Michael Pierce: Sour grapes

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It has been fascinating reading ethics questions about a City Council member by former City Council members.

The question I have is, "Is it really about ethics, or is it about personalities?"

Kathy Connell, as reported by the newspaper, stated, "We want people who lead our city to serve by example." An admirable statement, especially coming from a woman who owns a management company and never stepped down on a discussion about the urban renewal authority prior to its being adopted. She felt she would in no way directly benefit from citizens' dollars being spent to revitalize the base area and yet is now about to manage at least one of the projects going in because of it.

Hmm : did she develop that business contact while serving as council president?

Ethics? The newspaper reported Bud Romberg saying that "perception is perhaps more important than actual reality." While serving on the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, Romberg purchased a market-rate lot in the affordable housing project at West End Village just a month after the project came on the market. It was certainly possible to do this, but the question is, "Was it appropriate?" If he really believes what he stated, then why would he do it at all?

Ethics? Bob Maddox questioned the validity of a complimentary ski pass. Is a ski pass proven unrelated to a council seat more important than serving on the Yampa Valley Medical Center's Board of Directors while at the same time charging the hospital for Mountain Flight Services? I find it difficult to believe that being paid by the entity you are representing as a board member isn't a little more unethical than receiving a ski pass for a job you have besides your council seat.

The truths about the ethics questions being brought up here are clear in the final comments Ms. Connell made. "There are hard feelings" toward Mr. Brenner about previous council campaigns. That to me means this is all about personalities and people who were beaten in an election now using the newspaper to vent their sour grapes. Get over it.

If these are the past leaders of our community, I am glad they are past.

These people all had a chance as our administrators and community leaders to address some of our important needs - needs such as affordable housing, protection of the Yampa River Basin and demanding more from our development community. These are things the current council is not shirking and has started changing through legislation.

Were these same community leaders spending more time on creating bad feelings then as they are now instead of working on solutions to our needs? Let's ignore these ridiculous attempts to redirect citizens' attention to unimportant topics and work as a true community to support the positive changes that are occurring and need to continue to keep Steamboat Springs the way we want it to be.

Michael Pierce

Steamboat Springs

Comments

marathon 7 years, 2 months ago

Right on WZ - the issue is DISCLOSURE. Apparently Ken and his followers believe in that for everyone except himself. I'd say using your ELECTED postion to try to get passes does not pass the smell test either - especially since there was no public council decision or discussion to pursue this. Right on to those who spoke up - guts and heart is what it took. We owe them thanks.

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WZ4EVER 7 years, 2 months ago

The issue here, which seems to have been largely missed, is DISCLOSURE - having this pass as a volunteer (giving him the break of assuming that is the real reason he was given a $1500 pass) is missing the point. I think that Brenner should have kept his pass; having it wasn't the issue, but the fact that NO ONE KNEW it was.

As Dellinger almost said, in a small town, those interested enough to serve in a public role will almost always have some "conflict"....disclose it, step down when appropriate, and get on with it. I find myself even more amazed at Council and their letter-writing supporters in this issue that no one sees the hiding of potential conflicts as serious - it isn't about the pass (or the golf or whatever is next), but the secrecy and cover-up we're seeing now.

I'm glad we have a few persons with the guts to speak up...most who deal with Council won't.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Disclosure does not allow someone to take a substantial gift from a business which depends on good will with the government.

Disclosure applies to having a financial interest in a business which can profit from a government decision.

The two are entirely different.

A person who would rather volunteer and earn a free ski pass should resign the government position. It's not "okay" by any stretch of the law. If this was the case, then a judge or a DA or a sheriff could take gifts from drug traffickers, like free coke or something, or a low-cost land sale, or stuff like that, and it should all be okay. Disclosing a bribe does not make it legal.

How about this one? Did he pay income tax on the value of the pass? Compensation in excess of actual contributions to a tax exempt organization is considered income.

If the "gift" was actually compensation for time spent (a strong argument could be made for this one as a way to say it was okay to take the pass in return for services rendered on his own time) then it's definitely taxable income.

Was the same benefit offered to everyone else who volunteered the same amount of time? That's an important point to consider.

Here's what the law actually says, in part. Look up the rest for yourself.

24-18-104. Rules of conduct for all public officers, members of the general assembly, local government officials, and employees. Statute text (1) Proof beyond a reasonable doubt of commission of any act enumerated in this section is proof that the actor has breached his fiduciary duty and the public trust. A public officer, a member of the general assembly, a local government official, or an employee shall not:

(a) Disclose or use confidential information acquired in the course of his official duties in order to further substantially his personal financial interests; or

(b) Accept a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift of substantial value:

(I) Which would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in his position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of his public duties; or

(II) Which he knows or which a reasonable person in his position should know under the circumstances is primarily for the purpose of rewarding him for official action he has taken.

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