Monday, October 10, 2011

How do you spell Leadership Forum? C-O-N-T-R-O-L

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 3:06 PM

I'm sorry, but how can anyone trust an organization that makes a public presentation to the City Council with sloppy backup materials?

The Sorts corporation? USCO?


It's a credit to Council members that they didn't laugh Regional Leadership Forum representative Pam Keller, who said she works in marketing, out of the room Monday afternoon.

Although Councilman Bernie Herpin couldn't help but point out the errors. God love him.

Keller was the spokesperson for the controversial Regional Leadership Forum in a presentation to the Council. The forum, a loose-knit group of mostly business people, has no website, no offices and no way of communicating to the public except with a Facebook page where meetings are not posted and only five postings have occurred since it was created in July.

In Keller's presentation, she said the organization has an "economic vitality vision" that leverages these assets: military, USOC (that time it was spelled right) and amateur sports, higher education and tourism. Note, no mention of city-owned Memorial Health System.

The forum wants to leverage those assets to bolster Colorado Springs as a destination for health and wellness, fitness and outdoor recreation, clean water and air and natural beauty, and "spirit of the West," she said. Again note, no specific mention of Memorial.

The focus, Keller said, needs to be on a collaboration effort for the "greater good of the community."

The greater good as defined by whom? Some might believe the greater good of Memorial is to be sold and have the community use the tens of millions in profit to make the street system better, or build a downtown convention center or undertake some pet project of the business community. Others might believe the greater good is to convert Memorial to a nonprofit so it can compete in this new era of health care, attract vital partners and expand its geographic scope.


Whatever the idea of "greater good," which has yet to be defined by the RLF, the forum muscled its way to the table of a Council Task Force in June to help decide the future of Memorial. The issue of Memorial apparently slid right past all these "community leaders" when nine hard-working volunteers, appointed by the Council, slogged through 50+ public meetings spanning nine months in 2010 to come up with a recommendation last November to convert Memorial into an independent nonprofit. Where was the RLF then? Where, in fact, were any of its members?

Keller says some forum members spent "hours and hours" in meetings about Memorial. Huh? I could be wrong, but my understanding is that none of the RLF people who initially sat at the task force table — Doug Quimby, Chris Jenkins and Phil Lane — were regulars during the previous nine-month effort. (Jenkins has since bowed out of the task force.)

Perhaps she meant they were involved in many secret meetings among RLF members on how they could maneuver onto the task force to achieve their ultimate goal, which some people suggest is to excise Memorial from the city once and for all.

At the Council meeting, several Council members weighed in.

Lisa Czelatdko suggested the forum be more open and create better communication methods to engender more confidence and comfort.

Williams: What about the public?
  • Williams: What about the public?

Brandy Williams asked if the forum's meetings are publicly posted and the public invited to attend. Keller said it would be "very challenging" to accommodate the public at the forum's meetings at the Wells Fargo Bank board room. Williams retorted that the group should be happy to have as many people in attendance as possible.

Snider: Wants answers.
  • Snider: Wants answers.

Val Snider asked a lot of questions about the forum's involvement with Memorial, and Keller danced around most of them. When he pressed her on what the forum's "objectives" were on Memorial, she said the hospital has a "very strong alignment with the health and wellness" initiative the forum cares about.

"There's no question we need a viable hospital in this community," Keller said. "It's critical, and that's why the organization felt it was very important we hopefully can add some expertise to the process and communicate it to the public."

She also delivered a threat that if the forum disagrees with the Council's decision about Memorial, which is destined for a ballot measure next year, the forum could work to oppose the ballot question.

"If the forum doesn't agree with the conclusion, then they're going to voice their concerns of why they couldn't support it and that would be the right thing to do," she said.

One more thing: Councilman Merv Bennett, a big supporter of the forum and one who pushed to have it involved in the Memorial issue, praised Keller and her group. He also said he hopes to see the forum step up and become involved in lots of community projects.

"I'm really excited we have a group of leaders there to assist in dealing with critical issues of the community," Bennett said. "I can think of other opportunities for the Regional Leadership Forum."

Or should we say morfu?

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