In a stunning example of City Council’s apparent inability to decide upon anything, councilmembers first voted to open this afternoon’s meeting, and then voted to have a closed session after all.
City Attorney Pat Kelly prefaced the meeting with a recital of routine legalese, citing the Colorado statutes which permit closed meetings (“to receive advice from counsel, to consider real estate matters, blah, blah, blah”).
Mayor Lionel Rivera then polled councilmembers to determine whether a two-thirds majority, as the applicable statute requires, would support closing the meeting. Five votes for closure, four votes against. The mayor then asked whether city staff would agree to present the issues in question in an open forum.
Deputy City Manager Mike Anderson said that staff was not prepared to present any issues that could be appropriately discussed in an open session.
Three of the four dissenters (Tom Gallagher, Darryl Glenn and Jerry Heimlicher) remained opposed to a closed session. The fourth, Scott Hente, withdrew his objection and changed his vote. Council ushered out members of the “public,” which consisted of four print reporters, one radio guy and one TV crew.
So here’s a question regarding the USOC deal: What did council know and when did they know it? Put differently, who are the maniacs responsible? Who got the city into this mess?
We don’t have any answers yet, and it seems that both the city administration and a majority of our elected officials, aren’t particularly interested in giving us any.
LandCo’s lawsuit against the city, filed on Friday at 5:30 p.m., gives an interesting, if biased, account of the events leading up to the suit.
According to the recital contained therein,”… In Feb. 2008, the USOC, the city, and LandCo spent three days negotiating a deal in the conference room of a Denver law firm …The city was represented at these negotiations by (acting city manager) Michael Anderson, City Attorney Patricia Kelly and an outside attorney.”
OMG-LOL!! (pardon the textspeak).
Anderson and Kelly are capable enough, and i suspect that the “outside attorney” also is a capable person. But this was a speculative real estate deal, with more than $50 million on the line. With all due respect, which of these three had ever originated, structured and put money at risk in such a venture?
Probably none – for that kind of expertise, you need a developer and an experienced commercial real estate broker. You need Steve Schuck, or David Jenkins or Tim Leigh, or any of the scores of people in this community who have put together big development deals and pulled buildings out of the ground.
You need folks with experience, who understand risk, performance and reality.
Land development is a tough, risky business. It’s no place for amateurs, especially with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the line.
Lawyers can write a contract, or they help you get out of trouble after you’ve screwed up. But putting deals together isn’t what lawyers do – and it isn’t what city officials do either.
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