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Noblesse Oblige

Updated: Aug 30

In a land long ago, life was messy. If you wanted to eat, you had to raise your own vegetables, kill and butcher your own meat. At night you either used a chamberpot or braved a trip to the house outback. In the morning, someone had to empty and clean that chamberpot. If your elected officials didn’t follow the law or even the will of the people, they were tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail. Some unlucky ones were even strung up from the nearest oak tree.

Not so today. Everything is pretty and clean, and people pay others to do the dirty work.

We bring this up because we are upset. That may be too mild a word. Furious. We are furious. Your Sheridan County Commissioners have conspired to break the law. These are the folks YOU elected to run the county and manage your tax dollars. They are unqualified and incompetent. They actively conspired to subvert Wyoming State Statute. Why? We can only surmise that they are either extremely stupid and ignorant, or arrogant elitists who hate the voters. Take your pick, either choice is not good.

So the establishment’s choice for County Commissioner in the last election, Allen Thompson, resigned at the end of July to take his “dream job” of being the [chief lobbyist for] Executive Director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. Per Wyoming State Statute, the County Commission notifies the political party to which the vacating person claims to belong, and the party then has 20 days to pick three candidates to fill the vacancy. Once those candidates are named, the County Commissioners have 20 days to pick one of the three to fill the vacancy. That is the way it is supposed to work.

In 2022, Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced his retirement so that he could accept his “dream job” of being a judge. That left a vacancy. Per Wyoming Statute, the State Republican Party had to pick three candidates for the office and send them to the Governor, who had to choose one to fill the office. Much to many people’s surprise, Governor Gordon picked Karl Allred. Mr. Allred assumed the duties of Secretary of State with distinction until Chuck Gray took office in January 2023. That’s how the process works.

But not so Sheridan County Commissioners. They didn’t like the three people who were nominated by the Sheridan County Republican Party and actively worked to make sure that none of them would be selected. The Commissioners made comments from the very beginning that they thought they’d have trouble selecting anyone the party picked. They hinted about tied votes and being unable to make a clear choice. What they actually did was more nefarious than even that.

Commission Chair, Christi Haswell, made a comment at the selection meeting that “none of the candidates are even qualified,” for which we’d like to respond, “And you are?” Christi Haswell not only refuses to follow state statute, but she can’t even run a meeting per Robert’s Rules of Order. Chairman Haswell and the Commissioner’s ploy was to nominate all three candidates but not “second” them. Therefore, she claims, a vote couldn’t be held. Deed done. Let’s get our good buddy the judge to select one of our cronies for the job.

Let’s address Christi's ineptitude. 1) The only qualification to be a County Commissioner is that you are a registered voter in Sheridan County. It is up to the voters to determine if they think a candidate is qualified enough to receive their vote. 2) Nominations do not require a second. 3) Nominations from a nominating committee, in this case, the Republican Party, are not required to be “nominated” by the body nor do they require a second. If Christi Haswell was actually qualified to be Chair and run a meeting, she should know this. Furthermore, one of the other three commissioners should have known this and corrected her.

But that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to torpedo the slate of candidates elected by the Republican Party, and by extension, the voters who elected the precinct people, so that a crony could be appointed by a crony judge. In that, they were successful.

Are you mad yet? You should be.

This is not the first time the Sheridan County Commissioners have ignored State Statute. Our County Clerk, Eda Schunk Thompson, is currently suing the County Commissioners to force them to return her duties which they stripped from her office. Wyoming State Statute is very clear on what the duties of the County Clerk are, going so far as to create a list of items. Eda Thompson asked the County Commissioners to return her duties and...they refused. Eda filed with a lawyer, and the County Commissioners are still refusing. Why? The easiest thing to do would be to return the statutory duties back to the County Clerk per the law. Makes you think they are hiding something, doesn’t it?

Instead of getting one’s hands dirty these days, we must employ lawyers to take on the dirty jobs. The system is rigged so that normal folks, you know, us stupid people, can’t do this on our own. We must employ an overpaid, shiny-shoe person to do this work. You just try and get a complaint form from the Clerk of Courts. Good luck.

You, the taxpayer, are footing the bill for the lawyer hired by the County Commissioners to fight the County Clerk. You, the taxpayer, are footing the bill for the lawyer that the County Clerk hired to get the County Commissioners to return her statutory duties. YOU are paying for all of this, not them. And you elected them to be good stewards of your money. Ha! Fooled you. By the way, how's that Falcon Car thing working out?

Are you mad yet? You should be.

This is how things are done in Communist countries. There is a pretense of “democracy” but in reality, a select few run things the way they want and benefit from their power. Your County Commissioners, Christi Haswell, Tom Ringley, Lonnie Wright, and Nick Siddle are all complicit in this. They are all guilty. Not a single one voiced an objection to this charade and abuse of power. Not one.

Are you mad yet? You should be.

Here's what we don't understand. There are FIVE county commissioners. If they select someone who doesn't agree with them, the vote is still four to one. Furthermore, the new commissioner is only in office until the end of 2024, one year away, as they will be required to run for election in 2024 if they want to retain their seat. What is the problem? If the person they select is so "unqualified" as Christi maintains, why would they stand a chance of being reelected? What is so hard about doing the "dirty" job of selecting one of three choices put forth by the voters? It's not going to hurt anyone, especially the cabal of commissioners. Makes you think they are hiding something.

Are you mad yet? We are furious.

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