Hiring of husband irks ex-employees
A former deputy district attorney said District Attorney Colleen Truden made changes in the district attorney’s office for the sole purpose of distinguishing herself from her predecessor, Mac Myers, and lost touch with the office’s mission of justice.Former employees continue to allege District Attorney Colleen Truden committed indiscretions by paying her husband to work in her office, which she admitted Monday.Truden hired her husband to replace Glenwood Springs-based computer firm Micro Solutions, remodeled the office and issued picture IDs for no reason other than to distinguish the new administration from the old, said former deputy district attorney Martin Beeson. Beeson left Truden’s office April 22.”In my view the new administration engaged in change just for the sake of change,” he said. Truden had also asked staff to pick out new district attorney office badges, at a cost of about $100 each, by the time Beeson left, he said.”The mission of the office is to provide justice to the district … and to me there was no focus on the mission,” he said.Truden was changing “anything she could,” said Beeson. Beeson took greatest issue with changes that resulted in increased costs because Truden withheld cost-of-living raises for employees, which the Garfield County Commissioners approved. Truden later implemented the raises. The biggest change, however, was in computer service providers. Former employees say Truden got rid of Micro Solutions to hire her husband, Fred. Truden told the Garfield County Commissioners that Fred was not on the payroll, but provided emergency computer services as a contract employee. She told them she intended to use the county’s computer specialist and had used the private firm Desktop Solutions.Desktop Solutions owner Bob McNutt said company policy prohibited him from discussing whether the district attorney’s office was a client without consulting clients.But former employees said Fred Truden was at the office at least every other day for months. Asked whether they thought Fred Truden was a replacement for Micro Solutions, both Beeson and former deputy district attorney Jeff Cheney said in separate interviews, “Yes, absolutely.”Garfield County Commissioner John Martin said he understood from the BOCC’s meeting with Truden that she intended to use the county’s information technology department. But also said he didn’t know whether Truden had done anything improper. Truden told the commissioners that the county’s IT department wouldn’t have been available until April.”I will give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” he said.Garfield commissioners have scheduled a special meeting with Truden for the first part of June, he said. At that time, he said, “If she’s done anything improper, we will know.”Commissioner Tresí Houpt, however, seemed worried at what she perceived as Truden’s evasiveness. “As an elected official, any time you hire a family member there are rules for disclosure,” Houpt said. “I think it is important to be straightforward.”Fred Truden’s hiring, on any level, irritated both Micro Solutions and former employees. “The day Truden showed up we were done,” said Micro Solution’s co-owner Jon Wiethoff.”We set (the system) up, we maintained it, we knew how it worked,” he said. Wiethoff said he felt like a private small business was let go so the Trudens could make more money.Beeson and Cheney said they were irritated because computer problems came with Fred Truden. “All I know is that I had no problems with my computers until Fred Truden started working on them,” Cheney said.With attorneys speaking ill of their former boss, and with talk of a recall circulating, motives for speaking up may be suspect. But Beeson and Cheney both said they’ve commented only when the press contacted them. “I believe this is a woman who holds a public position of trust, and she’s breached that trust,” Beeson said. “She’s not engaged in (the office’s) mission … I think the public needs to know what they have in this office.” Colleen Truden returned a phone message seeking comment with an e-mail that sought more information about the Post Independent’s interview request, but then didn’t return subsequent phone calls. Fred Truden also didn’t return phone calls.
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