Image Link 11/06/2016

Courtesy or Service?

Video Recording/Live Streaming

Should the Elbert County taxpayer expect a video recording of official county meetings be provided by its county government? If no, then stop reading now.

If yes, then should it be looked upon as a courtesy or a service?

County Manager, Ed Ehmann, said it might be provided as a courtesy to citizens sometime in the future. He stated at the study session following the Oct 26 BOCC meeting that he sees it as a courtesy. The free Bambuser video recording service that the county used a couple of years ago was eliminated by Mr. Ehmann, claiming it was too costly. He provided no associated costs when a citizen requested those cost records via an open records request.

On Oct 25, upon receiving the agenda for the next day's BOCC meeting in my email, I sent an email to all three county commissioners and the Clerk to the Board, Dallas Schroeder, requesting they take a look at the Douglas County website link showing their meeting agendas. As Mr. Danny Willcox is a newly seated commissioner, I was letting him know that other counties provide actual services to their citizens and that Elbert County citizens have repeatedly requested these services.

Douglas County provides a live video feed and links to every topic on the agenda, AND links to every document pertaining to that topic.

To their credit, our commissioners honored my request that items on the Oct 26 consent agenda be moved to new business and explained to the public. These items included an MOU for Control of Confidential Data; Tyler Technologies Subscription Agreements for Clerk & Recorder and Assessor Offices (cost of $110K annually); Letter of Support for the Agate Prairie Conservations Legacy. However, no copies of any documents pertaining to the day's agenda were provided for the public.

In fact, the pattern of hiding information continues year after year. Commissioner Ross voted against two items on the agenda that he believed were against the citizens' best interest, and for which pertinent documentation was not provided to him in a timely fashion. Please refer to the video recording of this meeting on the Elbert County Citizens Facebook page and draw your own conclusions.

Meeting Minutes
Colorado laws governing the duties of all elected county clerks state:

Colorado Revised Statute 30-10-319: Clerk of board - duties

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(1) It is the general duty of the clerk of the board of county commissioners :(a) To record, in a book to be provided for that purpose, all proceedings of the board...

Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402 (d) (I): Colorado SUNSHINE/Open Meeting Law

"Minutes of any meeting of a state public body shall be taken and promptly recorded, and such records shall be open to public inspection."

To date, Mr. Schroeder has not provided the required written minutes for half of the 26 BOCC meetings this year. There are no recorded minutes posted for meetings that occurred on April 13/18/27, June 15/22, July 7/12, Aug 3/10, Sep 4, Oct 6/12/26.

We saw this same pattern in 2015 and it appeared to be intentional and in collusion with the county manager, the county attorney, and Commissioner Rowland when they intentionally tried to hide the illegal passage of indemnity resolutions and the payback to Rowland of a $1,000 fine levied by the state for violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

I, for one, don't hate government. I love it. Government can be great, if the citizens are involved and the elected officials respect the law. I choose to be involved. Mr. Schroeder chooses to break the law. The two statutes I mention above are designed to provide you, the citizen, with the minimum of insight (a legally required service, not a courtesy) as to what is going on in your back yard. Today, with Mr. Schroeder's term expiration date of December 2018 your recourse for his failure to perform is to recall him from office. That opportunity may be afforded the citizens very soon.

Peruse the Douglas County service oriented meetings and agendas page at the link below:

-- Susan Shick