Letter: Small town government at its worst
With the final rejection of the referendum petition seeking to put the Reserve at Hockett Gulch project before the voters of Eagle, I wanted to take this opportunity to shed some light on the total lack of transparency and good faith displayed by the Eagle town manager and Eagle town clerk during this process.
A bit of back story is required. On Sept. 10, the Eagle Town Board approved the horrendous Hockett Gulch project by a vote of 4-1 (Thank you, Paul Witt).
The referendum is the vehicle set forth in the state constitution to allow citizens of a municipality to vote on an ordinance(s) passed by a legislative body, in this case the Eagle Town Board. As set forth in Colorado Statute Title 31 Article 11, a petition for a referendum should be compiled and submitted to the town clerk for approval/rejection within 30 days of the publication of the specific ordinance. The statute specifies that “the clerk shall approve or reject the petition no later than five business days following the date on which the petition was received.” The article further states that the “clerk may reject a petition or a section of a petition on the grounds that the petition or a section of the petition does not propose municipal legislation.”
A referendum petition was submitted on three separate occasions and after each submittal, the town clerk took the full five days to review the submission. This is important because petitioners only have 30 days to obtain approval and collect the required number of signatures (5% of registered voters) and the town took a full 15 days to review the three submissions.
And to be clear, this petition wasn’t page after page of bureaucratic gobbledygook but three small paragraphs one of which (the summary) is supplied by the town clerk.
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I understand the reasons for the delays and stalling tactics — the town doesn’t want the cost or hassle of a special election and when it comes to this project there was a huge possibility of having their 4-1 vote overwhelmingly overturned by the voters of Eagle.
A quick search of the town of Eagle website yielded a few lines of the job description for the town manager:
- Places high priority on quality customer service, and demonstrates continuous effort to improve operations
The emphasis on quality customer service obviously does not apply to the citizens of the town.
- Encourages transparency and public engagement on town matters
The response(s) from both the town manager and clerk were far from encouraging and transparent. Their stonewalling efforts in this process were more than egregious and lacked any semblance of good faith or transparency and only winked at encouraging public engagement.
Sadly, regarding the Hockett Gulch project, just like the Haymeadow project, the citizens of Eagle lose again!