Hearing only what they want
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado COPlacing a bowl right side up in the dishwasher will never produce a clean bowl. No matter how many times I plead for this fact of physics to be accepted by my family members, they never seem to get it. What part of “up” do they not understand?Such is the frustration by many of us toward local elected and appointed officials concerning home rule and early-childhood development.”What part of ‘no’ do they not understand?” we collectively yell.The answer’s simple, really, in that people choose to hear what they wish to hear. It’s not the words that are heard incorrectly, though, but the interpretations and perceptions behind each verb and noun that can be grossly twisted to mean whatever the recipient desires (feel free to insert your very own religious analogy right about now).Eagle County’s embarrassing renewed attempt to fund early-childhood development programs has more than a few voters willing to go postal (on their keyboards, of course) in this paper’s commentary section.Those in favor of the new tax lost, and lost big, at the polls this past November. Now they are back with a proposal to spend $1.6 million out of the existing county budget for the exact same items that they were trying to raise our taxes for in the first place.In spite of the fact that my last visit with Arn Menconi was less than cordial (it was about a month after the election, and he was regrettably still trapped in “sore loser mode”), we need to realize this is not only Arn’s issue, but Commissioner Runyon’s as well. And it appears that, at least in their tunnel-visioned interpretation, they are merely carrying out the general consensus of the public.Yep, that’s the kicker. Looking back at the vast number of letters and comments during the election, the majority seemed to be for at least some of the programs as proposed but dead set against passing new taxes to pay for any of them. “Find it in the existing budget!” we shouted, apparently without considering the option that they might actually do so.Oops.It appears that they did but only for 2007. Anything beyond that (which, thanks to fellow commentator Butch Mazzuca, we now know is in the $20 million range over the next five years) will obviously involve new taxes, which would of course involve another election.And that ain’t right.Looking back now, I feel as if Borat, from Kazakhstan, ran the election, and we were naive enough to be duped into thinking they were sincere about representing the results of our votes.As they say, fool me once …But quicker than you can shout “taxation without representation!” three times in three seconds we have the home rule charter issue crawling out from the bottom of the post-election dung heap.Those in favor of the proposal lost, and lost big, at the polls this past November, and now they are back with smiles on their faces and in possession of a “new and improved” survey (at a tax-funded expense of $4,500), which they magically interpret as providing enough evidence and support for another election.It’s as if the entire committee were lounging around down at the county building reading “My Pet Goat” during November and have now put the book down and decided what’s best for the masses based upon the total contents of Paula Abdul’s brain.It simply makes no sense at all.And here’s a big shocker: The committee member from the Aspen side of Eagle County, Michael Bair, said concerning the election re-do, “What do we have to lose?” Um, anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 of our tax dollars for starters, plus a further deterioration of voter confidence in the election process for all future ballot issues. That, my friend, is a big deal.Another member, Kathy Chandler-Henry, said, “We don’t get a strong sense of why they voted ‘no’ except maybe that it was confusing and they needed more information.”Sorry, Kathy, but the only folks confused are you and the rest of the class who raised their hands for a do-over.I simply cannot understand this redundant fascination with ballot mulligans.Local governments do not win or lose votes. They are supposed to operate within the parameters set by those votes. Therefore, surveys taken after a vote should never be funded with tax dollars. The right survey given to the right people at the right time also will tell you the world is only 6,000 years old and that Hillary has an actual chance of being president.So even though two commissioners and apparently the editorial staff of this newspaper feel it is okey-doke to make policy decisions in direct defiance of the voters, we need to do everything on the rational side of the fence to make sure they don’t make a mockery of our election process.Hell, I’ll even clean the bowls by hand if I have to.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.