Del Norte Trustee censured by Town Board
Anzalone has retained a lawyer and wants action repealed
DEL NORTE — The Del Norte Town Board recently approved censuring Trustee Laura Anzalone for what was described as misconduct. Anzalone denies doing anything that would warrant censure, has retained a lawyer, and is requesting the censure be withdrawn.
A seven-page letter submitted to the Town of Del Norte from Attorney Luis A. Corchado, who is representing Anzalone, states that the town went against open meeting laws and procedures when approving censure.
“I have been asked by Trustee Anzalone to contact you about the Board of Trustees’ October 18, 2021censure of Trustee Laura Anzalone,” Corchado wrote in the letter. “As further explained below, in adopting the censure, the Board abused its discretion and exceeded its authority.”
Anzalone sat down with the Del Norte Prospector and talked about what has happened and why she is pushing back on the censure.
City staff said they were advised by town counsel to not comment on the matter. Town of Del Norte Manager Bernadette Martinez said that the town could not give a statement at this time per legal counsel and Del Norte Mayor Chris Trujillo was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
During her three years as a trustee, Anzalone has questioned how and why the city does things and said this rubbed some town staff and fellow trustees the wrong way.
Examples Anzalone gave were that she had proposed looking at the city’s hiring practices and questioning how the town follows ordinances such as performance evaluation requirements. She has also questioned why the public is not always allowed to speak during Town Board meetings when it is allowed on specific agenda items.
According to the letter, Anzalone was notified by Del Norte Mayor Chris Trujillo that he “had the votes to remove her from office” on Oct. 5, which was the first time Anzalone had heard about plans to have her removed.
The letter further states that Trujillo did not give any reason or justification for his statement or attempt to have Anzalone removed from her elected position on the board. During subsequent meetings that followed throughout the month of October, no specific explanation was ever given to Anzalone regardless of how many times she requested it.
“On October 13, 2021, at a regular board meeting, the board scheduled a public hearing on the question of removal for November 2, 2021. The board did not discuss any reasons for the removal hearing and still did not provide any charges to Trustee Anzalone,” the letter states.
Another special meeting was scheduled for Oct. 18. The agenda shows only two items, an executive session pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402(4)(b) to receive legal advice related to Trustee removal and the decision of the board after the executive session. It was at the Oct. 18 meeting that it was first proposed to censure Trustee Anzalone by a recommendation made by the board which was approved unanimously.
The following three reasons for the censure were finally read after the executive session ended on Oct. 18, “The Town Board of Trustees of the Town of Del Norte has received credible information from Town staff that Trustee Laura Anzalone has performed the following acts:
- Trustee Anzalone has taken it upon herself to assume duties belonging to the Code Enforcement Officer by encouraging citizens to file complaints concerning the Del Norte lighting ordinance and has interfered with the Town Code Enforcement Officer’s procedure and protocol making it difficult for her to perform her essential functions who creates confusion in the public as to who has the authority to enforce the town code. In doing so she has incurred liability for the Town in acting outside the scope of her proper authority.
- Trustee Anzalone has attempted to call a Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees by contacting the Town Clerk and using the following language “We as Trustees...ask to have a special meeting to be held for the purpose of discussing Town procedure and Trustee appointees...” This correspondence did not have the concurrence of other Board Trustees, was deceptive, and such meeting would normally be a Work Session of the Board, which, when attempted to be called between regular meetings, could only be called by the mayor.
- Trustee Anzalone has stated to the Town Clerk/Administrator that there should be a replacement of Town Staff every few years thereby making their job performance more difficult, their tenure uncertain, imposing unnecessary stress upon their personal lives, and creating unnecessary tension in the work environment.
Anzalone's lawyer pointed out in the letter that these were things within a trustee's purview.
Trustee Anzalone is seeking a repeal of the censure through her legal counsel. Per the letter submitted by the attorney, the board has until Nov. 10 to respond and can do so through the regular meeting platform or by calling a special hearing to consider the proposal from the attorney.
“I am angry and yet all I want our moral compass aligned,” Anzalone said to the Prospector. “I want us to be fair and I want us to be just. I want us to serve the community without personal aggressions or biased information. We should follow the law and we should be able to ask questions and look to our future without repercussions.”
The next regular Del Norte Town Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 10. Agendas are posted at the Town Hall and online at www.delnortecolorado.com.