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Respecting the right to petition

Posted: Thursday, Mar 20th, 2014

A petition signed by more than 250 taxpayers of Sublette County was circulated to express disapproval of Sublette County Board of Commissionersí decision to spend $243,000 dollars to build a new house with attached garage for a county employee who is currently living rent-free in a modular home that is less than 10 years old, receives a $4,550 monthly (tax payer-funded) salary, and is often not available to the citizens whom he is employed to serve. The letter and signature sheets, with uncountable citizen signatures, were repeatedly removed or stolen from stores that made them available to the public. We do not know, except in one instance where the person was recorded on surveillance video, who removed the petitions, but we do wonder if Wyoming is being infected by the same attack on First Amendment rights as much of the rest of the country.

Despite the opposition, the petition was presented to the commissioners at their March 11 meeting. What affect it will have remains to be seen; however the support it received shows that there are many residents of Sublette County who believe this decision and expenditure to be neither wise nor necessary. A group of citizens who attended the meeting reported that the commissionerís commented (regarding the petition) that, in their $55 million dollar budget, $243,000 was just a drop in the bucket and that the new residence is necessary as the current living quarters will be used as the new fairgrounds office.

If the commissioners feel that the county is so endowed with extra funds that the aforementioned expenditure is reasonable, perhaps they would better serve the citizenry by funding housing and/or increase salaries for public service individuals who actually earn the respect of the populace with hard work and dedication to the people they serve, i.e., doctors, nurses, EMTs or sheriff deputies, etc.

The spending of taxpayer money should concern each and every one of us. Perhaps it is time for tax-paying citizens to make their voices heard regarding how money is spent and the real beneficiary of the expenditures. A brief perusal of recent expenditures or proposals would cause an interested citizen to ask if the county is ready for a $1 million clubhouse on the golf course. They might also want to question a $365,000 expenditure to C&J Peternell (recorded in the minutes of 10/22/2013), just to make note of two additional very large amounts of taxpayer monies being allocated without adequate reason or notice to the public.

For the complete article see the 03-21-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-21-2014 paper.

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