Secrecy, collusion and false accusations are regular tactics used by Ms. Barrentine to harass citizens and city staff and obstruct city business. This was displayed in high relief at the March 5, 2018 council meeting. The video is included below, but a little context will help before you watch it.
What is EEF?
The Civic Center is overseen by the Englewood Environmental Foundation (EEF), a semi-autonomous, non-governmental entity that holds ownership of the property formerly a part of Cinderella City. EEF manages leases and makes financial and legal decisions regarding the property and has since the late 1990’s.
These kind of entities are occasionally created to manage government sponsored redevelopment projects (the City of Denver used a similar structure to oversee the redevelopment of Stapleton). As stated by the Villager in a March 2016 article, “The reason for such independent landlords, according to Keck and other Englewood officials, would be to avoid direct legal culpability to the city if something were to go awry in a commercial portion of government-sponsored development.”
Since joining council in 2015, Ms. Barrentine has been on a mission to find financial improprieties or other illegal activities she believed EEF may have committed. City Manager Keck looked into the accusations made by Barrentine in 2016 and didn’t see any problems, but since he wasn’t a neutral party, he went ahead and turned over financial documents and legal documents to the DA and asked for an official investigation.
The DA did a thorough investigation of EEF (as well as EMRF, another Englewood foundation) and provided the following response on April 14, 2017:
I have reviewed information provided to the District Attorney’s Office in the above mentioned matter. I have assessed the provided materials; along with discussions had with past and present City employees did not amount to evidence that would support a criminal investigation.
No further investigation is warranted in this matter.
That last sentence should have put this matter to rest: “No further investigation is warranted in this matter.” But that wasn’t good enough for Ms. Barrentine. So, sometime after this (we still don’t know exactly when, since she dodged the question several times in the council meeting– see the video below), Ms. Barrentine and Ms. Russell went to the DA to get more information and were able to obtain a 25 page detailed report.
Ms. Barrentine and Ms. Russell’s subsequent behavior is truly bizarre. If they thought there was something in the DA’s detailed report that warranted council action, they should have immediately brought the report to the other council members. If they believed there was something in the report that did actually warrant a criminal investigation, then they should have immediately brought that to the DA’s attention and pushed for further investigation. Instead, they kept the report a secret for many months.
Performance Audit or Forensic Audit?
In the meantime, the city attorney and administrative team looked into ways to reevaluate the role of EEF and EMRF. The resulting suggestion was to do a performance audit. This would help city council know if these foundations are performing the function they are supposed to and meeting the city’s goals.
So on March 5, city staff brought a request to council to approve a performance audit of these two foundations. If the DA’s conclusion was correct, then this is exactly what is needed to further study the efficacy of EEf and EMRF. And that is the crux of the issue. Not satisfied by the results of the DA’s first criminal investigation, Ms. Barrentine wants another criminal investigation — that’s what a forensic audit is for. And she doesn’t appear to have any evidence that would warrant such an investigation. She wants to find someone who did something wrong and stick it to them.
The citizens of Englewood want our city council members to make wise decisions that guide our city to a strong future. We don’t need wannabe prosecutors who waste city resources trying to dig up dirt from the past. Lets bring an end to the secrecy, collusion and witch hunts and recall Ms. Barrentine.