Eagle-Vail board postpones weapons policy as tempers flare over money issues | PostIndependent.com

Eagle-Vail board postpones weapons policy as tempers flare over money issues

EAGLE-VAIL — If you’re packing heat at an Eagle-Vail Metro District board meeting, then you may be asked to check your sidearm at the door, if the board passes proposed weapons restrictions.

A confrontation during a board meeting has the Eagle-Vail Metro District board considering the weapons policy.

The policy would prohibit openly carrying weapons and firearms, including handguns, in metro district buildings. Colorado’s concealed carry law is clear in stating that if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, it must remain concealed.

“Brandishing a handgun in an unconcealed manner is strictly prohibited. Handguns must be placed under the supervision of the district manager or designee when not being carried by the permit holder,” the Eagle-Vail proposal says.

“They cooked that up months ago, as a way to suppress my comments. I was intentionally not carrying. You cannot suppress dissent, but it’s not the House of Commons, either.”— Carl Luppens,Eagle-Vail resident

In the end, though, the Metro District board holstered their proposal, opting not to approve it.

Follow the money

Like most fights, this one is about money, and it started in the fall of 2014.

Chuck Toms owns and runs CMT Painting Inc. and won a job painting the Eagle-Vail fence along U.S. Highway 6. His crew did the work in May 2015, and the company was paid $11,000.

Between the time Toms’ company was awarded the job and the time the work was done, Toms was appointed to an opening on the Eagle-Vail Metro District board. That appointment was March 19, 2015.

Community Manager Jeff Layman said the potential conflict of interest was disclosed to the Eagle-Vail community through their meeting minutes in May 2015.

On June 5, 2015, Toms told then-Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams about the potential conflicts.

The issue drew fire when Eagle-Vail resident Aggie Chastain and others started demanding to see the bid documents, records of advertising for bids and records that CMT Painting had insurance at the time.

No records of advertising for bids exist because they did not advertise for bids, Layman said. The Metro District did not keep documents that proved CMT Painting Inc. had insurance, and bid documents for the job were not retained by the Metro District, Layman said.

“We went out to the painting contractors who have done work with the metro district or the community before and asked them to bid,” Layman said at the Oct. 5 meeting.

Toms correctly notified the Metro District of his potential conflict, for both his painting and snow-removal businesses, Layman said.

The Metro District staff is now retaining records under its old policies, as well as a new policy introduced in an Oct. 5 meeting, Layman said.

In an April work session, the staff informed the board that they had not followed their procedures as closely as they should have, Layman said. That also included a $2,200 snow removal job done in the winter of 2017, Layman said.

“I told the board that we regretted those errors and that we view those errors as an opportunity to improve our operation,” Layman said. “Our errors in administering this work should not reflect on Director Toms.”

Mea Culpa

The Metro District staff’s Oct. 5 mea culpa came on the heels of a Sept. 21 meeting in which some Eagle-Vail residents decided they’d had enough.

“This has been brought up repeatedly, from the newspaper, from the board, from the podium. For us to not know what we do, or what we think we should do on this specific issue, I’m just disappointed,” said Steve Daniels, who represents the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association on the Metro District board.

Fifty-one minutes into that Sept. 21 meeting, Eagle-Vail resident Carl Luppens became agitated and approached the board table, accusing the board of “malfeasance,” saying Toms and the board members were being “dishonest” and “corrupt.”

“You can leave,” Toms told him.

“No. I can stay. I can stay right here. I am a member of the public and a member of this community,” Luppens said, walking up to the board table in front of Toms.

“You are being disruptive,” Toms told him.

“I am not being disruptive. I am responding fairly to a ridiculous position and blatant dishonesty and illegality,” Luppens said.

Luppens soon left the room and the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.

One of the board members claimed to have seen a weapon that Luppens was reportedly carrying. Luppens said he was carrying no weapon of any sort.

“They cooked that up months ago, as a way to suppress my comments. I was intentionally not carrying,” Luppens said. “You cannot suppress dissent, but it’s not the House of Commons, either.”

The board called a special meeting on Oct. 5 and immediately went into a 45-minute executive session to discuss a proposed weapons policy for their meetings. When they were done, the Metro District staff issued their mea culpa, and the board decided to do nothing with their weapons proposal.

“We want to maintain an environment free of intimidation, threats, hostile behavior, physical abuse, use of weapons or any other violent acts … which are inappropriate on district property,” the board said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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