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All that, and lunch too

Kaye Ferry

It’s catch up time on a lot of issues that haven’t warranted a column of their own but ultimately deserve comment.Let’s start out with Commissioner Runyon. It’s no secret that Peter and I have very different views on many topics. But one thing I’m pretty sure if is that he’s not anti-Semitic. All he’s really guilty of is putting his foot in his mouth.If you’re in the public eye with cameras and reporters continually in your face, comments like the one he’s currently being crucified for are bound to happen. It’s almost impossible to structure every sentence so that if taken out of context it will convey your intent. I know, because it’s happened to me, generally to the delight of the media that thrives on controversy.So my advice is, give the guy a break on this one. If you really think about it, no elected official except perhaps U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, would intentionally make such volatile and ethnically based comments. It would be tantamount to political suicide.Then Crossroads, one of my favorites. It made its way out of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission, again. You might remember it successfully received recommendation for approval last April, only to be shot down by the political process at the Town Council.So one down and back to the council for another chance. But remember, that group got a serious slap upside the head when two of Crossroads opponents lost their bid for re-election in November. The balance of support has significantly shifted with the newly elected officials in their chairs.We can only hope that the will of the people takes precedence over personal opinion and this new review meets with a swift approval. The town Design and Review Board will be the final stop and one that is generally not as contentious. The DRB has not yet weighed in officially but satisfying that board should be more easily accomplished.Yet my advice is never take anything for granted when it comes to the town of Vail. Remember, it’s never over until it’s over. Feb. 7 is the anticipated date for Town Council review. If you’re interested in this project moving forward, continue to fill the room when the votes are taken. It can’t hurt. But before I leave this topic, I can’t help but comment on one of the town planning commissioners who really went out on a limb. In what can only be described as a grandstanding attempt to defeat the issue, a play was made that implied that the PEC was legally bound to deny recommendation of this application.We all got a history lesson when James Madison and the Federalist Papers were quoted to support the belief that the Town Council’s refusal to approve this development in August was equivalent to a legislative action. Nice try, but no cigar. Best to get the facts straight before sawing off the limb especially when you’re the one on it.The Town Council in fact did not turn down the proposal. It was tabled to give Crossroads even more time to work out the details. The applicant’s subsequent determination was that his project would be better served by waiting for review by a new council after the November election. In my opinion, to do anything else would have been in the same vein as beating a dead horse.But there’s more. The Town Council in rendering its opinion before the decision to table was doing just that, rendering an opinion. In no way was the council taking legislative action, as was indicated by the acting town attorney.Any change in legislation as applied to zoning, design guidelines, etc., would have required action in the form of a resolution or amendment. Then a public notice and both a first and second reading subject to public input would have followed. A formal vote would have been the final step.I’m quite sure there was no malicious intent by the planning commissioner, but every once in a while these guys take themselves too seriously. The Federalist Papers, of all things.But the good news is that the PEC hearings will continue to take place at noon, but will be held in the council chambers with the full benefit of public involvement, microphones and recording devices. When this recommendation was made, the most serious issue at hand and the one that required the most discussion revolved around, you guessed it, lunch. “We’ll still get lunch, won’t we?” was the first question raised. Then 10 more minutes were given to the logistics of lunch. Paper plates vs. china, eating and then meeting or eating while meeting, etc.Maybe when the official notice is sent out advertising vacancies on the PEC, lunch should be advertised as a benefit in addition to a parking pass. Just so you’ll know what your tax dollars went last week: spaghetti, meatballs, ceasar salad, garlic bread and a four-layer carrot cake. Almost makes you want to apply to fill the four vacancies that are up for appointment in March. Notice the “almost.” But hey, some people just can’t pass up a free meal.I’m still curious, however, why the PEC feels they should be fed as part of the process. Only under rare circumstances does the Town Council serve itself lunch, and they typically go from noon to 10 p.m. And even when they do, it’s sandwiches or pizza. Just asking. Personal opinion? Let’s quit eating on the taxpayer. Start PEC at 1 and move along.But just to keep things in perspective, there’s Senate Bill 9. Seems I’m not the only one concerned about transparency. It would even require “executive sessions” to be electronically recorded. Attorney-client matters would be the only exemption. That’s a huge step. So pushing this issue with other public meetings is small potatoes and it needs to be done. Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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