Reasons for the Recall – A time line of events
by Dan Bubis
This is a general overview of the reasons why so many citizens of Custer County signed the recall petitions and will vote YES to recall every County Commissioner in November. It is not exhaustive.
Keith Hood and the Boards – In the first meeting with Hood and Printz on the Board, the Board members brought their prepared lists to appoint the county boards. Traditionally, the boards stayed the same unless there were vacancies to fill. This board removed members and put on their allies and friends. One of those removals – Keith Hood from the Planning Commission brought pushback from the Planning Commission members.
1/31/17– This violated the rules of the Zoning Resolution and Kattnig was outraged that he had to follow the Zoning Resolution. Mr. Hood was reinstated.
Donna’s Slush Fund – She said that she will be donating back her salary through the year and will be “picking what she feels will be best for the county” to spend that money on. (1/20/17) “It’s really my money, coming out of my paycheck. So there’s no approval needed.”
1/31/17 – She bought the commissioners laptops, almost $7K in window coverings for the Wetmore Community Center, and $5K for the fair grounds. One wonders who gets Donna’s presents? It simply smells that the whole Board doesn’t vote on it.
The Robin Young Affair
1/10/17- On the day that Donna Hood took office, she told Robin Young that the Board needed to schedule a sit down with Robin’s bosses.
2/15/17 – Commissioners traveling to Denver together for meeting with CSU – They stated that no business will be conducted, however, we know they requested Young’s removal.
The commissioners were six weeks and one day in office before signing the letter demanding Robin’s dismissal. We believe this is a completely illegal Commissioner meeting and there is no record of them voting in public to make this trip. At the meeting, they demanded that Young be fired from her position as CC Extension Agent knowing that CSU Extension didn’t have a replacement.
3/8/17 – Mr. Kattnig again stated that they had no authority to fire Mrs. Young, that it was CSU’s doing.
3/31/17 – Mr. Printz spoke up saying that the discussion has moved beyond the scope of what should be discussed publicly – from a legal standpoint. He went on to say that the Board did not have to justify their actions. “That’s not how this works. You put us in a position of authority to make these decisions.” Mrs. Hood reiterated that, on the day she took office, she told Ms. Young that she would be arranging a meeting with her supervisors. (Was the die already cast even before the new Board took office?) She also stated that CSU didn’t call the commissioners to let them know that they had spoken with Ms. Young. “One minute she was here and she was gone the next. They did not communicate with us.”
Here is a recap of the timeline.
● On January 10th, the new Board of County Commissioners was seated.
● On February 15th, this new Board traveled to Fort Collins to meet with the CSU President/Chancellor of the CSU Extension system
● On February 16th, this Board held a public workshop concerning the “operation of the local Extension office.”
● On February 21st, the Board held an executive session (without Robin Young in attendance) cited as a “personnel” matter. This is despite the fact that Robin Young was not their employee. When they came out of executive session, they directed Attorney Clint Smith to draft a letter that was “discussed” for the signature of all three commissioners relating to a “confidential personnel matter.”
● On February 22nd, the Board signed and sent the letter to the CSU President Anthony Frank.
● Before March 1st, Robin Young was instructed by her employer, CSU, to clean out the office of all CSU materials and not go back.
● On March 2nd, a letter was sent from CSU President and Chancellor Dr. Frank to the BOCC.
More Extension Office – On the last day of April, Carlan Cardenas quit. That was a Friday and the next BOCC meeting was on the next Tuesday. Over the weekend, the Board members had talked to each other (another Sunshine violation?) and had talked to both Beverly Goertz and Sarah Shields about coming in to help.
5/24/17 – Contracts for Beverly Goertz and Sarah Shields were signed. Both contracts specified that the person would work “as needed” to avoid legal contractor issues. Shields would be paid $20/hr. and Goertz $30/hour. These positions were not advertised or put out to bid.
When asked by a citizen if the hourly rate for these two positions would cost the County more than when Robin Young was here, he was assured that this arrangement could be accomplished within the established budget for that office.
On 8/2/17 it was announced that Diana Cox Singer was hired as the office manager for the Extension office – the position Goertz was filling temporarily. Her wage would be $2041.67/month.
This is what was budgeted for the two positions:
County portion for Director (Robin Young’s position) $13,300
YTD – for the agent position $9,289
For September through December, there is only $4011 left for Shields
YTD – for the secretary position $19,377
There will be September through December salary for Singer of $8,164
Meaning that for that position, they will be over budget by $1,541
Roger Squire 3/7/17 – Mr. Kattnig stated that everyone has complained about the roads and the Board needed to go in a new direction – one based on business principles. Mr. Printz stated that, had it been up to him, he’d have fired Mr. Squire for egregious violations but that Mr. Kattnig talked him out of it. Squire, who has been a lifelong Road and Bridge employee, and was co- Road Boss at the time, wasn’t even granted a courtesy interview for the Road Boss position.
Personnel policies? Legal? Courthouse hours? Old one was 46 pages – new one 71 pages. Was it demanded that the other elected officials and department heads sign off on these changes or suffer the consequences at budget time? Since the first of the year, 8 county employees have either left or put in their notice. This was a corporate style policy that was implemented with absolute minimum employee participation.
Executive Sessions – As of 8/2, there had been 16 executive sessions.
8/2/17 – “On each of the executive sessions regarding personnel since the new Board was seated (there have been 9) was the person being discussed notified beforehand so he could choose an open meeting?” Mr. Smith replied that the person had been there in one case but was not invited the other 8 times. Another blatant violation of the Sunshine Law.
Dark Skies – 1/20/17 Jim Bradburn from Dark Skies updated the Board on their process to get the Valley designated an International Dark Skies Reserve. Bradburn stated that he has waited to proceed until the “transfer of power” in the BOCC. The Board was encouraging. The process would include changes to the zoning regulations that future lights in the “Valley” would need to be shielded. Citizen approval is required to change zoning regulations.
2/21/17 – Mrs. Hood brought up an email from Jim Bradburn requesting a public hearing on the Dark Skies push to have the valley floor, and possibly the entire county, try for the designation as a Dark Skies Reserve. Both Mr. Printz and Mr. Kattnig expressed that, even if the designation is attained, there will not be a compliance requirement. “It won’t be something people will have to do,” Kattnig stated. (All laws require compliance, this is folly.)
6/21/17 – Mr. Smith reported on the upcoming public meeting to discuss a light pollution resolution/ordinance (Dark Skies). He outlined the process that resolution/ordinance would have to take before becoming law. The BOCC would refer it to the Planning Commission who would have public hearings. They would make a recommendation back to the BOCC who would have further public meetings before voting on the matter.
7/19/17 – MOTION by Commissioner Printz to ask the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the BOCC for the Dark Skies issue and the storage container issue. Motion carried unanimously.
Wetmore Community Center – Wouldn’t let the people in until after they had their building dedication party. Also, Donna Hood is running the Community Center Board now. Illegal??? According to the bylaws of the Wetmore Community Center (2005) “The Wetmore Community Center, owned by Custer County, shall be governed by a board of Wetmore area residents to serve as administrators in behalf of the Custer County Commissioners.”
From Jay Printz’s Facebook page: “It’s really a shame that a small group of dissidents think they can run the county with the same people who lost the last election and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on useless litigation and spending over $800,000 rehabbing a building that serves a community of less than 250 mailboxes.” Is that how a commissioner should refer to his constituents? Not people. Mailboxes.
5/31/17 – Printz admitted that it meant more government interference and talked about the constitution insuring that people could “own land free and clear and do what they want.” (It is unclear what provision in the constitution he referred to.) He went on to say that you have to balance public safety over personal freedom. “If there’s a compelling reason, not just a good reason, why we should do one versus the other, you can restrict or take away someone’s personal rights.”
5/31/17 – Printz – “There are some people that will not be able to live in our county because of this. If there’s someone who wants to build a house out of a tent or cardboard or something, they most likely will not meet code.”
6/26/17 – Printz – “we as a society have a duty to protect the people from themselves.”
In the proposition that Printz brought forward from his “secret” meetings (so called by Mr. Kattnig), he stated that the goal was to have one building inspector for the county – doing away with the position in Westcliffe and Silver Cliff. This will save both towns money. When asked if, because of his fiduciary interest in the town of Westcliffe (as their attorney), he would recuse himself from further discussion on the building codes, he stated “I will not.”
Building Code Public Meetings – At the two packed public meetings on building codes, the near unanimous position of all the citizens was that they did NOT want a building codes ordinance. In spite of this, the Commissioners voted to put it on the November 7th ballot.
6/8/17 – Mrs. Hood and Mr. Printz agreed that, after three years, it is time for a price increase at the landfill. Mr. Christensen will check with surrounding landfills to compare pricing. The proposed increased fees will be discussed at the next meeting. (At that next meeting they decided to wait until after the first of the year). At the October 3rd meeting, Kattnig stated that the land fill would probably break even this year. Without a fee increase.
6/8/17 – Mrs. Hood wants to incorporate budget challenges and projections 5-10 years out, quarterly budget adjustment meetings. She also wants to have a look at fee schedules and put together a committee for ways to increase revenues. Mrs. Hood never talked about her intent to raise fees and taxes in her campaign last year.
6/8/17 – Treasurer report – When asked by Mrs. Hood about raising her fees, Trujillo answered that her fees (as well as those of Clerk Kelley Camper) were set by mandate of the state.
5/10/17 – Donna Hood reported that she was getting bids for cleaning. It is unclear if the position was advertised.
Dave Post made $2,160 per month which would be $25,920 per year. He didn’t take benefits because his wife works there too so he got benefits through her. Dave did cleaning/maintenance/scales – worked full time. Now whether he did any of that well is not an issue at this time.
The new cleaning company is Mountain Maids owned by McKenzie Huffman – a friend and fan of Donna Hood.
$1,273 – 6/30 for under 2 weeks
$3,519.00 for July (have the invoices)
$3,990.50 for August (have one invoice and the numbers from the other)
$6,005 for September.
So for three months and two weeks, Mountain Maids has cost $14,787.50 which is 57% of what Post cost annually. And obviously there is no upper limit on how much they can charge per month. It really pays to be Hood’s friend.
Now they have hired a part-time maintenance/scales person and the wage is not yet public. No benefits.
Custer County Citizens: The above is just a sample of the outrageous behavior of the three Commissioners since January. The part that most people are missing is the disdain and arrogance that the three Commissioners show the citizens when they come to comment at public meetings. This is not our western culture. Put citizens on the Board who respect their neighbors, not look down on them. Take Back Custer County.
If you want to do further research – please do. It’s important to cast an informed vote.
A good number of the BOCC articles are on the Sentinel Website – http://sangredecristosentinel.com/ in the archives section.
Every BOCC meeting has been recorded. The recordings are available at – www.custercountygov.com Click on County Commissioners.
Some workshops are not recorded officially. Those recordings (like the CSU Workshop on 2/16) are available on the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel’s Youtube page – https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sangre+de+cristo+sentinel
Also on this Youtube page are a number of clips taken from the BOCC meetings – to make it easier for citizens to hear what their public servants say.