Sunshine Laws invoked in GMF
What was intended to be a discussion on communication with the board turned into a slam fest against the trustees and a walkout by two of them.
For the past three weeks, however, the town was abuzz about the meeting, with anticipation high for drama between the trustees and the Concerned Citizens Group.
The group, led by former mayor Dick Lackmond and Judy Weidner, has initiated a drive to recall five of the trustees. “It is pretty evident that the board is non-functional,” said Lackmond, opening the discussion at the meeting.
Mayor pro tem Jane Newberry interrupted. “I thought this was a discussion on setting a workshop-type meeting,” she said. “According to the Sunshine Laws we can’t answer questions that aren’t on the agenda and I don’t want you to waste your time if we don’t have the questions.”
Nonetheless, Lackmond continued, charging the board with making town decisions on an individual basis rather than as a board. “Why?” he said.
The board refused to answer, as the question was out-of-line with the Sunshine Laws. Lackmond was on a roll, however. “We request that Mr. Price be removed as the police liaison because of a conflict of interest with the police department,” he said, referring to trustee Howard Price.
Trustee Ralph LoCascio said, “That’s not a question we can answer; it’s not on the agenda.”
Mayor Lorrie Worthey persisted. “Can you explain what the conflict is?”
Lackmond replied, “We don’t know what the conflict is.”
Newberry suggested setting a time for a workshop to discuss issues in a public forum and in line with state law.
Ready to explode over the direction of the meeting, including the legality of seeking the resignation of the liaison position, trustees Mac Pitrone and LoCascio walked out.
The two missed the ultimatum issued by Weidner, concerning the timing of the recall petitions, when and if they are submitted with the required signatures. “Chris Frandina (the town’s clerk/treasurer/elections clerk), will have two days to get the petition back to us,” Weidner said.
Along with the two-day demand, Weidner requested that Frandina be temporarily removed from her position and that Sue Meals of Chipita Park be appointed as the town’s elections clerk, if the recall election goes through.
Lackmond wasn’t finished, asked what happened to the live-streaming issue, as the meetings have not been recorded after the board approved an electronic-media policy recently.
From the audience, Berkeley Davis, who with Cameron Thorne, volunteered to handle the live-streaming, said, “We are giving our time for that; it’s not something we’re paid to do so I can’t give you an answer on that. We are working on it.”
The day after he walked out, trustee Mac Pitrone said that the meeting was on the border of illegality as well as ethically-challenged.
“The board meeting ended up exactly like the lawyer from CIRSA told us not to do it,” Pitrone said, referring to an ethics meeting that day by the town’s insurance company.
For instance, a board meeting is not the place for personal attacks or character assassination, Pitrone said. “The meeting started with character attacks on Howard Price (marshal’s trustee) and continued with a character assassination of Chris Frandina,” Pitrone said. “And we’re supposed to put up with that? I’m sorry but that was wrong.”
As far as live-streaming goes, the board passed a resolution approving the practice. “All they have to do is ask,” Pitrone said. “The policy is in place; if somebody wants to bring their own camera all they have to do is follow protocol; it’s that simple.”
The accusations against Price are unfounded, he said. “That meeting was designed to embarrass the five people being recalled,” he said, referring to himself, Margaret Peterson, Jane Newberry, Ralph LoCascio and Howard Price.
Particularly galling to Pitrone were the charges against Price of conflict of interest in being the liaison to the marshal’s, i.e. police, department.
When Price was approved as the liaison, Marshal Tim Bradley complained about only having one telephone, Pitrone said. “So Howard got him another telephone, at his expense,” Pitrone said.
When Bradley complained that the office computers were outdated, Price donated two updated computers. “At his expense,” Pitrone said. “Does anybody know that besides the trustees? I don’t think so.”
Incensed over the entire deal Pitrone added, “To this day, the computers are not installed,” he said. “That’s how much they appreciate the fact that they got two updated computers and they’re not even connected yet.”
Price made the donations in the name of his company, Multi-Net Marketing.
●For her part, Mayor pro tem Jane Newberry said she felt blackmailed by Lackmond and Weidner. “They threatened us with recall if we didn’t set the workshop,” she said. “The workshops have to be posted ahead of time.”
As she did in the meeting, Newberry stressed that, according to Colorado law, the questions have to be published in the agenda, so that the public can be aware of the issues, to ensure transparency from the board.
●Trustee Margaret Peterson felt that Mayor Lorrie Worthey allowed the meeting to get out of hand. “I was flabbergasted because there were no questions written down, nothing asked,” she said. “I don’t think we’re obligated to let the citizens berate us.”
Like Pitrone, Peterson referred to the meeting on ethics that day. “The citizens group tried to browbeat us, intimidate us,” she said.
Peterson is clearly upset by the division. “It’s just so ugly,” she said. “This community is broken and the factions started with this administration.”