Gasfield County, Inc.

April 12, 2012

Garfield County

Has anyone else noticed? The Gasfield County Commissioners are totally out of control. Ever since the 2010 election when Tom Jankovsky unseated Trési Houpt, the Commissioners have been steadily cleaning house.

As their first order of business, they reached an “agreement” with Don DeFord, the county attorney for 25 years, to “end” his “term” in January 2011. In June, they fired Oil & Gas Liaison Judy Jordan, and quickly hired Kirby Wynn whose wife works for Chevron.  Then they fired County Manager Ed Green “without cause” in January 2012. Last week they rejected all five finalists for the county manager job. I thought it was an April Fools joke. Turned out it wasn’t.

When they fired Ed Green, they appointed the recently-hired (end of June 2011) County Attorney Andrew Gorgey as the acting county manager and instructed him to restructure county departments.

Acting county manager rewarded with extra pay
Restructuring ongoing under Gorgey’s watch

According to the article: “Numerous additions and upgrades to the county website, including regular press releases on various subjects, have also been made.” Really? My blog is more up-to-date than the GasCo website. And the BOCC minutes have not been posted on the website since – you guessed it – the end of 2010. So I don’t know what all Gorgey’s been up to lately but it’s definitely NOT the website.

The Commissioners behave more like the board of directors of a major corporation, accountable to a small group of shareholders, than an elected board accountable to the public. This week they ramped up their chest thumping in the face of public disapproval. (There were two articles on The Paper’s website which were combined into one article in the print version.)

Garfield commissioners sign joint oil shale resolution

Garfield County OKs joint oil shale resolution
Many speak out against statement

So what? It’s a resolution. Kind of like a petition. Or a proclamation. Other than being news for a couple days it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. The BLM do what they want, they never listen to anyone anyway. The resolution is meaningless.

I wasn’t able to go to the meeting on Monday when they voted on the resolution and I can’t find a copy of the resolution on the GasCo website. Imagine that. I guess it’s a secret resolution.

*Update:  Found it — thanks to Aleks Briedis and the GarCo Democratic PartyOil Shale Resolution

According to one of the articles:

“I can’t fathom why [BLM preferred alternative of 462,000 acres] wouldn’t be enough land for study purposes,” Glenwood Springs resident Gerry Vanderbeek said. “This plan would still give almost half a million acres for study and review.”

Vanderbeek and others also objected to the political tone of the joint resolution, which is highly critical of the federal government, under President Obama and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, for reopening the review process. “This resolution has a very negative tone … which just takes away from the real issue,” he said.

That guy Vanderbeek has a point. Could be ODS – Obama Derangement Syndrome. But wasn’t it just last week Commission Chairman John Martin said: “One of the goals here is to not use fear and to have good information instead of reacting to the pressures of politics”? Of course he did.

However their silly little resolution does seem like an act of desperation. Or a temper tantrum. Perhaps they’re feeling some pressure from the EPA and the Congressional Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations breathing down their necks. Or maybe they’re a little uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s proposed $45 million multi-agency examination of hydraulic fracturing which will broaden studies of shale gas drilling to include water and air quality and other environmental impacts.

They might be pretty steamed because President Obama’s 2013 proposed budget requested $2.3 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency development, but only $113 million for fossil energy research and development – barely a drop in the oil shale money pit. They probably don’t like it either that the President’s budget also seeks to eliminate several tax expenditures that benefit oil and gas industries.

Nothing political. The BOCC are just looking out for business interests in the county.

“Are there some harsh words in here? Yes, there are,” Commissioner Mike Samson said in supporting the resolution. “We’re tired of things being done against us in western Colorado, so there is some resentment on our part.”

He said the energy companies already working to study oil shale should be able to proceed without changing the rules along the way.

“Maybe this is what it takes to get Congress’ attention,” he said. “Instead of fighting energy development at every step of the way, we’re saying please work with us.”

See what I mean? They can’t separate themselves from the oil & gas industry. Gasfield County, Inc. They’re willing to stake their reputations and bet the future on a boom and bust economy. That can’t possibly have anything to do with politics because that’s political suicide.

The Commissioners thumbed their noses at the public in an election year. The voters are the BOCC’s only oversight. John Martin and Mike Samson are up for re-election. We have one strong candidate running against Samson. His name is Aleks Briedis. We still need one more candidate for the at-large seat currently held by John Martin.

BOCC challenger criticizes oil shale stance
Briedis says Commissioner Samson misrepresents sentiments of western county residents

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