Thursday, October 31, 2013

Melcher bids adieu

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 10:13 AM

City Council President Keith King released the following statement about Chris Melcher's resignation:

I want to thank Chris Melcher for his service to the City of Colorado Springs and wish him and his family the best. I understand the challenging role of being an attorney for multiple clients, especially when it is a new form of governance. Council is willing to work with the Mayor to help find a new City Attorney. Public service is very demanding and I understand why someone would want to limit their service. I again wish Chris and his family the best through this transition. I look forward to working with the next City Attorney to keep the City moving forward and accomplishing great things for its citizens.

———— ORIGINAL POST THURSDAY, OCT. 31, 9:53 A.M. ————————

When City Attorney Chris Melcher departs from the city on Jan. 31, he won't be taking any severance pay with him, unless the employment agreement he accepted when taking the job in October 2011 is changed.


click to enlarge Melcher signs the Memorial Health System lease in 2012, one of what Mayor Steve Bach calls his crowning achievements. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Melcher signs the Memorial Health System lease in 2012, one of what Mayor Steve Bach calls his crowning achievements.

Melcher's resignation was announced at 8 p.m. Wednesday, thusly:

Colorado Springs City Attorney Christopher J. Melcher has announced that will be leaving his position as City Attorney on January 31, 2014.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to have served the City and the Mayor as City Attorney these past two years. I believe public service is the highest and most noble calling, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our community. Serving in this position has allowed me to be a part of two historic achievements for our City: First, the very successful lease of Memorial Hospital to UCH, and the creation of a medical school campus and a community health foundation; and second, assisting in the transition to the new Strong Mayor form of government following voter approval. When I accepted Mayor Bach’s request to serve, I agreed to a commitment of two years – and I have enjoyed every day. Now that we have accomplished so many of our goals, it is time for me to return to the private sector.”

Mayor Steve Bach appointed Mr. Melcher to the position of City Attorney on October 1, 2011. As City Attorney, Mr. Melcher has been the Chief Legal Advisor to the Mayor, City Council, all Boards and Commissions, Colorado Springs Utilities, Memorial Health System and all other enterprises and appointees of the City. Under Chris Melcher’s leadership, the City Attorney’s Office has had numerous notable accomplishments including:

· The successful negotiation and completion of the $1.9 Billion Lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health, approved by over 82% of the voters in 2012, and the creation of a medical school branch campus.
· The creation of the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, with potential assets in excess of $100 Million and a generational commitment to health and wellness in our community far into the future.
· Providing advice, leadership, and legal guidance to both City Council and the Mayor in the historic transition to a new Strong Mayor form of government following approval of nearly 60% of the voters in November 2010.
· Drafting and approval of a new Election and Campaign Finance Code in 2012.
· Restructuring and upgrading the office of the City Attorney, bringing on a number of new highly talented attorneys, and significantly reducing outside counsel expenses for both the City and Utilities.
· Successful resolution of a number of difficult lawsuits against the City.

Mayor Steve Bach said, “Chris Melcher has been an outstanding leader, attorney and adviser for many working in the City. He is thoughtful, smart and strategic. He loves our city and has done a tremendous amount for us in two years. The success of leasing Memorial Hospital to the University of Colorado Health is due largely to Chris Melcher’s tenacity and hard work. We will miss him greatly.”

Dick Celeste, community leader, former President of Colorado College and former Governor of Ohio said, “Chris Melcher is a gifted attorney and a dedicated public servant. He has always been guided by what he believes is best for our community and its commitment to a fresh vision for the future.”

Prior to serving as City Attorney, Chris Melcher was Chief Legal Officer for Colorado College, where his duties included advice and leadership to the President and the Board on all legal and business issues. Previously, Chris served as General Counsel and senior legal advisor to a number of Fortune 500 companies, and to public and private internet and technology businesses. Early in his career Chris served for many years as a federal prosecutor in Washington D.C. He is a graduate of Yale Law School.

Chris has served on numerous boards, including as a Founding Director and Chair of the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority Board and as a Founding Director of the Colorado Springs Chapter of First Tee. 

According to the offer letter dated Sept. 8, 2011, Melcher gets no walking money:

"Specifically, the City will provide you with sixty (60) days notice of any decision to terminate your employment, during which time the City may elect to relieve you of your duties and responsibilities so long as the City does not change your compensation or benefits during this sixty (60) day notice period."

That's the only part of the agreement that addresses severance in any way.

Melcher's conflicts with City Council are well documented, and his legal guidance hasn't always been without controversy.

A month ago, Council lashed out at Melcher, saying it would fire him if it could (the mayor appoints the city attorney). Council also cut his pay by roughly $4,000, returning his pay to his starting salary of $183,736, and took action to hire its own legal counsel for stormwater issues.

But Bach has been delighted with Melcher's work and rewarded him with a $25,000 bonus, we reported in April. Melcher was placed in charge of the City for Champions proposal to use state sales tax rebates to fund four ambitious projects in Colorado Springs, including a downtown baseball stadium/events center.

Melcher told the daily newspaper he hasn't accepted another job but that he wants to spend more time with his family. Melcher is used to switching jobs fairly frequently, as we reported in March, so his two-year stint at the city is consistent with his work history.




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