Dirty Politics in Little Silt

This week Janet Aluise contacted me and told me that the Colorado Supreme Court had exonerated her in a letter to Town Attorney Gene Duran. (Click here to read the letter). I asked Ms. Aluise if she would be willing to answer a few questions. She graciously consented to an interview, which contains explosive new details about dirty politics in little Silt.

FTS:  The letter that exonerates you is dated October 14. That’s 6 months after Town Attorney Duran filed his complaint. I know you responded with a letter in the beginning of May, a letter that contained much of the same information in my April 29 article. What, if anything, has happened during that time?

JA:  In the six months since the original letter of investigation came in the mail, we have been waiting to hear what the state would do. We have spent approximately $4,000 in legal bills and had countless sleepless nights. My attorney, Chris McAnany told me that this was a criminal proceeding and that the upward penalty would be a felony and could include a hefty fine, although jail time was really remote. I have refused to take any of the three Silt projects that were offered me. I quit representing the Congregational Church, Lawrence Annexation, and another client that I don’t want to mention for fear of retribution on his project. God knows how much real money I have lost from clients. But I do know that the $4,000 was real and I didn’t have it.

FTS:  So, in essence, you had this anvil hanging over your head for 6 months. During this so-called “investigation”, were you ever contacted by anyone at the Colorado Supreme Court?

JA:  I was questioned about a month ago by Attorney Kim Ikeler from the Colorado Supreme Court. He asked for a meeting with my attorney, my previous client Cal Whitman, and myself.  However, I couldn’t afford to have my attorney present, so I showed up for the meeting without him.

Attorney Ikeler started going through an inch-thick ream of papers, line by line, asking who came up with the language in a particular line. Cal repeatedly told the attorney that the language was a conglomeration of words assembled after a meeting with Town staff. Cal stated that he believed all the changes were made by the town staff.

After about 30 minutes, I’d had enough. I asked for Cal to be excused to allow for a meeting between me and Ikeler. I was very forceful in reiterating Cal’s point that the town staff required us to make the changes to the document after the issues had been thoroughly discussed in the applicant/staff meetings. I assured Ikeler that the town refused to do those changes, even though they had an attorney on staff.

I said that because of the circumstances, I believed I had been set up to do the work, only to be turned in by the staff who had told me to do it. I told him there were very dirty politics in the town, going back to the time of my resignation and throughout the recall (with my husband running against the mayor), including harassment of our businesses. There was ample evidence that the town had told people not to hire me and had browbeaten clients into firing me so that they could negotiate without me. My business had certainly suffered to the point where I was practically doing no work at all.

By the way, Attorney McAnany now believes that the town set me up and railroaded me, which is not what he believed when I first consulted him.

FTS:  That’s chilling. It appears as though the town staff not only discouraged local applicants from hiring you, they wanted to put you out of business altogether, by ruining your reputation.

What you described sounds more like an interrogation rather than a meeting. Did Attorney Ikeler ever go into detail about Duran’s complaint? Did he explain why you were being questioned?

JA:  Ikeler shared with me that this complaint was very minor and didn’t know why I was so upset about it. I incredulously sputtered that the Town of Silt had indeed tried to ruin my life and my businesses, stealing from me the livelihood that put food on the table for my kids and a roof over our heads. He assured me that this type of complaint is very rare and that I was in the upper 1% of the complaints that he gets (150 per state per year) whereby the state determines that there is very little substance to the complaint, and it appears that the person accused honestly did not know that what he/she was doing was incorrect. 

Interestingly, the folder that held the documents Ikeler used was labeled “Aluise Deposition”. I angrily asked why I was being deposed without a court reporter (stenographer) and an ability to defend myself in such a manner. Ikeler laughed and said that his staff had inadvertently labeled the folder.

I questioned what type of a proceeding this was, and what was the penalty for such an “infraction”. Ikeler advised that it was just a question and answer meeting, and he would go back to the Supreme Court and give them the information he had gleaned. He stated this type of situation was neither criminal nor civil, and I would not be afforded a trial by jury. Instead a judge would listen to my arguments and impose fines and/or other penalties if he found me guilty.

I said I thought that was rather incestuous, in that an attorney had turned me in, an attorney had investigated me, and an attorney would determine my fate. I was very angry and said I didn’t think he had a case in the least and even my constitutional right of a fair hearing with a jury of my peers was being infringed upon. He smirked throughout the entire meeting and repeated that I was simply making too much of this whole situation.

I said what he was doing was wholly unacceptable and I intended to protect my rights, including bringing those ten attorneys to the “trial” at the Colorado Supreme Court, to explain why they did not look at what I did as wrong. I argued that I had just as much right to put words on a paper, especially since I never told my client that I was giving legal advice, and in effect, no contract was ever signed. 

Again he asked me to go through the inch-thick ream of papers and mark which words were “mine”. I refused, adding that this whole affair had impacted my health and I just wasn’t up for it. I asked him what the Colorado Supreme Court website meant when it said that land use planners could represent applicants in public hearings and public proceedings. He replied that it meant I had the right to talk to boards in board meetings.  I said that was ridiculous, since I was already afforded that right by the constitution as in freedom of speech. 

FTS:  The problem I see as I read the letter, is that it doesn’t completely exonerate you. In the letter, Attorney John Gleason says: “After review of your request for investigation, we conclude that conduct by Ms. Aluise does not pose a present danger to the People of the State of Colorado and does not warrant proceedings to enjoin Ms. Aluise from further unauthorized practice of law. She has closed her consulting business and does not intend to resume work as a planner.”

Gleason’s wording implies that while you were working as a consultant you were committing the unauthorized practice of law because he says: “does not warrant proceedings to enjoin Ms. Aluise from FURTHER [my emphasis] unauthorized practice of law”. So Gleason seems to be saying that they are dropping the investigation because you have closed your consulting business – implying that the business caused you to commit the unauthorized practice of law. How do you interpret that second paragraph in the letter?

JA:  I never told Ikeler that I had closed my business or that I would not resume work in the future. I said I had no present intention of working in the Town of Silt because it is a dirty town.

Ikeler stated that he had some idea the town was dirty, and agreed that this type of thing happened in a small town. I argued that if there was not sufficient evidence to investigate me, then why the investigation. Again a smirk – with no answer.

Ikeler summed up with a list of three things that could happen: 1) I could be found not guilty and exonerated of all “charges”; or 2) I could be found to be guilty of the charge, and the judge could fine me; or 3) The Colorado Supreme Court could make an agreement with me, with a strong admonition to not “practice” law in the future, and the agreement would sit in the Colorado Supreme Court until I died. 

I questioned what that last condition meant, because it seemed to fly in the face of reason to me. I was very concerned that it could prevent me from getting a state or federal job in the future – or county or municipal job for that matter.

He smirked and said it was possible that any application for municipal, county, state or federal job could flag the state records and I might be denied employment.

Because my emotions were high on the day of the interview, I think the Colorado Supreme Court thought they had me over a barrel. They decided to cut bait, since they had no case anyway. But they wanted to admonish me and exonerate me at the same time. They wanted to give Duran the idea that they had done their “thing”.

What you gleaned from this is true. Closing my business is what the town wanted, and it would not surprise me if Ikeler or Gleason called Duran and they concocted this language. The Colorado Supreme Court does not want anyone touching what they deem to be “legal” documents, because it takes money out of attorneys’ pockets. It looks to me as though they seem to be in the business of drumming up business for attorneys. My attorney certainly benefited.

The language they used in the letter indicates that they believe I was doing something wrong. But they thought I had been repentant and therefore they decided to be magnanimous. I can’t change their opinion of that interview, but the written information I submitted directly conflicts with the statements in the exoneration letter.

FTS:  Well then, if that’s the implication – that you were committing the unauthorized practice of law but you closed your business so you’re not doing that bad thing anymore – then what about the Town of Silt policy? What about what Gale Carmoney does as the Town Planner? Isn’t he also practicing law without license?

JA:  I stated to Ikeler that I had been forced to do the same type of work they are accusing me of (altering ADAs, SIAs, IAs, etc) as a condition of my employment with the town. During that time I had worked with countless attorneys (I named 10 prominent attorneys) and none of them had told me I was doing something wrong. I questioned why Duran, if he was so concerned with clients’ well-being, had not told me to cease and desist when he found I was doing alterations to the documents.

I asked him, what is so different about Gale Carmoney’s legal document alterations? Ikeler responded that the state had not received a complaint on Carmoney. Besides, the town has governmental immunity. 

FTS:  I know this hasn’t been easy so we’ll leave it there, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to share the details of your ordeal.

Janet Aluise’s situation is a sickening example of how professional women are treated in the business world, not only at the local level but upwards at the state level. It’s more than disturbing to learn that our tax dollars go to pay high salaries to the likes of Town Attorney Gene Duran who spends his time filing frivolous, baseless complaints, and an attorney for the Colorado Supreme Court who wastes even more time and money pursuing a complaint he admitted was minor. As the details have unfolded over these many months, Duran’s complaint has been exposed for what it is – harassment of a professional businesswoman which has ultimately driven business away from the town.

That Aluise has never been allowed to defend herself on the record against Attorney Duran’s complaint is a gross injustice. Instead, after a private meeting, the Colorado Supreme Court has made it seem as though she’s guilty of practicing law without a license, even though she has proven her innocence. And she is left with no recourse to repudiate the accusations and presumptions, other than to sue the town.

Where does Janet Aluise go to get back her reputation?

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7 Comments on “Dirty Politics in Little Silt”

  1. Lyn Hailey Says:

    Are you kidding me? And the people of the Town actually pay these people via their taxes to act like this? How many more people have they harrassed, Peggy? This can’t be the only one.

    I’m so embarrassed for this town, I have no words to express it. We have a town that will close its town hall down, lowering service to the people, rather than save money by getting rid of an attorney who has nothing more to do than this kind of bullshit?

    I thought they were loons before, but this takes the cake. And it’s just about every one of them down there, not just a couple. At least the ones in power. And I do mean power, as in power trip. Please give Janet my email if you want, because I know an attorney who would love to get his hands on this one.

  2. Charlie Martel Says:

    Town is a mess. I hear Paul Taylor left (??) the town as well but don’t know why.

  3. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Yup I agree. The town government is dysfunctional and unresponsive to the people. Add to that the budget crisis and it’s a mess all right.

  4. Lyn Hailey Says:

    BTW, Charlie, Paul doesn’t appear to have “left”. He was made to leave because it looks to me like he couldn’t get along with the irresponsible Town Mismanager who just proposed a $ 300,000 negative budget for next year (in a town of only 2500 – what a joke.)

  5. Lyn Hailey Says:

    Wow. I just realized. A $ 300,000 negative is only $ 120 per every man, woman and child in Silt. I think that $ 120 is actually more than most people’s average annual Silt property tax. I guess I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  6. Wonderwoman Says:

    We are going to petition the president and local government to have Kim Ikeler removed from office. Would you like to join us? We are going way above his head. If so, email us at: wonderwomaniv@hotmail.com. This is the third woman I have heard complain. Seems like this is mostly woman. We are going to throw a doosie at him.

  7. Good Cowgirl Says:

    You know you could also post a Rip Off Report on Mr. Ikeler and the attorney who reported you. I would also report Kim Ikeler and that attorney to the Mayor (and have), the governor (and have). The governor’s counsel came and talked to me. She also said to petition the state and local government. However, Washington was not mentioned. I say we petition to have this type of corruption halted. He may have governmental immunity, but that does not mean that complaints go unnoticed. They may just fire those two. We cannot do that. However, other branches of government can. Rip Off Report is a good place to start. Cannot get rid of those so easy. Attach the Governor’s Website and the Mayor’s website, and the President’s website. COMPLAIN, until someone reckon’s.

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