When Mr. Schlegel's predecessor, Rattlesnake Fire Chief Dale Goetz, began running for Commissioner in 2006, he turned the Fire Chief's job over to Jeff Buckley in order to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest. Mr. Schlegel's colleague, John Shipper, did not announce his candidacy for Commissioner until after the sales tax for roads, which he supported, was passed. Both men were well aware of the issue of conflict of interest.
We urge Commissioner Schlegel to resign from either the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners, and/or the Board of Directors of the Elkhorn Ranch Metropolitan District #1, immediately to avoid a conflict of interest. His current service on both governmental bodies could lead to conflicting interests in any number of transactions; leading to financial remuneration, insider dealing, insider information, and possible graft. We do not know if acting County Attorney Kevin Burke has recommended this move, but hope he has.
A Metropolitan District is by law allowed to tax, improve and maintain streets, buy water, supervise and direct sanitation, build and maintain parks and rec centers, control traffic, provide public transportation, take care of antennas for TV relay and other services, and participate in mosquito control. So can a Board of County Commissioners.
Let's take an instance: Elkhorn right now buys its water from Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority at a certain rate. If a new water entity, Elbert and Highway 86, can sell water at a cheaper rate to Elkhorn, Elkhorn might buy it. Who wouldn't? Who helped approve the Elbert and Highway 86 Water Entity? The Board of County Commissioners, of course! Who is on both the BOCC and the Elkhorn Ranch Metropolitan District #1 Board? Commissioner Schlegel!
Much like insider-trading, the inappropriate back and forth flow of information or opportunities for taking self enriching action is inevitable. So too will be the legal actions taken against all parties involved.
Either Mr. Schlegel did not understand the connection when he stated that he had "no conflict of interest" on his two public boards, or Mr. Schlegel is being devious. He pointed out, on July 13th, that Mrs. Duvall was not accurate in her portrayal of his serving on a "water board," and requested that she retract her statements regarding his service. Mrs. Duvall's only mistake was in her wording. The Elkhorn Ranch Metropolitan District #1 controls water for the subdivision.
The same thing could occur with a new road builder who wants to waive a fee before the BOCC; with regulations concerning transmitter towers; with expansion on Road 186 in the valley where Elkhorn is located; with new County construction of a library or other public building; even with a County-wide campaign to eradicate mosquitoes.
Although Mr. Schlegel's work experience has been entirely for governmental entities: he was in the armed forces, then was an employee of Aurora Fire, then consulted regarding emergency services for public entities, such as Aurora Fire; he must have a concept of what conflict of interest means and should therefore act.
The information above is taken, in large part, from the website of Miller and Associates, Law Offices, LLC, Denver, Colorado. They represent both the Elkhorn Ranch Metropolitan District #1 and the Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metro District. So they share a lawyer; so what? Outside of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, Denver has the most lawyers per square inch. In a town rich in lawyers, why do they have the same one? It's probably just really convenient for someone
Lawyers, in the best interests of their clients, are bound to give their clients the best advice they can. If Miller and Associates know of a completely legal deal between an enterprising water district and an enterprising Metropolitan District, they will certainly divulge the information: that's their job. Right?
Are Mr. Schwab and Mr. Shipper comfortable with a colleague whose actions could be questioned so intently? Do all three want the potential legal headaches that will follow?
By The Editors
Avoid Conflict Of Interest, Real Or Imagined, Mr. Schlegel!