Do-gooders can also do-badder | VailDaily.com
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Do-gooders can also do-badder

Everyone wants to do “good” in our society. However, beware of noble objectives obtained by questionable methods.The built in “good” genes of human nature supply the backbone for mankind’s constant struggle to fulfill our desires and visions in accordance with established moral or ethical values. As personal endeavors, these attributes have worked accordingly in our ever-evolving culture, from Ork the caveman providing food for a mate to little Timmy in Happy Valley selling cookies to help tsunami victims.But problems can arise when these activities cease to be personal, and instead become political.This anomaly once again occurred last Thursday night deep in the chambers of do-gooder hypocritic hell also known as the originality-challenged Eagle County commissioners’ chambers.The main theory supporting a government based in democratic principles is that all major decisions are made of, by, and for the people being represented. Hence, we pay taxes and choose leaders to distribute them according the wishes of the majority.When the masses vote for a new tax, such as when Eagle County residents passed the 2002 tariff for purchasing open space, it is irrelevant whether the vote is won by 10 or 10,000 – the majority ruled. If the rules were constructed in plain, easy-to-understand language, then there is little room for varied interpretation of intent. Regrettably though, the English language allows for far too many elucidations and thus we have rule bending that results in unfortunate misuses of original intent, such as the Bair Ranch fiasco.Having said that, I approached this month’s “once in a lifetime” opportunity with a somewhat skeptically skewed eye, leery of the blissfully ignorants’ misinterpretation of the painfully obvious (these local feel-good issues are repeating themselves lately more often than Cialis ads during the Super Bowl).Clearly obvious was the fact that we agreed to a particular tax to serve a particular purpose, but within a set of very particular parameters, namely, about $3 million per year.We blew most of the first year’s collection on a landowner predominantly outside of our own county, yet somehow completely missed learning a concurrent lesson in fiscal responsibility due to the hasty actions of intrusive, patronizing, condescending and annoyingly self-righteous do-gooders on a mission. Yes, they indeed had a glorified and passionate mission, one in which the particular actions sought were objectively positive. In fact, my own entirely unscientific survey (conducted at a gym in Edwards) found nary a soul who was against the idea of preventing potential development on this latest parcel of land under public debate.But that, of course, is not the point of my disagreement.Because of the vocal wants of a few, nothing – neither common nor fiscal sense – was allowed to stand in the path of having their way imposed upon the rest of us. And, as usual, they used our money to do so.Although argued by many as complicated, the choice was simple: Implement the tax dollars for their original purpose or not.A dangerous precedent was set with Bair Ranch, and it has now been multiplied by the effects of Eaton Ranch. Our county government is on a slippery slope, a perilous path, a ruinous road, a downward spiral, a treacherous trap and a moral vortex with a giant sucking sound at the bottom (I recently found my long-lost Cliches for Dummies handbook). The domino effect dictates that we cannot afford any more “ranches.”We need to face the facts that Happy Valley’s so-called “golden goose” was over-cooked more than 40 years ago when development first began, and manipulating innocent children with notecards full of witty quips is a sad attempt at using juvenile emotions to sway a politically-charged issue while saving the rest of us from ourselves.Commissioner Menconi proposed the consideration of floating a bond for funding instead. But no, he voted yes anyway.Newly-elected Commissioner Runyon said, “This isn’t the world’s best deal.” But he voted yes anyway.They could have continued negotiations until more private money had been raised or another year of taxes were available. (There is no such thing as a developer with “absolute” deadlines. Check your local dictionary under “Kummer, A.” for further details). But no.”Where are the residents of Edwards?” asked Eagle Mayor Stavney.Many of them were in the crowd, quiescently enjoying their unincorporated status while passing the countywide hat of opportunity as long as they can get away with it. Who can blame them?But wait, Eagle claims they, too, “will likely be pursuing open space purchase(s) soon,” and expect Eagle County to help them as well.Where? When? What money? How about Minturn, Avon, Vail, Basalt, El Jebel, Gypsum, Red Cliff and other unincorporated areas like Eagle-Vail? Don’t they deserve some time gorging at the government trough as well?While saving the land is wonderful, we had better be careful doing so much “good” with limited tax money before someone, namely all Eagle County residents, get hurt – bad.We can’t afford allowing heavy passion to outweigh common sense.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.netVail, Colorado


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