Crawford residents forced to bear legal fees

By Carl Page

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the various facts, figures, and woes of the Crawford town budget. However, there is an obvious omission of the nearly $8,000 in legal fees approved by Mayor Gofforth and the town trustees. Multiple letters and articles of why taxpayer money was spent on a frivolous complaint have been published in the DCI. Judge Sandra Miller's decision said it all, Carl Page is not a threat to the Town of Crawford.

Unfortunately, the real threat to the town of Crawford is its public officials who still consider themselves above the laws that govern our state. On Nov. 15 I sent a letter to each council member showing discrepancies in requests that I made to the town clerk under the Colorado Open Record Act (CORA). In one of those requests I asked for minutes or other recordings between the mayor and council regarding the complaint filed against me.

The response I received from the clerk regarding minutes of any meeting between the mayor and council about this complaint, was that they "do not exist."

Mayor Gofforth wrote a letter to the DCI, Merchant Herald and the Shopper in which she said, "All correct procedures were followed for an executive meeting that was held on July 6. This was all recorded in the minutes of the meeting for June 15 and July 6, 2016. Those minutes were approved with a unanimous vote by the council." Obviously there is a discrepancy between they "do not exist" and the "unanimous" approval by the council.

In the same letter to the council, I mentioned another CORA request to the town clerk made on Nov. 9. In that request I asked who authorized "Help Your Town! Vote Yes on Mill Levy Increase" to be printed on the October town water bills. The clerk responded, "No document exists. There is no request for any public record." A municipality advocating for tax increases violates Colorado state elections code. I guess the October water bills sent out to the residents of Crawford containing "Vote Yes on Mill Levy Increase" don't exist either!

I indicated in my letter to the council that I was prepared to discuss these matters with them and included all my contact information. I haven't heard from any one of them. I also indicated in the same letter that I was prepared to seek whatever legal action necessary to remedy violations of CORA. Apparently, spending more of Crawford taxpayer money in legal fees is preferable to cleaning their own house.

In other letters to the DCI, I've been labeled a "sore loser." As the legal fee meter continues to run because the mayor and town council consider themselves above our laws, the real losers of Crawford are its citizens.

Carl Page