11 September 2013: Politicians need to keep their promises

Politicians need to keep their promises

Things have changed in Clear Creek in 2013 with the “new regime,” as it is being called.  Elections generally do have consequences, and the change in two commissioner seats has been telling.  For sure, it’s a different day.

In the August 28th edition of the Courant, letter-writer Etta Satter lambastes Commissioners Phil Buckland and Tom Hayden for flip-flopping on a commitment “to negotiate to purchase the Snow Mountain property” that in her mind was a solemn promise:

Etta further implies Hayden, when he said, “That was then; this is now” was at best disingenuous and at worst dishonest.

In last week’s edition, Hayden admits to flip-flopping saying, “I had indicated to a lot of people that I was going to vote in favor of the open space, and that was when I was campaigning.”

Indeed, it was.  In other words, Hayden was for open space before he was against it.

Supporters of the Charlie’s Place and advocates for our community’s furry friends and charges have likewise been disillusioned.  After years of program growth and impressive development of the shelter, which got and still has overwhelming support from the electorate, the commissioners effectively cut staff by choosing not to replace a key position for no other reason than, it seems, it’s a government program, and that’s what Republicans are supposed to do.  The consequences have been disappointing.

In like manner, Buckland and Hayden also voted not to fund and fill the Greenway Project’s director position the previous board had written into the 2013 budget, this after countless words from both about being supportive of the project.

My experience with Hayden’s and Buckland’s credibility came during the campaign.  Both showed me their true colors when they ducked out on coming onto my show on KYGT for a face-to-face conversation with their Democratic opponents after committing to it, Tom specifically and Phil implicitly.  The loss was not mine though, but the Clear Creek electorate’s.  Both emailed nearly identical regrets citing “full schedules,” which coincidentally did not prevent them from showing up at other events over the next two months.

Hayden feigns reality has shaped his vote, but that merely echoes what critics said during the campaign: He was running on his name and was less-than-informed on the issues.  And I still shake my head when thinking about Democrats telling me he insisted to them he was more a Democrat than a Republican, which might be news for his GOP compatriots.

Caveat emptor, Latin expression for “let the buyer beware,” is a doctrine in commerce in place since at least the 16th century that says the onus is on the buyer to examine property before purchasing and, as such, he/she takes responsibility for its condition.  In other words, one buys at his/her own risk and accepts it “as is,” with all defects and imperfections.

Despite four years of Latin in high school, I’m unable to translate “let the voter beware” into Latin, but the principle remains the same: You get what you vote for.

Talking to citizens around the county, I am sensing disappointment, disillusionment and unhappiness.  While that’s not pleasant at the national level, it’s lethal at home.  As the late, great Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill once proclaimed, “All politics is local.”

It’s true for any office seeker that once in, even the most solemn campaign promises might need to be abandoned in the face of reality, but Hayden’s flip-flop doesn’t fit into that category.  It’s a pattern of behavior so not deserving of a bye.

A person’s word, even a politician’s, ought to mean something, to be sacrosanct.

Hayden’s response to Etta was dismissive and belittling and for a long-time community member who only managed to squeak by in his election—an approximate 50-vote swing would’ve given the seat to then relatively unknown George Clark—creating political enemies is not, I would think, the best way to do business.

We can go over the history of last year’s campaign, but suffice to say the bitterness that pervaded it not only helped impact the outcome but also has implications to this day.  The political reality is both men won in squeakers.  There was no landslide or mandate for either.

What was true then remains true today.  Unfortunately, unless one subscribes to the recall process, there is no electoral do-over.

The upshot?  The county is adrift; it lacks vision.  The remodeled courthouse, once an inviting place, has lost its luster.

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