Recall lacks logic, but still …
Vail CO, Colorado
The gang aiming to recall Arn Menconi offers no reasons that remotely stand up to reason, and they’ve stumbled badly out of the gate.
But I’m not sure trifles like logic and competence will have all that much to do with the success of their effort to throw the county commissioner out of office.
David Westen, the Emory University professor whose book “The Political Brain” is all the rage among the national insiders these days, focuses on how emotion prevails over cold logic in politics.
The professor’s ideas sound a lot like advertising science in choosing just the right words to convey just the right image to sell your campaign, like cars. But I believe he’s on to something here.
We feel our arguments and our ideology at least as much as we think through it. And we vote on how we feel about our candidates for office.
If that’s true, Menconi might be more threatened than you think from this gang so obviously clueless about their task.
They need to collect 4,300 legitimate signatures of Eagle County voters in time to force a recall election. Never mind their hypocrisy in being willing to force a special election at $37,000 after blasting Menconi for being one of three votes to set a special election this spring on the home rule charter. An irony is that Menconi was the only commissioner who opposed the passage of the charter in the resulting election. He voted to put it on the ballot on attorney’s advice that he was legally obligated to do so. And that was the right thing to do anyway.
The best clue about the recall gang’s rank stupidity comes in their first “reason” to remove Menconi from office on the eve of his last year of his last term. This is the one that claims he “doesn’t care about battered spouses” blah, blah because in 2000 he suggested that the vacated space which later became the Women’s Resource Center could house his Snowboard Outreach Society staff. The misstatement of the “reason” is such that it’s easy to conclude these folks are pretty deliberate about avoiding an accurate characterization.
So let’s ask the Resource Center’s president of the board, Susan Frampton, about this.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she says in a letter to the editor. “Over the last few years I have worked closely with Arn and the Eagle County commissioners to form a partnership that meets the needs of the astounding number of abused spouses and their families that come through our doors. No one has been more supportive than Arn. “
Remember, that’s the recall gang’s No. 1 reason for their recall effort. The “reasons” get weaker from there. The gang was too dumb to fit more than five of their claimed 20 reasons in their petition language. They collected only $200 after fundraising for weeks and maybe months. And with all the time in the world, they started their signature drive too late to have a prayer of making the deadline to put this on the regular election in November.
Yet walk around town and you’ll find more people than you might think who ask, “Where do I sign?”
For them, it’s not about how stupidly the recall gang is going about their task. Or that even if the recall were successful, the Board of County Commissioners would still make all the same decisions. They just don’t like Arn. Period.
Allen Best, one of the valley and Colorado’s sage journalists, suggests in another column in another paper on another subject that leaders “can never get too far in front of their followers.”
To an extent that’s true of Menconi. For Eagle County, he’s been running toward the bleeding edge of issues such as government support for child development, housing, land-use regulations, green initiatives. A bit of lightning will come your way when you stick out like that and show some steel.
And more personally, plenty of people just find him annoying for whatever reason. Not that Menconi is exactly the first politician people have found annoying.
From my window seat on the world, I have to admit this guy’s not my favorite personality among the public servants I’ve observed over the years. Not that I dislike him or believe he doesn’t have the community’s best interests at heart. On balance, I think Menconi has been very good for Eagle County.
And frankly, most politicians develop an inflated sense of their own IQs, have their eyes out for someone more important in the room than you, try a bit too hard to show that all they care about is the people, and seem to feign more intimacy than they actually feel. Self-absorption simply is an occupational hazard.
So what is it, really? It may be simply that Menconi edges toward that perfect storm of symbolizing a swing in ideology, getting too far in front of the people, and coming across too much as the politician in the pejorative.
That would be my theory. Otherwise this sentiment to throw the guy out of office makes no sense at all.