On June 13, KSJD had a news item on its morning edition that said the county commission had “kicked Tom out” in reference to the ongoing struggles between Montezuma County and the CSU Extension director, Tom Hooten. Does no one care, or is the event, and the facts surrounding the event, to be kept quiet?
I feel the need to express support for Tom Hooten. I enrolled in and completed the Colorado Master Gardener course this year, not sure what to expect after reading The Journal articles about CSU Extension last fall. What I found were instructors teaching the courses who were knowledgeable, conscientious and passionate.
Recently I reread all those articles from last fall, and found some phrases staying with me: words like “fake news” and “personnel issues” generated by our county commissioners. In the business sector, of which I was a part for more than 40 years, when a supervisor asks an employee to keep a daily log, and list what he does, it suggests the company is under review and is looking for a scapegoat. The same thing is true when a new reporting level is introduced. It appears that somewhere within this mess between county commissioners, CSU Extension, 4-H programs and specifically Tom Hooten, there’s a lot missing.
Now I have a lot of questions: What has become of negotiating a solution instead of first airing a difference publicly in the newspaper? Why, when you call the Extension Office and ask for Tom, are you referred to a different phone number, with no voicemail option? And finally, how can the commission even “kick someone out” when the county pays barely 20 percent of his salary? Some answers would be nice.
I sincerely hope this will end well for Tom. It may not be fashionable or politically correct to support him, but I certainly do.