Trouble Brewing in Trinidad Colorado

The City Manager has been placed on a 30 day suspension as the City Council is set to fire him. Because of this action the Trinidaddio Blues Fest, who supports the city mananger Ed Gil de Rubio 100%, canceled the upcoming 2012 Trinidadio Blues Festival according to this Trinidad Times Independent newspaper article

The repercussions of city council’s 4-3 vote to put Trinidad City Manager Ed Gil de Rubio on leave have some people singing the blues, including those who run the Trinidaddio Blues Fest.

Board members of Trinidaddio Blues Fest Inc. met Wednesday and voted to cancel the festival in its 14th year due in part to city council’s unpopular decision to place Gil de Rubio on administrative leave amid overwhelming protests of that action by local citizens.

In a letter to the editor Feb. 28, the board wrote that it felt “the City Council has never been a strong and committed supporter of the Blues Fest. With the help of Mr. Gil de Rubio, things have worked more smoothly for both us and the citizens of Trinidad, so that we could continue growing in a positive way.”

In light of the city council’s conflict with Gil de Rubio, Jerry Campbell, president of the Blues Fest board, said the nonprofit “is unsure (about) the stance of city council” on the festival and it is “with regret” that the annual event is canceled.

On the Trinidaddio Blues Fest Website located at http://www.trinidaddiobluesfest.com/ this was posted.

In a special meeting on Wednesday (3/7/2012) evening, members of the board of directors of Trinidaddio Blues Fest, Inc., voted to cancel this year’s 14th annual event, planned for Aug. 25 in Central Park.

Why is it that it seems that we take one step forward and two steps backwards? Maybe more like 10 steps backwards….

What is this all about? Here is another perspective on this issue from a concerned citizen.

This Letter is in response to City Council Reasons for Dismissal of the City Manager.

Council Woman Linda Velasquez had several bullet points in her letter published in the Chronicle News on March 9, 2012 that need explanation.

I would like to take this opportunity as a concerned Citizen and wife of a Power and Light Employee to more fully inform the public on a few key issues listed in Mrs. Velasquez’s response regarding The City of Trinidad’s Power and Light Department.  The bullet points below are quotes from Mrs. Velasquez’s reasons.

  • “Electrical Safety Consultants were hired to conduct a Safety Audit in the Power & Light Department and paid $19,922.11 without council knowledge/approval.”

In the fall of 2010 the City of Trinidad was experiencing very high winds causing multiple electrical outages throughout town.  The Power Plant Operator on duty informed the Electrical Linemen working in the field that some circuit breakers would not close due to faults on the electric lines.  The Assistant Line Crew Foreman  instructed the Operator to leave all de-energized circuits open and place do not operate tags on the breakers until further notice while they began trouble shooting the multiple outages.  While the Electrical Linemen were in the process of repairing the outages the Power and Light Superintendent entered the power plant and went to the switch board, bypassed the Operator who was in the process of tagging out breakers and closed de-energized circuits.  This action by the Power and Light Superintendent put the lives of 7 City Employees and the general public in danger!

Luckily no one was burned, electrocuted or killed due to his negligent actions.  This incident was immediately brought to the attention of the City Manager who in turn interviewed the Electrical Line Crew, Power Plant Employees and the Power and Light Superintendent.  During these interviews it was brought to the attention of the City Manager the fact that this was NOT an isolated incident.     Therefore, the determination was made by the City Manager to have a Safety Audit done for the SAFETY of all Power and Light Employees and to reduce the LIABILITY risk to the City of Trinidad.

This audit was performed by Electrical Safety Consultants International, Inc. from Bellingham, WA.  The audit took place January 24-27, 2011.  This report is available to the public at City Hall.  It is quite lengthy and thorough so I am quoting only 1 important paragraph regarding safety issues taken directly from the Executive Summary.

“ESCI Auditors have never witnessed a situation where one individual, in this case the Line Superintendent, has such a negative impact to Safety Program and Safety Culture of a company and its employees.  During the audit, the Superintendent met with the ESCI auditors for one hour on the first day, but never met with them again during the remainder of the audit.  This minimal concern about the audit by the Line Superintendent confirmed his unwillingness to be part of the safety program which is reflective of the current safety program.”

Shortly following this audit the Power and Light Superintendent chose to retire.

  • “Clothing allowance approved in the 2011 budget was $926.00.  A total of $4,782.00 was spent without council knowledge.  When asked about it, he replied should have been done long ago.

Recommendations taken directly from the audit“13. Have an arc assessment performed to find the highest available fault current on Trinidad’s electrical system then purchase FR clothing for the electric employees that are exposed to the hazard.”

Again, the City Manager took corrective action to protect the SAFETY of Power and Light Employees and reduce LIABILITY to the City of Trinidad.

 

  • “In 2011, an employee in the power and light department was given a $5,000/year raise without consulting council.  This raise put his annual salary over what some Department Heads are earning.  City employees had not been given a raise in over two years due to budget constraints and were still taking furlough days.  An assistant foreman was also given a .50/hour raise.  When council adopted a 2012 budget, a 2% salary increase was approved for employees.  No increase was approved for this employee because he had previously been awarded the $5,000 raise.  Without council approval, the manager has given this employee the 2% raise anyway. “

The employees mentioned above had their job duties increased due to the retirement of the Power and Light Superintendent.  The City manager reallocated duties of the Power and Light Superintendent ultimately saving the tax paying Citizens of Trinidad a considerable amount of money during these trying economic times by not replacing the Power and Light Superintendent at this time.  The $5,000 raise was given to the Power and Light Supervisor whose duties changed to Outside Operations Manager which included the management of the power plant which dramatically increased his job duties.   The employee raise of .50/hour was approved by the Union representing the City of Trinidad Employees because of the change and additions to his job duties.

  • “The Manager has refused to hire a Power and Light Supervisor, stating he is capable of running the department; yet the city received a fine for not turning in a timely report.”

Because of the swift actions of the City Manager the fine was reduced from $1,000 to $160.  The employee responsible for filing this report was properly disciplined and the fine paid by that employee personally.

I urge the Citizens of Trinidad to review the City Charter and find out for themselves the job description of our City Manager. Also, look into the discretionary spending allowed by the City Manager.   After I researched the issues at hand by reading the City Charter, reading the Safety Audit and reviewing the job description of City Manager it is my belief that there is OVERWELMING documentation that Mr. Ed Gil de Rubio was ONLY doing the job he was hired by The City Council to do.  As a taxpaying, registered voter in the City of Trinidad, I give him my full support.  It would be a travesty for the City of Trinidad to lose a City manager that actually cares about this beautiful City its Employees, and its Citizens.

Furthermore, I will not be intimidated by threats of recourse, retaliation, threats to my family or my property.  I will continue to speak out on these issues.  It is time for the Citizens of Trinidad to take a proactive role in the politics of this community.  We should be able to respectfully voice our opinions and concerns about local issues without ill will to our neighbors that have a different opinion.  I respect the fact that there are people who have an opposing view on some of these issues.  I only ask for the same respect in return.

Sincerely,

Danielle Rollo.

Trinidad Co

719-859-7653 or 719-846-3206

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