Turnover a given for country DAs | VailDaily.com

Turnover a given for country DAs

Don Rogers

Turnover plagues district attorney’s offices throughout rural America. The pay is relative crap, the hours long, the big city very, very far away. College loans are high, ambitions likewise. Here, at least, you can live in paradise. With one caveat. It’s as expensive to live here as coastal California, Manhattan, the Hamptons. And there’s never quite enough time left over to just go skiing.It’s an issue in the 5th Judicial District, too. Nine of 10 prosecutor positions have turned over since District Attorney Mark Hurlbert took over in December 2002. Three of those prosecutors were on their way out when he replaced Michael Goodbee, who left for the state Attorney General’s Office.The 14th District, which spans Routt, Grand and Moffet counties, suffers about the same rate as the 5th, which covers Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek counties. The DA there took over recently, as well, in February 2003.To the west, the 9th District has held onto its prosecutors for the most part. What’s the difference? DA Mac Myers has been there for the past eight years. It does matter how long the top guy or gal sticks around.There’s also the matter of brain drain. The brightest, most ambitious attorneys will be tempted by the opportunity to make two, three or more times their deputy DA pay in the private sector. They can be rich, as compared to middle class or as the case is here, nudging poor. Veteran teachers earn more than a lot of country prosecutors.Is there an answer? Sure, pay more. But that bumps squarely into the finances of country counties with relatively little to go around. This challenge will persist. Vail, Colorado

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