Ignacio town board agenda caused complaints among participants

Wednesday's Ignacio Town Board meeting agenda was very short. For some meeting participants, that was a problem.

Trustee Tom Atencio broke in to the start of a presentation of plans for the new grocery store. "I want to bring up an item of town business," he said. "Every item that we brought up that's being ignored has to be on the agenda" before it can be discussed? "I asked for an item last month. I also called and asked for it to be (on the agenda) this month. You can't talk about it? What's happening?"

Town Manager Lee San Miguel responded, "I'm trying to get all the items on the agenda."

Atencio persisted, "I've talked to you about a safety matter with the gas line. You said you would look at it to see if a 'hot tap' is safer. I brought it up three months ago."

He has challenged as unsafe the way town public works employees were cutting into a gas main to connect a new service line. San Miguel has said that employees were doing it the way they were trained.

Atencio asked, "Is somebody in this town likely to get burned before we look into safety matters?"

Former public works employee Robert Overturf, who has made separate complaints about allegedly improper or illegal practices, said, "Apparently that's what it's going to take. I've been coming (to board meetings) for four months."

San Miguel said, "We aren't doing that welding any more."

Atencio responded, "Hot tapping doesn't have anything to do with welding."

San Miguel said, "We've stopped doing it (taps into a gas main). When we have a connection, we'll bring in a contractor."

"Pass it on to the other guy," Atencio muttered.

At the start of the meeting, Overturf pressed for responses to his previous complaints about public works practices. He has said those are why he resigned.

"The town needs to take action now," he said and called for both the town manager and Public Works Director James Brown to resign. Brown wasn't at the meeting.

Changing the subject, audience member Kasey Correia asked, "As a business owner, is the board giving any consideration to becoming a home rule town instead of statutory?"

San Miguel said, "We'll get back to you. It's not on the agenda."

Correia then made that request to be on the agenda.

Later in the meeting, Town Clerk Georgann Valdez also wanted to discuss the meeting agenda "and how things are put off because they aren't on the agenda, so there's never a resolution." She cited Overturf's repeated complaints. "He's asked for an answer and hasn't gotten one," she said.

She also cited lack of a decision on any funding for training in the Character Counts program.

Agendas used to have a miscellaneous category, she said, or ongoing items under unfinished business.

Atencio agreed. "Things that aren't brought up because they aren't on the agenda. We need a way to bring up old business even if it's not on the agenda."

Valdez continued, "Tom asked three or four months ago to get a report on items that have been discussed... Especially if it's brought up in a public meeting, the answer should be public."

Trustee Alison deKay suggested that in some cases, such as some of Overturf's complaints, it's not that the matter wasn't resolved, but that it wasn't resolved the way he wanted.

Atencio said he got an e-mail from San Miguel about one of Overturf's issues, but Overturf didn't get that information. "He should get the same information. If we discuss it here and somebody in the community has a concern, we should have the decency to respond back, especially if it's been on the agenda."

Trustee Dixie Melton suggested, "If it's not resolved, it should automatically go on unfinished business, such as Character Counts."

Mayor Stella Cox added, "We should have some time frame for how long it will take to resolve some things."

A short time later, Valdez said, "Tom has asked three or four times to get things on the agenda, and it's dropped."

"Can I make a motion?" Atencio asked.

"It's not on the agenda," Valdez said.

"Put it on the next agenda," Atencio said.