Monday, January 27, 2014

A tad more on Culpepper

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 5:03 PM

There's nothing earth-shattering here, but we want to let readers know what we found in more than 200 pages of e-mails we recently obtained about the George Culpepper fiasco.

click to enlarge Culpepper: Out the door and out of luck, it seems. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Culpepper: Out the door and out of luck, it seems.

Culpepper, if you recall, was fired Jan. 9 by Mayor Steve Bach for contacting Alaska Airlines about the city's policy, or lack thereof at the time, on recreational marijuana possession at Colorado Springs Airport.

We asked for all e-mails among City Council members and the mayor and his executive staff regarding Alaska Airlines or Culpepper from Jan. 3 through Jan. 10. Here's a sampling, in chronological order.

On Sunday, Jan. 5, at 8:59 a.m., upon learning of Culpepper's contact with Alaska, Bach wrote to airport director Dan Gallagher: "Unbelievable. I’ll look forward to talk with you about this tomorrow. Please try to determine who contacted Alaska Airlines. Council has a new legislative aide, George Culpepper, I believe. It could have been a Councilor or him."

That same day at 6:18 p.m., Council President Keith King wrote to Bach and Council President Pro Tem Merv Bennett, cc'ing Gallagher:

Steve, Dan and Merv, I talked to George and he was contacting the airlines because
of the concerns about marijuana and the airport. In the email conversation he was
asked how Colorado Springs could protect the airport and how our Council/Mayor
governance worked. It gave him an explanation on how it works. George is working
to protect the city and airport from an airline saying we are not doing our job to
prevent marijuana from leaving Colorado Springs and the state through the airport. I
think this all started by a statement of the Deputy Director of the airport. I am sure we
will be addressing some issues about this for some time to come. Keith
The next day, at 6:38 a.m. on Jan. 6, Bach wrote to Interim City Attorney Wynetta Massey. He forwarded King's message, above, and then wrote, "I’ll be talking with you some time today on this."

At 9:18 a.m. on Jan. 10, Councilor Joel Miller wrote to Bach and Council saying, "This is a shameful chapter in the city’s treatment of employees who are doing their job and is franly [sic] and [sic] embarrassment to me as an elected official that we should have this type of kneejerk reaction."

At 10:43 a.m. on Jan. 9, Councilor Jill Gaebler sent this message to the mayor's Chief of Staff Laura Neumann:

Laura,

If the Mayor goes through with this, I believe it will blow up in his face and make the city look petty and ridiculous.

Please help him see this. Below is the email I sent to him this morning.

Hopefully,
Jill Gaebler
However, the e-mail Gaebler sent to Bach was redacted.

At 7 p.m. Jan. 10, Gallagher wrote to Bach, his executive team and at least one Council member, saying that Mookie Patel, the Alaska Airlines airport affairs manager, wanted to "limit as much media exposure on this issue as possible.”

It's worth noting that the e-mails were redacted in many places. We're told the reasons for this were either attorney-client privilege or the material represented work product prepared for an elected official.

Last Wednesday, Council met in executive session on the matter. In open session that evening, a couple of Council members sounded off in protest of the firing. Culpepper himself, joined by his attorney, state Rep. Bob Gardner, said the mayor saw fit to hire Hogan Lovells, with 2,000 attorneys, to handle the matter instead of relying on the city's legal staff, and that his actions were "unethical."

Since then, silence.

The city has not yet posted a job opening for the position left vacant with Culpepper's dismissal.

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