look for the number of low-income poor-credit borrowers to increase and end up in a financial death-spiral because this new limit will only serve to incentivize both borrowers and lenders to come to longer loan terms for larger loan amounts at this new lower rate.

Prop 112: To place greater restrictions on the oil and gas industry in Colorado.
NO 55% - 45% (In Pitkin County, YES 72% - 28%)

BOCC:  Patti Clapper 61% - Rob Ittner 39%
Look for more of the same from this career politician who proudly espoused her two greatest accomplishments as a four-term county commissioner as "traveling to New Orleans after Katrina" and arranging for a bear-proof trash can outside of the county courthouse.  Can't make it up!

Sheriff: Joe DiSalvo 78% - Walter Chi 22%

Congress, District 3: Scott Tipton 52% - Diane Mitsch-Bush 44%
Other Races:  Click HERE (State) and HERE (Pitkin County)

There were four measures (above) where Pitkin County voters were in stark contrast to the rest of Colorado, a state known for its fiscal restraint and moderate-to-liberal social views.  I highlight these to illustrate just how wildly progressive Aspen and Pitkin County are.
Beginning with Amendment V, while the rest of Colorado saw the wisdom of having general assembly members be at least 25 years of age, locally, it was far more popular for younger (21) and even less educated and experienced candidates to qualify.  Then there was Prop 73, which sought to abolish Colorado's flat income tax rate in favor of tax brackets, with hearty "escalators" on high income earners.  This "soak the rich" measure was VERY popular locally, tangibly illustrating the pervasive class warfare we all know exists here.  Prop 110 further drove home the point that local voters are just fine with increasing sales taxes, regardless of the dubious nature of the beneficiary.  While much of our sales tax revenue is generated by our tourism economy, this is just more "soak the rich" mentality. Imagine Aspen with a 9.92% sales tax and Snowmass Village at 11.62%?!  Local voters don't care - the tourists are the ones who pay it! And Prop 112, which would have placed severe restrictions on the state's thriving oil and gas industry, was heavily favored by local voters.  Never mind that this measure would not have improved drilling safety nor environmental impacts, local voters simply saw the evil words "oil and gas" and hit the NO button.

While we continue to contribute subsidized housing to local voters through the 1.5% Real Estate Transfer Tax, buyer beware.  While you are housing them, local voters are clearly voting to tax you at every turn.  They will surely continue to prevail locally, but for now, the rest of the state is not quite as punitive. As with any entitlement, the answer is always "more." And with over 3000 units in the APCHA inventory, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the bulk of local voters are.  They're looking out for their lifestyles first and foremost, and to the degree that you can fund their "land of the free" - free museums, free concerts, free trails, free buses and free newspapers - with your investment, philanthropy and taxes, all the better.  For them.  Look for this trend to continue as transient seasonal workers are encouraged to participate in our upcoming elections.  (Of note, 10,000 Pitkin County voters participated in the November 6 statewide election, of 15,000 registered.)

Amidst a cornucopia of nonsense such as a ski season-long campaign season culminating in a March 5 municipal election and a ridiculous 2019 summer-long "war on cars" (a "mobility lab" that is going to inconvenience workers, residents and tourists alike when the city tries out an elaborate bribery experiment to reduce auto traffic into town), we will hopefully be voting to approve Gorsuch Haus and the development of the western portal to Ajax now that plans exist to bring a new Lift 1A down to Dean Street.  Stay tuned.  And as always, stay in touch!

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