Brunner makes a case for transparency, fairness

By Bill Brunner


Dear Editor:

The Paonia town attorney, working from incomplete facts, has concluded I violated several laws and the other Paonia trustees violated none. I disagree. I retained my own legal counsel some time ago, and based on those consultations am confident in my position. I am not allowed any meaningful defense in front of the board. Thank you to the editor of the DCI for the opportunity to speak on these pages.

Here are some details about why I think the Colorado open meetings law was violated during the Hawk's Haven Road negotiations. In 100+ pages of documents released to the public as a result of a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request, is an email from the town attorney, to Hawk's Haven, that begins: "These documents have not been reviewed by the mayor or the public works committee so there may be further revisions ...." While he goes on to reiterate that the board has the final say, what I see is a statement, by the attorney, that three elected officials were involved in exclusive communications, about a matter of town business, that was headed to the board for a vote. I think this is the definition of a violation of Colorado's open meetings law. Other emails from Mr. Bradford involving three elected officials are merely additional evidence. I had asked to be included in these discussions, obviously including the rest of the board, and was ignored.

I advise the residents of Paonia to be vigilant in their dealings with this town council. For example, are town water rates too high? According to the town clerk, for May, Paonia mailed 114 late notices, issued 16 red tags and scheduled five shutoffs. For June, 143 "late notices to avoid shutoff," and began foreclosure proceedings on three properties. Are 15 percent of the households in Paonia in trouble on their water bills? It is my position that the latest round of water price hikes was unnecessary. The mayor and other trustees used parliamentary maneuvers to prevent me from even presenting a full case as to why. Our soon to be trustee, Mr. King, is already spearheading a move to squeeze more taxes out of Paonia. The rest of the board, save Trustee Watson, seems eager to go along. If anyone wants to go into detail on of any of this, I can be reached at 970-270-9595 or Bill4council@paoniairon.com.

Bill Brunner
Paonia