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Politically poisonous Stones throwing stones from highly profitable glass houses
Former Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone.
By Dan Davis

Politically poisonous Stones throwing stones from highly profitable glass houses

By David O. Williams

October 28, 2008 —  I found it laughable last week that former Republican Eagle County commissioner Tom Stone called out current commissioner candidate and former Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney, a Democrat, for a $50 dry-cleaning expenditure on Stavney’s latest campaign report.

Amusing because it was a bit of a boneheaded gaff by Stavney, who works in construction and said he needed help with his campaign duds, but full-on ludicrously laughable because it came in the same week that the Republican National Committee was outted for spending $150,000 on Sarah Palin’s Neiman Marcus wardrobe (no JC Penney for this hockey mom).

If both expenditures are indicators of the future free-spending ways of the two candidates, then Stone’s wife, Henri, who’s running Sen. John McCain’s Eagle County campaign and gushingly brought Palin’s snow-machine-jockey hubby Todd to Eagle last week, has some splainin’ to do.

To me the most telling thing from Friday’s Vail Daily article that revealed Stavney’s expense and Stone’s comical outrage, is that the two Republicans who are running slash-and-burn commissioner campaigns promising to cut taxes and thus critical social programs like early childhood education have spent the most so far to get elected. Spend-thrift? Hardly.

Republicans Dick Gustafson and Debbie Buckley -- whose past free-market-uber-alles policies as a former commissioner and Avon town councilwoman, respectively, are in part responsible for the current housing and education -- have spent the most out of the four candidates vying for commissioner.

Incumbent Dem Peter Runyon, the top target of the GOP candidates’ tax-cutting wrath, has spent the least amount, and Stavney comes in third. Put aside the irony of that set of facts and just look at the embarrassing notion that Eagle County, one of the wealthiest in Colorado, if not the country, would even remotely consider electing candidates who want to save us all a few bucks a month on our property tax bills at the expense of our children, open space and housing for desperately needed workers for our local businesses. Even if you’re an unrepresented second homeowner you should see the fallacy in this, since services provided you when you’re in town will suffer if business suffers.

Of course, given their campaign expenditures, if you go by the Stone theory, both Republicans likely will break all spending promises and blow wads of cash on sweetheart deals for their developer buddies if elected. Just look at the smoking deal Buckley helped hand Magnus Lindholm in Avon over the years – a developer who famously has problems with taking care of all of his tax bills on time.

The worst part of this is the hypocrisy of the Stones helping to shape an anti-tax platform that hurts our local schools and social programs when they have made mounds of money in local real estate, right along with the rest of us, as home prices have doubled and tripled over the last decade.

We already have some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation, and yet the Stones, Buckley and Gustafson would cut them even more despite a local public school system that in some cases is in shambles. Aspen invests in its public schools; Vail bails on its schools and dumps its kids in private and charter schools.

If you want the Stones and their poisonous politics (Henri inappropriately uses the Vail Board of Realtors e-mail list to espouse her conservative views) back on center stage, go ahead and vote for both Gustafson and Buckley.

People who ask me when Eagle County politics became so partisan always seem to think it started with term-limited and outgoing Democrat Arn Menconi, but I trace the trend back to 1998 when Tom Stone first rose to power. He’s the one who tried to get Menconi recalled for his failure to vote on a meaningless county resolution blindly supporting President Bush after 9/11 – a perfectly valid move by Menconi in retrospect.

Before Stone I covered the county commissioners for the Vail Daily and almost never put a D or an R before the names of James Johnson, Bud Gates and Johnette Phillips. Party politics simply didn’t matter back then.

I recently interviewed Rep. Al White and former congressman Scott McInnis, a pair of Republicans who both represented this area at one time, and I remembered why in some cases I used to cross party lines before everything became so bitterly partisan. Even John McCain used to rock the GOP boat often enough that I would have once thought about voting for him.

But now he’s consumed the red Kool-aid and brought on a VP candidate who represents everything wrong with the Republican Party today. I lump her in with GOP state party chair and U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, and at a local level the Stones. These people all march in lockstep with the hatred and fear-mongering of Karl Rove.

A vote for Gustafson and Buckley on Nov. 4 is a vote for a return to the bad old days of Eagle County partisanship.



Comment on article  2 Comments on "Politically poisonous Stones throwing stones from highly profitable glass houses "


Greg — October 28, 2008

Now don't go adding to the partisan vitriol Dave (not that I necessarily disagree). These are tough days indeed for us "old school Republicans".
Red Herring alert, the Commissioners tax policy has nothing to do w/ School District funding. That is screwed up to a fare thee well by bi-partisan stupidity in Denver. We can't vote to increase our property taxes for the school district even if we wanted to.


David O. — October 28, 2008

You're right, of course, Greg -- that pesky TABOR thing that's held us hostage and made us third world (or at least ranked us right there with Mississippi in a lot of categories for years). But I should have stopped short with early childhood education, which leads to better elementary ed. I was on a roll, like totally blaming Bush for the mortgage crisis. I can guarantee you, though, that Gustafson and Buckley were dancing a jig when a Denver district judge ruled Ritter's mill levy freeze unconstitutional. Let's hope the supreme court fixes that miscue.



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