The City Council's task force on Memorial Health System hit a snag today after newly anointed members from the Regional Leadership Forum, a business and community group, backed off from being full-fledged members so they wouldn't have to comply with open meetings and open records laws, aka Sunshine Laws.
At one point, Mayor Steve Bach, who installed himself on the task force on Wednesday, said he isn't a member, only a "visitor," and as such didn't "want to be held to the same standard as the task force" when it comes to conducting open meetings.
He also said he wants to be able to meet with the Leadership Forum about Memorial whenever he wants without giving public notice or allowing the public to attend such meetings.
Of course, Sunshine Laws also would subject members' e-mails to public disclosure, even if they're using a private e-mail service.
The group asked City Attorney (for now) Pat Kelly to do some research on who truly are members of the task force, but seemed to agree that the only authorized members are those specifically appointed to the task force by Council, those being four Council members: Jan Martin, Brandy Williams, Tim Leigh and Merv Bennett.
However, the RLF guys — businessman Phil Lane and developers Doug Quimby and Chris Jenkins — remain involved as "collaborators."
After former Councilman Randy Purvis suggested all members and "collaborators" voluntarily comply with Sunshine Laws, which prohibit more than two members from meeting in secret, in efforts to build trust with the community, his idea fell flat.
In response, Bach said, "Talk about trust. There are people in this community who think this has not been an open and transparent process" leading up to now. "If I want to get together with these two fellows [indicating RLF representatives], I'm going to do that." He went on to say if that meant he couldn't participate on the task force, so be it, that he would make his opinions heard to the public if and when the issue makes it to a ballot for the people to decide.
So, here's what can happen, now that the RLF and Bach are off the task force:
Quimby, Lane, Jenkins and Bach can get behind closed doors individually with the task force members and browbeat them into submission on whatever the business community wants, and it won't be considered an illegal meeting under the law.
Did we mention that Quimby disclosed that he, Jenkins and Lane all have met with HCA/HealthOne of Denver, a for-profit operation that's been eying Memorial for months? Quimby said he has no business relationship with HCA.
The RLF wanted to bring expertise and business acumen to an issue that has been divisive in the community, Jenkins told us earlier this week. But its involvement seems only to be causing more division, or at least that seemed to be the take of those citizens who showed up at the meeting.
A recap of the meeting can be found here by Memorial PR guy Brian Newsome who was blogging the meeting live.
The task force meets again next Friday to begin choosing a consultant to help it draft an RFP for leasing Memorial.
As a footnote, toward the end of the meeting Phil Lane said the Indy had reported yesterday that we were unable to find a list of RLF members but that it's available on the RLF's Facebook page. This is what is listed, on a page that is currently "liked" by 4 people:
Ron Butlin, Downtown Partnership
Dave Csintyan, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce
Steve Cox, City of Colorado Springs
Sam Epply, Sparrow Hawk
Jeff Greene, El Paso County
Steve Helbing, Wells Fargo
Chris Jenkins, Nor'wood Development
Mark Jones, U.S. Olympic Committee
Mike Jorgensen, Red Nolan Cadillac
Pam Keller, Keller Homes
Phil Lane, Operation 6035 / Regional Leadership Forum
Christina McGrath, Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR)
Nathan Newbrough, Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Tom Osborne, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation
Dave Palenchar, El Pomar Foundation
Doug Price, Experience Colorado Springs
Doug Quimby, La Plata Communities
Dr. Pamela Shockley Zalabak, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Martin Wood, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs