Sheriff's Office stays a sheriff's office

Commissioners reject Gary Wall's plan to move to downtown

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— New Sheriff Gary Wall will keep his office at the Routt County Sheriff's Office west of town.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Friday there is not enough room at the Routt County Courthouse to house another county official. Instead, Stahoviak said the Routt County Board of Commissioners offered Wall a conference room to hold daily, weekly or monthly hours.

Wall said he's not interested.

"That was never my intention," he said. "I wanted an office downtown that would allow me to be more involved in county government and more accessible to other county officials."

Wall did not attend a work session when the commissioners were discussing the matter, Stahoviak said.

"We suggested that if he feel this is an important way to reach the citizens of Steamboat Springs that he establish some type of open hours in North Routt, South Routt and West Routt," she said.

Wall said he never expected residents to come visit him in downtown Steamboat Springs.

"That's not what I was asking for," he said. "I'll get out of my office to reach the residents. It wasn't necessarily to meet people. I wanted more access to meetings and other things. "

Stahoviak said the plan to remodel the Routt County Courthouse to give the commissioners a larger meeting room and to bring other county officials together simply did not leave enough room for Wall to have office space in the building.

"If they don't have space, they don't have space," he said. "It's fine."

Wall campaigned heavily on being more accessible. He said putting his office downtown was a way to do that and he said the plan "resonated well" within the community.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

WZ 7 years, 10 months ago

In all of my years in this town, I have never had to pay a visit to Stohaviak and/or the office she represents. On the contrair, I have had more an occasion to visit with the sheriff and his/her office. She should be more community conscious and swap offices with you in the west end. But regardless, that's ok, Gary, downtown Steamboat Springs is not for locals anyway. It's for tourists. If Nancy continues to feel she needs to be more "accessible" than the sheriff, then you should ask for office space in Jim Cooke's Colorado Group Realty office building. Why, it's just across the street from the courthouse. There is a tacky table with chairs with easy access right behind the front (broken) glass doors and windows. I have never ever seen any person using that space/furniture.

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Bobbie_Dooley 7 years, 10 months ago

The Board of County Commissioners is where a clean sweep needs to take place. I still cannot believe that Routt County residents have not burned at least of few of the current commissioners on top of a wood pile for the colossal wastes of taxpayer funds they have committed--funds that have been diverted from basic services toward their boondoggles.

Stahoviak's assersion that there is no room for Gary Wall to have an office in the Court house makes me laugh. There is room for him there right now. There will be even more room for him after the waste- of- money -remodel.

Yeah...I know that Nancy S does cut a wide swath. But there is still room for the Sherrif.

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goldilocks 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't support everything that the commissioners have done, and I agree that changes need to happen at that level. But this is one decision I agree with wholeheartedly. If a person wants to see the Sheriff, the most likely spot to fid them would be at the Sheriff's Office. Wall needs to be there to function as Sheriff. He preaches that he wants to imporve work condition within the SO, but he doesn't fell he needs to work there. Being accessible to the employees of the SO might be a good way to help maintain a staff. The Sheriff should hold his office at the SO.

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Bobbie_Dooley 7 years, 10 months ago

No matter what the assumption is as to where the sheriff should have his office, it is ridiculous for a commissioner to assert that there is insufficient space for the sheriff to have an office in the old Court House building. There is plenty of room in that building now. There will be even more room after the remodel.

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Gadfly 7 years, 10 months ago

Now Gary is backtracking on his promise that he would be accessible to citizens if he had a downtown office. His latest spin is that he never intended to see citizens -- only other County officials -- downtown. Well, Gary, get yourself into one of your fleet of taxpayer-funded vehicles and drive to your meetings, just like the rest of us.

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

Okay, lemmee tell you what happens when you go to the jail and want to see the Sheriff.

You walk into a lobby area where a couple of mouth-breathers peer though bullet-proof glass and eye you suspiciously.

You can't see the sheriff or anybody else from that lobby. You have no idea who is there and who is not. It's an intimidating, cold and impersonal greeting for a citizen who may be there with a valid complaint about a deputy, and the last thing a person in that position wants is to have their business broadcast to all the hidden faces behind the walls.

Hmmmm . . . let's see, which is better for the people in the community? An office accessible to the public without having to go through a bunch of hoops? Or, a place where you have to explain why you want to see the sheriff to three or four people, some of whom might be threatened by what you have to say?

I think Gary Wall has the balls to sit down there where people can see him and deal with them. Maybe he has no reason to fear for his personal safety because he's not a dirty cop. Maybe he feels like it's more important to hear what people on the street have to say than to worry about being confronted with some inconvenient truth.

A reasonable alternative is set up an office for Sheriff Wall in a construction trailer or other temporary building out there in the parking lot at the jail. What an idea! Somebody you can see and talk to, who is visible to the general public. Put in a BIG window so Sheriff Wall can see and be seen.

Sheriff Wall might do more for law enforcement sitting in a place where HE can be observed watching the vehicles moving on U. S. 40 than any amount of traditional policing. Just sitting and watching who comes and goes, and when, could be enough to encourage wrong-doers to move on over to Craig or down to Dillon, etc.

Let's get the Democrats who voted for him mobilized to go door-to-door and collect money to cover the cost. $20,000 should be GENEROUS for such a purpose if other citizens will donate their labor. I'll help. I'll draw the freakin' building plans for FREE.

Any takers?

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, Gadfly, I didn't see your post until I had already sent mine.

If you're right, never mind . . . .

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

Okay, now wait just a second . . .

The County Commissioners spent $15,000,000 of our money to house NON-ELECTED officials (state court judges and support staff) in a Gucci new facility.

You're telling us that those Commissioners can't house an elected COUNTY OFFICIAL in the COUNTY COURTHOUSE?

Sheriff Wall could have his own COURTROOM worth of space when the court folks move down the road, couldn't he?

Something is definitely rotten in the State of Denmark.

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Camo181 7 years, 10 months ago

Question: If it is so important for Wall to have an office "downtown" for whatever reason his (at that moment) justification is, shouldn't he have at least attended the work session when the Commissioners discussed it?

Other than meetings, what are the "other things" he needs access to at the courthouse?

How far is it from the SO's facility to the courthouse in downtown Steamboat? Is he afraid he'll get lost going from the SO to the courthouse? Someone needs to get him a map.

Wall also needs to be informed that Routt County isn't just Steamboat. Maybe hold off for a while telling him this--don't want to confuse him. Get the map first.

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Bobbie_Dooley 7 years, 10 months ago

Id04SP I agree with everything you have written on this reel.

It can be difficult and time consuming to get past the gatekeepers behind the glass at the RCSO for even the seasoned pro who has to deal with these folks and get back there in the ordinary course of business.

To place the Sheriff behind those gatekeepers does not promote easy accessiblity for ordinary citizens.

It is outrageous that in light of how much money is being spent to remodel the old court house a commissioner can have the gall to assert to the public that there is insufficient space to accomodate an office for the sheriff.

I cannot believe that the public is buying this bull crap.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 10 months ago

Evidently, meeting with county officials hasn't been high on his list of priorities, either. Why should he get a an office to be closer to them if he doesn't actually meet with them? No, Roscoe wants to be closer to party headquarters, not to officials or normal, everyday citizens, I'd suspect. How many more months til recall??

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Getitright 7 years, 10 months ago

Maybe Id04SP and Dooley should get their facts straight before criticising the Commisioners for spending so much on the Justice Center. Fact is the Justice Center was mandated by the State of Colorado. The Commisioners had no choice. You can add a million bucks to the bill because Down Towny and his group whined about the location after the decision (with oportunity for public coment) had been made. The additional year of delay resulted in the increase in interest rates and constuction costs. As for Wall, he needs to focus on personnel and administrative problems first. He reminds me of a crybaby 3 year old whose mom wouldn't buy him candy at the grocery store! Wall, get your department in professional order and the respect of the Commisioners and citizens will follow. I applaud the Commisioners!

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ElBorracho 7 years, 10 months ago

Whether or not there is space for Wall downtown, I still don't understand how he thinks he can do his job better from there than from the Sheriff's Office. In either place, getting in touch with other county officials starts with picking up a phone, and much business can be taken care of over the phone. But managing a staff has to be done in person. For those who say the remodel is wasteful, wouldn't it also be wasteful not to use the existing administrative wing in the jail? Wall has talked about the problems within the ranks of the S.O. and the high rate of turnover. Can those of you who support/know this man, can you explain how he planned to manage his staff and improve morale from several miles away? And what kind of message does trying to distance himself from his department's daily send to his deputies? Is his priority here improving the sheriff's office, or trying to stage a county-government coup? Because I think he was elected simply to do the former, at least for now.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 10 months ago

ElBorracho- According to Wall's past statements dealing with Bustos' pay, Gary said,

"To take only his experience as a law enforcement officer as qualifications for the undersheriff position is wrong," Wall said. "It's a hugely administrative job. It's managing people, motivating people and improving morale in the department. It's a person's experience in life, in dealing with employees and people, and it's sharing my philosophical views about improving morale : that will reduce dramatically the turnover, which costs the county thousands of dollars. My position is that (Bustos) is exactly that man."

There's Wall's reason to not "manage" his staff in person; Bustosman will take care of all that. Wall will just be the "figurehead" since he can't arrest anyone yet, either. Dang- $76,000 a year to not have to do the sheriff's job. Pretty sweet deal!

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

Get it Right,

GET IT RIGHT.

The Commissioners did not have to build the justice center. Judge DOucette ordered it, and the County appealed it, and the County won. Then they built it anyway.

The documentation is all available online from various sources. The Colorado Court of Appeals published opinions website is at least one authoritative source.

Please look this up for yourself and GET IT RIGHT!

If the State had mandated it, the State would be paying the bill. That's the law. Those of us who know how to look up the law and read it know this. The fact that it's hard to understand is a stinging indictment of the Colorado legal system, because making things hard for the citizens to understand allows them to be victimized. The State owes us more. We fund them, and we ARE the State.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 10 months ago

Either way, ID, courthouse is getting built, so now Wall can maybe have his office in the Courthouse building...right next to the Sheriff's office. See? Works out for everyone!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah: for all those who didn't understand how Wall was talking from 2 different orifices, on this story we are posting to:

""That was never my intention," he said. "I wanted an office downtown that would allow me to be more involved in county government and more accessible to other county officials." www2.steamboatpilot.com/news/2007/jan/27/sheriffs_office_stays_sheriffs_office/

From www2.steamboatpilot.com/news/2006/dec/31/wall_ready_sheriffs_job/

"Instead, Wall is hoping to leave the office west of town altogether. If he has his druthers, Wall will make his office in the Routt County Courthouse.

He said being downtown is his way of fulfilling a campaign promise to be more accessible to residents. Wall also campaigned on a promise to respect residents' civil liberties and rights."

Accessible to residents...not county officials. Sooooo...which end of the horse is telling a facsimile of the truth?

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

Maybe it's just Alzheimers.

Gary Wall made the following statement (quoted in the Pilot) in an article published on October 31, 2006.

"I have been a police officer, a detective sergeant and a police chief. As the police chief of Vail, I was able to recruit qualified people who wanted to serve as well as protect. We had firm, professional, smart law enforcement, with fairness and accountability. As chief, I had an open door policy that worked well with my employees and with the citizens of our town. We worked together to make a difference."

Maybe the weasel words regarding no direct contact with the public are true when it comes to Routt County, however, he sure gave the impression that he had an open door policy with civilians in Vail.

So, why is Routt County different?

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 10 months ago

Open door policy can be done from any office. If he's going to be open door, he can make sure it happens in RCSO, if his "mantra" is to be believed. Plus, since he can't actually arrest anyone, he should have plenty of time to keep any office door open, no matter where it is.

All my statement showed is that he has already started flip-flopping his words. So far, Wall has worked very hard to look like he's accomplishing change quickly as Sheriff. And so far, nothing's changed. (nothing positive, at least) I'm betting he was counting on that, too. Did he really expect to get Bustos that much money? I doubt it, but politically, it looked as if he was aggressively standing behind his employees...except we didn't hear about the rest of the employees being stood up for in that manner.

No, I, for one, can tell snake oil from hair gel.

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Getitright 7 years, 10 months ago

ido4sp

The appeal won by the County was to allow the Commisoners more time to finish the Justice Center. I agree that the State should have stepped up and put money into the project but state statutes mandate counties to provide adequate facilities (and the state court judges decide what is adequate) and operating costs for courtrooms within their county borders.

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Otto_Stader 7 years, 10 months ago

Getitright,

Only the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court can issue an order requiring the construction of court facilities.

The following text is copied directly from the Opinion issued by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The citation is " In re Court Facilities for the Routt County Combined Court and Concerning the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Routt, 107 P.3d 981 (Colo.App. 05/20/2004)"

"[43] The Board next contends that even if the court possessed the inherent power to order it to provide a new court facility, the court exceeded its authority in issuing the order here because the record does not demonstrate that the Chief Justice approved initiation of this proceeding. We agree.

[44] Section 13-3-108(5), C.R.S. 2003, provides that "construction or remodeling of any court or court-related facility shall be commenced only with prior approval of the chief justice of the Colorado supreme court after consultation with the board of county commissioners; except that a board of county commissioners, at its discretion, may take such actions."

[47] The record here does not indicate that the Chief Justice approved the initiation of this proceeding to require the Board to construct a new court facility. See Pena v. Dist. Court, supra, 681 P.2d at 960. Although the district court stated in its final order that the Chief Justice had given her approval of an earlier floor plan for a proposed court facility, nothing in this record shows that the Chief Justice approved either the initiation of this proceeding or the construction of the facilities required by the order.

[52] Accordingly, we conclude that in the absence of demonstrated approval by the Chief Justice, the district court's order cannot stand.

[53] In light of our holding, we need not address the Board's additional contentions.

[54] The order is vacated. "

As to "who pays the bill," please see the next post.

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Otto_Stader 7 years, 10 months ago

Please note Sections 4(a) and 4(b) which require the use of STATE funds for court-ordered construction of STATE court facilities.

The Colorado Supreme Court is not authorized by law to levy a tax against the people of Routt County to obtain money to construct a facility for the benefit of the STATE government.

13-3-108. Maintenance of court facilities - capital improvements. Statute text (1) The board of county commissioners in each county shall continue to have the responsibility of providing and maintaining adequate courtrooms and other court facilities including janitorial service, except as otherwise provided in this section.

(2) The court administrator, subject to the approval of the chief justice, shall prepare annually a capital construction budget. The capital construction budget shall specify: The additional court housing facilities required for each court; the estimated cost of such additional structures or facilities and whether such additional court structures or facilities will include space used by other governmental units for nonjudicial purposes; and a detailed report on the present court facilities currently in use and the reasons for their inadequacy.

(3) (Deleted by amendment, L. 97, p. 1482, ยง 38, effective June 3, 1997.)

(4) (a) The chief justice is authorized to approve payment of state funds for the construction of any capital improvement facilities to be used for judicial purposes authorized and approved by the general assembly.

(b) The court administrator, with the approval of the chief justice, shall enter into leasing agreements with the governing body of the appropriate local unit of government when joint construction is authorized, or when the approved facilities are also to be used for nonjudicial purposes. The leasing agreement shall provide for the payment of state funds for that portion of the construction costs related to the operation of the courts.

(5) Construction or remodeling of any court or court-related facility shall be commenced only with prior approval of the chief justice of the Colorado supreme court after consultation with the board of county commissioners; except that a board of county commissioners, at its discretion, may take such actions.

I think a lot of people who read my posts don't want to believe that the local courts abuse their power against the people of Routt County. This is a case where the abuse resulted in an expenditure of $15,000,000 or so against a county population of about 21,000 people, or over $700 a head. Break that down to property tax payers (maybe half?) who are assessed by the County, and it's at least twice as much. Routt County expected to collect something over $37,000,000 in taxes for 2004, so do the math for yourself.

And, uh, what are we getting in return for all this money spent on a new courthouse? Plea bargains and light sentences which avoid the trouble and expense of holding a jury trial.

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