MOFFAT — Moffat landowner Bob Tafoya, citing the laws governing the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), requested information from Moffat Mayor Patricia Reigel Aug. 12 and still has not received the information he requested.
Under Colorado statutes, the party from whom the information is requested has three to seven days to respond to the request. If the request is denied, a plausible reason must be given explaining the denial. After submitting the request, the mayor objected that some items on the list were not specific enough, Tafoya said.
The requests submitted seem simple to fill, Tafoya said, with only one request possibly requiring research. The items he requested include a zoning map for the town and the date approved, any ordinance passed by the town showing that adjacent property owners do not need to be notified of impending zoning changes, a petition submitted to the board this spring opposing the growing of marijuana within the city limits and records for the past two years showing bids posted by the town for work and who was hired to do the work.
Tafoya admits the latter request would probably take some research to produce the records. He states Reigel quoted him $17 an hour on one set of documents and $30 an hour on another set. Tafoya feels this quote was not fair or justified.
Town Clerk/Treasurer Kristin Ecklund, when questioned Tuesday regarding Tafoya’s request for information from the town, said she had issued a response to Tafoya. Tafoya said he has not heard from the town. Ecklund commented further that “It is not true” such records must be provide within three business days.
She indicated the town had up to seven days to fulfill the request but this is true only when there are extenuating circumstances and if the one requesting the information has first been notified. Ecklund also complained about a previous article published in the Center Post-Dispatch regarding the Moffat board.
An ACLU guide to CORA requests reads:
“If the records are available, they should be provided immediately. If the records are available (not in active use or storage), then the records should be open for inspection, or copied, immediately and without delay, at reasonable times during the business day.
If the records are not immediately available, the agency should provide them within three to seven business days. If the records are in active use, storage, or are otherwise not readily available, the custodian should provide them to you within three business days, unless extenuating circumstances exist, in which case the custodian may take up to seven business days to copy the records or make them available for inspection.
If the custodian believes that extenuating circumstances exist, he or she must provide you with a written statement within three business days of receiving the request explaining why an extension of time is necessary. CORA permits the custodian to request an extension of up to seven days on the following grounds:
Your request is so vague that the custodian cannot identify all the documents requested within three business days;
Your request is very broad and the agency is unusually and exceptionally busy with an impending deadline, and therefore cannot process the request within 3 business days;
You’ve requested legislative records while the state legislature is in session;
Your request is so broad that the custodian cannot gather the records within three business days.”
If the above stipulations required by law are not followed, the request is to be considered as not filled in a timely manner.
In his CORA, Tafoya noted he had forwarded the request to the attorney general’s office and the district attorney, and this was not well received by Reigel, he said. But because he has been requesting this information for months, he felt it was not an unreasonable precaution.
Last month it was reported that several Moffat residents, some of them formerly involved in town government, are questioning the ethics of the town’s board after Tafoya was thrown out of a board meeting for trying to record the proceedings. Other concerns include the town’s plan to sell water to marijuana growers and concerns that conflicts of interest have plagued the board for years.
Tafoya and a fellow Moffat landowner sat down Monday to discuss the situation further and express their frustration regarding the way the town handles government affairs. “They don’t follow their agenda, they don’t publish their finances, there are no [available] written minutes and there are severe conflicts of interest,” Tafoya explained “They won’t even listen to their own town lawyer.”
Eric Schwiesow of Alamosa is the town’s attorney. Tafoya said that after he made the accusation of conflicts of interest at a July meeting, the town denied there are any conflicts of interest in their dealings.
“They were fighting against each other at one meeting about who’s selling water and then they were still talking after ending the meeting,” Tafoya’s friend said, referring to a later meeting he attended. Many water issues and well permitting issues are in question, he continued, but the town is not providing any answers.
Some board members are related, although one related member recently resigned. A town employee and two board members remain who are related by blood or relationship ties. The trustees listed on the town’s website include Chad Ginger, Travis Mayo, Zach Schwartz, Kelly Smith, Betty Skoglund and Ken Skoglund. Kristin Ecklund is the town’s clerk/treasurer.
According to Tafoya, Ginger and Mayo have resigned. Tafoya especially questions the dealings of trustee Ken Skoglund who he says provides water to some of the marijuana growers.
He hopes the documents requested from the town will shed some light on the source of the problems.