Don’t vote for a pig in a poke
October 13, 2005
Voters should take a close look at what they are just receiving in the mail. You are being asked to write a blank check for a pig in a poke. The subject is Eagle County home rule. The first question that you should ask yourself is, why have only two out of Colorado’s 64 counties adopted home rule? Backers would like you to believe that this is only an effort to add two commissioners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Home rule is a very complex process where how the county is run is totally reorganized. Let’s look at several possible outcomes.First is the cost. We are being asked to budget an undetermined amount to pay for the efforts of the committee if it is formed. Efforts like this have cost at least $100,000. The other commissioners decided to hide this cost in the ballot language. They had the option to request a temporary mill levy, but they decided that you might become concerned about the cost. Hence, you are being asked to write a blank check that the commissioners can’t reasonably refuse. We might have to divert over $250,000 from other programs. I don’t know of a single program that I want to cut at the county. Now you should ask yourself, “What am I going to get for possibly $250,000 or more?” No one can tell you, which brings us to the pig in a poke. The elected home rule committee has most of a year to discuss how they want to reorganize the county. Several members of the support group for this initiative have stated they believe that the other officials should be appointed, not elected. This is a direct attempt to limit your right to pick who runs your county. It could be decided that the commissioners will hire all of the other elected officials. That’s right. It could end up that cronyism will prevail at the county as the commissioners hire their friends and family to run your county. What else could happen?Why are the commissioners so interested in adding more commissioners at your expense?One reason for sure is so that they can talk in private away from the public eye. Right now, no two commissioners can legally talk in private about county business because they would represent a majority of the board. If they add two more commissioners, a majority of five would be three. This has been referred to as the “Sunshine Law” since all business has to be conducted in the light of day and not in a dark, private room. What’s wrong with having open discussions that anyone can hear and see? What is it that they want to talk about that they don’t want you to hear?Comments about representation are just plain fuzzy math. Right now, Eagle County residents in the Roaring Fork Valley are represented by three commissioners. If they decide to have a commissioner specific to and elected by only the people in that part of Eagle County, you will have one vote against four from the Eagle Valley. Three representatives versus one against four is simple math. You have more representation now. Why would you change? There are simply too many unknowns about this home rule effort. I am voting no, and I hope that you will. I won’t be writing a blank check for a pig in a poke. How about you? Tom Stone is an Eagle County commissioner.
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