Powers corrupts and long live term term limits.
These are two themes that emerged from the amazing off-the-cliff fall of ex-sheriff Terry Maketa, who held the head law enforcement reins for El Paso County for close to 12 years and was a central folk hero in the fight to maintain Second Amendment rights. In addition, Maketa was a main community cheerleader and fatherly, law enforcement re-assurer during the devastating Waldo Canyon fire of 2012.
All that changed last week, with his indictment by a grand jury for nine offenses, including six felonies, highlighted by such charges as witness tampering, kidnapping and false imprisonment. That’s a bitter fall for a guy who was a familiar speaker in the battle against gun control restrictions. His smiling, confident face was a signature image in the photo of the 55 county sheriffs who planned to abide by the new Democrat-inspired restrictions with the promise, “over my dead body,” when announcing their lawsuit against the state.
And when Green Mountain Falls got into a big furor over law enforcement in 2013, and whether to hire a marshal or not, it was Maketa who emerged as the voice of reason during a heated GMF town hall meeting. This is during a time when many meetings in GMF practically turned into fist fights.
Prior to that, Maketa appeared to maintain the same positive reputation that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had during the 9/11 attacks, often assuring residents that help was around the corner. He represented confidence and was a familiar presence at virtually every Waldo Canyon fire meeting.
Although no one was too surprised with the grand jury’s verdict, his plunge from this hero role definitely has shocked many local leaders and citizens.
Oddly enough, Maketa may have been a victim of his own success and power-grabbing antics. With traditional term limits, he would have left his position in the winter of 2013 and may have avoided much of the controversy. In fact, he may have even received a hero’s reception, despite the flurry of rumors of improprieties in his office. It wasn’t until several deputies stepped forward and risked their jobs and careers in the summer of 2014 that he became a doomed sheriff. In his last term, the way he almost enjoyed controversy and challenging other emergency service authorities displayed traces that something was definitely wrong in El Paso County Sheriff Land.
But no, Maketa was obsessed with extending his reign of power to a third and a disastrous final term.
So next time this issue comes before the citizens of Teller County for any position, I say HELL NO, or remember Terry Maketa. Term limits, although they aren’t the total answer, serve as a power check and a guard against career politicians in our friendly abode.
If current good ol’ boy trends continue with elected leaders switching offices, this term limit option will indeed come before the fine voters here in the near future. Remember, just say no.
In El Paso, and many counties in Colorado, people are trying to sneak these extra terms in, one office at a time. Citizens should be on the guard against such ploys in Teller County.
Term limits do pose challenges, especially for more technical roles such as assessor and clerk and recorder. However, if new office-holders are serious about the elected positions they are about to assume, plenty of training is available.
Overall, the tradition of term limits works quite well in Colorado. So in the wake of the Terry Maketa scandal, I say long live term limits. I just wish we could extend these limits to members of Congress.
Rodeo Spirit Returns
The tradition of rodeos is getting rekindled in Teller County big-time. This weekend, the season kicks off with the annual Top of the World Rodeo in Cripple Creek at the fairgrounds on June 11 and June 12.
And yes, this is no lie, as this event, resurrected by Councilman Milford Ashworth and other leaders over the last few years, is indeed the highest in the world, beating out Chile and other renowned international rodeo and horse hubs. I thought our fine friends from Cripple Creek were fibbing or exaggerating a little, just a little, when they come up with this claim. But no, they are right on the money.
This has become one of the leading events for the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association with several hundred top rodeo professionals in the West.
It also kicks off an active flurry of events in southern Teller, with a number of new additions to the lineup of nearly 30 festivals and summer and fall happenings. The Summer of Fun is about to unfold, good weather or not.
Later in the summer in late July, a group of hearty rodeo buffs, led by Cowhand owner Merry Jo Larsen and company, are organizing big plans for the Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo in honor of the 60th celebration. More details on this are forthcoming in future articles, but this event is aimed at recapturing a tradition that has been forgotten in Woodland Park. Who knows why exactly? This will include an entire week of rodeo festivities with a Cowboy/Cowgirl golf tournament and Calcutta, a street dance, a parade, VIP party and live, original cowboy/western music and rodeo theme events at local businesses.
“We want to get the whole community involved,” said Larsen, who remembers fondly about the era of big rodeos in Woodland Park when the whole town was invaded by bull-fighters and cow ropers and barrel racers for an entire week.
And then, there is the county fair in early August.
So get your rodeo gear ready as a popular tradition is returning in style. Stay tuned for more details in this paper.