Dirty, rotten scoundrels in Boulder County government

Read the commentary by Charlie Danaher from the Times-Call, copied below in its entirety:

This time they’ve gone too far. Placing liens on 11,000 subdivision homes displays arrogance and insensitivity that are absolutely stunning. The county commissioners would like you to believe that the problem is that there isn’t enough money to go around. In their Guest Opinion (Insight, Dec. 29) they state “The fact is: Boulder County does not receive sufficient revenue to pay for the rehabilitation of unincorporated subdivision roads.” That certainly may be their opinion, but it sure as heck isn’t a fact.

The problem started when the county sneakily invented the term rehabilitation and proceeded to redefine road maintenance to not include, well, maintenance. While at the same time, the county began spending money on sexy things like open space (and a variety of other pet projects) at the expense of mundane things like roads. Any objective observer will conclude that the percentage of county expenditures spent on roads versus open space, all by itself — not to mention all of the other social programs — can more than adequately explain the shortcoming.

Let’s just look at a few data points. Between 1995 and 2012, county revenue doubled, from $157 million to $321 million. Over the same period, the amount spent on road maintenance fell from over $4 million to about $1 million per year. As for open space, debt service was less than $11 million in 2000. By 2012, open space debt service had grown to more than $24 million. Additionally, over this same period, the unassigned general fund has grown from less than $15 million to more than $60 million, which is about twice the amount that county says is needed.

Employing poor logic, and misleading the public, the commissioners act as though there are only two solutions, those being a PID or an LID. But this is a false choice.

And now, having commenced the LID, the commissioners claim that the voters chose the LID, by default, by not voting for the PID. The reality is that the voters did no such thing. Let’s be clear. They voted against the PID. Period. To conclude from that outcome that they “chose” the LID, is preposterous. And, as people are expressing their fury, with the accusations of treason (a bit of a stretch, but betrayal seems accurate), the commissioners are now wondering why we can’t have “a civil discourse.”

It should be noted that many affected residents don’t believe there has ever been any interest in actual discourse. The best that they can tell is that the commissioners have had their minds made up all along and that all of the hearings and the vote were just for the sake of the appearance of democracy. What the typical person heard from the commissioners at the hearings, after expressing their concerns, was, “Thank you very much.” Or, as Commissioner Deb Gardner stated at the Nov. 18 hearing, “We, at least myself, have been very clear from the get-go. So, I guess you’re right in the sense that, yeah, I’m gonna be in favor of moving the LID forward, and I have never had any wavering on that.”

This kind of behavior very much supports the suspicion that the commissioners were going to get the extra money, regardless of what the citizens said at the hearings, or even how they voted.

The commissioners go on and on about why we can’t wait any longer because of how quickly the costs are increasing. The irony is that if maintenance had been done steadily, responsibly, and as needed, since the mid-1990s, the amount spent would have been a fraction of what’s now needed. The howls of urgency seem a bit hollow.

I have a suggestion for the commissioners: After you lose the lawsuit, or, better yet, even before you’re forced to do the right thing — please go back to your budget and re-prioritize expenditures to reflect a more equitable, responsible and reasonable manner of dealing with deteriorating roads.

If the commissioners are really of the mindset, as commissioner Elise Jones expressed at the Nov. 18 hearing, “I just want to orient toward: how do we solve this problem right here, right now? How do we be transparent and communicate the information and figure it out?” then just do the right thing. Right here. Right now. Solve the problem at its root.

Reform the manner in which you spend the tax revenue that the county residents entrust to you. Admit that the county made a mistake by redefining maintenance and diverting funds elsewhere, and then resume subdivision road maintenance, as is proper. For it’s never too late to reform.

Charlie Danaher lives in Boulder.


It comes as no surprise that the corrupt trio of Boulder County Commissioners are supported by an equally corrupt Boulder City Councilman, Macon Cowles. All of ’em belong to the same political machine which dominates both city and county government here in the Boulder Bubble.



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