Vail Daily column: Eagle needs spring cleaning | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Eagle needs spring cleaning

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Eagle’s Town Hall overflowed with citizens Tuesday night — nearly all supporting suspended Town Manager Jon Stavney.

Too bad not enough of the Town Board listened to what they had to say.

Instead, a majority accepted his resignation after hearing pleas to keep him at work at least until the April elections. Five of the board’s seven seats will be open then. It’s a good bet today’s majority will change.

I was glad to hear trustees Kevin Brubeck and Andy Jessen speak up in favor of Stavney. What they said was what I know to be the truth: He didn’t do anything wrong enough to be fired.

Unfortunately, Mayor Yuri Kostick and trustees Sarah Baker and Doug Seabury had little to offer countering what has become obvious. There’s nothing more than small-minded politics behind the curtain of “personnel matters.”

Geoff Grimmer, who endured a similar witch hunt in his job and was saved by cooler heads on the school board a few years ago, declined to vote. Trustee Anne McKibbin wasn’t there at all, away on a previously planned trip.

Most of the speakers were well-informed about the circumstances, at least as poor a secret as the ruse the board was united in this travesty. A job evaluation survey commonly used as a tool to identify perceived weaknesses for improvement was used as an excuse to get rid of Stavney, basically.

The shame lies with the board majority here, not a town manager with a clean record over nearly two decades of public service as county commissioner, mayor and Town Board member himself.

Maybe this was part of the problem. The town manager is far more accomplished and experienced than the mayor and some Town Board members who apparently have let their titles go to their heads. Cleaner, too.

As the mayor blurted out during the meeting, the root of this nonsense goes back a year. Well, that’s when Kostick and Seabury made the mistake of their public lives by accepting the Haymeadow developer’s offer to fly them to Florida to talk things over. In their haste, they didn’t bother telling anyone who could have saved them from their blunder. Then they violated the state’s Sunshine Law governing public disclosure by elected officials in a couple of cases and broke the spirit of the law in a couple of others with fellow board members when they got back.

Can you imagine the “Wait, you did what?” conversation back then with Stavney? I’m sure he didn’t mince words then. And I’m sure they were offended instead of chastened. But hey, there is no shortage of arrogance in this world that mistakes the plain truth for failure to show enough deference.

I think Stavney miscalculated just how wrong sentiments expressed at the meeting about everyone wants what’s best for Eagle would be. This drama would not have happened if that were remotely true.

Instead we have the ones holding the bloody knife now calling for “healing” in the wake of the deed they committed.

Should have thought about that a little earlier.

Hmmm, should have thought.

There’s no healing with a Town Board majority that thoughtlessly put all the town’s progress at risk, opened new wounds and caused a divide not seen since Eagle River Station’s referendums — and, perhaps, the pitched battles of the 1980s over the proposed Adam’s Rib ski area — for no good reason.

A spring cleaning is in order come April. Then the town can set about healing.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at 970-748-2920 and drogers@vaildaily.com.