Menconi bypassed for chairmanship role … again
For the second year in a row, Eagle County Commissioners Michael Gallagher and Tom Stone have bypassed fellow commissioner Arn Menconi when filling leadership positions on the county board.
Quietly on Monday – in the course of their regular business – the commissioners adopted an appointment resolution for 2004 that placed Stone back in the chairmanship seat for the commissioners. Gallagher will serve as vice-chairman.
The commissioners passed the appointment resolution without reading it out loud, a departure from procedure of previous years. Menconi cast the only dissenting vote.
There’s no law or statute specifying that the chairmanship position on the board be rotated evenly among the county commissioners. However, for several decades in Eagle County, with rare exceptions, the tradition has been that the commissioners take equal turns at the chairmanship.
Last year would have been Menconi’s first turn at the chairmanship. However, a few weeks before the appointment was to be made, rumors started circulating that Stone and Gallagher intended to bypass that option. Menconi’s attempts to force a public discussion of the issue yielded minimal comments from his fellow commissioners. Ultimately, Gallagher stepped into the chairmanship for the second time in two years.
Meeting minutes, occasional public displays of temper and reports from county employees indicate that the commissioners at times have testy relationships with one another.
The chairmanship of the Board of Commissioners carries few actual powers. The chairman keeps meetings running, often serves as the spokesman for the board and is the key signatory on letters.
Stone and Gallagher did not return phone calls seeking comment on the passing of the chairmanship gavel. Menconi, who did not comment when the vote was taken, did have some remarks afterwards.
“What is supposed to be just a historic rotation (of the chairmanship) is feeling more like a coronation,” he said, “It is unfair to the voters who elected me; and to the district that I represent.”
Menconi voiced his suspicions that his fellow commissioners “conspire together” on many matters of county business. He says he’s been frustrated in efforts to push forward programs involving economic development, early child care, land use and housing issues.
“(Stone and Gallagher) create almost a sort of back-room process with phone calls (to each other). It makes it very difficult to be an elected official on a three-member board,” he said.
Still, Menconi acknowledged that in politics, there will always be majority and minority differences. He also said he intends to run for a second term of office. Menconi’s seat is up for election this year.
“I’ve worked in this culture for three years. This proves to me even more so that it is important to continue,” he said. Menconi said he will continue efforts to maintain communications with other community leaders and will continue his work on issues important to him and his constituents.
“I don’t feel like a got the raw end of a deal, and I don’t feel like a victim,” he said. “I feel as though I’m representing the community very well.”
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.