Cards on table, face up

Why have regulations you will not or cannot enforce, and why, when you are doing so many things well, do you hold meetings that test the letter of the law and obscure the public’s right to transparent government? Such are the questions we ask our county’s top elected officials.

Have you driven into Archuleta County lately, in particular from the west? We have noted a phenomenon here, several times; it bears another mention. Junk.

Seems the county has an ordinance intended to regulate this situation. But little regulation occurs.

The knee-jerk reaction to this lack of action would be to accuse county authorities of laziness or cite ineffective enforcement tools. But, perhaps, the problem goes deeper than that. No doubt, there is a lack of manpower — in particular at the county planning office where most of the leg work would be done. Not only must inspections reveal violations and citations must follow inspections, but considerable time must be spent in court in order to properly follow through on the matter.

There is yet another possible problem, more fundamental and troubling. Does the county have the ability to deal with the amount of junk that might follow issuance of more than a few citations and compliance on the part of violators? Is there enough room at the landfill? The answer is probably “no.” The cell currently in use at the landfill is stressed to the point that trash is regularly blown out of the area. Another cell, the next to be used, contained considerable water, and once the water was removed, the cell now contains sludge that must be dealt with before it is operational.

But, have you driven into the county from the west? Just as summer visitors will do in short order? In a community struggling to attract tourist business and revamp its real estate and construction industries, the sights to be seen on that drive are not encouraging.

The same criticism can be extended to town authorities. Have you driven down Put Hill recently? Something must be done.

As for our county commissioners’ continued indifference to the Sunshine Law, we can only wonder when it will be regarded by the public as a slap in the face.

The BoCC has been noticing a Tuesday meeting — “Weekly Meeting with Greg Schulte” — with no agenda revealed. A SUN reporter has observed the meeting taking place, with a quorum of commissioners present, with the door to the room closed — an obviously uninviting scenario. The BoCC has satisfied at least part of the law with the notice, but with the lack of an agenda the requirements of the law and the needs of the public are unmet. Is business being conducted? Are decisions being made? Without an agenda, there is little to know and little reason for the public to attend. We believe the public has a right to know what will be considered at a noticed meeting at which a quorum is likely. The public has the right to know what is at issue, and how and why decisions are made. To pretend to make a decision at a regular commissioners’ meeting, when the process occurred earlier, and out of sight, is disingenuous.

Also, we find in some BoCC notices the same old evasive lingo, such as a notice of a joint town/county session that lists “Topics of mutual interest.” If you know the items are of mutual interest, then you know what those items are. There is no reason they cannot be disclosed.

Transparency, guys. It matters. The best way to avoid suspicion is to lay all the cards possible on the table, face up. You are doing good work on many fronts, so do all your business in the clear light of day, with full disclosure of what that business might be.

Karl Isberg