The Entrance to Aspen, no bridge over wealth

Its effects are nearly as devastating as global warming and more immediate. We see its consequences in our own lives, yet struggle connecting the dots to describe it as the cause. It is the reason we resent billionaire transplants. Mapping its destruction throughout society transforms concerns over affordable housing into something greater than petty griping. The wealth gap is displacing people throughout the social strata and raising the poverty line through homelessness.

We are lately focusing on the Entrance to Aspen over the aging Castle Creek Bridge. Yet, there is a wider, deeper chasm challenging local residency and there are no detours around it. When a resident leaves Aspen today, the wealth gap all but ensures they will never return. A working person arriving now has almost no chance to call it permanent home.

Some insist that the displacement of locals is happening everywhere. They say this to make it seem like no big deal. They might as well sugarcoat global warming, too. That’s happening everywhere.

We acknowledge COVID-19 attracting the ultra wealthy to the relative safety of mountain communities. Technology now enables white-collar workers to do their jobs remotely and that has brought copious new wealth to town. Global warming plays a part in driving those who can afford it toward the luxurious escape of cool breezes, verdant landscapes and the fountainheads of water sources in places like Aspen. But, what facilitates all of these causes of skyrocketing costs and displacement of workforce is the burgeoning wealth gap transforming the planet. And we thought it only affected the poor.

According to Talmon Joseph Smith and Karl Russel in a New York Times story on the great generational wealth transfer looming in the U.S., total family wealth in this country grew from $38 trillion (adjusted for inflation) in 1989 to $140 trillion in 2022. They point out that the richest 1% in our country possess as much wealth as the bottom 90%.

The effects of the wealth gap are perhaps more obvious in Aspen than anywhere else, even if not with as dire direct consequences as in other parts of the world where the phenomenon is moving the line between life and death. Skeptics need only ponder how a handful of billionaires have simultaneously displaced thousands of local workers in Aspen while at the same time demand more services than ever from them, forcing them to commute daily from homes 50 and more miles away.

Billionaires need no longer to be satisfied with a single mansion in town. The Federal Reserve reports that through 2021, the richest 1% of Americans added more than $12 trillion to their net worth since the beginning of the pandemic. This astonishing sum is literally enough to buy all residential and commercial property in Pitkin County 1,800 times over. The ultra rich could easily buy all 525 U.S ski resorts and the entire towns around them with only the windfall they’ve accumulated since the outbreak of COVID-19. And, it appears they are in the process of doing just that.

The ultra rich are not selling in Nantucket to buy in Aspen. They are adding to their real estate collections. It’s why prices are rising everywhere. With money in bulk, it’s not even a decision to buy another mansion across the river to tear down because it’s blocking the view. If you want more privacy in the West End, you simply buy all the houses surrounding yours, just as medieval aristocrats built walls around their castles.

This process leaves far fewer houses around for the multimillionaires to showcase. What’s a merely filthy rich person to do? Well, they buy houses from the working second-homeowner to remodel and bring up to snuff. This leaves the wealthy vacationer in a bind. They are left to remodel dilapidated shacks and condominiums: You know, the places workers used to call home. These former citizens then use their windfalls to buy something downvalley. The domino effect displaces people in Basalt who then displace people in Carbondale and the transience continues to Glenwood Springs, then Rifle, and on and on. The ripples of housing displacement travel all the way to the oceans of poverty where the poor are pushed off the seaside cliffs to drown in the turbulent seas where desperation foams into despair.

This is true trickle-down economics at work.

As an incubator for the wealth gap, Aspen is hosting a major global force of destructive displacement. With our outsized carbon footprint, we are facilitating another. If we only construct a missile silo in the center of the roundabout, we would contain the trifecta of existential threats to our planet.

It took awhile. It is now clear that my angst over the burgeoning presence of billionaires throughout mountain towns and the sadness over what our town has become is not only a superficial lashing of my ego. It is finally recognizing that my beloved Aspen has been brought by greed and excess to the headwaters of some seriously bad stuff.

Roger Marolt acknowledges that billionaires pay for our bike paths. Email him at



After being taken to the hospital to be checked out, the man was arrested on suspicion of charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and driving while ability impaired as well as for previous warrants for his arrest


SPRINGFIELD — A driver, who was pulled over for speeding, tried to switch places with his dog to avoid arrest, police in southeast Colorado said.

An officer watched him maneuvering inside the car before he got out on the passenger side on Saturday night in Springfield, a town of about 1,300 people on the state’s Eastern Plains, police said in a Facebook post Sunday.

The man said he was not behind the wheel and clearly showed signs of being drunk, police said. He ran from the officer when asked about how much he had had to drink and was caught within about 20 yards, police said.

After being taken to the hospital to be checked out, the man was arrested on suspicion of charges including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and driving while ability impaired as well as for previous warrants for his arrest.

“It was discovered that the male was driving from Las Animas to Pueblo and got lost in Springfield,” police said in Facebook. 

Pueblo is west of Las Animas. Springfield is east of Las Animas.

“The dog was given to an acquaintance of the driver to take care of while the party was in jail. The dog does not face any charges and was let go with just a warning,” the Facebook post said.

Opinion  Pickleball is the worst ~ The Washington Post


By Rick Reilly

May 8, 2023

I’m 65 now, which means that, according to federal law, I have to start playing pickleball.

But I don’t want to play pickleball. I hate pickleball.

I’m fine with AARPers all over America loving pickleball. Great. Play until your arch supports melt. But why do you have to constantly tell me about it? Why do you insist I start playing with you? I get it. You moved less than 18 inches in each direction for two hours, hit a greenish ball a lot and beat Ed and Nancy Finkler in three games. SportsCenter will be right over.

Look, I tried it. I didn’t like it. Not as fun as ping-pong. Not as elegant as tennis. Not as pretty as golf. It was a lot of people who hadn’t played a sport in 30 years suddenly thinking they’re athletes. “Man, three hours of pickleball today,” my buddy will say. “It was epic.”

Reality check: There is no “epic” in napping, crochet or pickleball. It’s a game in which two mostly very old people (like me) whack a plastic whiffle kind of ball at two other mostly old people (like me), who defend an area the size of a rug (like the one in my bathroom).

Besides, it’s not a sport. Any game that you can take up after breakfast and be pretty good at by lunch is not a sport. And it’s not great exercise. A Canadian study last fall found that an hour of pickleball gets you only half as many steps as just walking the hour.

“No, it’s like tennis!” PicklePushers will argue. No, it’s nothing like tennis. Riding an electric bike doesn’t make you Lance Armstrong, and playing pickleball doesn’t make you Roger Federer. I’ve watched Federer run the equivalent of three New York City blocks on a single point. You could play pickleball for a month and not run that far.

And yet, somehow picklers manage to get hurt. When I call my buddies to do stuff now, half the time they’re injured. So far, they’ve had a torn Achilles’, a ripped rotator cuff, a blown-out knee, a pickleball elbow and one black eye.

Remember, kids: Every time you see a new pickleball court open, an orthopedist gets a new boat.

Those new courts, by the way, are swallowing up actual tennis and basketball courts. Closing down a hoops court for pickleball is like closing down a boxing gym for Zumba.

This is what comes of something dreamed up by a rich Seattle Republican politician (Joel Pritchard), who invented it decades ago with a couple of friends for their bored families on stuffy Bainbridge Island when — I’m not kidding here — they couldn’t find a shuttlecock for badminton. The catamaran must have been in the shop.

“But wait,” the PicklePushers wail. “It’s America’s fastest-growingsport!”

So what? The Diphyllobothrium is a fast-growing tapeworm. Doesn’t mean I want it. Worse news: More and more young people have been infested. The Flabbiest Generation seems to be putting down TikTok and actually (gasp) going outside.

They’ll learn quickly that pickleball doesn’t just hurt the eyes, it also hurts the ears.

The wooden paddle whacking the hard plastic ball makes an eardrum-piercing pwock! And since the combatants stand about a yardstick apart, that’s a lot of pwock!sPwock! Pwock! Pwock! All day and, sometimes, even past the 4:30 dinner hour.

A guy in Falmouth, Mass., sold his house to get away from pickleball courts. A woman in Newport Beach, Calif., sued the city, saying that the ceaseless pwock!ing from nearby courts caused “severe mental suffering, frustration and anxiety.” A neighborhood group in Arlington, Va., this year organized to stop more pickleball courts being built near them because of “excessive continuous noise,” “public urination,” plus “tennis and basketball” had been “hijacked.” A noise study in Phoenixsaid 12-foot walls — at a cost of $140,000 — would need to go up around the courts and even that might not do it.

Which is so dumb. The pwock!s can be easily fixed. All people have to do is switch from the hard paddles to the quieter “Green Zone” paddles. But so far, not nearly enough have done it.

“We tell people they need to switch, but they don’t seem to hear us,” says Anita Hobbie, president of Pickleball Enthusiasts of the World (PEW). “I think it’s more of a hearing aid problem.”(Okay, there’s no such thing as PEW, or Ms. Hobbie, but I really think there should be.)

So, to sum up, go ahead and play all the pickleball you want, but can you please just shut up about it? That would be epic.


.May 5, 2023

A collage of a portrait of Dianne Feinstein peeking through a torn photograph of an empty Senate chamber. A single brush stroke in yellow is drawn across the photograph of the chamber.
Credit…Illustration by Rebecca Chew/The New York Times

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.


Without Senator Dianne Feinstein, there might never have been an assault weapons ban in 1994. Or the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Or the revelatory report on the C.I.A.’s torture program in 2014. She has had a distinguished career in the U.S. Senate, but her infirmities and illness now force her — and Senate leaders like Charles Schumer — to make a painful choice.

At age 89, Ms. Feinstein is now the Senate’s oldest member, and health issues have kept her out of Washington and the Senate chamber for more than two months, at a time when vital legislation and judicial nominations are hanging on a knife’s edge. If she cannot fulfill her obligations to the Senate and to her constituents, she should resign and turn over her responsibilities to an appointed successor. If she is unable to reach that decision on her own, Mr. Schumer, the majority leader, and other Democratic senators should make it clear to her and the public how important it is that she do so.

Senators play many roles in shaping legislation and policy, but they have one primary and inescapable duty: They must show up in person to vote in the chamber. If they cannot do that for extended periods, they are depriving their constituents — and California has 39 million of them — of a voice and of fundamental representation. In six elections, voters have sent Ms. Feinstein to Washington on a Democratic platform, and in the current term of Congress, that agenda consists of confirming judges nominated by the Biden administration and preserving a majority for important legislation in a closely divided Senate. Her absence is a failure that deprives American voters of full representation on legislation and appointments that will affect them for decades to come.

Without Ms. Feinstein’s presence at proceedings of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats have lacked a majority there and struggled at times to advance nominations to the floor. (Proxy voting is allowed in the committee, but a proxy cannot be the decisive vote if the committee is otherwise evenly divided, as it often is.) Currently, seven of President Biden’s judicial nominees are awaiting a vote in the committee, at a time when 9 percent of district and appellate court seats remain vacant. Ms. Feinstein offered to step away from the committee, but Republican senators blocked any effort at appointing a temporary replacement. Democrats are also likely to need all 51 members of their caucus if there is a vote to raise the debt ceiling, along with at least nine Republicans.

Ms. Feinstein’s difficulties with advancing age are serious and long predate her current illness. Last year, her hometown newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, reported that her memory has so deteriorated that she can no longer fulfill her job duties. She cannot keep up with conversations, her colleagues said; she doesn’t seem to fully recognize other senators and relies almost entirely on staff members, to a much greater extent than other senators do. She’s announced that she will not run for re-election in 2024, but until then, her staff is, in effect, assuming the authority entrusted to her by California’s voters.

It’s a deeply saddening situation, but even the most dedicated public servants cannot serve forever, and they may be the last to realize or act upon their incapacity. Fitness for elective office can be measured in different ways. Some people are unfit on the day they first set foot in Congress, because of their character or ethical failings; others do stellar work for decades but gradually lose their effectiveness. In each case, constituents are the losers, and American institutions should be strong enough to have mechanisms to protect voters from a lack of representation.

In the Senate, that task falls to Mr. Schumer and his leadership colleagues. Ms. Feinstein has put them in a difficult position by saying she wants to come back, and plans to do so, but without ever giving an indication of when that will be. Mr. Schumer said Wednesday that he hoped she would be back next week. But Ms. Feinstein’s office has not confirmed that, and there is no clear timeline for her return, the only way for voters to gauge her effectiveness. Under the circumstances, Mr. Schumer should turn up the public pressure on her to return or resign, setting aside the antique Senate gentility that can hobble common-sense decision making there.

Putting any kind of public pressure on Ms. Feinstein has been criticized by the former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and others as sexist. “I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,” Ms. Pelosi said last month. It’s true that the Senate, which has always been entirely or mostly male, has experienced long absences by some of its male members. In the 1940s, Senator Carter Glass of Virginia was absent for four years because of heart trouble. Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota had a stroke in 1969 and never really came back in the following three years. In 2001, when he was 98, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was wheeled to the Senate floor to cast votes, despite widespread concern about his mental fitness. In all of those cases, as with Ms. Feinstein, the senators ignored concerns about their capacity and pleas from their colleagues as long as they could.

This Senate tradition should have been discarded long ago. Senate seats are not lifetime sinecures, and if members can’t effectively represent their constituents or work for the benefit of their country, they should not hesitate to turn the job over to someone who can. Ms. Feinstein owes California a responsible decision.


April 12, 2023

A photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson, in soft focus, in the background. Both are seated and appear pensive.
Martin Luther King Jr. with President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 at the White House.Credit…National Archive/Newsmakers, via Getty Images

By Jonathan Eig and Jeanne Theoharis

Mr. Eig is the author of “King: A Life,” a forthcoming biography of Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Theoharis is the author of “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” which has been adapted for a documentary.

We have long known about the F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover’s animus toward the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover built an extensive apparatus of surveillance and disruption designed to destroy King and to drive a wedge between King and President Lyndon Johnson.

But historians, journalists and contemporary political leaders have largely portrayed Hoover as a kind of uncontrollable vigilante, an all too powerful and obsessive lawman, and Johnson as a genuine civil rights partner until King broke with the president over the Vietnam War. In reality, as new documents reveal, Johnson was more of an antagonist to King, and a conspirator with Hoover, than he has been portrayed.

By personalizing the F.B.I.’s assault on King, Americans cling to a view of history that isolates a few bad actors who opposed the civil rights movement — including Hoover, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama and Birmingham lawman Bull Connor. They thus fail to acknowledge the institutionalized, well organized resistance to change in our society. Americans prefer a version of history where most decent people did the right thing in the end.

It’s time to move past that comfortable story and recognize the power structure that supported the F.B.I.’s campaign. Many Americans — starting with the president — thought movement activists like King posed threats to the established order and needed to be watched and controlled. Members of the press could have exposed the bureau’s campaign. And many government officials who could have stopped, curtailed or exposed the F.B.I.’s attack on King instead enabled or encouraged it.

F.B.I. records declassified in the past several years and documents from the Johnson archives released in 2022 force us to reconsider the nature of Johnson’s involvement in the F.B.I.’s campaign against King. The White House documents — part of a huge cache of F.B.I. memos that has only begun to see daylight — suggest that Johnson, from the beginning of his presidency in 1963 to King’s assassination in 1968, was apprised almost weekly by Hoover himself on the F.B.I.’s surveillance of King.

Johnson did nothing to stop or rein in the F.B.I., even after at least one top administration official expressed concern. In all likelihood, that was because Johnson saw strategic advantage in knowing about King’s activities as he worked with King on civil rights legislation — and perhaps he saw even more utility when King began to criticize the president’s policies, especially concerning the Vietnam War. At the same time, according to the president’s aides, Johnson clearly enjoyed having access to the prurient details of King’s life.