Please resign, BOCC says
The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on May 29 voted no confidence in Sheriff Terry Maketa and urged him to resign.
It was strictly a symbolic maneuver, based on commissioners' belief that Maketa is unfit to serve and can't lead the department in light of allegations of sex discrimination, extramarital affairs with subordinates and unfair treatment of employees. Maketa's third and final term ends in January.
The board noted before its unanimous vote that the action wasn't an indictment for wrongdoing, but rather linked to concerns that the allegations create a distraction to the department's mission, especially now that commissioners have authorized an independent investigation and employees are being asked to participate.
Here's the bottom line: It's difficult to remove a sheriff who won't leave on his own.
To recall him would require 44,387 signatures of registered voters in time for the Nov. 4 election. However, state law prevents recall petitions from being circulated for an elected official whose term ends within six months, Clerk and Recorder's Office spokesman Ryan Parsell says in an email. In Maketa's case, that means a recall petition would have to be circulated before July 12.
County Attorney Amy Folsom says via email that statutes assign "no supervising body ... the automatic implied authority to 'place' the Sheriff on administrative leave. The only time a Board of County Commissioners has the authority to place another elected official on unpaid leave is if he or she is convicted of a felony or 'infamous crime.'"
It's also possible for Colorado legislators to impeach elected officials "for high crimes or misdemeanors or malfeasance in office," though it's extremely rare.
In a video made available to employees Saturday, Maketa apologized for his "inappropriate behavior" but reiterated he would not step down.
Elder ponders changes
The sole candidate seeking to succeed Sheriff Terry Maketa hasn't decided whether to remove Maketa's so-called workplace girlfriends when he takes office in January, but Bill Elder says he has a number of other changes in mind.
Elder, Fountain's deputy police chief and local Republicans' choice for the office, says in an interview that he won't pre-empt a county investigation by weighing the fates of comptroller Dorene Cardarelle, dispatch trainer Tiffany Huntz and Undersheriff Paula Presley. But Elder does say that while he wouldn't keep her as undersheriff, he might retain Presley in some other role.
"It's not one of those things [where] you want to start off void of talent and leadership," he says.
Meanwhile, Elder says three commanders should "get back to work." Robert King, Mitch Lincoln and Rodney Gehrett were placed on administrative leave May 13 by Maketa after filing EEOC complaints alleging the sheriff had engaged in misconduct, including affairs with subordinates.
"I don't see anything they did wrong," Elder says, "I think the command staff is too light to not pay attention to talented leaders who are available to be used."
Once in charge, Elder wants to abolish or mitigate a state law that requires employees to serve "at the pleasure of" the sheriff, meaning the sheriff can fire anyone for no reason. "There's no checks and balances on it," he says. "What I'll do is put policies in place for appeals, some safeguards that I hope will give people some confidence that we would never use that."
Carbon rule comes home
A proposed regulation, unveiled Monday, to slash power-plant carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 triggered pro and con statements across the state and country, and set up a vociferous fight between environmentalists and conservatives.
City-owned Colorado Springs Utilities, which derives 60 percent of its power from coal (when Martin Drake Power Plant is online), began sifting through the EPA's 1,500-page proposed rule Monday.
"All we can ascertain so far is, it seems to give states flexibility" in achieving the goal, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said. "Beyond that, we just don't know what all it's going to entail from our end."
Berry predicts the rule would be a factor in determining how long Drake operates. The plant is shuttered after a May 5 fire that led to an employee deemed responsible no longer being employed by Utilities, which was announced Monday.
Sulfur dioxide, not carbon, is the target of the Neumann Systems Group technology being installed at Drake.