Brown to host community meeting – Thurs, Oct 30

Salida City Councilman Hal Brown will host a meeting for all members of the community on Thursday, Oct 30 at 6PM in the Community Center (305 F St).

Other council members and city staff may be in attendance. Please come and share your questions and concerns about the 2015 budget or any other topic of interest.

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.

7 Responses to “Brown to host community meeting – Thurs, Oct 30”

  1. Jeff Auxier

    After reading read Hal Brown's Oct. 30 retraction re: the Monte Vista officials' salaries referred to in his Oct. 27 guest column in the Mountain Mail, I wondered how he might be so off. So I looked at the 2014 Monte Vista budget, on its website. The Monte Vista budget plainly states, for the 2014 budget year, the following information:

    "SALARIES-CITY CLERK ... $19,241 ...

    SALARIES-CITY MANAGER ... $43,081 ...

    SALARIES - FINANCE ... $39,873 ..."

    The Monte Vista budget plainly states that the City Manager's salary is $43,081, so how can that salary actually be $81,000?

    The answer is that, buried deep n the Monte Vista budget, the Monte Vista finance director apparently allocates large portions of the City Manager's, the Clerk's and her own salaries to the Water and Sewer funds, as follows:

    "SALARIES-ADMIN-WATER ... $108,566 ...

    SALARIES-ADMIN-SEWER ... $108,566 ..."

    One has to look very carefully at Monte Vista's budget to see the above allocations, and they are not fully transparent. The initial figures suggest to most readers a much more reasonable salary for each official than what is paid. As regards transparency, Monte Vista and Salida share some of the same problems. The Monte Vista budget can be viewed at:

    http://siterepository.s3.amazonaws.com/175/2014_approved_budget.pdf

    Councilman Brown's was an honest mistake. Ray Kitson's commentary in this morning Mountain's Mail might have fairly acknowledged the ease by which Brown's mistake could be made, rather than suggesting that Brown engaged in intentional "inflammatory rhetoric." One is almost forced to conclude that Mr. Kitson either; knew of the reasonable basis for Brown's error and chose not to fairly disclose it; or perhaps lacked the curiosity to determine how the error could have been made.

    ....

    A young man was working for me the other day, and I asked him about voting. He said he wasn't going to, so I got on him a bit, asking "Well now look, you've got to vote. Which party will protect your interests? Which party will protect the interests of the corporations?" He replied, "Yeah, but what happens when the government is the corporation?"

    Made me pause.

    In the past 18 months of dealing with our city government, I have come to realize that there exists a class of municipal bureaucrats in our state society, some of whom:

    - are inclined to use our tax dollars to build and maintain their own power, rewarding and increasing loyal underlings, and paying lawyers to fight for them;

    - are surprisingly disconnected from the forces of the free market when it comes to salary and benefits determinations; and,

    - are assisted in their efforts by the Colorado Municipal League, an organization that increasingly appears to be a lobbying tool for city managers and administrators more than a resource for city councils and the people.

    We have to watch them.
    ...

    Finally, Mr. Kitson suggests a "mean-spirited vendetta" against Finance Director Schmidt. A difference of opinion is not a vendetta. I don't know about Councilman Brown, but based on my own observation and research, I believe that Ms. Schmidt has left an unfortunate but indisputable paper trail of material misstatements to the council, the public and the press about various aspects of city finances, in spite of her efforts to keep the yearly budget documents as incomprehensible as possible. More on that in the next week - this comment is long enough.

    My wish is that our city government would be honest, forthright and organized about its actions and goals and let all have their fair say based on true knowledge. Then we could all, with our many good talents, work better together. Thank you for reading.

    Like (1)
    • Shawn Gillis

      The Mountain Mail on Oct 31st noted the Hal Brown Town Hall meeting held on Oct 30th covered Bike Lanes on Hwy 50 as one of the main subjects. I have been attending several of the City Council meetings whenever bicycle lanes or open space have been presented. The City Administrator has done a fine job of finding professionals such as CDOT representative Mike McVaugh to explain the CDOT process, he has done this at least twice and has done an amazing job. At the Oct 7th City Council meeting we heard City Planner Dan Osborn along with Mr. McVaugh explain the process, answer many questions and then the citizenry were allowed to ask further questions and state their personal opinions. Lots of Salida’s citizens gave very positive support for bike lanes being used as one of the first choices of ways to lower the speed limit. Mr. McVaugh has explained if the actual speed limit goes lower then CDOT will post this actual lower limit. During my speaking turn I mentioned the Hwy50 route is actually Adventure Cycling’s Western Express Route and going through Salida should not be more dangerous than riding Big Horn Sheep Canyon or Monarch Pass. I also volunteered to ride Hwy50 with any City Council persons so they could feel firsthand what it is like to ride a bike through this section of town. Then the discussion went to City Council members to debate and explain their voting directions. I sat in the audience cringing as Council persons Hal Brown and Mike Bowers explained to the audience about how adding bike lanes will endanger bike riders, especially children. Just because there is a bike lane doesn’t mean children are required to ride Hwy50, this is more a parental value. Most residents don’t ride Hwy50 because they know a way around it, touring cyclists will continue to ride it because it is an actual route. As for narrower lanes here is a link given to City Council members before the meeting: http://grist.org/news/heres-why-narrower-streets-are-safer/

      From the City Council discussion on the Oct 7th meeting the MOU only passed unanimously because bike lanes would only be put in the estimate. Bike lanes are supported at the Federal level, they are supported at the State level, by Bicycle Colorado, by Adventure Cycling, by the citizens who attended the Oct 7th meeting, this is common sense. What should have been a simple presentation and taken 5 minutes to approve was dragged out and only passed because certain members of the City Council can vote against it at a later level.

      I have attended the City Council meetings discussing the CDOT process several times. I have written to CDOT, to our State Representatives, I have learned, I have given my updated opinions back to City Council to watch them get ignored by two members.

      Back to Hal Brown’s Meeting concerning Bike Lanes: Hopefully there was an articulate explanation about speed limits, choices, children’s habits, where schools are located, medians, existing bike routes, safety, other methods of speed limit reduction such as enforcement, medians, flashing signs, CDOT processes. If not, then where is the transparency Hal Brown talks about.

      Like (9)
  2. Robin

    Just curious....was this meeting formally posted? I don't mean privately paid for and in the paper, I mean....was it posted by the City of Salida?

    Like (0)
  3. Robin

    According to this public calendar, I do not see the meeting listed...https://www.google.com/calendar/[email protected]&ctz=America/Denver

    Sunshine Law states (in many states)...

    Number of board members required to be present

    The Sunshine Law extends to the discussions and deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a public board or commission. There is no requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting of members of a public board or commission to be subject to section 286.011, Florida Statutes. Instead, the law is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission. Hough v. Stembridge, 278 So. 2d 288 (Fla. 3d DCA 1973).

    Thus, two members of a civil service board violated the Sunshine Law when they held a private discussion of a pending employment appeal during a recess of the board meeting. Citizens for Sunshine, Inc. v. City of Sarasota, No. 2010CA4387NC (Fla. 12th Cir. Ct. February 27, 2012). Compare Op. Att'y Gen. Fla. 04-58 (2004) ("coincidental unscheduled meeting of two or more county commissioners to discuss emergency issues with staff" during a declared state of emergency not subject to s. 286.011 if the issues do not require action by the county commission).

    According to the Mountain Mail, there were three council members present, yet this was not on the City of Salida public calendar.

    Does this break Sunshine Law? Though this was "public" according to those that choose to read the paper, it does not seem to have been posted formally? Are the minutes of this "public" meeting readily available, since three Council members were supposedly present? Were three council members, in fact present? How is this a town hall or public meeting if it is not formally posted, and possibly more than two council members were present?

    Thank you to whomever can better educate me.

    Like (1)
  4. Robin

    I have just learned that this last meeting was indeed posted, but it did not make it on to the on-line public calendar meeting. I would encourage Mr. Brown, if he should continue such meetings, to be accountable by being the individual in charge of getting these meetings posted on the City of Salida website. Since he is the "host" (and is paying for the advertising), it seems appropriate for him to take this on, not one of his employees. Technically speaking, his only employees should be the City attorney and the City administrator, not the rest of the staff, correct?

    Like (0)
  5. Marshall

    Hmmm, this is interesting. Am not going to comment on Robin's posts, they seem, to me anyway, irrelevant. I knew of these meetings, whether or not they were on the cities website.. Really ? But I digress.

    I've watched these issues unfold, not living in Salida, I suppose I don't have a dog in this race as far as a vote in what happens, but I do live in Howard, and use Hwy 50 as the road I drive to get to Salida, which is where we shop and spend money.

    I know Shawn has a dog in this race, has tirelessly and vociferously advocated for bicyclists in the past and continues to do so, understandable as his business depends on it. He's done a lot for Salida. Mssr's Brown and Bowers, well probably not so much in the bicycle world, but Bowers is / was a member of Law Enforcement, I would think he would have a great deal of historical first person perspective to contribute. I know Mr. Brown to be a reasonable individual from my past interactions with him. Are any of these folks perfect, or do they have a crystal ball ? I rather think not, but I do believe them to at least be trying.

    What seems to be lacking from this entire discussion is what a reasonable person would do. I consider myself a reasonable person, am a CDL driver that hauls HAZ-MAT loads, basically I drive a huge bomb on 24 wheels. I am constantly amazed at the lack of skill / attention to what one is doing / and general disregard for other vehicles that is displayed my many that visit our area, towing trailers, towing, boats towing cars. Not one at a time, but all at once. Not to mention the over 70 set in a vehicle comparable in size and power, that were it a truck, would require a CDL to operate, but as it's called a motor home, doesn't need a special license or special training that I am required to have.

    Many of these folk can't seem to keep their vehicles in the 12 foot lanes we have, I can't fathom putting side by side traffic next to them in even narrower lanes, and then interjecting a higher level of bicycle traffic with it.

    It always amazed me that the old guy on the trike with the orange flag that was ever-present on highway 50 / Rainbow blvd didn't get creamed, perhaps that's why he's not longer there, but that's purely speculation. As a lifetime member of Fire and EMS, I'd hate to see anyone get hurt, but in a bicycle vs car / truck / motor-home etc accident, I can already tell you who is going to come out on the losing end of that encounter... Surely an operator of one of these RV's is going to move into the other lane of traffic when they feel squeezed, rather than into the extra 5 feet of space designated "bicycle".. Uh huh.

    As reasonable folks, forgetting what particular dog one has in this race, and thinking of public safety, shouldn't we consider the possibility that the proposed solution has a high probability of making an already dangerous situation even more so ? I fully understand that traffic moves faster than some would like thru town, but I struggle with how this solution is the preferred one. Sure, an engineer said so. Well, an engineer said the 50/285 intersection would be better as well, and I'm not seeing that as the huge and wonderful solution to all problems traffic in Poncha either.

    Perhaps Salida's peccadillo is unique to the town itself, and not ripe for a cookie cutter solution that some engineer says is the cure all to the problem. We have a lot of smart folks right here in the area, and a lot of small congested towns in a 300 mile radius, that surely have struggled with if not this issue, others similar to it. Has anyone reached out to them ? Has anyone done anything other than called CDOT for a solution ?

    I submit that special interests, personal agendas and simply "the way we've always handled things" has clouded judgement in this issue, and that someone needs to "Think outside the box" for a solution to this issue, disregarding the 3 items above, and thinking instead, what would a reasonable person do.. How can we make OUR solution work better than anywhere else in the US. Perhaps a task force of "stakeholders" to research alternatives past what's already been presented for consideration, before we throw money at a solution we don't know the outcome of, on the off chance it'll work.

    What would a reasonable person think about that... Hmmm.....

    Thanks for listening..

    Marshall Nichols
    Howard, CO

    Like (4)
    • Trey

      I don't think you need to own a bike shop to see the value in bike-friendly communities. Riding a bike on 50 through town is sorta terrifying. I'd encourage any sitting city council member to try it. On a Friday afternoon. During hunting season.

      I had the good fortune to visit another country a few years ago where some small towns had two lanes of traffic going through town with a frontage road (with parking and business access) on either side. Parking and loading was unhurried, there was space for cyclists, and trees created a nice barrier between local and thru traffic. It felt _nice_. Exactly the opposite of how 50 feels to me today.

      More bike riding correlates with happier, healthier, wealthier communities. Shouldn't we pay attention when we hear that the most livable cities in the US also rank highly on being bike-friendly?

      Given the success of the Monarch Spur Trail, it makes me a little sad that there's no bike corridor along the little Arkansas. No doubt the opportunity for a creekside trail has passed, but we can, and should, do something to make riding along 50 a better experience for cyclists.

      Like (7)