DougCo commissioners Laydon, Teal double down on Thomas censure

Mike McKibbin

By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak / Aug. 29, 2023

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] — Two Douglas County commissioners want to make sure the boards and commissions their colleague, Commissioner Lora Thomas, serves on know they censured her.

On Monday, commissioners George Teal and Abe Laydon directed county staff to write a letter to officials with the Chatfield Watershed Authority, Douglas County Housing Partnership, Colorado Counties Inc. and others.

Teal said the intent of sending a letter to boards and commissions Thomas serves on outside county control was to have her removed and replaced with either himself or Laydon. At the start of this year, the two removed Thomas from many of the county boards and commissions she had served on for years.

"You guys have already taken me off all kinds of things," Thomas said Monday after Teal and Laydon approved a motion to send the letter and two follow-up motions by 2-1 votes.

The action came during the commissioners' weekly administrative meeting, which does not include a public agenda and often has individual commissioners broach different topics they sometimes act on as a board.

Along with a letter, Laydon and Teal instructed county staff to send copies of the censure resolution against Thomas they passed last week and the resignation letter from the former chair of the county cultural council, James Smith, to be included.

"I think my work here is done," Teal said after the votes.

Thomas censure focused on cultural council criticism

Laydon and Teal — who have often criticized Thomas and ordered investigations into her actions over the last few years — claimed Thomas recently criticized the county cultural council about its grant funding recommendations, questioned its performance, and "employed a tone meant to negatively represent the cultural council's work," the censure resolution reads.

It also claims council members said they felt publicly shamed and attacked, had their values compromised and morale diminished by Thomas' comments. Former council chair James Smith attributed his resignation to Thomas' remarks.

Gender 'not a pass for bad behavior'

Thomas defended her actions as telling the truth that Laydon and Teal did not want to hear. When Thomas once again asked Laydon and Teal for any evidence to back up their claims that her past statements or actions were untrue or had harmed anyone, Teal noted Smith's resignation letter "is the evidence."

"Your inability to take personal responsibility for your actions" prompted the move, Laydon said. "And you continue to make your gender an issue and that's highly inappropriate. Gender is not a pass for bad behavior."

'Captain and Teal Comedy Hour'

Thomas wrote about Laydon and Teal's actions against her in a weekly Sunday email newsletter on Aug. 27 that the censure was "nothing more than orchestrated political theater."

"I've done nothing illegal or immoral — the facts and the record bear that out every time," she added. "I've just been transparent and told you the unvarnished truth about what is going on with your government. And I will continue to do so no matter how many censure resolutions based on phony accusations they throw my way."

Thomas called the censure hearing the "Captain and Teal Comedy Hour, now in its third season." She referred to the 1976-77 TV variety show "The Captain and Tennille," hosted by the Captain (Daryl Dragon) and Toni Tennille.

"You see, this censure from these two hypocritically desperate, self-appointed chieftains means less than nothing because there is no credibility or gravitas to be found," Thomas stated. "All they did was shake fingers and say that I had been a naughty girl because I dare to tell you the truth."

Thomas also included a link to a 12-minute video she produced to be played during the censure hearing but was denied by Laydon and Teal.

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