Criticism for Glenwood City Council on executive session
Glenwood Springs residents expressed concern and disappointment Thursday about the City Council’s conduct during a May 14 executive session.
“You all acted and sounded like a bunch of clowns,” Mike Wolny bluntly told councilors during their regular meeting.
Wolny was joined by Native Son owner Ricky Rodriguez, whose business was mentioned several times during the executive session.
“I heard my name and my business come up,” Rodriguez said. “It hurt my feelings.”
The council met for an executive session on May 14 “to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease, sale or transfer of real property,” determining positions relative to negotiations and a “minor COVID-19 update.”
Colorado state law permits local governing bodies to hold executive sessions behind closed doors as long as the meetings are conducted for the “sole purpose of considering any of the matters enumerated” by Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402 (2017).
Those matters include:
- Purchase, sale or lease of property;
- Conference with the board’s attorney;
- Matters required to be kept confidential by some other statute;
- Specialized details of security arrangements or law enforcement investigations;
- Determining positions relative to matters in negotiation;
- Personnel matters involving “employees;”
- Consideration of documents required by law to be kept confidential;
- Discussions of individual students.
It is unclear which of the statute’s permissible topics for executive session a “COVID-19 update” fell under, but the conversation revolving around the update lasted about 45 minutes.
Council received public record requests for the recording, including one filed by former Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia. Whether or not the “minor COVID-19 update” was announced as part of the executive session publicly was also a matter of dispute, which led to the decision to make the recording public.
While discussing COVID-19, councilors made remarks about Native Son’s potential non-compliance with state health orders, suing the Garfield County sheriff for not enforcing pandemic-related orders and taking a “heavy handed approach” to enforcing state health orders in Glenwood Springs.
“I don’t believe in these new rules and regulations,” Rodriguez said Thursday. “But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to break them.”
Following the executive session in which Councilor Tony Hershey said he called Martin about the session, the council wrote a public letter asking Hershey to resign, which he declined to do.
Wolny told the council Thursday their resignation request was misplaced.
“Why is one of your own, Rick Voorhees, allowed to keep representing the city of Glenwood Springs after he threatened a Garfield County commissioner,” Wolny asked. “Do us all a favor: Keep that letter you wrote to Tony Hershey, change the name to Rick Voorhees and re-date it.”
Voorhees had criticized Commissioner John Martin in the executive session after hearing allegations the commission might not enforce Gov. Jared Polis’ health orders.
Furthermore, Wolny said he took offense to the council’s comments about enforcing health orders with a heavy hand.
Not all Thursday’s public comments were negative, however; former Glenwood Springs Mayor Leo McKinney called in to offer the council his support.
“You guys are doing the best job you can do,” McKinney said. “Keep it up.”
It’s not common for City Council to respond directly to public comments offered on non-agenda items, but during the council comments portion of the Thursday meeting, Voorhees addressed negative perceptions toward the council.
“This council has contributed many things to this community,” he said. “I would say the ledger is 90 percent positive and 10 percent negative.”
When it came time to publish the executive session audio, Voorhees said he advocated for making the recording as public as possible.
“The community depends on us for integrity,” he said. “And, we demonstrated that.”
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