The “Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Broadwater County want everyone to know the truth. For more than 12 years a coalition of concerned citizens has endeavored to expose and put an end to multiple egregious acts against the public trust. Allegations of violating the public trust by Commissioner Laura Obert and other elected and appointed officials is well documented.
Under 7-3-173MCA, Broadwater County’s form of local government is reviewed every 10 years by a county commissioner appointed government review commission. Our form of government is a Constitutional 3 commission form of government as voted for by the people. Direct violations of this law by Broadwater County Commissioners is recorded in the First Judicial District Court.
Mr. Brian Obert, currently the executive director of Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC), served on the review commission. That seat opened the door to the economic development platform to the Broadwater County Development Corporation (BCDC). Commissioner Laura Obert has repeatedly voted to provide financial support to BCDC while serving as a voting member of BCDC. “Conflict of Interest”
MBAC administers a county owned revolving loan fund. Each year the county continues to pay MBAC and BCDC thousands of dollars from the taxpayers in the guise of “economic development.” Again, “Conflict of Interest” questions have been raised by the coalition of concerned citizens.
The Bunkhouse Property owned by the citizens of the county near Toston was sold to a private party. MBAC previously known as Gateway Development Corporation was given authority over the sale. Laura Obert serving as county commissioner and her husband Brian working for MBAC raised “Ethical and Conflict of Interest” questions. Despite numerous complaints and inquiries, to this date, there has been no resolution in the matter.
A dispute between a land developer resulted in the county paying the state to avoid litigation over required highway turn lanes. MBAC arranged for a loan from the developer to repay the county that also generates revenue for MBAC. The turn lane funds continue to be directed to other MBAC projects by the county commissioners led by Commissioner Obert. This is further documentation of yet another “Conflict of Interest” allegation.
It was discovered, we the taxpayers were frauded of over $35,000. It took almost 8 years, but finally Bill Fleiner, pleaded guilty to felony fraud. Mr. Fleiner testified in Federal Court that Commissioners Obert and Gravely knew what he was doing and had control of the funds he was pilfering. He and another employee were fired, but the commissioners under leadership of Commissioner Obert placed full blame on Bill Fleiner.
The right to know and participate in all local government is protected by Montana’s Constitution. In addition, Montana open meeting laws clearly hold elected officials accountable to the people. Broadwater County Commissioners under the leadership of Commissioner Obert has repeatedly violated that right. Past Commissioner Franklin Slifka was forced to file a civil suit against Commissioners Obert and Graveley,, alleging a violation of the Constitution of Montana and Montana’s Open Meeting laws. Judge Reynolds was given incomplete information regarding the form of government by Commissioner Obert. Commissioner Slifka then provided the court with accurate legal status of Broadwater County and Judge Reynolds ruled in favor of the citizens. Unfortunately, there are multiple complaints still on file that allege Commissioner Obert continues to violate these same laws.
Commissioner Obert assuming unilateral authority decided she deserved more compensation for serving the citizens. She awarded herself a pay raise without notice to the other commissioners or citizens. This is a direct violation of the 3-commission form of government. The Attorney General’s office also determined this action was a direct violation of open meeting law and the Constitution of Montana. Commissioner Obert was given a Deferred Prosecution Agreement in that legal matter. The truth in the matter has now reached questions of law before district court.
Commissioner Obert has regularly claimed the county commissioners have no jurisdiction over the Broadwater County Hospital District. However, the commissioners led by Commissioner Obert initiated and approved a $750,000.00 loan of taxpayer money to bail out the hospital. In addition, other improper funding questions have been raised on behalf of the taxpayers of Broadwater County. The coalition of concerned citizens again filed complaints alleging additional open meeting law violations by government officials.
The Deep Creek reclamation project has resulted in several questions about funding and expenditures. When questions about an expense of over $100,000. was asked, Commissioner Obert referred the query to WWC Engineering for answers. WWC Engineering under Shawn Higley has been asked for a full accounting and complete accounting information is still pending.
A building called “The Foolhen Building” was donated to the county for the use by the rural fire district or county road department by the United States Forest Service. The county had the building in storage until the past public works director and the rural fire district gave the building to a private individual. The legal process of selling or disposing of government property must be followed. The building was moved without any contract or other legal requirements in place under law. The legal status of the building is still unresolved.
Commissioner Obert repeatedly dis-regards the advice of the County attorney but rather consults with the legal arm of Montana Association of Counties. Multiple unresolved allegations of nepotism, improper funding, conflict of interest and open meeting law violations have been brought forward by Special Prosecutor Marty Lambert. These calls for justice remain unanswered. Many of these questions of law and allegations of illegal activity are now before Montana District Court here in Townsend.
With many county employees fearing for their jobs, they have remained silent. The county sanitarian stood up to Commissioner Obert and was fired. Public Works Director Mary Hendrickson was hired to oversee the road, solid waste and weed departments. The past public works director imposed conditions resulting in the road supervisor quitting and the weed supervisor was fired. The past solid waste supervisor was blamed for the deficit spending. The unilateral hiring of a manager outside of the duties of the commission continues to raise a legal question under the citizen approved form of government. Broadwater County form of government was settled in court by Judge Reynolds. Multiple challenges are on record. Under control of Commissioner Laura Obert titles and duties of employees are regularly being amended to comply with law after the fact.
No one is above the law and it is clearly time for the people to stand up and demand Truth, Honor and Justice.
Barb Demartin Gene Determan Mark Bennet Jim Hazel Angie Hazel Neil Hazel Debra Brown Franklyn Slifka Bev Determan Donna Slifka Mark Epperson Todd Daly Julie Lethert Duane Holom Chris Ravndal John Potter Heather Norsby Cheryl Campbell Darlene Cowan Terry Roberts Jane Cazier Tim Poole Tim Ravndal Marylyn Lane Wendy Daly Tracy Fortner Earl Campbell Tom Lethert Melinda Holom Melissa Smith Joan Potter Tim Roberts Terry Smith Dolly Hazel Nancy Magee Steve Johnson Jerry Norsby Bill Lane David Cowan Greg Norsby David Chase Rich Slifka Marcy Fortner Aurora Hurlburt Harvey Ravndal Rick Magee Levi Brown Bill Davis Judy Slifka Bill Davis Boyd Cazier Terry Chase
Paid for by Broadwater County Coalition of Concerned Citizens. Many citizens not listed here in Broadwater County fully support seeking “Truth, Honor and Justice.” People across Montana are engaged and watching closely.