Posted: Jan 17, 2012 9:39 PM by John Romero
Is there a communication breakdown between the mayor's office and city council in Colorado Springs? That's the implication of a Facebook post from a city council member that is causing quite a stir.
Monday night Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko posted this message to her Facebook wall. In it she expresses her frustration over communication, or lack there of, with Mayor Steve Bach's office. Czelatdko said she thinks council is being left out of crucial emails, and she's frustrated that council must now go through the mayor's office to get any information from city staff.
We took the concerns to Council President Scott Hente. "I think there's always going to be a little bit of natural tension and a natural disagreement between the executive and legislative branches of government." he says, "A little bit of that is ok. A little bit of that is healthy. But I think we're going to work really hard on trying to improve communications."
Councilman Tim Leigh says he doesn't see what the problem is since council had already agreed to those terms at a retreat back in December. He says the new system is streamlining things so as not to bog down city staff with too many requests from council at once. "It actually becomes very intrusive under this new form of government." he explains, "That's the issue. How do we wrap our arms around the charter and the changes in the government caused by the charter?"
Councilman Bernie Herpin is one of three current council members who were around before the birth of a strong mayor form of government. He says he's open to the new idea but fears the process may be too bureaucratic and slow. "Now we have to give it to our staff person. Our staff person has to give it to a city staff person. The city staff person has to do whatever they're going to do, come back to our staff person and hopefully our staff person will come back to us." he explains, "That's going to take days where we used to do be able to do it in hours."
Whether the new system works or not has yet to be seen. But every council member we spoke to agrees that both mayor and council need to hash their differences out. "It's taking a little bit of adjustment but yeah, we'll get there." says Herpin. Both the mayor and council are scheduled to have a meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, to hash some things out and to figure out a plan to better work as a cohesive unit.
The mayor's office declined an interview with us today but did send us a statement that reads...
"At no time were any council members removed from any information distribution lists in any of the departments - nor did we receive direction to omit Council member's names from emails.
City Council agreed at a retreat in December that all requests for information from the Executive Branch would go through Council liaison Aimee Cox. This was a decision that the Council made during this retreat.
The Mayor asked to have a meeting with City Council tomorrow to talk openly in a "workshop" setting. His hope is that everyone will talk about concerns and be open about how we can best serve our city as well as work together. He called this meeting with all nine members of City Council to enable everyone to get on the same page and improve communication. Mayor Bach looks forward to a productive meeting tomorrow."
We tried several times to reach councilwoman Czelatdko, but she was unavailable for comment.