Letters to the Editor: June 10, 2021

Listen to this post

Public lands group protesting Buffalo Horn land exchange

Dear Editor:

We are writing to follow up on a recent land exchange proposal in your community. Public lands in the Strawberry Creek area that are being used by adjacent land owners, outfitters with hunting permits, and other recreationists, are slated to be removed from public ownership and become privatized. This is going to happen because the BLM recently approved a land exchange with Buffalo Horn Properties, LLC, called the Buffalo Horn Land Exchange, see

https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/69551/570

After the decision was announced, Hogan Lovells, Attorneys, submitted a protest on March 8, on behalf of our organization, Colorado Wild Public Lands (COWPL). COWPL represents the interests of all public land users, including hunters and fishermen. The following are key concerns about this project whereby the BLM’s decision approves an exchange of 2,652 acres of BLM land composed of 14 parcels for one 1,327-acre parcel owned by the Proponent. (In addition, the Proponent will donate the remainder of the split Parcel B, totaling 508 acres.) 

Reasons for Protesting the Decision:

• The Land Exchange does not serve the public interest as the public lands BLM is giving up are vastly more valuable than the private ones it will receive in return.

• BLM seemingly ignored the needs of state and local residents as a whole, and favored the desires of the Proponent instead. The EA acknowledges that the public parcels are “located in areas highly valued by big game hunters and outfitters,” and that some local private landowners operate hunting lodges or lease portions of their land to earn supplemental income. (Final EA at 52, 59). Several outfitters also hold Special Recreation Permits on the public parcels at issue, which allow them to use the parcels for guided hunting trips. (See id. at 9–11). If the Land Exchange proceeds, these outfitters will lose this source of income and the Proponent will acquire the benefits of exclusive use of these high-value hunting grounds. Several local landowners will also experience property-value decreases because their properties will no longer have access to adjacent BLM parcels.

• BLM’s preferred alternative also trades away important wildlife habitat, cultural and paleontological resources, wilderness, and aesthetic values while receiving nothing comparable in return.

• BLM’s public-interest determination conflicts with established management objectives for the Greater Sage-Grouse.

• BLM failed to consider alternative means of acquiring the Non-Federal Parcel, for example via purchase.

• The BLM’s valuation determination was flawed in that it provided unequal valuation standards to the private and Federal parcels. As a result, it over-valued the private land while under-valuing the public land to be exchanged.

About Colorado Wild Public Lands 

Colorado Wild Public Lands Inc. was formed in 2014 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. COWPL’s mission is to protect the integrity, size, and quality of public lands in Colorado from diminution by private interests. COWPL’s members are concerned citizens who value Colorado’s public lands and waters for recreational use, for providing habitat for wildlife, for their wild-land character, and for their economic worth. COWPL advocates for economically and environmentally sensible management of Colorado’s public lands and their related resources and assets. Through the monitoring of public-land transactions, decision-making, and management, COWPL advocates for retention of, increased access to, and maintenance of the ecological integrity and true economic value of public lands and their assets. 

Conclusion 

Finally, this land exchange will make it easier for future assaults on public lands. Since additional public lands will have been privatized, previously contiguous public land parcels become further isolated, making those future targets for privatization. 

Thank you for your consideration of this information. If you would like to help prevent this exchange from occurring, and prevent future losses of valuable public land, please contact us at coloradowildpubliclands@gmail.com, and/or consider joining COWPL by visiting our website at http://coloradowildpubliclands.org/ 

Yours truly,
Franz Froelicher, Hawk Greenway, Stef Davis, James Katzenberger, Jean Perry and Anne Rickenbaugh
Board of Directors

Colorado Wild Public Lands


Moyer speaks out

Dear Editor:

Section 1-12-108, C.R.S. Statute states that NO FALSE STATEMENT ON A RECALL PETITION ARE ALLOWED!!! 

General statement of grounds for recall: 

1. “Commissioner Gary Moyer misused his power by intimidating and participating with the other Commissioners in the termination of long-term, dedicated employees and department heads without prior notice, without having any plan in place for replacing them, leaving County departments with a leadership void and creating a fearful hostile work environment for all remaining employees.” THIS IS FALSE STATEMENT  

Facts: There is a total of 2 nonappointments (see below A&B) of annual contracts (political appointments) and 1 department head termination (see below C) while Gary Moyer has been a commissioner. A total of 3. 

A. Former road and bridge director – Dave Morlan 

• 3-0 vote to not reappoint him in January of 2021. 

• Former disgruntled employee. 

• Has refused the last 4 months to sign a release that would let the public know why he was not reappointed.                                                                                                                                    

• Responsible for spear-heading this recall effort, after first attempt was invalidated for multiple statute violations. 

• Does not represent or speak for all county workers.   

• Stormed into the county attorney’s office and demonstrated extreme insubordination with a verbal attack directed towards a single commissioner “Moyer” who was meeting with the attorney. Tried to demand confidential information and special treatment regarding a Human Resource issue.  Morlan was threatening, aggressive and unprofessional. {This did not occur during an executive session} 

• Flagrantly defied and ignored a specific directive publicly given to all county road and bridge employees, including Morlan, by the commissioners. 

• Having a predetermined replacement for job opening would be HIGHLY UNETHICAL as the recall statement states. It is normal for a county high level job search to take a few months.  

• Clearly demonstrated his unwillingness to take direction from the commissioners the Road and Bridge Director answers too. 

B. Former county attorney Kent Borchard 

• 2-1 vote to not reappoint January 2019. 

• Former disgruntled employee 

• The county attorney is a political, annual appointment. Borchard’s personal political believes were not consistent with the majority opinion of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).He clearly demonstrated his unwillingness to support the direction of the BOCC, of which the county attorney answers directly too. 

• Clearly demonstrated his unwillingness to take direction from the commissioners. 

C.  Former building official and department head Jeff Kummer 

• Refused to follow commissioner direction. 

• Demonstrated blatant insubordination. 

• Undermined commissioners. 

2.  “Commissioner Gary Moyer participated in an attempt to eliminate the Rio Blanco County Dispatch Center without giving citizens or the sheriff the opportunity to voice their opposition or have any input on the decision.” THIS IS A FALSE STATEMENT  

• As Moyer testified to, under oath, in a public recall hearing: A public work session was held, near the end of August 2020. Discussions regarding multiple budget reduction measures were being considered. This was required due to large reductions in county revenue. Department consolidation, as well as optional approaches about dispatch, were discussed by all three commissioners. Each commissioner contacted various departments and elected officials, on a Friday afternoon, at the completion of this public work session. The same message was conveyed to each department informing them as to what was being strongly considered and that no decisions had been made. Commissioner Moyer contacted sheriff Mazzola and repeated that very message, three times to the sheriff. Moyer invited the sheriff to attend a meeting, for all potentially effected elected officials, depts, and personnel, planned for the following week. Sheriff Mazzola then went out on social media and the radio station broadcasting from Craig Colorado, as the County Sheriff, and told the public that Rio Blanco County Commissioners had already made the decision to move dispatch out of Meeker. The sheriff blatantly misrepresented and misspoke about what he was told, in what appeared to be an effort to anger the public regarding this consideration by the board of county commissioners. The intent of the commissioners was to have a discussion about why RBC is spending over $500,000.00 on dispatch when Moffat County is about $69000.00 for dispatch. 

• A large public turnout for the above-mentioned meeting occurred. Every member of the public in attendance or by telephone was allowed to provide input to the commissioners, as well as the sheriff and other county employees who desired to. Several public meetings, with all parties involved, followed. Every one of these meetings mentioned are a matter of public record. How the recall committee could make this kind of accusation defies the public record and is a blatant false statement. 

3. “Commissioner Gary Moyer has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of transparency in the manner in which he has conducted county business.”  THIS IS A FALSE STATEMENT 

• There has never been a single shred of evidence by anyone to support this allegation. Despite this narrative continually being promoted by the political left in our community, they have never provided any kind of proof or any kind of evidence to support this leftist narrative.  

• At best, this is nothing more than an opinion and is not an objective statement. For the designated election official (County Clerk) to approve such a statement, on a recall petition, is improper.  

• This is a typical allegation, constantly levied by left wing activists, against any elected official that is a true fiscal conservative, at every level of politics.  It is very disappointing that too many of us see this level of unsubstantiated accusations play out in our own county. For both the recall committee and the county clerk to embrace this, is very dishonest on both their parts. 

4. “Commissioner Gary Moyer has been instrumental in undermining Rio Blanco County Public Health’s efforts aimed at keeping Rio Blanco County citizens safe during the COVID pandemic.”  THIS IS A FALSE STATEMENT 

• The commissioners, including commissioner Moyer, always supported the effort put forth by the county public health department in educating, testing, and vaccinating the citizens of Rio Blanco County.   

• The policy set forth, by the majority of the Board of County Commissioners, directed the Public Health Department to make recommendations only regarding COVID restrictions from the state of Colorado. While any illness or death because of the COVID virus is very unfortunate, there is no evidence that this policy by the commissioners jeopardized the health of the citizens of Rio Blanco County. This policy decision, by the majority of commissioners, was and continues to be based on respecting the Constitutional Rights of our citizens.  The policy decision also respects their right to choose for themselves how to handle their own health care concerns. This policy set forth by the commissioners, resulted in Rio Blanco County being one of the least impacted counties in the nation, from the COVID virus. Our county experienced very few positive cases of COVID from its beginning until November of 2020. Rio Blanco County never experienced higher than average COVID incidents. Because there are those within our own public health department who do not agree with this policy, in no way means that commissioner Moyer undermined the public health department.  

• This statement sounds like a talking point straight from the Democrat party’s playbook.  So, Gary Moyer having a different point of view than Governor Polis, regarding state COVID restrictions, makes him dangerous to Rio Blanco County citizens? This statement really shows the left-wing political ideology of those pushing this recall petition and how dangerous they believe it is for someone to have a different opinion than theirs. 

• Again, this is another example of a false statement being allowed on a recall petition. RBC Clerk and Recorder should not be allowing this statement.  She is not doing her job and she is biased.  Because of this, the RBC Clerk and Recorder should stop refusing to recuse herself from the recall process.   

Gary Moyer
Rio Blanco County Commissioner
District 1


Rangely Hospital Foundation thanks community for support

Dear Editor:

Thank you Rangely residents who donated items for and all who bought items at the Rangely Hospital Foundation’s community yard sale. Contributing to the North Park project, this fundraiser made more than $1,500.

The project’s stage one, site preparation, has begun. Trees and stumps have been removed; next the ground will be leveled, and the area will be prepared for electric and waterline installation, and measured for the fence line.

The next fundraiser will be a September golf tournament, and a suggested horse n’ tack auction is being discussed.

By working together our community continues to develop strong relationships with one another as we move forward on this project.

Members of the Rangely Hospital Foundation
Rangely


Moyer lawyer presents concerns

Dear Editor:

Everyone who has ever been through one knows that a recall is an ugly affair. The recall attempts of Commissioner Gary Moyer are no different, except for the added twist of questionable conduct of the County Clerk. In Colorado, County Clerks are entrusted to run fair elections and serve as neutral parties in the process. They are not supposed to assist in the effort to sway an election.  

Colorado law provides a structure for recall petitions. The law sets a specific petition format and gives instructions for how to notify the elected official of the accusations against him. The law also sets out requirements for petition circulators. In her eagerness to aid the recall effort against Commissioner Moyer, Rio Blanco County Clerk Boots Campbell made several errors, either intentional to deprive Commissioner Moyer of his rights, or by incompetence in the performance of her job.  

She didn’t even notify Commissioner Moyer of the recall, didn’t give him an opportunity to challenge the accusations being made against him and didn’t properly approve the petition. Mr. Moyer challenged those mistakes, and he proved that the procedural errors stacked the deck against him and invalidated the recall petition. 

What occurred at the hearing was disturbing. Recognizing her errors, Clerk Campbell testified under oath that she did notify Commissioner Moyer of the recall by mailing him a copy of the approved petition. This testimony is contradicted by the fact that Commissioner Moyer never received the mailing, the County Attorney never approved the petition or saw this document, every other document delivered by Clerk Campbell was by email, the document was not turned over in a records request and the computer trail shows she never printed the document for mailing and most importantly she altered the document days before the recall hearing. This is why I have sent a letter to the District Attorney asking for an investigation into abuse of public office and perjury.  

Politics is a contentious business. There are often well-meaning parties on both sides of an issue. But this recall isn’t about public policy disputes or even about inappropriate conduct. It’s simply a former county appointee, Dave Morland [sic], embittered because he lost his job by a unanimous vote of the Commission for issues that remain confidential. Mr. Morlan’s choice to keep his personnel record confidential puts Commissioner Moyer at a disadvantage defending against the false accusations leveled against him.  

Now, a new recall petition has been filed. Apparently, Clerk Campbell used the last one as a training exercise. But, after her behavior in the last recall she should immediately recuse herself from overseeing this effort. She is clearly biased against Commissioner Moyer and has lost the trust necessary to conduct her duties in an impartial manner.  

Before you sign any recall petition, please consider the source. Refuse to reward this dishonesty and half-truths. Colorado has historically used the recall for serious cases of public corruption, not as a never-ending election cycle spearheaded by disgruntled current or former employees.  

Suzanne Taheri
Denver

Editor’s Note: Suzanne Taheri is the former Colorado Deputy Secretary of State and represented Commissioner Moyer at the recall hearing.


Thoughts expressed on opinion pages are exclusively those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Times. You are welcome to submit signed letters on matters of local interest to editor@ht1885.com, mail to PO Box 720, Meeker, CO 81641 or drop off at 304 4th St., Meeker. there is no charge.

Due to space constraints, please keep submissions 500 words or less.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Recall repeat, part two: let’s talk transparency | Rio Blanco Herald Times | Serving Meeker, Rangely, Dinosaur & Northwest Colorado

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*