City Council: RLF should be more open

The Regional Leadership Forum should consider being more transparent, more open, said Colorado Springs City Council members.

The remarks came at the end of a presentation by Pam Keller of Keller Homes, who is also an individual member of the forum.

“Are the meetings open?” asked council member Brandy Williams. “Do people know when they are happening? Is anyone welcome to attend?”

Keller said that opening it to anyone might be challenging for space – the forum routinely meets in the board room at Wells Fargo Bank on Cascade St. – but said that no one had been turned away to her knowledge.

“We’re still very new,” she said. “So it’s very fluid. Membership is going to change, it should change. We want to bring more people in, more people on board. We’re still working out structure and procedure.”

She pointed to the forum’s Facebook page, as a way council members could find the names of the members. Only the organizations represented were part of her presentation.

“But that only has five posts,” said council members Lisa Czelatdko. “I don’t think the general public is going to know who the players are with these groups. I am not sure I know all the players and I’m in this position. You should really think about that, think about providing more information so there’s trust and credibility.”

Keller gave a presentation on the forum’s origins – part of the 60thirtyfive plan developed by Austin-based consultants Angelou Economics. The group formed as a way to tackle issues and projects that were too large for any single organization to handle.

So far, that includes a branch medical campus from the University of Colorado medical school . Keller reported students were going to start “soon” at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus.

But the RLF’s big project is Memorial Health System – and that’s the area that council members had questions about – despite the fact that the council voted as a whole to include two members of the forum to the task force deciding the hospital’s future.

The RLF was brought into the process this summer to add business expertise to the task force. The group will be responsible for vetting the bids received from hospital systems interested in leasing Memorial.

“What are the objectives?” asked Val Snider, council member. “How did you get involved?”

The mayor asked for their involvement, said Keller, and the two members on the task force will update the forum as a whole. From there, she wasn’t sure.

“I hope the group can come to a consensus,” she said. “If you can, then the form will be behind that and push that out to the public. We have a lot of contacts. If you can’t, wow … I just can’t say.”

Keller said the group wouldn’t support a final proposal, and would even speak against it, if it wasn’t one their members agreed with. The two members on the task force are Doug Quimby of LaPlata Properties and Phil Lane, chairman of the forum. Chris Jenkins of Nor’wood, opted out of the group. The forum also suggested the task force add Charlie Sweet, an employee at UCCS.

“We wouldn’t support a conclusion that they don’t agree with,” she said. “And I can guarantee you they would speak out about it – and they would be right to do so.”

But the final decision is up to city council, said council member Jan Martin, who leads the task force.

“Ultimately, we decide what goes before the voters; the task force only recommends to council,” she said.”

And Keller said she was confident that the group would come to a consensus – but RLF involvement after that was unknown.

“I just can’t say, until we see the bids, then we’ll know the next step forward,” she said. “Remember, we’re still very new at this, so we’re being very fluid, very flexible.”