Citizens in Elbert County have grown accustomed to denial when it comes to accessing information from the county through open records (CORA) requests. Jumping through hoops, perfecting technicalities in wording, driving back and forth to the county courthouse due to the county’s refusal to electronically transmit requested data….all skills I previously believed I had confidently mastered.
What I wasn’t prepared for were blatant untruths being disseminated by the chairman of our Board of County Commissioners. See the article entitled “A Tale of Two CORA Requests” on this website. In quick summary, I requested copies of Ed Ehmann’s, Joanna Sanders’ and Wade Gateley’s signed agreements (CLICK HERE) when they resigned from the county.* I was denied my requests while the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (an organization dedicated to transparency in government) was given the documents. Commissioner Willcox blamed the discrepancy on “two different attorneys’ impressions” when confronted by CFOIC and questioned about why the response from the county differed, depending upon the requester. (Incidentally, I have never received the documents I requested, even though Willcox stated that “hopefully this gets cleared up, and we don’t have any problems in the future.”)
Of note in the signed agreements (link above) is that Commissioner Willcox personally signed these three agreements on the following dates: June 15, June 22, and June 27. Yet in an email to me, dated June 29, Willcox states, “There are no resignation letters. They did it verbally.”
While I applaud the more open door policy of this board of commissioners, I continue to be concerned with the ongoing pattern of obfuscation practiced in this county. In this instance, I was misled, at best, or brazenly lied to, at worst, by one of our commissioners. I am also curious about why my initial CORA request has never been fulfilled, even though it was immediately satisfied for an outside agency.
Once again, citizens get the short end of the stick….particularly those who are not part of the good ol’ boys network that has run this county for so many years. Certainly causes one to ponder about what other lies are being fed to unwitting citizens.
*The amounts paid out, the length of time former employees are receiving compensation, the access to county vehicles, keys, etc….are all in the above listed agreements. But that’s a topic for another conversation.