Settlement Reached with Recall Committee
During their March 9th meeting, the Board of Trustees approved an agreement with the Committee Seeking the Recall of Firestone Trustees. During the meeting, the Board voiced frustration and disappointment with this settlement but ultimately concluded that it was the best business decision to bring this matter to a close.
The most frustrating aspect to the Board is the hypocrisy of the settlement. The Committee continues to assert the Board is frivolously spending money, yet agreed to drop their recall effort in exchange for a $12,500 payment.
During the meeting, the Board voiced their support for Jessica Koenig, Town Clerk, and all were adamant that she acted in a manner both consistent with State statute and also upholding the principles of fairness and transparency. The evidence is there to uphold all of the Town Clerk’s decisions.
The Board hopes that this matter can be put to rest and that there is a stop to the divisiveness that it has caused in the community. The Board of Trustees welcomes further feedback and encourages the public to come to talk to them during meetings, Chats with Trustees, or via phone/email.
More Information & Timeline of Events
On August 23, 2021, the Committee, known at the time consisting of Linda Haney, Gary Gillespie, and Bradley Lyons, seeking the recall of Firestone Trustees, submitted recall petitions to Firestone’s Town Clerk. The Town Clerk reviewed the petitions and on August 30, 2021, issued a Certificate of Insufficiency rejecting all of the petitions due to a defect of assembly. Many of the petitions contained signatures that post-dated the circulator’s affidavit, had mismatched dates of notarization, and exhibited evidence that the petitions had been disassembled contrary to State law.
After issuing the Certificate of Insufficiency, the Committee, known to include Linda Haney, Lou Ann Matthews, and Drew Peterson as members, submitted protests to the decision. On September 8, 2021, the Town Clerk (in accordance with C.R.S. 31-4-503(3)(b)) issued a Notice of Protest Hearing to the Committee that was held on September 20, 2021. After considering all of the testimony and documentary evidence, the Town Clerk issued her decision on September 27, 2021, which upheld her original determination of Insufficiency.
Several of the concerns regarding evidence of defect of assembly were found to be addressed during the hearing and noted as such in the Town Clerk’s September 27, 2021 decision. However, a primary reason for upholding her decision was that seventeen of the petitions circulated by Mr. Peterson had non-sequential signature dates (meaning that signature dates on a prior page of a petition which are required to be securely bound at all times would post-date a signature on the following page). This was compelling evidence that the petitions had been disassembled and thus separated from the circulator’s affidavit and therefore invalid as a matter of law.
The Town Clerk further found that Mr. Peterson’s explanation for the non-sequential dates was simply not credible and exhibited a fundamental misunderstanding of what constituted a petition and the importance of ensuring petitions were not disassembled. Absent Mr. Peterson’s seventeen petitions, the Committee did not have the required number of signatures to proceed with a recall of any of the members of the Board of Trustees.
On October 25, 2021, the Committee initiated an action in Weld County District Court seeking to overturn the Town Clerk’s determination of Insufficiency while asserting that the Town Clerk had violated the Committee’s right to initiate a recall election and their rights of association, free speech and due process.
CIRSA, the Town’s insurer, appointed counsel to represent the Town and the Town Clerk. Because of the consideration of constitutional matters, the Town’s Counsel moved the case to the Federal District Court, which is better suited for these types of matters.
Once in Federal Court, on the grounds that there was not a legal basis, Firestone counsel submitted a Motion to Dismiss the Committee’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 First Amendment Right of Free Speech and Right of Association claims and the Committee’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Fourteenth Amendment Right to Due Process claim. The Committee never filed a response to the Town’s Motion to Dismiss the constitutional claims.
Shortly after that missed due date for a response, the Committee offered to settle for a cash payment. After negotiations, the agreed-upon settlement was approved during the Board of Trustees meeting on March 9, 2022. As of Monday, March 14, 2022, a Joint Motion To Dismiss was filed and CIRSA has received the W-9 for the Committee. Payment will be made according to the W-9 to the Committee Seeking the Recall of Firesone [sic] Trustees, which is an unincorporated nonprofit association located at the residence of Drew Peterson.
The Board of Trustees adamantly believes there exists overwhelming evidence to uphold the Town Clerk’s Determination of Insufficiency in Court. Notwithstanding, given that the Committee has significantly reduced their financial demand and because the settlement amount is significantly less than the cost of a trial and appeal and avoids the disruption to the Town Clerk’s operations, which a trial would necessitate, the Board finds its to the Town’s benefit to bring this matter to a close.