RFTA fires its attorney

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has fired its in-house attorney for unspecified reasons.

Walter Mathews IV was terminated from his position as general counsel for RFTA on Oct. 11. RFTA’s board of directors spent one hour, 40 minutes behind closed doors in an executive session at that meeting, according to minutes released Monday in preparation for the board’s next meeting Thursday. When the board came out, the board voted unanimously to terminate Mathews as general counsel “for cause.”

Also at that meeting, Aspen attorney Paul Taddune was appointed as RFTA’s interim general counsel. The board meets in Carbondale.

Taddune said he could not discuss the reasons for Mathews’ termination because it is a personnel matter. Mathews didn’t return a telephone message.

Mathews reported directly to the board of directors so he couldn’t be fired or suspended by RFTA President and CEO Dan Blankenship, Taddune said. Mathews was hired in April 2010 and was drawing a salary of $128,000 annually when he was fired.

While Taddune said he couldn’t answer the question of whether there was a financial settlement with Mathews, he noted that the action in the minutes is the only action taken on the matter thus far. There is no mention in the minutes of a financial settlement.

Taddune should have little trouble filling the role of interim general counsel for RFTA. He served as legal consultant for RFTA’s predecessor, the Roaring Fork Transit Agency, from 1989 to 2001. He left the organization when it was reformed in the early 2000s and required an in-house attorney.

Blankenship said RFTA’s board will debate early next year if it wants to hire a new in-house counsel or rely on a contract attorney.