Archived Ants

ISSUE #121: FlamboyANT Madness  2/11/16

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." 

-- Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle


With the goal of getting fewer people to drive and park their cars in Aspen, the city of Aspen will be raising parking rates 50% at meters in the 16 square blocks of the downtown core as a 3-month experiment in June, July and August.  The brain trust at the city parking department estimates that 60-70% of the downtown parking spaces are currently being used by working locals who simply want to be close to their offices or shops.  Perhaps this hefty hike will move some of them to the bus or to the city's parking garage.  It will be interesting to see.  I envision a windfall for the parking department and, without viable AND ATTRACTIVE parking alternatives, very little change in behavior.

Then, missing the point entirely and flying directly in the face of one of council's top 10 goals for the year (to devise some concrete plans to ease traffic and also make it easier to find parking spots downtown), our car-averse mayor additionally suggested outlawing vehicles on Galena Street and the block of East Cooper between Paradise Bakery and Boogies in hopes of making town more "pedestrian friendly."  Somehow, this genius seems to think that by removing 80-100 parking spaces and expanding our pedestrian malls will make parking easier downtown.  Go figure.  But that's what we're up against, folks!  Thankfully, his ridiculous suggestion was not given much attention.

Aspen Daily News columnist Paul Menter points out that the parking enterprise fund generated revenue equal to about 170% of its annual operating costs over the past three years - on average just under $1.5 million per year more than it spends on operations.  As of November 2015, the parking fund balance was nearly $3.9 million, nearly twice its annual operating budget and that's AFTER kicking in $5.7 million toward the Rio Grande Plaza capital improvement project.  (Read his column HERE.)  With those kinds of dollars, one would hope that the city could come up with a "fast, frequent and free dedicated park and ride service from either a new lot at the airport or the existing Brush Creek park and ride, or both."  Without viable new solutions, the problem will only fester. 


In yet another car-averse move, our friends at the Open Space and Trails board, along with We-Cycle and the powerful bike lobby have effectively convinced council to temporarily NARROW the Castle Creek Bridge by one foot in each direction from 12' to 11' in an effort to provide a wider designated "multi-use lane" for bicyclists across Aspen's primary choke point this summer.  But let's face it, the primary, unspoken rationale is to deliberately congest the primary entrance to Aspen as a further deterrent to having cars in town.  The bikers and pedestrians already have a dedicated egress along West Hopkins that connects with a nice path across the Marolt property.  They just need to be required to use it!!  Even with a widened path crammed onto the already narrow bridge, bikers will still use the traffic lane.  It's just what they do.  Pedestrians and those with strollers in the dedicated lane will further add to the problem.  Colorado 82 is a state highway.  It is entirely possible to restrict bike and pedestrian access.  To do just the opposite is a nightmare waiting to happen!  It is one thing to encourage bike riding, but to deliberately choke the main artery in and out of town for the sake of a couple hundred vocal bicyclists has ramifications FAR BEYOND the canary initiative or whatever is truly driving this, no pun intended.  Besides, if the experiment is a success (and assuming no one dies), just imagine the narrower traffic lanes on the bridge when 2-3 feet of snow are piled up separating the lanes. 

The "down the road" next step to this folly is likely to make Hallam Street into a West Hopkins-like bike corridor.  You see, the biking crowd (that already has permission not to stop at stop signs in Aspen) doesn't want to have to cross Main Street to get to the Music Tent or Institute.  Let's just restrict another Aspen street and change all the driving patterns in the West End!  Unintended consequence:  the traffic that leaves town by way of weaving through the West End will be back out on Main Street, further adding to the congestion.

Council, in its hatred of cars and in its inimitable fashion, has agreed to this dangerous nonsense for the summer of 2016, the very summer when major commercial construction in Aspen will approach levels not seen in several generations:  a new city hall, Pitkin County building expansion, a new hotel at the Sky Hotel location, a new Aspen Club, a new building on Hopkins where the Aspen Daily News building now stands. Brace yourselves!!

Biking enthusiast and rational thinker Mike Maple stated, "While improving connections for other modes of travel is a worthy objective, the proposed Castle Creek Bridge & Hallam Street project will violate the Hippocratic concept, 'first do no harm.'  The proposed Cemetery Lane, Castle Creek Bridge/Hallam Street corridor improvements should be substantially abandoned and tax payer funds should be focused on improving the pedestrian/bicyclist connection from Cemetery Lane/west of the roundabout under Highway 82 to the Marolt Bridge and the Hopkins Avenue bike way. The City, with the input of Pitkin County, RFTA and CDOT, should focus on improving, not aggravating, vehicular access to and from Aspen."  Exactly.  But don't hold your breath - even though you'll want to, given the inevitable horrendous traffic jam emissions in our future.


Chagrined, confused and frequently emotional at the council table, mayor Skadron recently addressed the ACRA board and asked members to embark on a letter-writing campaign to push back against dissenting "negative" voices in the community.  In his belief bubble, things in Aspen have "never been uglier."  Really?!  Sure, there is political dissent in Aspen.  We have seen a significant spike in development and there is a huge airport project on the horizon.  Some resent the changes necessary to keep Aspen competitive in the 21st century.  Some still want to bring back the Quiet Years.  There has ALWAYS been political dissent here!  But to utilize one's elected position to attempt to silence those who disagree is, frankly, anti-American.  What an embarrassment.  The good news is that the business leaders on the ACRA board gently reminded our sensitive mayor that "the very foundation of this town is the resort and community working together."  Ya think?! 


In order to build or expand a home in Aspen, you're all aware that the city has long exacted a pound of flesh on a per square footage basis for the privilege.  This punitive charge is ostensibly to mitigate for "employees generated" by your new larger space, and no, it does not mean the employees whose jobs were created in the actual construction of said premises.  With a larger house, surely you need more maids, nail technicians and lawn mowers so you must "mitigate" financially for housing them.  (Never mind the 1.5% Real Estate Transfer Tax -- RETT -- you paid when you purchased  your property, two-thirds of which went toward the subsidized housing fund.)  A long-used mitigation tool for new construction and additions was "cash-in-lieu," a per square foot payment that went toward subsidized housing.  Always controversial, the program recently came under greater scrutiny.

About 2 years ago, in an effort to more aggressively punish those who wish to develop or redevelop residential properties, city staff proposed TRIPLING the cash-in-lieu payment for subsidized housing mitigation, from $78 per square foot to $230.  Enough citizens protested this outrageous increase that the city agreed to hire outside consultants to determine the "real" cost of employee generation for residential housing on a square footage basis.  The outside consultants came back with mitigation numbers FAR below what the city had been charging for 20 years.  Instead of reducing the mitigation fee to represent reality, the city decided to do the following:

They reduced the cash-in-lieu per square foot  to about $40, representing reality, however, they decided that cash-in-lieu payments would only be available for a small addition or small house, about 1300 square feet.  Anything bigger than that must use other means of subsidized housing mitigation or go to Council and ask for a hardship exemption requesting that cash-in-lieu be paid.  The only acceptable alternate means of mitigation now are:

1-Build a subsidized housing unit on your site, deed restrict it, and SELL it to a subsidized housing-approved employee.

2-Buy a free market unit in town and "buy it down" to subsidized housing category level.

3-Buy a "certificate" from local developer Peter Fornell for a unit in a housing complex he has built in town in a special agreement with the city.  (All his certificates for existing inventory are now gone.)

So, for anyone building a new house or expanding more than about 1300 square feet, you either have to buy a unit down in the city, build a subsidized unit on your land and sell it, petition council for a waiver to be able to pay cash-in-lieu, or somehow buy one of Fornell's certificates wherever they are and at whatever price they are currently trading.

With regard to the special deal that Fornell struck with the city to build housing and sell certificates on the open market to address this whole "mitigation" scenario, the city says it is up to the free market to create more certificates, and whatever they are worth will reflect the cost of housing mitigation.  Essentially, the city is imposing an impact fee on any new residential construction, but the cost of that fee is essentially market driven by Peter Fornell's certificate pricing or that of anyone else who does it.  Is this alright with you?


I have long written about the beleaguered Centennial subsidized housing project and its capital reserves (or, better put, lack thereof) woes.  To briefly recap, the property managers of Centennial's 148 rental units (built at the same time as the owned units), have long warned the homeowners to invest in preventative maintenance on the 1980s era buildings.  But they didn't.  As a result, there has been extensive damage from water saturation to major structural beams and load-bearing studs and walls.  It's a legitimate mess.  But there are responsibilities of home ownership.  For many years, the HOA at Centennial never even collected monies for its reserve account.  Today, estimates for the fix range from $3.5 to $10 million.  But the question is, who pays?

The Red Ant says, it's obvious.  Unfortunate, but obvious.  The owners.  In the real world, HOA dues are collected, and when these aren't enough to cover unexpected or even planned maintenance, owners are assessed.  In subsidized housing, it should be no different.  (Any fool who has purchased a Centennial unit in recent years is especially responsible for such costs; this is hardly a new problem!  I just can't believe that lenders enabled such foolery.)  Even assistant city manager aptly-named Barry Crook told the Daily News in 2013 that "he was not wavering in his stance that it is not the government's responsibility to pay for repairs to the ownership units."

But how the times have changed!  Faced with a lawsuit (that has questionable standing) from the Centennial owners, the city seems to be backing down.  The latest is that the city is looking at putting $16 million of public money into the capital reserve accounts of local subsidized housing HOA's.  Given that the current system does not reward the owner for taking care of maintenance while it does when a kitchen or bath is upgraded, most HOAs defer their maintenance.  A 2012 HOA reserve study showed that on average, capital reserve cash on hand at APCHA's HOAs were at 22% of where they should be.  

How the "public" gets reimbursed for this nanny action is anyone's guess.  (My guess is that it's just more free money thrown at a broken system.) There are responsibilities of home ownership.  We are clearly selling units to people who do not understand this, and even if they do, choose not to fulfill this responsibility.  The problem is once again with the oversight and control of this valuable public inventory.  Ought we rethink the "sale" of subsidized properties?  Wouldn't $16 million be better spent on buying back owned units and renting these out?  Obviously, the rents would include monies for capital reserves.

And, with 1600 owned units in our APCHA subsidized housing inventory, just think of the precedent this public cash infusion sets.


Just a thought on subsidized housing and, as you know, I've had many over the years:  Why on earth can't legitimate businesses and non-profits participate in the housing lottery?  Let's face it, they'd be FAR BETTER stewards of our housing inventory than Johnny Random who doesn't pay his HOA dues and trashes his unit.  Imagine our friends who own Peach's Café, for example.  They have constant employee turnover.  Imagine if they were able to buy an APCHA unit to rent to their own employees.  Sure, housing would be tied to employment, but then they'd likely have a lot more consistency with employees who have an incentive to work there for the whole season.  It's scalable.  My guess is that Peach's would pay their HOA dues regularly and on time.  And, because their own employees inhabit the unit, there is built-in oversight on the unit being properly cared for.  To me, it's ridiculously obvious.  And furthermore, you and I would know that at least one subsidized housing unit would be housing actual employees!!

For too long, there has been a ridiculous aversion to housing being tied to employment.  "What if someone loses their job?  Then they'd lose their housing," the subsidized locals whine.  Exactly.  All the more reason not to lose your job, I say.  It's just how the world works.  The mortgage lenders don't care if you lose your job, break your leg or crash your car.  They care about one thing, your payment.  Again, it's just the way the world works.  Why should subsidized housing in Aspen be any different?


Tis the season.  HERE is the link for your City of Aspen food tax refund of $50.  Aspen residents who have lived within the city limits for the entire year of 2015 and are registered voters are eligible.  (And if you're 65 or older, you get and additional $50 PLUS a $50 senior citizen allowance!!  That's $150!) $50 is $50 so get yours.  Deadline is 5p on April 15.  And if you don't need it, The Red Ant is always open to donations to offset costs!! (PO Box 4662, Aspen, CO  81612)


ISSUE #120: No Holiday tANTrum

"Despite the enormous role that local government plays in our daily lives, the Constitution makes not one mention of it." 

-- Anthony Albanese


It's been very quiet at the Library lately.  Or, better put, it's been very quiet where the Library temporarily operates amidst their expansion -- at the Old Power House.  This is as it should be.  For one, libraries are quiet places.  And for another, the Old Power House is located in a long-standing residential neighborhood in Aspen that is zoned R-30 (residential).  In fact, all land north of the Roaring Fork River in Aspen is zoned R-30.  Again, as it should be.  The Library, like the Aspen Art Museum before it, can legally occupy the space in this R-30 neighborhood because of a special overlay for "civic, arts and cultural uses."  As a NIMFY (not to be confused with NIMBY because the Old Power House is in my FRONT yard), I love having a museum, a library just outside my door - these are wonderful neighbors.

But is the quiet to last?  In early 2015, against its own directive to attract local non-profit applicants for tenancy at the Old Power House, council rejected proposals from numerous qualified groups and chose instead "The Aspen Power Plant (APP)," a conflagration of boisterous, millennial-pleasing entities that promised in their proposal to offer libations and "provide events at the Old Power House morning, noon and night, 365 days of the year."  This selection was just that, a selection.  It was not an ordinance.  It is not law.  And that's a good thing.  Several council members learned the error of their choice when it became clear that a for-profit brewery, bar, television station, public event space (indoor and out), subsidized office space and event planning company did not exactly fit into the "civic, arts and cultural uses" overlay to the R-30 zoning of the property. 

There's quiet alright.  Not a peep coming from the city regarding its negotiations with the "APP" for the lease of the Old Power House.  Since the APP's model does not adhere to the R-30 zoning with the established overlay, what is the city's plan?  Crickets.  Yes, council got caught up in the romanticism of the "party barn" idea, but when it came down to brass tacks, changing the zoning of such a building in a residential neighborhood to public, commercial or perhaps even industrial use simply should not happen.  According to Aspen Public Radio, plans will be made public in January.  


You asked, so I looked into it.  "In 2010, voters rejected a $5 million bond toward a $10 million expansion of the Pitkin County Library that would take the building from 32,000sf to 40,000sf (a 25% increase).  What is going on over there when the papers are reporting on a current $14.3 million construction project that is benefitting from a $1 million balance transfer from the county?"

In short, what's happening now (vs. 2010) is a completely different project.  The increase in size will be 7000sf, but this project will be built out over the city's parking garage on an existing easement, in a coordinated effort with the city amidst its garage replacement construction in order to split costs proportionally.  The 2015-16 project inherently invites comparisons to the earlier proposal, but it entails a more expensive infrastructure (steel beams) and some serious capital replacement (carpet, painting, roof repairs, skylight replacement, ceiling replacement, LED light fixtures, and lighting control and installation).  The earlier proposal was the library's attempt to present taxpayers with the least expensive way to expand.  Two primary goals of the current expansion are to provide a meeting room for public use as well as a "safe, vibrant children's room."  Both will be noteworthy enhancements to the library's offerings.

The new section, on the east side of the property, is a one-story split level addition, with a lock-off meeting room and an outdoor roof deck above.  The entire interior of the library will be reconfigured to enhance ADA accessibility, create an area for teens, provide restrooms on every floor, consolidate staff rooms on the lower level, relocate and widen the east staircase and update the furnishings.  Look for a small café to further enhance the library experience.

Financially, finally The Red Ant can share a "good news" story.  Exercising fiscal restraint and value engineering, librarian Kathy Chandler and county manager Jon Peacock have masterfully managed the funding of this $14.3 million project - and please note the impressive fundraising campaign.  In short:

  • Endowment at the start                          $7,414,000
  • Donations and pledges (2014-2019)         $4,679,000
  • CORE Grant*                                           $ 154,000
  • Existing fund balance**                           $1,089,000
  • Advance from Pitkin County***               $1,000,000

TOTAL                      $14,336,000

*The CORE grant, from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, recognizes the library's commitment to installing energy efficiency upgrades.

** The existing fund balance refers to the library's capital replacement budget not spent in advance of the project (deferred maintenance, etc.).

***The advance from Pitkin County should be viewed as a "cash flow" bridge; donations (2014-2019) are pledged but will not all be collected this year.  The advance will be repaid over the next two years in $500K increments from donations and/or tax revenues already budgeted.

In emptying every last coffer to fund the project, the library continues to independently fundraise.  The goal is to reach a $14.8 million target number so as to replenish funds (such as housing) that were depleted in order to make this a reality.  Please consider rewarding this remarkable effort:  The expanded library will open in Summer 2016.


Just back from his triumphant boondoggle (we paid $2332 for his airfare, cabs and hotel) to the Paris climate talks -- yes, in Aspen the belief is still strong that what we do in our little town will motivate global leaders to become as green as we are because everyone wants to be like Aspen -- mayor Steve Skadron shocked opponents of the now-shuttered hydro plant by balking at the majority of council's directive to city staff to find an alternate use or buyer for the custom $1.6 million turbine that has been gathering dust in a city warehouse since the project was killed 18 months ago.  Prompted by Jim Markalunas, who operated the city's 19th century hydro plant until it was closed in the 1950s, Skadron extolled the city's historic connections to hydro power and his personal preference for home-generated energy.  He then stated that the city should not sell the turbine, rather, we should figure out how to get the hydro plant built!!  Should we fear Hydro 2.0?  According to sources, The Red Ant has learned that "there is no way in hell" that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would issue the city a permit for the Castle Creek Energy Center.  With over $10 million spent (or better put, flushed down the drain) and a public advisory vote to put a nail in the CCEC's coffin, it's remarkable that our mayor just can't let go.  Remarkable, and frightening.


I followed with interest the application for a patio tent submitted by The Grey Lady restaurant on the Mill St pedestrian mall.  Last year, the city granted them a permit to enclose their sizeable patio from January through April.  When they returned this fall to ask for another go, council showed some interesting colors.  The request was denied, of course, (but later approved for December 24 - Jan 3 only) but not before Adam Frisch acknowledged "a sincere over-demand for seating in town at dinnertime."   And he's right.  Mayor Skadron played the precedent card, worrying that other restaurants might come forward with similar requests.  One of The Grey Lady's owners then asked why this would be a bad thing.  Bingo.  Skadron and council are of the belief that tents are inherently unseemly and "detract from community character."  I disagree.  I believe that during the winter, specifically during the holidays, the best community character Aspen can present is one that welcomes and comfortably accommodates all of our guests.  If every restaurant with a patio wants to tent and heat that area in order to accommodate more visitors, well then by all means let's help make it happen.  How easy would it be to formulate some simple and safe guidelines for restaurant owners to expand their premises on a short term basis, say December 19 - January 3?  We've all been to parties in attractive tents.  I love the idea of walking through Aspen with several visible dinner parties going on.  How vibrant and festive.  And welcoming.


Have you checked out our new $9.3 million publicly-funded bus station at Rubey Park?  The depot serves over 2 million RFTA passengers annually and it was decided that a bigger building would better serve those who ride the bus.  Sure, it looks nice enough.  And it should for that kind of money.  But I will never understand why city planners and council didn't look at the bigger picture.  Why on earth is our bus depot stationed on Durant Street, front at center at the base of our glorious mountain?  For the real money spent on refurbishing the 30-year-old station, ought we not have considered moving our transportation hub to a less visible and less impactful locale, such as down by Rio Grande Park?  It's where the public parking lot is and where city's new offices will be.  Surely, there could be less impactful shuttles running continuously through town and to the gondola.  But no.  $10 million: easy come, easy go.  Just like all those buses, clogging up the center of downtown.


You might be traveling through Rubey Park sooner than you think!  Despite the fact that Aspen's traffic has remained lighter than 1993 levels for 22 years, downtown parking remains a hideous problem.  The city is working to address this with a couple of dynamic pricing systems:  charging based on time of year (lower prices in the off seasons, status quo pricing in January, February, early April, early June, September, early October and early December, and 50% higher pricing in March, late June, July, August and late December) or by location:  charge the most for the four busiest in-town blocks.  Look for parking changes in the new year.  Just don't look for solutions -- or more spaces.


Perhaps taking a page from John Sarpa (who masterfully steered the soon-to-be redeveloped Sky Hotel through the local approval process), locals Jeff Gorsuch, Bryan Peterson, Paul Fox and Jim DeFrancia are on the verge of bringing forth an exciting new hotel project that is sure to please locals and visitors alike.  It's called Gorsuch Haus.  Imagine a new, small European-style hotel and second Ajax base area, finally, in the place where it all began.  To honor our ski racing heritage, Gorsuch Haus will revitalize and reactivate the historic portal to Ajax -- the 1A side of Aspen Mountain.  And notably, Gorsuch Haus won't be burdening the community with variance requests; housing will be provided on-site and mitigated in-town, and parking will be accommodated beneath the property itself.  The step-down architecture provides for many levels, none more than 49' in height.

Designed a north-south axis between the Mountain Queen and Shadow Mountain condos, the 75,000sf (above grade) hotel concept on 2 acres will offer 81 "keys" (61 rooms, 6 for sale condos and 7 additional lock-off rooms) in an "upside-down" format:  the public areas and apres ski deck are at the top, while the rooms step down the mountain.

The applications for Gorsuch Haus go in to the city any day now.  There are some land use hurdles to overcome, and serious questions of whether the 1A lift replacement can be moved further down the mountain are still to be sorted out.  (At press time, the Forest Service has approved SkiCo's request to replace 1A...) But this is a seminal opportunity for Aspen, not to mention our ski racing legacy.  And it's important to know the facts. 

We missed a chance several years ago to reinvigorate the 1A side of the mountain.  (Thanks, Mick.)  As a result, the upcoming 2017 FIS World Cup Finals in Aspen are in jeopardy.  Gorsuch Haus, if approved, won't be built in time for the race, but it will send an important and loud signal to the ski racing world (and governors) that Aspen values its ski racing history AND future.  It's rare when opportunities like this come around a second time.  I encourage you to familiarize yourselves with this project, its offerings and its challenges.  The more you know, I'm confident that you too will share my optimism and embrace this inspiring answer to "the 1A challenge."

Check it all out (including maps and renderings) HERE


I wasn't so clever this season, but in re-reading this popular reader favorite from 2012, it's amazing how relevant much of it still is!  Cheers!!  Click HERE

Poem or no poem, at this time of year, I'm reminded how grateful I am that you read what I write and for the valuable tips and feedback.  Keep 'em coming!


At The Red Ant

The fun never ends...

Merry Christmas to you,

Your family and friends!!



ISSUE #119: Hunt cAN'T Build Base 2  11/3/15

"It looks as if our old friend Hugh Bris is back in town."  -- Gore Vidal


The unofficial results are in, and after serving as a Pitkin County election judge for 12 hours today, I'm gonna keep it short and sweet.

For the most up to date election results and for all measures on the ballot throughout Pitkin County, click HERE


I'm actually surprised that it wasn't MUCH MUCH closer!  Base 2, the 37-room affordable lodge proposed for the corner of Monarch and Main, was handily defeated 1427-728 (66% - 34%).  This issue was far less about the proposed lodge and far more about shuttering development in Aspen.  Mark Hunt's Base 2 Lodge became a proxy for development sins committed by city councils past and present (think: Art Museum).  The opponents objected from the get-go to land use concessions granted to the developer for his plans to build a long-desired (by the community, or so the Aspen Area Community Plan has said for the past 40 years) affordable lodge.  And yes, there were several.  But now we get a new building, arguably a bit less dense than the proposed Base 2 lodge, that will likely house a national bank, a chain pharmacy or a mega-brand retail store at street level with offices or residential above.  

This campaign was yet another ugly chapter in Aspen's electoral politics.  The developer was vilified for not revealing who his investors are (as if it's anyone's business) and publicly accused of being dishonest and disingenuous. The fear campaign was mounted citing Hunt's numerous other properties in town and predictions of "variances gone wild" should Base 2 have been approved.  How quickly the Aspen electorate forgets that just last May the voters stripped council of its ability to grant future land use variances!!

One curious situation emerged amidst the campaign when Carl of Carl's Pharmacy was convinced to oppose the Base 2 lodge.  How he got this wrong is anyone's guess.  If a lodge were to be built across the street from Carl's, he would have had a captive audience of 37-74 people, inches from his business, 24/7/365.  We all know that Carl's sells EVERYTHING, so his shop would become the "bodega" for Base 2.  Beer, sundries, socks, snacks -- you name it.  If I had been Carl, I'd have been quickly on the other side of this one, and would have also looked into plans to replace the long-lost soda fountain and counter to serve his new neighbors!  Now Carl has to wonder -- who will be his across-the-street neighbor and will it be a competitor? 

But the most egregious part of this whole issue came from comments in numerous letters to the editor throughout election season.  There is widespread discontent here in the People's Republic of Aspen over the recent and growing success of our tourism seasons.  It seems the locals resent the visiting crowds and wish there were far fewer people who come to town.  Yes, the same people whose very livelihoods are pegged to a service-based tourism economy want to pull the drawbridge up!  These folks vehemently opposed a new lodge of any sort because they don't want any more people here.  (Just think, you probably subsidized the roofs over may of these same people's heads.)

As I have earlier stated, I now hope the concept of "affordable lodging" in Aspen can die.  This was our shot; after this vote, I can't imagine what other developer would ever deign to try it again.  Frankly, it would be foolish.


This question was an attempt by the State of Colorado to de-Bruce the existing marijuana taxes collected by the government, ostensibly so that more funds can be spent on school construction, marijuana education and prevention programs and youth programs.    

The measure passed 3418-878 (80% - 20%).  Let's hope that money somehow finds its way to the schools!


This question asked voters if the county should opt out of Senate Bill 152 which bans governments from offering internet services to the public.  Pitco does not want to offer broadband services itself, rather, the county seeks to invest in broadband infrastructure improvements for residents who live in rural, remote, rugged, low density areas.  

The measure passed 92% - 8%.


The Armory building at the northeast corner of Galena and Hopkins Streets is where City Hall is currently located.  Council has determined that it prefers to move all city offices under one (to-be-constructed) roof in a 52,000 sf new facility in Rio Grande Plaza rather than continue to house city offices a block away their current location, at other city-owned facilities throughout town, and some at a new (smaller than 52,000 sf) facility.  One alternative use for the Armory space would be a community center, for events, meetings, dances, gatherings.  This is an advisory vote on the matter.

At press time, since these are merely unofficial results -- city offices 1044 (51%), community use 1021 (49%) -- this one is simply too close to call.  


This property tax increase for the schools passed 2369 - 1180 (67% - 33%). The additional $1 million raised for the schools is just the beginning of the tin-cup rattling campaigns and tax increases to come.

I am looking forward to meeting with the Aspen Education Foundation to discuss better and more reliable long term funding options for our schools because the nickel and diming has got to stop! 


Similar to Pitkin County 1A above, Colorado Mountain College wanted to get out from under SB-152 too in order to have the authority to offer broadband service should it ever be needed for its campuses or the communities it serves.  

The measure passed 3421 - 472 (88% - 12%).


This is neither a new tax nor a tax increase.  Originally passed in 1995, this question is for the extension of the existing up-to-1.5 mills mill levy through 2020.  It has been re-authorized in 2000, 2005 and 2010 at the same rate. 

This measure passed resoundingly 2835 - 1147 (71% - 29%).


The Red Ant looks forward to opining on the political topics of the day, including upcoming topics:

  • The Library Expansion: what's going on over there and where did all the money come from??
  • The near and long term future for the Old Power House:  Library? Liquor? Litigation?
  • Aspen's Millennials:  Entitled whiners? Entrepreneurs? Employees? 

ISSUE #118: ANT Alert - Yet Another Election  10/12/15

"Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world."   -- Sharon Salzberg


It's fall in Aspen and that can mean a lot of things: colorful foliage, dustings of snow on mountaintops, ski conditioning classes ... and yes, elections. We obviously can't have too many elections here!


Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.  This election is a statewide one, so everyone (not just city of Aspen residents) can and should vote!  

  • Your mail-in ballot will be sent to you on October 12
  • Are you registered?  Check your voter registration and mailing address at 
  • Beginning October 20, you can drop your ballot off at the Pitkin County Clerk's office, 530 E. Main Street, 8:30a - 4:30p
  • There is a NEW voter service center at the Jewish Community Center, 435 W. Main Street 
  • Beginning October 26, early voting commences at the JCC, M-F 8:30a - 4:30p, Sat October 31 10a - 2p and Mon November 2, 8:30a - 4:30p
  • The LAST DAY your ballot can be sent to you is October 26
  • Once mailed back in, track your ballot HERE
  • Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 7a - 7p
  • Questions and concerns? or call the county clerk at 970-429-2713


This November's ballot is a hodge-podge of state, county, municipal and district issues.  In the name of brevity, not to mention a severe case of election fatigue, I am weighing in on most, but not all, of the presented issues. For things like school board and CMC board elections, I will leave these to your good judgement. Furthermore, I am reticent to opine on issues that affect communities other than my own. Apologies to readers in Basalt, Carbondale and beyond. 


This question is an attempt by the State of Colorado to de-Bruce the existing marijuana taxes collected by the government, ostensibly so that more funds can be spent on school construction, marijuana education and prevention programs and youth programs.    

I have a few issues with this.  Most pertain to TABOR - the taxpayers bill of rights.  TABOR states that the government can only keep voter-approved tax revenues (above a determined baseline) equal to inflation plus growth (a factor of population).  I am fundamentally a fan of TABOR.

The specific issue at hand stems from the recent legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado.  2015 is already on track to nearly double the marijuana tax revenue that it collected in 2014.  For reasons of this argument, use $40 million collected in 2014 (it was actually a little more, but 40 is an easy number).  Call inflation 2% and growth 3% -- 5% of $40 million is $2 million.  Under TABOR, the state can legally keep $42 million of 2015's pot tax revenue.  But if/when the revenue doubles, as it is on track to do, what will happen to the additional $38 million collected that the state is not allowed to keep?  It must be returned.  To whom? The retailers!?!

When the state collects such sums (far more than TABOR allows), the inclination is to change the law and permanently "de-Bruce" the revenue stream.  I personally like the protections of TABOR and worry about item by item unraveling of these taxpayer rights.  But it raises an even greater question:  if not the government, do we really want ginormous refunds to the pot retailers??  Should they reap the windfall?  If government is the answer, if not TABOR, what is the control mechanism for proper and transparent stewardship of the funds?  In this case, it reads to me intentionally vague, likely because lawmakers don't know.  They're leaving it open. Ugh.

Many will say, "Hey, it's a sin tax.  Let the government keep it and use it where they see fit."  But we are talking HUGE dollars here in Colorado.  In my opinion, neither option is a particularly good choice.  This is one of those "least worst" scenarios.  As voters, we approved (or at least some of you did) the legalization of recreational marijuana sales because they told us the torrents of tax money would flood to the schools.  Since we've yet to see that, I remain skeptical.  But I suppose I'd rather see the excess money have a chance to get there.


This question asks voters if the county should opt out of Senate Bill 152 which bans governments from offering internet services to the public.  Pitco does not want to offer broadband services itself, rather, the county seeks to invest in broadband infrastructure improvements for residents who live in rural, remote, rugged, low density areas.  Approval will enable the county to ensure needed infrastructure is in place through public-private partnerships.


Question 2A is THE hot button Aspen issue du jour.  It pertains specifically to the development of a 37-room lodge at the northwest corner of Main and Monarch Streets, where the Conoco gas station currently stands.  A brief history: On June 1, city council approved the lodge's development application that included zoning variances for parking, total square footage and setbacks in order to gain a long-desired "affordable lodge" in the downtown core.  A local group circulated a successful citizens petition to "unwind" council's approval of this application or send the issue to a public vote.  Well, here is the public vote.

It is never as simple as it sounds, however.  In this particular project's brief lifespan, council has been stripped of its future ability to grant variances to developers (in the May 2015 election) and anti-development sentiment has reached a fever pitch not seen since the late 80's when the historic hysterics were fighting the Ritz Carlton.  You'd think the apocalypse was upon us!

This ballot question has far greater implications.  Developer Mark Hunt has come forward with a plan (obviously appreciated by council) that meets a long-desired and stated community need: affordable lodging.  For at least the last 40 years, the community has been kvetching about "lost beds" and at least the perception of the loss of small, affordable lodges.  Now we have a guy who has stepped forward to answer the call.  He bought the valuable and well-located dirt.  He is willing to build an affordable lodge with small (under 200sf) rooms to meet the changing needs of the evolving Aspen demographic.  He very easily could build - within existing zoning - a nice commercial building for a bank or mega-brand with a penthouse on top, but he's willing to build a lodge.  As with all gives, there are gets.  That's what the opposition ceases to understand.  You want an affordable lodge in Aspen, well then, you're gonna have to give up a few things: some square footage, some setbacks, some housing mitigation.  It's called compromise.

I, for one, think it's a little disingenuous to offer "affordable" lodging in our otherwise "not affordable" town; it simply creates an expectation of affordability that we simply cannot meet.  But the community has long wanted this, so if it works for Hunt, I say let's give it a try.  The market will always determine what succeeds.  And furthermore, despite what you've heard, Base 2, as the lodge is called, is hardly a "big box;" it will not "ruin Main Street" nor "destroy Aspen's character."  It will merely provide 37 very small rooms right downtown, a mere block from the Jerome.  It could very well be the right solution for a long-lamented issue.

Now, should the community decide that these zoning "gives and gets" are too rich for its blood, ok. Mark Hunt will do just fine with his mixed use development opportunities for the property.  The affordable lodge will go away.  But then can we shut up about affordable lodging in Aspen once and for all???  (Do the opponents really think someone else is going to develop something like this??)  I see this as now or never.  Let's give it a go.


The Armory building at the northeast corner of Galena and Hopkins Streets is where City Hall is currently located.  Council has determined that it prefers to move all city offices under one (to-be-constructed) roof in a 52,000 sf new facility in Rio Grande Plaza rather than continue to house city offices a block away their current location and at other city-owned facilities throughout town.  One alternative use for the Armory space would be a community center, for events, meetings, dances, gatherings.  This is an advisory vote on the matter.

My beef is in no way with the idea of a community center.  Nor is it with the fine group of citizens whose desire to see the Armory return to its 1950s-era community use.  Their intentions are well and good.  Charming even.  I just can't stand the hubris of our local government.  It is the ultimate in hypocrisy to build a 52,000 sf edifice to bureaucracy in downtown Aspen when the municipality owns several buildings of varying sizes throughout town that the government is falling over itself to give away and/or to re-purpose for various (and dubious) "community uses."  (Think: Old Power House.)  

Of course shiny and new is preferable to used and re-purposed.  Of course paid-for-with-money-on-hand is preferable to asking for a bond (never mind why we have stashed away $40+ million taxpayer dollars for a new municipal castle).  Of course having everyone under one roof is preferable to spreading them among other city-owned properties. But is it prudent? Is it responsible? Is it necessary?

I say no.  A 52,000 sf municipal building is nearly 2 acres in size.  The city says it won't look that big because from Main Street because it will drop down in back several floors to Rio Grande Place.  But what about from that side? It will surely be a centerpiece of environmentalism, but will its stacked boxes function in terms of community engagement?  Surely there are numerous divisions and departments that have little or no public interface needs.  Why should they be in the center of town when other (city-owned) locations are available?  And for those functions that exist for public interface, then absolutely, keep them front and center.  My guess is that the proposed building is about 40% larger than it needs to be.

Furthermore, in the event that the Armory "reverts" to community use, are you aware that the (city-owned) Wheeler has already given early indication of its interest in managing the facility?  This begs numerous questions, not the least of which is why the city would be getting into the publicly subsidized event space business that will compete with other private enterprises.  And financially, we all know that the pot of gold that the Wheeler sits on from the (0.5%) RETT revenues is just funding looking for expenditures.  Could there be some financial cross-pollination that enables Wheeler RETT money to further subsidize the operations of and/or improvements to this proposed "community" venue??  A lot of questions, not a lot of answers.

In short, it comes down to this.  Do you want less net new development?  Well then, City Hall should absolutely stay where it is, use existing spaces already owned by the city, and expand at Galena Plaza only as much as it needs to.  If massive net new development makes you happy, then a 52,000 sf office space for our pals on the public payroll is right up your alley.  


This one is an emotional hot button.  It's a property tax increase for the schools.  According to school superintendent John Maloy, this property tax increase - the first for the schools since 2010 - will bring in almost $1 million a year "to preserve the current quality of education the community has stated it values and supports."  The problem is, this new $1 million a year, which will come from a mill levy over-ride of $2.99 per $100,000 of assessed value, will not come close to covering the projected shortfall, which is estimated to be $2.3 million next year.  We will still have a huge funding gap.  Much of this gap will be covered by an existing (circa 2011) Aspen 0.3% sales tax which kicks in $1.4-$1.8 million a year, but this tax expires in 2016.  (Read: look for a "renewal" of this tax in one year.)  Note:  the 2011 decision to add solely to Aspen's sales tax set a dangerous precedent.  Where was Snowmass Village up front?  Aspen stood front and center of the financial universe as usual -- what's the incentive for Snowmass Village to buck up now??  Just sayin'.

Clearly, the economic situation in the state of Colorado for education is dire.  This is not the fault of our local administrators, rather one stemming from funding decisions at the state level.  On one hand, you could argue, "Anything for the schools."  They are indeed a very important part of our community.  But on the other hand, while Snowmass Village (where over 20% of the district's students reside) dithers over how to contribute (they don't want to raise their sales tax any higher because it's already over 10%) and the Aspen Education Foundation raises $400K-$700K annually in charitable donations, can't we as a community do better?  I'd like to think so.

As school board member Sheila Wills has stated, "We need to find a local solution we can rely on."  Yes, Sheila, we do.  Here's one.  How about we re-allocate the RETT.  Yep, that 1.5% real estate transfer tax that goes (1%) to subsidized housing and (0.5%) to the Wheeler Opera House endowment can and should be promptly re-allocated.  The Aspen schools should benefit from this revenue.  This CAN be accomplished -- not easily -- but it CAN be done. Just look at the financial fortunes of the housing program and the Wheeler since the advent of the RETT. (FYI, in 2015, the RETT revenue forecast for housing is $8.4 million and for the Wheeler it's $4.5 million.)  It's time to select new beneficiaries.  As a community we can and should step up and make something big happen -- a real local solution that the schools CAN rely on.  But in order for this to happen, the piecemeal nickle and diming has got to stop.  


Similar to Pitkin County 1A above, Colorado Mountain College wants to get out from under SB-152 too in order to have the authority to offer broadband service should it ever be needed for its campuses or the communities it serves.  


This is neither a new tax nor a tax increase.  Originally passed in 1995, this question is for the extension of the existing up-to-1.5 mills mill levy through 2020.  It has been re-authorized in 2000, 2005 and 2010 at the same rate. These monies are not for new construction but to maintain funding levels to cover the costs of new technologies, staff development and education, community health and well-being services, care for the indigent and maintaining low nurse-patient ratios.  Think of it as a community commitment for local control of healthcare in the upper valley.  Short of a single-payer healthcare system, there will always be costs like these that fall to us.  It's simply what we pay to have a good hospital in our community.



ISSUE #117: I'm JubilANT - Bert Beats Mick

"One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective.  Election and power are."   -- Cal Thomas


Yes, it's over.  The results are in.  Bert Myrin unleashed a can of old-fashioned whoop ass on Mick Ireland in yesterday's run-off election for the remaining council seat, 1305 - 684 (66% - 34%).  

This hometown shellacking comes on the heels of the entrenched political class showing how little they have. The angry, class warfare-inciting, anti-business, anti-development, "bring back the quiet years" mob used Bert Myrin to compose and coordinate their anti-development Referendum 1 (which passed in May), only to allow it to be co-opted by Mick as a revisionist history come-back campaign platform.  Once Bert and Mick were in the run-off for the last council seat, this cabal swiftly threw Myrin under the bus and backed Mick with everything they had. Thankfully, the community has a long memory, and was not swayed by their shameless backing of Aspen's former mayor.

Many thanks, Red Ant readers, for voting.  When just 2000 people show up at the polls, your votes make a HUGE difference!!


Bert overcame the lack of support from both local papers, who preferred Mick's "experience" to Myrin's "new voice."  Interestingly, Bert had zero support from the council table either.  Mayor Skadron, Ann Mullins, Art Daily and yes, even Adam Frisch, vociferously endorsed Mick in the run-off.  Bert, a long-time community activist and P&Z commission member, won over the electorate with a sincere message that echoes the outcome of Referendum 1.  The community has clearly lost confidence in council and its decisions regarding development and, as the author of the new law that strips council of its ability to grant variances, Bert is now well positioned to implement the new rules and begin healing the divide that led to such a draconian change to our city charter.  Vowing to represent the community's small town character and values amidst the business interests of the resort, Bert clearly struck a chord.  I am not in agreement with Myrin's us/them characterization of the community and the resort -- I feel strongly that one is nothing without the other -- but am hopeful that Bert's proven ability to work across the proverbial aisle will serve the community well as we face the challenges inherent in applying Ref 1.  

Bert won because he is a gentleman.  He was undaunted when abandoned by the old guard, his erstwhile supporters in the Mick Machine.  He reached out to all corners of the community.  He has a record of always being prepared and he respects the process of good governance.  He communicates professionally.  Reach out and congratulate him.  It's the dawn of a new day.


Mick's shameless attempt at a council comeback was shown all the respect it deserved, which is far more than what he showed the electorate over his many years as county commissioner and mayor.  Time's up.  This was Mick's first loss as a candidate at the polls.  He tried to re-write history.  It didn't work.  The community did not fall for his 180-degree turn when he strongly backed Referendum 1.  He was, after all, the mayor when the most egregious variances in Aspen's history were granted.  Voters were also confused by Mick's criticism of city management and its lack of controls, because as mayor, he directed the granting of Steve Barwick's $170K/year contract and never followed up with annual reviews or a modicum of council oversight.  This led directly to Parking-Gate, among other Barwick financial follies.

The Red Ant was simply 4 years ahead of my time.  The community is indeed Sick of Mick.  (Many thanks to those who have donated to keep the up on the internet.  I knew it would come in handy again someday.)


Sitting council members would be well served to reflect on the outcome of this election.  It could easily be interpreted as the public's approval of city council in general.  The voters stripped council of a major responsibility in May, then showed all 4 members exactly what they thought of their unanimous endorsement of Mick's return. 

Bert will bring good government processes to the council table.  This will help amidst Skadron's frequent confusion.  He has also vowed to live up to his reputation as a patient listener.  I am optimistic.

In our little world, the concept of "mandate" is often brought up after elections in attempts to "elevate" certain council members above others based upon votes earned at the polls.  Let's all keep in mind that Bert just handed it to Mick in a more decisive margin than any of us could have hoped for.  

Welcome, Bert.  You have our support.  Let's get to work!


ISSUE #116: Render Mick IrrelevANT

"An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it
."   -- George Bernard Shaw


Bert Myrin was just 10 votes short of winning a council seat outright in the May 5 election, finishing in second place behind Adam Frisch with 994 votes.  He was notably 181 votes ahead of Mick Ireland.  The two now face off in a run-off where the winner takes all and will serve on council for the next 4 years.

Now it's our turn. There is no good reason to allow Mick another stint in elected office in Aspen.  He has served tirelessly as a county commissioner (three 4-year terms) and as mayor of Aspen (three 2-year terms).  It's simply time for a fresh voice.  Besides, is it really possible for someone who has been mayor for 6 years to resist the urge to run the show!?!  Please take 2 minutes to vote, vote for Bert Myrin and do it today!!

The run-off will be Tuesday, June 2. This too will be a mail-in ballot election; ballots were mailed out on May 15.  Look for yours.  Early voting begins on May 18 at City Hall.  Don't procrastinate!!  If you know you will be out of town during the election season, please complete the absentee ballot request form HERE.  The post office will not forward ballots!  Be sure to check the box indicating that you need a RUN-OFF ballot.  Questions?  Please call the city clerk at 970-429-2685.



10. Bert listens to others' opinions

9.  Bert considers how his decisions affect others

8.  Bert gets things done

7.  Bert is approachable

6.  Bert respects speaking and meeting time limits

5.  Bert takes disagreements in stride

4.  Bert is friendly to citizens of all political viewpoints

3.  Bert is smart

2.  Bert does his homework


And the number one reason to vote for Bert Myrin:

1.  Bert's will be a fresh, new voice on council



On a personal note, I have worked with Bert (specifically on defeating the Hydro Plant) and, while our politics are not always in line, I found this unlikely collaboration to be an efficient, strategic and goal-oriented experience.  Not to mention, successful.  I learned A LOT from Bert and will be forever grateful for his guidance with that process.  For those of you who opposed the Hydro Plant, that's yet another reason to support his candidacy!

We have just elected two incumbents.  It's time for a new voice on council -- Bert's.



Whether you want Bert to win or Mick to lose, your endorsement of Bert could really help A LOT.  Many people I have contacted have said they will vote for Bert and additionally urge their friends to do so.  This is good, but for Bert to win and Mick to lose, we're going to have to do even more than that.  It will require pressing ALL the mechanical levers of the campaign.  In Aspen elections, being able to show A LOT of endorsements is one important lever.  Please consider endorsing Bert, which means he would include your name in his ads.  (Yes, I'm on his list.)  You can do so by replying to this email and I will forward it to Bert.



For those who cannot take a little humor, this isn't for you... Mick has long been the political nemesis of The Red Ant, therefore, I won't throw any softballs.  I don't want him re-elected to anything.  No way, no how.

Here is an anonymously submitted riff on the "Top 10 Reasons to Vote for Bert" (above):


10.  Bert is NOT an insufferable bore

 9.  Bert is NOT narcissistic

 8.  Bert is NOT the only person in the room with a worthwhile opinion

 7.  Bert wears normal clothes and glasses to business meetings

 6.  Bert DOESN'T suck the oxygen out of all discussions

 5. Bert DOESN'T call people bad names just for disagreeing with him

 4.  Bert DOESN'T weave lectures on Citizens United and Climate Change into zoning discussions

3.  Bert DOESN'T constantly remind everyone he went to law school

2.  Bert DOESN'T consistently exceed his allotted speaking time


And the number one reason to vote for Bert Myrin:

1.  Bert DOESN'T troll the Saturday Market in spandex bike clothes reminding chicks "I'm the Mayor."


Furthermore, it's time to send Mick a message once and for all.  We're SICK OF MICK.  I am. You are. Aspen is.  Check out the website if you need a refresher as to why!


ISSUE #115: ANT Alert - The Empire Doesn't Strike Back

"Winning the election is a good-news, bad-news kind of thing.  Okay, now you're the mayor.  The bad news is now you're the mayor." -- Clint Eastwood


Mayor:  Skadron (incumbent) beats Torre 58% - 42%

Council:  Adam Frisch wins outright with 1207 votes and avoids a run-off.

Bert Myrin (990) and Mick Ireland (881) will likely* face off on June 2 for the second seat.

Referendum 1:  The controversial charter amendment prevailed 53% - 47%



*A run-off is likely, but not certain.  There are 23 outstanding ballots that must be verified today before being counted.  If Myrin gets 12 more votes, I am told that he too will clear the threshold of 45% + 1 to win the second council seat outright.  

If necessary, the run-off election will be Tuesday, June 2.  Ballots will be mailed out on May 11 with early voting beginning on May 18 at City Hall.  If you know you are going to be out of town on June 2, please complete the absentee form HERE.  Check the box indicating that you need a RUN-OFF ballot.  Questions?  Please call the city clerk at 970-429-2685.



Yay, us!  The bullet voting strategy worked!  By electing Adam Frisch in the first round, we successfully preserved one sane vote on council.  Furthermore, I am personally thrilled that I'm clearly not alone in being Sick of Mick -- the municipal election of 2015 could very well go down in history for handing the old dragon his first electoral defeat!

As for Referendum 1, I think the community will live to regret this change to our charter.  It's bad legislation designed to cripple future councils.  And ironically, the incumbents, Skadron and Frisch, who vehemently opposed the measure, were handily re-elected.  Meanwhile, the measure's authors, anti-development stalwarts Myrin and Ireland, now fight for their (own) political survival.   

Much more to follow.  Just wanted you to know the (unofficial) outcome from last night.


This election was city clerk Linda Manning's first in her new role.  To complicate matters, it was the city's first all mail-in ballot election.  I served as an election judge throughout the process and want to assure the community that we are in EXCELLENT hands with Linda.  She ran a meticulous election. Thank you, Linda.


ISSUE #114: Don't be HesitANT to Vote!

"Every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods." -- H.L. Mencken

 "I never voted for anybody.  I always voted against."  -- W.C. Fields


Gotta start off with something positive.  Don't forget to collect your $50 food tax refund.  Deadline is April 15.  HERE is the form.

                                                  * * * * * * *

The lack of enthusiasm for this year's election has been palpable.  In any case, it's still important that we all vote in the May 5th municipal election even when it's akin to having one's wisdom teeth pulled without anesthetic.  I also see voting as, among other things, an act that upholds my right to complain about the outcome. 

 My feelings are changing as election day approaches, however.  As I've gotten to know the candidates and where they stand on the issues, I am a bit more encouraged than I've been.  But that's not saying a lot.  Mick joining the race was a monsoon on everyone's parade and really threw a wrench in the system, but all is not lost.  Some see his return to council as a fait accompli.  I hope and pray that's not the case.  We just need to be strategic.  Very strategic.  And in this election, there are some very strange bedfellows indeed.


Reminder:  this election will be by mail-in ballots only.  Ballots were sent out yesterday, April 13.  You will have yours this week.  Look for it.  Mail-in voting is ripe for election fraud.  If you choose to abstain from voting, please destroy your ballot.  Again DO NOT THROW IT IN THE TRASH AT THE POST OFFICE!!  You will need $0.70 for postage or you can drop your ballot off at city hall.  (Questions regarding voting or your ballot, please call the Aspen City Clerk at 970-429-2687.)  The official election day when votes are counted is Tuesday, May 5. 

I've gone to the ACRA Candidate Forum.  I've read the local papers' candidate interviews.  And in most cases, I have met with the candidates themselves.  In other words, I've done my research.  Why wait.  Vote now and be done with it.  Here's how and why:



Referendum 1 is the "no variance" ballot measure that seeks to remove Aspen city council's flexibility on land use applications by subjecting variances affecting the mass and scale of buildings in the commercial core to a public vote.

I get it - the whole horse-trading exercise in the wee hours of the morning between council and developers has grown old.  And many of the "deals" have proven more than just a wee bit out of character for Aspen. The proposed charter amendment will take away council's ability to grant variances to 4 key parts of our code:  height, mass, subsidized housing and parking.  The four biggies.  And it only applies to commercial and lodging zones (single-family homes and duplexes are excluded). 

I agree, we should get out of the "governing by variance" business.  But I look at it differently.  If specific variances are so good, then let's codify them so they're available to everyone.  This whole brou-ha-ha is a land use issue so let's change the land use code.  Regardless of what side you're on, the argument comes down to:  CHANGE THE DAMNED LAND USE CODE SO IT APPLIES FAIRLY TO EVERYONE!!  The question is one of process.  This shouldn't be done as a charter amendment.  But don't take my word for it.  I have some unlikely support:

  • Former Aspen Mayor Bill Stirling: "The charter is Aspen's constitution, and our charter addresses how we govern ourselves.  It is not a document that should be addressing land use, environmental control and zoning issues.  Any group of US citizens who were unhappy with the president and his cabinet for allowing public buildings to be built too massive of tall would not even suggest that the constitution be amended to address such an issue.  It would be dealt with by petitions or through legislative action."  
  • The Aspen Times' Andy Stone: "On one team, we have The People's Choice, the city council (NO on Referendum 1). On the other team, we have We The People, the citizens (YES on Referendum 1).  So do we trust the wisdom of the people? Or is it really the wisdom of the mob?  Remember, it was those same people who, in their collective wisdom, elected the council in the first place.  So, in short, do you trust the untrustworthy council? Or the people who selected that untrustworthy bunch?"

And support from those who see "the law of unintended consequences" lurking once again:

  • Neil Siegel:  And what makes this situation even worse and very bad precedent is that it encourages other single issue groups to bastardize the city charter with provisions cast in concrete that should be the subject of code changes which can be amended and tailored by council as conditions evolve.  It is unquestionably true that the city charter is not the place to vent frustration or pursue personal agendas, but that is exactly what is happening here."

Furthermore, there's a significant loophole in the charter amendment concept.  If someone wants a variance and decides to go for it at the polls, what's to say that the variance-seeker doesn't sweeten the proverbial pot with some sort of bribe, packaged as a "community benefit?"  Horse-trading will continue; it will just wear a different hat. 


In 2013, Steve Skadron and Torre met in the mayoral run-off, which Skadron narrowly won.  2015 marks Torre's 5th run for the office.  If we're rating the candidates on the "good guy" element that so often drives local electoral politics, it's a tie.  Both are friendly, good guys.  Smarts?  Neither will wow you.  So let's move on...

While things with Skadron as mayor have been an improvement over Mick, let's not forget that ANYONE would have been an improvement.  It wasn't a high bar.  Could things get worse with Torre as mayor?  Sure, anything can happen, but I say let's give him a chance.  And consider, there is no love lost between Torre and Mick.  This is important and part of the strategy with Mick running for a council seat.  Mick's candidacy is not to be underestimated.  In the god-awful case that Mick is elected again, Torre will not put up with Mick's pontification, bloviation and rampant BS.  I just don't see Skadron keeping Mick in line for one minute. 

And as far as leadership goes, Skadron has been a disappointment.  He rarely grasps complex issues and often decries citizen input when things get technical, admittedly preferring "hearing about the issues from city staff."  He is solely responsible for adding the Aspen Brewery's proposal  to a citizen committee's list of finalists for the Old Power House, a blatant act of political pandering.  This, in the face of his very own directive that the space not be "handed over to private, commercial or office space use."

Skadron also thinks we should keep building and building and building subsidized housing "because (in his opinion) we need it."  And worst of all, despite years of citizen activism against the hydro plant (CCEC) including an advisory vote to kill the project, Skadron still ignores leading environmentalists and citizens alike with his willingness to complete the project.

Now don't get me wrong, Torre is no panacea.  We disagree on plenty, not the least of which is Referendum 1 (above).  Torre is also an advocate for subsidized commercial space in Aspen (puh-lease), in addition to acknowledging what he sees as "a never ending need for housing."  Torre has vexed me for years, however the specter of Mick back on council makes me open to giving Torre a try this time.

Torre DOES recognize the lack of leadership in city hall and favors greater oversight of city management.  (Those who work in city hall are frightened at the prospect of Torre as mayor - you can bet I like that!!)  His housing priorities are more narrowly focused than just "more" - he wants to see us build for specific demographics and pragmatically states that we need to take care of the inventory we have before we prioritize new construction.  I have had a constructive conversation with Torre about his ideas for "fixing" Centennial and no, he is not advocating a government bailout (phew!).  He wants to provide help, but more along the lines of a loan vs outright gift.  He sees where council MUST have better direction of processes and projects and opposes a new 70,000 sf city hall.  And I particularly like his priority of "protecting our streams, NOT a third try at the hydro plant citizens voted against."  And who can argue with the formation of an advisory board of second homeowners, to whom Torre would like to give a voice?  Furthermore, mystery solved!  HERE is how Torre became just "Torre."

  • The mayor must be elected with 50% + 1 of the votes cast
  • Let's give Torre a chance
  • It's a hedge against Mick being elected to council and trying to run the joint


I have long espoused the benefits of what's called "bullet voting."  This is a process that makes it more likely that your candidate will be elected when running for one of several openings (in our case, two) amidst a field of competitors.  The theory is to vote for just your favorite candidate, thereby boosting your candidate's total by one with your sole "bullet" vote.  By not voting for another candidate although you are permitted to, your candidate's total increases while others' totals do not.  My "bullet vote" will be for Adam Frisch. 

With this voting strategy, Adam has a solid shot of being elected in the first round on May 5 (45% + 1 vote). That is the goal.  Simply put, we need to get Adam in, especially with Mick lurking in the wings.  To get Adam on council gives us one "friendly," and hopefully, by employing the "bullet vote" strategy, keeps Mick relegated to the run-off.  (I may be crazy to think this, but hope springs eternal...) 

Adam has demonstrated common sense and respect at the council table.  His spirit of collaboration is to be admired.  He comes to meetings prepared.  And most importantly, Adam is accessible.  He reads and responds to inquiries regularly.  This is not a trait found elsewhere on council.  I personally appreciate his willingness to listen, read and ask questions of concerned citizens.  There are issues too numerous to count that come across his transom, and I have found Adam to be a patient and willing ear.  In his four years on council, Adam has gained confidence and perspective; no longer does he take the word of city staff as gospel.  I encourage Adam to keep focusing on his principles.  He CAN become a VERY strong voice for fiduciary responsibility, and we need that now more than ever.  Please, "bullet vote" for Adam.

Now remember, Mick too might just get it done with 45% + 1 on election day - but I sure hope not!  Hopefully people are simply SICK OF MICK (click it for some good laughs)!  But let's not be foolish here - Mick WILL command a lot of votes.  And in a run-off, Mick may still win a seat.  But the June 2 run-off election will focus on just those in contention, and I do see a candidate or two who might be able to give him an honest run for his money!


Political newcomer Andy Israel is one of the more interesting candidates to join the fracas in recent years.  An outspoken advocate for Wagner Park, he has long highlighted the limited public access to the park as an example of how the city of Aspen does not act in the best interest of its citizens.  This CPA and Wharton MBA was motivated to run for office because of what he sees as a "unacceptable lack of institutional control" at city hall as evidenced by, among other messes, the parking scandal.  "The numbers don't lie" and "parking scandals don't last 4 years," he states.  As self-proclaimed "deal maker," "problem solver" and "closer," Israel, a dark horse who claims he will "get things done," promises to work to "eliminate confusion and communication breakdowns" in Aspen government.  I welcome Andy to the mix and am pleased and entertained by his refreshing candor.  Oh, and did I mention, he studies the city budget in far more detail than anyone on council.  Plus, he can read a spreadsheet.  And no, this straight-shooter won't take any BS from Mick, Barwick or city staff. 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Now some of you are surely puzzled, if not shocked, by my endorsements.  But as I've written, we have no choice but to hedge against Mick.  That has been my driving rationale.  And sometimes that means picking "the least worst" candidate.  Sadly, Mick's candidacy really iced several good community members' campaigns.  Instead of being able to look at the full slate of candidates and ask, "who is the best candidate," Mick's candidacy makes this election one of "who can win?" 

Local activist (and author of Referendum 1) Bert Myrin is parlaying his tenure on P&Z and political capital from a successful "career" in the challenge-city-hall-through-citizen-petitions business into what's shaping up as a very competitive run.  I have worked with Bert (to kill the hydro plant) and know him to be a tireless advocate for his chosen causes.  He's a real muckraker. To say that "Bert cares" is a gross understatement.  Mick (ever the purveyor of revisionist history) has managed to co-opt Myrin in this election by glomming on to the momentum of Referendum 1.  They're being seen as a package deal. And this alliance makes people nervous. 

Long-time community and civic volunteer Marcia Goshorn , former APCHA director and councilman Tom McCabe, and bartender and former coffee shop owner (Parallel 15) Keith Goode got lost in this season's election shuffle.  While Marcia and I disagree on subsidized housing issues, she has a proven track record of commitment to important civic boards, including the Citizens Budget Task Force.  Her perspective informs her belief that the resort and community are NOT against one another, rather, they are dependent upon each other.  Tom, as a former locally-serving business owner, laments the lack of affordable lodging and commercial space for business in Aspen.  Keith, while a newcomer to the election game, has served on the city's Planning & Zoning board.  This is truly valuable experience given the land use issues of the day.  He brings a unique perspective that highlights the close interface between those in the food & beverage industry and our visitors.  These candidates deserve our respect and gratitude for throwing their hats into the ring.  It's more than I've ever done.

  • In order to be elected, a candidate must garner 45% + 1 of the votes on May 5.  With 7 candidates running for two seats, the likelihood for a run-off is great.
  • On May 5th, if only one candidate passes the 45% +1 threshold, that candidate is elected and the next two candidates with the highest number of votes advance to a run off on June 2.  The candidate with the highest number of votes on June 2 wins.
  • On May 5th, if no one hits the 45% + 1 threshold, the four highest vote-getters advance to the run-off on June 2nd, where the two highest vote-getters win.
  • The run-off election is Tuesday, June 2.  Ballots will be mailed out on May 11 with early voting beginning on May 18 at City Hall.  If you know you are going to be out of town on June 2, please complete the absentee form HERE.   Check the box indicating that you need a run-off ballot.  Questions?  970-429-2685

The Red Ant sent each of the candidates a questionnaire several weeks ago that touches on issues of the day.  Every candidate responded and for that I am grateful.  The questions are as follows, with notable excerpts from individual responses.   Links to the candidates' full responses are at the end of this issue.

Where do you stand on the "no variance" ballot measure that, in many cases, strips city council's responsibility for granting development variances and waivers?  Should the city charter (Aspen's "constitution") be changed or is this matter better suited to a change to Aspen's land use code?  Please explain.

  • Skadron:  I oppose the ballot issue.  It's a land use code item that does not belong in the charter. The charter is the framework of our government and should not have land use items attached to it.  I believe the amendment undermines the principles of representative democracy.
  • Torre:  I do support Ref 1.  I think it's unfortunate that it has come to a citizen referendum, but I too want a land use process that reflects community values and promotes positive development opportunity.
  • Myrin:  The red herring here is the false choice between direct democracy and representative democracy.  A YES vote on Referendum 1 upholds representative government.  Our representative government doesn't negotiate land deals; it follows the rules and changes the rules for everyone if needed.
  • Frisch:  Oppose.  The real issue is that the maximum allowed height was not addressed in the land use code soon enough, not the approval of variances.  I have asked the supporters of the referendum for a single example of a building in town that was granted a height variance that is out of line with community values - it has been over a week and not a single example.  Again, the buildings in town that are 'big' were all approved under a prior Council that did not downzone soon enough.
  • Goshorn:  The land use codes have needed to be revised in a responsible manner for years, but the councils have not been willing to do that.  The ballot question is not something to be feared.
  • Israel:  I signed the petition.  I plan to vote yes in favor of Ref  1.  I don't agree with many of the recent decisions made by various councils.  I have lost faith in the process.
  • Goode:  I believe that this (variances) is something that should go to the voters.
  • Mick:  I am more concerned with the proposals to alter the land use code to subsidized high end development.  The need for luxury lodging is not well established.  The variance "process" encourages real estate speculation.
  • McCabeI am not in favor of the "no variance" ballot measure.  It is akin to using a pile driver to do the work of a hammer.

Steve Barwick is the city manager.  As such, he reports directly to council and, per the city charter, is responsible for running the administration of the city, not developing or directing policy.  What will you do to foster greater accountability from the city manager?  How will you change the focus to Council-directed policy as opposed to simply "playing catch" with policy initiatives that originate with the city manager?

  • Skadron:  I disagree with the premise.  The question implies that the city manager is developing and directing policy and that's not the case.
  • Torre:  I will bring leadership and accountability to city hall.  I will focus council for clear policy directives.  I will then follow up with the city manager and staff to enumerate and execute service and outcome measures.
  • Goshorn:  The buck stops with the city council.
  • Israel:  If I am elected I will push for an immediate audit of the CofA books and accounting systems by a legitmate 3rd party auditor. Projects and events get pushed so far up the ladder before council is even aware of them. The city manager reports to council, not the other way around.
  • Frisch:  The City Council is a policy board.  It is their job to set goals and objectives on behalf of the community with a long term vision in mind.  The City Manager is responsible for executing those goals. On Monday, April 13th, Council is participating in its first formal 360 review of the City Manager since I joined Council in June of 2011.  This should have been my fourth; standard operating procedure is on an annual basis.  I wish I had a valid reason for this not being done until now, but I do not - no excuses.
  • Goode:  Council each year takes time to create a top ten goals that they hope to achieve.  I would hope to use these as our base for direction.
  • Mick:  The city manager should be subject to annual personnel review by the city council including a "360" review by his peers and subordinates.

Surely you are familiar with Aspen's parking scandal, discovered in 2014.  While a recent audit of the city's internal controls has been presented to the current council with recommended steps for process improvements and evaluation of risks, how do you feel about requiring a quarterly review of the city's actual financial condition?  What about the employment of an auditor who reports to council (not staff) and has a statutory obligation to make reports to council and the public? Please explain. 

  • Skadron:  I would support consideration of retaining an auditor to report to council.
  • MyrinWe need to bring in outside, independent and transparent auditors to review the city's financial controls.
  • Goshorn:  In 2008 I was a member of a 26 person citizens budget task force that gave the city a list of recommendations that included regular audits.  The recommendation was not acted on.  The city needs regular oversight now as it did then.
  • McCabe:  The difficulty with anything as complex as the city budget is that the expertise of the professionals is typically beyond the experience of those elected to oversee it.
  • TorreI will do whatever it takes to ensure the fiscal competency of the city.  I support community oversight and if necessary, outside evaluation.
  • Goode:  Hiring an auditor shouldn't be out of the question, but tightening the controls that are already in place might be a better solution.
  • MickThe City of Denver has an elected auditor.  I would not go that far but it is worth considering a direct report to council and periodically changing auditors.  I like the idea of reports to the public and I believe city financial data should be online.

The FERC permit for the Castle Creek Energy Center (CCEC) hydro plant was not renewed in February.  Is there ANY circumstance in which you would vote as a member of council to continue spending money on the CCEC.  Yes or no? Please explain.

  • Skadron:  Yes. One circumstance to support further expenditures would be a citizen petition to re-establish the energy center program. 
  • Frisch:  No.  For years, I have been clear and consistent in my comments that the community has spoken.
  • TorreI will not be supporting continuing with the CCEC.
  • McCabe:  No.  It is not OK to spend more money unless the citizens demand it by way of a vote.
  • MyrinAspen should sell the turbine ASAP.  This would put to rest continuing to spend money on the CCEC.
  • Israel:  I would never vote to continue the CCEC.  I don't want to hear about it or see any time or money dedicated to it.
  • Goode:  No.  The community has spoken very clearly about their opinion of the hydro plant.
  • MickNo.  My side lost the election and I do not intend to pursue the license.  

The APCHA housing inventory is comprised of over 2800 rental and owned units.  There is great speculation of widespread non-compliance.  In order to better understand our current and future subsidized housing needs, would you support an independent and comprehensive audit of the entire portfolio to determine who lives there, where they work and whether or not they comply?  If not, why not?

  • Skadron:  Speculation is different than the evidence which suggests widespread compliance.
  • Goshorn:  Speculation is forming of a theory without evidence and has a life of its own.  The housing board has already begun a discussion of how we could accomplish an audit.
  • Israel:  I too believe there is a lot of non-compliance with APCHA.  I am in favor of an audit or review of this entity conducted by a different party than the financial auditor.
  • TorreI believe that we should have a compliance component to our program, even if this is best realized by an outside source.
  • Goode:  Yes, I've spoken with the new housing director about this already.  Even if there is only 10% out of compliance, that's 280 units!
  • MickAPCHA owners are required to certify their eligibility periodically under penalty of perjury.  The affidavit requires affirmation that the owner knows the rules and is in compliance.
  • McCabe:  I convinced the council and commissioners (years ago) to increase the APCHA legal budget by a factor of 6, for 5 years, so APCHA could chase down the more persistent rumors of cheating.  This provided APCHA the resources to prosecute some headline-generating cheaters and to develop better investigative tools.
  • Frisch:  Contrary to popular belief, the APCHA staff and board have long suggested a review.  The policy suggestion seemed to run out of steam prior when it comes to the elected officials (we need to remember the Pitkin County Commissioners have an equal say on policy direction regarding APCHA housing issues).

Reports of APCHA housing inventory in physical decline have been attributed to (among other things) speculation about the lack of adequate HOA reserves and deferred maintenance over the years by HOAs.  Would you support a legally mandated level for reserve accounts at every APCHA HOA?  If not, how do you envision the prevention of further decline of these valuable community assets? 

  • Skadron:  Moving forward with new properties, I would not be opposed to further deed restrictions mandating a level of capital reserves.
  • MyrinCouncil and staff have been focused on deferred maintenance of our resort bed base and not nearly as much attention has been paid to this equally important issue.  If we are intent on maintaining our community, we must work on solutions to sustain our affordable housing inventory, not just building more.
  • Israel:  I am in support of a mandated HOA reserve.
  • McCabe:  On the ownership side, almost all deed restricted homes (condos) are members of an independent, non-profit HOA.  Existing HOAs falling under the deed restrictions of APCHA cannot legally be required to comply with any level of reserve account funding by local political jurisdictions, which includes APCHA, the city or the county.
  • Frisch:  Not only would I, I already have, both on an individual basis as well as through my leadership on the Housing Frontiers Group.  With Frontier's lead, capital reserves are now mandated for all AH projects from Burlingame-II and going forward, including AH built by private developers. 
  • GoodeI don't think that's out of the question to set a baseline for reserves for every HOA.  What I would question is who is responsible for funding that?  The new tenants to old units?
  • MickThe issue is not confined to APCHA housing.  It is common for HOAs to struggle with maintenance of capital assets.  Some APCHA units were not properly built for this climate.  I believe the city has a role in helping analyze long term capital replacement needs and requiring adequate reserves.
  • Torre:  I do believe in mandated standards for HOA management of APCHA housing.  Before we are building more housing, we need to iron out the wrinkles that we have experienced as our AH program enters it's 40's.

The city of Aspen has a $100+ million budget in 2015.  Just because we have it, should we spend it?  Where do you see waste/abuse?

Please be specific in your evaluation of the City's overall financial condition and budget priorities.

  • Skadron:  I agree. Money should not be spent just because we have it. I have expressed that to various departments within the city. City projects are scrutinized by the council and there are times when council directs staff to re-study a project because of the money.
  • McCabe:  To some degree I am sure that fees are used to get around the TABOR restrictions.
  • Torre:  The $616K intersection project at Gondola Plaza and the proposed $2.7 million Castle Creek Bridge narrowing are issues.  And the fact that this council is spending $2.8 mill for architectural designs on 2 options on over 70,000sq.ft. for a new city hall. I think we need a revised budget process that involves a more public friendly explanation of budgeting and reconciliation.
  • Goshorn:  The continual studies by consultants that cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars are repetitive and in many cases unnecessary and often placed on shelves and ignored.
  • Israel:  I see waste and abuse everywhere.  I see a culture of excess at city hall.  Just because we have "an embarrassment of riches" doesn't mean we need to make foolish decisions about money.
  • Frisch:  To add a bit of detail, the total approved appropriations in 2015 is $124,206,420.  Having said that, the total revenue in the General Fund, which is the only part of the budget that City Council totally controls, is 'only' $24.4 million.  The rest of the monies are voter supported initiatives.  The recent parking scandal is a good example of the City needing to be extra diligent in financial practices.  The fact was with increasing revenues from the department, it became less critical to double check the books.  The generosity of the community is based on very prudent management of our vast resources.
  • GoodeIf we decide to set up a rainy day fund then that is something I believe should go to the voters.
  • Mick:  The $100 million is an attractive political target. Reserves should be increased in anticipation of the next crash.  Our reliance on a fairly narrow, volatile segment of the upper end of the economy makes us suceptible to boom and bust.  I agree that the city's present buildings should be considered first for housing city departments.

What is your position on fees vs. taxes?  Under what conditions would you support adding/increasing fees to cover the cost of government services that were previously covered by taxes? Do you support independently raising revenues on your own authority or do you believe that major changes in funding should follow the spirit of TABOR and go to the voters?

  • Frisch:  While many may think a fee and a tax are the same (money ends up in the government's coffers), it is important to know that fees can be voted on and changed at the Council table.  From a policy standpoint though, moving revenue collections from a 'tax' to a 'fee' for the purpose of avoiding a public vote is something I would not support.
  • Skadron:   I support compliance with TABOR and all laws and court decisions relating to raising revenues.  As in the bag case, fees are authorized under the law under certain circumstances.
  • IsraelI'm for taxes rather than fees.   I believe that major funding changes should go to the voters.
  • GoodeMajor changes in funding should go to the voters.  If we are lowering taxes but increasing fees, what difference does it make to the individual? I'm not a fan of changing wording to confuse people.
  • TorreI do support public input and votes on questions of taxation.

How do you want City staff to report to you on their progress and accomplishments? Do you think the City would benefit from a set of publicly-produced outcome-based performance measures that show how the City is addressing the demand for services? Aspen does not produce any such reports for Council or the community even though such reports are considered "best practices" by every professional government association (International City and Council Manager Association, Government Finance Officers Association, American Society for Public Administration, etc.).

  • SkadronThe City annually produces a Goals & Outcomes Measures report that is made available to council and public for review.
  • MyrinTransparency is important in building trust.  We need to get away from the fear of "not invented here."  As special a place as we consider Aspen to be, our problems are likely not unique and have been addressed elsewhere.  We should continually look to discover and adopt best practices.
  • TorreI do support performance measures to ensure that public services and programs are meeting community expectations. I believe we can improve the communication between citizens, council and staff.
  • McCabe:  Pretty charts are cool but the over-use of Power Point is a dead giveaway that staff doesn't have a lot to offer so they attempt to distract with pretty pictures.

The city plans to build 70,000+ sf of municipal office space in the near future.  Given that the costs (currently estimated at $40 million) are to be borne by the Aspen taxpayer, how do you justify this?  What steps will you take to ensure community buy-in?  Would you support an "up/down" vote on the expenditure?

  • SkadronAt this point the city is simply exploring the replacement of existing space plus some small increments of public space required by code and additional space for the Police Department. The city is not trying to increase its footprint. If bonding backed by a property tax pledge is required, I would support an up/down vote on the expenditure.
  • TorreI believe we should take care of the municipal needs we have like the Police Department relocation, and other office space losses. We should build on the Zupancis property on Main, but we do not need 70,000 sq.ft. This council chose not 1, but 2 of the largest options to take to design level.  I definitely would do every effort to reach out for community participation and buy-in.
  • MyrinOf the proposed developments on the horizon, this may be the largest runaway project without public buy-in.  I support an up/down vote by the electorate as the final checkpoint.
  • Goshorn:  This is another situation that the voter buy-in needs to be based on verifiable facts not assumptions.
  • Frisch:  While the politically expedient answer is "no way," some amount of new space needs to be built; it is a 'necessary evil' for lack of a better term.  Build as small and humble as possible.  I am a proponent of having any new building being located behind Galena Plaza. 
  • IsraelI am totally against the plan for a new city hall.  First of all the $40 million estimate seems very low.  Second, we just gave away a perfectly fine 7,200 sf building to a brewery.
  • McCabe:  Fifteen years ago the city council purchased the Zupancis property with it in mind as the location for the offices that were badly needed at the time.  The city needs decent workspace for its employees.  That is way overdue.
  • GoodeThe town is in need of more space, as well as updated facilities.  Public outreach has already started and Aspen should have the right to choose by voting if this is the direction we should go in.
  • MickI don't think we should vote on the "need" for new police space or relocation of existing departments, those are necessities.  Some things that might require a vote would include a new building behind city hall that is park space.

To read the candidates' responses in their entirety, and I encourage you to do so, click their name:

      Steve Skadron     Torre     Adam Frisch          Andy Israel     

          Bert Myrin       Marcia Goshorn       Tom McCabe   

                    Keith Goode         Mick Ireland