Former mayor amazed by lack of involvement

I have two issues I would like to draw to people’s attention.

My first concern is quite simple.  I do believe that the criticism the Council has received regarding the secrecy of the NRC has some merit.  My point is that we all can share in that blame.  It does not matter what sort of regulations or charter a government has when it comes to transparency.  What matters is having a citizenry that is present and involved.  To offer an example, there were at least three months of public discussion regarding water-rate increases between staff and the council.  Only Monika Greisenbeck and Jim Miller spoke up.

I was amazed by the lack of involvement.  I thought the question of how do we assure quality water and how do we assure we do not send our excrement down river, and how we should pay for it would be core issues, and yet almost no one offered any opinion.  To not be present at the beginning of a project is not helpful.  An involved citizen is paying attention to government all the time, not just after they have gotten a bill.

A window may as well not be transparent if no one is looking through it and, most of the time, when it comes to Salida city government, no one is.  One could accuse the City Council of not being as transparent as they could be, and at times, that accusation could be valid.  Just as accurately, one could accuse the citizens of Salida of not showing the interest necessary to make the democratic process work and abdicating their role by not being witnesses and actors in the local governmental process.  To create transparency is not just the obligation of the City Council. There is an equal obligation of the city’s residents.

My second point, I will illustrate by saying that as a paramedic I was treated more politely and with greater respect by the heroin users in Rio Arriba County than I was treated by certain members in our area during my four years a mayor of Salida.  If anything, this uncivil behavior has worsened since I stepped down.  To this day, I am mystified why we cannot disagree and still be kind.

I am pleading with everyone in our city to understand it is possible to disagree and still be civil.  We do not know how to discuss issues.  We only seem to be able to talk at each other, rather than to each other.  We are seeking to WIN, which means someone must lose.  The real desire should be to come to a compromise that we can all call a solution. I am requesting all parties focus on being polite and respectful even when they disagree.  Without having civility be the first rule of civic engagement we guarantee anger, frustration and hatred.  Even if your side prevails, the damage to the civic fabric will not make any outcome an outcome of value.

Thank you for your time.

Chuck Rose

 

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

42 Responses to “Former mayor amazed by lack of involvement”

  1. Billy Carlisle

    Mayor Rose,
    I was present for your speech. I understand the frustration. You delivered the speech to about 30 to 40 interested citizens who attended a council meeting to find out what was going on in their city government. The poinit is you delivered the speech about apathy to a group of interested and engaged citizens. I have had 3 o4 people on the council or close to it, their supporters, say, "We can't get the voters engaged. Particularly we can't get people in the 3rd Ward to run for council seats." It starts to look like any time citizens come forward they get criticized for not coming to the scene sooner. This line of rhetoric is not helpful in my humble opinion. When people come into the council chamber or choose to speak up on any issue, that does not seem like the appropriate time to chastise the citizens for past apathy. That would be like waiting until your kid cleans his room to then chastise him for what a pig he has been for the previous years or months. It really looks like to me, that when the citizens take a stand the opposition decides to redicule them instead of engaging in the debate. I don't want to seem petty during this pivotal time for the city, but I am growing very tired of listening to people criticize the citizens of Salida. We all have our gifts and talents and not all of us will be political ativiists. It takes all of us to make this town function and it is not right to judge your fellow citizens. Better to make the assumption that most everyone is contributing in some way based on their interests and abilities. I know some people who do not participate in politics at all, and who choose to focus on charities and ministries. That does not make them some how guilty of abandoning their city; they have just chosen to contribute in another way.
    I realize that you tried to be balanced in your approach. I hope what I have written does not seem dogedly critical. I just want you to know that I have heard to much critizm of the citizens and I am starting to feel like I should push back. I am trying to convey to the council that I am looking for peaceful discourse and debate. I also want it to be known when I see situations where I think the citizens are being unfairly criticized, I will push back.
    Kind regards, Billy

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  2. Chuck Rose

    Billy,
    Thanks for your comments. We will disagree on this one.

    I would suggest you run for office.
    Sincerely,
    Chuck Rose

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    • Bill Donavan

      Chuck, I am aware that people watch council meetings afterwards, so I appreciate you taking the time to speak to the bigger audience via the council venue as well as writing your ideas here. I know this all takes time. As Mr. Carlisle has demonstrated above, even when we do our best to bring wisdom to a discussion, people will see it as a reason to fight you. Thanks for continually working at making things better in our community.

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  3. Billy Carlisle

    It was a conversation, Bill. You made my point for me. Some people are journalist, some people sit at home and watch the debate on channel 10, and on and on. People are diffrent and they make diffrent contributions. It is not for a few to decide what each persons level of participation should be. Criticizing citizens for lack of participation is a worthwhile line of coversation, but rediculing people because they do not participate in the way you do is not reasonable. It is fine to invite citizen participation, but if you lash out at people when they step to the plate, you will drive them away. The constructive conversation is about how to draw the community into the process. Those of us who feel comfortable in the fray should be thinking of ways to draw others into the conversation. One way would be to be less critical of each other.
    I think my point is valid and worth considering, Bill. People in leadership have said and done things that have alienated some citizens from the process. When I see ongoing current examples of that, I will speack up.
    Respectfully, Billy Carlisle

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  4. Trey

    I suppose it's wrong that my first thought was "That's it, then. We need more heroin."

    If I take my truck to the shop and the mechanic says "your front hub is shot and you need to change your oil more often", I understand that my mechanic is doing his part to keep me from ending up in a ditch somewhere down the road. Choosing to be insulted by the diagnosis is, to me, a bit silly.

    Anyway, it seems to me that when our elected officials remind us that participatory democracy works better when people participate and play nicely with others, it's worth taking seriously.

    Government is what we do when we come together. Even when I don't agree with them, I see local elected officials and city staff as playing on my team, not some other team with competing interests. Every once in a while we blow the coverage or drop the ball, but at the end of the day we're going home on the same bus.

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  5. Billy Carlisle

    Good thoughts, Trey, and I really like your examples. A good way to put things in perspective. Most of us tend to take ourselves more seriously than the circumstances warrant. Thanks for the levity, Billy

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  6. Lisa Malde

    Chuck,

    We were thinking the same thing...

    http://salidacitizen.com/2013/01/if-you-dont-like-something-change-it/

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  7. Scott Knauer

    Many valid statements above. Right or wrong, I think the pathetic attendance is a reflection of the average citizen perceiving that they do not have the time. Most of us will generally make the time if we feel there is an issue that directly effects our lives but obviously this isn't the best way to make democracy work. I've been to about 25 council meetings in my time and I think it would be safe to say that I have been to 25 more meetings than most of the population. Having heard what many people talk about when they leave such a meeting, I am often not surprised to hear first timers complain about sitting through an hour or more of the agenda before getting to the subject that inspired them to attend in the first place. Let's say hypothetically you have a marginal interest in a bike path that runs the length of the river. You decide to reserve a chunk of your precious time ( I'm not being sarcastic ) to attend your first government meeting. Yet and hour into the agenda and they're still determining whether Joe on 7th street can add a dormer to his bedroom or if Martha can put up a 6 foot fence. Not that these things aren't important..
    But why not arrange the agenda in such a way as to bundle the items that involve 1 or 2 people together, and likewise bundle the items that could or will effect the community as a whole. While this may not be a perfect solution, my guess is that you would gradually increase attendance of residents if the agenda was set accordingly.

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  8. Billy Carlisle

    I don't know who Scott is but he he needs to get his agenda idea to the city. An agenda that is designed to drive attendance in a positive direction by bundling poplular items or items that are likely to have the broadest appeal. Why not?

    Billy

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  9. Marilyn Marks

    I read Mayor Rose's comments with interest, here and in the Mountain Mail. The line that struck me was--" To create transparency is not just the obligation of the City Council. There is an equal obligation of the city’s residents."

    I challenge his view on this. I fear that it is part of what is wrong with the culture in City Hall. Private citizens have absoluely no "obligation" to be involved or demand transparency. The Council IS obligated to operate with full transparency at all times, whether or not any citizen is paying attention.

    While I believe that responsible citizens should be involved when they have a particular interest or view to offer on some issue, they should not be required to be watchdogs to force Council and City Hall to be transparent. In fact, our work at Citizen Center is to encourage civic engagement, but it is a right,-- not an equal obligation with Council's obligation.

    I have been receiving responses from City Hall related to my open records requests of the last several days. I will make them all public when I can organize them, but they show a very troubling culture of misrepresentation and reckless disregard for the facts. They show a willingness to make unfounded claims when it suits their purpose. All in all, it is pretty shocking.

    The responses taken together almost reflect Mayor Rose's view---no one was watching when it came to the election related issues, so City Hall felt no oblligation to be transparent or even truthful.

    Is the former mayor saying that we watchdogs will have to keep barking to avoid a continuation of the inappropriate City Hall behavior?

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  10. Lisa Malde

    Marilyn, you don't get it. You don't live here, you don't know our community and you really should not be a part of our community's dialogue any more. Haven't you done enough damage? We need more positive solutions and interaction from citizens, not outsiders fueling the negativity.

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  11. Marilyn Marks

    Lisa,
    That seems like very parochial thinking for a progessive community like Salida. I see that the city has "out of town" consulants, attorneys, artists, etc. What exactly is the test for acceptable "out-of-town" voices?

    And what exactly is the "damage" I have allegedly done?

    Based on the number of strangers who walked up to me on the street and in restaurants in Salida thanking me for my efforts, I don't believe that your views are universally held by every citizen of Salida. On the other hand, perhaps those people who approached me were just other unwelcome out-of-towners passing through Salida.

    If the community cannot accept an insistance on a fair and transparent election and truthful claims by the City, what does that say about the community?

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  12. Lisa Malde

    The "damage" already done is fueling the negativity around the home rule election. Attacks, finger pointing and accusations are not how we need to handle this. We need Salida residents engaging in positive communication with our local government officials in order to work towards positive solutions for our community. This is no longer about a “fair and transparent election”, but rather how we as a community work to move forward after this tumultuous process.

    This is why I say you don't get it because you just want to keep pushing your agenda and you do not know what is going on in our community outside the election....because you don't live here.

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  13. Marilyn Marks

    Lisa,
    I would respectfully suggest that the issues with the election have exposed a much deeper and more concerning problem at City Hall. Admittedly, I have not published all the facts that the City has forwarded to me in the last few days as I have been traveling. Therefore, I'm working with informaiton that is not yet easily available to the public.

    When officials attempt to run an unfair and legally non-compliant election, the ciizens can't just " move on" and "put this all behind them." Otherwise, the citizens are giving their permissoin for the same type things to happen in the next election, the next executive session, and the next topic of public concern.

    If officials are not asked to be accountable for their improper and illegal actions, can the citizens expect better results in the future?

    You seem to criticize my "agenda." We definitely have an "agenda" of seeing more accountable and transparent government across the state.
    Citizen Center has members in Salida, Chaffee County and numerous communities across the state. We are not outsiders. Are you asking that we not attempt to represent our members' interest in a more transparent government?

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  14. Billy Carlisle

    Lisa, Voting rights are one of the more important under pinnings of our democracy. You seem to think everyone is trustworthy and that no one would infringe on those rights. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair. You can take these rights for granted, if you want to, but it is not that easy. We have these rights because of generations of people who have fought to protect them. We have obligations as citizens to stay vigilant about our voting rights. I do not have any suspicions or lack of respect for the city staff, judges and volunteers who participated in this process, but there were some problems. The one that got me fired up was when the watchers, my watchers, began to report that they were being kept away from the ballots and behind a green tape. It is pretty obvious to me that a watcher cannot watch what he or she cannot see. Having watchers in a place where they cannot see of hear is just a simple sham. I don't think that problem would have been solved absent Marilyn's activism. There are other issues Marilyn has raised that are technical and beyond my comprehension, but this one example I just gave, all by itself, indicates her presence was a positive impact on me and my community. Had my watchers not been given the opportunity to see the relavant processes I would have been sorely and inconsolably aggrieved. Our community would have been less free. The city changed several important aspects of the election procedures to accomodate my interests and concerns, concerns others shared. That took courage and flexibility and I am quite willing to compliment their diligence and flexibility through the process. They soiled themselves , however, and our city when they attacked Marilyn with no basis and proof. Hanlon's comments in the coucil meeting were inapropriate. I was there and I heard his public attacks with my own ears. Marilyn Marks has requested proof to back up Hanlon's allegations, by CORA rules, and they do not have said proof. I am guessing a simple apology would be sufficient for Marilyn Marks. It is due and whether it gets a good result or not, it would be the right thing to do.

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  15. Marilyn Marks

    While I generally agree with many of Billy's comments, I would take a bit of issue with his suggestion that an apology to me is what is needed here. I really don't need an apology. I'd rather the City officials apologize to the voters and candidates and taxpayers, rather than focus on their attacks on me. And the City needs to explain their decisions to the voters, not merely "move on" just to do the same thing next time.

    Something is amiss that the City made so many false claims about the election process, voting system, and then falsely attacked some local citizens who were thought to be "associated" with me.

    Something is amiss that the City engaged in secret "executive" sessions to discuss the election process and make decisions.

    Something is amiss that the City used a procedure of processing mail ballots that violated the voters' privacy, after they were specifically asked in writing not to remove ballots from the secrecy sleeves until election day when watchers would be present.

    Based on the initial responses to open records requests one could reach the conclusion that City records are being destroyed or purposely not maintained.

    There are still many questions that I would encourage the citizens to ask, before they "move on." They have little to do with me personally, but a lot to do with Salida public policy.

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  16. Joe Judd

    Ms. Marks,

    You may be right in every accusation and insinuation you have made. You may win some more lawsuits at the expense of our community. I believe I speak for 'many' (certainly most of the people I know) when I say that what you are bringing to our community is not positive.

    Those who have invited you (your supporters, your members) should fear for their community and their pocket books. Given the tone of your comments, it appears that the costs of your involvement in our community, both legal and otherwise, will soon be rising. It is a sad commentary on the current state of our modern, litigious society. I would much prefer that my tax dollars go to better services and infrastructure for the community.

    All of this vitriol will likely just drive people further apart from each other, instead of bringing folks together and creating a positive dialogue. Just look at the tone of discussion on this forum as one example. This whole episode reminds me of the sad state of our national politics. I have always felt that Salida was a little bit beyond that type of divisive rhetoric. I hope that is still true.

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  17. Marilyn Marks

    Joe,
    I don't think you understand the background here. Should I have to "fear for my pocketbook" ( using your words) because Chaffee County sued me, and has cost me tens of thousands of dollars because I asked to see a voted ballot? Why should those be my cost to bear?

    It seems that people do not know that I had no intention or even thought of suing Chaffee County. They sued me! Your local government started this problem, not me.

    Should I have then ignored their claims in the case they filed that the ballots were traceable and identifiable?

    What do you think I should have done when they sued me and then disclosed that ballots in Chaffee were traceable?

    Is it okay with you for ballots to be traceable back to you as voter? And for me as a watcher to see how you voted? Are you saying that you'd prefer not to have anyone fighting these battles?

    Reno has said that you have no right to a secret ballot. Do you agree?
    are you suggesting that I just give in to her claims and not fight for that long-standing right?

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  18. Billy Carlisle

    I grew up in a racially divided south. I knew black people whow would only go to the polls, if they knew a white person on the list list of watchers who would stick up for them. Do you think they were concerned that the plantation owner of the trash service supervisor might figure out who they voted for? Their rights and jobs depended on the handful of whites who would stick up for them. I lived in a county once that was ruled by a one party machine. You had to run from that party to have any hope of being elected. In the 50s and 60s when other movements and parties began to emerge the members of the one party machine would throw ballots on the floor from the opposing party. You could get your hands broken, if you tried to pick them up. Good old boy respected church going party bosses would stomp on your hands, if you had the audacity to pick up a ballot they had discarded.
    So is this relevant today? The people that went before us secured certain rights for us and we have an obligation to maintain those rights for our children and their children.
    We should not have to trust the election process. We should have watchers in place who support our interests, our parties, or our candidates. They should be able to emerge after the votes are counted and tell us that the process was fair and that they support the accuracy of the count. In the end that is what we got on the HR ballot initiative, but we got it because citizens demanded it as they have a right to do. I commend the city for its flexibility and their decisions that satisfied me and other's concerns. Those concessions came under pressure. That is part of the process and that is ok. I was in the frey for my own reasons. I became aware several weeks into the process that Marilyn Marks was making inquiries into the process. The city and the administrations made several concessions after Marks got involved. I don’t know how to account for that, and I am happy that some sequence of events came together that got us a hand count and got our watchers close enough to the ballots to verify what was going on. I believe the concerns of locals would have been ignored if Ms. Marks had not gotten involved.
    No one has said the city administration, city council or judges had some dishonest intent. I have only said that the voting process should be open, honest, and transparent. There must be processes in place so that citizens can satisfy themselves that this is the case. Equally important is the secrecy of the ballot. Those southern rural blacks that began to vote in the 50s and 60s in greater numbers did so because they knew the process was being monitored and the secrecy of their ballots was being protected. They lived in a place where the plantation owner or the city bosses would punish them if they voted the wrong way. Their employment could hinge on how they voted, if that information became known. Do you think we are immune to these problems today. Do you want to have to trust that. I am not fighting to protect the secrecy of ballots for me. I would be comfortable shouting my vote on the street corner. Should people who work for the city have to be concerned about someone knowing how they voted on HR. Should school teachers have to be worried about someone knowing how they voted on a bond issue. I have talked with small business owners who are very reluctant to let there positions on certain issues be known for fear it will cost them business with the county, the city, or just customers who have a different view. All of the folks listed above and all of us period have a right to a secret ballot.
    The city could have put processes in place that would have insured the secrecy of our ballots. They did not. The goal at this point should be to put processes in place for the future that insure an independent, fair, and secret ballot protected elections. That would be easy to do. The state has statutes that provide for the creation of independent election commissions for municipalities. Our city council could pass an ordinance to create an election commission for Salida.
    Beating up on Marilyn Marks is not all that productive. Saying that she criticized city employees or election judges is an absolute untruth. The problems lay at the feet of Mr. Hanlon and Dara MacDonald. They will have a vested interest in any city related elections and ballot initiatives. They should not have had people under their supervision in charge of the election. They could choose to be the proponents of an independent election commission. Then we would not have to worry, if it was the fox that was watching the hen house or not.This would be an easy step for our community and one that would reduce future problems and controversies.
    Best regards, Billy

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  19. Marilyn Marks

    Billy,
    Thanks for the comments. I think you make some helpful analogies.

    As you probably know, I'm a product of the same racially divided South, where we saw massive discimination and trampling on voting rights. I now live in Aspen where we have a working class and a weathy class. Many friends who are workers here, particulary those living in city-subsidized housing are petrified that the city has claimed (in the past) to monitor their ballots. Even a doctor friend was afraid to vote his conscience on a hosptial bond issue for fear of retribution.

    There are blue collar workers 1/2 hour from Salida who have been threatened with their jobs many times on the theory that their boss gets access to how they voted.

    For those who think that voters in 2013 are all financially independent enough to be able to vote without fear, ---sadly they are mistaken.

    While I've worked on this secret ballot issue all over the state, Chaffee County and Salida residents have been the most surprising in terms of having a number of citizens taking a negative stand against our insistence on a secret ballot. Most citizens around the state vigorously support the voters' rights to a secret ballot, and the only criticism we get is from the "establishment." Not in Salida. I wonder why that is.

    Is it that Salida is now so prosperous that people feel no threat of losing employment, raises, housing, friends, etc. if there is no secret ballot in Chaffee?

    It is a slippery slope when we lose our rights to a secret ballot. Perhaps things are so good in Salida that many residents don't see that risk.

    I'm getting mixed messages from Salida. I get the sense that many citizens support the local government's expensive battle against the secret ballot, but their primary goal is to be certain that I don't recover my attorneys' fees from the battle. It's a little hard to understand.

    I keep asking what it is that the detractors think I should have done when Reno sued me and then disclosed the lack of a secret ballot.
    I'm not getting any substantive answers,-- just more criticism or sacasm.

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  20. JT

    Lisa , It's sad to say but some of the things you write come across as not having been very well thought out . How can you blame Mrs. Marks for the election process being tainted ? Why isn't it ok for her or anyone else to request to see certain records or documentation ? And why is it her fault if the City sues her . I 'm dumbfounded at your attitude .

    I have a neighbor that is so very much stuck in her way of thinking that she can't see the trees for the forest . Please don't let this happen to you just because you don't like Mrs. Marks .

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  21. JT

    There have been many comments on how much money Mrs. Marks' activity has cost the City and not very much talk about the expenses related to poor voting equipment and processes . We need our city officials to do the right thing and try and recoup some of the costs of the voting machine rentals and associated costs . While the economy is slowly improving , those in charge of the City finances still need to watch every dollar they spend on the citizens' behalf .

    Thanks to The Salida Citizen for giving us the forum to comment on the news stories that are important to the community . Keep up the great work .

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  22. Lisa Malde

    Marilyn, Billy and J.T. - What doesn't seem to be "very well thought out" is the fact that the initial post from Chuck and my responses are in regards to local issues, not the election process itself. This is apparently not a dialogue, but rather pushing a specific agenda once again. There is so much more going on in our community that needs to be addressed outside this topic and it seems short sighted to keep wanting to push this matter.

    J.T., I'm unsure of what "attitude" you might be referring to considering that not once have I mentioned the election process, Marilyn's requests for records and documentation or the "City suing her". I have no interest in discussing this matter whatsoever.

    I will only be participating in a dialogue that encourages positive solutions to our local government matters and will not be engaging in discussions around the particulars around the election process itself. I am not alone in this.

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  23. Marilyn Marks

    I think that where some of us disagree with Lisa is our belief that until the election process is free, fair, transparent and verifiable in Salida/Chaffee ---the government is not credible. As Thomas Paine said, "Voting is the right upon which all other rights depend."

    Lisa seems troubled that some of us are blogging here in the "wrong" space, and we are "off topic."

    But I appreciate the freedom that Salida Citizen allows that citizens can talk about the weather or the Super-Bowl if they wish on this site. No one has to color only in Lisa's proclaimed lines.

    Lisa seems to wish us to censor our discussion of a "specific agenda" of fair elections. I respect her right to encourage an end to a discussion of the "right on which all others depend," but I don't see that it would be a healthy thing to do. There is nothing unhealthy about this " specific agenda." In fact, for Lisa to attempt to snuff it out is unhealthy.

    Voting rights are essential for a healthy and functioing democracy. Salida and Chaffee County are far from having "free and fair elections." Colorado is considered to be one of the lowest election-qualtiy states in the U.S. Chaffe is gaining a state-wide reputation as one of the worst election quality counties in Colorado. Lisa wishes to "move on," while I prefer to insist that the local government give up their iron-fisted control of elections and turn them over to the people so they can be free and fair.

    Lisa seems quite satisfied with the status quo of elections in Salida/Chaffee and wishes us to turn off the spotlight that has exposed the problems. Others are not ready to return to the dark status quo.
    One has to wonder why anyone, including Lisa, would want to protect and defend one of the worst set of local election practices in the state that has a near-bottom reputation in the nation.

    My assumption is that Lisa is a well-intentioned, honest, dedicated citizen of Salida who believes in a functioning democracy. I think that she would be fighting with me side by side if she had seen the ground level details I have seen in Chaffee and Salida that look as questionable as anything I have ever seen in Colorado elections.
    Something is wrong, and the local citizens need to get to the bottom of it in order to have a healthy democracy there.

    Lisa, I invite you to call me at 970 404 2225, and I will share many details with you (or anyone) that I believe will cause you to have a second thought about this "agenda."

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    • Lisa Malde

      Your insinuations and accusations about my personal motivations and intent are completely off base and are exactly what I was referring to in my initial statement when I said “we do not need outsiders fueling the negativity”. You have proven my point that you are not here to bring forward positive solutions, but rather to focus on your specific agenda and attack those who want to have a positive community dialogue about broader issues.

      Your statements that I “wish to censor your discussion”, my “attempt to snuff it out is unhealthy” and I “wish you to turn off the spotlight that has exposed the [election] problems” are the exact intimidation tactics that are not welcomed.

      Please remove my name from your future statements, accusations, insinuations and judgments because you do not know me and do not even understand what I stand for.

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      • Marilyn Marks

        Lisa,
        I would respectfully submit that "positive solutions" are not likely to work unless they recognize the core problems.
        Just "being positive" is not a solution.
        Solutions in the election integrity arena include broader citizen participation in the oversight of the elections, and not allowing Salida/Chaffee to continue its decline in quality of elections.
        Perhaps acknowledging that there is a problem is not "positive," but it is a pre-requisite to a solution.

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  24. Marilyn Marks

    JT---on the subject of getting a refund on the voting equipment!! YAY!!
    The locals need to take control of that subject and demand a $10,000 refund. (maybe more.) Insist on seeing the correspondence where the City should be demanding a refund from ES&S.

    Here's something very concerning---I have filed numerous records requests to see all city communications with ES&S and notes about ES&S charges, and every document associated with the ES&S cost from mid-December through last week. The response I get is that there are "NO documents" of any such communication. Very strange indeed for a machine manufacturer in the middle of such controversy. Are city officials refusing to put anything in writing? Are they communicating only by phone? Are they destroying the records? It just cannot be that there are truly no written communications with a vendor who is trying to rip off the City.

    City officials also claim that there are no audit records from the machine testing and no records of what software version is installed on the machines and whether it had Secretary of State approval ! (If true, any election run on the machines would have been completely illegitimate.)

    If there are indeed no communications with ES&S who totally ripped off the city, then there should be some explanation as to why the city officials are not making the effort to document their case for a refund.

    I offered the Council free assistance in how to document their claim for a full refund (and maybe more). But so far no one has taken me up on my offer.

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  25. Jt

    Lisa , I must have misunderstood but when you say she isn't from here and doesn't understand whats going on , it just seems like there is a lot of animosity towards her because she doesn't live here. Look i don't know this woman or do i care to but the fact is she uncovered an irregularity that caused a lot of grief but the voting issues should not have happened and she was made out to be the source of untold expenses for the citizens of Salida when that was not the case. Whatever the case it exposes the need for concerned citizens like you and Billy and all of us to keep an eye on whats going on in our town. And not turn a blind eye to it or iust accept what is told to us by the powers that be. Yes its time to be concerned about other issues and move on.

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    • Lisa Malde

      JT - it is not animosity because she does not live here, it is frustration at the negativity she is bringing to the table when we need to have a positive community dialogue.

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      • Marilyn Marks

        Lisa,
        Recognizing a problem is not always "positive," but it is necessary for an effective solution.

        What you call "negativity" is merely exposing a problem that can easily be solved by the citizens. Negativity would be taking the position that the situation is hopeless and cannot be solved.

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  26. Marilyn Marks

    JT, I completely respect your right to "move on" if that is what you think best. I would respectfully ask if you believe that "moving on" from a series of proven local election irregularities can have a long term positive effect, if the problems are left unresolved, --which is where Salida/Chaffee is now.

    I submit that election integrity and transparency needs to stay on the short list of government priorities. It cannot be the only focus, but "moving on" from such a mess is actually irresponsible in my view. Solve the core problems and then move on.

    If a local manufacturer dumped dangerous industrial chemicals in the river and tried to deflect from his misdeed repeately crying, "move on," "go forward," "let's no dwell on the past," "let's be positive," "think about something else," no one would move on until he had remedied the damage and assured that it could never happen again. Government should be held to an even higher standard.

    "Move on" is the tired old phrase I hear everywhere I go from local officials who don't want to be questioned about what went wrong and whether they are going to address the core issues.

    I hope that SAlida voters will not "move on" before they get answers and remedies they deserve.

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  27. Jt

    Yes ,fix the problem and then move on.

    Lisa , I see what you mean , someone that is not a full timer here or doesn't have a strong vested interest probably cant be as deeply involved or concerned as a salida citizen. Those who are deeply rooted in the community are more in touch with the whole picture. I think Chuck Rose said it best , in that we must be involved and watchful all the time and not just when an issue touches us. I think the saying is proactive versus reactive.

    In the words of the immortal Paul Harvey. " Good Day "

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  28. Bill Donavan

    I believe there is a misunderstanding.

    It appears Marilyn is concerned with process for all the right reasons. It's difficult to disagree with any of her points, but the people she is accusing are other reader's neighbors, friends and families—and as a community we are not inclined to presume they are cheating us. So, while her intentions are noble, it may simply be an issue of style.

    Conversely, when Lisa's or Chuck's intentions are perceived as not wanting to get our voting house in order, I know it couldn't be farther from reality.

    This is a small town—much smaller than Aspen, and when someone comes to town guns a blazin' people of all stripes and political views will take some offense.

    If there are irregularities, and it appears there are, the people of Salida's first reaction is to help them, to guide them, to figure out what happened and determine who screwed up. In my experience living in Salida, the gut reaction is never to presume that someone did it on purpose, or to be deceitful. (I am unaware if this is Marilyn's inference).

    But, we know the city council, and those who work for the city—are us.

    Maybe it's naive, but when something's wrong in Salida we ask what's going on while chatting at the post office. We may even get into it over the fence, or at Safeway. Things get solved this way. This is not to be confused with complacency, and it doesn't mean those folks a chattin' don't have a Ph.D.

    Now, our small town's character may seem undisciplined to some, but we've been doing okay so far—and this is the sentiment you are likely hearing Marilyn. It's a defense of our small town values, not a defense of a bad system, a system that you are apparently, and sincerely trying to improve, and many appreciate.

    In many places, city and town councils are stacked with people who have a questionable financial interest and ulterior motives. Certainly, many city halls are loaded with corruption. But, one thing that makes Salida so great is that somehow we have generally avoided this. It doesn't mean people don't screw up, nor does our hominess preclude us from our natural human frailties, such as making things worse after we've done something wrong, or saying something we might later regret when we are under stress.

    One thing is certain, as soon as people are perceived, perhaps wrongly in Marilyn's case, as attacking our core values —we instinctively look out for our own. This may be a character flaw on our small town, or it may be just another thing that makes Salida so great.

    Maybe we can get back to basics here. Marylin, Ironically, I am reading a book about Thomas Paine right now, and though brilliant and righteous he is widely considered to have had flaws in his style.

    I appreciate your efforts Marilyn, and I also admire the work of many honest past and present public servants, like Lisa and Chuck. Let's solve our voting system as a community.

    We're hardly perfect, but one our best attributes as humans is when we recognize this fact. Now, let's find out how to make our voting system work better.

    Let's reset the needle. Start with a handshake. Know the score of the last Salida game. We may not have the best running government, but as long as we know each other's names, and we ask how each other's kids are first, we'll be okay.

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  29. Billy Carlisle

    Good thoughts, Bill. Running today, but I will get back to you with some productive and positive thoughts. Dara genuinely reached out for ideas. I am want to get my 5 hot buttons on the table while the iron is hot.
    Billy

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  30. Marilyn Marks

    Thanks for the insightful comments, Bill.
    Funny enough, if I had read those comments with the proper names removed, I would have sworn it was written about Aspen. It sounds identical to our small town culture. Actually, I think that Salida is bigger than Aspen. We have about 2500 active voters in municipal elections.

    I giggled at your comment about me coming to town "guns a blazin' !" Many people forget that I came to town as a tourist while I was working in Saguache and merely asked to see a record at the courthouse. Chaffee officials pulled out their "guns" and to my great suprised and displeasure, dragged me into court. I only pulled out my "gun" when I had been fired at several times and hit in the pocketbook by your local officials. Only then did I fire back.

    If the clerk had just given me the requested record (about 10 minutes of work), I would have happily filed it away and enjoyed my stay in Salida. I still don't understand why some locals blame me for that episode.

    I would submit that for all the reasons you mention, it is very, very difficult for locals in a small town to correct issues related to election systems. Elections are highly sensitive subjects, and naturually, when there are irregularities, they involve people breaking the laws that bring out emotional responses from almost all voters. Unless the locals are almost impervious to the local criticism and sometimes retribution that will occur, most locals will keep quiet rather than stir up this hornet's nest in their own community.

    I have recieved very similar criticism here in Aspen when I began the quest for verifiable elections here. Wow, did we find some creepy things, that have now been in cleaned up in many areas--although we are far from perfect. Aspenites were very upset at having some of these things publicly exposed. They really did not like the fact that some of the questionable processes had been put into place by long-time trusted and popular locals. It made citizens very uncomfortable to have to confront these things.

    Same thing happened in Saguache---in spades. I was considered an "unwelcome outsider, intruding" into local matters. On the other hand, over time citizens began to learn far more about how ES&S had ripped off their county and how the election system there was highly questionable and actually got the wrong outcomes in some cases---including some increased taxes that had not actually passed--although the clerk claimed otherwise and had the improperly increased taxes assessed. The clerk was recalled, and we have the rights to partner with Saguache County to tried to collect from ES&S for their over-charging and selling uncertified products. Some will always feel that I should have stayed out of the "local business," but others appreciate the benefit in cleaning up the elecition system.

    Let's take this "local" example---in the June 2012 primaries, by pure accident, we found that scores of Chaffee ballots were marked with two different ink colors in different styles. It was clear that someone had "remarked" or "added marks" to scores (if not hundreds) of ballots after the voter had voted his ballot. No one in the clerk's office or the election judges had reported this to anyone or worked to have this investigated. I contacted the Secretary of State and asked that they investigate. They began an investigation but needed expert criminal forensic help, as there were "no innocent explanations." The DA declined to investigate and declined to bring in a special prosecutor. The issue, clearly a criminal act of election fraud, lays dormant in the SOS office. As a result, Chaffee may have a fraudulentlly elected official(s) who won because of these additional improper ballot markings. This has been public information since at least July.

    If the people of Salida take care of such problems in chats at the Post office or diner, how are they taking care of this election fraud problem I mention above from June 2012? Or are the citizens giving their tacit approval to such election fraud locally? Somehow I don't believe that they would.

    How is it that they are locally taking care of the traceable barcoding on ballots? Or is the sentiment with Clerk Reno who claims that the citizens of Chaffee (and Colorado) have "NO RIGHT" to a secret ballot?

    Why should anyone care but "locals?" Because when Chaffee election results are impacted by impropieties it will have the effect of cancelling out other voters' votes in regional and statewide races. So EVEN if all Chaffee County electors are willing to accept irregularities in the election system, should the rest of the state's voters have to accept the impact that Chaffee will make on our elections, and who gets elected to state offices?

    Citizen Center has numerous and diverse members in Salida and Chaffee. Can we not represent their interests when some of them are hesitant to speak publicly themselves on certain subjects?

    My take away from this discussion is that some Salida citizens believe that an "outsider" is not needed to help improve the election system, and that IF any changes are needed, in THEIR judgment, the changes will naturally happen from within the local community. I hope that is sound reasoning.

    Maybe someone will share why the locals don't seem concerned about the certainly criminal dual colored ballots.

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  31. Chris Walters

    "someone that is not a full timer here or doesn’t have a strong vested interest probably cant be as deeply involved or concerned as a salida citizen."

    Precisely why more than a few of us in Salida welcome her activism.
    Thank you Ms. Marks for what you are doing.

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  32. Marilyn Marks

    Thanks, Chris.
    I would respectfully suggest that it is also almost impossible for local citizens ANYWHERE to spend as much time as it takes to come to understand enough about voting systems and elections to challenge the processes. That is why Colorado election officials have gotten away with so much questionable activity----it's too hard to stay on top of the law, rules and processes, ---so citizens can't really be expected to provide much effective oversight without some outside help.

    My sense is that maybe some in Salida/Chaffee would agree that is true, but would prefer that the whole topic just be left alone.

    Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    BTW, I have asked for time on a Chaffee County worksession agenda to talk through again why we should not be fighting it out in court and should settle the cases. The BOCC has turned down (or ignored) all three settlement offers I have proposed. That session (if granted) might be of interest to some of the public who are concerned about local election processes.

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  33. tim brown

    Christo, Home rule and now Marilyn Marks, just when I thought we were starting to get along

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  34. Billy Carlisle

    This is for Lisa. Here are some ideas for change. What do you think of these, or do you have some of your own to offer? I touch on elections, but as only one of 5 points. One the elections issue, I am not looking backwards, but rather at a proposed better system for the future. The other four are my priorities on local issues. What are yours?
    Here is a list of random ideas worth debating and considering. Most would require ballot initiatives and that is not as complex as you might think. 1) Form an election commission. There are plenty of blueprints for that in the statutes under which Salida governs itself (state statutes include models for this). An election commission would be a balanced body that reflects various groups but which is not accountable to the council or administration. An election commission composed of community volunteers could run elections cheaply and with a minimum of controversy. 2) Why not have a ballot initiative that limits the ways in which the city can sell or acquire property. 3) There is no reason in the world why the city should not hold public hearings on water rates. The outcome should not be pre-determined but the effect of the higher rates on the poor and seniors should and could be addressed. 4) What is going to happen with the pool. I am shuddering as I think of the cost of the upgrade idea that seems to be bubbling to the surface. I am half way expecting an initiative in that area that does not take into accountthe views of the citizens. 5) The council is recently talking about transparency and I welcome that. I have, however, found that some decisions and actions by council will slip by if you are not vigilent. Shoudn’t we be asking for some specific initiatives from the city to increase transparency?
    Best regards, Billy

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