Vail Daily column: Rash decisions in Eagle
Eagle is my town, though I live a mile outside its boundaries. I like and admire pretty much everyone I know on the Town Board and administration.
I like current Mayor Yuri Kostick, and I like former Mayor Jon Stavney, now the suspended town manager.
I like them both. But so you know my thinking at the top, I’d vote for Stavney for mayor if both were running, and I’d hire Stavney for town manager if both were applying.
I like both of them, but see Stavney plainly as the more able of the two. I think the more objective evidence bears me out, too.
The bookends for me are Kostick’s rash decision to sup at the Haymeadow developer’s table in Florida at the developer’s expense a year ago and the Town Board’s rash suspension with intent to fire Stavney shortly before his contract ends.
I say rash because the consequences go a bit beyond the obvious violations of the law and needless expense when Eagle doesn’t really have money to waste right now.
I also see that critics of Kostick in small-town fashion have exaggerated in some gossip about his activities, which isn’t fair even if he opened the door to it.
The issue with Kostick isn’t so much a me-first approach to life as apparently not thinking things through.
Let’s start with the well-documented trip that violated a Colorado law concerning gifts, as well as common sense.
Kostick and Town Board member Doug Seabury, along with Seabury’s business partner who represents the developer in Eagle, went to Florida to try to save the already approved Haymeadow residential development on 660 acres on the town’s south side. They just neglected in their hurry to tell anyone who could have let them know what a mistake they were making.
Then they violated state Sunshine Law and skirted its spirit in their eagerness to get the rest of the board filled in before meeting officially.
Both repaid the debt, expressed remorse and got off with a short lecture about why not to do these things. Not that big a deal, really.
Except Kostick and Seabury took themselves out of any further board discussions that might come up concerning the Haymeadow project. To me, this is at least potentially the bigger deal. Almost 30 percent of the board can’t join in future decisions about a major project as a result.
And they embarrassed themselves and the town in the process quite unnecessarily.
I had planned to leave it alone in this space, chalking this episode up to lessons learned and letting time do its work as the Town Board found its feet. The reporting made the point well enough, I thought.
Looks like I was wrong. Suspending the town manager for no clear reason a few months before his contract runs out also is rash.
Five of the seven people on the Town Board, including the mayor, face election in April. Three of the members were appointed by this board. The right thing to do here would be letting the electorate weigh in first on the Town Board and its activities, and then take up the town manager’s contract, which ends 30 days after the election for good reason.
It’s hard to guess what voters might do in April, but the buzz right now is alive with anger. For a board trying to get past old wounds, like the two referendums on Eagle River Station, they have a funny way of going about it.
How hard could it be to wait just a little longer? You know, save the town some further embarrassment in the meantime, not to mention money.
Gossip that Kostick tried to steal a pingpong table from outside the Thrifty Shoppe, arranged no-bid contracts for the trail building company he does work for in China, is building a green home in town without a contractor’s license, rides a non-street-legal motorcycle in town and some other silly stuff is all trumped up and wrong from what I can tell. But yes, he did bring his dog to a ShowDownTown concert while town staff exhorted attendees to leave Fido at home. Hey, a letter writer made a stink of it.
Other than the dog, I guess, everything mentioned above actually has legitimate explanations or was an overnight misunderstanding in the case of the pingpong table he purchased. The staff handles the contracts already approved with the annual budget in standard form, not him. His partner in the house has the license. His bike is street legal and Eagle has an ordinance allowing non-street-legal vehicles anyway. And so on.
But here’s the thing: Stavney as mayor just didn’t open any of these doors inviting the sort of speculation Kostick is enduring. And Stavney as Town Board member, mayor, county commissioner and finally town manager has been in the public eye for a much longer time than Kostick or anyone on the Town Board.
I get that Stavney can be blunt. Speaking the truth as one sees it isn’t always politic. Still, I can’t think of anyone so much as the Town Board or mayor who needs to hear it more.
The board and the mayor have slipped off the track. Suspending the town manager who hasn’t really done anything wrong to merit such a profound action is just further evidence, unfortunately.
But my opinion hardly is going to convince them to see the light. Heck, I don’t even live in the town to have so much as a vote.
I have to think they must still have some dim memory who they actually work for. Maybe you can help them understand this at their next Town Board meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
With their action, they bet on you not bothering, though. I wonder if that, too, will prove rash.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2920.