Fear and Loathing in Green Mountain Falls

Bar and Melodrama Crowd Needed at GMF Town Hall

Rick Langenberg


The town of Green  Mountain Falls has mulled such recent ideas as legalizing retail marijuana, selling the town hall building and having paid parking to generate extra revenue.


They should now consider a new option: opening up a bar at city hall to  complement trustees’ meetings.

The most recent trustees gathering (on July 20) was bizarre (to say the least) and may just have beat  out Woodland Park in the crazy meeting contest. It is bound to create a furor on social media.  For the record, town leaders renewed the contract of their town manager, with a variety of amendments that no one really knows about,  and further reaffirmed their support of the town manager form of government; telling critics to put an issue on the ballot if they disagreed. And in a painful style, they started to amend a several-hundred-page code rewrite that would take 20 attorneys to figure out.


Please, no more misery.


Once again, the theatrics, and the Green Mountain Falls melodrama show took center stage. Mel Moser,

the great melodrama actor in Cripple Creek, has already been contacted to play one of the GMF characters in a future performance at the Butte Theater. In fact, the Butte may just host a separate play on GMF.


From my perspective, if you are watching this on Zoom, as most are still doing these days in GMF, these meetings cannot be witnessed sober and may require a combination of beer, wine, mixed drinks, tequila, whisky  and whatever.


The town could  make quite a profit if they opened up a bar for live showings of these meetings and encouraged people to attend.  For non-drinkers, popcorn and soft drinks are in order.


Here is how the last affair went:


Beer/Wine Time – Oddly enough, the trustees started out their last performance in a low-key, rather mundane style by taking a stab at their great code rewrite project.   This clearly put all attendees and Zoomers nearly to sleep, lacking an overall comprehensive summary the public could understand.  It was time for Zoomers to grab a beer and bite to eat and hopefully miss this ordeal. That is the path I took.


But at the end, some of the more important issues, such as camping and recreational vehicles  and trail parking did emerge. Marshal Virgil Hodges did make an impressive attempt at putting these issues in layman’s terms from an enforceable standpoint.


Margarita Time – The real theater began as the trustees entered into a discussion regarding the contract of Town Manager Angie Sprang.  Familiar administration critics clearly objected, and cited problems with legal expenses, lack of planning commission activity, an ongoing bureaucratic nightmare, employee turnover, lousy services and certain exchanges with residents. It got fairly ugly real fast, and would have been ripe for boos, hisses and cheers at a melodrama show.  The trustees may need to firm up their acting abilities for the next show.


For the official record, probably the most convincing “no renewal “arguments were made by Fire Mitigation Committee Chairman David Douglas.  “There is so much evidence that something is wrong and demands action. There is a lack of professionalism (with the current town manager). I can’t imagine our trustees will be expanding her contract,” said Douglas.


The main crux of the “no extension” argument, though, deals with the town manager form of government period. “Our experiment with a town manager system is a failed one,” said planning commission member Lamar Mathews, a big critic of the Sprang administration. She cited a laundry list of problems with this setup, and opted for the town to return to its roots with a trustee/liaison system.


But similar to past showdowns, Mayor Jane Newberry, who could probably go on a national tour in defending the town’s status quo setup for the last several years,  came to the town manager’s defense, comparing this role to that of  a company’s chief executive officer.


The contract fight  took a really awkward turn when it went behind closed doors, with no action for at least an hour. Participants at the meeting were given the boot temporarily.


Whisky Hour — Then, the battle lines were drawn between the trustees themselves. Late-night Zoomers got a real treat with the return of the live meeting. Trustee Chris Quinn requested a delay in the contract decision, and maybe exploring if the town had the best person for the town manager job. He cited the comments made at the meeting, and the feedback he has received.


This idea created internal turmoil, with Sprang suggested that the trustees fire her, if they wanted to pursue another person for the job. This is the first time I have seen an actual town manager discuss their own contract in an open meeting.


The trustees by a 3-1 vote agreed to the amended contract, and the end of the story for right now. Quinn’s ideas were rejected with few comments.


But the mayor suggested that critics of this current form of government, consider putting an issue on the ballot.  She made it clear the town manager form of government is what the current majority leaders want. “Let’s think of Green Mountain Falls as a business. No company runs with  a bunch of volunteers,” said Newberry.


Encore – Not sure, but probably the future GMF elections of 2022. But in the meantime, town hall officials need to get a liquor license and consider contracting out with a restaurant for food and snacks. They are losing valuable revenue in not turning this melodrama into a live entertainment show.