Leigh: Suspend Utilities board, mayor appoint interim members

City Councilor Tim Leigh is at it again – dropping bombshells via email.

This time, Leigh wants the entire board of directors for the Colorado Springs Utilities, essentially City Council members in a different role – to step down. He wants to suspend the current board and have Mayor Steve Bach appoint an interim board “of local folks, with broader, more applicable expertise.”

Leigh said he hopes that the board will discuss his proposal at the Utilities board meeting that starts at 1 p.m. today in the board room at Plaza of the Rockies.

“That is why I brought it up,” he said. “I think the City Council is too busy doing that job to serve effectively as the Utilities board.”

The problem with Leigh’s proposal?

“There’s a little thing called the city charter that stands in the way of that,” said City Council President Pro Tempore Jan Martin. “It clearly states that the City Council will sit as the Utilities board. Changing that will require a vote of the people.”

Leigh said in the email that questions about the Neumann Systems Group’s contract for a coal scrubber led to his conclusion that the current board simply wasn’t qualified to handle CSU’s governance.

“As I read the contract, it occurred to me that since I’m not an engineer, and have no previous experience negotiating contracts worth between $125,000,000 and $250,000,000, and being honest with myself and the citizens, I concluded that he community would most likely be better served to appoint more credential folks to the board.”

Further, he said that his inexperience in the NSG matter was merely “the tip of an iceburg … that the CSU Board of Directors is not currently able to direct or supervise its operations.”

To solve the problem, he wants the mayor’s office to lead the search for interim board replacements, all of whom would need approval by City Council, under Leigh’s plan.

The new interim board would perform a strategic review of operations, hire and supervise a consultant to determine the value of the system and review the current mode of governance with a recommendation for changes.

“I believe the City Council, acting as the board of directors, has neither the time, nor the expertise to properly field these questions legitimately,” he said. “It’s time for change.”

But Martin doesn’t think now is quite the time.

“I think Tim is getting a little ahead of himself,” she said. “There has to be a vote of the people to change the charter. We’ll have that conversation about governance. But when I was reading it (the email) I was thinking about all the things that we deal with on City Council. I don’t have to be a builder to deal with the city’s building code; I don’t have to be a doctor to make decisions about the hospital. I am sorry Tim feels unqualified.”

 

4 Responses to Leigh: Suspend Utilities board, mayor appoint interim members

  1. ABSOLUTELY!!!

    Mark Ernster
    August 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

  2. Evidently Jan Martin stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!

    Bob Garner
    August 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm

  3. I agree with Councilman Leigh that his inexperience (and ignorance?) about the utilities boardis the “tip of an iceberg.” However, I’d suggest it is the tip of an iceberg of the number of subjects he is ignorant of yet has opinions about and responsibility for in his elected role.

    J P Moore
    August 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  4. Leigh is brave to admit his ignorance on utilities. The community would probably be better served to appoint more experienced professionals to the board of a one billion dollar company. Let’s change the city charter and move to a better method of running utilities. It takes deep understanding and long-term consistency. Unfortunately, the Springs doesn’t pay its Council members enough to expect any but the most dedicated and financially secure to put in the required time to do all the jobs we ask them to do.

    Vandy engineer
    August 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm