Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Who's in hot water at the city?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 3:21 PM

click to enlarge Wynetta Massey: Looking for outside legal counsel for ethics work. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Wynetta Massey: Looking for outside legal counsel for ethics work.
The Colorado Springs Independent Ethics Commission will be considering an ethics complaint, but it's a secret who's involved and what it's about.

When we asked about pending complaints, we got this from the city communications office:  "Complaint # 2015-01 is pending before the Independent Ethics Commission. The Commission has not yet scheduled an initial meeting to consider the complaint. The complaint is confidential pursuant to City Code § 1.3.103 and the Commission’s Rules of Procedure."

The Ethics Commission came on our radar because the city is seeking proposals from outside law firms, who would step in and advice the commission should the City Attorney's Office be unable to. The request for proposals says this:
· The City of Colorado Springs (“City”) is soliciting proposals from qualified law firms or individual attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado to provide professional legal services to the City of Colorado Springs Independent Ethics Commission (“Commission”) on an “as needed” basis. The law firm or individual attorney would act as the legal advisor to the Commission when the City Attorney determines in his or her sole discretion that the City Attorney’s Office will not act as the legal advisor. (Pg. 1)

· Selection of a firm or individual attorney from the list of identified firms or individuals to handle specific Independent Ethics Commission matters will be done on a case-by-case basis after consultation with the firm or individual regarding the facts of the matter and a conflicts check. It is the City Attorney’s intent to enter into a retention agreement with the selected firm or individual setting forth the Scope of Legal Services and fees for each Independent Ethics Commission matter for which outside counsel is needed. (Pg. 2)
So we asked under what circumstances would the city attorney not be able to advise the Ethics Commission, to which the City Attorney's Office said via email, "Workload management, attorney availability, or a conflict of interest are all reasonable considerations. The purpose of the RFP was to have one or more attorneys or firms on call to fill in should the need arise."

Wondering whether the city had encountered such a circumstance in the past, we asked and were told via email by City Attorney Wynetta Massey, "I don’t believe this has been done before. I don’t know why or why not. We just wanted to be prepared." 

The city's ethics code:

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