Garfield County Sheriff lashes back at the media

Under fire by his critics for carrying on a romantic relationship with a detention sergeant, angering Search and Rescue employees by requiring them to undergo extensive background checks, spending over $235,000 on a Bearcat armored vehicle—and using the Bearcat in the armed seizure of a boy from a trailer park—Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario is fighting back.

GarCo Sheriff Lou Vallario

GarCo Sheriff Lou Vallario

In advance of the 2010 election, in which Vallario intends to run for a third four-year term, he recently sent out two newsletters and made a lengthy appearance on KMTS radio, reports David Frey at The Aspen Daily News.

And according to Vallario, the real problem is not anything he has done—it’s simply that the local newspapers are biased against him.

The first newsletter dove into the search-and-rescue controversy:

The Oct. 22 newsletter, dubbed a “nonpartisan look” at the sheriff’s office “without the typical media slant,” lashed out at detractors who Vallario wrote “think they have me backed into a corner…

The newsletter, on sheriff’s office letterhead distributed by Community Relations Deputy Tanny McGinnis, accused his detractors of planning to take search-and-rescue funds and stash them in an unknown bank account to fund an independent organization.

“When they are sitting around someone’s living room with no equipment to operate and no phone calls requesting their help, they will realize where I stand on this issue,” he wrote.

The second newsletter was sent Nov. 13, and indicated that it was written by employees who wanted to express their support Vallario:

“Over the past two years there has clearly been an attempt to discredit and ‘trash’ him by some of the local media, a few former employees, and a small group of citizens in this valley,” the newsletter said. “Until now we have been silent, but we have had enough.”

Headlined “Loyalty and Integrity: The Truth about Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario,” the e-mail was signed by 107 of the office’s 148 staffers.

“Recently he has been called a ‘Nazi’ among other things,” the e-mail said. “If you only knew where his heart lies concerning the citizens of Garfield County, you would see how ridiculous a statement this is.”

On KTMS, reports Frey, Vallario accused local newspapers of manufacturing “controversy where there’s no controversy to be had.”

“I would contend and I would argue that they can’t write a story, a news report, on the front page without a spin, without an editorial, without an opinion,” he said.

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Katie Redding

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