DA Caloia backtracks on ousting Glassmire from task force
Just a few weeks after deciding against renewing the Garfield County coroner’s contract as director of the judicial district’s sexual assault response team, District Attorney Sherry Caloia reconsidered and brought him back.
One of the main reasons for the split was that Coroner Rob Glassmire is working on her political opponent Jeff Cheney’s campaign for DA. Cheney is running as a Republican against Democrat Caloia.
When Glassmire was a sheriff’s investigator and Cheney was the assistant district attorney, the two worked closely and became friends, Glassmire said Wednesday.
And being a Republican himself, Glassmire supported Cheney as soon as Cheney began his bid for the DA’s office.
Caloia knows that Glassmire doesn’t always agree with her theories of prosecution, he said. “But other than this discrepancy, I’ve had a great working relationship with her as the coroner and through SART.”
After Glassmire told Calioa he was working for Cheney’s campaign, they also discovered that his contract had lapsed. It had actually expired at the beginning of the year, and she decided not 0 renew it.
“The contract had expired and I made a decision that he should go,” said Caloia.
To say that he was fired is not quite accurate, said Glassmire. Because his position is as an independent contractor, it’s a little bit different relationship than the normal employer-employee relationship, he said.
As DA, Caloia is an elected official, and she can decide who she wants to hire, fire or contract with, he said.
Glassmire said he hadn’t given much thought to the appropriateness of the DA making employment decisions based on a person’s political activities.
But following an article in the Aspen Daily News about his dismissal, Glassmire reached out to Caloia to express his interest in continuing as the director.
Caloia reconsidered and early this week invited him back to the position.
“I thought it was the best thing to do to reverse my decision,” she said. “I admitted I was wrong; in that sense it was a mistake. Is it a legal mistake? No.”
“Is it understandable to not want someone working for your competitor in your office?” she asked.
Caloia added that SART, a multijurisdictional arrangement spanning the judicial district’s law enforcement agencies, has recently been stagnant.
SART attempts to gather the agencies for discussions about their policies and investigative practices for handling sexual assault cases and victims. But the group has had trouble being effective, partly because the size of the judicial district makes it hard for the smaller agencies to participate, she said.