Kudos to the Ouray County Plaindealer for taking the Ouray County Commissioners to the woodshed in how they seemingly botched the recent hiring of county attorney.
It’s not the hire himself, Leo Caselli, that was botched. It was the hiring process, the complete lack of transparency in which it was done and the subsequent berating by a few of the commissioners when the Plaindealer had the nerve to insist the process didn’t follow Colorado Sunshine laws.
The process of the hiring and whittling down of candidates is supposed to occur out in the open, with candidate names given and a finalist announced 14 days prior to hiring.
In this process, however, the commissioners came to their last meeting with no prior mention of a candidate or finalist’s name, and Commissioner Ben Tisdel announced that the board would review and discuss the hiring of Caselli “for the first time.”
Tisdel, whom you may recall recently floated the idea of extending term limits for county commissioners coincidentally as he is coming up on being limited himself, lashed back at the Plaindealer, calling their insistence that the process was afoul as “frivolous and vexatious.”
He didn’t, however, attempt to square with the public how, if this was the “first time” the commissioners had discussed the hiring, the commissioners magically came to that same meeting with Caselli’s name on an employment contract and a start date of Nov. 1 set in ink.
“Will the Nov. 1 start date still work for you, Mr. Caselli?” the commissioners collectively questioned the candidate, ostensibly for the “first time.”
Well, that’s confusing.
Commissioners argued that the position isn’t an executive position, therefore hiring for it doesn’t require all the bells and whistles afforded by the Colorado Sunshine Law. Thus, they say, they rightly brushed past the public’s need to know and instead protected their candidate.
The Plaindealer, again, pointed out that the commissioners have the grand responsibility of hiring three positions, and this one has a price tag of $129,000 per year with perks and bennies, and makes more than the county administrator who has been in her position for 18 years.
So, what’s the definition of “executive?”
Not this, say the commissioners. This position doesn’t even come close.
Clerk level, really.
It’s kind of insulting, and not in a frivolous way, how this body of mostly career politicians, who cringe at the thought of term limits and spend the public’s time fighting global warming, would cast away any concern raised for lack of an open process. And this, after they walk into a meeting with the ink already dry on a decision they seemingly never made.
At a cost of about $50,000, the Town of Silverton is underway with what it terms as the Compass Project. Mostly paid for through the Gates Foundation and supplemented with other grants, the project is designed to gather community input and provide a path forward in linking many projects currently underway in Silverton.
Among those projects are the expansion of Kendall Mountain, the Town of Silverton Master Plan, a trails plan and addressing OHV concerns.
Look for a conclusion to the effort in about a year.
Many of you read my column on a regular basis, and sometimes you must be perplexed at my occasional unwieldy transitions.
Let me explain.
I don’t always write single-topic columns. Sometimes, as is the case today, I write several shorter segments and separate them for the reader with ellipses.
But, for some reason, the ellipses don’t always transfer from my document to the printed page, which makes my column run without breaks, jumping from one topic to another.
So, if you read my column and think my brain is out of whack because I jump from one topic to another without any warning, please know that I have expressed my displeasure with the editors and their procedural disdain for ellipses, and have been assured that I’ll catch all the breaks from now on.
(A literary separating device will now be used below.)
Are yard signs a measure of who’s in it to win it? If so, you can tell that Ouray City Councilor Ethan Funk, who is foregoing a bid to retain his seat and is instead challenging Mayor Greg Nelson in his re-election effort, is all in. His yard signs began popping up in Ouray first.
Next, Tamara Gulde who is running to fill one of the two city council spots, began peppering the landscape with her signs. She’s in.
Then the triumvirate of Nelson, Heidi Forbes and Jason Perkins, the latter two running for city council spots, began populating yards with their three signs side-by-side-by-side. They’re in.
There may be, though yet not spotted by me, signs for Heather Toth, Aliyah Field and Josh Smith, all running for city council, as well.
Alan Todd is a 35-year newspaper veteran who lives in Ouray County. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.