`Effort’ to recall Ireland is only talk at this point | AspenTimes.com

`Effort’ to recall Ireland is only talk at this point

Jeremy Heiman

A reported effort by developer John Musick to spur a recall election against three Pitkin County commissioners is only talk at this point.

Election clerk Doreen Bellfy said Wednesday no one has picked up the official petition forms necessary to kick off a recall election effort.

Musick said “a number of citizens” are considering gathering support for a recall election, but he is the only one who has gone public with idea. He would not say who else is involved, but said he has retained lawyers and is investigating the probability of a successful recall.

Musick confirmed that he hasn’t picked up official petition forms. He said he will first research the issues to see if they merit a recall attempt and review the requirements of a recall election.

The recall would target Commissioner Mick Ireland and probably also Commissioner Dorothea Farris and Commission Chairwoman Leslie Lamont, Musick said. At issue is funding of the roundabout under construction at the Maroon Creek intersection. In Ireland’s case, Musick said the contemplated recall is also about “common courtesy and decorum.”

Musick believes the commissioners’ decision to pay for the roundabout was an improper use of public funds because county money cannot legally be spent on the project. The other main issue, according to Musick, is the emergency resolution the commissioners approved to fund the project.

“They knew they were doing the wrong thing the wrong way,” Musick said.

Farris said Wednesday that Musick is wrong on both counts. “The funds we directed to be used were funds that were designated to be used on Highway 82,” she said. “I think it was a responsible decision. We don’t have to go to the voters every time we use funds from the [Elected Officials Transportation Committee].”

As to the emergency resolution, Farris said the county was forced to make a move when the Colorado State Highway Commission withdrew funding for the project. She said the money was taken away because state officials misjudged how much money they had for highway projects. Gov. Bill Owens refunded millions of dollars to taxpayers, not realizing the needs for spending on the state’s schools and highways, Farris said.

The roundabout construction had been planned to happen this year because traffic serving massive construction projects at Aspen Highlands and the Moore property will be greater next year, magnifying the already lengthy delays at that intersection. And if the project wasn’t started in May as planned, construction-caused delays would have carried over into ski season, creating a hopeless snarl.

“We did not have a scheduled meeting prior to the time we had to retain the contractor for the work,” Farris said. So the commissioners proceeded with the emergency resolution to fund the work and allow it to start on time.

Farris believes the state will eventually refund the county money spent on the project. “I feel confident they will work with us and try to get the funding for that project.”

Ireland is the only commissioner who has been subject to a recall in the past. He survived a 1996 recall over the controversial Rural and Remote zoning, gathering a comfortable 60 percent of the vote.

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