D.R.: Recall short of ‘reasons’ | VailDaily.com
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D.R.: Recall short of ‘reasons’

Don Rogers

Typical of this recall effort, the organizers offer only five of what they claim are 20 reasons to send the evil child helper, Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, packing.

I wonder about the missing 15 when the first five are so nutty.

The recall gang somehow managed to start their effort too late to have a prayer of meeting the deadline to put a recall on the November ballot. They’ve raised a whopping $200 for their bid. And now they can only fit a quarter of their petition language into the 200-word limit.

These are not hallmarks of a competent organization.

Bear in mind these folks crowed about how they would not ask the taxpayers to foot the bill for a special election like the evil child helper did as part of a unanimous vote of the Board of County Commissioners. That changed quickly to what is a sin for Menconi is OK for them.

Then it was all this supposed support for recalling the commissioner. Send your money, one of the gang exhorted supporters weeks ago. They managed to collect $200. That’s it? None from the leaders of the grand effort.

But they have their reasons. Let’s look at them, in order of presumed importance to the recall gang:

1. “Menconi wanted Women’s Resource Center site for his snowboarder organization, rather than keep it for the desperate need of battered spouses. His family profits from this. Menconi didn’t care about battered spouses, only his organization and family’s personal income.”

Where to start? The truth is that in 2000 the commissioner expressed an interest in a vacated property as office space for the Snowboard Outreach Society. That was while the county was taking ideas for the use of the space, and before a decision was made. The Women’s Resource Center eventually prevailed.

So what the recall gang is really saying is that it’s a high crime to express an interest in something. Menconi did not try to take the space from the resource center. He made a suggestion, in 2000. That’s, ahem, seven long years ago. Now it’s the No. 1 reason to recall the guy? Where were these people in 2000? Or 2004, when Menconi ran for re-election?

2. “Menconi dangerously reduced county reserve funds from 25 percent to 15 percent. This is extremely unwise. Anything can happen in high-profile Eagle County, including wildfires, expensive celebrity trials, droughts, blizzards, terrorist attacks, etc. It’s dangerous to have less than a three-month reserve.”

Actually, I agree with the premise that a larger reserve is the more prudent choice. But that’s a philosophical point of view. A lot of local governments in this country would kill for a 15 percent reserve. It’s hardly a reason to recall one of three commissioners who make decisions collectively. If Menconi were gone yesterday, the philosophy about reserves would not change a whit.

But let’s go back just a few years. People with actual service and expertise in local government criticized the county heavily for holding onto too much money in reserve that could be put into service. And there were considerably more of them than the recall gang today. They thought it extremely unwise to keep too fat of reserves.

So, clearly, this isn’t a case of a commissioner committing a malfeasance or doing something unconscionable. It conforms, in fact, to a philosophy about the role of government. And Menconi’s presence or absence wouldn’t change that approach anyway.

3. “Menconi believes only his agenda matters, not voters’ desires. He failed to allow voters to vote on his latest entitlement program.”

Sigh. Menconi does not have the kind of power. All three commissioners decided to spend $830,000 extra on county childhood development programs.

Also, again, while it’s hard to counter an emotional and rhetorical steamroller, let’s revisit what actually happened with child funding. It’s really not that difficult to understand, though plenty of folks are pretty determined to do so anyway.

The commissioners ” with Tom Stone voting against it ” put a measure on the ballot last November that asked voters if they would like a dedicated TAX specifically for childhood-development programs. The voters said no. Many off the opponents suggested the commissioners instead fund such programs out of the county’s general fund.

This spring the commissioners ” all three of them ” did exactly that. They added $830,000 to what they already spend ” as they do every year ” on programs for children in need. It’s not at all the same thing that voters turned down in November. They said no to a TAX, not to children. The county has funded child programs forever.

As for the mind-reading part of this “reason,” the recall gang is speaking about themselves more than Menconi.

4. “Menconi won’t support roundabouts to replace old-fashioned Edwards stoplights. Traffic is snarled daily. Roundabouts work well in Avon, Eagle, Gypsum, Vail.”

That’s actually funny. Of course, Edwards’ traffic congestion doesn’t come from a lack of roundabouts. Duh. But this does show how far the roundabout issue has come from the 1990s, when Vail residents complained bitterly that roundabouts could not possibly help anything. Now they are trotted out as a reason to recall a commissioner? That’s a good one.

5. “Menconi originally won election by a 39-vote margin. He won his second election by plurality, not majority, as more voters were dissatisfied with his performance. He never had a mandate.”

Thanks for the history lesson, but so what? That’s hardly a reason to recall a commissioner at the end of his second and last term.

The recall gang’s favorite commissioner, Tom Stone, never won a majority of votes. Why? He ran in three-way races. Menconi had a narrow victory in 2000. And in 2004, he ran against former Sheriff A.J. Johnson and former Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds, both with bases of popular support. He prevailed against good competition, actually.

As for mandates, well, the voters also put Democrats Peter Runyon and Sara Fisher rather firmly into office, along with Menconi twice. There’s your mandate, folks. Commissioners decide by the board, not one individual.

Anyway, aren’t these folks a little late if this grievance was so troubling? Where were they in 2004?

As reasons, these five are just lame. They don’t even make sense. Can you imagine how dumb the other 15 must be if these were the recall gang’s BEST five?

Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com. Read his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOG


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