MOFFAT—Since July, Robert Tafoya and his brother Virgil, also several other Moffat residents, have been protesting how the town of Moffat conducts its business and the introduction of marijuana grows within the city limits.
In the process of determining who might be growing cannabis locally, whether or not they are growing legally, who is providing water for the grows or whether wells used for the cultivation are properly adjudicated, local residents have encountered nothing but difficulty in obtaining documents, maps and previous ordinances and resolutions.
This is only one problem; other problems, residents point out, include conflicts of interest on the town board and difficulty receiving Colorado Open Records Act requests in a complete and timely manner. The Tafoyas, in attempting to unravel the zoning and water laws of the town, requested numerous records, and in so doing discovered the town is likely in violation of more than just the statutes regarding conflicts of interest and possibly state marijuana laws.
Exasperated by his inability to obtain a satisfactory answer from the town, Virgil Tafoya wrote several emails to Moffat Town Clerk Kristin Ecklund last month. The following is an excerpt from his last email, written Sept. 26.
“Recall that on our first visit to your office we asked for any records that served as policy, guidance, directives, instructions or guided the work of the board of trustees, the mayor and staff (also policy for employees, such as employee handbooks, job descriptions, lists of volunteers, the list of paid and unpaid positions), the town departments (including the heads of each) and chairs of special districts and sub-boards such as the zoning board, planning board or other commissions. Therefore, please take the time to notify me what other records the town of Moffat utilizes to conduct business become available. We did not request any more records, because of the disorganized system and process currently used by the town of Moffat as [you yourself] noted.
“We have been advised that former town of Moffat officials may have failed to transfer (as required by law) all the official town records at the expiration of heir tenure. The easiest solution is for the town of Moffat leadership produce the written documents/records that lists and itemizes the official records transferred between the previous custodians of records and/or the mayor, since 2000 (or the nearest change of administration to 2000). The current board of trustees and mayor decisions may be based on old policy that is not available for current decisions of zoning, annexation, water rights, taxes, development, licensing, Tabor rights, and property transfers may have been made without contacting all the citizens of the town of Moffat and affected Saguache County property owners.
“This is not a record request. It questions the capacity of the current town government to confirm they are in possession of all known records for the town of Moffat and includes a timely, orderly, accountable transfer of government documents that serve as a basis for current decisions by the board of trustees. The board [is] to “consult with the state about accountable, auditable records process” that allow any citizen access to records recording actions taken by the elected officials in accordance with C.R.S. and other laws. I will wait for the board of trustees to address the issue in an open meeting.
“The law requires the elected leaders of a town government to demonstrate the capacity to manage the governing of a municipality under the federal rules, state of Colorado laws, rules, regulations, local policy (ordinances, resolutions, history, traditions, local policy), and other associated governance. All this results in documented and recorded government processes managed by a system of records that is accountable and available to “we the people.”
“Please take the necessary action to honor our request or to advise what action will be taken.”
Ecklund claims Tafoya received all the town’s ordinances and can review any resolutions on request. The town hall, however is open only two hours every week, on Tuesdays, making fulfilling requests difficult. She claims the town is doing its best to fulfill the Tafoya’s requests in view of the circumstances.
Other Valley municipalities also have encountered the same problems in keeping up-to-date and reliable records that can be easily accessed for research and verification purposes by citizens. Moffat residents are scheduled to meet again soon to determine what further steps need to be taken.