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Water group attempts to quell unease

The Water Supply Community Work Group held a special session Monday to discuss procedural and personality conflicts. The special session was called jointly by Bill Hudson and Allan Bunch.

Bunch, a member of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, volunteered to chair the meeting. Bunch said, “For the past month the committee has been concentrating on things other than water. It is time to put it all behind us and get back to the water.”

The goal of the meeting was to determine if group members Bill Hudson and Cynda Green, both of whom have written articles for a local website, should be removed from the committee for their involvement in the media.

Group member Glenn Robinson stated that he was “against any media being on board; a good attempt was made in the beginning, but as the group evolves we need to move on and establish new guidelines. It’s hard to un-ring a bell.” Robinson was referring to an article written by Cynda Green immediately after a committee meeting. Several members of the committee indicated they thought the information in the article wasn’t correct.

Bruce Dryburgh indicated he was “distressed that personal e-mails were distributed to the entire committee.” Green reportedly had a conflict with other board members and brought the issue to the entire committee at a Nov. 3 meeting.

Committee member Jan Jorgensen said, “Where we did agree in the beginning press was important? … In order to move the committee along back to water and accomplish tasks, we probably need to remove the press.”

Another member, Dusty Pierce, said he was “sorry to see that the purpose of the committee had been sidetracked” and urged others to not let personal feelings get in the way. He expressed interest “in continuing and going forward, if we can do that, and being respectful of everyone.”

John Ranson, Archuleta County Commissioner, voiced his opinion at the Monday meeting saying, “I’ve watched from the beginning ... full credibility is being added back in. I would hate to see it unravel.”

Some members of the group indicated they were not happy with the articles written by Hudson and Green and the role they played in the infighting among group members, and expressed concern that much of the information in the articles dealt more with personal opinion than reports of the proceedings at a meeting.

Steve Van Horn, who left the group and is considering returning, said, “Right, wrong, or indifferent ... this had really been just an entire group distraction for the past month and a half.” Van Horn said his opinion was that, if he were causing the group to be distracted, he would remove himself and said he really didn’t see why it was important that Hudson remain on the committee. Van Horn went on to say that, “The worst thing would be for the group to disband.”

As the meeting continued, Green defended her position by saying, “I did absolutely nothing wrong. I published one article and there isn’t one thing wrong with it. I really don’t want to write for the water group anymore.”

In response to Hudson and Green’s comments, committee member Val Valentine said, “Speech is free. My real concern is, I read the article and is it what was discussed at the meeting or is it editorial? I almost didn’t come today because there wasn’t one word of water on the agenda.”

Group members made it clear they did not want anyone in the group profiting financially from writing about it. Valentine spoke up and said, “Come to the group and write all you want. It’s not right. I’m not gonna support anything not true, accurate, and right.”

The group went on to discuss options to resolve issues — including formation of an advisory committee, and creating a public relations committee to oversee all communications before they are released.

Robinson then made a motion that Hudson be removed from the committee.

Bunch responded, saying, “I would hope that you retract the motion.”

Valentine then offered, “I can’t see removing someone; we are a volunteer group.”

Van Horn said, “Regardless if you’re press or not, if I thought I was distracting the group, I would remove myself.” He then asked Hudson, “Are you willing to resign? Is that even a possibility?”

Hudson responded by saying, “I would much rather be on the committee and not write. I want our group to decide on how the press is addressed; I want to be on the fees committee if I have an option. I won’t write unless asked. I think it is very important work.”

The conversation continued with the suggestion of creating a public relations committee and trying to find middle ground. Valentine said he was against a PR committee and made a motion to end the debate. The discussion continued, however, as members tried to find options other than throwing two people out of the group.

Bunch interjected, saying, “We are just going around in circles.” A motion was made that Hudson and Green be asked to remove themselves from the group. The motion did not pass.

Dryburgh stated, “Subcommittees have come to a screeching halt and we need to get them back to work.” Jim Smith then asked Van Horn if he “would come back if all the bickering stops.” Van Horn indicated that he would.

Hudson then made a motion stating that anyone can join the water group or subcommittees but cannot write about group matters unless the material goes through a PR committee process, and that any e-mails between members be sent to everyone. The first half of the motion passed, the second half did not. It was agreed that no member of the group will write anything for public release about the group.

This did not sit well with all members, since it could limit the ability of any member to write anything about meetings.

Dryburgh went on to point out another of his concerns: “Pagosa Daily Post does use fictitious names. My concern is that we are going to be right back where we were at noon.” Hudson replied: “I won’t publish any articles about the water committee.”

With that, Hudson made a motion clarifying that no media member of the committee will write anything for public release. The motion carried with seven votes for, one against and two abstentions.

A motion was then made that debate be concluded. It carried and the meeting ended with Valentine stating, “I don’t think we need all those rules.”