City attorney retiring after 25 years

In the wake of criticism over suggested ballot initiatives, City Attorney Pat Kelly has announced her decision to retire on Sept. 30.

The decision comes after Kelly sent Mayor Steve Bach several suggestions for November ballot initiatives, including one that would allow City Council to appoint the city attorney, instead of the mayor.

The initiatives, which also would have stripped the mayor’s ability to negotiate contracts for Memorial Health System and Colorado Springs Utilities, never made the City Council agenda before the Aug. 23 deadline and will not appear on November’s ballot.

A press release announcing Kelly’s retirement said Bach will appoint a replacement in the near future.

Kelly is the third city employee in a major position to resign or retire since Bach took office.

Sue Blumberg-Skiffington left just days after Bach’s election, saying she was asked to resign. City Clerk Kathryn Young also retired earlier this year, after criticism of the way she handled the 2011 election.

One Response to City attorney retiring after 25 years

  1. One correction please:

    To be clear, the Mayor, under our new form of government, does not have any statutory authority over Colorado Springs Utilities or Memorial Health System. Governance of Memorial is conducted by its Board of Trustees (of which neither the Mayor or any City Councilor is a member) and Colorado Springs Utilities is overseen by its Board of Directors, which Section 6-40 (a) of the City Charter defines as the City Council. The same section in the Charter also states, with regards to the Utility Board, that “…the Mayor shall serve as an ex-officio and non-voting member thereof.”

    With specific regards to Colorado Springs Utilities, the Mayor has no veto authority over decisions made by the Board/Council. Specifically, Charter Section 3-70 (e) (2) (passed by the voters as part of the “Strong Mayor” ballot item) says: “the Mayor SHALL NOT (emphasis added) have power to disapprove by veto the following listed types of ordinances… an ordinance approving bonds to be issued by any City enterprise; an ordinance pertaining to Article VI, “Utilities…”

    The confusion over this whole matter arises because of an apparent contradiction within the Charter. Section 4-10 states, among other things, that “the Mayor shall execute all contracts…” which basically states that the Mayor is the signatory authority. But it puts the Mayor in an untenable position; he is required to sign contracts (and bond ordinances) of which he had no part in and of which he did not get a say in. And what if he were to refuse to sign them? Then in effect he is vetoing them, which is prohibited under the previous cited Charter section.

    To his credit, the Mayor realized this contradiction early on and even referred to it in his State of the City Speech, where he suggested that the Council President should be the signatory authority for Memorial and Utility matters. But he also stated that this suggestion would require a Charter change.

    I apologize for this lengthy explanation, but the reason I decided (with the advice of my colleagues) to not advance this idea as a possible ballot item is because of the amount of time that would be required to explain to the voters exactly what they were voting on. Right now, the way things are in the Charter only affects two people: me and the Mayor. And we have worked out a process between us that allows him to follow the wishes of Council and sign when appropriate. But in the long run, we owe future Councils, Mayors, and our citizens a more efficient and less contradictory Charter.

    Scott Hente
    August 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm