good intentions run amok

Rio Grande County oil and gas decision delayed again

Posted: Thursday, Jan 24th, 2013
By Judy Applewhite

DEL NORTE—First Liberty Energy, Inc. is seeking conditional use permit to drill for oil in the Old Woman’s Creek area near Del Norte.

The company has already received a permit from the Colorado Division of Oil and Gas, COGCC. Rio Grande county commissioners called a public hearing on Jan. 16 to give the locals a chance to weigh in on the decision process. . .

See whole story: Rio Grande County oil and gas decision delayed again

Now see:

New citizens advisory boards

The previous blog post about the planning commission activities last night showed a promising forum between government, industry experts and the public that could produce a practicable working arrangement that might protect all stakeholders’ interests in the development of oil and gas in Elbert County.  Nothing is certain but things appeared to be moving toward a compromise solution.

Why, then, did the BOCC decide to create an oil and gas citizens advisory committee now, just when things appear to be on track in the planning commission?

Was the planning commission process we witnessed last night too reasonable?  Too scientific?  Insufficiently corruptible?  Inadequately manipulable for political objectives?  Did the planning commission not come up with the right answer?

Take a hard look at the above story out of Rio Grande County yesterday, for it is predictive of what our BOCC is setting up.  Our BOCC apparently wants an ongoing scenario where, after all state and local regulatory burdens have been met, after all available science and best management practices have been satisfied, further approval will be thrown into a kangaroo BOCC court to be punched around for who knows how long.

Even with the regulatory scheme contemplated in Elbert County’s currently proposed “O&G Zone + MOU” device, modifications to the standard MOU, after confirmation by all the planners and experts, still must pass under the magic pen of the BOCC.  Is this where the proposed citizens political advice takes over?  The planners say this will only add 2 weeks to the expedited MOU approval process, and rumor has it they have beachfront property out by the Blotter place in Agate for sale..

If the end game in this deal is merely to create grist for the BOCC mill, then let’s skip all the expensive foreplay and get right to the main event.



Commissioner Rowland, after observing your leadership in a couple meetings now, I have to give you some constructive advice.  I’m writing this for the good of the forum, and I expect you to change your speaking style as a result of it.  I have to assume no one has told you this before, and that you’re not going to hear it from anyone at the county over whom you have dominion.  So here goes.

The campaign is over.  You don’t need to consume every available syllable in the room like a ravenous pack animal at a feeding frenzy.  You won already.

I wouldn’t expect you to change the way you think.  But the way you speak impacts everyone in the room.  The cumulative time you cost an audience is significant.

If you expect to hold an audience over the next four years, you must not continue to air out every incomplete thought, and every alternate construction of language that just says the same thing in as many different ways as you can imagine.  The repetition is not effective.  It’s redundant.

The office you hold is not a casual forum.  People go there to hear legal decisions that might affect them in the future, and if necessary, to add some data to improve the quality of a future decision.  They don’t go to hear streams of consciousness that are not dispositive to making a decision.

Effective leadership is orderly, succinct, and respectful of scarce time.  Please respect the time of “we the people” whom you have often spoken of as your principle motivation.

Lay out the facts in clear non-repetitive statements when a decision calls for them.  Everyone thinks about the issues all the time.  If you have new information, then please, advance the topic.  Otherwise, let someone else speak who does have new information to impart.


agenda timing

BOCC agenda timing

Agenda expected to be resolved with 30 minutes to spare on 24-hour statutory notice deadline. . .wouldn’t want to give potential rebuttals any more time than the legal minimum to get prepared.

Rowland promisses

accountability and transparency

Commissioners Meetings Details

Please click here to see Special Meeting-Executive Session

“. . .to discuss specific legal matters with their attorneys.”

Meeting Name: Elbert County Board of County Commissioners-Special Meeting
Meeting Type: Commissioners Meetings
Date: 1/15/2013
Start Time: 02:00 PM
End Time: 03:00 PM
All day meeting? No
Location: 215 Comanche-County Administrative Offices, 2nd Fl
Contact Name: Candace Meece
Contact Phone: 303-621-3133
Contact Email:

Colorado Open Meetings Law

(b) Conferences with an attorney for the local public body for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions. Mere presence or participation of an attorney at an executive session of the local public body is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this subsection (4).”

“Specific legal matters.”   Unaccountable and transparently vague. 

freedom and responsibility

The Republican Party in Elbert County talks about how their job is to elect Republicans.  And surely it is, but that’s like having a job to make sure the wind blows around here.  It’s going to happen regardless of what anyone does.

The Elbert County New Plains Left have already criticized the new commission, and no matter what happens over the next two years, they will stay hyper critical.  Recalls will be attempted and lost.  Defamatory cartoons and opinion paragraphs will be penned.  Commissioners will be stalked, ridiculed, insulted, and made the butt of jokes.  Very little of what commissioners actually say will be addressed in the context it is delivered.  All ambiguities will be construed against them.  No benefit of doubt will accrue to them.

Will they deserve this maximally harsh treatment?  No, of course not.  But what treatment do they deserve?

The new commissioners were built up by the New Plains Left last Spring and Summer.  Everyone knew the Left’s support for Rowland and Ross would evaporate if they defeated Shipper and Schwab, because the point was to put weaker candidates in place to face off against the Democrats.  But the Democrats were supposed to win in the General election.  When they didn’t, the Left were exposed in an awkward hypocrisy.

In the wings of this Primary electoral Kabuki theater, the Republican Central Committee sat silent.  The ECR leadership, deterred by ECR bylaws from speaking out before the Primary, to this day have maintained public silence about the new commissioners.  Rowland and Ross return the favor by avoiding Republican Central Committee meetings.  Silence by the Republican leadership in 2012 constructively helped them get elected, but concerns about the candidates’ Republican bona-fides persist.

Conservatives believe in a linkage between freedom and responsibility—the two positively correlate.  The ECR leadership freely chose their path in 2012.  By doing so they earned the responsibility to do what they can to make this electoral outcome benefit Elbert County.  Voters elected Republicans, not liberals.  ECR leaders have a duty to deliver Republicans, not liberals.  ECR leadership may not just bow out and allow matters to foreseeably degrade now that the election is over.

While there is no legality to enforce this duty, the ECR leadership have an ethical responsibility to help this commission understand and act on real conservative values, every step of the way, at least until they prove they can govern as Republicans.

Party leaders spend many unremunerated hours to make the Elbert County Republican Party function.  This provides a valuable service to the county.  Other things being equal, that is more than anyone has a right to expect of them.  But other things are no longer equal.

Without the bully pulpits of ECR leadership joined in the fight to keep these commissioners on a conservative track, voters will be at the mercy of the New Plains Left, and the uncertain Republican bona-fides from the candidates themselves.

Our ECR leadership must step up to offset the non-stop din emitted from the local Left.  They need to defend and protect our Republican values in local property, zoning and taxation issues—all founded in constitutional principles.  Empty rhetoric and campaign lip service will not protect us for the next two years.

The ECR leadership faces an intra-party election this February.  The next two years are no time to continue business as usual.  The next class of party officials must step up to the nature of this reality, use their offices to guide substantive local issues, and help make sure that conservative values prevail in Elbert County governance.

B_Imperial, Precinct 13

commissioner district reorganization

National election results maps from 2012 showed high concentrations of Obama voters in the cities surrounded by Romney voters in lower density rural areas.  Romney voters have most of the land in the country, but Obama voters have the higher numbers.  Over time, the majority will find ways through taxation, entitlement grants, and regulatory controls, to take property away, or otherwise control it, from voting minorities.  The traditional social contracts based on American values of independence and hard work that used to keep people humble about taking advantage of their neighbors, have eroded from the onslaught of public sector redistribution and widespread gaming for higher returns from less work.  Who can blame the gamers?  Everyone loves a freebie.

Had the Founders anticipated the dramatic population density variance between town and county that came to exist in America, they probably would have constructed more devices with similar purpose to the Electoral College and the Bicameral Legislature to level the playing field and inhibit one segment of the population from dominating another.

Today, Elbert County mirrors the federal urban/rural split with its own suburban/rural dichotomy, and with similar effect.  Higher numbers in the suburban corridors overshadow lower numbers in the rural areas.  The suburban sentiments tend to be less conservative than the rural sentiments, and with one set of local zoning laws to apply to both suburban and rural areas, the rural areas bear the burden of suburban oriented law and get little in return for it.

Decades ago, the county had far fewer people.  Commissioners mostly worried about keeping the few unpaved county roads passable.  Each commissioner district had its own road equipment yard and barn, and most calls from voters were about roads needing work.  There was a correlation between a commissioners home district, that districts road conditions, and a feedback loop for allocating equipment where and when necessary.  The county’s population was more uniformly distributed.  The nature of the various commissioner districts was similar.  And zoning law was unheard of in the county.

Gradually people moved to Elbert County, however, and with them came one-size-fits-all zoning law to protect their home values.  Whether zoning succeeds at home value protection, whether it maximizes the economic potential of an area, and what potential beneficial outcomes zoning precludes from ever happening, can all be debated.

But everyone will readily admit that the nature of our commissioner districts has changed.  They are no longer qualitatively similar.  Moreover, while the districts retain a geographic orientation, the tools used to manage and serve them have become centralized.  We now have one county-wide road and bridge agency, and we have one set of zoning laws to govern all areas.  The geographic orientation of a commissioner has become less relevant than it used to be.

With generalized governmental tools, commissioners must now exercise a cross county awareness in their decision making.  An orientation to only one geographic area of the county, suburban or rural, is actually a handicap for adequately governing under a generalized system.

So why have this discussion now?  Because in January the leaders of the Republican and Democrat parties in Elbert County will meet to reorganize commissioner districts and precinct boundaries.  The two main legal requirements are that the districts consist of contiguous precincts, and that total population be spread uniformly between the districts and precincts.  There are some other rules but these seem to be the main ones.

Reorganizers are not bound to consider the suburban/rural nature of the districts or the precincts they contain in formulating the new map.  But some of the big issues in the county have very different meaning and application for suburban vs. rural citizens.

Reorganizers have an opportunity to create mixed use commissioner districts and perhaps de-polarize future BOCC and planning activities by de-emphasizing our differences.  If we cannot have laws tuned to the suburban or rural context in which they are enforced, perhaps we could at least have leadership that is responsive to all types of citizen equally.

America’s federal republic was designed to allow for dissent and argument, and to prevent power from concentrating in any one place, whether it was citizens or a public branch of government.  By preserving traditional commissioner districts in Elbert County, districts that have now grown into distinct and increasingly opposed power centers, are we preserving a type of government that the Founders attempted to avoid?

On the other hand, by keeping the now polarized commissioner district scheme, are we enabling a forum for dissent for dissent’s sake, for no greater purpose than to manufacture discordant events to create political sideshows and opportunities for politician self-aggrandizement?

Reorganization of the commissioner districts seems like the time to consider these questions.  Perhaps homogenous district boundaries might help mitigate some of the sources of conflict that have, sadly, become routine in Elbert County.


water special district moratorium




The not-persuasives prevailed – a harbinger of BOCCs to come?  At least one commissioner speaks to following the rule of law, rather than the rule of the 10 noisy complainants who show up at every county meeting.  I’m confident that most of the other 25,000 county citizens would favor the rule of law over the rule of 10.

transparency and accountability

I’ve probably had enough of transparency and accountability.

Look, I get it.  I know the liberals want to be in charge of the county.  I know they won’t rest until it’s them actually sitting in those seats, them making those marginal calls from imperfect information, and their decisions revealed in 20/20 hindsight to have been insufficiently prescient.  I know they feel a deep need to micro-manage and second guess every decision the commissioners might consider making.  I get the subtext of their vigilance – that the current commissioners are incompetent and that only a liberal, green, populist, anti-growth, country-in-county approach will do for us.  We all know these agendas won’t ever directly sway the greater demographic of unwashed Republican voters in Elbert County.  And I understand the activists will find a way by any means possible to insert themselves into our governance because they believe without question in their agendas, and their entire world view hangs in the balance of these matters.

The cast of characters on the BOCC morning show last week included Richard Miller, Robert Rowland, Jill Duvall, Rick Blotter, Belinda Seville, plus two commissioners.  They were all too comfortable in the process to not be typical.

Apparently when the commissioners serve the planner/liberal/green agenda, everyone is convivial, full of mutual admiration, even a bit smug about how correct things are.  But oh, when the agenda is in doubt, or when the commissioners might actually make a move counter to the agenda, it’s Katy bar the door and we’d better book the Exhibit Hall at the fairgrounds because it’s time for a demonstration.

What do you call this sort of government?  Representative democracy doesn’t quite fit because the cast of characters constantly nipping at the heels of the commissioners don’t represent any majorities.  They’re all about their various agendas.  And republican statesmanship doesn’t fit either because the leadership panders to whomever shows up, and it’s the planner/liberal/greens who always occupy that field.   This is government by the threat of force upon the governors, something way beyond the consent of the governed.

The left have taken elements from the Constitution designed to protect and enforce the people’s consent to be governed, and turned those protections into a license to issue threats, extort money from the public treasury, and force their minority agendas upon the majority.  The constitutional guarantee of Freedom of Speech was not intended as a cover for subversion, threats, and bad faith.

Despite what most of these participants and would-be “we-the-people” leaders will tell you, the people don’t really enter into the process of county governance.  The people are unintended beneficiaries who bring two interests relevant to the process:  1) The degree to which their property can be made to serve one of the planner/liberal/green agendas, and 2) The degree to which they can be mined for tax revenue.

That makes us like the wild boar at a luau — dinner.   The transparency and accountability imposed upon the BOCC have done little to improve the people’s prospects under county governance.  Seeing how we get stuffed into these sausages of government each week does not improve the taste when it’s still us on the plate.

Protecting the people’s interests under county governance — that is, the interests of the majority of people who don’t have time to hang out at BOCC morning shows and zoner meetings — has yet to be addressed in this election cycle.

Although no commissioner candidates seem much concerned about those interests, as Republicans it would be encouraging to hear something from them about limiting government, shrinking the legal domain of zoning, lowering taxes, lowering spending, increasing freedom, enlarging liberty, and allowing the free market to work to create a vibrant local economy.

Newcomers to Elbert County might wonder about having to enumerate basic Republican concepts to an all Republican field of candidates.  I do too.

Rowland’s corruption made easy

Interesting that the candidate who’s principle planks are TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY, advocates subterfuge tonight at caucus in the delegate selection process to the county assembly.


How do I participate?

Caucus is easy, and fun.    Here are the simple steps to becoming part of the solution for Elbert County.

You will need to be prepared to speak briefly to explain to everyone why you want to be a delegate.

What is the purpose and what is the strategy?

While you will not be asked or required to represent or disclose your choice of candidate for any race to become a delegate to the Assembly, there are strategies that are important.

That’s it, you will determine if the candidate(s) you want to see elected as County Commissioner, Colorado House Representative, District 64 and others make it to the ballot and get a chance to represent you for the next four years.

Really?  That’s all?  How fun!  How empowering.  You choose the candidates, don’t worry about representative government, transparency or accountability.  Mr. Rowland will handle those things for you.

At precinct 13 delegates will be asked which candidates for commissioner they support, because delegates carry the voice of the caucus, and real Republicans actually practice transparency and accountability.  Real Republicans don’t just pay lip service to their ideals.

Hickenlooper’s SOTS address

On the subject of county level oil and gas regulations:

“In that same spirit, we intend to work with counties and municipalities to make sure we have appropriate regulation on oil and gas development, but recognize the state can’t have 64 or even more different sets of rules.”

Perhaps the tide of regulatory proliferation of the myth of a perfectable society has turned around on all the would-be czars and county potentates in Colorado’s planning and zoning departments.

Our freedom depends on it.

here we go…

The declared Republican challenger to the Elbert County commissioner district 3 seat, Mr. Larry Ross, briefly introduced himself at a Republican Central Committee meeting last night. He told the members that the poor condition of the local economy had motivated him to run for commissioner. And he told the members that he was a strong proponent of regulation.
It was during a period of brief introductions of various candidates and the purpose of the meeting was not to vet candidates, so no one questioned him on the juxtaposition of those two statements.

No one remarked about how regulations suppress economic activity.

No one mentioned how county zoning is an authoritarian process for imposing government takings in a heavily tilted playing field where the government holds practically unlimited power and the citizen is treated as a serf.

No one informed him that a pro-regulation position is an inherently unconservative and unRepublican stance.

And no one asked him why in the world he’s running as a Republican.

Even though there wasn’t time for it last night, these things needed to be mentioned.


By the way, all Republican caucus attendees should pre-register for the 2/7/2012 caucus at  This is quick process that simply verifies your Republican party voter registration, a requirement to vote in the caucus.  Pre-registration is not mandatory but it will help those running your caucus speed things along that night if you are pre-registered.


success in social services

I hope that the one-year performance review of the Jail Based Behavioral Health Service program contains outcome data that links program expenditures to actual reductions in recidivism and hospitalization rates in the target population.  The good intentions surrounding social services programs make them politically attractive to theorize about and establish, however, their success tends to be measured by growth in the target population served, when a better measurement would be how much the size of the target population has been reduced by the program.

politics by planning

Court of Appeals No.: 08CA0890

Elbert County District Court No. 07CV48
Honorable Jeffrey K. Holmes, JudgeCitizens for Responsible Growth, Elbert County, a Colorado nonprofit corporation; Laura E. Shapiro; and John T. Dorman,  Plaintiffs-Appellees,
RCI Development Partners, Inc., a Colorado corporation, Defendant-Appellant


Division V
Opinion by: JUDGE KAPELKE*
Graham and Booras, JJ., concur



No opinion of the Court of Appeals shall be designated for official publication unless it satisfies one or more of the following standards:

(1) the opinion lays down a new rule of law, or alters or modifies an existing rule, or applies an established rule to a novel fact situation;
(2) the opinion involves a legal issue of continuing public interest;
(3) the majority opinion, dissent, or special concurrence directs attention to the shortcomings of existing common law or inadequacies in statutes;
(4) the opinion resolves an apparent conflict of authority.

(click to enlarge)


“The Court of Appeals decision is based solely on this procedural issue [timely filing of the original lawsuit], and its opinion does not address the validity of the BOCC’s action.”  West Elbert County Sun, 6/4/09.

Hold on!  The West Elbert County Sun would improve its credibility if it did not present partisan opinions in news stories.

The Court of Appeals did not lay down a new rule of law, did not alter or modify an existing rule, did not apply an established rule to a novel fact situation, did not find an issue of continuing public interest, did not find a shortcoming in existing common law, did not find an inadequacy in statute, and did not resolve an apparent conflict of authority.  If any one of these conditions had been met, the Court of Appeals would have published it’s opinion as legal precedent.  Since the opinion was unpublished, not one of these conditions was met.

I guess we’re to assume the merits of the plaintiffs position on limiting the BOCC’s authority are more important than the plaintiff’s obedience to legal rules of procedure.  According to the West Elbert County Sun, John Dorman intends to appeal his case to the Colorado Supreme Court if he can’t get the Court of Appeals to change its mind, so the case can be heard on the merits.  The Court of Appeals, however, “generally employs the same standard of review as the trial court in its review of the Board’s action.”  [Citizens for Responsible Growth v. RCI, Unpublished order 08CA0890, May 21, 2009.]   It appears the Court of Appeals already considered the case’s merits or lack thereof, found the trial court to be “clearly erroneous” on the question of subject matter jurisdiction, wisely avoided further enabling this political issue, and ordered the trial court to dismiss the case.

Another key fact mentioned in the Court of Appeals order, which I don’t believe has been mentioned in all of the press about this case, is that when the BOCC approved the SVV project, they did so upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission’s purpose is to interpret the county master plan, which they did in this case to a reasonable conclusion that the SVV development should be approved.  The plaintiff’s case has always been cast against the BOCC in the press, as if the BOCC acted in violation of the master plan, when in fact they were simply agreeing with the interpretation of the master plan given them by the Planning Commission–which is what they usually do!

In effect, the plaintiffs want neither the BOCC nor the Planning Commission to interpret the master plan.  Who does that leave?  Judges–the branch of government the left uses to advance their “progressive” agenda.

For the uninitiated, “progressive” means living a poorer life with fewer jobs, less economic activity, less energy available, in smaller living spaces, driving in less safe cars, enduring higher taxes with less income under private control, acting under more regulation of all aspects of life, with fewer opportunities to engage in commerce and few opportunities to act without the approval of quasi-public socialist committees.  Progressivism stifles freedom and causes stagnation and decline.  Progressivism’s only beneficiary is the governing class.  Everyone else, even the intended beneficiaries of progressivism, loses.

Conservative newspapers, conservative radio, conservative tv, and conservative internet communications are all booming, and all the left can think about is how to shut them all down. If leftist progressivism is so wonderful, why can leftists only get people to cooperate with them by using force, coercion, threats, intimidation, and subversion?

The 1st Amendment.  Use it or lose it.