CSBJ View: City needs to come clean about USOC deal

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On Friday, we reported on our Web site that the U.S. Olympic Committee had terminated its $52 million agreement with the City of Colorado Springs and LandCo Equity Partners.

USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel confirmed the story in an e-mail, which he subsequently sent to other media outlets.

But what is even more troubling than the dissolution of the deal to keep the USOC in Colorado Springs, is the fact that none of the parties involved, especially the city, thought it was important enough to tell the public.

LandCo’s attorney, Steve Long, e-mailed CSBJ after the story appeared.

“The USOC terminated the Economic Development Agreement, the Design-Build Contract and Affiliation Agreement last week, on April 30,” Long wrote, “Something that was known by all parties involved.”
The agreement was officially dead a week before, but the city kept mum.

When was the public going to be informed? Later on Friday? This morning? Next month? Never?

During this entire sorry spectacle, Mayor Lionel Rivera, the city administration and a clear majority of the City Council have acted as if they owe nothing to the voters, taxpayers and residents of this city. They have conducted themselves as if they worked for a privately funded corporation, responsible only to its owners.

To the extent that the public has been informed about the progress – or lack thereof – of this deal, it has been through preposterously optimistic press releases, or through slickly managed “public” hearings, during which significant facts were deliberately withheld.

It now appears that if the USOC deal is to be salvaged, city taxpayers will be on the hook for even more than originally envisaged.

It’s equally clear that if the USOC declines to commit to a revised deal, the city will end up as the not-so-proud owner of a vacant downtown office building, for which it will have paid something north of $20 million.

The time for cover-ups, evasions, closed meetings and cheery dissembling has long since past.
Mayor and Council: you’re not the Masters of the Universe. You don’t work for Goldman Sachs – you work for us.

Now is the time to give the people of this city a full, frank and unvarnished account of what has happened, and just how you intend to proceed in the future.

You’ve prattled on for more than a year about the delicacy of the situation and the crucial need for confidentiality. You promised us that everything would be OK – and look how well that’s worked!

Your penchant for secrecy, combined with the demonstrated incompetence of those who approved, help draft and push through the now-defunct tripartite agreement with the USOC and LandCo has created a mess with few parallels in city history.

It’s time to bring in the adults – the voters and taxpayers – and begin the cleanup.

You can start with a public meeting – and you can also suspend the council rule that limits speakers to no more the three minutes. Somehow, we suspect that there will be some furious folks in attendance who might want a little more than 180 seconds at the podium.

But keep the three minute rule for yourselves – we’re not interested in any more excuses and evasions.

3 Responses to CSBJ View: City needs to come clean about USOC deal

  1. I’ve had several conversations with friends in the business community whose voices drop to whisper when discussing this topic. Why? Who are we afraid of? The secretive and unprofessional behavior of this same old cast of characters who are involved in the Landco/USOC melodrama is the reason why we cannot get an economic development initiative/referendum passed in COS. This lack of trust is undermining the future of our city and the well-being of our children.

    Mayor Rivera should have the decency to admit culpability, step down and make room for a new leader with some common sense, vision and charisma.

    And could someone please tell me why we do not have city or EDC sponsored services to help local entrepreneurs with sustainable business plans navigate toward ARRA stimulus dollars? You can bet your bottom dollar that Pueblo and Albuquerque, among other competing neighbors, are already lined-up outside the doors of the Governor’s energy office and anywhere else these stimulus dollars can be tapped. If we cannot raise the money for economic incentives to attract new job opportunities to COS, then let’s draw from the government funds available to make something good happen around here. We need new jobs!!!

    Green Flash
    May 11, 2009 at 2:17 pm

  2. How about a good old-fashioned town hall meeting? Let’s give it a few day’s notice, get all the appropriate media there (even R. Routon might find time to pull his thumb out of his expansive butt long enough to attend) and have it out, right there in public. Whadaya say, Lionel? Does the public have a right to know how its money is being spent, or what?

    Dick Burns
    May 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm

  3. The EDC is worthless. They could not even advance their own agenda in the last election … EDC did such a poor job of drafting/explaining/supporting the ballot issue. I’ve been a part of their impotent Task Force’s and have yet to reap an iota of business. Might be nice if the organization was run by a Advertising/Marketing person instead of a Military figurehead embarking on his benefit ladden second career!

    RJF
    May 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm