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Residents: This Is What Is Going On In Elbert County…It's Time To Pay Attention


Rural Elbert County’s suburban growth creating water angst, political woes

Along Colorado Highway 86 between Franktown in Douglas County and Elizabeth in Elbert County, signs dot the road advertising for new home construction — everything from high-end custom jobs to the more affordable.

The signs don’t say that 75 percent of the people who live in Elbert County (population 25,231) are within 5 miles of the western border with Douglas County, a number that is likely to increase in the next few years.

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Mandate or Overreach?

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It is popular for the winner of any election to state they have a mandate…whether they won by a small margin or by double digits.

In Elbert County, one party has won all the elections for at least 30 years; so the question is: when is it a mandate and when do we experience overreach by elected officials?

In the 19th century, Lord Acton said that “power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is the rare individual who can resist the intoxication of power. We don’t have to look outside Elbert County to see that this maxim has been proven by some in previous administrations.

Is an election result a mandate simply because “we were elected overwhelmingly” as Commissioner Richardson stated at a BOCC (Board of County Commissioner) Meeting on December 20, 2017? Republicans comprise slightly more than 54% of registered voters in Elbert County, while Democrats represent 13% of registered voter; a 4:1 advantage.

Republicans should win given this ratio. If they don’t win by at least 4:1 (80% to 20%), is there a mandate? In the 2012 Commissioner race, the Republicans got 67% of the vote, the Democrats 33%…and in the Trump-heavy election in 2016, the Republicans got 73% of the vote, the Democrats 27%. Neither margin supported a “mandate” given the registration advantage of 4:1.

Similarly, once in power, does overreach occur when 46% of the registered voters are effectively ignored?

Speaking as a Democrat, I can tell you we are ignored; in fact we are called “obstructionists,” “leftists,” and worse. I don’t think I am being too harsh in stating that this happens when we do not agree with the commissioners. When we push back because we are ignored or disagree with a particular policy approved by the BOCC, we are castigated rather than engaged in discussion.

Commissioner Richardson, in a recent television interview, claimed that there is a certain group of people who never agree with any decision the BOCC makes, and that “is their role in the county.”

Really?

It is clearly an overstatement to say we always oppose the decisions and policies of the BOCC…that is simply NOT TRUE. Could our positions actually consist of reasoned push-back due to the fact that any ideas, suggestions or possible solutions we may propose are summarily dismissed simply because we are Democrats?

I believe the majority of past and previous elected officials (with a few glaring exceptions) have wanted to do what is best for the county and ALL its residents…And we “obstructionists” want the same thing!

Listening to each other without dismissing ideas out-of-hand must be the order of the day. No one person or political group possesses all the ideas.

Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely…I hold out hope that our current commissioners can rise above partisan positions to listen to all the people of Elbert County…county residents of all parties (Republican, Independent, and Democrat) want a better county and are ready to work towards that goal.

Be advised, however, when we disagree we will be loud, firm and persistent in our comments and actions. Democracy Is not a spectator sport, and we plan to continue to participate fully.

—Jim Duvall

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.”

Click 4 Court Filing/ExhibitsClick 4 Press Release
Open Letter to the Chairperson of the Elbert County Republicans
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This past week, a friend of mine posted the meme printed below that he had shared from the Elbert County Republicans Facebook page. The letter following...

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Elbert County Commissioners Indemnify Past Actors, Rowland, Ehmann, and Gateley
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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

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