Point clouded by spite | VailDaily.com

Point clouded by spite

Don Rogers

Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone is not wrong to question whether it’s proper for members of the Eagle County Land Trust to also serve on the new county Open Space Committee.

Stone perhaps did not articulate his concerns as well as he could have, reaching for some creative language in defining a new “personal conflict of interest” while arguing against the appointments of Land Trust board members Tom Edwards of Gypsum and Andy Weissner of Vail. But he does have a point.

The private Land Trust and the county’s Open Space Committee are separate entities working on the same general aim, but not necessarily the same specific goals. Having the same people making decisions on both groups doesn’t strike us as a good idea. The intent of the committee was not to become an extension of the Land Trust, after all.

The lines between the two should be clear. We don’t advise fuzzing them up by sharing board members.

Sandra Donnelly did exactly the right thing in resigning from the Land Trust board when she was appointed to the new committee, we believe.

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Our sister paper, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, took Stone to task for his position, basically saying that everyone has a personal interest in their board work. They focused on the legal application of term, which more narrowly looks at financial gain. We’ll suggest Stone simply spoke clumsily, not an uncommon malady among local politicos who aren’t quite ready for prime time. But it’s not a stretch to see conflicting interests among the good folks who serve on both boards.

Still, it bears mentioning the Open Space Committee is 15 members strong and will only advise the Eagle County Board of Commissioners – not make binding decisions.

Some observers might prefer a cleaner separation between the Land Trust and the advisory committee. But the remaining two who serve on both will hardly have undue influence on the committee.

Of more concern in regard to Stone is an increase in somewhat less than statesmanlike behavior with people who disagree with him and with political rivals.

We frankly had hoped his narrow victory as an incumbent, which came thanks to two Democrats splitting the majority that did not vote for him in November 2002, would have had a welcome humbling effect.

If we disagree with the Enterprise on the merits of his position, they were dead on with the wise advice that Stone grow up. It’s a shame to see his potential undermined by a rather Nixonian mean streak.

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