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Dear Editor:

Holding a second job isn't usually considered a problem, but when it comes to taxpayer funded jobs, governments generally err on the side of caution. Delta County administrator Robbie LeValley doesn't have a problem, however, with one of her top department heads moonlighting for another government entity despite reports of absenteeism and distraction.

LeValley also doesn't seem to have a problem with, what looks like, time card fraud.

For almost five months, Elyse Ackerman Casselberry, Delta County's full-time community and economic development director and head of planning, has also been working an average of 25 hours per week as Collbran's town administrator and planner.

Casselberry's county timesheet -- signed by both Casselberry and LeValley -- and invoices to Collbran show considerable overlap in schedules between the two positions. On several occasions, Casselberry claims to have worked between 23 and 28 hours in a single day.

Between the two jobs, Casselberry is doing well financially, especially for a public servant. At an average of $14,424 per month, Casselberry's income from the taxpayers is in the top one percentile of all wage distribution shares in Delta and Mesa County. County Commissioner Don Suppes says Casselberry is "worth every penny."

And then there are the conflict of interest issues that could arise from Casselberry's duel roles -- beyond time-schedule conflicts and billing anomalies -- including disclosing non-public information, economic development competition, and public representation conflicts.

All of this adds up to a scandal by any definition. I'm going to call it DeltaGate because the greed and corruption seems to go all the way to the top.

JoAnn Kalenak
Hotchkiss

(Editor's note: In response to concerns JoAnn Kalenak expressed during a commissioners' business meeting, Casselberry wrote a response to the commissioners that reads in part:

"I want to be very clear with you and the public that the blog posted by Delta County Citizen Report, originally alluding to wrongdoing on my part, and then sliding into accusations of fraud in subsequent discussion posts and presented to you at your business meeting is malicious and unequivocally and intentionally misleading. DCCR has accused me of falsifying timesheets, failing to show up for scheduled days, and violating county "moonlighting" policies.

I have not falsified any timesheet or invoice. I do not dispute that Oct. 2 looks like a very busy day for me in that my timesheet and invoices show I worked more than a 20+ hour day. I would think a reasonable person would first question whether there is an error or reasonable explanation, but apparently jumping to accusations of fraud is the logical next step."

Casselberry attached her time log to the letter. She notes, "I decided to use a time log in August because I wanted to be certain that I could demonstrate that I am meeting my commitments to everyone. While DCCR found a discrepancy on Oct. 2, on my timesheet, I have gone back and taken a close look at my time log, and have noted differences.

"I have not committed time sheet fraud. I have simply tried to make one tracking system mesh with another tracking system. I will continue to analyze my time log. If I find any errors, I will make any necessary corrections."

She goes on to refute accusations that she and Robbie LeValley have violated the county's outside employment policy. As to conflicts of interests, she says no conflicts have arisen since she began working in Collbran. "In the unlikely event one arises, I will work with Robbie and the Town of Collbran to determine how to address it."

A separate article in this week's issue details the business meeting where commissioners' addressed Kalenak's concerns.)

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