Paonia Mayor Neal Schwieterman began the town council meeting on Oct. 23 with a lengthy rebuke of the trustees who questioned the need and legality of an executive session concerning the 2011 audit.
The mayor and town attorney Jim Briscoe were both absent at the special town council meeting called for Oct. 12.
They had left specific instructions for mayor pro tem Corinne Ferguson to close the meeting immediately if anyone mentioned anything to do with the criminal case being investigated about suspected employee fraud.
The 2011 audit by Blair and Associates revealed that $401,063 is missing from the Town of Paonia and is attributed to employee fraud.
At the Oct. 23 town council meeting, Schwieterman said he wanted to make a lengthy announcement. He quoted the word "deplorable" from the Delta County Independent's Oct. 17 article on the special meeting. The word was used by a trustee to describe the mayor's and town attorney's absences at the special meeting.
"I'd like to remind council that at the staff meeting on Oct. 5 when the [Oct. 12] meeting was set on both date and agenda, I indicated our family's planned vacation . . . I'm glad to do my part helping out the town but my family is first," Schwieterman said.
"Perhaps we have a different set of values or perhaps we have some frustration at that meeting where nothing was really accomplished."
He then read from the Colorado Municipal League manual for elected officials. The topic was how government officials can better govern. He read, "Don't spring surprises on your fellow government body members or your city staff, especially at formal meetings. Surprises may get you some publicity at the embarrassment of others, but they tend to erode the team approach to government."
Trustee Brian Ayers said he didn't see the mayor's attendance at the special meeting as necessary. "Nothing on the table to be accomplished that day was life threatening," he said. "Our families come first." He said the mayor's attendance would not have changed the outcome of the meeting. "I support you 100 percent in not being there and being with your family."
The mayor said there had been a number of situations when the council has had some confrontational discussions. "I suggest a cooperative and respectful work environment be continued to the best of our ability as I believe it is most successful," Mayor Schwieterman said.
Trustee Eric Goold asked, "Is attendance at meetings mandatory?" The mayor said it was not.
Pete Blair of Blair and Associates later gave his review of the 2011 audit to the council and public at last Tuesday's meeting. "The council nor Pete Blair will be entertaining any questions referenced to the pending criminal case," the mayor said before the auditor spoke.blog comments powered by Disqus