Letter: Democrats on meal money | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Democrats on meal money

The executive committee of the Garfield Democratic Party wishes to thank the PI for the Our View editorial of Oct. 20. In many ways, it was a clear discussion of some of the major issues the party and the Acha campaign found after spending thousands of dollars to obtain and hundreds of volunteer man-hours to examine county records.

We undertook this effort to understand better what we believed were issues with management and fiscal responsibility under the current county commissioners. Current and former county employees, as well as individual citizens, pointed us in certain directions to look at in the county records. We were surprised and dismayed to find the instances of potential misuse of county purchase cards for the personal benefit of the commissioners.

Mr. Martin wrongfully pocketed $1,800 in seven weeks of activity. The money was from advance expense allowances from an outside organization to which the county belongs to attend its meetings. He then charged expenses to Garfield County, apparently keeping the money. An audit was conducted at the request of Mr. Gorgey, county manager. As a result, Mr. Martin was required by the independent auditor to repay the money. (A few months later, Mr. Gorgey was ousted, with a substantial severance package.)

Mr. Martin and Mr. Sampson also regularly charge their lunches to the county taxpayers when holding regularly scheduled commission meetings in town. These are simply regular meetings, part of their job expectation, requiring no travel. They claim they do no business at these lunches. We do not understand why these commissioners, employed by us, the taxpayers, and compensated with benefits to the tune of $90,000-plus per year, feel we should buy their meals.

We do disagree with the characterization of the meeting between Mr. Martin and Mr. Shivley and Mr. Quiat. To date, the PI has presented only Mr. Martin’s version of that meeting. Mr. Shivley and Mr. Quiat would be happy to arrange an interview to give their version.

In the column, the Post Independent makes a call for “candidates who give voice to legitimate concerns in the county about the environment, transportation and housing …” We suggest anyone interested in these very important issues visit Acha2016.com and read Mr. Acha’s positions on these issues.

Finally, the Democratic Party has received both positive and negative responses to the release of the audit information. As a friend said, “sometimes you have to take the vinegar with the sugar.” We have definitely gotten both, and not just along party lines. Our interest has been and continues to be responsible, ethical, responsive county government.

Robert Shivley

Garfield County Democratic Party chairman

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