BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Boulder County government said wildfire debris removal in Superior and Louisville will be delayed due to a lawsuit. The complaint, filed by a newly-created nonprofit, takes aim at Boulder County’s process in selecting a company to perform the debris removal work.
The lawsuit was filed by Michael Brown’s government integrity nonprofit. Brown was the head of FEMA under President George W. Bush’s administration and lives in Colorado. The concern here is over how Boulder County is conducting its meetings and whether decisions are being made above board.
Demanding Integrity in Government Spending, the nonprofit that was created in January, says payment by FEMA is not guaranteed and comes only when local governments follow FEMA rules. This is why open meetings are necessary for public scrutiny over what the suit says could be a $100 million cleanup project.
“If you have gone through a loss such as this, everything should be an open book,” Louisville resident Stacey Tobey said.
The nonprofit claims Boulder County commissioners convened executive sessions, discussing debris removal, in an improper way. The suit also claims meetings held by an evaluation committee violated the state’s open meeting law.
Boulder County denies the accusations.
Brown told FOX31 his nonprofit filed for a temporary restraining order against Boulder County commissioners on Thursday afternoon after they publicly accused his nonprofit of delaying wildfire debris removal. Brown said the county is responsible for delays.
“Whether it’s going to be with company A or company B, I don’t care,” Louisville resident Derek Davis said. “I just want it gone.”
In the fire zone, frustration has already been building, and the latest delay is creating even more frustration.
“I just feel like [Boulder County] made a decision to do it quickly for everybody’s best interest,” Davis said. “And I feel like the lawsuit is just ridiculous.”
In a statement, Boulder County said, in part, “The Commissioners want to assure Marshall Fire survivors that the county is committed to working as expeditiously as possible in the courts and on the ground to start debris clean-up.”
“I think that things should be simplified and open as much as possible,” Tobey said. “Everyone should be kind of on the same page just to get things done as quickly as they can.”
The county awarded a bid to DRC Environmental Services on Feb. 10 and stressed bid review committees have never been viewed as local public bodies which open meeting law governs.