City Councilman Jon Quinn has stepped down twice in past weeks for items concerning The Atira Group's projects in Steamboat Springs.

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City Councilman Jon Quinn has stepped down twice in past weeks for items concerning The Atira Group's projects in Steamboat Springs.

Quinn faces conflicts

Business relations could limit councilman's influence

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— Councilman Jon Quinn will not have a say in some of the largest and most complex developments that will come before the Steamboat Springs City Council in coming months.

Quinn, owner of Northwest Data Services, provides telephone and other technical services at the Oak Street offices of The Atira Group, developers of the Ski Time Square, Thunderhead Lodge and Edgemont projects at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Although Quinn initially didn't plan to step down from City Council for items concerning Atira's projects, he has done so - or has been asked to do so by fellow council members - both times The Atira Group has come before City Council in recent weeks.

"I wouldn't have run for the position if I didn't think I could be an unbiased party," Quinn said last month when explaining why he didn't think he would need to step down. "It's a small town, and we're all kind of tied in together."

Garrett Simon, a vice president of development for Atira, agreed that Quinn would not let his business relationship with the company color his judgment.

"I don't see a conflict of interest," Simon said before a City Council meeting at which the Edgemont application was discussed. "He will completely forget about what he does from 8 to 5 when he goes up there. If Jon votes no against one of our projects, is he going to keep doing our phones? Absolutely."

In the weeks since those comments, however, Quinn said he has decided it is better to remain beyond reproach, especially after an election campaign that saw him and others accused of being "in developers' pockets."

"I do enough work for (The Atira Group), that I would rather not have any questions of impropriety," Quinn said Wednesday. "It just made sense to err on the side of safe."

Judgment call

Conflicts of interest were a topic at a City Council retreat Saturday. Council President Loui Antonucci acknowledged the knotty nature of Quinn's situation, and City Attorney Tony Lettunich noted, "There isn't a litmus test." City Manager Alan Lanning said that, in his experience, officials who have spent their energies justifying why they shouldn't step down, rather than just doing so, have "gotten themselves in trouble."

Together with staff, council members came to a solution similar to the one Quinn has described, one that puts a consideration of public perception above all else.

"Perception is just as important as an actual," Councilman Steve Ivancie said. "If there's ever any situation, disclose and step away."

Quinn has said he works "for half of Steamboat," so his influence could be severely limited if he steps down every time a client comes before City Council. Quinn doesn't expect that to happen, however. Although he said he would always disclose his relationships, he doesn't think the type of circumstances that have compelled him to steer clear of Atira's projects will exist very often.

"At the end of the day, it's going to be a judgment call on my part," Quinn said. "If the answer's even a maybe, I'll probably step down."

Quinn said he was not frustrated to be missing out on some of the biggest projects coming before City Council.

"I have great confidence in the rest of the council," Quinn said. "I'm more concerned that I'd be letting my fellow council members down by not being able to participate."

And, at the very least, Quinn won't be stepping down on the biggest project of them all.

"I'm very pleased to tell you I've never done any business with Danny Mulcahy," said Quinn, referring to the project manager of Steamboat 700. The 700-acre development west of Steamboat could bring more than 2,000 homes to a site that developers hope to have annexed into the city.

Comments

Martha D Young 7 years ago

Thank you, quietman. You expressed my sentiments exactly. The conflict of interest issue has been around and been ignored for a long time. Any perceived conflict of interest must be honored, whether the individual involved agrees or not. Let's remain vigilent and active.

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RoxyDad 7 years ago

The right thing to do is to step down from ANY vote where there is a conflict of interest. Providing services to a client involved in a vote in front of City Council IS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Jon did the right thing but it is scary when the article says "Although Quinn initially didn't plan to step down from City Council for items concerning Atira's projects, he has done so - or has been asked to do so by fellow council members - both times The Atira Group has come before City Council in recent weeks." This infers that he may not continually step down when he should.

City Council needs to adopt a policy requiring any Council Member that has a conflict of interest to step down from all votes on the matter.

Steamboat may be a small town, but this policy would not really be hard to implement and follow and it would certainly reduce many ill feelings towards council that were created during the tenure of the previous council.

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Oscar 7 years ago

Then the next question may be should Quinn resign from his position on the council because he can no longer represent the voters on so many issues that come before the city?

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id04sp 7 years ago

Colorado has statutes in place which govern this question. Why doesn't somebody get a lawyer to dig that out at great expense to the council, or, heck, just look it up online and follow it.

Geez.

Different clowns, same shoes.

The law says that Quinn cannot perform an offical act directly and substantially benefiting economically a business or undertaking in which he has a substantial financial interest. That's pretty clear. It's not a matter of whether he can remain impartial; it's a matter of he cannot do it without breaking the law.

From the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Instutute:

Two Colorado statutory provisions concern conflicts of interest involving government officials in financial transactions. CRS ¤24-18-104 prohibits government officials and employees from disclosing or using Ã'confidential information acquired in the course of [their] official duties . . . to further substantially [their] personal financial interests.Ã The statute also prohibits the acceptance of gifts that would tend to improperly influence a reasonable person in his position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of his public duties or which are known to be given for the primary purpose of rewarding official action taken. CRS ¤24-18-109 prohibits a local government employee from engaging in a private substantial financial transaction with a person whom he inspects or supervises in the course of his official duties, or from performing an official act directly and substantially benefiting economically a business or undertaking in which he has a substantial financial interest or for which he is engaged as counsel or agent.

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ColoradoNative 7 years ago

I can't speak to about Quinns character or his ability to be unbiased but I do recall the Pilots article about where his campaign donations came from and the majority of them came from people in DC. I guess his dad works there in some capacity. No big deal but I found it strange that very little donations came from locals.

He won fair and square but let's face it the hot issue in this town is development and WE voted in a guy who can't represent the people so it seems.

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id04sp 7 years ago

For what it's worth, Dick Cheney gave up his job with Halliburton and divested himself of financial interests in the company because of the conflict of interest when he became VP. When you run for office, no matter what level, it goes with the territory.

Mr. Quinn should have realized this conflict when he ran. Or, maybe he thought the whole town was too stupid to notice (not a bad assumption in general, it seems).

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bikegirl 7 years ago

DUH! Did'nt any of the folks who voted see this one coming!

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speakingup 7 years ago

And didn't another article say that Atira had something to do with development/design Georgetown (Washington, DC)? Interesting!

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speakingup 7 years ago

I also found it interesting that Cari took so long to disclose her family's ownership of two homes downtown. She stated she didn't say anything because she felt it wasn't a conflict. I agree with RoxyDad that it's scary that these new council members are pre-deciding on their own if there's a conflict or not. I guess transparency and ethics was just campaign rhetoric.

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openminded 7 years ago

Interesting comments, bikegirl and id04sp. Those who voted without seeing this coming will probably also be surprised in the future.

I hope our new council can maintain a quorum since Ms. Hermacinski won't be available on items related to expansion/discussions with the hospital, Mr. Quinn will be unavailable for the major base area redevelopment plans by Atira, Mr. McGill will be missing due to any development/surveying client conflicts, Mr. Myller will be gone due to any conflicts with development/architectural clients, and Mr. Antonucci will be absent for any real estate dealings/discussions including Steamboat 700.

How disappointing that our community's representation will be limited in so many ways with such large, impacting projects coming up.

Hopefully, all our council members will follow Mr. Ivancie's lead and declare any associations, at all, whether or not they personally feel a conflict exists. speakingout is right, they are a part of a group now, a don't get to make that judgement on their own.

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id04sp 7 years ago

Openone,

The important thing to remember is that it's a matter of LAW for them to make the disclosures and recuse themselves, and failing to do so can result in criminal prosecution. (God, I hope none of them forget to dim their lights, too!)

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armchairqb 7 years ago

What is the purpose of holding an election if nobody is gonna stay around long enough to complete a term? They want to recall Wall, Kaminski was replaced by Post, now half the council has a confict of interest. The whole system is a joke. Let's scrap the whole thing and hire a dictator uhm mayor and if we don't like his direction we vote him out in a couple of years. No wait lets just hire Howell she owes us a bunch of money anyway. Or maybe we should spend money on consultants first.

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weststmbtres 7 years ago

id, I'm sick of your babble about law. if you know so much about law then why was there never a repsonse to the post about the U.S. flag code.

You comments said that a person hanging a rotting U.S. flag on a pole at their house was OK as long as financial distress kept them from purchasing a new one.

Desecrating the flag is a violation of federal law and you didn't seem to have a problem with it. Tell us about the law.

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speakingup 7 years ago

What are you talking about? What does this have to do with Quinn or the council and conflicts of interest?

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id04sp 7 years ago

Not sure who I'd complain to about this. Maybe start with the DA and the Colorado Secretary of State if there is a suspected conflict of interest which violates the prohibition on elected officials acting in matters where they have a substantial financial interest.

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id04sp 7 years ago

I guess Caremark missed a medication shipment or something.

I don't make the laws, westy, I just read them.

I don't recall the flag comment. I don't recall reading the post.

Maybe you'd like to go see the "Star Spangled Banner," see its tattered condition, and convince the curators to burn it. Right.

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quietman 7 years ago

I voted for none of the new council members. I thought it quite refreshing the last 2 years not having a majority of large land owners, realtors, property managers, developers, or employess of developers representing us. The council was simple working folk, not owing anyone anything, just simply voting their heart. Now, I fear our future is compromised, they were bought and cleverly delivered to the community on a silver platter with tags attached noting "change". No change really, just a step back a few years, resuming the profiteering, manipulation, and selfishness by people more interested in Steamboat Springs as a huge garage sale. Keep your eyes on the prize called Steamboat Springs, and pay careful attention.

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grannyrett 7 years ago

Maybe someone can bail the duck out of jail and appoint it to the council. That way there would be one vote without a conflict of interest.

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steamboatsconscience 7 years ago

id give it up Why dont you tell me who in this town would not have a conflict of interest with something that comes before council. You?

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localroots 7 years ago

Well said quietman! It is a shame that so many people in this community were so quick to vote for change both on the city council and the school board without really examining the backgrounds, packaging effort and old guard machine behind these candidates. These people ran on ethics and change - give me a break! Now critical votes may be decided by only one or two council members.

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another_local 7 years ago

So pretty much anyone who has accomplished something in life, started and run a business, employs people or owns the house they live in, or even if their family members own property, has a conflict of interest since this is a small town and everyone who actually DOES something knows most of the other people who DO things? What a bunch of whining useless bable.

Somehow a councilman stepping down from a vote due to conflict of interest is a cause for criticism? There is no pleasing some of you.

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id04sp 7 years ago

The law is the law is the law. The choice under the law is to abstain or resign. I guess we'll see what they do.

In a very real sense, however, I live outside the city limits, so I don't care what you do.

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RoxyDad 7 years ago

another local

The fact he stepped down does please us.
The fact he did not think he had to step down and would not have stepped down unless the other council members asked him to do so does not please us. - get it straight.

Also Reading this thread and doing the math it says his campaign money came from Washington DC and Atira is in Washington DC. Wonder who wrote those checks??? Nothing against Atira or Quinn - You just have to not vote on anything you have a conflict of interest on. This happens with City Councils and Board of Directors all over the country, why can't it happen here.

Again another_local - get it straight.

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