Fischer to challenge COPs

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Colorado Springs attorney Lindsay Fischer has prepared a brief challenging the legality of the certificates of participation that the city intends to use to fund the proposed U.S. Olympic Committee deal.

Fischer, who also represents Central Bancorp chairman Ron Johnson in a complaint filed with the city Ethics Commission concerning Mayor Lionel Rivera, said that these COPs would be multi-year obligations, and as such must be approved by voters.

In the draft brief, Fischer argues that by mortgaging essential city properties such as the Police Operations Center and fire stations as security for COPs, the present City Council members will effectively and irrevocably bind future elected bodies.

“If the police station is pledged, the city can’t quit,” Fischer wrote. “Where the city does not pledge the police station, it can quit paying the PFA lease money to service the COPs if, five years from now, the city needs the $2.2 million of payment on the COPs for some other (presumably more urgent) purpose.”

He said that the certificates of participation are disguised bonds, but “the disguise does not eliminate the requirement of an election.”

Fischer said he will present his brief and supporting documents to City Council at 7 p.m. Thursday during a town hall meeting called by council to solicit public input about the USOC deal.

Fischer will urge the city to modify the structure of the COPs, or to renegotiate the deal.

If city officials refuse to take action, Fischer could request an injunction to bar the city from enacting the deal.

Fischer said he has e-mailed copies of the brief to city officials, as well as to the city attorney.  He included a cover letter, which said:

“The reason for the complaint, brief and authorities in advance is because you need time to think about it and the city attorney needs time to think whether ‘essentialities’ will change the clean opinion of the city’s bond counsel to a ‘maybe’ opinion, with either no issue or issue at a higher price.”

The brief concludes by outlining a remedy. “The court should then enter orders stopping the issue unless authorized by a vote.”

5 Responses to Fischer to challenge COPs

  1. Mr Fischer appears to have recognized the deal as containing some provisions that would warm the cockles of any developers heart: leverage exisitng properties for more money, structure the deal so there is no recourse, and then act like a big shot around town. (Unfortunately, a fairly typical MO for some of our local developers, including LandCo. It kind of looks like the Mayor learned some tricks from LandCo.) Its even better if you can brag that you saved the Olympic Rings from leaving town.

    There are some stand up people who are involved with this deal :Jim Johnson, Charles Emmer, Bill Hybl , amoung others. Council and the Mayor don’t deserve to be bailed out by the efforts of these folks.

    But, what do I know……I’m just one of the many unwashed and unbooted “Ignorant Malcontents “(aka Colorado Springs resident/taxpayer/voter…)

    John Whitten
    August 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

  2. As a point of clarification – though Lindsay Fischer has represented Ron Johnson on an unrelated issue, Mr. Johnson is not involved with the recent brief prepared by Mr. Fischer challenging the legality of the certificates of participation the city plans to use. Mr. Johnson, privately, as well as Central Bancorp are strong proponents of the USOC headquarters staying in Colorado Springs. We realize the unique benefits and honor of having this group here in our community.

    - Jill Johnson, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

    Jill Johnson
    August 6, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  3. Boy, can you imagine what a cool rugby stadium we could have for $50 million?!

    Dick Burns
    August 8, 2009 at 7:31 am

  4. Lindsay Fischer is on the right track. While I support the Olympics in principle, every two years they make multi-millionaires out of a few sports superstars. Why can’t they go back to those they have made rich and ask for a few hundred thousand from each of them?

    The City Council on one hand can’t plead poverty with lots of layoffs and on the other commit to all of these millions in future payments. What if Focus or other non-profits threaten to leave? What then?

    The developer could not come up with $16M so the deal fell through. Any legal challenge to the City has to fall back on that fact, and not any City negligence. Council and the City attorneys should have the guts to ride out the legal action, if any.

    And where are the moving vans from Chicago? One would think they would have arrived and be waiting at the loading docks for the deal to fall through. No, likely the Chicago deal was a bluff. The OTC top honchos certainly won’t last long commuting to work in the -17f Windy City winters, nor will the atheletes last long training a few hundred feet above sea level.

    Everybody would like to have the OTC stay, but the Economic Development folks have not been able to put any real jobs in Colorado Springs since the telcom boom fell apart in 2001, unless you consider telemarketing a real job. Let’s face it, Colorado Springs is well on it’s way to becoming a one-horse town again, the U.S. is well on it’s way to becoming the planet’s biggest debtor nation, so let’s learn to live on a one-horse budget.

    Michael Lowery
    August 20, 2009 at 9:17 am

  5. I want to add that if this OTC deal is so near and dear to the hearts of City Council, they should sell Memorial Hospital to pay for it. Timing is perfect because if this looming ObamaCare is enacted, Memorial will be receiving $29.95 per patient per day and will be little more than a warehouse for the impoverished and indigent sick.

    Michael Lowery
    August 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm