Paul Hughes: Great Uninformed


I think Omar Campbell is on to something. In this week’s letter (“Public vote on TDR?” April 4 Steamboat Pilot & Today), he asks for a public vote on the TDR (transfer of development rights) issue because he doesn’t trust the county commissioners and city councilpersons elected by voters. And why should he? Whoever said that some people should get to make momentous decisions just because they study the issues and learn a lot of stuff about them? Where does that leave the rest of us?

I don’t know a lot about TDR, but I do know one thing: I like to vote. So why shouldn’t my vote count for as much as those know-it-all elected officials? Think about it: if those of us whom I like to call the “Great Uninformed” hadn’t been allowed to make decisions, we’d have missed No Child Left Behind, the Iraq War, TABOR, the Gallagher Amendment, the Patriot Act and the Iron Horse Inn. Where would we be then?

So I say let’s vote on everything. Sure, we’d want to offer incentives to vote, such as vote-once-get-a-second-vote-free, double airline miles, Voter Appreciation Day, and so on, but then we’d have the really big decisions being made by the most important group of all: people who show up. I’m just saying.

Paul Hughes

Steamboat Springs


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

I am confused. The public did vote on TABOR and Gallagher Amendment. Without those we'd probably be paying outrageous property taxes.

The public did not vote on Iraq War, Patriot Act and Iron Horse. Irag War and Patriot Act probably would have passed public votes.

The Iron Horse Inn purchase was not put to a public vote. It most likely would have failed as it resulted in huge turnover of the city council in the election that followed shortly thereafter.

So it appears that the public voting on an issue is more likely to make the correct decision than elected officials. That leaves me confused because I cannot figure out if the letter is arguing for or against the public voting on issues.


Paul Hughes 5 years, 2 months ago

You're right, Scott; my bad for not being clear that what I object to is "stupid" voting, which did account for all of the examples I gave.


George Krawzoff 5 years, 2 months ago

The Humble Ranch scandal (see is a good example of why the public doesn't trust the deals struck by our elected officials.

After you're cheated, trust becomes scarce.


pitpoodle 5 years, 2 months ago

Because voters don't agree with your views does not make their vote "stupid". Our educated voters care about this community and fully understood the costs and problems associated with SB 700 annexation and they voted accordingly. Council on the other hand, pushed thru the annexation before they had all the facts (water study is a good example). Obviously they wanted the council vote before election day 2009 and opposed any vote of the people. They should have studied and learned a "lot of stuff" about the agreement but instead they relied on city staff who were paid by SB 700 to do the research with few questions asked. Staff has no accountability to the electorate yet, their word became law on a 4-3 vote. Until the people spoke in March. Please do not ask us to allow this council to make any momentous decisions for us. Their track record makes many of us uneasy and we are left wondering how trust can be rebuilt. Until it is, I trust the very capable voters. Me too, I'm just sayin.


George Krawzoff 5 years, 2 months ago

So Paul,

You were at the helm in 1999 when the city negotiated the Humble Ranch easements. How do you feel about the Humble Ranch cheating the public for the next 11 years? Do you see how that deal inspires confidence in our public officials? You do see that the public got taken to the cleaners on this one, don't you?

Did you find the Steamboat 700 documents more carefully conceived? More artfully drafted? I didn't. Holes a mile wide promised that, just like Ed Trousil, the developer could smirk and say "Trust and vision aren't real estate law" when things didn't work out quite the way the newspaper predicted. Ed only got a million dollars of public money for nothing - well, not counting the avoided taxes on his property, the money his 5013c takes in and the cost of 10 years of litigation - but Steamboat 700, well that would've been a real windfall for somebody.

When you're looking great in your linen suit and Arrow shirts at this summer's cocktail parties our movers and shakers, fix the Humble deal and restore some public faith. It'll do wonders for the points you tried to make in your letter.

(Aside to the public - Paul and I worked together for a decade and he was one of the best city managers I ever met. Ethical, intelligent, and a pleasure to work with. If he had a fault, it was that Vermont city politics didn't prepare him for the Colorado ski town cut-throats. Well, maybe he was also a little arrogant and wrapped-up in his own sophistication but, really, I'm pulling a friend's chain.)


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.