Commissioners rebuff ex-worker’s claims
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” County Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon denied a former county employee’s accusations that the two violated the open meetings law by secretly making deals on land use and childhood development programs.
Former county technology director John DeNardo, said Menconi asked him to relay messages and make deals with Runyon outside the board room.
DeNardo worked for the county for three years and was fired in July 2006. The claims against the commissioners were made in a newsletter published by the Committee to Recall Arn Menconi.
“It was a you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours message. I did relay it, and Peter responded, and that is when they began collaborating on everything,” the newsletter quoted DeNardo.
The open meetings law in Eagle County, also known as the Sunshine Law, states that when any two commissioners (a majority of the board) are discussing expenditure of public dollars, it must be in a published and open meeting, said County Attorney Bryan Treu.
In the article, DeNardo also claimed he set up an e-mail address under a fake name at Menconi’s request so that the commissioners could talk without mail going through the county’s system. Both Menconi and Runyon rebuffed the accusations.
Menconi said that DeNardo’s claims are untrue, said Justin Finestone, county director of communications. Menconi is currently on vacation and could not be reached for further comment.
Runyon said he did have a meeting with DeNardo, but there was no talk of passing messages to Menconi.
“I can guarantee that there was no discussion of early childhood issues. DeNardo says (in the article) that he’ll take a lie detector test (to authenticate his claims) ” well, so will I. If we wanted to break the Sunshine Law there are a lot easier ways to do it,” Runyon said.
In the newsletter DeNardo also claimed Menconi asked him to steal former County Administrator Jack Ingstad’s e-mail so that Menconi could find reasons to fire Ingstad.
Ingstad, who worked for the county for 12 years until he resigned in April 2005, said Menconi did not force him out, nor would he have reason to steal his e-mail.
“I always had a good relationship with Arn. If he had a question he would always come in my office and ask. In fact, Arn and I went to Vegas together a month before I resigned,” Ingstad said.
Ingstad said he resigned because it was getting difficult to work with the commissioners. At the time, Democrats Menconi and Runyon were the new majority, leaving Republican and then-commissioner Tom Stone the odd one out, he said.
He said he felt like he could not even give clarification or answer the commissioners’ questions in board meetings without getting drawn into the board’s power struggle.
“Both Arn and Tom had a not-very-smooth relationship. When Arn and Peter were together it became clear that I could no longer please both sides. I didn’t want to wreck relationships with any of them,” Ingstad said.
Further, he said that his computer was always on and his e-mails were always open in his office so that anyone could look at them.
“I never deleted anything. I always viewed them as public record. My office door was always unlocked. What good would it have done to steal my e-mails when Arn could have come in and looked at my e-mails all night after 5 p.m.?” he said.
Ingstad is now the county administrator for Plumas County in California.
DeNardo declined to comment for this article.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.