Turning Water Into Whine

When Gary Antonoff set up his own private government, the town of Lochbuie got soaked.

Both Antonoff and Lembke continue to spend an enormous amount of time, energy and money figuring out how to defeat each other once and for all. (Each man now employs a public-relations firm to spin his side of the dispute.) But lately, Lembke seems to have gained the upper hand.

Four months ago, at a meeting at the Pepperpod Restaurant in Hudson, Lembke sat down with about two dozen business associates and still-furious residents of Lochbuie and hatched a plan to swipe Beebe Draw from under Antonoff's control. Then he put the plan into action.

First, and unbeknownst to Antonoff, Lembke purchased the mineral rights to the land underneath Beebe Draw. Next, he sold a small interest in the rights to thirteen associates. Because that group now owns an interest in the land, its members are entitled to vote in the Beebe Draw Water and Sanitation District. On May 11, Lembke's forces filed petitions to boot Antonoff off Beebe Draw's board of directors.

Antonoff fought back hard, taking the recall case all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. But last month the state's highest court refused to hear his arguments. And so on August 25, the new voting members of Beebe Draw will try to oust Antonoff and his son from the Beebe Draw board.

If they succeed, Lembke says, he intends to dismantle Gary Antonoff's personal government. "I would like for Beebe Draw to pay its debts, wrap up its affairs and go out of business," he says. "Government isn't supposed to run this way--having a private business interest in its operations."

Having exhausted his legal remedies, Antonoff seems reconciled to the recall election. But he isn't happy with Lembke's tactics. "I believe that this is simply a matter of right and wrong," he explains. "What he's doing may be legal. But it's wrong."

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