The Gazette has obtained one of two email exchanges between City Councilman Bernie Herpin and El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink that Herpin doesn’t want to provide under an open-records act.
The email exchange pertains to a $25,000 water tour that Herpin, along with 73 other elected officials and community leaders, attended at the expense of Colorado Springs Utilities ratepayers.
Here’s Balink’s initial email, sent Sept. 7:
Bernie, there you (they) go again!
Just when I thought I’d get a reprieve from disagreeing with you for a while- there goes another $25 BIG ONES….
…a bus tour and overnight stay at a luxury hotel in Salida to look at the same reservoirs (Turquoise, etc) that were there the last time you went on the water tour? Really?
I would have used my own gasoline to drive out there and take a few photos to show you the water levels are down a bit. What else can you learn while spending these hard earned taxpayer dollars?
I am discouraged that 74 dignitaries are doing this and wondering how many, like you, have taken this trip before. Could you let me know?
Meanwhile, be sure to take your camera- the Aspens are turning earlier this year.
Robert C. Balink
Here’s Herpin’s response to Balink:
This is the first tour that I have been on that includes the Southern Delivery System. As a CSU Board member, I believe it was important for me to be on this tour for a couple of reasons:
(1) we make decisions that impact our ratepayers. A recent Gazette article implied that we were not qualified to serve because we don’t know anything about running utilities. So, I go on this tour to learn more and I did. We had a talk on water law while driving by one one the best water attorneys in the state, for example.
(2) We had many elected officials and community and civic leaders who were interested in learning about where our water comes from and how it gets to our city. I was able to meet and interact with these folks.
BTW, I don’t think the Hampton Inn is exactly a “luxury” hotel!
Also, Dougan often states she doesn’t have enough info to make a decision, but she won’t attend things like this and other CSU training sessions.
Here’s how Balink responded to Herpin’s response:
Thanks for writing Bernie.
You make some decent points- BUT I’d suggest the same could be accomplished with a presentation at a council or utilities meeting before the public. Then we’d all be enlightened.
I’d also suggest if these community “leaders” we’re really interested they should pay their own way.
Glad you got my attempt at humor about the lodging- but isn’t the Hampton Inn at the high end in Salida?
I’ve also spoken about the unnecessary trips to D.C. that too many E.O.s take.
Have a safe trip.