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Facts do not matter to Bill Brunner

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Dear Editor:

Mr. Brunner is a former Paonia town trustee. He resigned on June 14, 2017. When he resigned, the board was considering his removal for violating "state statutes, the Paonia Municipal Code, and the Rules of Procedure adopted by the board." He is now running for re-election. Facts do not matter to Bill Brunner.

On Oct. 29, 2015, Mr. Brunner appeared on the Buchanan Report and claimed that $250,000 was stolen from the town in 2013. He stated that "a quarter of a million dollars disappeared in 2013 while the person being held for the earlier theft was already in jail." He went on to accuse members of the current board of being "duped or complicit" in the theft. The truth is Kristin Chesnik stole money from the town from 2005-2011. No theft occurred in 2013. The only thing that happened in 2013 was that the board, which did not include any current members, wrote off a $250,000 account receivable generated by the Chesnik theft. The accounting entry was clearly explained in the 2013 audit. Despite this, Mr. Brunner made his outrageous allegations.

During his campaign in 2016, Mr. Brunner mailed a letter to Paonia voters stating that the town's former clerk who was suing the town following her removal "may have a very good case," that the town's insurance coverage was "capped at $100,000" and "if she wins there could be a liability of $900 per household." Clearly, he wanted to create the impression that the citizens of Paonia were financially at risk. The truth was the town had $5,000,000 in coverage, the former clerk's case had no merit and her case was dismissed by the court. The town was awarded its costs.

When Mr. Brunner was running in 2016, the fact that the town receives no net income from the airport was discussed.Mr. Brunner objected to the town attempting to increase its revenue from the airport. During these discussions, Mr. Brunner denied owning an airplane. He was technically correct but misleading; he owned a glider.

On May 24, 2017, on KVNF and in a letter to the editor in the DCI, Mr. Brunner claimed that "negotiations regarding the Hawks Haven road agreement were carried out with the involvement of three elected officials who excluded the rest of the board in the process."

He claimed that "town business was being conducted in secret by a subgroup of trustees." All of this was apparently based upon an innocent mistake a board member made when he accidently copied two other board members on an email reply to the town attorney.

The Hawks Haven road issue was discussed for years in committee meetings, open meetings, and executive sessions. The board, including Mr. Brunner, discussed the proposed agreement in detail in an executive session immediately prior to its approval. Mr. Brunner voted to approve the agreement.

In a letter to the editor published in the DCI on June 21, 2017, Mr. Brunner stated that I "acted beyond" my "office by improper participation in an employee complaint." He has again asserted this claim. Without going into the details, my role was limited to communicating with the employee as directed by CIRSA, the town's insurance carrier. Mr. Brunner is well aware of this fact.

In recent letters Mr. Brunner and his wife have attacked Trustee Bradford for the work that Trustee Bradford has done to revitalize the area around the miner's statue in the park. In doing so, the Brunners misstated the cost of the project, the amount of public involvement, and the requirements of the board's purchasing policy. They also defamed Trustee Bradford's character.

In his candidate profile, which appeared in the March 7 DCI, Mr. Brunner states, "I believe there have been unorthodox changes to the town's books. I asked the auditor to examine a particular group of transactions and verify that nothing is amiss."

Mr. Brunner is again suggesting corruption or incompetence where none exists. The town's books have been thoroughly audited by a highly qualified accounting firm.

Mr. Brunner's false statements described in this letter are only some of the false statements he has made. Mr. Brunner's false statements are very damaging to the town. First, without accurate information, the public cannot make informed decisions. Second, many of Mr. Brunner's statements are defamatory. The town needs good people to serve on the board, and it needs to retain qualified staff. Good people won't continue to serve and qualified staff will leave if they are forced to spend their time fighting false accusations regarding their competency and ethics. If the people of the town want good government, they must demand that this irresponsible behavior end.

Charles Stewart
Town of Paonia

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