Subject: BIDLACK | Alamosa should not recall DA at taxpayer expense, March 18
While I agree with Hal Bidlack that most recall campaigns are unwarranted, unnecessary and a waste of money, there are exceptions – as with everything in life. You have heard an opinion on the use of taxpayers’ money in a recall effort. I now offer mine.
The case under consideration is a proposed recall from 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne, whom many locals refer to as “Let ’em Go Alonzo.”
Take the case of a man driving his vehicle who was shot in the back of the neck. The original charges against the shooter were attempted second degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, second degree assault resulting in grievous bodily harm and reckless endangerment. DA Payne allowed the plaintiff to plead a charge of “tampering with the body of a deceased person”, even though the victim survived and is still alive. The tampering charge carried a much lighter sentence.
Police Chief Kenny Anderson says there were at least 40 narcotics cases that police referred to Payne’s office, but none went to trial. All dismissed or pleaded to lesser offenses although some cases involved possession of heroin, crystal meth and “cop-killing” weapons taken from drug dealers.
Under Payne, the situation got so bad that the police chief said, “Our officers literally made those arrested laugh while they were in handcuffs, and I had to watch that as the chief.”
Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman said: ‘I get phone calls from people with terror in their voices because the person in line next to them at the grocery store is the person who got them. victimized. They feel there is no hope. They feel like the system is broken.”
You might wonder why, as the executive director of an animal welfare organization, I have a dog in this fight. That’s because Payne’s inexplicable actions extend beyond humans as well. Consider a puppy mill case involving abused and neglected animals, resulting in 107 counts of felony, 104 counts of aggravated animal cruelty, one count of theft, one count for cyber crimes and one count for violation of probation. Each of them was fired by Payne.
Democracy First Colorado spokesman Curtis Hubbard said the recalls are brought in by “scammers, extremists and sore losers looking for opportunities.” However, the Reminder-Payne campaign is not about any of these issues, it is about victims whose rights have been ignored at best and violated at worst. The Valley Courier noted that this was the first time in 30 years that a referral had been submitted to the governor involving multiple complaints substantiated under the Crime Victim Rights Act. No, it’s not about scammers, extremists or sore losers.
At a recent council meeting, City Manager Heather Brookes summed it up this way, “Avocado Payne, as District Attorney, is a direct threat to the safety of our residents.”
I can understand those who object to using taxpayer dollars for a recall – I’m not a big fan of recalls either. However, I think if you ask these same victimized taxpayers, they will tell you that there is no better use for their money. And while the citizens of Judicial District 12 could raise the funds themselves for a recall, it would take time – time during which more crimes would be pleaded or dismissed, more criminals would be back on the streets, and more citizens be afraid to walk in their own community.
Executive Director Colorado Voters for Animals