Aspen Daily News editor suspended over incident with officer
April 2, 2010
ASPEN – Troy Hooper is no longer editor of the Aspen Daily News, the newspaper’s owner, Dave Danforth, confirmed Thursday.
Hooper was suspended March 17 after it came to light that he implied he would give an Aspen police officer more favorable treatment in the newspaper in exchange for not charging him on suspicion of drunken driving.
The exchange was recorded in former Officer Valerie McFarlane’s patrol car while she gave Hooper a ride to an Aspen residence in the early morning on Feb. 19. McFarlane also lost her job after the incident.
“We found by mutual agreement he cannot be employed as editor for the time being,” Danforth said. “It was an unfortunate event that occurred in February, and we’ve had to live with the results of that.”
Danforth said he has not named a new editor at the paper. He also expressed hope that Hooper will work again for the Daily News.
“I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a very talented writer and a very talented editor,” Danforth said. “I very much look forward to when we might see Hooper’s writing again in the Daily News.”
Hooper declined to comment on his departure, calling it “a personnel matter between me and the Daily News.” He would not say whether he was dismissed or resigned.
Hooper said he will pursue other projects for the time being.
When Hooper was suspended, Danforth said he was concerned for the reputation of the newspaper, according to a report in the Daily News. At that time, Danforth indicated Hooper would be on probation upon his return to the paper.
The Daily News subsequently polled readers on its website, asking if Hooper should have been suspended. With 503 votes cast, 47 percent said, Yes, and a harsher punishment should be imposed. Another 25 percent said, Yes, it’s an issue of integrity for the head of the paper.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor declined to comment specifically about the departure of McFarlane, whose last day on the payroll was Feb. 26, but he did say he recognized there was an apparent conflict of interest at the time McFarlane encountered Hooper, because the editor had written stories about her personnel problems at the police department. Pryor suggested McFarlane should have summoned another officer to deal with the situation, under the circumstances.