Wednesday, July 11

wagner's flight

From the latest edition of the Chronicle, rolling off the docks at the yard as I post:

Karen Wagner didn’t quit her job as a Larimer County commissioner because fellow commissioner Glenn Gibson is crazy. But it may have helped.

Wagner shocked Larimer County with a July 9 resignation letter, 18 months before the end of her first term, citing “escalating harassment and verbal abuse” from Gibson. The situation sunk to a nadir for Wagner at a June 26 meeting when Gibson “launched two assaults of irrational histrionics not worthy of a county commissioner,” according to Wagner’s letter.

The rant occurred during interviews of county Planning Commission candidates, and it put Wagner, the lone Democrat among the three commissioners, over the edge.

“In the course of that discussion, Gibson flew into a rage that was directed at me,” Wagner tells Eat the Week. “He was pounding on the table, yelling at the top of his voice. It’s a pattern I’m not willing to put up with.”

“He was definitely acting inappropriately,” adds Nancy Wallace, Planning Commission chair, who observed the outburst.

What was he shouting?

“Gibberish,” Wagner responds.

Gibson, who played a few unsuccessful rounds of phone tag with ETW before taking off for a two-week vacation, has denied displaying any malice toward Wagner. But while her accusations target Gibson’s temper, the fallout also summons long-standing, whispered questions about Gibson’s judgement.

Sheriff Jim Alderden, who has publicly battled with Gibson over jail staffing, says his rival has never gotten out of control with him.

“I have never witnessed any threatening or intimidating behavior on his part,” Alderden says.

Of course, the sheriff carries a gun. And he does consider Gibson unreasonable — at least when it comes to the issue of jail staffing and sheriff patrols.

“I can’t tell you if that’s because of a personal animus toward me or the sheriff’s department, or because he just doesn’t get it,” Alderden adds.

Wagner has made her diagnosis, although it’s come at the cost of her public service and, she says, her health.

“Glenn knows no boundaries,” Wagner says. “There’s nothing that’s going to stop him.”

County Democrats have ten days to name a replacement. But the silver lining is that Wagner’s successor will gain some footing for a November 2008 election, most likely against a big-name Republican opponent, such as state Senator Steve Johnson, who has expressed interest in the post.

Gibson will also be up for re-election in 2008.

No comments: