BOCC property purchase violated state statutes

October 24, 2012

Garfield County

Guest post by Carl McWilliams

This is a continuation of my public criticism of the Post Independent and Editor Heather McGregor, Publisher Stephanie Schafer, and reporter John Stroud in the misleading and untruthful October 23 front page article on the Garfield County $2.5 million purchase of the Worrell & Durrett property in downtown Glenwood Springs. As the readers of this blog know, incumbent Republican Garfield County Commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky each signed off on using tax-payer cash of $2.5 million, (which is 240% of appraised value), to acquire the Worrell & Durrett property in June of this year.

Based upon the following it is my layman’s opinion that the entire $2.5 million acquisition by Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky was illegal and therefore the $2.5 million must be returned to the Garfield County treasury by the sellers of the Worrell & Durrett property forthwith. I am very cognizant that there are licensed attorneys involved in this alleged illegal real estate transaction which used public moneys for the purchase of the subject property. I hereby remind each member of the Colorado Bar involved in this alleged illegal activity that your sterling professional reputation and your good name in the Garfield County community is worth far more than $2.5 million.

That said, the Colorado Revised Statutes [CRS, Section 30-11-101 (b)] empowers Commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky, in the name of Garfield County, to: “(b) To purchase and hold real and personal property for the use of the county, and acquire lands sold for taxes, as provided by law;”

However, the statutory power of CRS 30-11-101 (b) clearly does not allow for land speculation as Republican incumbents Mike Samson and John Martin fully professed to be doing as was quoted by reporter John Stroud in the Post Independent article.  Additionally, because the current tenants occupying the Worrell & Durrett Building have an on-going two year lease, which the county assumed as “landlord” in the purchase; the $2.5 million acquisition of the Worrell & Durrett property is in unequivocal violation of CRS 30-11-101 (b) “… purchase real property for the use of the county…” because the Colorado Revised Statutes only allow for the purchase of real estate by Garfield County, if the real property is to be used by Garfield County. The Colorado Revised Statute does not allow for Samson, Martin, and Jankovsky to use tax-payer money for Garfield County to become a “landlord” in commercial real estate speculation.

Furthermore, the Colorado Supreme Court has also held that the $2.5 million purchase by Samson, Martin, and Jankovsky is illegal in Farnik v. Bd. of county comm’rs, 139 Colo. 481, 341 P2d 467 (1959).  In Farnik, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled: “The county has no power to acquire real or personal property as a speculation or an investment, nor does it have the power to retain property lawfully acquired for the use of the county when the use therefore no longer exists. It may acquire and retain such property as it now reasonably needs, or in the foreseeable future may reasonably need — no more.”

Farnik is well settled, Colorado black letter law [well-established case law]. Therefore, Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky violated this Colorado black letter law by purchasing the $2.5 million Worrell & Durrett property in the name of Garfield County.

Thus, Garfield County Commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, Tom Jankovsky in signing off on the $2.5 million Worrell & Durrett property purchase, broke statutory and case law and dishonored the public’s trust.* Therefore, Republican County Commissioners Samson, Martin, and Jankovsky violated their Constitutional Oaths as found in the Colorado Constitution Article XXIX, Sec. 1 “Ethics in Government”:

“The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that the conduct of public officers and local government officials must hold the respect and confidence of the people and they shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people. They shall, therefore, avoid conduct that is in violation of their public trust or that creates a justifiable impression among members of the public that such trust is being violated.”

Obviously, by not reporting these legal facts to the Garfield County electorate in Tuesday’s front page article, the Post Independent is guilty of slothful and negligent journalism. Because of this, not only is it time for Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky to go, it is also time for Editor Heather McGregor and Publisher Stephanie Schafer to go.

*Under no circumstances do these allegations of illegal acts and omissions by Garfield County Commissioners Samson, Martin, and Jankovsky suggest or imply that the sellers of the subject property have acted wrongly.

30-11-101 Powers of Counties

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