Truth the first casualty
A posting on the Vail Daily Web site by Anonymous on Monday, October 23 @ 21:57:15 PDT: “The only person being nasty is Don Cohen. He hopes to win people over by ridicule and deception. I will vote no on 1B Home Rule and vote no on the nasty remarks of Don Cohen. He is running a very negative campaign.”Hmmmm. Am I? The above is actually one of the nicer postings that I’ve read on the Vail Daily’s web site. I guess the writer is overlooking the numerous negative radio commercials, mailings and proliferation of yard signs that have appeared, courtesy of a Denver-based law firm that’s serving as a front for a small group of residents who’ve hijacked the local Republican Party. Let’s not kid ourselves. Nobody honestly can believe that people outside Eagle County care about our local candidates and issues.The centerpiece of the Home Rule Charter, expanding the board to five commissioners and making elections non-partisan, has its genesis in the concern a couple of years ago that county politics were becoming nastily politicized. And look where we are now. It’s not a pretty place. Scorched-earth politics is not what Eagle County is about.In Colorado government, the county commissioner position is a very powerful one. Decisions commissioners make directly affect people’s lives, from traffic safety and liquor licenses to multi-million dollar economic decisions. That’s an extraordinary concentration of power with no real checks and balances. And it’s a balance that with only two commissioners required for agreement, can easily tip towards the good – or the bad.Expanding our board to five commissioners certainly provides better geographic representation, but what’s been less obvious is that it provides a much better assurance that a single commissioner can’t bulldoze his or her agenda. It’s a lot easier to roll over one fellow commissioner than it is two. I think that’s a very small price to pay for adding two more commissioners. Yes, five commissioners may disagree, but even in winning a 3-2 vote there’s going to have to be some compromise instead of a 2-1 vote that merely requires one person’s acquiescence.Partisan politics absolutely has an important role to play on a state and national level, but locally that’s another story. Consider this: There are about 8,500 Republicans in Eagle County, who make up 33 percent of the registered voters. Earlier this summer, one of the party leaders claimed that home rule was an attempt by the Democrats to take over Eagle County government. He may have thought that this would “energize the troops.” (It didn’t.) The real irony is that the Home Rule Commission was made up of two Democrats, three unaffiliateds and six Republicans! It’s hard to get that conspiracy theory to fit.The splinter group of partisans hasn’t gotten any traction on actually arguing real facts about the charter so, taking a page out of the guerilla handbook, they put their money to work creating doubt. Unfortunately, truth is the first casualty.The sprouting of “Protect Your Rights” signs is the best evidence. As county commissioner candidate (and Home Rule Commission member) Tom Edwards asked, “What rights are we protecting?” The real truth is that under home rule, citizens actually gain rights in initiative and referendum ability.What is unarguably true is that 11 Eagle County citizens from differing political perspectives spent eight months honoring their pledge to you to write a home rule charter that they unanimously support. What’s also true is that two of our three commissioners (who will continue in office) and all three of the candidates for the open seat also support the charter.No anonymity here.Don Cohen, R-Edwards, served as the chairman of the Home Rule Commission. He is joined by all the commission members: Michael Bair, R-Basalt; Kathy Chandler-Henry, D-Eagle; Tom Edwards, R-Gypsum; Kara Heide, I-Edwards; John Horan-Kates, I-Edwards; Heather Lemmon, R-Eagle-Vail; Colleen McCarthy, R-Vail; Dave Mott, I-Wolcott; Jacque Whitsitt, D-Basalt; and Charlie Wick, R-Eagle.Vail, Colorado
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