For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

Rob Douglas: Routt County's April fools


Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— On Wednesday, the Routt County Board of Commissioners demonstrated their brand of April Fools' Day humor by cutting all county employees' pay 10 percent.

What? You don't think that's funny?

Oops. I forgot the punch line.

Commissioners Doug Monger, Nancy Stahoviak and Diane Mitsch Bush, along with every other elected county official, legally are exempt from the cuts because - drum roll, please - our elected representatives in the state Legislature protected themselves, along with all elected officials, from the types of pay cuts you are in danger of every day.

Isn't that a thigh slapper of a belly laugher?

What? Those aren't tears of laughter? They're tears of anguish?

You're right.

Pay cuts aren't funny. And the way the political class protects itself is not amusing either. It's pathetic.

With their decision, the county commissioners - with the notable exception of Mitsch Bush - exemplify the lack of political leadership that Americans are sickened by.

Contrary to their elected counterparts, Mitsch Bush and Routt County Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon illustrate what leadership at a time of hardship looks like. On Wednesday, the duo proved leadership means leading by example, not whining about how little you make to those you supervise and those who elected you.

Setting the bar for elected officials, Mitsch Bush and Whiddon decided to donate 10 percent of their salaries to a community service agency funded by the county in exchange for a matching reduction in county funding for that agency. According to the Steamboat Today, Whiddon "didn't think she could face her employees without participating in the pain with them."

On the other hand, Commissioner Stahoviak used Wednesday's meeting - announced with the minimum legal requirement thereby making it difficult for working folks to attend the midafternoon charade - to bemoan how little she gets paid.

According to the Steamboat Today, "Stahoviak noted that while county employees have enjoyed annual pay increases between 6 and 10 percent, the Legislature has only raised her pay twice since 1993, for an average of 3 percent a year. It also was pointed out that the commissioners, at $58,500 a year, make significantly less than their department heads. Road and Bridge Director Paul Draper, for example, earns $109,744 a year."

Well, cry me a river.

Memo to elected officials:

- Leaders don't whine about their pay while others in the public and private sectors are struggling to keep their jobs or save their businesses.

- Leaders don't bemoan their statutorily protected pay to those who aren't equally protected. If you're going to complain, do so to the statutorily protected state Legislature in Denver. Maybe they care. We don't.

- If you don't like your pay, resign and work in the private sector where a 10 percent pay cut this year would feel like a Roman holiday to most Americans.

- If you're going to gripe about your pay being less than a government employee you oversee, resign and apply for that position - if you're qualified.

Still, Stahoviak's caterwauling might be a good thing. She may be correct that the commissioners pay is inappropriate.

If $58,500 is too puny for the county commissioners and some of them feel entitled to preclude themselves from the cut they imposed on county employees, perhaps voters should consider whether we really need full-time commissioners.

After all, the city of Steamboat Springs is governed by a part-time council with direct responsibility for more in government operations than the commissioners have - while making far less than the commissioners do.

Although it doesn't amount to much because their pay is miniscule, it's also worth noting the council took the same 10 percent pay cut city employees did. And talk about leadership, I have it on good authority that Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord has been seen wielding a toilet brush and cleaning bathrooms since the budget cuts were enacted and city employees were expected to clean their own facilities.

DuBord may not be an elected official, but she knows how to lead.

So, perhaps Stahoviak and all other elected officials who feel inclined to hide behind statutory pay protections should follow Mitsch Bush's and Whiddon's example and donate 10 percent of their pay in order to help save a county employee's job.

And try cleaning a few county toilets while you're at it. Maybe then we'll think you're leaders.

Rob Douglas can be contacted at


smart65 8 years ago

Can anyone explain to me why we need three County Commissioners instead of just one?


mtroach 8 years ago

Watch the "Dukes of Hazzard" and you'll understand why our county government is not administered by a single person. Two CCers would result in tie votes, three makes a democracy.


Dave Moloney 8 years ago

Each represents a different part of the county. That way one person from say Hayden isn't making decisions that effect Oak Creek and Steamboat as well.


Scott Ford 8 years ago

Dave - For those interested this is a Colorado civic lesson with a bit of history. The County Commissioners are agents of State Government. For counties with less than 70,000 in population there are 3 commissioners. For counties with more than 70,000 the citizens of that county can elect to have either 3 or 5.

The district each of the commissioners represents is based on population using the decennial US Census. To assure a an equal population in each district each district has a slice of Steamboat Springs. When running for election a commissioner must live in the district they represent, however, all the citizens of the county vote for them.

Routt County was established by the Colorado State Legislature in 1877. One year after Colorado became a state and the county was named after John Long Routt who was a Territorial Governor who was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant and subsequently became the first governor of the State of Colorado.

When formed the land area of Routt County included what is now Moffat County. However, because of a dispute over where the courthouse should be located the citizens of Steamboat Springs delayed the railroad from going further west after it arrived in Steamboat Springs in 1908 (see being dysfunctional is a part of our heritage). In an effort to resolve conflict between the communities in Routt County, Moffat County was created by the State Legislature in 1911.

Moffat County was named after David Moffat (it was his railroad). The railroad only made as far west as Hayden far short of David Moffat's dream of a railroad connecting Denver to Salt Lake City. By 1911 David Moffat was broke and dead. The important point to remember from a historical perspective is that Steamboat Springs got way. It got to be the county seat which made the folks in Steamboat Springs happy.


David Moss 8 years ago

Congratulations Rob on another great column. Leadership is defined by actions. ALL elected officals should follow Diane Mitsch Bush and Jeanne Whiddon's example. In particular, Doug Monger and Nancy Stahoviak need to share the pain they choose for others.


jerry carlton 8 years ago

Excellent column. Someone correct me if I am wrong but the elected officials do get county benefits. Does Nancy Stahoviak have any idea how much her extended illness raised the health insurance rates of the county? My private sector company would have forced retirement on me or fired me or put me on disability with an illness like that. Only with tax payer dollars can you afford to keep someone on the payroll for years when they are not producing. I am sorry she had such a terrible illness but it is a tough world out there. Ask some one who has lost their job and can not buy groceries for their children. Maybe she can contribute 10% of her salary to the lift-up food bank so those children can eat.


Fred Duckels 8 years ago

I don't think that this should be a referendum on Nancy. She has contributed to the valley for decades and I have observed her wisdom and ability to "cut to the chase". She has not had it easy in recent times and I'm sure that she will continue to do her best. I will cut her some slack.


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