Category: Janet Rowland

Board of Public Health & county commissioners violated state public health law with their new intergovernmental agreement

Stephen D. Daniels, new Chair of the Mesa County Board of Public Health,  violated Colorado Title 25 by giving control over the health department’s budget to the elected county commissioners. No provision in the state public health law permits that.

When the Mesa County Commissioners had the Board of Health (BOH) sign their new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), the commissioners, County Attorney Todd Starr and all 7 members of the new BOH all either knowingly or unknowingly violated Colorado Revised Statute Title 25, Article 1, Part 5(k).

KREX TV explores how the County seized control over all of Mesa County Public Health Department’s contracts when it only contributes 4.2% of the agency’s budget

KREX reporter Michael Loggerwell’s story about Mesa County’s new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Health Department- Part 1

KREX-TV News recently did a two-part series about the Mesa County Commissioners’ new, post-Jeff Kuhr Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that more tightly regulates the County’s relationship with the Public Health Department (MCPHD), and how it differs from the old 2012 agreement in important ways that could negatively affect public health and safety in the county.

Why are the Mesa County Commissioners sending taxpayer money out of town?

The Commissioners used a roofing company in Keenesburg, Colorado to replace the roof on the Old County Courthouse on Rood Ave., instead of a company located in Mesa County

The Mesa County Commissioners recently had the roof replaced on the Old Courthouse at 544 Rood Ave.

They gave the job to Better Line Roofing, LLC in Keenesburg, Colorado, 279 miles from here, instead of a local roofing company.

Transparency out the window in selecting new Director for the Mesa County Public Health Department

For Mesa County residents trying to find out how the search is going for a new County Public Health Department (MCPHD) director, the County is acting like it’s really none of your business, unless you belong to their secret circle of private citizens and friends to whom they are giving private access and input into the decision.

Janet Rowland, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, told people when she was running for office that transparency in government is “absolutely critical,” but the search for a new MCPHD director has been anything but transparent.

County Commissioners set to exert control over what Public Health Board members can discuss at their own meetings

Welcome to the new Mesa County Board of Public Health (Photo: AP/Matt York)

At the meeting of the new Mesa County Board of Public Health (BOH) scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, September 11, 2023, the County Commissioners hope to impose a new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) (pdf, page 10) on the Board of Health that will tie the BOH tightly to most County policies and procedures eliminate the BOH’s ability to control their own meeting agendas, and allow the Commissioners block discussion of any subject the commissioners don’t like.

Why we need to worry about County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s takeover of Mesa County Public Health Dept.

A Facebook post by Janet Rowland during her 2020 campaign. The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church and is noted for spreading misinformation about Coronavirus, climate change, the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and other issues. As of May, 2023, there have been 1.13 million deaths from Covid in the U.S., a number far from “ridiculously low”

In the wake of Commissioner Janet Rowland’s recent coup over the Mesa County Public Health Department, if the the past is a predictor of future behavior, under Rowland the Health Department is likely in for a significant reduction in its ability to respond to public health threats, and area residents will likely face more danger from emerging health threats.

Background check: County Attorney Todd Starr

7/5/23 Sentinel article about Mesa County Attorney Todd Starr

7/5/23 Sentinel article about Mesa County Attorney Todd Starr’s fraudulent action to deceive a court Trustee

People in highly-paid, taxpayer-funded jobs who also are in positions to influence Mesa County actions and policies should be background checked, especially when they start doing potentially illegal things like helping the Mesa County Commissioners dismantle of the Board of Public Health for no real reason, and in apparent violation of county policies and state law.

Mesa County Attorney Todd M. Starr certainly meets that criteria. He makes a salary of $190,800/year, not including perks and benefits, and appears to have facilitated illegal acts by the Mesa County Commissioners against the Board of Public Health.

So I decided to background check him.

Commissioner Janet Rowland takes credit for the contributions of fired Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr

A post on Janet Rowland’s “VoteJanetRowland” Facebook page promoting the child care center at the county’s new Clifton Campus community building. Jeff Kuhr was key to making the child care center in Clifton possible, but Rowland never mentioned his contributions. (Janet is the blonde in the hard had in the photos.)

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland wasted no time in taking credit for the contributions towards improving childcare in Mesa County made by former Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr, whom Rowland recently pushed out through an expensive and vicious months-long campaign over a personnel disagreement.

On July 29, Rowland showed off the new Clifton Community Campus at 3270 D 1/2 Road to Governor Jared Polis, crowing that it was “designed to be a community hub featuring an early childhood education center…” without ever mentioning that Public Health Director Kuhr was the one who initiated the big push to expand child care in the county (pdf) and helped the County get funding to make the childcare center possible.

Violation of state law let Rowland seize control of Mesa County Public Health Department

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland succeeded in imposing her political will on the Mesa County Public Health Department yesterday after appointing two final conservative members to the Mesa County Board of Public Health (BOH).

Health Department employees point out Rowland made all the new appointments to the Board of Health without consulting a single person at the Health Department.

“The fact that they keep appointing people to our Board that so clearly do not support the work that we do feels like a spit in the face every time,” one employee said.

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland vs. former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters: Lots of similarities

When their behaviors as elected officials are compared, Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland and former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters have more in common than people may realize:

Chart of Janet vs. Tina

Newly-appointed Board of Public Health member is anti-vax, anti immigrant, anti-gay extremist

Stephen Daniels, an extremist and anti-vaxxer the Commissioners just appointed to be Chair of the Mesa County Board of Public Health (Photo: Facebook)

A person the Mesa County Commissioners appointed to the Board of Health yesterday, Stephen D. Daniels, is a strong supporter of anti-vax conspiracy theorist and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (RFK), according to his social media accounts. Posts on the same sources also reveal Daniels is anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-Disney, and a climate change denier who opposes Colorado’s new family and medical leave law, which gives workers paid time off to care for a new baby or a loved one who has a serious health condition.

Presidential candidate RFK, whom Daniels supports, opposes vaccines that prevent dire illnesses in children and adults, like polio, measles and smallpox. In 2017, Scientific American wrote that “For more than a decade, Kennedy has promoted anti-vaccine propaganda completely unconnected to reality,” and if his anti-vax advocacy “leads to even a small decline in vaccine rates across the country, it will result in the waste of untold amounts of money and in all likelihood, the preventable deaths of infants too young to be vaccinated.”

Daily Sentinel: Commissioner Rowland and County Attorney Todd Starr violated County policy for County credit card use, receipts

Lobby of the $225-$250/night Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs, where County Attorney Todd Starr used his county credit card to pay for a room, in violation of County policy which requires County employees to get a per diem instead for travel.

An Open Records Act request by Daily Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby examining expenditures by Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland and County Attorney Todd Starr over the last year found both made questionable purchases that arguably violated County policy.

Rowland and Starr charged Public Health Department Jeff Kuhr with doing the same thing, but in his case they called it a fireable offense.

County employees are not allowed to use a County credit card for out-of-town trips. Instead, they are supposed to get a per-diem (a fixed daily allowance) for their expenses.

Mesa County Commissioners avoid getting bids for $49k forensic Health Dept. audit & Dufford, Waldek law firm contract

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland failed to get 3 bids for multi-thousand dollar contracts

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland has cited the awarding of contracts without first getting competitive bids as reason enough to fire Mesa County Public Health Department (MCPHD) Director Jeff Kuhr:
According to an article in the 6/14/23 issue of the Daily Sentinel, titled “More turmoil on the Public Health Board,”
“At the June 5 public health meeting, [Mesa County Attorney Todd] Starr presented a largely one-sided view of a partial audit done earlier this year on the department, some of which said Kuhr hired contractors without going through a competitive bid process…” [Italicized emphasis added.] Rowland complained that awarding sole source contracts without first getting bids or going through review by County finance departments “puts the County at high risk because [the contracts don’t] go through a legal, risk or finance review.”
But she and the other Commissioners award high-dollar contracts without first getting competitive bids where such bids and oversight are merited, according to County policy.

Mesa County Commissioners violate County policy to appoint Janet Rowland to Board of Public Health

Last page of the intergovernmental agreement MCA 2012-079, laying out the relationship between Mesa County and the Board of Public Health (BOH). The appointment of Janet Rowland to the BOH was highly controversial at the time Commissioners made it, but the Commissioners skipped holding the required meeting with the BOH about it first.

The relationship between Mesa County and the Health Department is governed by the 2012 “Agreement, MCA 2012-079” (pdf), dated June 25, 2012.

The Agreement discusses financing, budgeting, purchasing and personnel policies, and it lays out the overall relationship between the two agencies.

Item #2 of the Agreement says a county commissioner may be appointed to the Board of Health, but Item #10 says:

“10. Points of controversy hereunder will be addressed by a meeting between the Mesa County Board of Health and the Board of County Commissioners.”

Janet Rowland

Janet Rowland was appointed to the Board of Health on April 25th.

It was a highly controversial appointment at the time.

Victor Yahn, newly-appointed member of the Mesa County Board of Public Health, resigns after less than 2 weeks

Yahn

Vitor Yahn, one of the people Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland appointed to the Mesa County Board of Public Health on an interim basis after the original Board resigned en masse, has himself resigned from the Board.

The entire original Board of Health resigned after Rowland pressured them relentlessly to fire Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr, and they refused, and Rowland threatened to fire them all. It was questionable whether the move would have been legal, but the Board resigned rather than face a hearing with a predetermined outcome.

Rowland has been accusing Dr. Kuhr of financial wrongdoing for months, but Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein investigated Dr. Kuhr and found insufficient evidence that Kuhr engaged in any financial wrongdoing, or acted to benefit himself in any way.

The complaint against Mesa County employee Lisa Mills that led the Social Work Board to sanction her

Lisa Rickerd Mills, Behavioral Health Strategies Manager for Mesa County, who reports directly to Commissioner Janet Rowland and who appears to have been the person who prompted Rowland to start attacking Dr. Jeff Kuhr, longtime Director of the Mesa County Public Health Department (Photo: Facebook)

Lisa Rickard Mills is Behavioral Health Strategies Manager for Mesa County, reports to Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland and is administering programs funded with $1 million in combined grants from the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

According to text messages (pdf) obtained between Janet Rowland and Mills, Mills also appears to have been instrumental in prompting Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland to start her recent attacks Mesa County Public Health Department Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr.

Mills is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) with the State of Colorado. Public records show that in 2020 she was sanctioned by the state Board of Social Work Examiners.

Janet Rowland convinces newly-installed Public Health Board members to put Director Jeff Kuhr on paid leave

Janet Rowland at the Board of Public Health meeting June 5

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland succeeded in convincing the three new temporary members of the Board of Public Health (BOPH)  to vote to put Mesa County Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr on paid leave.

Rowland has been working to push Kuhr out of his job for months.

The stunning part of the BOPH meeting was who was there to support Kuhr.

The audience was packed with prominent longtime local Republican political figures, including former Mesa County Commissioner Kathy Hall, former Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, former CMU President Tim Foster (now Kuhr’s attorney in this matter) and Doug and Jamie Simons, owners of Enstrom Candies. Former County Commissioner Jim Spehar was there, as well as the owners of the Winery and Crossroads Fitness. All spoke in support of Kuhr and urged the BOPH to keep him in his job. Many said how Kuhr has done an exceptional job as head of the Health Department, how grateful they are to him and that these attacks on him amount to some kind of personal vendetta. Many of those who spoke were previously long time supporters of Janet Rowland.

One attendee remarked after the meeting that,

“Every business leader or former community leader that walked out of that room said that Janet has lost her mind.”

The Mesa County employee behind the effort to fire Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr

Lisa Rickerd Mills (Photo: Facebook)

Lisa Mills is a behavioral health strategies manager for Mesa County’s Department of Health and Human Services and by all indications seems to be a key figure in the County’s recent ongoing, unhinged efforts to take down Dr. Jeff Kuhr as longtime Director of the Mesa County Public Health Department (MCPHD).