Archived Ants


The Menu Police?

While I've long been an advocate for encouraging and even incentivizing "locally serving businesses," the Cooper Street settlement arrangement for a price-controlled menu looks a bit heavy handed. Upon reading the news story, I immediately called my friend Elizabeth to laugh about the latest government micro-management. When she quipped, "Welcome, Chairman Mao's Diner," I insisted that she write the following piece for The Red Ant. I think that it is a hoot, but has a serious message!

Chairman Mao's Diner in Aspen

In an unprecedented turn of events, City Council recently agreed to settle with local developers over their plans for the Cooper Street Pier project. In exchange for the ability to redevelop their private property in accordance with Aspen's land use code, including the required workforce housing,--the owners must, as stipulated by City Council, provide for a "People's" restaurant in the basement space. The Cooper Street Pier's basement, formerly occupied by Lucci's and then Siamese Basil, must now adhere to Council-dictated financial guidelines that restrict not only the rent, but also the hours of operation and, of all things, the menu prices!

Welcome to Aspen, Chairman Mao's Diner. Chairman Mao's Diner will be REQUIRED BY LAW to serve meals that are priced "within the third lowest" of all restaurants in town. Can you just imagine, after a long day at work or on the slopes, popping in for a quick bowl of rice and watery gruel? Will there be silverware? Or will everything be served in a hand-forged tin bowl, presumably created by "the guests" serving time in the Pitkin County Jail? Will the wait staff wear grey-green pajamas and serve the People with cold indifference? And who will work there? Are the wages also capped to be "within the third lowest?" In this time of staffing challenges, one can only imagine the rush for wait-staff positions in a restaurant that will surely mandate pooled tips on the cheapest dinners in town! Without information on the exterior signage restrictions for Chairman Mao's Diner, one should anticipate a big red star that will show the People where they can find Aspen's newest state-controlled cheap eats!

Council Weighs the Veggie Burger Requirement--Click Below to Read About the V.B.R.!

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Stone Walls Not Transparent

Stone walls are awfully easy for the government to erect, and terribly difficult for ants to penetrate!
We have seen a disturbing lack of transparency for the last thirteen months. We will cover the disconcerting history (the untold story of the undisclosed and false data behind Ordinance #30) in another issue.
In the last few days, The Red Ant filed Colorado Open Records Act requests (similar to a federal Freedom of Information Act request), on a variety of unpleasant Burlingame-related topics:
1) The unfounded basis for the false claims in the City's press releases on the two audits.

2) The initially submitted opinions/reports from the Burlingame auditors (before they were "negotiated.")

3) The basis for the City's claim that the "miss" between the brochure and actual on Burlingame included $32.9 million of "construction inflation."

"You Can't See the Audits You Paid For"---Click Below to Learn Why!

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Mayor Gets it Wrong. Hospital, School Get it Right.

Single women listen closely when men use the "commitment" word. So this one did not get past us---

Mayor Ireland recently stunned some citizens as he announced at a meeting on August 8th that the Hospital and the School Board had made "commitments for a number of units at Burlingame II at FULL COST." I was more than a little peeved to think that the leadership of those publicly funded organizations would write multi-million dollar blank checks when the per unit cost is unknown but expected to be well over $500,000. How could responsible board members even consider creating such sky's-the-limit liability, especially given the known fiscal mismanagement of Burlingame? And most particularly in the case of the Hospital, which has just recovered from its own issues of confounding debits and credits! This announcement seemed hardly consistent with the seriousness with which those board members appear to take their fiduciary duties. Surely the zeal for employee housing had not so overshadowed their common sense!

First stop: City Hall, with a formal (Colorado Sunshine Law) records request for documentation of those Burlingame II "commitments." The official written response came from Steve Barwick, City Manager, stating Mayor Ireland was speaking of those boards' "verbal commitments." Little comfort there. Would those boards really have given their word, absent cost estimates and due diligence?

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Aspen civic affairs can be difficult to dissect. Staying current is tedious work at times. Somehow I became interested and engaged, and occasionally observe things the local papers overlook in the ant hill at Hopkins and Galena, -- Aspen's City Hall. Along with help from some opinionated friends, I will share news bits and personal commentary through an email blast, The Red Ant. Expect some entertaining surprises from time to time.

The Red Ant will eventually archive our commentary, your comments, and related pieces on a blog. If we find enough community interest in our chosen topics, we might expand our reach to other formats. Stay tuned by getting our email commentary. If you prefer your local news a little more traditional, click the link below to unsubscribe.

Surprising Burlingame Survey Results

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