Answers are long overdue

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It’s about time.

It’s about time for Mayor Lionel Rivera, the City Council and the city administration to come clean and tell us the facts.

Nearly a year and a half ago, this newspaper reported that the U.S. Olympic Committee was actively considering moving its headquarters from Colorado Springs. The organization had asked the city to come up with an incentive package, which it might or might not accept. Clearly, the USOC was for sale to the highest bidder, unless the Springs put together an acceptable deal.

City officials were dismayed at the prospect of publicity. They stressed the need for confidentiality, for continuing secrecy and asked us to refrain from publishing the story until, in their judgment, the time was right.

We broke the story anyway. We believe that secret plans, secret proceedings, secret meetings and secret deals have no place at City Hall. We believe that the city is better served by openness and transparency at all times, and that secrecy is both self-defeating and wrong.

Unfortunately, city officials, both elected and appointed, see the world differently. For more than a year, they’ve actively, deliberately and senselessly concealed facts that their constituents had every right to know.

When it became clear that there were problems with LandCo and Ray Marshall, the city stayed mum. When all the partners knew that the deal was in grave jeopardy, the city kept quiet. When the facts emerged, the city refused comment. When the mayor and members of council were asked for the facts, they wouldn’t talk, citing a non-existent gag order from a Denver judge.

It’s hard for us to understand why, when the deal has so spectacularly blown up, the city continues its policy of omerta. As if mafia consiglieri, city officials seem to believe that they can keep their secrets, that everything will be just fine … so shut up and trust us.

Like Wall Street’s pre-recession “Lords of the Universe,” who regarded shareholders and customers alike with amused contempt, our city’s leaders seem to have forgotten that they have bosses.

The night must lift; the fog must clear. As the architects of city policy, the mayor and council must account to those who elected them. So far, they seem unwilling to do so.

When Rivera was accused by Central Bancorp Chairman Ron Johnson of a grave conflict of interest, Councilman Jerry Heimlicher came to the mayor’s defense, advising Johnson to “put up or shut up.” Johnson alleged that Rivera had been Marshall’s financial adviser at UBS, and had failed to reveal that fact.

Those allegations are factual, as Marshall’s attorney revealed to the city’s Independent Ethics Commission. Heimlicher’s response? The mayor did nothing wrong.

Maybe. But there are many questions that have to be answered.

For example, what were the internal arrangements at UBS regarding future commissions when Marshall’s account(s) were transferred from Rivera to another broker? What was the total amount of compensation that Rivera received from his three-year relationship (2005-07) with Marshall? What accounts did he manage for Marshall and/or the 26 corporate entities that Marshall might have controlled or had an interest in?

As another elected official told us, “The voters don’t differentiate between City Council, school board members or state legislators. This whole thing just makes all government look bad. The city needs to get its act together, and clean up this mess.”

Mr. Mayor, council — we’re waiting.

One Response to Answers are long overdue

  1. How long before UBS Financial cuts Lionel loose due to the bad publicity? What respectable financial firm would employ someone with such questionable judgement?

    Dick Burns
    June 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm