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Carl Page threatens legal action against town

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Photo by Tamie Meck Town of Crawford attorney James Brown, third from right facing the audience, attended the Sept. 7 council meeting to discuss in executive session a letter to the town from Crawford resident Carl Page, lower right. Page has announced hi

A Crawford resident is threatening legal action against the Town of Crawford after a temporary civil protection order against him was dismissed in Delta County Court.

The order was filed against Carl Page by town clerk Cally Gallegos following a June 29 incident at Crawford Town Hall in which Page sought and was denied access to public documents. At an Aug. 2 hearing, Delta County Judge Sandra Miller dismissed the case.

In a letter from Page, dated Aug. 12 and addressed to the Town of Crawford, Mayor Wanda Gofforth, Gallegos and council members, Page claims the legal action was "frivolous," cost him $1,700 in legal fees, and caused defamation of character that affected his professional career as a registered nurse. Page offered to forego any legal action in lieu of a cash settlement of $50,000.

At the Sept. 7 trustee meeting, Page told council and town attorney James Brown, Gallegos "has cost the taxpayers of Crawford thousands of dollars in a frivolous complaint that you as town council and as individuals decided to pile in on."

"Only (trustee) Tammy Broughton had the decency to stand up and question it," he added. Broughton, who did not attend the Sept. 7 meeting, publicly expressed disapproval of the case and voted against paying the August bills due to an invoice to the Delta County Sheriff's Office for serving Page the protection order. Broughton is not mentioned in the Aug. 12 letter.

Page, who requested to be placed on the agenda, publicly stated his intentions, demanding a public apology to taxpayers and called for the resignation of Mayor Gofforth and for Gallegos to step down or be fired.

Page is concerned by the conduct of the mayor. When the town joined in the civil protection order there was no public discussion or vote to have Brown & Camp, LLC represent Gallegos or the town, or for the town to join in the suit, was ever held. Gofforth stated that she conducted a vote by phone, which is in violation of Colorado Sunshine Law.

Prior to the Aug. 2 hearing in Delta County Court, Page sent a letter to attorney Terry Camp, who represented the town at the hearing, stating that he would forego any legal action if the order is dismissed prior to the hearing.

In a subsequent e-mail, Page's attorney Michael Vaughn stated that Camp replied that the offer "was not acceptable." Vaughn explained that he asked Camp if council had held an executive session to discuss it, and Camp replied, "no, I just (asked) the mayor."

"I doubt she ever even called you on it," he told trustees. He said Gofforth's "personal despite of me caused her to go ahead with it anyway."

Page has a long history of disputes with the town council and was part of a recall election against former mayor Caroline "Susie" Steckel. When the town reduced public access to Town Hall from five to three days with no public hearing or comment, he protested and received a public apology from the mayor and each of the trustees. Town Hall remains open three days a week.

Crawford citizen Jay Ziegler also requested to be placed on the agenda. Ziegler asked Gofforth to repay the related legal fees to taxpayers, which as of last week totaled $4,618, according to town records, "And possibly step down."

"I guess I'm ashamed and appalled at what I saw from our mayor this summer," said Ziegler, referring to her testimony in Delta County Court. Ziegler chastised Gofforth and the town for joining the case and for tax dollars "paying for what happened in that court room. It was laughable, except I didn't know how much it was costing us."

Mayor Gofforth responded by presenting Ziegler and Page a copy of all of the town's legal fees incurred since 2011. Since they are complaining of legal fees, "We've done a little research," said Gofforth. She presented the document to Page and Ziegler, "for your convenience." Gofforth said the majority of legal fees since 2011 "have been caused by things that you, Mr. Ziegler, and Mr. Page have instigated."

The document includes hand-written reasons for many of the fees, of which the majority of labeled items were related to marijuana (MMJ) issues.

Both Page and Ziegler declined to accept the document, and Page reminded council that fees related to marijuana have nothing to do with him, since he was never licensed to sell marijuana.

Page gave the town until Sept. 15 to respond to the demands.

Mayor Gofforth declined to comment for this article on Page's threats of legal action against the town.

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