Thursday, February 5, 2009

What can done locally about the economy?

We all hear a lot about a Federal Stimulus package. Most people probably feel helpless and hopeless both. Helpless because they have no meaningful input on the $Trillion dollar spending Bill now before Congress. Hopeless because our new President now only preaches fear of certain economic disaster no matter what is done. So let's look at what we can be done by our local elected officials to help our economy and look to what we can individually do.

I am a former Eagle County Commissioner who was forced out of office due to term limits two years ago. During my eight years in office, I am proud to say that I did my best to govern in a fiscally responsible manner. Highlights include lowering our property tax mill levy several times and actually cutting our budget by over one million dollars one year. But what is important is not so much what I accomplished while in office, but rather the stupid things that I stopped from happening. Our Commissioners should be leading by example during these tough economic times by cutting back on wasteful spending. Locally we have a good example of stupid spending that has been called by one paper as "Logogate". Seems as though our Commissioners decided that they should invest over $36,000.00 for a new County logo in a no bid process. They are currently prevented from showing this prospective logo to the citizens because it seems that the County doesn't own the logo even though they spent lots of our money on it. What went wrong here and what can we learn from this?

First of all we need to implement better transparency in our local government. It would relatively easy for the County to post their check book online for all to see. Politicians that know they are being watched tend to behave in a more responsible manner. Also, it would be nice to know what the County expected to accomplish with this expenditure on a cost/benefit analysis basis. How many new jobs did they expect to create in Eagle County? Why did they pick a company in Texas to do the work thereby exporting our tax dollars out of State?

Ok Tom, if you don't agree with this spending than what would you be doing if you were still in office?

Thanks for asking! Let's get the money to job creators. $36,000.00 could have been much better spent with a grant to the local Chamber of Commerce. It is the Chamber's sole purpose to promote local businesses. It's simple - supporting local businesses means supporting local workers which means supporting our local economy which means putting bread on the table and paying your mortgage. Instead, the Commissioners actually totally cut out all support to our local Chamber. They don't even pay member dues. What's wrong with this picture?

What can we do individually?

We all need to look at how we can both cut our expenses and also look for new business. My background is as real estate broker. One of my biggest expenses is marketing and advertising. My ads in the newspaper are expensive, are seldom seen and their effectiveness cannot be tracked. So what's the answer? A better internet presense. Realtors are generally not very tech savvy and tech savvy people are generally not Realtors. The reason that newspapers across the nation are going under is because they cannot compete with the less expensive, more effective and trackable internet. Let me share two simple examples. Click on this link and look at this new company that will give you a report card on how well your listing is syndicated across the web on all popular realty websites. These websites are all FREE advertising. Next concept is search engine optimization or how do I get more people to look at my website. Why did you spend all of that money on a cool website if no one is looking at it? These are just a couple of small examples of how we all need to look at our businesses in new ways. I am in the process of developing a website that will give Realtors all of the tools that they need to be competitive in today's market and today's economy.

Above all else there is one simple concept that can help us all during these tough economic times. It's called - Self Reliance.

Here is one of my all time favorite mottos:

The harder I work, the luckier I get.

If self help books work for you, I recommend "What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-hunters and Career-Changers".

Let me leave you with this quote:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I have faith in the American people.
I have faith in you.

That's the Stone Cold Truth.


  1. It's about time somebody weighed in on the state of the local Eagle County economy. Somebody who knows what he's talking about.

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  3. Sorry, I typoed really badly on the last one.

    I wish you were still in office, or even that you would run for higher office. We could really use people in our government that is practical.