26 September 2007: Georgetown Justice

G-Town should fight for justice in “Snowgate” scandal

When out of town, if you tell a non-local that you live in Georgetown, it is likely you’ll get two questions: How’s your mayor doing? Is the train still running?

With all due respect to our current mayor, the first question is in regard to former mayor, Kolleen Brooks, who did more to put Georgetown on the mental maps of potential tourists than anything attempted by the Desperate Merchants. For some, the thought of Kolleen brings a smile and twinkle; for others, a shudder and disdain. Still, a larger-than-life statue of Kolleen, astride the quaint marker near the I-70 exit, would do more to pull travelers off the road than awareness they have entered the hallowed Georgetown Historical District.

Kolleen comes to mind with the recent resurrection of the “Snowgate” controversy from 2003. To say the fact that the taxpayers of Georgetown are to get stiffed $64,500 to repay FEMA for Straight Creek’s clearing of town’s roads after the March blizzard is outrageous is an understatement.

It’s been suggested that we need to “put the past behind us and move forward,” which is code for “we’d rather not have the headache of the fight.” The point is well taken because if resurrecting the past serves no good in bringing a measure of accountability or healing wounds, it’s best to leave the dead undisturbed. On the other hand, if revisiting it would serve to hold those who may have done wrong accountable and to help a community heal and move forward, ethically we have no choice.

As Mayor Bennhoff has pointed out, it is the taxpayers of Georgetown who are the ultimate victims. That’s the fault of former town leaders who failed in their oversight obligations. Compelling the taxpayers of Georgetown now, however, to foot the bill without possible recompense is tantamount to them having directly paid Straight Creek Construction in March 2003.

The payout for the snow removal is only one of questionable accounts that need to be revisited. The town should contract an independent auditor to filter through all the town’s dealings from that period.

This is not about pulling a scab and pouring salt on a wound. It’s a legitimate concern about dispersing public funds, accountability and justice, and a reaffirmation that the mayor and BOS are looking out for the interests of the taxpayers of Georgetown.

Bennhoff has said that for now the ball is in District Attorney Mark Hurlbert’s court regarding potential criminal proceedings and that the town will decide its moves once Hurlbert decides his course of action, if any. OK fine, but if criminal proceedings fail to bring about a fair settlement, a civil suit should be considered as the next option.

Only after a thorough public airing and fair resolution will the people of Georgetown be able to put the past behind them and move forward. Once done, we would be able to concentrate on more pressing concerns such as constructing that statue of Kolleen.

Health Care Note: Now that Sen. Hillary Clinton has released her proposal for health care, thus joining Senators Edwards and Obama, we have now have Clinton Care to add to Edwards Care and Obama Care. Eyes are now focusing on the Republicans’ candidates proposals. Since they collectively don’t want to even address the health care issue, we can call theirs Don’t Care.

Program Notes: Catch my interview with our state representative Claire Levy on the KYGT website—www.kygt.org—focusing on health care and the state’s fiscal dilemma. Also, tune in October 6 @ 3:00 for a chat with Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald, who is running to be our representative in Congress, succeeding Rep. Mark Udall.

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