County to add Speakout! to ad budget
Eagle County will spread the wealth between the county’s news publications.
The county commissioners voted, 2-1, Monday to include Speakout! as one of the publications in which they regularly advertise. The county will spend $5,625 in Speakout! through the end of the year.
Speakout publisher Michael Cacioppo, who has regularly targeted Commissioner Arn Menconi in his publication, asked Menconi to recuse himself from the vote. Cacioppo, citing Colorado state law, insisted that Menconi had a conflict of interest. Cacioppo said if Speakout! continued to “expose” Menconi, the commissioner could lose this fall’s election and his commissioner’s job. That, Cacioppo said, is enough to constitute a conflict of interest.
Not so, said Eagle County attorney Diane Mauriello, who said her interpretation of the law differed from Cacioppo’s. She said Menconi could vote on the matter. Menconi earlier said he intended to vote on the matter, and he did.
Menconi explained that his vote was strictly business, not personal. He said the Vail Daily’s circulation and readership make it a better advertising buy for print advertising, and a wiser use of taxpayer money. He produced a three page document to back up his point.
Menconi also pointed out that in this week’s Speakout!, Cacioppo said this could be his last publication. He said the county could get stuck with the bill if Speakout! goes under. Cacioppo countered that his story was merely a challenge to Eagle County’s conservatives and moderates to support a conservative voice.
During public comment, seven people encouraged the commissioners to support an editorial voice separate from the Vail Daily’s, including Mike Mathias of Vail, who’s active in local veteran’s affairs.
“I have 4,000 books in my home library, subscribe to 40 magazines a month and several daily newspapers, and I graduated first in my class from Harvard,” said Mathias. “I’m not threatened by anything I read, including Speakout. If you have stolen the publications, or encouraged a boycott, perhaps you should be threatened.
“We should promote different voices,” Mathias said. “As it stands, we have one paper and its cousins in the county.”
Joy Overbeck said the school district’s violations of the state’s open meetings law would not have been brought to light if not for Cacioppo.
Commissioner Tom Stone, who voted for the contract with Speakout along with Commission Michael Gallagher, said his decision was not based on trying to keep Cacioppo in business. Stone has also been hammered in local news publications in association with his commissioner’s job. He said that while the Vail Trail was “maligning” him, he told Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad that the county should continue to advertise with the Trail.
“That’s true,” said Ingstad.
The issue had been lumped with several items on the commissioners’ consent agenda, where they deal with several small items at once. Menconi asked that it be removed from the consent agenda for a closer examination.