BREAKING: Mesa County Email Scandal Heats Up! District Attorney Contacted along with Freedom of Information Coalition.
VetTheGov's October 12, 2016 CORA request has turned into quite the rabbit hole of late, and has at least so far exposed the lack of transparency often feared in local governments. Of the documents finally received from Mesa County Attorney's Office, a timeline of events surrounding an email drafted by the Clerk & Recorders manager Patti Inscho to the county commissioners and the Daily Sentinel, shed some interesting insight into county governments behavior when discussing budget constraints. VetTheGov will provide the timeline of interesting emails between the Mesa County elections division, county commissioners, and the Daily Sentinel. Is this email scandal a scheme of frustrated county employees trying to get more liberal minded big government spending individuals elected into contested county commissioner seats? Are there emails not being provided that would prove this probability? Is there a personal vendetta between county employees and county commissioners? You will see in the emails that were provided, that nothing else makes much sense of why the email made its way to the Daily Sentinel before the commissioners had any time to respond to Patti Inscho's email.
Here are the emails in order by dates and times beginning with original CORA request to the received emails "responsive" to VetTheGov's request.
Timeline of Email & Text Received
-Date August 16, 2016 at 2:52 PM, County Administrator Frank Whidden sends out county wide email to all department heads of an impending $400,000.00 shortfall in the county wide vacancy savings budget.
-Beginning at 3:27 PM on same day, Clerk & Recorder Sheila Reiner responds to Frank Whidden and all department heads asking if she missed a meeting and didn't think this year was looking bad. Sheila also asked, "So did the group agree on this strategy or are the Commissioners unexpectedly concerned and are pulling the emergency break?"
-McInnis responds at 3:38 PM on same day and have a couple of back and forth emails showing Sheila being surprised by the actions being implemented by the county.
-August 17, 2016 the Daily Sentinel publishes story, "Slump forces county into hiring freeze."
-August 18, 2016 at 2:27 PM, a text message from Jesse in the elections division to Sheila says, "Uh... This sounds terrible," with a clip of the vacancy portion shortfall mentioned in the Sentinel article is visible and then the words (From the Sentinel) are under the news clip. Sheila responds, "Yuk."
Interesting to Note: Clerk & Recorder Sheila Reiner already knew about this in the email received on August 16th from Frank Whidden. Why didn't Sheila Reiner immediately tell her staff about the hiring freeze? Did she purposely refuse to tell them so they would learn of this via local media? Did Sheila Reiner draft "Plan A" of using the media for communicating to her staff versus directly?
-August 23, 2016 at 3:23 PM an email from Patti Inscho (work email) to Sheila Reiner (work email) with an attached dear commissioners 2016.docx letter attached with Patti being unsettled by recent press from the county commissioners. Patti is reaching out to Sheila asking her to review the letter in order to not shoot her foot off. Patti also states she is considering sending a copy to letters to the editor.
-Sheila responds to Patti at 5:14 PM stating, "You nailed the issue from an employees view point. I would never discourage honest and direct communication."
Question: Honest and direct communication? Why didn't Sheila communicate the budget constraints directly to her staff??? Why didn't she fess up to Patti that she knew about this prior to the Sentinel story? Did Sheila help write the letter or change any wording so that it wouldn't get Patti feet shot off? Did Sheila between the 16th and 23rd orchestrate these media events?
-Patti responds back at 5:27 via iphone and at 5:37 PM Sheila tells Patti via iphone "thanks for giving me a heads up."
-August 23, 2016 at 6:41 AM Patti Inscho sends her letter to all three commissioners.
-August 23, 2016 at 7:46 AM Patti Inscho sends her letter to Mike Wiggens at the Daily Sentinel. Patti states to the Sentinel that commissioners failed to communicate with county employees. Patti continues on and states that she has only received communication from the media and is why she is using media to respond to the commissioners. Patti then states she would forward this email to the letters to the editor section.
From this point forward, VetTheGov did not receive any county commissioner responses to Patti's original email even though they existed. Why would the county attorney not release the commissioners responses from the county commissioners? Was "Plan A" in effect by the county attorney's office? On to Plan A...
-August 29, 2016 at 3:31 PM, Sheila sends email to entire staff about Patti's intent of responding to the commissioners since her entire staff found out via the Sentinel instead of Sheila. Sheila then mentions about 'Plan A" of not supporting communicating via press.
Questions: Sheila knew about the hiring freeze on August 16th, yet still sends email to her entire team acting as if she was sorry her staff had to learn about the freeze from the media instead of her? What is Plan B, C, D, or E??? Well if VetTheGov received all the related CORA responsive documents, we might have the answer. However, Pat Coleman suggest in the video below the county will take care of the county and his office doesn't even need to acknowledge the documents even exist!!!
VetTheGov received email documentation directly from Commissioner Pugliese proving that there were in fact communications from the commissioners back to Patti Inscho. See the email string below.
VetTheGov has contacted the District Attorney's office and requested an investigation into CORA violations within the county government under C.R.S. 24-72-206, additional elections rigging or fraud investigation to be conducted within the elections department, contacted the Freedom of Information Coalition and have their attorney's reviewing the documents, and have filed yet another CORA request with Mesa County in order to get all responsive documents originally requested on the 12th of October. Is this how county employees respond when they hear more budget cuts and no raises? Stay tuned....In the meantime reach out to your elected officials and demand an investigation and demand transparency!
Here is the original scandal being exposed at recent public hearing. Watch the video below.