Untangling the Green Mountain Water Board mess

With a recall election looming, key players speak out about the District’s future

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/17/21

Tuesday, Oct 5, a special recall election will take place. At stake — three seats on the Green Mountain Water and Sanitation District board. The recall effort is the latest skirmish in a war …

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Untangling the Green Mountain Water Board mess

With a recall election looming, key players speak out about the District’s future

Posted

Tuesday, Oct 5, a special recall election will take place. At stake — three seats on the Green Mountain Water and Sanitation District board. The recall effort is the latest skirmish in a war that’s been fought since at least 2018.

The election will be conducted by mail-in ballot. The ballots, required to be mailed between 15 and 22 days prior to the election date, should be arriving in voters’ mailboxes any day now. Those ballots can be returned to a drop-off location between now, and 7 p.m. on Oct. 5.

But how did we get here? And what happens next?

Murky water board recap

In 2018, former members of the board entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that would have expanded their District’s reach, and in the process, supply sewage service to Big Sky Metropolitan District to help bring sewer waste from Big Sky’s system to Denver Water. 

The board of directors for Green Mountain approved the agreement, but later that same day the outcome of district elections changed three of the board members. The new members immediately moved to invalidate the IGA.

Big Sky filed a lawsuit in response, arguing a breach of contract, and seeking $140 million in damages.

Green Mountain Water District’s attorney at the time, Jo Deziel Timmins, argued provisions in the IGA would require costly improvements to the district’s infrastructure. And since the IGA gave no indication of how those improvements would be paid for — it amounted to a violation of TABOR (Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights) which requires voters approval of the expense. In May,

Jefferson County District Court Judge Jason D. Carrithers issued a ruling dismissing the case.

But the dismissal of the Big Sky case wasn’t the end of the drama. A recall petition circulated to remove three board members — two of which, helped scrap the IGA to begin with. The third vote to dissolve the IGA came from Board President, Adrienne Hanagan.

Soon, Jeff Baker, Board V.P., Alex Plotkin, Board Secretary and Karnen Morgan, Board Treasurer, will find out if they’ll serve out their elected terms or be replaced. 

If voters give Baker, Plotkin and Morgan the boot — what then? Several candidates have stepped up to replace them but it’s unclear what the end game of the recall will be.

The recall petition lists legal fees incurred and other financial mismanagement as reasons Baker, Plotkin and Morgan should lose their board seats. It also accuses them of shutting down public comment at board meetings and general disrespect for constituents. 

Timmons, far from being hailed as a legal wizard for wining dismissal of the Big Sky lawsuit has been fired from her post by the three board members facing recall. Replacing her is Scott Gessler. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Gessler, a republican, is the former Colorado Secretary of State. He has been in and out of the news since then, haveng been found guilty of ethics violations for spending government money on travel to a political event while in office, running for governor, running for state party chair of the GOP and most recently serving as attorney for the unsuccessful pro-recall campaign of several Westminster City Councilmembers over water rates.

For her part, Morgan says she’s done nothing wrong and she’s unclear about the motives of the recall effort. Regarding charges of silencing public comment at meetings, she says she pushed for a specific public comment period to bring more order to meetings that had in her opinion been chaotic. In response to allegations that she didn’t produce financial reports, she says she was operating the same way her predecessors had. 

Morgan says she would like to retain her seat on the board if possible.

Brenda Bronson, one of the main recall backers, wants Morgan gone.

Bronson said even removing one of the three members facing recall would be a victory. And in her opinion, Morgan is the one who should go. She thinks Morgan has been the main cause of disfunction on the board since her arrival in 2020. Bronson admits the ouster of all three board members could create a scenario that would open the door again to the Blue Sky development deal. 

In Bronson’s opinion, the problem with the original IGA was simply the way things would be paid for. 

“Rich people own that land and they’re going to develop it anyway,” she said. “We have the capacity to send sewage water from that area to Denver Water in our pipes. If an agreement’s not done, it could lead to them having to build another treatment plant in Rooney Valley.” 

The newspaper reached out to Plotkin and Baker to allow them the opportunity to weigh in on the controversy and answer accusations directed in them in the recall petition. Both agreed to speak, but due to press deadlines those interviews will appear in a future edition.

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