OPINION: We the people?

Delta County Commissioners have made an interesting addition to their public meeting agenda. If you follow these things, you know there is a regular agenda item called “constituent time,” the time that “we the people” bring issues to the board. Just recently, this agenda item has been revised to include an unusual disclaimer. It begins by explaining the reason for the time. Since this seems fairly obvious to me, I can only assume that the real purpose of the disclaimer would appear in its last sentence — “No decisions are made during constituent time.”

Why does the county feel the need to establish this at all? Remember folks, the commissioners are under no obligation to make a decision on any agenda item. Reference, for example, DCI reporter Hank Lohmeyer’s articles covering the board meetings, which are littered with phrases like “the board took under advisement” or “no action taken.” It seems, however, that the one thing the board has decided to do, is NOT to decide anything when “we the people” show up.

Why would our representatives do this? Why eliminate that option from themselves and “we the people”? Why single out constituent time?

It is tough enough to participate in constituent time. The 9 a.m. Monday morning slot is not a user-friendly time for most people; and presenting your concerns in a public setting can be nerve- racking. Sitting in front of three Commissioners staring down at you is an intimidating situation, no doubt. So why would they make matters worse by telling citizens right off the bat that “No decisions are made during constituent time”? What is the message the county is sending to the public? Is there really a need to make a difficult situation more unwelcoming?

This latest act by the county fits a pattern of behavior that should be disturbing to us all. Required meeting notices and agendas are being posted behind locked doors and out of sight, or often, not being posted at all. Both of these actions are violations of the Open Meetings Act and blatant, repeated, violations of the law. Town hall meetings have all been cancelled, leaving only constituent time for the public to meet with the Board.

And now, the only item on the commissioners’ agenda where they openly declare that no decisions will be made is the people’s allotted time spot.

I am not sure whom the commissioners think they represent, but it would appear it isn’t “we the people.”

Bob Kalenak
Hotchkiss, CO