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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Politics at its worst – a farce in three acts

ACT 1A Gazette reporter wrote a human-interest story this spring on an empty house on Leoti Drive in Cimarron Hills. A neighbor had complained to the county health department that a large pile of festering trash, including dirty diapers and other unsanitary objects, was attracting vermin and creating noxious smells.A county health inspector posted a pre-printed sticker on the door. It required clean up of the mess. Nothing happened. When the deadline passed, the neighbor requested action. The inspector said clean up was no big deal and declined to follow up (?) The frustrated neighbor contacted the Gazette, which broke the story.Since this was in my district, I viewed the trash and contacted the neighbor. I noted there was no handwriting on the sticker. I left a message for the inspector to call me, but he refused. I contacted other county officials, who merely wrung their hands. Finally, over four months after the first complaint, the owner came back and removed the trash, one day before I had arranged to clean it up myself.I kept after the health department. The director, Ms. Bakes-Martin, ignored several messages, then left me an insolent voice mail (which I recorded and transcribed) that “there is really no point in answering your questions” since the trash was now gone. (The word you’re looking for is “cover-up.”)I wanted to know why a notice was issued and then ignored despite non-compliance. Doesn’t that hurt county credibility? Why was a “notice” affixed to an empty house? Why weren’t the blanks filled in? Since the director clammed up, the board of health president finally admitted they already knew their ink disappeared when exposed to the outdoors and “maybe we should use” permanent ink for official notices (!) Duh.Apart from my persistence on this embarrassing topic, the health department disliked me because I fought their recent ballot issue to pass issue 1-B, which was a permanent waiver of Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limits, which I wrote. The state Constitution is not by local option, but they conned county voters. In reluctant response to my repeated questions, Ms. Bakes-Martin finally admitted at our meeting last month that ZERO additional revenue was received by the health department as a result of their illegal ballot issue, despite her campaign promises to the contrary.ACT 2Months later, I saw on the agenda an item to remove me as the board’s co-liaison to the health department. No one had discussed that with me (!) I objected, but to no avail. Commissioner Clark agreed she should have told me of her backroom scheming, but knifed me anyway. She has always resented my opposition to the six tax and debt ballot issues for which she and Margaret Radford campaigned in the fall of 2001, after both were elected to the City Council that April as “fiscal conservatives.” (Five of six issues lost.) Chairman Bensberg has continually objected to my pointed questions on sloppy county policies, so he joined her. Commissioner Hisey agreed the secrecy was wrong, but his selection in my place secured his vote. Commissioner Williams agreed this secret deal was shabby treatment and joined me in opposing this backstabbing.Mrs. Clark said I was ousted because I had “never” attended health meetings. When I pointed out that was false, she switched, saying the real reason was I was “abrasive.” Translation: I refused to accept the health department’s bumbling and stonewalling.ACT 3About a week later, Commissioner Clark’s pal, Councilmember Margaret Radford, whom I defeated in the 2004 primary, was appointed to a newly invented county job as deputy communications specialist. The salary had been advertised at $33-39,000. Persons “external” to the department would be offered the lower half of that range. Instead, she was given $54,000. That’s called false advertising. This secret job opening was listed for only four days. Who hired her? The health department! Guess who their co-liaison is. Sallie Clark! I asked to see the letters of recommendation sent to the health department. They stonewalled again, saying “That’s confidential.” So we’ll never know if Mrs. Clark helped her friend in writing, just verbally, or how.The department already had a communications specialist and whines about how tight its $10+ million budget is, but rather than hiring a restaurant inspector or other health safety worker, they hired a second public relations flack. (Remember, the general county already had two as well.) The director later told the Gazette an ad at the true price of $54,000 would not gain a better candidate. So why make a gift of public funds to Mrs. Radford, who was clearly willing to take the job at the lower salary? No reply.Remember City Council is asking voters this April to double council pay because council members were working 30-40 hours a week for only $6,250? Voters said “no.” When Mrs. Radford was asked how she could handle two full-time government jobs, her council role had magically shrunk to 15-20 hours a week. Isn’t politics fun? (Curtain)Contact me at (719) 520-6412, by email at, or by writing me at 27 E. Vermijo Ave. Colo. Spgs. CO 80903. Audiotapes of all BOCC meetings, both simulcast and in archives, are available at Back issues of my monthly reports are at my website, Reports can be emailed to you by signing up at the website.For liberty,DOUGLAS BRUCEYOUR county commissioner

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