Who’s left to vote in Avon?
I don’t usually wander all the way to Avon for material, but something very strange is going on down there that has me really scatching my head.I suppose you read the Vail Daily article Feb. 21 regarding Vail Resorts’ request that Avon Town Councilwoman Debbie Buckley recuse herself from voting on the pending proposal coming before the Avon Town Council on the property known as the Confluence.The request is being made because Debbie’s husband, Pete, is currenty in litigation with Vail Resorts. But Vail Resorts is not the applicant, East West Partners is. So as far as I can tell, it really loses on a technicality. But that’ s not what has me scratching my head. There are seven voting members of the Avon Town Council. The mayor only votes when there is a tie. So on a normal Tuesday, the voting members are down to six.In the case of the Confluence site, two council members have had to step back due to conflicts of interest. So on this particular issue, the voting members of are now down to four.And here’s where it gets curious. If Debbie were to step down due to Vail Resorts’ request as made by their attorney, Martha Rehm, voting members on this issue would be down to three.Since the number needed to meet the quorum requirement goes down as each council member steps away, it would then take only two of the three votes to pass a project valued at over $400 million.However, the Avon town attorney and the Avon Town Council have opined that since she is not a party to the lawsuit or an officer of her husband’s company, she is free to vote on the proposed plan, never mind the technicality.So in this case, four can vote and it will take three to carry. Of course a tie means that the mayor will also be able weigh in.Doesn’t that seem odd? But that’s all kosher, according to the Avon town code. Then there was my column of last week, which was submitted prior to the Feb 21Vail Town Council meeting. During the council’s work session there was a two-hour training by the town’s insurance provider, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency. The purpose was to outline liability as regards the decision making process used by the town council and town boards. Though it covered a broad range of issues, a court case in another community was cited regarding the appearance of impropriety, one of my favorite topics when it comes to who should step away from voting on various agenda items. And it was further pertinent in light of the mayor’s recent decision to vote on his partner’s appeal to the Vail Town Council of a town Design and Review Board decision.While the details are not important, the result was because it reflected what I have been harping about for a long time. The appearance of impropriety was enough for a judge to rule in favor of the plaintiff even though much explanation was given in defense of what seemed a harmless situation.I asked how that differed from similar scenarios that many have found questionable in the town of Vail decision-making progress. The answer I got was probably not much, except the litigation part. Someday, under the right circumstances, that will happen here, too, and then we’ll learn. Or then again, maybe we won’t.What’s really interesting is that if any such litigation were to take place and it was determined that a councilman or board member had willfully acted inappropriately, the town of Vail’s insurance protection would be voided, and the offending party would be out there on their own. That means paying legal bills and any damages awarded.CIRSA has been quoted in the past as saying “We insure stupidity. We don’t insure something done with deliberate intent. Make a mistake and you’re covered. Intentionally exceed your scope of employment, and you’re on your own.”And as for Daily Managing Editor Don Rogers: What an imagination. He came up with the idea that I was wringing my hands over how to spend the $7.7 million collected for the now defunct conference center plan. Sorry, not something I do. But regardless, how would that equate to listing the results of the wish list from the town and Vail Chamber and Business Association surveys?What really surprises me is his new attitude. Isn’t this the same guy that previously believed that when the voters spoke, so be it? Oh, just by the way, the voters clearly spoke on the conference center. And it wasn’t a whisper, more like a roar. But nonetheless, that still leaves us with the question of what to do with the collected funds. Yet I find it fascinating. He doesn’t live here. He doesn’t work here. And he comes in to town maybe once a year for a meeting. As far as I can tell, his only experience with Vail is by rumor and hearsay. Still he has no problem knowing how we should spend our tax dollars. But then I’ve said before, spending somebody else’s money is always easy.And then, another milestone. Feb. 26 marked my third anniversary of writing this column. I might add that I probably hold the record for tenancity because I’ve never missed a week, which isn’t always easy.It’s truly been an interesting experience. I’ve had my fair share of critics, and that’s as it should be. But I’ve had far more support, and for that I say thanks. In my very first column I said that I had two goals: to provide you with information that you might not otherwise get, and give you another way of looking at things. I hope I have done both. Besides, it would truly be a boring world if we all agreed on everything. Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail email@example.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily. Vail, Colorado