Lisa Bigelow, longtime employee of the city of Colorado Springs, was shown the door recently and it's unclear if she will return. It's also unclear if the leave is paid or unpaid, and what the basis is, other than what seems to be Mayor Steve Bach's idiosyncratic aversion to anyone with experience in city government.
City spokesman John Leavitt says Bigelow apparently was placed on administrative leave, but he couldn't say for sure.
"Nothing's ever been shared with us," Leavitt says. "That was a surprise when we heard about that today. I sent an e-mail to Cindy [Aubrey, Leavitt's boss] and HR to find out if it's true. I mean, it is true, I have no doubt it's true, but I need confirmation. We're just as clueless as everybody else is."
Bigelow is paid $119,054 a year.
Although her status is uncertain, it appears Bigelow is the latest in a parade of departing employees who had a lot of knowledge of and longevity at the city.
Bach, who took office in June, is now apparently reaching down into the lower levels of management.
He's already roto-rooted the top levels, having gotten rid of, through resignation, retirement or termination: top PR officer Sue Skiffington-Blumberg, City Clerk Kathryn Young, City Attorney Pat Kelly, chief financial officer Terri Velasquez (though Bach will note that, technically, he hadn't taken office yet when Velasquez left), and Police Chief Richard Myers. Most recently, deputy chief of staff Nancy Johnson, with decades of government service, resigned.
Bach has replaced most of those folks with newbies who have a fraction of their experience, if any at all. His new chief of staff Laura Neumann, for example, has never worked for a governmental entity. She came from the leisure industry.
Bigelow was budget officer for El Paso County for many years before joining the city during the 1990s. She initially reported to Mike Anderson, who climbed to assistant city manager before leaving the city in recent years.
Bigelow had recently sent a series of e-mails to City Council liaison Aimee Cox (that later went public) indicating that Bach wasn't going to implement budget changes endorsed by Council. Before Councilors approached him publicly about the e-mails, Bach wound up backing off.