Crawford vs. the STARS |

Crawford vs. the STARS

The shots are flying in the latest verbal war over STAR, mostly aimed at South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Bill Crawford.

The recreation initiative – near and dear to the hearts of many Tahoans – received a scathing attack from Crawford. In public meetings and through letters to the editor, Crawford’s hot-headed strafing of the plan won him few friends among STAR supporters.

But, according to his detractors, his withering critique got out of hand at a recent recreation committee meeting, where Crawford serves as the city council’s liaison. Claims are Crawford was rude, even abusive to the point of knocking papers out of STAR advocate John Upton’s hands.

If Crawford acted in the manner as those accusing him claim, he certainly should resign as the city’s liaison to the recreation board. A liaison must be objective and fair-minded as the council’s eyes and ears to community. Crawford has lost his objectivity.

However, the recent incident has unleashed a fire storm of anti-Crawfordism. Even the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce has weighed in against Crawford, admonishing city council to hold him “accountable.”

In the host of voices are calling for condemnation of Crawford, I am one of the few that doesn’t want Crawford bound and gagged. As outspoken and downright ornery as he is, Crawford has a right, even a duty, to speak out on issues he feels are questionable.

I don’t agree with Crawford regarding STAR. I feel it is a well thought-out proposal that has come out of decades of hard work, particularly after the shattering defeat of the Golden Bear Park initiative four years ago. The plan – a 30-year bond measure to pay for bike trails, ball fields and an ice rink – is an excellent compromise to a thorny problem. This community needs to expand its recreational facilities and it is a cost that should be shared by visitors and residents alike.

What I admire about Crawford is his stubborn refusal to be silenced. Crawford’s steadfast refusal to toe the party line has been invaluable for voters.

Crawford has brought up some excellent issues regarding the STAR proposal, not the least of which was the payment both Dennis Crabb and John Upton will receive as consultants on this ballot measure.

Do Crabb and Upton deserve compensation? Absolutely. What they are doing is not a charitable donation. These two men have been working tirelessly on this issue without pay for a number of years. Now the volunteer work is over. And both these men are superb choices for the jobs at hand.

However, to pretend this whole STAR initiative is some altruistic project with no paid consultants after more than $50,000 was raised from the community is simply not true, as Crawford pointed out.

Several other points, from creating long-term debt to establishing a new entity with the capacity to tax, are points well within the public arena. Again, Crawford is quick to point these out. He just failed to hear the answer.

Much of Crawford’s diatribes are more like tilting at windmills than presenting a solid plan for the South Shore’s future. But whether Crawford is a better curmudgeon than he is a politician is for the voters to decide.

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