06/02/2010 05:45 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Con Games: Aspen Club Gets Green Light

Want to do business with the City of Aspen? Here's all you've got to do.

Count on spending the best five years of your life and be willing to pony up $250,000 just in case something goes wrong and the Aspen City Council will find it hard to say no to your pleas. Also: it doesn't hurt one bit to pour resources into local nonprofits and be the kind of guy that nobody doesn't like.

That's more or less what went down in the late afternoon Tuesday at Aspen City Hall, where the City Council approved the Aspen Club & Spa expansion by a 3-1 vote, with only the irascible Mayor Mick Ireland saying nyet to fractional housing at the Club. (Councilor Torre recused himself because he has long taught tennis at the Club.) The key was Steve Skadron, who was assuaged by Aspen Club president Michael Fox's willingness to put together the quarter-million dollars just in case the whole thing goes south. Derek Johnson and Dwayne Romero, who both know more than a smidge about doing business, also voted yes.

When the vote went his way, Fox was visibly and audibly moved--and why not? When this all started he was a young man and now he's wizened and graying, though not nearly so fast as President Obama given the goo in the Gulf.

In the weird way that things always seem to play out in Aspen, the man who came away looking the best was--I kid you not--Mayor Mick Ireland. He explained his vote with great eloquence by saying he was not assured that the project would play out as promised: he defended a no vote he knew would be unpopular.

In Aspen as we now know it, it seems weirdly inevitable that (a) the Aspen Club would be approved after years of trying; and (b) that Fox and his establishment would be severely punished in time and treasure for trying to get the expansion approved. In Aspen, even when you win it hurts like a bastard.