Commissioners debate guns in the courthouse, Loosli's scope of work, and whether to pay him for talking to the media as well as work that predates his contract with Teton County.
Differing Opinions on the Open Carry of Guns in the Courthouse….
County Attorney Kathy Spitzer said that the 7th Judicial Court District had asked the County Commissioners to weigh in on whether they would support a gun ban in the county courthouse. Commission Park felt that guns absolutely do not belong in the courthouse, but elected officials should be allowed to pack heat in order to protect citizens. Kunz opined that gun control violated the 2nd Amendment. Rinaldi pleaded with Park to please reconsider his position because she feld that the courthouse needed to be a place for civil discourse. Park did indeed change his mind in light of this, and the Board then voted 2:1 to ban the open carry of guns in the courthouse.
Heated discussion of Loosli’s scope of work: Board votes to pay for media interviews and work that pre-dates his contract.
During “Morning Mic” local resident (and VARD Board Member) Sandy Mason expressed concern to the Commissioners that that at their April 24th meeting, the Commissioners had decided that Loosli’s pay would not be retroactive. However, he has now billed the county for several hours which predated his contract and included billing for media interviews.
In response to this, Mr. Loosli explained that he had been told (it is unclear by whom) told to attend county meetings pre-contract, and that his pay would be retroactive. If the Commissioners will not pay him to talk to the media, then he will not speak with them,
To this, Rinaldi pointed out that no other county contractor has ever billed for media work. Moreover, every other contractor has been billed for a “product” – or a specific deliverable. There is no specific price tag or deliverable here. Kunz countered that Loosli should not even be wasting his time on the press because his time costs the county money. "Your time is the county’s money."
Loosli rebutted: “You are paying me to integrate into the community, to educate myself, to conduct outreach before I can produce your ‘deliverable’—your new county code.”
Rinaldi again rebutted that she thought Loosli’s contract was fiscally irresponsible. “We shouldn’t be paying your $50/hour to get to know the public.” She felt that open and transparent governance requires communication with the press. Growing frustrated, she then asked about a meeting Loosli billed for which included both Kunz and Park as an illegal quorum: “You can’t have a quorum without inviting me."
To this, Loosli rebutted that it had not really been a formal meeting: “I lingered after the Code Studio meeting – which you left.“ Incredulous, Rinaldi asked: “You billed us for an hour of ‘lingering?”
Loosli responded that “‘surprises’ happen. "That’s how invoices work.” He then offered to “freshen up” the membership of the comp plan advisory committees which will be used to help advise him in crafting the new land use code. Rinaldi pointed out this was not in his contract either.
Loolsi then pointed out that in his opinion, the county’s wildlife overlay becomes illegal on July 1st due to new statewide legislation and would the Commissioners want him to address this? He planned on using Fremont County’s code which he wrote back in 2010-2011 as a starting point. To this, County Attorney Kathy Spitzer spoke up, clarifying that Loosli was hired to implement Teton County’s Comp Plan – not what was done previously in Fremont County.
Loosli the pointed out to Spitzer that Fair Housing Act requires the county to create places for low income housing. Spitzer argued that low income housing belonged in the towns – not the rural county. Loosli rebutted that “land is too expensive in the cities.” Rinaldi pointed out that working on the Fair Housing Act was never in Loosli’s contract. To this Loosli responded: “I don’t want to work for a BOCC that begrudges my invoices. Anyone else you hire will bill for the same things.” He pointed out that the county already pays other staff for time spent on the phone with media. Rinaldi corrected him: “No, we pay staff. We pay contractors for a deliverable.“ Sounding exasperated, she then said, “This just isn’t working for me. What about you guys?" (to Kunz and Park)
Park remarked that he thought the process was “going great! Look at how detailed his bill is!“
As a final agreement, Loosli agreed to credit the county for 5 hours of time worked pre-contract to some future invoice. In return, the Commissioners agreed to pay him for media interviews.