There have been 88 DUIs (driving under the influence citations) issued in the city of Salida in the past year. That is roughly 1.69 DUIs per week. For some reason, only one of those 88 citations became a news story in a competitor’s publication. That one, which occurred on Jan. 16, 2022, over the dozens of other drivers stopped outside Salida establishments and driving on Salida streets. That one involved the Salida City Attorney Nina Williams.
More than a month after the incident, a Mountain Mail story naming her in a Feb. 15, 2022, front-page news story, with the publication noting that they had gotten “a tip” from an unnamed source. Then on Friday, Feb. 18 another story ran, that named the informant (a person who has frequently written letters to the editor to our competitor) who appears to run a right-wing blog.
The topic was raised by Salida Mayor Dan Shore during the city’s regular City Council meeting on Feb. 15.
“She made a mistake. She’s a human being. No one is more acutely aware of this than she is. None of us can be as hard on her as she is being on herself,” said Shore. “It pains me in seeing how seriously she is taking this. When you see patterns of behaviors when they deflect and justify, that’s one thing. But she took responsibility, she stood up. It took a lot of courage, and I have a lot of respect for her.”
For the record, according to Shore, Williams was initially pulled over for an expired tag for her license plate, not because she was driving erratically. Williams was on personal time on Sunday evening Jan. 16. She went out to dinner in Salida with the Drew Nelson family, then they stopped at Woods High Mountain Distillery to meet a fellow city attorney from Broomfield who was visiting in town. She was stopped after leaving Woods.
Williams, as a lawyer apparently refused a sobriety test, so she was taken to detention, and released later on $1,000 bond.
Ark Valley Voice issued a Colorado Open Records Act request (CORA) this past week, but so far, that legal records request has not been received by AVV. Strangely, it was reported in another media (and shared with us by the City Clerk and Recorder) that the District Attorney’s office has refused to share the requested report and the arresting officer’s body camera footage “because it was an ongoing case.”
If this is true, and AVV has not yet received independent verification of that claim, this failure to produce documents does not meet state of Colorado open records laws.
In his more extensive comments before city council on Feb. 15 Shore said, “I pose a question to everyone listening out there – how would you like to be judged by your worse moment? It was over an expired tag. Rather than dwelling on that, we should recall that we have had the opportunity to work with her for four years, and benefited from her wisdom. Look at how invested she is in this community. For those who read that article and don’t know her, you may not know that when we suffered the tragic loss of our City Clerk Sonya Walter, we were reeling. Sonya had this critical role in the function of our city. Nina dropped everything. She lived up here for weeks. She trained our Clerk Erin Kelley. Recognize how much she means to this community. No one should be judged on a single moment.”
Shore said he had talked with Salida Police Chief Russ Johnson about the incident. We asked whether the city had any idea of who might have provided the “tip” to The Mountain Mail on which they did the story. Shore said, “We don’t know who would have provided that tip. She is feeling so awful about this. Look at the four-plus years that she has worked for us … the caring and commitment she has had for this community.”
When AVV receives more information, we will share it. At this point, it seemed necessary to share the mayor’s message with readers.