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10-06-14 Chris Jacobson letter to Council Council Notes for 10.6.2014 Meeting of Town Council. This document has been entered into the record via Town Clerk as submitted by Mr. Jacobson I want to share my disappointment with the Public, that although in our previous meeting, it was said twice that the Public Hearing for the PUD amendment would be continued to 4:00 of the next meeting, the agenda item is now the last item on the agenda. One might assume that this change in the schedule was made so as to thwart Public comment. Additionally I want to inform all interested parties, that there will be important information presented to the record about the processing of this application during the Public Hearing agenda item. We have a culture problem on Council in Snowmass Village, probably similar to a lot of places....self entitled good `ol boys and girls, disregard for procedure and process, outside deals, and a lack of truth...Just as has begun to be revealed recently at the Federal Reserve, cultural problems are not something to be ignored...they can lead to waste and destruction, cultural problems can lead to a lack of real action (because people don't take the time or lack the confidence or are just too busy or too lazy), cultural problems can lead to a lack of faith and trust, (whether in big gov't or small town politics). The last issue, a lack of trust is extremely pertinent to our council, in that we, as a Council,just identified this as a priority for Council...to rebuild trust with the community. Some say that one rebuilds trust by playing nice, glossing over things, and moving forward with vague platitudes about service, community, etc In the first few months on Council I was repeatedly chastised and ridiculed for applying too significant an amount of time focusing on the work of Council and was therefore, doing too much work, too much research in the opinion of my colleagues. I actually had to fight back and ask if my colleagues really wanted, as they were implying, a Council member who was too busy, not able to focus, or go the extra mile. As I recall the most badgering comments came from my colleague Ms Butler and the Mayor...(who at times went so far as to say that because I handle mostly the domestic responsibilities of my family, that I didn't really work),....deriding a person for working too much is a culture problem in any organization... In my experience, making the time to devote to oneself to one's service or work is a good thing. It is a valuable resource, and a resource that allows one to try to find the truth. For example, when Mr. Sirkus stated that a member of Council claimed that the planning commission didn't do its job. I made the time available to watch the meeting three times on Granicus, and there is no such statement,to my observation, made by a council person. The only comments potentially fitting the description were made by Mr. Mordkin, and I think perhaps he was accurate. In fact, I made the time to transcribe his entire comments by hand. Why, to try to understand what was happening before us... There has been a significant pattern or culture problem that I have observed in my time on the Council, exhibited during three particular situations: the resigning of Town Manager Russ Forest, and the behaviors of Council after that, and the hiring of the new town manager and fiasco around the interim town manager, and now the behaviors of Council in the review process before us today. This troubling pattern of willful disregard for the agreed upon process, has led me to be a bit more skeptical, a bit more cynical, and to listen a bit more carefully. Something that was said during our September 8th meeting caught my ear, and I felt a responsibility to the town and applicant to learn more. What I learned, some facts and some hearsay confirmed my suspicions. Who knows, I may be wrong in my understanding, but I believe it is my responsibility to express what I know here today in the chambers of this Council and in the process of this Public Hearing, and I appreciate all of you allowing me the opportunity to complete my humble act, and fulfill my responsibility to the integrity of the Town. Let me note that I have given a great deal of thought to what I am about to communicate, and the underlying reasons for undertaking what may be an uncomfortable, lonely, and solemn task. Let me first say that our task per our Land Use Code, is easily available to read, and explains Council's role in reviewing an application. I will also add that it is a real honor to be on the Town Council and serve the Village. I believe my comments today are considerate of the Town's Best Interest and the Developer's best interest. You may think I am being funny or ironic. This is not the case. As has been said many times, I am in favor of the developer moving forward, and want the process to be successful...by the means of an appropriate, lawful, and perhaps prudent procedure... I must state, my observations or what caught my ear were purely mine....having absolutely nothing to do with Staff. I want to be crystal clear about something: My initial awareness about what I am going to discuss, came exclusively from my own perception. So, what was it? There appears to have been significant ex parte communication between the applicant and members of the Town council. On Sept 8th, 2014. After an impressive display of specific editing of agreements, that to some in the community appeared to be a preordained and staged bit of theater, the applicant's Attorney, asked if the Council wished to have the documents restated or amended. Note: This is a matter that the Council had never discussed amongst itself or with the applicant. After Applicant's attorney said that a single document would probably be good Councilman Kucker added, "and that was my thought, wouldn't it, (pause), cause I thought that's what you sort of, what we sort of agreed to, that you were going to consolidate a couple of these documents" AGREED TO? Who agreed?When did this agreement happen? It certainly wasn't the town council, while in these chambers, and before the Public, who made an agreement. Who is "YOU"...Who is "WE"....WOW I don't know about you all, but after watching the video again and again, I am of the opinion that Mr. Kucker was referring to an agreement he made between himself and the applicant. And that, "you' refers to the applicant, and that"we' refers to Mr. Kucker and the applicant or their attorney. I have heard that he will say "we" refers to council...that "we" agreed. But I remind you, we, the council, did not even discuss this matter. There are great many details to this story,but let me highlight a few right now: Following this comment from Mr. Kucker, (which was also noticed by members of the community), I asked the Town Attorney if he had noticed this comment. He expressed great relief that I had come to this realization by myself and not with his or any one else's assistance. In this first conversation, we only conferred about the shared observation, however, I later learned that, the Town attorney had advised both Councilman Kucker and Mayor Boineau about the "ex parte" communication, and that it appeared that Mr. Kucker had engaged in "substantive communications concerning a matter pending before the Town with an applicant"...and in this case, outside of the proper arena of the "open meeting" My understanding is that the Mayor and Councilman Kucker were informed that taking an official act could jeopardize the process and expose the town to litigation. In fact our code has language pertaining to this. The story goes that Mr. Kucker defended himself by saying he did not talk with the applicant but with Don Schuster. If this weren't so pathetic it would be funny...But, OK, so the communication was not "directly with applicant",by splitting hairs and saying that instead of sending an email, he used a carrier pigeon to communicate. While a lot of this could fit under the he "said, she said"rubric. One fact does not fit into the hearsay pile: The fact is that Mr. Kucker directed the staff to delay or hold-up the publishing of the Council Packet, so that another round of amendments could be integrated into the packet. How, I ask you, could Mr. Kucker have known about the amendments, and that they were so important as to require staff to halt their work and include the amendments for the next meeting, without having engaged in "substantive" communication, and having lost his "Sole Discretion"... per the state law". As an aside, I am doubly offended by this act,because I have been admonished regarding directing staff, when asking a staff member, through the proper channel of the Town Manager for information, AND here we have a unilateral directive delivered to the town staff by Mr. Kucker,to hold the Council packet hostage while an amendment is being added by the Applicant...what the heck is going on around here? In the course of my investigation, I learned that Ms. Butler called our interim Town Manager to inform him that she had nothing to do with this reputed ex parte communication. And, almost as that was being stated, Mr. Kucker was defending himself by saying, "Markey knows what is going on,because she is negotiating the liquidated damages amounts with Don Schuster." It now appears that there is a fascinating back story, and I believe Markey said in last meeting that we need to have the back stories, that ASC is (in stark contrast to Mr. Schuster's comments that Skico "gave the Town" the point lot) is trying to expedite the process so as to utilize the housing mitigation credit that arose from the transfer of the two lots, and that may soon expire. Isn't there a simpler way to get things done? And while the Mayor can act like he has no knowledge, and did not engage in communication with the applicant, he was warned about the danger of not halting the process, so that a Council Person would not take an Official Action, (such as voting on the first reading), and by doing so expose the town and applicant to risk. The applicant you ask, Yes, because if and when a 106 inquiry is filed, it may cause the applicant's process to be halted, and the decisions of this body stayed for months. Additionally, I have learned that after the amendment was inserted into the halted packet, and after the Mayor was informed of Councilman Kucker's action, The Mayor was at the Town Hall first thing the next day to try to pry the amendment back out of the packet, ...but it had been published and the apparent infraction was now captured in the Public record. SO WHY TALK ABOUT THIS...1. Protect the Town from risk, and future bad behavior. 2. Protect the applicant from risk and delay. 3. Perhaps most importantly, to begin to work on one of the priorities identified by the Council... to build trust with our community. I want the community to trust that the Council is listening. And to trust that it is doing the work needed to try to understand and find the truth of the matter. And, to trust that there is a disciplined approach to procedure, and to trust that we want our community partners to achieve success by the book, to the benefit of all. I am optimistic that a community government can manage itself for the benefit of it constituents by being creative, diligent and dedicated, without relying on bullying, badgering, outside deals, and ex parte communication.