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El Paso County Colorado District 49


Over a year ago, I publicly asked for a report on county vehicles taken home by workers. I wanted to know how many existed, what each cost, why they were needed and the subsidies for gas and maintenance. I also inquired whether paying mileage for actual after hours use of private vehicles, even at the county’s new rate of 48.5 cents per mile, would be more efficient.The fleet manager said it would take 85 hours just to compile the records! That was a bad sign. It meant the county didn’t know the cost and that there were so many free cars that it would take someone working full-time over two weeks just to collect the data. That estimate also triggered the county’s official “secret government” policy adopted years ago. That defensive “circle the wagons” rule says a commissioner’s request for information requires board approval, if answering it costs over $100. With $250 million yearly passing through the county spending machine, I am blocked from learning how to save hundreds of thousands, even millions, of tax dollars. Yet staff can spend $24,999 per item without board approval!That denial reflects a government practice I call “mushroom politics.” It means, “Keep the public in the dark and covered with BS.” Sadly, it has been used often to keep your commissioner from exploring the crannies and closets of our closed-door, dysfunctional, money-squandering county. It avoids public exposure and ridicule, which might impede the county’s perpetual public relations effort to plead poverty and raise revenue.The research was finally assigned to the county’s new internal auditor. When her report was almost finished, she was fired. Her computer was seized and her research sealed. Even though her report was prepared with taxpayer dollars, I was denied access. It remains secret.After continued persistence, I finally got a partial answer to my request. The county listed take-home vehicle costs for only six of a total of 23 vehicles disclosed. Transportation has 19, other administrative departments have four. Their average annual subsidy is almost $9,500 each. Multiplied by 23 vehicles, that’s over $215,000 yearly.The transportation excuse is that a worker might be needed on evenings or weekends for fallen stop signs, road spills or posting traffic barriers. I asked how often that need occurs, but our county policy prevented any answer. Even if weekly, it doesn’t justify 19 cars times 365 days a year. Picking up county trucks at the office is preferable to their 19-truck boondoggle.Deputy Administrator Monnie Gore also revealed the county gives 17 other high-paid employees a $6,000 annual car allowance. That’s $102,000 yearly. I asked Mr. Gore if he was one of the 17. He is. Mr. Gore was just promoted to this newly-created post in January and given a $17,000 raise to match the $116,000 attorney-level salary of the former county attorney, now the other new deputy. Can’t county employees buy their own car? Remember this royal rip-off when the county asks voters for more money.My colleagues even attempted to justify their $102,000 yearly handout as a recruiting tool. We shouldn’t hire employees who pursue this preposterous and profligate perk of pork.I asked Mr. Gore why the county policy pays commuting expenses. People in the private sector don’t get paid extra to show up to work. No good answer. I asked how the county enforced its rule that a car was for county business only. He said it was the honor system. No one is required to log hours, miles and destination for these cars. He admitted a county vehicle was once spotted by sheriff’s deputies at a strip club, but using the car for private errands was not and cannot be monitored or prevented.A prior board also scammed taxpayers in this way. After the Gazette exposed commissioners charging mileage for commuting to work, they replied by voting themselves that same $6,000 car allowance, regardless of actual use. Their action was illegal because commissioners cannot raise their own salary. (They just got a 38 percent pay raise to $87,300/year, over my opposing testimony in Denver.) Was that theft of public funds ever repaid? I don’t know.Remember that new county administrator Jeff Greene just hired his predecessor, who had groomed Greene to replace him, to “lay the groundwork” for a tax increase ballot issue. Terry Harris was to be paid almost $68 per hour for this political activity, though he had just retired in poor health. When the Gazette learned of this shameless scheme to use tax money to plot and influence a tax increase election, I was asked for my comment. I proudly blew the whistle on it the next day. Mr. Harris later agreed to volunteer this political work.After Mr. Gore’s presentation, the county reverted to its usual gloom-and-doom tactics to prepare for its upcoming plan to demand more money. Mr. Greene actually said the county was in such a fiscal crisis that it would run out of toilet paper! Yes, employees would have to “bring their own.” Visiting citizens would presumably be furnished a corn cob as a loaner.At the next board meeting after Mr. Greene’s clumsy and inane scare tactic, I presented him with a roll of toilet paper, urging him to store it for the county’s imminent fiscal Armageddon.Only your commissioner has a BS detector in good working order. My four colleagues all approve 99 percent plus of spending requests (Sallie Clark is at 100 percent; she has never voted “no” in 28 months. Dennis Hisey squeaked “no” only once.) Then the four feign fright at the county’s budgetary “crisis du jour.” They are like the person who protested to the bank, “I can’t be overdrawn; I still have more checks!” Now you know the monetary mentality I must endure!*************Contact me at (719) 520-6412, by e-mail 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

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