The Moffat County commissioners stopped at nothing short of blackmail when they threatened to pull funding from the area's economic development partnership over the words "liaison" and "ex-officio."
The bylaws of the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership call for representation of the Craig City Council and the Moffat County Commission -- both contribute $25,000 a year for membership.
But members, which represent area businesses want the partnership to be geared more toward private enterprise rather than government so they decided that those representing government would not be allowed to serve on the board of directors.
Those representatives would have a vote on any and all motions brought before the membership.
On Oct. 9, the commissioners sent a letter to the board questioning the bylaws and threatening to pull their fourth-quarter funding in addition to reducing funding for 2004 by half.
"For a partnership to be successful, all members need to be treated as equals," the letter states. "The bylaws committee proceeded to assign the city and county representatives to a role that is less than equal to the other nine directors serving on the board.
The conflict became a reality when the membership voted to support this position."
The conflict did not become a reality until the county commissioners drafted their letter.
The conflict may stem from the fact that Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton was chairman of the partnership during a turbulant, unproductive time and this would bar him from becoming chairman again.
Clearly Moffat County funding comes to the partnership with strings attached and commissioners seem to be free to invent those strings any time they wish.
"County funding is a huge issue and without it, we don't need to discuss these other things," economic development board chairman Scott Cook said. "I have some real serious concerns about the things that are going on. There seems to be some luggage from previous things going on. The fact is, without county involvement, we're done."
Who knows what financial threat the commissioners might come up with next month if the partnership votes in favor of doing something the commission finds disagreeable.
The EDP board voted unanimously to amend the bylaws to name the city and county representatives ex-officios with the same rights and privileges as any other board member.
Since the bylaws have been adopted, the change will take at least 28 days before being submitted to the board for final approval.
We hope members carefully consider their vote in the next 28 days and what precedent might be put in place.