From the Editor: Douglas County, cough it up

The investigation of Commissioner Lora Thomas is publicly funded and should be released


A few months ago, Douglas County commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal decided to come together and vote to have fellow commissioner Lora Thomas investigated.

In the April vote, Laydon and Teal removed Thomas as chair of the board and wanted her investigated for conduct after she allegedly circulated an anonymous letter criticizing employees of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Apparently, they felt Thomas was doing things for her own political advantage.

Fast forward to July and the $17,000 report is now completed. However, while taxpayers funded the latest episode between Thomas and the two male commissioners, it appears Teal and Laydon are not as excited about letting the people read it.

After an executive session to discuss the report’s finding, Thomas publicly stated she wanted the report released. The other two disagreed, calling it “privileged and confidential.”

Here’s the problem — you want to use taxpayer money to act like three children fighting over who gets to go first on the dodgeball court — you don’t get to decide to keep it all secret.

Douglas County is a highly educated community and citizens can easily read through the report and decide for themselves what they think.

Secondly, if that report had stated Thomas was indeed guilty of the allegations, Commissioners Teal and Laydon would have voted so fast to release it to the public. But because the nearly $20,000 venture seems to be nothing but a big waste of time and money, they are not so eager to show their cards.

Instead, Laydon and Teal believe the county coffers are this open pit of money to continue carrying out vendetta after vendetta. Now, they must investigate how the report got out to a TV station. Let’s call it a waste of money because as of right now, our reporter, Elliott Wenzler, should be reading the report. As of right now, any member of the public who has requested it should be reading it.

Spending more money to get back at Thomas is childish and should only happen if Laydon and Teal want to fund it themselves.

On his Twitter page last week, Laydon talked about how the report showed things Thomas had done wrong. How it proved her wrongdoing, but he didn’t believe it should be public.

Sorry gentlemen, you do not get to vote and spend the money and then hold all the power on who can and cannot see it. It’s called transparency, and if you cannot live with the results of the can of worms you opened — you should find another line of work.

Now, looking at the bigger picture. The ongoing feud between the three of you has grown tiresome. The reports of you all yelling at each other during business hours in your offices is ridiculous. The way you treat each other in meetings is unprofessional and unacceptable.

Citizens of Douglas County deserve better than how all three of the commissioners treat each other.

The will of the people voted all of you into the seats you are currently sitting in. All of you need to respect each other and the fact that the people voted for each of you.

To citizens — I say it may be time to research options on how this three-member board can be turned into five. With five members, the bullying, bickering and continued nonsense may stop when two do not have the opportunity to go against one at every turn.

As of press time, the report had not been made public. The commissioners were supposed to discuss the issue further this week. I can only hope they chose the right path in terms of transparency and the public’s right to know.

Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.

Update: After the Colorado Community publication deadline, the Douglas County Commissioners did agree to allow a redacted report to be provided. Colorado Community Media has been provided a copy as of Aug. 9.)


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