Vail Daily letter: Against Eagle River Station
Vail, CO Colorado
Well-known valley builders express-ing support for a project that might keep them in business is understand-able. They are builders, and for the past year, they’ve seen the magic mon-ey machine called explosive real estate development grind to a complete halt. Anything that appears as if it might flush the dried mud from their money machine gearboxes looks good to them, and that’s what you get after a flood: mud. The past decade of devel-opment around here made for a flood of cash. Now things are drying up.
Their positions can be understood since hope is a powerful force. Hope has been the Rev. Jackson’s mantra for 40 years, and it elected Mr. Obama. Without hope, there are only the hun-gry creditors and the knowledge that the “extend and pretend” banking of today will not last much longer.
Elected Town Board members and mayors were obviously well-lobbied by the ERS developers, to the point that they not only cast the vote entrusted to them by their con-stituents in favor of the developer’s project, they wrote the public ballot so that a public “no” vote sounds like one is in favor of death panels.
They continue to lobby on behalf of the developers, submitting op-ed pieces for the local paper.
One of the nice things about Eagle is that most of its residents have been around long enough to understand local government and local governors. They know how “business gets done” since they’ve watched it “get done” for years. All the “Why I Did It By O.J.” expla-nations can’t change the votes cast now. People know that this recession is unlike any in American history for a lot of reasons. Most locals invest often enough that they know that expecting past performance to predict future performance is so wrong you have to sign a form acknowledging that you understand that error when you buy a share of stock.
Robert Reich wrote, on his way to the “Jobs Summit” last week, “The basic assumption that jobs will eventu-ally return when the economy recovers is probably wrong. Some jobs will come back, of course. But the reality that no one wants to talk about is a structural change in the economy that’s been going on for years but which the Great Recession has dra-matically accelerated. Under the pres-sure of this awful recession, many companies have found ways to cut their payrolls for good. They’ve discov-ered that new software and computer technologies have made workers in Asia and Latin America just about as productive as Americans and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently outsourced abroad. This means many Americans won’t be rehired unless they’re willing to settle for much lower wages and benefits.”
It’s official, folks. There has been a fundamental change in this country this year.
Finally, people who have been paid to foam at the mouth in support of other people’s moneymaking schemes – lobbyists – can be over-looked. They’ve “got skin in the game.” They were paid to foam over their clients’ interests. Foaming is their job, and paying people to help exercise a corporation’s recently granted right to petition government is perfectly legal. Perhaps the loudest “citizen propo-nent” of ERS right now is also the best example of indiscriminate foaming. In 2006, when the owners of the now-renovated Brush Creek Saloon build-ing at Third and Broadway were seek-ing approval of their plans from the town of Eagle, this now loud support-er of ERS rose to the microphone and stated, according to the online Plan-ning and Zoning database, that “Eagle is not ready for this huge building.”
Three years ago, before the eco-nomic crash, when the good times were rolling fast, the Brush Creek Saloon building was so “huge” that “Eagle (was) not ready” for it.
Today, as the worst recession since 1929 continues to unfold, when 50 banks failed in October alone due to skyrocketing losses on commercial real estate development loans – including another bank in Colorado recently – this same lobbyist preaches the right-eous benefit to Eagle if the residents will approve a development twice the size of the town itself out by the interstate.
Lobbyists don’t care that everyone knows better than to listen to them, that what they say is irritating back-ground noise in a debate like this. They’re paid to talk. Talk, they do.
Eagle residents, vote “no” on more debt for Eagle. Vote “no” on empty promises. Vote “no” on a town bailout for ERS developers at your expense. Indeed, this time, “Eagle is not ready for this huge building.”
Bill Sepmeier Sweetwater
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