Campaign practices questioned

Planning commissioner admits contribution to controversial committee

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— Planning Commissioner Steve Lewis is the first Steamboat Springs resident to be identified as a contributor to the secretive political committee Concerned Citizens for the Future of Steamboat Springs.

Speaking at his Oak Street office Tuesday afternoon, Lewis said he is responsible for two recent newspaper advertisements placed by the committee - one defending the city's planned purchase of the Iron Horse Inn to provide affordable rental housing for city employees and another criticizing at-large Steamboat Springs City Council candidate and fellow Planning Commissioner Cari Hermacinski.

Lewis, who also said his monetary contributions at least partially paid for the ads, would not divulge the names of other contributors or otherwise discuss the committee beyond his own involvement.

"I haven't been engaged in other ads or other elements they're doing," Lewis said. "I'll let others speak for themselves. : I'm trying here to take ownership of the Iron Horse Inn ad and the ad criticizing the developer accountability of Cari."

Forms on file at City Hall show that the Concerned Citizens for the Future of Steamboat Springs is a registered issues committee and that its members are "proponents for incumbent candidates" Karen Post, Susan Dellinger and Towny Anderson - Hermacinski's opponent.

Cheryl A. Witt of Westminster is listed as the contact person for the committee. Messages left on Witt's home phone Friday and Tuesday have not been returned. Anderson, Dellinger and Post have flatly denied any involvement with the committee or prior knowledge of its advertisements.

Lewis said he got involved with the committee after becoming discouraged by other campaign advertisements and claims made by some candidates.

"I didn't like the advertising I was seeing," Lewis said. "I'd like people to answer the questions, answer the criticisms and not defame the person who asked the question or made the criticism."

Lewis's ad Tuesday criticizing Hermacinski was in response to her claims that she will hold developers accountable if elected to City Council.

"I completely disagree with her ad's statement that she will mandate developer accountability," Lewis said. "I couldn't find a case of her voting against any development application."

Hermacinski has said she disagrees with all of the claims made in Lewis's ad.

Lewis said he was comfortable putting his name behind the ads. He said he didn't initially identify himself in the ads because he hoped that approach would avoid putting strains on the Planning Commission.

"I thought it would be less controversial," he said.

Lewis doesn't believe his disclosure will affect the Planning Commission's work.

"Cari has a right to run for City Council, and I have a right to separate myself from Planning Commission as well and oppose her," Lewis said.

Hermacinski agreed that the Planning Commission would continue to function effectively.

"Steve's involvement in the Concerned Citizens for the Future of Steamboat will in no way effect my professional interaction with Steve or my decisions on the Planning Commission, since my decisions are not based upon personal agendas," Hermacinski said in an e-mail. "That being said, I believe that people stating their positions in a transparent manner by attaching their names to their claims, rather than hiding behind a veil, holds them more accountable for the things they advertise."

Comments

Richard Levy 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree that campaign claims must be analyzed in the light of day. As far as I can see the Concerned Citizens for the Future of Steamboat Springs has only spoken the truth.

Another Hermacinski myth...... At the League of Women Voters Forum Cari stated that she would reduce City's Council workload by giving more authority to planning commission, staff and other advisory groups. Then at the Oct 11 Planning Commission hearing, she voted against a strongly worded recommendation by Planning staff ....Hippocracy at work

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colobob 7 years, 1 month ago

Secret committee? It would be interesting to know what other elected or appointed city officials (if any) are members. It may also explain alot about some of the proposals facing the citizens of Steamboat these days and possibly who someone (again if any) might be rubbing elbows with. Other than voting on an election ballot city officials should be required to be transparent in issues concerning the community. Anonimity is something one gives up when running for or accepting a position in city government. Voters don't elect individuals to be secretive, they elect them work on their (the majoritys) behalf and keep them informed on issues that may affect them. It would also be interesting to know if there are realtors or developers that are members. I could shed some light on a number of issues.

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stmbtisoutofcontrol 7 years, 1 month ago

This incubents need to leave. A new standard needs to be set that opens dialogue with the community. Too many secrets and too much arrogance seems to be too prevalent in the City structure.

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valleygirl 7 years, 1 month ago

steamboatrich - read correction on front cover of Today October 13. Hermacinski voted for tabling (as worded by staff) to force developer to work with staff.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

Yampaman- I'll play your silly game: Who IS Cheryl A. Witt of Westminster?

In fact, who are YOU, since you seem to have to know who this other person is? Just because you have "Yampa" in your Pilot handle doesn't mean you're from here.

That is what you are basically asking, right: who is this person from Westminster sticking their nose into Steamboat business?

(Dontcha just love when people have to put the same post on multiple threads?)

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wzstfu 7 years, 1 month ago

Do Anderson, Dellinger and Post really think we are so stupid as to believe that they had no knowledge of the ads? Their arrogance seems to have no limit.

How does someone in Westminster have involvement with a 'secretive political committee' in Steamboat Springs? Secrets, closed door meetings, hidden agendas - all that's missing is wiretapping and you'd think these people worked in DC.

If anyone is truly concerned about the future of Steamboat Springs, then do not vote to re-elect any of the current council members.

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forthepowder 7 years, 1 month ago

Socrates said if anything made him wise it was that he didn't profess to know something that he didn't know about ie.. a poet talking about politics or a politician speaking about poetry or to relate it to Steamboat Springs a massage therapist making decisions about city planning or a trust funder talking about the plight of the working class.

With that said, I am still fine with City council members being lay persons but I am not fine with the planning commissioners being lay persons; they should have some expertise in planning, construction, preservation, architecture, etc...

Most cities empower their planning commission to do most of the real evaluation and make recommendations to the City council because planning commission members are normally industry professionals and know what they are talking about. This City council demoted professionals from their planning commission and appointed friends to the planning commission. This has led absolutely no where because even though they have appointed their minions they don't have any faith in their minions ability to make decisions; so the City Council gets double tasked as a planning commission and as a city council and end up micro managing everything.

In regards to the Oct. 11 comment. The edgemont developers have the vested rights to do a much more detrimental project that the city council cannot do anything about, so it is in the Communities best interest to work collaboratively with the developer and not confrontationally.

The truth as far as anyone can tell about the "concerned citizens" is they are headed by a lady who lives in Westminster and has a second home in Steamboat. Are we letting the vacationers dictate who should govern our city?

All tyrannys begin with the best intentions

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elphaba 7 years, 1 month ago

Wasn't it Cheryl Witt of Westminster who crafted the nasty campaign two years ago that smeared Bud Romberg on behalf of Towny?

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 1 month ago

wzstfu- (are you a John Cena WWE fan by chance? That's the name of his signature submission hold- STFU. LOL!)

yampaman brought up Chery A. Witt of Westminter's name since it was associated with being the contact for the Concerned Citizens for the Future of Steamboat. I don't think they're meeting with her in exec sessions.

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colobob 7 years, 1 month ago

typo in the last line of my last comment, it should read: "It" could shed some light........................, not "I".

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agentofchange 7 years, 1 month ago

I trust that we will throw the bums out! Towny-bye, Susan-byebye, Post, go back to giving bad advise to people who pay you, but don't know any better. We know better! byebye!

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trollunderthebridge 7 years, 1 month ago

Who is Cherly Witt? Simply put and public record. She is a second homeowner with a condo at Quail Run.

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