(Where there’s a recall, there’s a Gessler — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
It’s a basic maxim of plumbers that “Shit flows downhill.” An epic battle over whose shit will flow downhill from the foothills of western Jefferson County, through the scenic Rooney Valley area, to the Denver Water Treatment plant, and where and when said shit will flow, has been raging in western Lakewood since 2018. This battle over sewer rights in Rooney Valley development has been fought, not in the Lakewood City Council chambers, where the Rooney Valley Commission meets, but in the halls of the Green Mountain Water and Sewer District., which plans where and how the shit flows…..and who pays for it to flow. At a recent, unpublicized Green Mountain Water District (GMWD) meeting, three board members who are facing a recall election fired existing counsel, and hired Scott Gessler at much greater expense, to represent GMWD against a developer lawsuit to keep a sweet sewer deal going.
Satellite view of Rooney Valley Area
The IGA and lawsuit
The battle of the sewer pipes for planned development in Rooney Valley has been fought by stealth and subterfuge, with secret meetings, shouting matches, shifting alliances, dramatic turnarounds, slander and betrayal of allies. Financial reports were not filed, minutes of meetings were not published, lawyers were hired and fired in secret, and the Green Mountain water customers in general did not know what would be happening with their water bill monies and whose poop would be flowing down what sewer lines….and who would pay for it. The prior board of directors made an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with a consortium of developers. The IGA expanded the GMWD sewer area, but did not specify who would pay for the infrastructure costs. When these costs are undefined, rate payers pick up the bill. That is why voters in the district voted out the prior board of directors in 2018.
However, the new “reform” board of directors refused to honor the IGA and terminated that agreement, leaving the district open to a $150 million lawsuit from the developers who now wouldn’t get the freebie poop pipes in their brand new “special district” added on to the existing Green Mountain Water District area. The lawsuit was dismissed when the water district’s counsel, Jo Timmons, made a winning argument based on TABOR- the district’s ratepayers had never had the opportunity to vote yes or no on the special district, increased infrastructure costs, and the sweet deal for developers. The court dismissed the developer’s lawsuit on May 6, 2021.
Bad Governance and the recall election
Some of the new board members also demonstrated spectacularly bad governance – they didn’t publish minutes or financial reports, they held secret meetings, and hired and fired lawyers at great cost to the district. They voted to prohibit citizen comments at GMWD meetings.
From the recall petition:
- These Directors have….
- doubled the number and length of Board meetings recently, costing the District over $40,000.
- spent over $400,000 in legal fees over the past 12 months.
- pushed for Green Mountain Water to build an unnecessary “pedestrian bridge” in one of the ravines that would cost the Water District almost $240,000 in capital funds.
- failed to balance the budget, operating our District in the RED for several years, despite raising our rates.
Because of all of this bad governance, a group of GMWD consumers instituted a recall election for three of the directors. Karen Morgan (Treasurer), Alex Plotkin (Secretary) and Jeffrey Baker (Vice President) of the Green Mountain Water District are facing a recall election on October 5, 2021. If you live in the GMWD district, you will get a mail- in ballot to vote on the recall. To date, six successor candidates have stepped forward to fill the vacancies if the director recall effort is successful. Nominations are not yet certified; so names can’t yet be released. Community Resource Services is running the recall election at a cost of $40,000 – 80,000.
Aaand….enter the Money Badger
The latest development in this clusterf*ck is that the GMWD Board just fired ( by a 3-2 vote) their existing counsel, Jo Timmons – yes, the one who made the winning argument leading to a dismissal of the developer’s lawsuit, thus saving the district $150,000. To replace her, the district hired Scott Gessler, aka the “Money Badger”. Gessler will be representing the Green Mountain Water District in the remaining 5-6 developer lawsuits. No, the developers have not given up on their freebie poop pipeage.
Gessler was suddenly hired in a last-minute meeting on Monday, August 9, 2021. He can be seen in this video being dismissive of Ms. Timmons and of GMWD customers, and apparently not knowing the difference between the District’s Board of Directors and the District itself. Gessler was reportedly rude and profane to GMWD customers at the Monday board meeting. According to Brenda Bronson, who attended the meeting, Gessler
- – demonstrated a total lack of control by interrupting every single person who tried to speak on the topic
- – used bullying & profanity & name calling instead of professional communication (“crap” “liar” , called two people of color – Charles Torres and Christopher Arlen “cockroaches”)
- – yelled “you’re crazy” to one and declared “you don’t have a brain in your head” to another
Monday night massacre: Mr. Timmons and Jo Timmons, Scott Gessler, unknown community member, Mike Muller, Rita Bertolli, and attorney Charles Torres. Photo courtesy of Brenda Bronson.
Gessler is credibly accused of having conflicts of interest : some of the developers who are parties to the lawsuit against GMWD are also Gessler’s campaign donors (Stevinson Group gave $10K in 2016). According to dismissed counsel Jo Timmons, Frank Visciano, an attorney for one of these developers, said that Gessler had promised a settlement to Visciano’s client, Stream Realty. Gessler will charge the district $209-300k to represent the district in the remaining 5-6 cases, as opposed to Timmons’ estimate of $20-22k total to finish out all the remaining cases. Gessler, as readers of this blog know, has a long history of unethical conduct.
So, to recap: three of the Board members voted to replace the lawyer who successfully defended GMWD, saving the District $150,000, with Gessler, an ethically-challenged “Money Badger” who will cost GMWD ten times as much, and who is accused of making settlement offers to the suing developers.
So we still don’t know if the poop will flow down the new pipes, or indeed if the pipes will ever be placed. But we do know who will pay for it either way: the rate paying customers of the Green Mountain Water District. And we know who will make bank: Scott Gessler- as usual.
A good friend of mine is one of the six candidates you reference.
I have several friends who are involved in the recall effort. They know that I don’t really support the recall, ( any recall for less than criminality or proven corruption), and would prefer folks get voted out next May if GMWD customers want them out. The recallees were right to quit the developer-friendly IGA, I think.
The problems lie in the Board’s lack of transparency and autocratic way of dealing with the community. Their boneheaded decision to hire a more expensive, more corrupt, less truthful legal counsel (Gessler) is a prime example of the way they roll.
wow: facty truthiness that highlights representative democratic government at work. Or not, as the case may be.
Nice job, kwt.
Correction: the date of the recall election is October 5, not the 4th. It’s probably irrelevant as it is a mail ballot / ballot drop box election. I’ll fix the text once this article drops off the front page.
UPDATE: Fixed that and another error. (number of board members = 5 – vote to fire Timmons and retain Gessler was 3-2). Also added that Gessler’s “cockroach” comments were directed at two people of color who were attending and commenting – attorney Charles Torres and City Council candidate Christopher Arlen.
Reminding me why I live in the Socialist Paradise of the the City & County of Denver
With an attorney like this:
isn't there SOME possibility of professional discipline? Interrupting and insults are probably not actionable on their own, but the lack of civil communication is an indication of SOME sort of disruption in the Mondy Badger's professionalism. .