Just when we thought we couldn’t hear any more bad news about Adams County, news breaks about questionable business dealings and nepotism run rampant at the hands of one county commissioner. Alice Nichol, part of the power hungry and deeply entrenched Democrats in the county, now joins the ranks of county politicos with a pall cast over her.
- Breaking news update, 1/31/11, 5:00am – Adams County District Attorney Don Quick announces investigation of Nichol’s connection to Quality Paving
The Denver Post this morning published a series of stories about Nichol that are deeply troubling. Nichol’s roots run deep in Adams County and she is part of the Democratic establishment that has had a stranglehold on county politics for decades. Members of this group are all intertwined by familial ties and friendships that have allowed them to take advantage of residents and profit at our expense.
The stories in the Post cover the shady dealings in great detail and reveal a lack of honesty and openness in Adams County government.
- Nichol’s son-in-law, Richard Stark, landed a $92,000 a year job with the county despite not meeting the minimum requirements. Interestingly enough, he only received the job because the commissioners had actually done away with the position, fired the previous occupant of the office, then turned around and recreated it.
- Ron Nichol, Alice’s husband and a former commissioner himself, sits on the Board of Adjustment for the county.
- Alice Nichol paid relatives more than $15,000 for work performed on her political campaigns.
- Christopher Frank, Nichol’s cousin, is an alternate member of the Board of Adjustment.
- Larry D. Valente, son of former commissioner Elaine T. Valente (a cousin of Nichol’s) is a Board of Adjustment member.
- Ron Nichol had work done at their home by Quality Paving. This is the same company now embroiled in a criminal investigation that has seen county employees charged with felonies. Amusingly enough Ron Nichol claims “he neither sought bids nor agreed on a price before the project began” and yet supposedly paid $10,000 for the work (which was only valued at $4500). How many of you agree to have someone do a job of this size / expense without knowing the cost up front then pay twice its value?
- Nichol was part of the controversy over the purchasing of furnishings for the new Adams County government offices. She dismissed a bid that met the county’s specifications and instead steered the contract to Bob Deibel, head of OfficeScapes. Deibel and Nichol both are part of the Adams County Economic Development Corp. OfficeScapes furnishings were of inferior quality and went entirely against the recommendations of county employees. In a transcript of the commissioner meeting, Nichol is clearly heard bullying former commissioner Larry Pace to side with her while Commissioner Skip Fischer objects to the contract.
- Ron Nichol is a former employee of Bob Fleming, a planning consultant who brings more business before county boards than any other. Not surprisingly Fleming sees great success in cases brought before the Board of Adjustment that Ron Nichol’s sits on.
- County commissioners enjoy pretty sweet deals on vehicles getting new cars of their choice every four years. For Nichol this meant she got a new car after her most recent election despite her old car only having 21,000 miles. Former County Commissioner Larry Pace bought his 2008 Toyota Highlander from the county at a substantial discount after voters evicted him from office in November. Of course in one last stick to the taxpayers he brought it to the county for repairs before leaving office.
There is so much more to the revelations and there simply isn’t enough space to write it all. Follow the links to the Post stories below.
It should also be noted that Heath Russo, a man central to the Quality Paving scandal, is being defended by none other than Manny Solano. Solano is the husband of Colorado House District 31 Representative Judy Solano and both are deeply entrenched in Adams County Democratic politics. Russo, for his part, faces 33 felony counts including charges of forgery, theft and attempting to influence a public official.
It is clear that Nichol and other Adams County Democrats have had free reign in county government for far too long. They have become so engrained in area politics that they feel entitled to do as they please with no remorse whatsoever.
It is time for Adams County taxpayers to wake up and smell the corruption, greed, and nepotism that have become part of the fiber of our local governments. It starts at the top with Commissioner Nichol and has involved the Assessor, Coroner and many other offices in the county.
Voters do seem to be slowly wising up having sent former Thornton Mayor Erik Hansen to the county commissioners in the last election and showing Democrat Larry Pace the door. Hansen’s task before him is gargantuan as he will do battle with a political machine that runs deep in the county and it won’t be easy.
For her part, Nichol shows no remorse whatsoever not even admitting the appearance of impropriety is a strong one. She told the Post, “My family are not crooks. I don’t know how to say these kinds of things. I don’t know how except to be myself, and it is what it is. I am what I am.”
Hmmm. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….
On the net: