Dear Jeffco commissioners:
I hadn’t heard from you recently, so I wanted to write and see how things were going. Our attorney was on the phone the other day, and he also asked after the three of you.
Specifically, we’re wondering about the letter we sent you on Monday, July 27 — the one pointing out that your discussion of public business via e-mail was a clear violation of Colorado law.
We’re wondering, too, about the quiet assurances I received that this little illegality was merely a misunderstanding, and that you would soon take several steps to make amends.
But mostly we’re wondering how a government body that we successfully sued in 2007 over another open-meetings violation could fail to take this situation seriously.
Now, I can understand if you don’t take me seriously — I’m accustomed to that in many facets of my life. And I can perhaps see why three government officials who wield considerable power and collect very impressive salaries might not take a small group of weekly newspapers all that seriously either.
But can’t we all just agree to take the law seriously? Over the years, the Jeffco commissioners have broken the Open Meetings Law repeatedly, and your effort to address this most recent violation has left me somewhat underwhelmed.
I seem to recall that two of you indicated to me the following would be done in a timely manner:
• The commissioners would publicly acknowledge breaking the law (again).
• A community forum on public officials’ Sunshine Law obligations would be held, with the three of you in attendance (and, presumably, not texting each other during the presentation).
County Attorney Ellen Wakeman did recently let me know that, through the marvels of technology, it has been made impossible for you commissioners to e-mail one another privately using any of your e-mail addresses. Thank goodness for that. Now all we constituents have to do, apparently, is monitor your Facebook pages and keep an eye out for smoke signals.
Still and all, I love you guys — and your predecessors. I’ve never forgotten my first week on this job, when the 2006 model of your little group called an executive session to discuss “legal advice” — and wound up discussing how to turn off the microphone on county critic Mike Zinna during the public comment portion of commission meetings.
Ah, but this is no time for fond reminiscences. This is a time for action, and I’ve seen precious little of that from you regarding this last little indiscretion.
So do get in touch and let us know what you’ve been up to.
Doug Bell is the editor of Evergreen Newspapers.