Letters to the Editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the Editor

Compiled by Daily staff

Why I’m best choiceWhat you see is what you get.As an Eagle County commissioner, you can expect me to have a strong and independent voice. I don’t have any axes to grind and you won’t find me going along with the pack just because it’s expedient or because we share the same political label. I believe in breaking trail, not walking in footsteps.I listen with an open mind, always have and always will. Differences in opinion need to be respected and not dismissed. I don’t like sniping, sarcasm, or backbiting. It’s unprofessional and it promotes public cynicism, distrust of government and distaste for those who serve. I believe in collaborative discussion and consensus building. Finding common ground between people who disagree isn’t easy, but that’s no excuse for not trying. There is no disgrace in reasonable compromise. I want Eagle County to work more cooperatively with our towns, public agencies and special districts. I want to make sure that in any collaborative efforts the county participates, that we are a reliable and trustworthy partner.I believe in facilitation before regulation. Community solutions need to be grown from the bottom up, not imposed from the top down.Our housing has become unaffordable to even middle-class families. Traffic backups occur daily in nearly every one of our towns. Water quality and forest health are at risk from population pressures and climate change. These are problems and issues that county government and all governmental agencies need to be engaged in addressing and solving. In policy, in budget and in leadership, we’ve got to bring the right resources and community partners together to start chipping away at the big issues and quickly solving the little ones.I’m the most qualified candidate in this race and I’ll be able to make an immediate and positive impact my first day on the job. Having served as your county clerk and recorder for 10 years, I attended more commissioner meetings than any of the three who are now in office. I know how the county works, I understand its finances and as the county’s chief election official, I’ve already worked with every municipality and every special district countywide. I’ve sat on boards and held titles, but more importantly, I’ve given something of myself to every effort in which I’ve been involved, and to every person I’ve come to know.There are three more significant differences between me and the other candidates in this race. I’m the only woman, I’m by far the youngest (50) and I’m the only candidate who is not a retiree.I’m asking you to share my passion for keeping Eagle County one of the finest and healthiest places to live in America. And, I’m asking for your vote to give me the opportunity to put my ideas, experience and independent voice to work for our future.Sara FisherFisher is a candidate for Eagle County commissioner.The better wayYou can decide whether to have home rule or not. It’s up to you to determine the outcome. Recently, four current and former county commissioners wrote in opposition to the Home Rule Charter. While I respect the opinions of those who have served Eagle County, I disagree with their conclusion on home rule. They are absolutely correct on two things. The Home Rule Charter will give Eagle County five commissioners instead of three and more money will be spent to pay for five commissioners than would be spent for three. It must be understood that the Home Rule Charter Committee (HRCC) was elected by the people of Eagle County and charged with the task of creating a home rule charter. The charters of Pitkin and Weld counties that are criticized by these commissioners were thoroughly reviewed by the HRCC and the very flaws that are pointed out were not only observed but were specifically excluded by the committee because of the problems identified. To criticize the Eagle County Home Rule Charter for the flaws that were contained in other charters is not a logical approach to considering home rule for Eagle County. The Home Rule Charter Committee was completely aware that the state does not grant complete functional home rule to any county. In fact it does not grant this to any town. However, towns do have more freedoms under home rule than are granted to counties. Most towns in this county operate under home rule provisions. Nevertheless there are attributes to being a county under home rule that the HRCC felt were important enough to include. Those are: five commissioners; non-partisan elections; the right of citizens to have initiative and referendum (although a high bar was set so that it would not be easy to overturn enacted laws). These are options that the voters do not have under the current statutory rule imposed by the state. It was stated by these commissioners that many projects start with an idea and the conclusion is a self-fulfilling prophecy. First, the idea is what the voters of Eagle County selected for the committee to pursue. Second, as an architect, I look at this a little like designing a house. If you start out to design a house, you would expect to end up with a house. If there are disparate ideas those need to be thought out, worked through and solved before construction begins or you will not be able to build the house. The committee went through this process and some were skeptical of how a home rule charter might be formed so that it would not be slanted to a conservative or liberal philosophy. In the end the HRCC worked well in providing a home rule charter that has no political agenda. This may be what disturbs some people about the charter. The charter does spell out, in general, how the county operates. The commissioners who have objected to this provision are objecting to a statement that says “the Board of County Commissioners shall not interfere with the administrative functions of the County or the professional duties of the County staff.” (Section 10.5) The board has control of operations because they hire the manager and if he or she does not perform up to their expectations the manager may be terminated. This is clarified in another section where it states that “The County Manager shall be responsible to the Board, serve at the pleasure of the Board and execute the policies set by the Board, all in accordance with this Charter, the laws of this state, and the Code, resolutions and ordinances of the County.” (Section 5.1) This is further defined under Section 5.1, items 5.1.1 through 5.1.6.The thought that elected officers do not have control of their staff is dispelled by Section 5.1.5, which states “Elected Officers shall be responsible for hiring, supervising and terminating the staff directly responsible to them.” If the intent of the charter had been to eliminate conversation between staff and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Section 10.5 would say something like “members of the Board of County Commissioners shall not communicate with administrative staff or department heads.” Nothing to that effect is stated and thus it is intended that staff and the BOCC communicate. At the same time it is necessary to have a business like procedure for operating county government and that is what the Home Rule Charter emphasizes. This is virtually the same procedure as is in operation now in Eagle County. It is also the procedure under which most businesses operate. It is amazing to constantly hear the argument that five commissioners would not create better government. The U.S. Congress is used as an example by the commissioners of too many people making decisions and therefore why the county should not expand from three to five. Should we be thinking about lessening congressional representation? If this is the case then carried to the extreme the United States should be divided into three different areas (i.e. East, Middle and West) and there should only be three congressional representatives. Or maybe there should only be one commissioner. How simple would the decisions be then? Currently one area of our county is not appropriately represented and because of the geographic division it probably never will be (due to county wide voting). Is it wrong to seek and establish a better representation for all areas of Eagle County? With five commissioners the county is better divided geographically and creates areas with more commonality of interest. There are some that feel that they are not grouped correctly but voting distribution is determined by population and it is frequently difficult to achieve representation for minority interests in a population based distribution. If there is a question in your mind about fair areas of representation look at the district map. You will seldom find a fairer distribution when considering districting. All areas are contiguous and there are no small connectors threading areas together. Is there more cost? As stated in the beginning, yes! The costs, however, will come from the current county budget with no increase in taxes. The costs represent 0.0025 of the existing county budget (or approximately $250,000 out of a $100,000,000 budget). Is it worth this small amount of the existing budget to achieve enough commissioners to express a broad spectrum of ideas, represent the diverse segments of the county, adequately participate on various boards (county, regional, statewide in some instances federal) and keep up with the many demands of twenty-first century living? The commissioners arguing against the Home Rule Charter state, “We need commissioners who are qualified and whose only agenda is the best interest of their constituents.” Is this an argument against Home Rule or can it better be used as an argument for the non-partisan politics that are part of the Home Rule Charter?You can decide whether to have Home Rule or not. Be sure you vote on Nov. 7. Tom EdwardsGypsumKeep it all public housingThe Timber Ridge property should not be used for any free-market, nonaffordable housing. All properties built there should be for affordable public housing, not just 30 percent or even 50 percent. We do not have enough town-owned land in the right locations for all of the public housing we need now and in the future. Pass a bond issue or look for other funds, but do not use this location for anything but affordable housing for Vail and/or Eagle County workers. Bob EssinHome rule questionsWhen I voted to set up the review commission for a study on our county home rule, I understood it was to study the pros and cons of changing to home rule. Now we have a home rule charter to vote on with very little discussion. Before I can vote on such a charter I need to have some questions answered:1. Of all the counties in Colorado why have only two switched to home rule? Note: many counties are larger and more complex than Eagle. (Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams).2. What are the economics of home rule? Will this type of government cost more than before? What are the costs just to set up home rule? For example; legal, administrative, logistical. Are there any cost savings? 3. Will the county be able to tax us without a vote? Can they add to the sales tax? What additional revenue sources does home rule bring?4. Must there be five commissioners or can we choose to have three or four or six? What salary and staff increases does this add? Can we increase the number of commissioners without home rule?5. Can this charter eliminate political party affiliation and still be constitutionally correct?6. If I choose to run and declare as a Green Party candidate, does that mean I would be in violation of the charter? Unless these questions can be answered, how can the public be informed enough to make an intelligent decision? Otherwise, my only choice would be to vote no.Kenneth Sortland EdwardsEditor’s note: 1. The voters of those county’s approved home rule charters; such votes failed in a couple of other counties. 2. Home rule would cost about $250,000 more in a county with a $100 million budget. 3. No, by state law, the county cannot add to taxes without voter approval. Home rule does not affect taxation authority. 4. The charter calls for five commissioners. A voter-approved amendment in the future in theory could deter mine a different number. Counties with 70,000 or more residents can opt for five commissioners without a home rule charter. 5. A candidate can declare his or her affiliation. Nearly all municipalities and special districts have nonpartisan elected officers. 6. Nothing in the charter precludes a candidate declaring affiliation to a party. Banking on childrenChildren are the future hope for a better world. As a pediatrician with over 35 years of experience and as a new resident of Colorado, Basalt and Eagle County, I have a very special interest in children in general and my grandchildren in particular (the main reason I relocated). Early childhood is a critical period for social and intellectual growth. It comes along once and for the most part is the basis from which all future development stems. We have all heard “it takes a family” to maximize this process. Unfortunately there are problems that conspire to interfere with our children’s chances for the best we can provide.In almost 60 percent of families with children under 6 years of age, both parents work outside the home. Many children face an educational system not well suited for their intellectual development when they start school. Better preparation in preschool years may help children thrive in school and lessen frustration.Millions of children have no or insufficient health insurance. Recent advances in childhood immunization make visits to the doctor more valuable than ever for disease prevention. All children should be immunized. Inability to pay should not interfere. The population is growing rapidly in western Colorado, especially young families with children. A vote for Referendum 1A will address some of these issues for parents and their children. Health care for low-income and uninsured families will be improved and children with special needs will be included. Affordable quality child care will be expanded providing resources for new parents in suggested best practices in raising their children.We pay taxes for many things not knowing many times the real benefit to our world. Money spent to improve our children’s chances of being productive adults is money in the bank and demonstrates Eagle County does care for its children.Ian G. DresnerBasalt Come to forumYou’ve heard the ads. You’ve seen the candidate profiles. You’ve got a trash can full of campaign postcards. But do you really know where candidates for Eagle County commissioner and State House District 56 stand on conservation issues? How about education and other important issues in Eagle County?The Eagle Valley Alliance, Colorado Mountain College and Trout Unlimited invite you to a candidate forum on Oct. 26, at 6:30 at the Vail Town Council Chambers and find out for yourself. The event is free and open to the public. Invitees include candidates running for Eagle County commissioner and State House District 56.This moderated forum will give candidates a chance to let you know where they stand on conservation, education and other issues. Bring your questions for your chance to hear it from the horses’ mouth. We hope to see you there.Matt ScherrExecutive DirectorEagle Valley Alliance for SustainabilityConfusingSeveral things about the baby-sitting tax for Eagle County are confusing: There are numerous things mentioned that the tax could be used for, but nothing that says specifically what it will be used for.According to the Vail Daily article on Oct. 10, the average sales price for a single family home was $1,103,211. That amounts to a total tax of approximately $1,975.85 for the life of this tax. Of course, business property is taxed at a much higher rate. The campaign information claiming “less than 95 cents a week” is misleading. Why is the tax due to end in 15 years? I can’t believe all children will no longer need care in 15 years.It was great to read the article in the Vail Daily about the organized effort to defeat this tax. I’ll give some money to that group and spend the rest on my grandchildren.Please vote NO on 1A.Mike LederhauseMcCoyWrong messageMy hat is off to Rohn Robbins for his article against Amendment 44. The pot-drug legalization movement has nothing to offer society but more drugs. Policy discussions should not focus on whether marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol, because the reality is that both of these substances are dangerous. Colorado should enforce, not repeal, drug laws. State and local drug enforcement cost are minimal compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction. Public safety and the health concerns, along with the fact that marijuana will remain illegal under federal law, makes legalizing pot at the state level an unwise public policy decision.Alcohol is legal and its abuse is responsible for much of the violence in our daily lives. Legalizing alcohol has not reduced the number of assaults, domestic violence incidents, or drunk driving. Legalizing marijuana or other dangerous drugs will not diminish mental or physical destruction to lives. The potential dangers of intoxication from either marijuana or alcohol are real. An altered state of mind and impaired physical ability are never safe. The only safe alternative to alcohol intoxication is sobriety, not another form of intoxication. Why would users and abusers of legalized drugs act differently from those of the same illegal drugs? Behavior does not change because society sanctions drug use.Supporting Amendment 44 would undermine current programs educating our youth about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol. Where is the logic that smoking and alcohol are health hazards when our society approves of marijuana legalization? The key is to keep drug abuse from increasing and try to lower the use rate which, in turn, will lower all the adverse effects of drug abuse. Why increase the problem with legalizing a third dangerous substance? It simply does not make sense. Joe HoyEagle County sheriffDirty politicsI am so thankful the Vail Daily appears to be allowing a balance to be struck by running the Brian Sipes column after the Magnus Lindholm column about what the future holds for Avon. The politics are getting dirty in Avon, and the good residents of Avon need to be advised to ignore the dirty tactics. There are only a few people who generate untruths in the newspapers and put out post cards with nasty, false allegations about our elected Avon officials. The current Avon Town Council is the smartest, most thoughtful group the citizens of Avon have had in a long time to protect our interests. They have neither the time or money to defend themselves against personal attacks. I am interested in their side. Avon residents probably already know that Traer Creek got a good deal with the Village at Avon, but residents should also realize how critical it is to assure that Avon is not taken advantage of in the future by a developer using bullying and money to get its way. Since I represent real estate developers, I know what it means to negotiate hard with a government authority. But none of my developer clients have ever waged all-out warfare against the town in which it must co-exist. Traer Creek needs to stop engaging in negative tactics, start meeting its obligations and cooperate with the town. It might then find that, not only the town, but the residents may not be so suspicious of Traer Creek’s intentions. We see Traer Creek coming in and seeking gain only for itself. We see it taking advantage of parties like the Stone Creek charter school and the ambulance district, only to find out it is using those parties against the town to get what it wants and to make the town look bad. Every Traer Creek application that comes into the town has a new self-serving twist to it, and the town has no obligation to grant such new requests because Traer Creek is in default of its agreements in other areas. Traer Creek is supporting new members on the Avon Town Council because the current council is all too familiar with the Traer Creek way. No elected official (who is truly doing his job) will be able to be at peace with Traer Creek under the developer’s current approach. Traer Creek has alienated the town and its residents. They will find only more opposition if it continues at this game. I personally appreciate the vigilance of the current council to adhere to the agreements, the willingness not to cave in to dirty dealing and the experience they have gained in preserving Avon’s future. We need that vigilance and experience in the years ahead. Vote Wolfe, Sipes and Green for Avon Town Council.Carol D. KruegerAvonVail, Colorado

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