Monday, February 3, 2014

UPDATE: King says it's time to define Council powers

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Mayor Steve Bach issued this letter to Council on Monday regarding Charter change:

Re: Charter Review

Honorable President and Members of City Council:

This letter is to suggest that City Council engage The Mayor Project leadership group, which conceived of our current form of municipal government, to:

1. Compare and report to Council on the differences between the Colorado Springs Charter and the Denver, Colorado, Charter. Denver has had our same form of government successfully for 50 years. We can learn how to improve ours by studying this nearby “best practice”.

2. Based on the above review of Charters, I recommend to Council specific amendments to our Charter be placed on the November 2014 General Election ballot.


Steve Bach
Council President Keith King says his proposal to form a City Charter review committee was an attempt to get feedback from his colleagues.

"That was an Internal memo seeking input from council members, and somebody went and sent it out," he says. "People started circulating. It’s really disingenuous when we send it to Council members and in 20 minutes, it ends up in the hands of other people. It was just saying give us some input. It wasn’t ready for prime time."

Meantime, Kevin Walker, one of the people King had in mind for the panel, had this to say about being named a panel member:

I would have declined because it would be my opinion that a majority of Council should be making or agreeing with the formation of a Charter Review Committee as well as its scope, that the Executive Branch of the City should have representation on the Committee, and that the Committee be subject to an application process so that the above could reasonably discern biases of the candidates as well as potential conflicts of interest. I would also have wanted to know the time commitment, the general scope and direction of the effort, the resources allocated to support such an effort, and the expected ability for the discussions to be held in a public and transparent setting in order to decide if it was a process I could support.

——————————ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, FEB. 3, 2014, 2:04 p.m.———————————
Council President Keith King has proposed City Council create a Blue Ribbon Council-Mayor City Code Review Committee to take up four issues that have created sharp wedges between Council and Mayor Steve Bach.
click to enlarge King: Wants better definition to Council and mayor roles.
  • King: Wants better definition to Council and mayor roles.

In what appears to be a position paper, King lists those four items as follows:
1. The role of Council and the Mayor relative to City Council dedicated staff
2. The role of Council and the Mayor in signing Colorado Springs Utilities contracts
3. The role of Council and the Mayor relative to the City Budget
4. The role of Council and the Mayor relative to the City Attorney
Those King has asked to serve on the blue ribbon panel include:

— Retired State Sen. Andy McElhany
Former City Attorney Pat Kelly, who left three months after Bach took office in June 2011
Former El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg
Kevin Walker, a developer who helped draft the Council-Mayor form of government and ran the "vote yes" campaign
Sarah Jack, Republican party operative and consultant who also helped draft the new City Charter

Last week, during a day-long retreat, Council members agreed it might be a good idea to submit a ballot measure to voters in November to change the City Charter regarding control of Council hires. Now, the mayor has say-so over all city employees, except the city auditor and the Colorado Springs Utilities CEO, which are controlled by Council.

More from King's position paper:
Council believes it is extremely important that the Legislative and Executive branches of our new Council/Mayor form of government work together as co-equals in doing what is best for our City and our Citizens. A major part of the disagreements to date have been over interpretation of the checks and balances laid out in the City Charter. These differences can either be resolved in costly court battles, or through the development of clarifying legislation within our City Code; I vote for the latter. To that end, as President of the City Council of the City of Colorado Springs I hereby announce the establishment of the [blue ribbon] committee that will be formed in 2014.  
According to King's timeline, the committee will meet for three months to formulate a recommendation for changes to the Charter and city code. The recommendation is due to Council in late April.

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