Recall won’t stop Menconi, he says
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY – The reasons for recall brought against him are unfounded and come down to an effort to discredit him, County Commissioner Arn Menconi said.
He said there are two reasons are behind the recall effort ” his opponents are against advocacy of childhood development programs and want to hurt his chances of being elected to another office after his term ends in 2008.
“I see this as an advocacy fight. It’s about whether or not we should help these kids,” Menconi said, referring to his approval of a $822,759 early-childhood development program after voters had already rejected a $3.5 million proposal for early-childhood funding.
But recall or not, he said, he will continue promoting the program and “continue serving in a government or nonprofit capacity.”
Recall proponents, led by Mike Reid of Vail, Susie Wendt of Edwards and Tom Chastain of Avon, have been gathering signatures at various locations in the county over the last few weeks. While Menconi may be facing the recall, his opponents face a deadline to gather the 4,367 signatures needed to force the election.
Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton said there are many variables to getting the issue on the ballot, including checking signatures, and taking into account any protests. “Their best bet would be to get it in by the end of this week,” she said Wednesday.
The group, who operates under the battle cry of “Anyone but Menconi,” submitted a statement providing the main reasons for recalling Menconi. The statement said that Menconi, an Eagle resident who has been in office since 2000, no longer represents his constituents and that he has been fiscally irresponsible and self-serving in his actions.
Reid and Wendt have refused to be quoted by the Daily and Chastain could not be reached for comment.
State law says that only voters can judge whether the grounds for recall are reasonable and sufficient.
The recall statement said that Menconi is only interested in pushing his own agenda. Recall supporters have taken issue with Menconi’s children’s program, saying he denied voters the chance to vote on it.
Menconi said he is simply being consistent with what he promised voters in his elections, that he would work for youth and affordable housing.
“This is about how people wish to help working families and kids. When reports tell me there’s kids who are neglected and abused, am I supposed to roll over and play dead?” he said. “These people just don’t want to help kids.”
However, opponents have said the program is unnecessary
The recall statement also said Menconi competed with the Women’s Resource Center for a location that he wanted for his own Snowboard Outreach Society. He does not “care about battered spouses, only his organization and family’s personal income,” the statement said.
But Menconi said he has a long record of supporting the Resource Center, helping the organization apply for grants and raise funds.
There was not any competition for the location, said Resource Center board president Susan Frampton.
“There were other organizations that applied for this location. We were chosen and that’s like anything that you do. You fill out the application and that’s what happened. (Menconi) has been supportive along with all the commissioners,” she said.
However, his opponents do not buy that, saying that Menconi’s support of the organization came only after he failed to get the location.
Another reason said Menconi has “dangerously reduced county reserve funds from 25 to 15 percent,” referring to a vote by all three commissioners earlier this year to use 15 percent as the guideline for county emergency funds.
Menconi said he has long been a proponent of this change because the county has a strong economy. Lowering the reserves frees up money for longer term projects such as expansion of the justice center, road and bridge building in Gypsum and purchase of land, he said.
The decision was based on recommendations from auditors and financial advisors, said county finance director John Lewis. Counties that have higher reserves generally are dependent on property taxes for their revenue, while Eagle County has a variety of money sources, he said.
Even so, if all of the proposed projects go into action, the amount of money in the reserve fund still would not drop below 25 percent, Lewis said.
“It would take a lot for us to have to dip into the reserve,” he said. “It would have to be a big disaster.”
The recall statement also said that Menconi does not support the construction of a roundabout to replace the traffic-causing stoplights in Edwards.
That is just not true, Menconi said. He and the other commissioners already allocated half a million dollars toward a study of a roundabout in Edwards, he said.
The last reason on the petition points out that Menconi only won his elections by slim margins, further reason that he does not have the authority to act against voters’ wishes.
Menconi, who is term-limited, said that petitioners are not being transparent and simply trying to hurt his character. “That tells me something’s not right,” he said. “They’ve made this personal.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.