D.R.: Rubber match for home rule? | VailDaily.com
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D.R.: Rubber match for home rule?

Don Rogers

Count the score 1-1 for and against home rule.

The voters said yes to writing a charter breaking Eagle County out of the state template for county governance and chose a commission to do that.

Then they said no to the commission’s first draft completed for voter approval.

Now the commission is about to ask the Eagle County commissioners to put a revision of the home rule charter on the ballot once more. Once more because state law provides for two chances to gain the voters’ approval.

Not three or 14 or whatever rhetorical number the opponents of a home rule charter call out in attempts to ridicule a serious question.

The main revision to the charter that failed is putting the political parties back into the mix. That’s too bad on one level ” partisan politics at the county level adds very little more than mischief. But pragmatically, it makes sense.

A survey of voters following last November’s election defeat showed support for candidates running with party affiliation. And the party faithful might be just a hair less active in fighting for their political clout in county governance.

The key reason for home rule ” five commissioners instead of three ” would remain, along with an ethics code that shows 80 percent support in that survey and giving citizens more power to place issues on county ballots.

I’m not entirely crazy about this draft. The ethics code adds a rather silly redundancy and confusion atop state law and has no enforcement teeth. The parties ought to be booted out of county politics, just as they have little to do with town and special district elections.

But I like five a lot better than three. A three-member Board of County Commissioners is pretty dysfunctional from what I’ve seen since arriving here in 1999 and thinking at first that much power in the hands of just three officials was a joke.

I’ve covered counties with seven, 11, even 17 members on their respective county legislatures. They were elected politicians and therefore fully subject to whatever Kool-Aid all these folks drink upon winning office. But it just never affected governance on quite so personal a way that I could see. Staff can’t play to the whims of individual commissioners so readily, maybe, when they’re working for a pack.

So three votes to settle the future of an unholy triumverate? Fine with me.

I think there’s a decent chance the vote will set up the county for a better future.

One-one. Let’s settle it now, while we’ve come this far. The responsible step is to go ahead as the law provides. Play out that rubber match.


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