Goals of Fraser Rec District recall election would greatly damage community
To the Editor:Pat Rupert’s recent letter to the editor inspired me to brush up on my election law and investigate the facts of Mr. Rupert’s legal challenge of the November referendum to construct a recreation center in this community. I would like to share what I learned with the community: Mr. Rupert filed a lawsuit challenging the election and was represented in a limited capacity by Kevin Davlin, an Illinois-based attorney, who became licensed to practice law in Colorado on October 23, 2007, exactly two weeks before the referendum took place. It makes me wonder whether he and Mr. Rupert were planning to challenge the referendum as fraudulent, should it pass, before the referendum even occurred. The case was heard by Judge Hill, who was brought down from Steamboat to ensure that an unbiased Judge reviewed the case. I had heard that Mr. Rupert’s lawsuit was dismissed based upon a technicality. Not so. The lawsuit was dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, meaning that even if everything that Mr. Rupert claimed in his complaint were true, it would not be enough, according to Colorado Law, to overturn the referendum. The Secretary of State also reviewed Mr. Rupert’s claim and allegations and decided to uphold the referendum result. Mr. Rupert said in an article published in this paper on January 22 that there were other issues that he would have raised in Court. If there were other issues why didn’t Mr. Rupert address them while the case was still in Court? They should have been included either in his initial complaint or he could have asked for permission from the Court to file an amended complaint. Mr. Rupert failed to do either. The case is closed. Twice reviewed, twice dismissed. The referendum is final and according to Colorado Law represents a mandate of the voters in this community to build a recreation center. If Mr. Rupert disagreed with the Judge’s ruling, he could have filed an appeal up to the Colorado Court of Appeals and if he was denied, then he could have appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. Mr. Rupert, however, in an article contained in this paper on January 22 stated that he would not appeal because it was too expensive.I find it ironic that Mr. Rupert is so frugal with his own money but has expressed no concern about the financial issues he has caused the Recreation District and the taxpayers of this community or will cause all of us in the entire County if he is successful in halting construction of the recreation center. The Concerned Citizens have filed an action with the Court and are circulating petitions to recall three current Recreation District Board Members. If the Concerned Citizens’ slate is elected to replace the current members, they will attempt to achieve their stated goal of reversing the bond and halting construction of the recreation center. Is this a case of sour grapes? Indeed so, the Concerned Citizens would benefit little from halting construction of the recreation center. In fact, the following would likely occur: The County’s bond rating would be decimated, causing the cost of any major capital public improvement for our community to be dramatically more expensive than if we preserve the County’s bond rating by fulfilling the voter mandate to build the recreation center. The Recreation District would not only default on its agreement with the bond provider, but also on contracts with the numerous local contractors hired to build the recreation center such as: Big Valley Construction, Conroy Excavating, Morrow & Sons Construction, Penley Concrete, B&J Plumbing, T&C Concrete, the Roofing Company, Thomas Mason Co., and Mountain Top Drywall. These companies have budgeted time for this work and consequently have not taken on other work. Ask yourself if you know anyone that owns or works for these companies. This is not an easy time for the construction industry and losing a project of this scope could be devastating. By the time the concerned citizen’s slate of new Recreation District Board Members could be elected, the Recreation District would have spent over half of the project budget somewhere around $7 million. Is the community really ready to let that money go to waste? Are we willing to accept another James Peak Lodge debacle and eyesore? If the Concerned Citizens are elected in a recall and halt construction of the recreation center, I can guarantee taxpayers would file an injunction to prevent the newly elected Board from intentionally defaulting on the Recreation District’s contracts with the bond provider and other contractors. Furthermore, it is important to understand that while those who sit on a special district board cannot be sued for negligence because they are protected by governmental immunity, they can be sued individually for intentional acts or reckless behavior. Intentionally breaking contracts could constitute an intentional act, as well as reckless behavior.While I understand that an appeal of the Court’s ruling in Mr. Rupert’s initial lawsuit would have been expensive for Mr. Rupert, it was the proper way to contest the referendum. The question is no longer do we build a recreation center, it is do we stop building the recreation center?The project has moved forward and failure to build it now would result in huge losses for the Recreation District, the taxpayers, the local contractors working on the project, and the children who have been promised a recreation center. So, despite the expense that an appeal would have cost Mr. Rupert, he and the rest of the Concerned Citizens need to consider the expense that this community will incur if they are successful in trying to halt construction of the recreation center.When you see those recall petitions circulating, stop and ask yourself whether these Concerned Citizens are still really concerned about what is best for this community.David MichelWinter Park
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