Letter: Grand County deserves better
To the Editor:
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistently moral and ethical standards. In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.
Integrity is important for politicians because they are chosen, appointed, or elected to serve society. In order to be able to serve, politicians are given power in their positions to make, execute, or control policy. They have the power to influence something or someone.
There is, however, a risk that this power will not be used by politicians to serve society. Aristotle said that because rulers have power they will be tempted to use it for personal gain. It is important that politicians withstand this temptation, and that requires integrity. Furthermore, integrity is not just about why a politician acts in a certain way, but also about who the politician is. Questions about a person’s integrity cast doubt not only on their intentions but also on the source of those intentions, the person’s character. So integrity is about having the right ethical virtues that become visible in a pattern of behavior. Important virtues of politicians are faithfulness, humility and accountability. Furthermore, they should be authentic and a role model. (Wikipedia)
Is this not what we expect from our county officials? The recent actions of Commissioner James Newberry and County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran speak otherwise. I am beyond appalled at each new allegation toward these individuals. Commissioner Newberry wrongfully double-charged for mileage when attending Colorado River District meetings, charged the county mileage for meetings he DID NOT even attend. “I regret this error, and I’m truly sorry for the mistake,” Newberry said in a statement. “I think it is quite clear that my bookkeeping / reporting skills need a lot of improvement.”
REALLY? A BOOKKEEPING ERROR? Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown previously told the Sky-Hi News that the “double-dipping” of mileage was “the only issue that we feel constituted criminal conduct.” Brown added that it was “conceivable” that a revised complaint could include charges that cannot be adjudicated in Grand County Court, ostensibly meaning felonies.
Mr. Newberry accepted campaign contributions that were not reported during the election cycle as required by the Secretary of State. Tim Griesmer, a spokesman with secretary of state’s office, said failing to disclose campaign contributions likely violates statute 1-45-108 of Colorado’s election law, which dictates the reporting requirements for candidate committees. “Under the Colorado constitution anyone who is accepting a donation as a candidate is accepting a donation for a candidate committee,” Griesmer said. Newberry did not register a candidate committee in either election, which made him ineligible to accept campaign contributions. A copy of a $300 check from developer Scott Bradley to Newberry dated Sept. 26, 2012, was presented to the Sky-Hi News. Bradley, a Denver-based developer, confirmed that the check was a campaign contribution.
Lurline Underbrink Curran’s job requires her to oversee all actions of the county’s employees, verifying income and expenditures for ALL departments. Mr. Newberry billed the county for 193 miles to travel to a meeting in Breckenridge. He then billed the county 80 miles for the same trip, indicating that he rode half the distance with County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran. Did she not “remember” that they had traveled together and that Mr. Newberry had already been reimbursed for this meeting?
And of course there is still this issue of the missing $500,000 from the Building Department. The grand jury report, dated Oct. 15, 2014, is trenchant in its criticism of county officials, stating, “There is significant negligence, mismanagement and lack of leadership within the Grand County government.” The report also details what the grand jury considered to be a culture of mismanagement among county officials, describing County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran as “a county manager without any actual duties of oversight or power to manage most of the departments within the county.” The report describes Underbrink Curran’s role in the county as an intermediary for complaints between county departments and county commissioners.
Who exactly benefits from this? The citizens of Grand County deserve better than this. We need to move forward and demand honesty and integrity from all our county officials. What do you say Grand County? Let’s demand our officials have faithfulness, humility, accountability and moral uprightness!
Kathy and Tom Weydert
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US Forest Service officials have closed Willow Creek Reservoir in Grand County because of a potential blue-green algae bloom.