CRESTONE— What does the governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan and government entities in Saguache County have in common? The answer will not surprise some county residents who have been concerned for a long time about conflicts of interest and their impact on county residents.
Bayardo Reno Sandy, who recently presented a request to the Baca Grande Property Owner’s Association (BGPOA) to “cease and desist” certain practices that he feels violate civil liberties, has formally notified the attorneys representing the POA that they are in violation of conflict of interest laws and federal statutes prohibiting housing discrimination.
To illustrate his point, Sandy cites an example of such conflicts from the book Thieves of State by author Sarah Chayes, recently interviewed by Rachel Maddow. Chayes tells the story of the governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan who refused to allow his subjects to rebuild their homes traditionally constructed with stone and build them with concrete instead. Not so coincidentally the governor is also the owner of a concrete plant in Kandahar (http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/expert-sees-risk-of-corruption-in-trump-foreign- government-deals-1078287427951).
The moral of Chayes’ story is that once corruption begins in any given area it is bound to spread. Sandy points to Russia’s broad scope of influence in American politics as proof of this assertion. And he believes this principle is at work today in the POA.
Sandy wrote a cease and desist letter to the POA Oct. 16 which was summarized in a previous issue of the Center Post-Dispatch. Since the summary of that letter appeared, he says, “I have been approached by neighbors and POA members and some of them related their experience of intimidation in choosing to hire local contractors who were also members of the POA Board, so their permits would not be delayed [in] any fashion. I am currently in the process of obtaining such testimonies as affidavits.”
A former board member, Diane Dunlap, also volunteered information of her experience with discrimination on a private page forum sponsored by Facebook. There she wrote: “These new EAC guidelines [published not long ago by the POA] were intended to discourage illegal marijuana growers and blight but are punishing sincere home builders as well. ...” Dunlap is the owner of local marijuana dispensaries.
Sandy notes that it is “a conflict of interest having a trailer park belonging to the POA and punishing poor lot owners for having to pay extra rent for not having money to build in a very short span of time.” He also accuses certain POA members of “tak[ing] nonpaying roles inside the POA to advance their own professional careers when hired by members of the POA. [It also is] an inherit conflict of interest when members of the board who have the right to approve and deny permits are actively hired by the same people who are filing the permits.”
Sandy concludes by observing that “The Law Office of Moeller Graf P.C. has been hired by the POA to look after the interest of the POA members and not the interest of the POA Board.” He charges certain POA officials with illegally deriving benefits from POA members and cites state statutes.
“For [the] Law Office of Moeller Graf P.C. to continue to allow such violations…without justification may expose the Law Office of Moeller Graf P.C. to a malpractice determination by Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, a subdivision of the Colorado Supreme Court.”
As a remedy, he suggests that Moeller and Graf “instruct the POA Board that no member of the…board should ever be in conflict of interest, and never be in violation of CRS Title 38 and subsections of Article 33 Should anyone volunteer or be elected to have a paying or nonpaying role in the POA, that person should sign a non-conflict of interest clause and not take any account or work for hire in the Baca grounds for as long as such employment is engaged and continuing, not taking any work for one year after such termination occurs.”
Recent observations regarding conflicts of interest have also surfaced in Moffat, the town of Saguache and over the years, in Saguache County itself. An initiative is currently underway by other Baca Grande residents to disband the POA.
Any response from the law offices of Moeller and Graf will be duly published in the future.