Friday, April 21, 2017
Commissioner Richardson, please just do your job.
By my own choice, I do not belong to the Elbert County Citizens Page (ECCP). When the site's administrator, Marlene Groves, decided to censure me for what she felt was a purely political piece (which I contend it was not), I politely left the site. No name calling. No bashing. No ad hominem attacks to get back at her. She had every right to take it down because it is the way she wanted things to be on her web site. I have done the same thing on other sites. If an administrator does not want my writing, if they do not want my opinion, or if they do not like me personally, then it is their site, their choice, and they can do what they wish in terms of publication.
When I did write a weekly blog that was posted on the ECCP, I occasionally drew the wrath of Commissioner Richardson. He always talks a good game about people putting their names on things. He is always quick to point out when he believes that people do not have courage or if someone is being cowardly. He will even go so far as to accuse people of sniping at the Elbert County Administration in a cowardly fashion. He obviously needs to look up the word "coward," because he clearly does not know what it means. Richardson is not in any kind of minority in Elbert County, has not been bullied by any elected officials, nor has he ever gotten the run around by a paid minion of the Elbert County BOCC. It takes courage to stand up to abuse and speak truth to power. It takes no courage to be a part of the herd.
Besides being a champion for Ed Ehmann, Commissioner Richardson is making it his policy to do exactly what he claims to abhor. He snipes at anyone who does not agree with his beliefs. He denigrates anyone with an opposing view, and he does not bother to even consider why they might not be happy with his leadership. He attempts to sound very officious and proper in his own writing, but is usually betrayed by careless spelling and elementary grammatical errors. What he is normally doing is trying to squelch dissent by using all the trappings of his office to get his way. I provide an example for the readers following this paragraph. In this case, Richardson is using his position as an elected official to get the ECCP to take down a factual piece outlining what the author feels is unwarranted and unethical behavior on the part of Elbert County Manager, Ed Ehmann. He (Richardson) confuses legitimate and searchable information with "negativity and bashing" but all of the information in the article appear to be true. (This is an unedited copy of the actual email)
I ask that you remove the ECCAdmin post of the “Truth” Colorado item regarding MR. Ehmann. It not only violates your own stated “rules” that you don’t allow bashing or negativity but, the fact that the person who posted it is hiding behind the admin account name is appaling. Whoever posted it should have had the personal fortitude to publish it under their own name vs pass on that some vague “people” ask that it be posted. The source – a vanity website that apparently only exists for the ego satisfaction of failed candidates and former claiments – is not something I would think you would associate yourself with. I admire and welcome honest conflict. But, sniping from the shadows is cowardly and I would have expected more from the site that you run.
Christopher A. Richardson
Commissioner District 1
I have several points I feel I need to make:
Regarding this being a private and oh, so important email: I can hear him screaming in anger that this was shared with the likes of me, a "vain and failed candidate who possesses not an ounce of courage." What he will most likely miss in his tirade will be that the second he sends out an email like the one above, he is acting as an elected official. And, we, his constituents, and anyone else who might be interested, are legally privy to his emails where he uses his title and his official email. This could have easily been obtained with a CORA request. So much for any impropriety of which he will obviously accuse anyone involved with ECCP or Truth Colorado.
I am proud to have served the Democratic Party and made a run for county commissioner in 2008 even though I knew that I was almost certainly going to lose by a landslide to former Commissioner John Shipper. It is called civic responsibility and obviously Mr. Richardson does not honor anyone but the winners. It is highly unlikely that he would ever have thrown his own hat into the ring had he known from the onset of his campaign that he would lose by a wide margin. He likes to participate when the odds are in his favor.
But it might be important to point out that winning does not always make you virtuous. I would remind Mr. Richardson that former County Treasurer Billie Mill's staff incorrectly placed motor vehicle registration fees into the wrong accounts for a period of 2.5 years. She was unable to spot her department's mistakes and it caused a $1,000,000 shortfall. Normally a person would be held accountable in some way, shape or form for that kind of mistake. Not so in Elbert County. Everybody knew that it was her department that failed the county and yet she was still elected to the office of County Assessor. That is just how party-driven this county has become because the Republicans so outnumber the Democrats. Apparently, Mr. Richardson is okay with that and chooses to demean candidates who did nothing more than offer to run for public office. Now that is bashing. http://www.denverpost.com/2010/09/16/elbert-county-mired-in-crises/
I would like to point out that Truth Colorado may not be Mr. Richardson's cup of tea, but it has been around for quite some time now. This site offers a different perspective, political cartoons (all protected by the US Constitution), and has a decent following. I will venture to say that the insecure Mr. Richardson reads Truth Colorado with more regularity than most.
I do reporting and post a regular blog there. I can guarantee you, there is more factual reporting regarding Elbert County meetings at truthcolorado.com than you will find on any other county website. And yes, there is opinion and criticism of the local government when it is warranted. That is the way the world works when you get into politics. Not everybody is going to love what you do or say as an elected official. The good commissioner needs to grasp the notion that his constituents have a right to disagree or complain about his performance.
Michael Phillips runs Truth Colorado. Mike contracted polio at the age of nine months. He has lived well over sixty years with one of the most terrible diseases imaginable. He works hard and he receives almost no compensation for his work on Truth. He is tough on people who do not follow the rules of common decency and fair play. He offers this website up as a public service... whether Commissioner Richardson or anyone else values it or not. The effort he puts into this online newszine is monumental; physically painful and slow, difficult and thankless. Mike does this and everything in his life from the confines of his wheelchair, and I am appalled that Mr. Richardson belittles people like Mr. Phillips. Failed candidates? Vanity website? Mr. Richardson falls short of the mark if he thinks his own efforts exceed those of people like Jill Duvall, Mike Phillips, Rick Brown and many others who get up and do this work for free. They do not get a paycheck, carry a county credit card or have a juicy title with which to bludgeon anyone whose thoughts may counter their own.
Finally, there is Mr. Richardson's undying loyalty to County Manager Ed Ehmann and County Attorney Wade Gately. The taxpayers in Elbert County are just about to wade (pun intended) into what may be the most expensive lawsuit this county has ever seen. This is a far reaching and potentially explosive situation and the BOCC is going to have its hands full. Blind loyalty to friends in high places is the last thing we need. We need to know when things are going well and more importantly when they are not. Channel Seven News is out with the story tonight.
I have spoken with the attorney representing the county employee who has filed suit against the county. Despite what the BOCC and their employees may be telling those around them, there are expert witnesses who are saying that this could be a huge and extremely expensive lawsuit and the county is more than likely going to have a catastrophe on its hands if it loses this case. The Federal fines alone will boggle most people's minds when all is unveiled, and there are many people who are being targeted. Suffice it to say, the losers will once again be the Elbert County taxpayers, since those who are responsible are indemnified.
Mr. Richardson, Mr. Thayer and Mr. Wilcox need to start governing today, stop dallying in partisan politics and develop thicker skin in the face of disagreements. The attorneys will take care of the mistakes and if people are guilty of misconduct, this new BOCC will have to clean house, not make excuses. When Mr. Richardson was sworn into office, he vowed to represent the county and all of its residents, not just those who are in agreement with his particular point of view. Any attempts by Commissioner Richardson to censure political views on independent websites goes well beyond his job description.