A Case of Sticks and Carrots: Erie’s Crestone Operator Agreement Vote Fails

Published on: October 30th, 2018

 

[Editor’s note: The caption we used on our facebook posting of this article included the quote, “A proud day for Erie.” It should be noted that this was a statement made by one Erie resident at the conclusion of the meeting as she was leaving the room. We included it as an indication of public sentiment, not as an endorsement of the outcome of this vote. It should further be noted that, while we are firmly in support of proposition 112 and 100 % renewables by 2030, we’re not convinced that defeating this resolution works in Erie’s best interest in the short term. Though we are not convinced of the opposite, either. That said, we do share the public sentiment that opposition to oil & gas is a necessary precursor to saving the future and protecting the health and safety of our communities.]

 

The Erie Board of Trustees, in a surprise outcome, voted down the pending updated operator’s agreement with Crestone during tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting, setting up what Mayor Carroll has called a “game of chicken” moving forward. It was a voice vote called by Mayor Carroll that became instantly awkward as no trustee offered a second to Mayor Pro Tem Deakins Motion to Accept the resolution. Mayor Carroll herself seconded after conferring with counsel that she legally could. The vote then required clarification, including double checking who voted against and asking Trustee Gippe what his answer had been, as it was unclear. The 4-3 vote against the resolution sent a shockwave through the assembled crowd. Indeed, the Board of Trustees two rounds of board discussion seemed to indicate leanings toward approval.

 

Numerous Erie residents were in attendance and had spoken passionately during the public comment section. In what appeared to be a highly coordinated presentation, nearly a dozen Erie and Broomfield residents spoke from the same PowerPoint (see images below), a tactic that coordinated thoughts and allowed concerned residents to speak efficiently without duplication or confusion. Awkwardly, it took four to five speakers before mayor Carroll realized she didn’t hold on to the powerpoint that had been handed out; she had to ask for a copy to be handed back so she could keep up with the speakers.

 

Screenshots from the presentation, provided by Rachel Balkcom

 

Adding to the urgency and lending legitimization to the resident activist’s concerns and claims, State House district 33 candidate Eric Rutherford and numerous city employees from the City of Broomfield, including two City Council Members representing ward 4 and Ward 3, spoke out. These elected officials represent areas of Broomfield that would be directly affected by the Acme Pad, which will be located in south Erie at Highway 7, just north of the Anthem neighborhoods of Broomfield. These elected officials were on site to add comments illuminating previous experience in dealing with oil and gas concerns and to urge Erie’s Board of Trustees to delay ratification of the operators agreement under consideration.

 

The majority of the public comment period was quiet and efficiently organized, with clapping only occurring at the end of public comment as a former geophysicist concluded comments. The executive session – where the Board of Trustees left for private discussion on the topic – saw the council chambers become eager and talkative, a mood foreshadowing the board’s vote, as local citizens, members of Colorado Rising, Broomfield residents and elected officials, and Crestone officials mingled together.

 

We’ll be sharing a collection of comments from residents, including the full powerpoint presented in the next day.

 

For now, trustee Van Woudenberg’s concerns about the city not having “much of a stick” appear to be unfounded; the trustees listening to the residents seems enough of a stick. The residents of Erie organizing against the resolution and demanding reflective representation appears to be enough. Either that, or Crestone’s carrots were far too few. Trustees Charles,Woog, Gippe, and Van Woudenberg voted against. Mayor Carrol, Mayor Pro Tem Deakins, and Trustee Haid voted in favor.

 

We previously wrote about the small public comment period held at the Erie Courtroom inside the police station. You can view that article here.

 

 

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