Pines & Plains Libraries Sues Elbert County Commissioners
Pines and Plains Libraries, whose public libraries serve Elbert County with branches in Elizabeth, Kiowa, Elbert, and Simla, has sued the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners over a recently adopted policy it believes violates a state law protecting public libraries from political interference. The policy, adopted by the BOCC on December 20, just before the Christmas holidays, seeks to control the qualifications, appointment, tenure, and termination of the library district’s board of trustees. The district argues that the Colorado Library Law places these subjects beyond the authority of the BOCC. County Commissioners acted on the policy without posting it on the county’s web site and refused a request by a Pines and Plains trustee to postpone its consideration until the public had a chance to review it.
Discussing the lawsuit’s background, Pines and Plains Director Tim Miller stated, “We would have preferred to resolve this problem without a lawsuit, but the BOCC’s refusal to put off action and the fact that court rules required the suit to be filed by January 17 made this impossible. We hope the commissioners will act responsibly and preserve public resources by agreeing to revise the policy in a way which complies with Colorado law.”
Board of Trustees President Susan Saint Vincent provided further details. “The Library Law allowed Elbert County voters to establish a library district as a separate government unit, independent of the county,” she explained, “and our voters did just that in 2000. Colorado’s legislature intended that libraries be free from political interference so that they can serve their missions of furthering lifelong learning and intellectual freedom. Library trustees need to be selected based on their competence and commitment to the goals of our district, not politics.”
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This is a piece I have been thinking about for a very long time. The initial premise is really quite simple: Once you become a serious photographer, your perspective about almost everything in the world around you is altered. I would go so far as to suggest the world would be a better...
Recently heard in, around and about Elbert County.......
While these comments (all made in public forums) might sound like a repeat of an unfortunate chapter in past Elbert County commissioner history, these utterances emanated from current County Commissioner Chris Richardson. Had we not so recently suffered through the dysfunction and autocratic behavior of previous county commissioners, our sensitivity to this repetitive pattern of dismissing citizen input might not be so heightened.
Logically, when one political party outnumbers the other by a margin of 4 to 1, it only stands to reason that the prevailing party would succeed “overwhelmingly” at putting their candidates in office. Pat yourself on the back for that accomplishment, Commissioner Richardson. These boastful remarks are not only unnecessary, but also serve to diminish your character.
Interestingly, as a candidate in response to a question about forming a citizen advisory committee , Mr. Richardson stated, “Communication and transparency should be such that citizens can understand the operations and activities of the county. An advisory committee that facilitates such openness is worth supporting.” (Source: www.richardson4elbert.com/positions.html) Apparently, now that he is an “overwhelmingly elected” commissioner, Richardson’s viewpoint has flipped 180 degrees.
And what exactly do you mean by “generally reflective of the overall citizenry of the county?” Do commissioner appointees to boards, commissions and committees have to share your “vision” for the county? What exactly is your “vision?” It appears that no appointments will be made for anyone who verbalizes a viewpoint that the commissioners judge not to be “reflective of the overall citizenry of the county.” It is important to note that Elbert County is currently 54% Republican, which means that 46% of the county is other than Republican. Is the 46% marginalized because they constitute a minority with perhaps differing viewpoints? A true leader understands the value and benefits of diverse opinions and perspectives.
As to complaining citizens “exceeding their usefulness” on county boards.....as well as the unconstitutionality of forcing citizens to forgo their right to redress of the government by not allowing them to serve on a county board if they dare to challenge the county legally, as guaranteed by the First Amendment..... heavy-handed governance only perpetuates past commissioners’ practices.
This iron fist does not become you, Commissioner Richardson.
EC Commissioners convened a public meeting on December 5, 2017 and voted unanimously to indemnify former Commissioner Robert Rowland, former County Manager Ed Ehmann, and former County Attorney Wade Gateley, in the matter of the lawsuit brought by current CDS Director Kyle Fenner. The indemnification language will be made public in a forthcoming county resolution. Following an Executive Session with Andrew Nathan of Nathan Dumm & Mayer law firm, Commissioners Willcox, Thayer, and Richardson made the decision to retroactively grant indemnity to Rowland, whose term as commissioner expired in January 2017, and to Ehmann and Gateley, who both abruptly resigned their positions with Elbert County earlier this year.
Commissioners also voted unanimously to engage Kline Alvarado Veio P.C. as bond counsel for the Sun Country road paving project that was approved by a majority of Sun Country voters last month.
Curious about Colorado indemnity laws? (CLICK HERE)
-- Susan Shick, Elbert County Resident
Helping to save our water, property rights and western way of life