City Councilor Tim Leigh and local inventor Dave Neumann are exchanging barbs once again.
Leigh issued his market report newsletter Friday afternoon that called for a grand jury investigation into how Colorado Springs Utilities handled its contract with Neumann Systems Group, creator of a clean-coal scrubber that has come under scrutiny in recent months as the fate of the Martin Drake Power Plant is debated.
Leigh cited the contract with NSG as an example of inadequate controls by CSU staff.
Neumann has called for an ethics investigation of Leigh, saying Leigh has repeatedly issued false statements about his company, the contract and the NeuStream technology.
“David Neumann called for an ethics investigation into my character and motivation because in my capacity as a city councilor and CSU board member, [a public official with a fiduciary duty to protect the citizens], I challenged convention and peeked behind the red curtain at CSU,” Leigh said. “I exposed the wizard and poked the sacred cow. I questioned Jerry Forte’s agreement to an open-ended contract with a vendor who provided only hope and dreams and I continue to question his [Forte’s] leadership and decision making skills. It’s a New Year and it’s time for a change at the top.”
Leigh also claims – although CSU denies it – that there are other, cheaper options.
“And, at the end of the day, the product promised is not likely to be the product delivered. [In fact, I’ve been told in confidence that CSU has purchased component-parts that don’t fit the current iteration of the process and therefore, (essentially) we’ve purchased experimental, functionally obsolete equipment.] The final insult – we pay in advance. Magically, vendor invoices match CSU’s advance monthly payment. I know; you should re-read and digest that last part,” Leigh said.
For his part, Neumann has addressed his complaints about Leigh’s allegations to City Attorney Chris Melcher. He’s asked – repeatedly – for the ethics investigation. And in a letter sent to the CSBJ (and other media outlets) he says Melcher is guilty of “extreme prejudice” against his company.
Neumann says Melcher’s failed attempts to negotiate with the Sierra Club to prevent a lawsuit showed bias against NSG.
“Further evidence of your extreme bias toward our company and CSU is shown in your negotiating a deal with the Sierra Club that involved damaging our company and a CSU project approved and budgeted for by the CSU Board,” the letter said. “You attempted to cut a deal with a radical environmental group that could have resulted in a $400 million loss in ratepayer assets and a 30-50% increase in electric rates and may have prevented the Drake plant from receiving required emissions controls.
Neumann also asks for public discussion about the NeuStream and NSG’s contract with Utilities.
“Additionally, we expect that any meeting discussing the merits of our contract or our company’s past, present or future relationship with CSU will be discussed openly with an opportunity for public comment,” he said. “Furthermore, we demand that you release to the public the records of past private meetings dealing with our contract with CSU so that the public may determine whether your conduct is appropriate to your position.”
And he accused Melcher of stonewalling the ethics investigation against Leigh.
“Finally, based on information from two separate council Members, your alignment with Councilmember Leigh has become clear and it appears that you are attempting to stonewall or deflect the Ethics investigation of Councilmember Leigh.” he said.