Rearranging the Hearing Room Chairs

Recently, I received a question from one of my freedom loving Facebook friends. She asked, “Are there any rules about re-voting on something if it is voted down? A Waiting period?” (Thanks for asking Ann!)

Right away, a state senator answers with the Rules from State Legislation. Perfect right? Nope, this is a local issue. I chimed in: Local as in county or town? She replied: Town.

Me: Home rule?

Nope, statutory town.

Hum. Well, it depends. We are back to the beginning. What rules do they follow? I wish the blanket answer was ‘Robert’s Rules of Order” as we (graduating from high school 1981 or earlier) were taught.

Not so fast taxpayer. Not so fast.

The rules have changed. Greatly. While you have been hard at work, getting married, raising a family, going to church, piano lessons, school recitals, sporting events, band practice, scouts, 4-H, and vacations (you get the picture), the local unelected bureaucrats (town, city or county employees) have rearranged the chairs in the hearing rooms.

Yep! Now, to speak to the local elected board, there are set times that the public can speak. No more “dropping by” for a quick convo about the water issue down on Main Street with your representative (the one you voted for). To add insult to injury, most of the time they aren’t even there. You need to make an appointment or come to the beginning of the scheduled meeting or sit and wait for the “appropriate time” that the public is pre-arranged to speak, per the agenda. Most of the meetings don’t even allow for the elected official to answer your question in the meeting.

Control. It’s all about control. Not following rule of law, not listening to the taxpayer, and not even following the “internal policies” that the unelected bureaucrats changed years ago and conveniently "forgot” when you caught them. There’s the rub. When you caught them. As soon as a citizen starts asking for a document explaining the rules that must be followed, the doors of the local building (that you paid for) start to shut as fast as a pending tornado heading your way.

When the Exhausted Taxpayer, from neglecting their personal life (see above list) begins to investigate any local government misappropriation, the town, city, county (take your pick) manager shouts that you need to fill out a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) form. The staff shuts up and waits for the form to be filled out.

Ms. Exhausted waits. For 72 business hours. She usually receives a few documents with a return form stating that there are more documents available, however, due to the time and labor of retrieving said documents, “Please provide us with X number of dollars to continue the research you requested.” Yep, the local government needs more money. More of your (now it's really personal) hard earned dollars just to find out if the local entity is following their own rules. Unbelievable.

Folks, we are at a tipping point in local government. Gone are the days of local government as we knew it. Unelected bureaucrats have been meeting for years at conferences, sharing with each other the best strategies for moving away from Ms. Exhausted Taxpayer. Their excuse is the need to get the “efficient” government model that their current insatiable, power hungry elected boss wants.

Recently, there was a town manager conference to learn new tactics on how to change fire codes. Answer: get rid of the current fire chief and promote one that will carry the town board's wishes. Boom. Done. None of the taxpayers even saw it happen. Now, that town has heaps of new building fire codes to follow. All with an additional fee. Imagine that. More money.

So, what are the rules for the board? Well, it depends. What day is it today? Good luck!