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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

DA Dan May wants his credit from county commissioner

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2020 at 8:59 AM

click to enlarge May with his backup crowd. - IMAGES TAKEN FROM EL PASO COUNTY'S MEETING VIDEO
  • Images taken from El Paso County's meeting video
  • May with his backup crowd.
District Attorney Dan May was nonplussed when he sat through the Board of County Commissioners Chair Mark Waller's Dec. 12 State of the Region address, sponsored by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

That's because Waller apparently didn't mention the DA's Office, and May took that as a personal affront.

Instead of doing a little investigating as to why, May jumped off the deep end and on Dec. 17, he marched as many people from his office as he could muster over to the County Commissioner meeting.

Nevermind that the theme of Waller's address was overseen by County Administrator Amy Folsom, who says the goal was to name certain departments that rarely get attention, including the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Health. No slight, intended, she said.

Regardless, May had a point to make, especially since he opposes Waller's bid to replace him as district attorney in this year's election. May favors his own Deputy DA Michael Allen for the job. Both Waller and Allen are Republicans, as is May.

May, who's term-limited, made attendance at the meeting mandatory for everyone who wasn't due in court that day, according to insiders. So they all trouped over in a parade of sorts from the DA's office at 105 E. Vermijo St. to Centennial Hall, a little over a block. The employees then sat through May's 20-minute speech of why his office should have gotten accolades from Waller in the State of the Region speech.

Insiders report nobody knew why the 100 or so employees — judging from video of the meeting — were being forced to swamp the commissioner meeting. Even May admitted in his opening remarks that "nobody knows why we're here except a couple of people." The DA's office has  234 employees.

"I put together a quick presentation," May said. "I want you to see, to confirm that you know we do exist."

The crowd dutifully applauded when called upon to do so as May read the many reasons why Waller should have exalted his office. Those reasons include:

• His office does more with less. Its budget is $15 million a year, compared to $20 million in other large counties, including Denver and Arapahoe counties.

• 125 volunteers give some 18,000 hours of work per year.

• Several prosecutors have won distinguished awards.

• His office prosecuted 160 illegal pot grow cases last year. (Waller mentioned the Sheriff's Office's enforcement but apparently omitted the prosecutorial part of that.)

• His office files about 33,000 cases per year, 7,000 of them felonies, the most in the state.

• His office collected $6.2 million in restitution last year, the most of any office, and handed out $1.8 million to victims of crimes in victim compensation.

click to enlarge May making a point of the greatness of his office.
  • May making a point of the greatness of his office.
You get the idea.

The three commissioners on hand that day — Stan VanderWerf, Longinos Gonzalez Jr., and Cami Bremer — made a point to lavish praise on May.

"I appreciate everybody coming over here," VanderWerf said. "I just want you to know I was not part of the development of that [Waller's] presentation. I deeply appreciate the work that you all do."

Bremer thanked May for the presentation, adding, "Any opportunity we have to celebrate the successes of the county, whatever form that might take ... I think we should celebrate our successes."

Folsom then cleared the air a bit, saying she might have been the only one in the room who had "intimate knowledge" of how the speech came together.
click to enlarge Folsom: Setting the record straight about why the State of the Region speech omitted any mention of Dan May.
  • Folsom: Setting the record straight about why the State of the Region speech omitted any mention of Dan May.

"I want to echo the comments that you all do fantastic work," she said, adding she wanted to dispel the idea that "there’s a nefarious thing going on."

Rather, she explained, "We made a conscious decision to mention departments we’d never mentioned before." Those include human services, where social workers and others look out after the interests of thousands of children each day.

"Nobody made a decision [of] don’t include the district attorney's office," she said.

Folsom left the group with this thought and advice: "Think big. Celebrate your success and don’t care who gets the credit. That’s my ask of you today."

We asked Waller for his take on all this and received this comment in an email:
"One of the themes of the speech was a quote by Ronald Reagan, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” Unfortunately, our District Attorney completely missed that point.

As a former deputy district attorney myself, I certainly understand and appreciate the important role the district attorney’s office performs regarding public safety. In this speech, we wanted to highlight others in the county doing great things. For example, our coroner, Dr. Leon Kelly, is doing innovative work to prevent teen suicide, and the citizens should know it.

With over 2,850 employees and numerous agencies in the County, we couldn’t mention them all. It’s disappointing our District Attorney fails to recognize that, and it’s disappointing he fails to understand the importance of President Reagan’s simple leadership lesson."
 

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