Letter to the editor: Canal board concerns
It appears that the Carbon Canal Board is no longer willing to face their shareholders in public meetings.
In February, at the annual stockholders meeting, the meeting schedule for the year was published, and the location announced. They would meet monthly on the second Tuesday at either 5 or 6 p.m. depending on whether it was winter or summer, and would meet at the Fairgrounds in the multi-purpose room.
At the May meeting a group of "disgruntled shareholders" voiced their concerns and dissatisfaction with how the Carbon Canal was being run. Among those concerns were the following.
Charging a "gate access" fee for shareholders who had gates across the canal road easement (a fee which, by the way, their own attorney has advised they have no legal justification to levy);
The ditch rider leaving the prescriptive easement and driving on/not respecting private property; policies that insure that some shareholders are unable to use water to which they are legally entitled, (in fact, their policies do nothing to encourage responsible water use/conservation, but do just the opposite);
Locking head gates and valves wide open, which necessitates purchasing bolt cutters in order to shut head gates when flooding occurs or when the canal rises abruptly. (which it does often and the ditch rider won't return and unlock or re-regulate water flow, and further, won't trust the shareholder to be accountable for his own head gate);
Refusal to give shareholders minutes of meetings, some of which have been requested even in writing and by certified letter for many, many months;
And a general disregard for the concerns and unique issues facing many shareholders. Numerous complaints over last year and a half by shareholders appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
The May meeting was attended by close to 60 shareholders. Shareholders received responses almost entirely consisting of "we'll talk about that" or "we'll take a look at that".
Unfortunately these concerns were not addressed and subsequently, the board began meeting without notifying shareholders, and canceled the regularly scheduled June meeting with an advance notice by email of 26 hours. Some shareholders who don't have email came to the fairgrounds, where they announced all future meetings would be held, only to discover locked doors and no one around. Future board meetings have now been moved back to a small office which can accommodate only about ten people.
In addition, the board has announced a new policy: If you want to talk to the board, you must deliver in writing what you want to talk about 10 days before the meeting so the board can "review" your issue and decide whether or not they want to deal with it. Apparently, if you are not allowed on the agenda, you are no longer welcome at a monthly board meeting.
Such procedures and practices are totally unethical and ought not to be tolerated. Those elected are supposed to represent all shareholders, not just the "big" ones. Why are they unwilling to face their shareholders. They now meet in 'secret' and impose policies on shareholders that said shareholders have no voice in implementing. This is unjust and at odds with the democracy in which we live! Putting it more plainly, seven individuals implement policies and pass the liability and cost onto the shareholders. That would include the lawsuits which have been brought against the canal company. Due to the tactics of the board, we the shareholders are financially liable for legal fees incurred by those lawsuits. Many of these policies are made without input from those affected. It's time for the Carbon Canal Board to stop hiding from their shareholders and meet issues head on. What is it going to take to get them to listen to and treat their shareholders with respect?
In the last year the board has been the subject of two formal lawsuits with at least two more pending. (Interestingly, prior to last year, the board had not had a lawsuit in over 30 years). Is it that hard to 'connect the dots' between their high handed dealings and what's going on with shareholders?
We, the undersigned, say it's time for the Carbon Canal Board to begin acting in an ethical and moral way and, moreover, a democratic way with respect to their many shareholders. This is a pivotal issue especially in a time when our economy is unstable, and small farmers and stakeholders require fair use of the canal not only to support our own families but our community at large.
If there is anyone else out there who has issues with Carbon Canal, or would like to share experiences or concerns, or would like help, feel free to email us at: CarbonCanalCoalition@gmail.com.
Our organizaton continues to grow, and contains many more than signed this letter. We will work until these problems are resolved.
Pete and Sharon Stamatakis
Daniel and Cindy Swank
Edward K. Madsen
Jan and Jackie Oman
John and Debbie Cardon
Jeff and Amy Peters