Basalt town manager hires attorney for negotiations with council
Basalt got a temporary reprieve from its latest powder keg issue when a Town Council executive session scheduled Tuesday evening to talk about a personnel matter involving Town Manager Mike Scanlon was abruptly canceled on Monday.
Town Attorney Tom Smith said the session was canceled because Scanlon has hired an attorney and the Town Council wanted to give Scanlon’s attorney time to get up to speed on the issues.
Smith said Scanlon remains in the post. “He’s manager. No action has been taken and none is proposed,” Smith said.
He declined further comment, though he acknowledged he understands there is a high degree of public interest in the matter.
The core issue remains undisclosed in public and nerves are on edge. The council held an executive session on a personnel issue Aug. 9, with Scanlon in the room part of the time. He said later in the week that the council gave him the option of having the issue discussed in public or private. He chose to have discussed in private. He declined last week as well as Monday to identify the issue, though he said there’s been no shortage of speculation in the community.
The council held a second executive session Thursday that evolved into a showdown. A dozen or so citizens were waiting for the council members at the planning office break room, sitting in the chairs in the packed quarters. The meeting was held at the alternative site because the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was holding a meeting on water releases from Ruedi Reservoir in the council chambers.
The citizens eventually got out of the chairs but remained in the chambers and asked the council members to delay the session until a later date. The council declined. The citizens cleared the room after Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott asked them to depart. One attendee posted comments on Facebook that said the citizens chanted, “Shame on you!” while they walked out of the room.
Ted Guy was one of the citizens who participated in the civil disobedience. He declined comment Monday, but expressed general disappointment in the town government. He said it’s time for more facts to come to light.
Tuesday’s meeting had the potential for another showdown. The Basalt Community Page on Facebook has been packed with angry comments and calls to action for the last four days.
Michael Conniff of Basalt posted a comment Monday afternoon that Scanlon had resigned and already taken a different job. Scanlon laughed off the suggestion and said his wife asked him how he got hired when she didn’t even know he applied.
“No, I don’t have a new job,” Scanlon said. He also said he hasn’t applied for a different job.
He confirmed he hired attorney Kendra Carberry of the Denver law firm of Hoffman Parker Wilson and Carberry. Her profile page on the firm’s website says her practice is concentrated in local government law, including election law, pubic records law, employment and litigation. She serves as special counsel for the town of Vail and other municipalities.
Scanlon said Carberry and Smith will be talking to get to the heart of the issue.
“I don’t think this is going to be very litigious, but I don’t know,” he said.
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