Eagle County winners, losers: Even some of the victors had a tough year
Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series that looks back at the biggest news of 2010.EAGLE COUNTY – Most of us just about break even over the course of a year. We’ll win a few and take a few losses, but except for time – the ultimate winner – most of us will finish a year in pretty much the same boat we boarded last New Year’s Day.But some of us change boats, or move from steerage to first class (or vice versa). Here’s a quick look at who finished this year in a different cabin on the S.S. Life.Loser: Mark Hurlbert. It’s hard to find a local elected official who had a worse year than Hurlbert, the district attorney who serves Summit, Lake, Clear Creek and Eagle counties. He was rebuffed in his efforts to remove his office from state-imposed term limits, which means the term he’s serving now will be his last. That means he’ll have to hang a shingle in private practice in early 2013. That’s not a promising prospect, times being what they are.Then there were the courtroom gaffes, all of which bring new meaning to various forms of (!?). Hurlbert’s office prosecuted two women on felony impersonation charges in a bib-switching incident in a bike race in Leadville. (!?)His office continues to prosecute a Summit County man on child pornography charges, although the case has been a train wreck from the start, and the defendant is now on his third go-’round after two reprieves (!!??). The prosecutor’s office just lost a case against an Eagle County man who was accused of sexually assaulting a 3-year-old, another train wreck of a case that compelled the prosecutor to call a 4-year-old as a witness (!!!???).But, of course, Hurlbert’s biggest gaffe this year was his sort-of prosecution of Martin Erzinger, who was first accused of a felony in a hit-and-run case last summer. Hurlbert’s office offered Erzinger a plea deal – to misdemeanor charges (!!??!!??). Hurlbert first defended the deal by saying Erzinger’s job – he’s a financial manager with a billion-dollar portfolio – might be in jeopardy with a felony conviction.Then, to make matters worse, District Judge Fred Gannett (whose dishonorable-mention award for this list appears here) signed off on the deal.The victim, who was riding a bicycle along U.S. Highway 6, is furious. People who ride bicycles often on the same road are more than peeved. And of all the letters, e-mails and phone calls the Vail Daily has received about the case, the only ones supporting Hurlbert have come from – you guessed it – Hurlbert.That, friends, is the very definition of a bad year.Loser: Colorado Republicans. Sure, Colorado’s Party of Pachyderms re-took the Colorado House of Representatives, but that’s like walking into a casino full of malfunctioning, coin-belching slot machines and only playing the nickels because you just gave most of your money to a lunatic outside who promised to park your car, then drove off with it.In the best year for Republicans since – well, who knows when – the state’s party managed to nominate Ken Buck, a not-ready-for-prime-time candidate for Senate who gave the hardball-playing, heavy-spending Democrats more ammunition for attack ads just about every week. They also nominated Dan Maes, a gubernatorial candidate who apparently had never heard the word “politics” before deciding he wanted to be governor, and who won his primary just days after establishment favorite Scott McInnis got caught up in a plagiarism scandal.Geez, even first-year law students know how to attach footnotes to their papers.As a Vail Daily editorial noted at the time, Maes and McInnis put the “goober” in “gubernatorial.”Locally, the county’s Republicans could find only relative newcomer Claudia Alexander to take on incumbent county commissioner Sara Fisher. Alexander is smart, polite, and ran a good campaign. She’s a very likable person.But, really? Few voters had even heard of Alexander before she jumped into politics. Fisher knows pretty much everyone in the valley. The end result was relatively close, but c’mon – Fisher’s forgotten more local phone numbers than Alexander knows.Again, in a year when Republicans everywhere were celebrating victories, Colorado provided the proof that you can’t run just anybody and win.Winner*: John Hickenlooper. Our new governor-elect made a promise early on not to indulge in negative campaigning, and, thanks to the Republican implosion, was able to keep it. We wish Hick the best, but we’d know a lot more about how Denver’s mayor plans to run the state if he’d had real test on the campaign trail.He’s a winner, but with our Roger Maris memorial asterisk attached.Winner*: Joe Hoy. Our brand-new asterisk gets another bow for Eagle County’s sheriff. Yes, Hoy won a third term in office this fall, and had to survive two close elections to do.Hoy defeated primary challenger Charles Wolf by fewer than 300 votes, and won the November election against challenger James van Beek by fewer than 100.Here’s proof, as if we needed it, of Mark Twain’s axiom: Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.Winner: Sara Fisher. No asterisk needed here, friends. Fisher suffered a near-fatal aneurysm in December of 2009. She was back at her Eagle County commissioner’s job in January, and decided early last year to seek a second term while she was still recovering. Whatever you may think of her politics, Fisher ran a serious, professional campaign, and turned aside a surprisingly stout challenge from political newcomer Claudia Alexander to win re-election.In a year when many Democrats campaigned with big, donkey-shaped targets on their backs, Fisher came out a winner, with her health intact and a decisive, if not overwhelming victory at the polls.Winner: Anyone who bought real estate in 2010. Slifer Smith & Frampton, the valley’s biggest real estate company, recently did an apples-to-apples comparison of changes in real estate prices around the valley, using 2006-07 and 2010 as the benchmarks. The survey found what most of us know: Prices are down between 25 and 30 percent from that peak.Condo Capital Solutions, a turnaround company in Louisville, just outside of Boulder, took advantage of the valley’s record-setting number of bankruptcies and foreclosures and bought the Condo Project Formerly Known as The Gates, right at the entrance to Beaver Creek. The project was finished in 2008, just as the world economy fell off a cliff. None of the units went to closing.The turnaround guys hit the valley this summer, picked up the property for a lot, lot less than the builder put into it, did a bunch of remodeling and just opened The Ascent. The big draw, besides location? Price. A 1,600-square-foot unit at The Ascent can be yours for less than $700,000.Prices are down around the valley, and availability is way, way, up. If you want a place of your own and can get a mortgage, buy something. Now.Loser: Anyone who sold real estate in the valley in 2010, who bought or re-financed after about 2005.See above.
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