SJWCD legal counsel resigns, board requests extension of time to consider new directors


The San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) has requested additional time from the court to respond to the appointments of two potential board members.

According to court documents, the request to delay Candice Kelly’s and Bill Hudson’s appointment to the SJWCD board of directors was made due to “unforeseen circumstances, including the forthcoming resignation” of SJWCD’s legal counsel, Kent Holsinger, of Holsinger Law LLC.

Holsinger, along with Alyson Meyer Gould, also of Holsinger Law, filed for a motion for extension of time with the Sixth Judicial District Court in Archuleta County on April 12.

Additionally, Holsinger’s forthcoming resignation caused the SJWCD’s regular board meeting on April 9 to be canceled.

“The Court’s March 28, 2018 Order relied on said meeting date with respect to its objection deadline date of April 23, 2018,” the motion by reads.

The March 28 order is in reference to a Feb. 14 motion made by the SJWCD requesting to postpone consideration of appointment of Matt Roane to the board.

Within the March 28 order, the court reviewed SJWCD’s request to postpone Roane’s appointment to the board and ultimately denied SJWCD’s request, appointing Roane to the board.

Further, in that motion, Stacy Thompson was also appointed to the board.

In closing within the March 28 order, the judge explains that they had delayed ruling on Hudson and Kelly’s appointment to the board until after the April 9 meeting.

“If the Board objects to the appointment of either of these individuals, the Board shall notify the Court on or before April 23, 2018,” the March 28 order reads.

Per the order, if the courts received no objection on or before April 23, Hudson and Kelly would be appointed to the board by the court.

“The next regular Board meeting is June 11, 2017. The SJWCD Board requires time to search and interview new counsel, as well as to notice the next meeting date, so SJWCD can convene and conduct its business,” SJWCD’s motion for extension of time states.

The extension of time will not hinder SJWCD’s operations, the motion for extension of time goes on to note.

“Therefore, SJWCD requests additional time to and including June 25, 2018, to discuss the applications and file any support or objections it may have with the respect to the appointment of Candice Kelly and Bill Hudson,” the motion for extension adds.

On Monday, Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Jeffrey Wilson granted the district’s motion for extension of time.

Even though the district’s motion to the court stated that the next regular board meeting would be in June, the water district’s website indicates, “There will be a regular board meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018, at 6:00 pm at the District’s office located at 46 Eaton Drive, Unit 5, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Agenda pending.”

Holsinger’s resignation

In an email from SJWCD chairman John Porco to The SUN, Porco explained that while Holsinger has resigned, he will continue to work with the district until it fills his vacancy.

“Mr. Holsinger has resigned. However, he will stay on to deal with unfinished issues until we hire new counsel and transfer our files and cases to that new counsel. The search is underway,” Porco wrote.

Porco noted that he had asked Holsinger to file the motion for extension of time.

When asked if he had notified the rest of the SJWCD board of his filing, Porco responded by saying, “No, I did not. Since the meeting was canceled and the deadline was predicated on the original meeting date, it was logical to request the extension and I have heard no complaints except for one Director.”

Porco then provided The SUN with a copy of Holsinger’s resignation letter.

Holsinger’s letter of resignation begins with him crediting the SJWCD board for their efforts as volunteers.

Holsinger also recognized the struggles that SJWCD has experienced over the past year.

“While I believe most people understand that additional water storage is essential in Colorado’s arid climate, a small cadre of detractors is working to deprive the community of this additional water and seeking to undermine, if not abdicate entirely, the SJWCD. Their vitreole has been particularly directed to former board President Rod Proffitt,” Holsinger wrote. “I have had the honor of working in private practice, for members of Colorado’s congressional delegation in Washington, DC as well as serving as Assistant Director to Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources. Never before have I seen such unwarranted attacks as those levied against SJWCD and its board members.”

Despite SJWCD defending its water rights and attempting to further its mission, Holsinger noted that defending against these attacks has “come at a great cost to SJWCD and has detracted from the work we signed on to do.

“Recently, the Court appointed new board members without the opportunity for SJWCD to consider, discuss and act upon their merits. We urge SJWCD to file a Motion to Reconsider such action. If the Court denies it, we urge SJWCD to appeal to protect the integrity of the appointment process,” Holsinger goes on to explain.

Holsinger goes on to explain that there have been questions raised about oaths of office for the new board members.

“The Governor just signed a law updating oaths of office for conservancy districts. No longer will the conservancy district oath contain an admonition against board members contracting with their respective districts. This will not change, of course, the requirements to act in the best interest of the district, to disclose any potential conflicts and to recuse oneself from any action on such matters,” Holsinger explained.

House Bill 18-1138 was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on April 2 and takes effect following the expiration of the 90-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly, which will be in August.

Proffitt resigned in January after the board ended a contract with Proffitt for services with the district in September, which was a violation of his sworn oath of office.

Holsinger went on to express his thoughts on the hiring process for a consultant for SJWCD.

“We have also raised concerns with the proposed process to hire a consultant in that it would run afoul of your bylaws and potentially your governing statute. We urge SJWCD to act in accordance with its governing laws and bylaws in the selection process. Of course, all board action must be properly noticed and acted upon with a quorum in a public session,” Holsinger clarified.

The letter further states, “We hereby tender our resignation and pledge to smoothly and efficiently transfer SJWCD files to new counsel. In the meantime, we will take necessary steps so as not to prejudice the interests of the District or its water rights.”