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A public process?

What is wrong with a letter being written by Archuleta County to the Town of Pagosa Springs concerning sales tax?

The problem is with the process.

Two commissioners saw the letter before it was sent. One said he gave approval. Another said he reviewed it. The third commissioner claims a meeting was held that wasn’t noticed and that the other commissioners gave input to the letter.

There was no public notice. There was no open discussion. There was no public process.

It’s only a letter, so what’s the big deal?

The issue is that if this one letter was handled this way, what other business is being undertaken in this manner?

Does following the law matter?

If our elected officials can choose when they want to obey the law, can we as private citizens do the same thing?

Elected officials cannot lay the groundwork for policy, positions and regulations out of public view.

Private communication concerning policy, decisions and informal discussions held behind closed doors lead to doubt and distrust.

Why should we care about open meetings in government?

First and foremost, because it is the law.

It is legislative policy that formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret, but only in properly noticed meetings.

What is a meeting?

According to the Open Meetings (“Sunshine”) Law, a meeting is defined as, “any kind of gathering convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically or other means of communication.”

For local public bodies, that means all meetings of a quorum or three or more members, whichever is fewer, at which public business is discussed or formal action might be taken are open.

Public notice is to be given prior to all meetings where the adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation or formal action occurs or at which a majority or quorum is expected to be in attendance. Notice must be “full and timely.”

Public bodies may comply with “full and timely” by posting a notice in a formally designated public place at least 24 hours before a meeting. Posted notices must include a specific agenda if at all possible.

Minutes are to be taken of all meetings and “promptly recorded.”

There are boundaries established by Colorado law. These are boundaries that elected officials agree to abide by when they serve in office. This includes the Sunshine Law that says all meetings of a quorum of a local public body at which public business — such as a letter written to the town on the county’s behalf — is to be discussed and will be open to the public.

The reasoning behind the law is simple — the public has a right to know what is being said.

We expect local government to give more credence to public process.

Terri Lynn Oldham House

This story was posted on February 13, 2014.
  • ajpagosa

    Odd what you’ve chosen to get all indignant about. So I guess you are OK with the city stealing $45M from Archuleta County over the next 20 years without our consent, a process no doubt plotted in secret initially. Did the city send a letter to the county notifying them of this in the planning stages, and present it to public review beforehand? Has the city released all the details of the proposed financing for public review? (hint: no).

    But the county tries to respond by writing a simple letter and suddenly you start whining about Sunshine Laws? Please look up the word “hypocrisy” in a dictionary. Are you so desperate to find a negative spin to write about that you have to make something this trivial up out of thin air?

    We should be thanking the county for trying to stop this nonsense. I for one am glad they did, and hope they employ even stronger tactics if it passes. I would support some sort of legal action against the city, on behalf of other residents of AC not allowed to vote. Or, even simpler, let the whole county VOTE on taxes applied to them. It’s like, a democracy thing. You should try it some time.

    Please vote NO on the bond issue. That is, if you’re allowed to in this banana republic we suddenly find ourselves living in.

    • Brian Griffin

      Reading the Daily Ghost again, are we? Everything about the bond issue, everything, has been made available to the public. Until you understand the bond issue, you should refrain from throwing rocks. Why are you not asking for Todd Starr’s head? He is paid with tax dollars and obviously has no clue what he is doing; his letter proves it. The county has no legal ability to “stop this nonsense.” The editorial is spot on, period. It is not the town who has alienated the voters, it is the county. Had the county even agreed to pledge a dollar to the rec center issue, county voters would be in the mix. Instead, you get letters proving the county attorney is a rube and that the commissioners, at least two of them, do not even know their own tax laws. The measure will probably not pass, but quit implying it is the town that is tainted here.

      • ajpagosa

        Brian, I see you still haven’t licked your coprophagia problem yet.

        Theft is theft, if the vote fails it would restore my faith in the citizens of Pagosa Springs. If not its elected officials. Good people don’t steal from their neighbors, and don’t try to entice others to do so.

        COPS is trying to unilaterally dispense with a sales tax revenue sharing arrangement that has been in place for quite a while, and impose a tax on the rest of AC without their consent. Bond issue ought to fail and the people backing need to go away. They should be ashamed of themselves.

        • Brian Griffin

          I guess you’re right about my coprophagia; after all, I keep reading your posts. If the rec center proposal was a crime, don’t you think someone other than that dolt Todd Starr would have weighed in, by now? I find it amusing that the county commissioners are dumb enough to openly send a letter that potentially could serve as evidence of violation of the Sunshine Law, then have the audacity to assert the town is breaking the rules. Is the town not asking voters to decide whether or not to approve a sales tax increase within town limits? Has anyone tried to raise taxes in the county without its consent? You can argue the “ethics” question all you want, but don’t argue the law.

          • ajpagosa

            Eligible voters please take note, this is the type of entity and reasoning that is backing the Rec Center. Taxing people without their consent is OK if you can get away with it, but they scream about administrative minutia and call foul. Please vote NO to 20 years of debt slavery, if you’re allowed to.

            And then vote the people out of office who came up with this $45M abomination ASAP.

            Thank you.

          • Brian Griffin

            45 million? When pigs fly. You are again proving you would rather take The Ghost’s fiction as gospel rather than do your own homework. 45 million, if you are paying attention, is about as likely as the chance you will stop ranting about conspiracy theory.

          • ajpagosa

            Again, voters pay attention:

            I am trying to find out why and how is it that the ballot language for the rec center states “a maximum repayment cost of $44,895,000″, yet our dear friend Brian’s coprophagia must be acting up again, as he thinks this is unreasonable and can only respond with the usual insults and diversion.

          • Brian Griffin

            Since I have a friend who is familiar with the issue and I have actually studied the bond question and ballot language, I can tell you the only way the town will end up paying up to 45 million is if the sales tax for the next 20 years never goes up one penny. In fact, it would have to be a negative average for 20+ years. If that happens, the rec center and the penny on the dollar you wouldn’t even notice you paid will be the least of your worries.

          • ajpagosa

            So we’re supposed to trust some “friend” of an anonymous guy aliased after a cartoon dog, about a matter which will obligate county residents to pay back up to $45M in debt??? Really.

            And this right after you said:

            “45 million? When pigs fly. You are again proving you would rather take The Ghost’s fiction as gospel rather than do your own homework. 45 million, if you are paying attention, is about as likely as the chance you will stop ranting about conspiracy theory.”

            But the ballot language actually does say $45M! And you guys talk about disclosure! Wow. Voters, hope you are paying attention to this. We really need a detailed explanation of what went into determining the $45M number that is ON THE BALLOT, in clear layman’s terms. Interest rates/ranges assumptions and scenarios. Who is to know that even that number is accurate?

            Anything less is not full disclosure.

          • Brian Griffin

            I know it says $45 million in the ballot, but it says “maximum.” You are proving my point. I never said it wasn’t in there, just said it is not likely. Perhaps The Sun will someday do a detailed feature on the rec center. If not, all we’ve got is The Daily Ghost, which shows up to haunt us once in a while, but isn’t really much to look at.

          • ajpagosa

            I like reading the Post, especially the satire pieces by people like Muriel Eason. As if anyone could be that gullible! Classic slapstick comedy.

          • Brian Griffin

            You read the post and the only material you think is slapstick comedy is from Muriel? We are doomed.

          • ajpagosa

            Another interesting fact has just emerged, that wasn’t disclosed previously. The Town has had to put up sales tax revenue NOT from the 1% tax as a type of collateral for the bonds.

            What this means is if the 1% tax + user fees do not bring in enough money to operate the rec center and make debt payments, the difference comes out of the town’s other sales tax revenues. That is going to fall squarely onto the town. Really hope those projections are good, what was Dec 13 YOY number again?

          • Brian Griffin

            The sales tax for last year, including Decemer, was up 4.5% over 2012. Pay closer attention. Anyone who thinks bad parenting is considering whether or not to spend a penny on the dollar for a rec center has issues.

          • ajpagosa

            Pay attention. The mayor opposes it.

          • Brian Griffin

            No, you should find out for yourself, like I have. Or, you can rely on on the editor of The Daily Ghost – a cynic of a guy who apparently smokes a ton of weed and used to assault his wife. I’ll take “cartoon dogs” for $18 million, Alex.

          • ajpagosa

            Wow once again, and over and over, you lose an argument, try every sort of diversion, and if that doesn’t work you stoop to the personal attacks. Maybe it’s time your owners had you put down.

          • Brian Griffin

            Lost what argument? What have I stated that is not fact? What have you stated that is? Please enlighten us.

  • ajpagosa

    Could someone please provide a link to or copies of all correspondence including meeting minutes between the City and GK Baum? They obviously must be out there and public, right? I just can’t seem to find them on the city’s website or anywhere else.

    Thank you.

    • Brian Griffin

      If you want the bond schedule, ask the clerk for it. If you want to examine the ballot language, do the same. If you have questions, call the rec office or Baum directly. The clerk is required to make the ballots public, and will. How do you think the Ghost has all of the info if it hasn’t been made public. Do you think Hudson has a mole in town hall?

      • ajpagosa

        I didn’t ask for that I asked for all correspondence and meeting minutes between the city and the investment bank (GK Baum) floating the bond issue. So are you saying it is OK for the City to hide that?

        • BrianGriffin

          Hide what? The bond schedule and an itemization of exactly how and where the money will be spent if it passes? We’ve already seen that. What else is there?

  • jeff81999

    Kudos to Ms. House’ piece.

    I say, if folks haven’t heard of the Daily Post before, they sure have now. Is there really a Brian Griffin in the neighborhood?

  • Brian Griffin

    Last post here, too. To Albert, er… aj, the mayor opposes anything he can’t take credit for
    and, quite frankly, can barely struggle through the agenda at town
    council meetings. Time to go. And you pay attention: Again, the
    sales tax last year was UP 4.5% (which happens to be the 20-year average
    gain, but I’m sure that’s a freak coincidence, fictional number,
    laundered digit, whatever) over 2012′s number. The December number was a
    comparison of December 2013 versus 2012. If you want to keep Pagosa on a
    treadmill forever while the world passes by, good luck. I gotta get
    back to the campaign. It will be fun to see The Ghost and the “most
    trusted source for news” (the only source for news) cover this one.

    • ajpagosa

      Somehow I missed this one, my apologies.

      So your idea to make sure the world does not pass us by is to put Pagosa on a $45M debt treadmill forever @ 8.9%??? To become a host organism for investment bankers to feed off of? OK…good luck with that.

      Quite a lot of folks coming out and looking hard at this issue now which is great. Hope we can finally get some disclosure on the financing and shine daylight onto the questionable cost projections. I believe once people see how bad of a deal this is, they’ll be horrified it got this far. Welcome all the attention and urge folks to look at the numbers closely once they are available. There are much better, less costly, and more responsible ways to grow our community. The skate pavilion is one way.

      I especially urge people to read Mr. Gerlach’s response to Don Volger’s thoughtful letter to the editor “Concerns” for some great ideas and perspective.