Scare tactics rule the season |

Scare tactics rule the season

Don Rogers

I can’t remember a local election season more driven by fear.Such fear of even exploring whether Eagle County residents can be better represented and governed.Such fear of the latest in a long line of public amenities in Vail that have succeeded beyond wildest dreams and quite counter to all fears.Remember when Donovan Pavilion was a boondoggle in the making? Middle Creek Apartments couldn’t possibly fill? Who would ever come to the Ford Amphitheatre? Dobson Arena? All these not only succeeded, but they each have helped make Vail Vail. Of course, an element of Vail once bitterly fought roundabouts.So we’re at it again, the same old crowd that’s against everything can’t handle the risk of a conference center.But is it the conference center they truly fear? Give or take a few souls, the opposition is the same that comes out against all progress in Vail. They have no more knowledge about the conference center business than they did about Donavon Pavilion, or roundabouts, or … .This is their right, of course. I just wish they’d be honest and explain straight up that they just don’t want more people in their private little place. That’s even a justifiable stance, even if I believe they are wrong in their thinking.Yes, I’ve read Kaye Ferry quoting her nutty professor and doing her best to confuse the much larger convention centers with the conference center proposed for Vail. What’s the difference? The giant metropolitan facilities have struggled. But the smaller centers have seen a resurgence, according to the 2005 “Trends in the Conference Center Industry,” as reported in this month’s The Meeting Professional. Oops. Can’t have that bit of truth in the argument.Ferry’s also a bit off about the last time so many candidates ran for the Vail Town Council. You don’t have to go back to the 1980s to find so much interest in running for the office. Try 1999, when a dozen candidates ran for the council.Imagine if the timid souls holding fast against change were in charge when Vail Mountain was built. Why, there were other ski areas then. Can’t you just hear the quailing about “risk” and how no one would ever come to Vail? There wouldn’t have been a Vail without some bold leadership.True, recklessness would be even worse than conservatism clear to paralysis. But the conference center numbers hardly show certain failure. Vail’s history as a major attraction is real. And conferences are turned away now because the center does not yet exist.If otherwise pretty solid town councils since 2002 have failed, it’s been in dithering over the center instead of getting the thing up and running before the price and interest rates climbed. How much has been lost in failing to follow the election direction in 2002 to build the center? All that careful study of what’s already been studied has cost the community millions and millions in potential earnings. Far more than the bank account has accumulated from the lodging and sales tax earmarked for construction. At best, the council out-smarted itself. At worst, it became a party to those who would derail the whole thing even though they lost that Election Day.Vail’s voters will figure this out or they won’t. The fearmongers have done an excellent job. The cost would be to the community that works real jobs, however.The home rule fear mongering is plain funny, meantime. Such cost, spending up to $200,000 out of a $100 million budget on a county constitution tailored to Eagle County rather than one-size-fits-all mandates from the state. Such hilarity touting three commissioners as the one and only way to run the county. And goodness gracious, how dare Basalt and El Jebel ask for a real seat at the table?Fear won’t settle the home rule question. The arcane sound to it, the regrettable unwillingness of citizens to think the thing through will kill it, if anything does. I think the Republicans fear Roaring Fork residents having their own district for commissioner elections. That corner of the county tends to be liberal. But the other four districts can go either way, between more conservative and more liberal viewpoints.But wouldn’t it be nice to suck out the partisan poison in county politics by ending party affiliations at the county commissioner level? Maybe that’s what the local GOP fears most. Of course, the Dems should be more fearful than they are, from a self-protection point of view. We’d happily do away with them, too, in the commissioners’ chambers.There’s actually a lot to gain with home rule, and very, very little to fear. Really. Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism