Chuck Murphy confirmed Tuesday what had been widely assumed: He won’t vote on the City for Champions proposal when it comes before the Colorado Economic Development Commission Dec. 4.
Murphy will attend the commission’s meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning in Denver, and he planned to make the drive there Tuesday night ahead of the advancing winter storm.
State EDC officials posted on their website early Wednesday morning that the long-awaited meeting would take place in downtown Denver as scheduled. The agenda calls for a 45-minute presentation by the Colorado Springs contingent on behalf of City for Champions, but with far more time allotted for other speakers both in support and opposition. The agenda indicates that the meeting could last until no later than 5 p.m.
Here’s the text of an email from Murphy, who is El Paso County’s only representative on the 11-person body:
“I thought you would appreciate knowing I’ve decided to abstain from voting on the City For Champions proposal that is now before the state Economic Development Commission. While I’m confident I could objectively assess the project’s merits, I also have a duty to the commission and to the public to avoid even the appearance of any conflict and to ensure public confidence in the commission’s deliberations. I have a long history of deep involvement in the civic life of my community – it is my hometown, after all! So, I understand if there might be reservations about my objectivity even though I also know I could have faithfully acquitted myself of my duties on this matter. So, I’ve decided not to vote on it just to make sure we do the utmost to uphold the public’s trust.”
Although the city lost may have lost its only guaranteed vote on the EDC, which will make a final decision on Dec. 16, the game is far from over. Murphy owns downtown property, so it can be argued that he would benefit financially from both downtown projects. On the other hand, his interest is indirect and speculative, so it could be argued that he could go ahead and vote.
It may be that he’s recusing himself not only on ethical grounds, but on practical ones; he’s confident that the Commission will view the proposal in a favorable light, and sees no reason to cast a vote.
City leaders have expressed concern that the possible appearance of Councilman Joel Miller and several other opponents to speak against the proposal might kill the deal. That seems improbable.
The business leaders who sit on the commission are familiar with the peculiar politics of this city. They’re more likely to look upon Miller and his allies as business-unfriendly cranks than conservative representatives of a majority of city residents.