CON GAMES: The Tragedy Of Irish Ireland


Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland was yelling at me as he was walking out of the KNFO studio after his live appearance with City Manager Steve Barwick on “Con Games” Wednesday morning and I was yelling back.

It would have been better all around if Mayor Ireland had been so kind as to scream at me on air, just as it would have been better if he had blown his top at the City Council meeting after, instead of before, they turned the cameras on. But such overt displays of pique would not be in keeping with the kinder, gentler politician promised during the election campaign just past.

Not that Mayor Ireland did not have good cause to be angry as he climbed on his bike and left the station for adventures unknown. No wonder he was mad: I had asked him to name names–to name the people who were “Swift boating” him with “illegalities.”

Instead of an answer he said: “I will have no comment on that.” I said the man who has a comment on everything suddenly has no comment and I could not let it go because I wanted accountability. I don’t think the Mayor of a city can fabricate illegal campaign activities of those who are supposedly against him and get away with it; or I think the Mayor is at least required to name said Swift Boaters if they actually exist. Otherwise he may seem to the uninitiated like a paranoid nut job.

I had actually said in an email earlier this week to Mayor Ireland that if he merely admitted he didn’t know the origin of the supposed “illegalities,” all he had to do was tell me he didn’t know and I would drop the subject–hardly a gotcha scenario. But he just couldn’t do it.

Ironically, as he left the station, the Mayor was not yelling at me about Swift boats but because I was “rude” and I kept interrupting him. I did this knowingly  because I was not going to allow Mayor Ireland to pull his favorite ”if you would just let me finish” routine, his silly way of trying to fillibuster every question. And I was not going fall for tactic two–that anyone who dares disagree with the Mayor is “politicizing” the event. I wish my listeners could have seen the look of utter disdain as Mayor Ireland, nothing more or less than a career politician, deigned to answer my questions, the disgust made manifest as he refused to ook me in the eye.

Stripped bare of his two sure-fire tactics, the Mayor was left with his remaining strategy: to yell at his adversary. I yelled back as he turned his back to me that on my show I could interrupt him if I wanted to, that this was not a City Council meeting where he controls the proceedings with a waggle of the gavel.

I think we can put to rest the notion that there ever was such a thing as a “new Mick” in contrast to the old Pitkin County Commissioner who was put to recall elections by voters before managing to hang onto his job. But the story is sadder than that: whether Burlingate or Swift boats, Mayor Mick Ireland is now calcified and codified as a man who can’t admit a mistake.

In the great Burlingate scandal, all he had to do was to say we are going to investigate and get to the bottom of this. He was and is entirely incapable of that kind of honesty and the kind of action that would so obviously work for the public good. He is so invested in the false god of afforedable housing–and getting re-elected–that he can’t even countenance the possibility that a moratorium on affordable housing is not only called for but an ethical responsibility. Instead the besthe can offer is to say: “We have to move on.”

Whether on television or on radio, people in Aspen are now seeing Mayor Ireland as they have never seen him before and it’s not a pretty picture. He’s a bully plain and simple but I was not going to let him bully me because I now know all of his tricks. More and more people are seeing the Mayor for what he is: a sad, tragic figure who can’t listen, can’t grow, and can’t change.

If I could choose I would pick the old Mick: like it or not, what you saw was what you got. This new guy, the Mayor of the city of Aspen, a pol who was term-limited out for five minutes before he went right back in, is completely lost with no evidence that he will ever be found.

Posted in: Affordable Housing, Aspen, Aspen City Council, Colorado, Con Games, Race For Mayor 2007, Radio

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