OPINION

To the editor:

I was very disappointed to see the actions of the board of trustees regarding the appointment made to the trustee vacancy that came open because of Mayor Karspeck winning the mayoral race and thus vacating his seat as trustee.

Worse than the board deciding not to fill the vacancy with the “next-highest vote-getter” is many of the old tactics of misinformation that were so much a part of Berthoud politics in years past seem to be alive and well again.

These tactics resulted in the ill-considered overturn of the Haworth annexation (Initiative 241) and the changing of annexation requirements on the west boundary of Berthoud (Initiative 242). The claim by Mayor Pro-Tem Hindman that the Haworth annexation was “improper” is completely false. It was reviewed by town staff, the board of trustees, the town attorney, and an outside attorney, all of whom found the annexation was completely proper. Also, the statements made that the Haworth property would be developed at a much higher density if annexed by Berthoud were completely false. In fact, now that the property is being developed (in the county, instead of as part of Berthoud) the overall density is actually slightly higher than what was originally proposed to the town. It is also important to understand in recent history the town has only considered annexation requests initiated by the private property owner, as was the case with the Haworth family.

As to Initiative 242, the new stipulation that any new annexation to the west of Berthoud requires a vote of the entire town nearly cost the town a fantastic new trailhead and recreation property connected to Heron Lakes. If the developers had not been so committed to the Town of Berthoud, they could have much more quickly, easily and at less expense, developed the property as they saw fit in the county, with no input from Berthoud. Another interesting question is, if requiring a vote to annex to the west was such a good idea, why not the north, south or east? Definitely a special-interest group from the west was in play.

Both of these ill-conceived initiatives were pushed through based on a campaign of misinformation and half truths.

And now, at the May 1, 2018, board meeting Trustee Dower stated she “had done the research” and “had the vote counts” to show the last time there was a vacancy on the board, it did not go to the “next-highest vote-getter.” The information not mentioned was… 1) The example she was using was not a post-election vacancy. The previous election had been over a year-and-a-half earlier, with another election coming quickly. 2) It takes many months for a new board member to get up to speed on the topics being worked by the town. The person selected by the board to fill the trustee opening had been on the board when many of the topics in process were first proposed and was still fully engaged with the relevant issues because of membership on the planning commission as well as other citizen committees. The “next-highest vote-getter” at the election more than a year-and-a-half earlier (Mayor Pro-Tem Hindman) was not involved in any municipal commissions or committees. The person selected was deemed the best qualified of those who applied to “hit the ground running” and make good decisions for the citizens of Berthoud until the coming election. 3) The person selected was not going to run in the coming election. This meant, on top of all the other advantages, this short appointment would not be used as an advantage over other candidates in the coming election.

It was sad to see Mayor Pro-Tem Hindman, who was a staunch advocate for a vacancy going to the “next highest vote-getter” for at least 18 years, suddenly change his stance when he, or the candidate he preferred would not benefit from that stance. So much for principles.

That, on top of the ethical questions raised by sitting board members contacting each other and trustees-elect via phone and email outside of the public process to advocate and organize support for anyone, let alone someone who didn’t run in the last election, has cast a shadow over town government again. Berthoud does not need this and deserves better.

As citizens we all need to make sure we educate ourselves and hold our elected representatives responsible for being completely forthcoming with all relevant information, not just information that supports their often-predetermined decisions. I commend Mayor Karspeck and Trustee Tomassi for standing on principle in supporting the “next highest vote-getter” for the vacancy.

Honest differences of opinion are a good thing in an elected body. But shifting principles, lack of full disclosure, and distorting facts, cannot be tolerated.

I wish the new board well but need them to know they are being watched.

Chris Buckridge, Former town trustee

Berthoud

 

 

 

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