To the residents and the 675 registered electors of La Veta: On July 12, I resigned from the La Veta Town Board after 4 1/2 years. After 15 months of frustration and disappointment, and having been subjected to obstructionist, disingenuous behavior, and a complete disregard for governmental process, procedure, and the law, I was no longer able to serve as a trustee. There were two levels of dysfunction. First was the recall petition and the recall committees December 2010 request for a judicial review/declaratory judgement on their insufficient recall petition. The former town clerk, Nancy Culbreath, and the town were named as defendants and this unnecessarily cost the town a lot of money. Most recently, on July 6, the committee outrageously asserted to the court that Nancy had made an “effort” to “frustrate and to delay” the judicial review. It became possible that, even after seven months, the court actions by the committee could continue. Nancy and I had little protection from these antics. The Mayor, Laurie Erwin and Larry Klinke ignored legal advice and voted not to have the town cover my legal fees, though they had every legal right to. Meanwhile, the newspapers were regularly filled with vitriol from a very few committee members and their very few supporters. Yet their actions have dominated the town. Iʼm disappointed that people who signed the recall petition and later voiced their regret to me, never publicly documented their change of position. The second level of dysfunction is the situation created after last Aprilʼs election. When the recall petition was submitted to the Town Clerk last October, Jim Keffeler said “Weʼre doing this for two reasons.” Number one is to support the three new members who were elected in April 2010 with the hope of moving forward. Second is for the people of La Veta who voted for change in April.”Are you happy with the quality of performance from the new trustees? Did they bring forward anything they promised as candidates?
Do you approve of their ideas on how to waste and lose money? For example, selling water for less than it costs to deliver to your tap. Sending water projects to the town engineer and then out to contractors for bid that the board had no knowledge of and had not approved. Have they behaved professionally? Have you monitored their attendance? Review their actions and their statements at Board meetings. Have they brought quality information to the public? Have they been effective at communication and cooperation? Have they brought ideas that benefitted the town? Have they become educated in the rules of governance and their role and responsibilities as trustee or Mayor? Not my experience. Anyone who attended a board meeting in the past 15 months experienced the heartbreaking circus that those meetings became and the rude and out of order behavior that trustees were subjected to. Were you well served at the board meeting level? Procedurally, the meetings were a mess. For the first 6 months, I talked to the Mayor several times about procedural missteps, but the chaos was so chronic, and, in my opinion intentional, that I gave up. I have detailed specific incidents which are too numerous to list here, but when I spoke to the Mayor on July 20, and reviewed the most serious problems he replied “I have done a terrible job.” It is pointless to admit that in a phone conversation to a now former trustee. He needs to answer to you all and if he is unwilling or unable to do so, it is absolutely your responsibility to make him answer to you. The same applies to your newest trustees. Was unprofessional, incompetent, ugly, rude obstructionist behavior what you voted for? Do you know how your town employees feel? Have you listened to your senior trustees? To the people who donʼt attend board meetings: did you ever listen to the audio recordings from board meetings? They speak for themselves. Last week you lost 41 years of clerk experience. Do you know why? Last April you lost Mickey Schmidt and 25 years of quality municipal governance. When you lost Doug Brgoch, you gave up, I believe, 16 years of the same. What do you have now? I tried very hard to do right by my job and, in 2007, I was fortunate to both have Mickey Schmidt as a resource and to be chosen to oversee the business of a tidy, well organized town.
What is La Vetaʼs future? Any new trustee, or next April, trustees, no matter how sincere, will step into a position with no experience and no resources, no leadership or shared goal of responsible governance. Most disturbingly, they may be subjected to the same abuse I was subjected to unless you hold your government accountable now. Please support and thank your trustees who remain diligent. Learn the issues and ask questions. Attend meetings and learn how government should work. I want to publicly thank everyone who paid attention and made an effort. Thank you to everyone who shared their support, kind words and advice and tolerated my frustration and talking; lots and lots of talking. To everyone who has stayed involved and informed and to those I may not have met, were it not for these 4 1/2 years, I thank you sincerely. This is todayʼs happy place.
July 25, 2011