Brenner gives up ski pass

Councilman, ski coach returns season pass after resident raises questions


— Steamboat Springs City Council member Ken Brenner has returned a complimentary ski pass after being questioned about it at a council meeting Tuesday night.

Brenner said he received the ski pass for his work as a ski coach and volunteer with the Rocky Mountain Division of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He said he has received the pass for years and that it has nothing to do with his service on council. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials confirmed Brenner's statement; nevertheless, he returned the ski pass Wednesday.

During the public comment portion of Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, Bob Maddox questioned Brenner about the ski pass. Maddox not only asked Brenner why the ski pass had not been listed in Brenner's report of gifts and honoraria as a council member, but also stated that it is inappropriate for Brenner to vote on Ski Corp.-related issues while holding such a pass.

The issue raises questions about conflicts of interest and where to draw the lines, in a small and close-knit community like Steamboat Springs, between professional employment, volunteer work and public service.

"I was so surprised that he brought it up," Brenner said. "But people des-erve to know what is going on."

Local and reg-ional ski officials support Brenner's version of why he received the pass.

"Mr. Brenner has been a longtime proponent of ski racing in the Rocky Mountain Division of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, and as an Inter-national Ski Federation technical delegate, ski coach, and primarily as an expert in sport conditioning and fitness assessment," wrote Roger Perricone, president of the Rocky Mountain Division.

"Ken has and continues to give his hours to this cause voluntarily, and in return, I requested that he receive a complimentary pass from Colorado Ski Country USA, a marketing arm of most ski areas in Colorado : It is my understanding that Ken received a season pass from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., based on the aforementioned reasons."

Brenner said he returned the pass to Ski Corp. with a letter to Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond.

"While I disagree with your decision, I can respect your desire to avoid any controversy," Diamond responded to Brenner. "We have appreciated your continued commitment to ski racing : and, specifically, your technical assistance in race management on our mountain."

Maddox, a pilot and owner of Mountain Flight Services, said Thursday his primary complaint is that Steamboat citizens did not know about the ski pass.

"I was mostly concerned that he had never disclosed how he had a $1,500 pass in his back pocket while he was making votes," Maddox said. "I think it's a conflict of interest under the (state) statute and under the council's own ethical guidelines."

An adult season pass to Steamboat Ski Area, purchased after Nov. 17, costs $1,499.

Brenner said he never thoug-ht his complimentary pass would violate Colorado statutes regulating how elected officials report gifts and honoraria.

"What we were told when we filled it out was that it was for items that pertain to your council job. And in fact, that is what the statute says - that it pertains to your council duties," Brenner said. "I didn't feel it had anything to do with my council duties. It has to do with my ski racing - that's why it wasn't on there."

The state Legislature is wrestling with the repercussions of Amendment 41, a ballot issue passed by Colorado voters in November that places broad, vaguely-worded restrictions on what gifts elected officials can or cannot receive.

Brenner has served on the council for seven of the past nine years and is a former council president. He said he will further discuss the ski pass issue at Tuesday's council meeting.

"I don't think that I would see it as a conflict," said City Council President Susan Dellinger. "Having Ken step down on base area redevelopment - that would be really hard for me to do, based on a $1,500 ski pass. I think conflict of interest is important, but in a town of 12,000, there's always going to be some relation.

"Once you start going down these roads, I don't know who would be able to be on council. If you start eliminating people, are you eliminating the representation that people hope to have on the council?"

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mtzirkel 10 years, 1 month ago

Don't you guys at the Pilot get free passes too? I would bet the editor does. Who else?


Tom Whiddon 10 years, 1 month ago

The bigger issue is how amendment 41 effects students applying for scholarships who's parents are in government or are teachers. I would like to see the Today explore the ammendment and it's effects on students who receive scholarships based on their grades. Under 41 these kids may not be eligible. They are being punished because their parents are in those high paying teacher and government jobs! The spirit of the amendment is good but the outcome like so many amendments usually turns into a big blunder. Just look at Tabor.


dave mcirvin 10 years, 1 month ago

Is there a larger fish to fry with regard to the question of potential inpropriety and objective city council voting. Should a realtor-builder recuse himself from regularly casting City Council votes with regard to proposed new developments, building projects and related issues?


sbspowderhound 10 years, 1 month ago

This is pettiness pure and simple. Ken did nothing wrong and should keep his ski pass.

Find something better to do with your time Bob.


Gadfly 10 years, 1 month ago

Ken can spin this any way he wants, but the fact is -- and well known around the community -- that he asked for the season pass as Council President. I think a lot of voters are tired of his sleazy ways.


housepoor 10 years, 1 month ago

Why is Bob wasting the council time on this??? I guess it rings true that no good deed (volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Division of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association) go unpunished. Nice job Bob!!!


elphaba 10 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Brenner is well known for requesting favors due to his position on Council. Ask any golf club member - Mr. Brenner requested a pass to that organization because of his Council position and the golf club declined.....Most persons fear reprisal if they have dealings with Council and the Ski Corp may be in that category. Ask many downtown merchants who have been requested discounts and favors by Mr. Brenner because of his position on Council. He may cloak himself in the piety of "service and volunteerism" but he has really "cloaked himself" as the Emporer with the spoils of his position. The non-disclosure is an ethical violation and the rest of Council should take the matter very seriously. Under their own rules they can't accept gifts - regardless of the source and they certainly need to disclose those conflicts when deciding vital community matters. Mr. Brenner has crippled himself by his hubris.

Thanks to Mr. Maddox for having the courage to raise an issue that has been an item of discussion in the community for quite some time. May he be protected from the vengance of reprisal.


id04sp 10 years, 1 month ago

The Colorado laws on conflict of interest by State and local government officials are quite specific. They are required to disclose the conflict and then refrain from voting. The only exception is that, after disclosing the conflict, they may vote if necessary to establish a quorum.

The District Attorney's office is charged with prosecuting conflict of interest cases.

This is not a small thing. It's a huge thing. It's what public corruption and influence peddling are all about.

If this man has, indeed, been soliciting favors or other consideration because of his office, then he's up to his neck in conflict of interest violations.

Maybe our new District Attorney will be more interested in such things if the current one is recalled.


skipete 10 years, 1 month ago

Thanks to Mr. Maddox for having the guts to call Mr. Brenner out on the is well known around the town that Mr. Brenner caters to special interests in order to get votes - as opposed to considering what is in the best interest of the overall community. He has "supposedly" recused himself from the whole Rec Center discussion while behind the scenes he is strategically attempting to mastermind his own fiscally irresponsible plan to take care of his own private business at Health & Rec. It is becoming quite clear that Mr. Brenner needs to change his slimy habits or he definately won't get re-elected.


Bullpen 10 years, 1 month ago

This isn't a waste of time. Ken cannot have the appearance of having a conflict of interest, especially one that is not disclosed. This is the very basis for trust in our elected officials, though it might be "just a ski pass" the influence that it potentially weilds is inappropriate. The Council has made this clear over the years, and this is just another chapter in the same old story.

Ken seems to have acted on his own behalf for a good portion of his term in office. I hope that term ends as soon as possible.

Thanks for bringing this up Bob!!


Hammurabi 10 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Susan, it is a small town and there is always the potential for conflict of interest. The point missed is that it is critical to acknowledge that conflict up front and remove yourself, thereby removing the real or preceived appearance of conflict of interest. The reason that we do not have a mayor is that the citizena, twice voted that no one council member should have more power than any other. Ironic isn't it? You can't imagine going through a decision making process without Ken? That shows that you either have no faith in your fellow council members to come to a decision, or that you need Ken to show you the way...undue influence?

This is not a small matter, it is a violation of the council's own code of ethics. If a ski pass is a small matter, what constitutes a large violation?


yeahbo 10 years, 1 month ago

to clarify: Towny Anderson asked for the golf course pass and the
Colorado statutes require reporting of items received as part of the city council job. Read the statutes before you comment. Clearly ammendment 41 will impose a much stricter standard,(probably unreasonable) so watch out for more witch hunts. Bob must have an ax to grind.


WZ 10 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm, I wonder how quick Ken would have passed up the season pass if we were experiencing epic snow instead of epic drought???


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