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Home rule’s right

Peter Runyon

I am frankly baffled as to why there is such a vocal opposition to home rule, a common-sense initiative. I’ve had several conversations with opponents of the Eagle County Home Rule Charter, aka Referendum 1A, and their arguments boiled down to six issues:1) Anything that grows government is, by definition, bad.2) Five commissioners are less efficient than three.3) It is going to cost too much.4) “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”5) Loss of rights.6) This “change” should come from the people, not from the commissioners.Let me take them in order.1) “Big, by definition, is bad.” This is a traditional conservative mantra, which on the surface seems to have some merit. What it overlooks is that our county is growing very rapidly. The county has 415 employees working in Road and Bridge, Health and Human Services, community development, engineering, animal services, public health, information technology, administration, Eagle airport, human resources, land fill, Eco transport, facilities, housing, finance, clerk and recorder, Treasurer’s Office, Assessor’s Office, and the Sheriff’s Office. Phew, I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone, but you get the picture. We are already big. It is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that adding two commissioners will transform Eagle County into a ponderous behemoth. What it will do is bring better decision-making.2) Efficiency. This, too, is a real head scratcher. To the best of my recollection, I don’t ever remember anyone ever saying that democracy was the most efficient form of government – just the best. Historically, when citizens get fed up with shortcomings of a democracy, they either turn to fascism or a dictators. Beware of the seductive lure of efficiency. The price you may pay is too high. Mussolini got the trains running on time, but at what price?3) Cost. As has been said before, the additional salary for two new commissioners will be less than a quarter of 1 percent of the total budget. The truth is that better management usually leads to cost containment.4) “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Oh, this is a clever one. Using this line of reasoning would never have gotten us out of the caves. Home rule isn’t about “fixing” government. It is, however, about improving government by modifying the structure of Eagle County government to better reflect our rapidly changing reality. And, if you were to ask the good people of Eagle County who live in the Roaring Fork Valley, they would say our government is indeed broken because they haven’t had a true representative elected from their side of the county since the 1970s.5) Loss of rights. Horse feathers! I defy anyone to go to the charter and identify the loss of one single right, other that the right to elect the surveyor. The blatant misrepresentation of the facts on certain yard signs is appalling. Your rights will be increased! You will have the right to better representation. You will have additional rights to petition. You will have rights to reports of commissioners voting records.6) “It should come from the people.” Well, it did. This issue was one of the key elements of my platform when I ran for county commissioner in 2004. You voted me into office with a comfortable margin of 1,500 votes. True to my promise, I got the ball rolling when you voted in an 11-person charter commission. Those citizens took a year to write a great document. Check it out at: http://www.eaglehomerule.org.Don’t be fooled by the fear mongering of good old boys protecting their power base.Home rule is about better representation.Home rule makes sense.Vote yes on 1B.Peter Runyon is an Eagle County commissioner.Vail, Colorado


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