Our View: D.A. recall isn't warranted

At Issue: Effort to recall district attorney

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The effort to recall District Attorney Bonnie Roesink is misguided and could cost taxpayers thousands unnecessarily. We urge residents not to sign the recall petitions.

Craig resident Kathy Oberwitte initiated the recall effort in January. She claims to have secured more than 2,000 signatures on her recall petition. She needs 3,800 to force a recall.

Oberwitte had a disagreement with Roesink regarding a case involving Oberwitte's late brother, Michael Bailey of Craig. Bailey was killed in a February 2006 two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40, about a mile east of Hayden.

A vehicle driven by Morrison resident Dustin Lund collided with Bailey's vehicle. Roesink charged Lund with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor. Oberwitte and her family lobbied Roesink to file a more serious charge - vehicular homicide.

A blood test showed that Lund had methamphetamine in his system when the accident occurred. Problem is, the Colorado State Patrol did not properly gain consent before drawing the blood. In a letter dated March 23, Col. Mark Trostel of the State Patrol wrote, "I agree that the blood draw revealing the presence of methamphetamine would not stand a legal challenge for admissibility before the court and a jury."

Roesink considered the family's request for a stiffer charge, but in January, she announced that the original charge against Lund was the correct judgment. In reality, Roesink had no other option.

Oberwitte, who started the recall petition on Jan. 18, has since said the recall is about more than her late brother's case. Her petition alleges the district attorney has been the cause of "unprecedented" employee turnover, directed an office that lacks consistent prosecution and has allowed the plea-bargaining of "serious felony cases."

Such general criticism can provide Roesink with feedback that can help her improve her office, but it falls well short of what should be the threshold for a recall.

In 2004, the people of the 14th Judicial District chose Roesink as their district attorney for a four-year term. Subverting the people's choice through recall is a serious step that should be reserved as an option of last resort. Roesink has done nothing that warrants triggering that option.

Estimates are a recall could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000, and we are aware of no candidate willing to take Roesink's place.

If her performance as district attorney has not lived up to expectations, the voters can make a different choice 18 months from now, in the 2008 election. But initiating a recall would be an awful waste of the taxpayers' time and money and an unfair disservice to Roesink. Don't sign the petition.

Comments

justice4all 7 years ago

Another flip-flop by the Today. Why did you change your stance??? Political Pressure??? RECALL ROSINK SIGN the petition and let the PEOPLE decide. Everyone makes mistakes. We the voters, made one. We elected Rosink. We deserve an opportunity to make a correction. It is very unfair for the newspaper to attempt to sway opinions. REPORT THE NEWS AND LET THE VOTERS DO THE REST!!! Or are you going to change your name to THE STEAMBOAT ENQUIRER?

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katobe 7 years ago

Scott,

Thank you for allowing me to exercise my freedom of speech. I have sent you the letter to publish in the Today and the Pilot.

Sincerely.

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katobe 7 years ago

If you wish to sign, you must do so by Saturday. Please call 819-1317. Ask for Susan.

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bolter 7 years ago

Bonnie Roesink is way over her head as DA. She does not handle any cases herself. Instead, she attends important meetings and picks out new furniture. The only time we see her is when she is lending the weight of her title to justify the decisions of Kerry St. James (remember the rainbow debacle?). She lets St. James do whatever he wants and micromanages the rest of her subordinates.

The turnover in her office is the laughingstock of Colorado. How much does it cost to interview and train a new deputy DA? Multiply that by the number of Deputy DA's who have split since Bonnie took office. How many? Ten?

Ask anyone who has worked in the DA's office. Many of them are assisting with the recall effort. We deserve better. Recall Roesink.

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katobe 7 years ago

Dear Editorial Board,

Thank you for your response last week on my letter to the editor of not choosing to publish on political issues. However, I am rather disappointed that you are not remaining neutral as you stated in our conversation. It is obvious that you do not understand the purpose of the petition, as it goes far beyond my case. I have done months of research at the court administration reviewing case files on numerous felony cases that have been dismissed and the criminal pleads guilty to a misdemeanor or no charges at all. I'm not sure how this is helping or protecting our community. I just recently heard that we will be having a convicted sexual predator return to community due to light sentencing. Regardless, I respect your opinion and as you should respect my rights as a citizen and a registered voter. The facts of the petition are based on the legitimate claims that are available to the public at the courthouse. In regards to the costs. If there are 3,802 signatures, Bonnie Roesink can chose to resign within 5 days and it costs the taxpayers nothing. If she doesn't then she will incur the tax payers, not the committee. These numbers are from the election clerks themselves. All funds come out of the contingency funds. Moffat = $20,000 Routt = waiting for a reply Grand = $18,000

Sincerely, An American Citizen excercising my rights.

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Scott Stanford 7 years ago

Katobe:

You are correct - the newspaper's position changed in the week since we talked. As a result, we will publish your letter to the editor regarding this case.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221 editor@steamboatpilot.com

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fish 7 years ago

But according to The Steamboat Toilet she (the D. A.) is doing a great job!

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fish 7 years ago

Scott, since changed your opinion on this issue, and as a business have decided to back the D. A.'s office dont you feel that you need to inform your readers what changed your mind. Any comments or explainations? It sounds like you told the group on one side of this issue one thing and then did another? I know that I think that you owe her and your readers more of an explaination that what you have given.

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kingsride 7 years ago

Oh this is right on the "money" If you dont like her vote her out. This recall , as is pointed out in this article is not the right course of action under the circumstances at this time.

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katobe 7 years ago

Beware of "fault" in footprints By Charlie Meyers Denver Post Outdoors Editor Article Last Updated: 04/03/2007 10:58:05 PM MDT

Partial story. see website. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_5586...

A recent column about sportsmen's difficulties with laws regarding trespass prompted an outpouring of response, mostly from people who felt victimized by poorly marked delineation of public land.

David Potter, whose experience while hunting with partner Craig Bullock in Moffat County last archery season is every hunter's nightmare. What follows is an excerpt of his account.

"After the deputy confirmed via the GPS's that we were not there, he gave us everything back and wanted to know where we were camping in case he had more questions. About 20 minutes into dinner, the deputy arrived at our camp. He said the ranch manager now said the footprints were in a different area south of the county road and also stated that corner crossing is illegal so he wanted us charged with trespassing while hunting.

Then exactly three months to the day later, Craig received a summons to appear in court five working days later. There wasn't a single shred of evidence we were the ones that trespassed, only the statement from the ranch manager that he'd seen footprints on his property and the statement from the deputy, who conveniently left out the parts about the manager changing his story or the other two hunters.

"Regardless, Moffat County District Attorney Bonnie Roesink still decided to press charges for trespassing while hunting. My name was on the original complaint, but I hadn't been summonsed yet. Craig had to drive four-plus hours and get a hotel room. The deputy DA offered a plea bargain to 'no hunter orange.' I find that amusing since it was archery season."

A synopsis: After the hunters hired a local attorney, all charges were dropped. Potter's assessment of the event seems accurate enough.

"Basically it was an attempt to scare people away from BLM land so the private owners can reap the dollars associated with trespass fee hunts.

"Apparently in Moffat County you don't have to be trespassing to be charged with it. All the owner needs is footprints on his property and the closest person the sheriff finds is charged and the DA is good to go with that.

"In this case our GPS saved us, but it still costs us a lot of cash and time to defend ourselves against baseless charges when you have landowners who dictate what they want to the sheriff and DA."

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whyquestion 7 years ago

the rainbow thing what ever happened to the guy taking a leak by the gate????? the passerby who called that in thought it was terrible,don't you agree????? the govenor seems to have a lot of respect for this DA!!! Why punish a DA for mistakes made by persons gathering evidence wheres the logic???? that tammy gal needed to go what trumped up charges were taken to trial with help from her friends in law enforcement,routt social services??? should that not have been a CIVIL TRIAL??????It would have saved the taxpayer lots of $$$$$$$$ right????those poor people were found not guilty by jury verdict!!!!! the pilot reporter alexis sure had that one wrong in her take on the case!!!!! the DA is doing a good job let her finish her term!!!!!!!

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geezer 7 years ago

The issues with the current District Attorney's Office go deeper than employee turnover and failure to prosecute serious cases. There is tremendous discrepancy in how cases are treated by the deputies. Relatively innocuous offenses are treated like death-penalty crimes in terms of the amount of money, time, and effort exhorted toward their prosecution. However, more serious crimes are not given the attention they deserve. Furthermore, cases that are similar may or may not be treated with any sort of consistency. Remember the Grand County Vehicular Homicide case of Dan Robbins who was charged with Manslaughter for killing a passenger after he was thought to be speeding and crashed his car? (He was ultimately acquitted because the Chief Deputy DA did not adequately prepare the trial with his witnesses) Compare that to the Oberwitte case where the defendant was charged with a misdemeanor traffic offense.

I understand that each case has individual variables determinative to the ultimate charge or even the plea bargain. However, there is such consistency to the inconsistency that fault of poor management and decision-making cannot be denied.

I also do not fault Chief Judge O'Hara on voicing his concerns about the lack of plea-bargaining. Again, without speaking for the Judge, I believe this was as a result of the deputies over-pursuing not-so-serious offenses while disregarding others. It is a sad fact that serious criminals know the system and find ways to make their prosecution more difficult. The every-day crime, however, is committed by offenders who pose no serious risk of re-offending and tend to make their prosecutions relatively simple (e.g., they admit fault to the investigative agency). The District Attorney bases her plea system on strength of case, therefore, the more hardened and serious criminals most often get better results, be it under-charging or easier plea dispositions, then the defendant who steals rotten vegetables and admits to doing so in an attempt to accept responsibility. The local rule for our prosecutors appears to be: "It is not what you should do to someone, rather, it is what you CAN do to someone."

Mrs. Roesink is a poor manager of people and her office. She does not fight for raises for much-deserving employees and only feeds the skepticism of the community by prioritizing meetings in Denver, or elsewhere, over being in the courtroom or here at home where she would be needed if fit to do her job.

Finally, now is not the time for replacement candidates to voice their desire to replace Mrs. Roesink. Once the recall reaches the appropriate point, if at all, candidates will likely come forward. Another nice job of "fact-checking" by the Pilot.

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katobe 7 years ago

There are two candidates that have expressed interest. If the Pilot did do research one was mentioned right after the campaign started on the radio and in the newspaper. A local in Steamboat. However, it is not the appropriate time for them to come forward. As Geezer said, "once the recall reaches the appropriate point" is when the interested successors come forward. Whether the committee has obtained enough signatures is up to the Secretary of State to determine. Regardless, enough or not enough, Bonnie will be under a magnifying glass, and should be, by the citizens. If there are enough signatures the process will progress forward. If not, there is no shame on the committee for exposing the inconsistencies in our judicial system. But best of luck to Ms. Roesink in 2008. I'll bet on that re-election any day.

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corduroy 7 years ago

Does the ENTIRE staff of the Steamboat Pilot and Today agree with this siding of the story? I'm just curious, because it seems very unlikely that all the employees of the paper feel exactly the same way. Honestly I never really enjoyed the paper's "Our View" section. I don't care what the paper's "View" is. I just want the news.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years ago

"Our View" is the view of the editorial board. It's the company's officially worded position on a subject and not the employees. Just like any business, if an employee doesn't agree with the company policies, they are free to go work with any company the do agree with.

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katobe 7 years ago

You all should go read the posts on the craigdailypress.com readers forum. Very interesting facts have been stated about a case that was very unethical. Somebody has done their homework.

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justice4all 7 years ago

I read the story mentioned above in the Craig Daily and find it amusing that Moffat County would hire Hinkle as a deputy for Dinosaur. Is he not the previous deputy marshall that removed 2 handguns from the dept when worked there, kept them in his possession for over 6 months after he left the department, moved them a couple times to another county and never made an attempt to return them? SOUNDS LIKE FELONY THEFT TO ME!!! This is another case of the D A 's failure to do her job and sweeping it under the table. I am very dis-appointed in our new sheriff in making this hiring decision. Starting to seem that my vote for Jantz was also a mistake.

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