Budget Advisory Committee Member: Recall Barrentine Now

Steve Ward has served on the budget advisory committee for 5 years, and served as chair for 2 of them. He posted the following article on his personal Facebook page. By his kind permission, we’re reproducing it here.

Folks, the money’s getting spent whether you want it to or not. In my opinion, $15k is a small price to pay to take another step toward restoring reason on city council.

Take five minutes with Englewood’s city charter and then ask yourself if District 3 councilmember Laurett Barrentine has the right to contact any city agency for non-emergency service on behalf of a citizen. (She doesn’t. Charter paragraph 32 prohibits her from interfering with any city employee.)

Watch a few Council sessions in their entirety and ask yourself if she provides the type of leadership Englewood needs. Pay special attention to her fractured relationship with our city manager and her fellow members of Council.

Listen to the cutting remarks. View the interruptions. See the off-topic filibusters. Watch how she enables citizens with whom she agrees and undermines those who do not fall into line with her.

Travel the community and see how she poisons individuals against each other and how she impedes rational, factual, polite civil discourse. Witness the half-truths she utters and the twisting of facts. (K-mart property? Giving Heart? Code Enforcement? EEF/EMRF?)

Get out from under her umbrella of ignorance. See and feel the light. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and recall is the cure for what ails Englewood. You may disagree, but that disagreement should be based on fact, not half-truths, ancient history, and character assassination of the citizens who initiated the recall. Truthfully, I would not vote for Randy Penn or Jim Woodward if either one of them was seeking office again… unless they were running against HER.

Woodward and Penn certainly made policy mistakes during their tenure. They failed to properly mind the shop. They failed to manage former Englewood city manager Gary Sears. They sold the Depot which remains a blight and an eyesore but has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity for the new owner. They oversaw the death of the Englewood Fire Department.

Those mistakes are small in comparison to the constant destruction and obstruction that the city has seen in the past three years of the Barrentine administration. She has driven good people away from civic engagement. She has frustrated competent managers and city employees into leaving for other opportunities. She must be stopped now, and recall is the only way.

From a Concerned Citizen

A note from a concerned citizen:

If you watch just the last 30 minutes of the 8/13 city council meeting, you will see District 3 councilwoman Laurett Barrentine say on two separate occasions that she’s asked more than once for information or for a meeting topic to be added to the Council agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen, Barrentine is the proverbial middle child of the Englewood City Council. Sure, her agenda is often disregarded. Sure, she seldom gets the attention she wants from her peers or from staff. But damn, she’s annoying. She clearly has a chip on her shoulder, and no one wants to work with someone who behaves like she does.

Frequent filibustering. Breathy declarations that her requests are going unanswered. Long explanations on how discussions should take place in public when public discussions have already taken place and the information is documented in the public record. Let’s revisit that issue because I’ve got “some constituents” asking about it, she says.

Barrentine’s influence in Englewood is destructive. She appeals to a crowd of folks who wear their suspicion of and disdain for municipal government on their collective sleeves. It’s OK to be suspicious. It’s not OK to defend your suspicions in the face of facts that disprove those suspicions.

The job of Council is not to micromanage the city. Council pays a city manager to manage the city. Council hires and fires the city manager and city attorney. Council approves large contracts (referred from staff) and sets policy. Council approves the budget and passes ordinances into the municipal code. Council DOES NOT manage city staff (except their Manager and Attorney).

I’m all for a prepared Council. I’m all for elected officials who understand what’s happening in the city. But I stand against elected officials who use the consent process to grandstand and draw attention to themselves. I take a firm stand against the philosophy that leads someone to look under every rock for a conspiracy while her peers wait longer and longer to get the People’s business done. Serving on city council is an opportunity to amplify your voice in your community. Use it to serve the community, not just yourself. Use it to prevent the mistakes of the past from repeating, not to avenge them.

One final note: practice what you preach. When communicating with constituents or city officials, use your official city email, not a personal email account. Honor the spirit and the letter of the Colorado Open Records Act or admit that when it comes to the subject of government transparency, you are a hypocrite.

Barrentine Ignored City Employees’ Warnings, Left us Unprepared for Flood

 

The public has been justifiably upset by the Englewood’s response to the flooding in July. What could have been done to better prepare our city?

Simple: we could have hired a full time staff member for emergency management. In a community of our size, we need one, and the City Manager’s office has recognized the need for some time. On three occasions last spring (April 9, April 23 and May 14), the City Manager’s office recommended that Council approve a mid year budget adjustment to add an emergency manager immediately.

At the May 14 meeting (the third time around), the council received the following in a 6 page report:

  • Staff recommendation
  • Summary of previous council action on this subject
  • Summary of the need for the emergency manager
  • Information from comparable cities emergency management efforts (population, general fund size, Emergency Manager position title)
  • Sample Job Description (based on other cities and FEMA)
  • Financial Implications: how to fund this position in 2018

In order to move forward with the hire, Council needed to reach consensus. This would have been a little unusual: normally the city does not add new positions mid year, but the city manager’s office saw a major danger to the city, and wanted to keep our city safe. Addressing the need immediately (instead of waiting for the next budget cycle) required Council’s cooperation.

As the meeting plays out, it looks like consensus is possible. Wink and Martinez both see this as a critical need and want to move forward with hiring an Emergency Manager. Olson wants to make sure they’ve thought through any other possible hires they would need to add before the end of the year, but by the end of the meeting, she is satisfied that this is the right way to go. Russell is opposed; she thinks it is going to cost too much money. In hindsight, she was wrong about that, but at least she was clear and honest about her reasons.

Then we come to Barrentine. Instead of taking a clear position on it, she delays and filibusters. Take a few minutes and read through the 6 page report before you watch her response in the video below. Remember this is the safety of our city at stake and Barrentine says things like

  • We need to know exactly what it is we’re getting and why we’re doing it and flush (sic) it out a little better before we go spending money
  • There are some very real concerns about how we proceed with this
  • It is imperative that this council knows exactly what we give up for this position
  • we’re not only prioritizing and putting this in a priority slot in 2019, we’re changing the budget for 2018

You can hear the frustration in the assistant city managers voice at the ambiguous request for more information. Clearly the city manager’s office believes this is a major safety concern, but Barentine’s delays derailed the discussion and prevented the hire from coming to a vote.

Was there enough information available to make a decision?

  • Wink thought so: “Thank you for putting [this] together and for comparing with local cities… what the role is, just great information, I am one hundred percent for this.”
  • So did Olson: “I just want to clarify that I did not mean in any way whatsoever that I didn’t think that you gave us enough for the job description, there is more than enough here.”
  • Martinez agreed: “I think this giant list of required tasks and duties further helps me know how much we need it and it did come up in our strategy session, and for me, the trade off is: if we don’t fill this position and we have an emergency, we’re not prepared. And to me that is not worth it.”

As with construction of the new police station and schools Barrentine once again obstructs improvements necessary Englewood’s safety and prosperity, and gives no clear reason why. This is exactly why we cannot afford to wait any longer to remove Barrentine from office.

You can watch the video below for a summary of the meeting on May 14. The entire discussion in the study session is worth watching (here). (The relevant section of the video 3:31:20)

 

 

 

Rigged Debates

Laurett Barrentine has a long history of attempting to trick Englewood voters by setting up rigged debates. In a real debate, in order to guarantee a level playing field for everyone, all parties agree in advance on the time, place, format, and moderator. In Barrentine’s rigged debates, here’s the pattern:

  1. Barrentine chooses a time and place, invites a moderator (typically one of her friends), and even makes the fliers.
  2. She will then have someone invite the participants to the debates. Her favored candidates will know the invitation is coming, but no one else does. About the same time (without waiting for a response from the other participants), her people will publicly announce the debate, claiming that all the invited participants will be there.
  3. She then has some of her people distribute fliers announcing the event and claiming that the participants will be there. These are not distributed throughout the relevant district, but just to the houses in close proximity to the participants’ homes. The goal is to create the illusion that everyone knows they will be coming to the debate—-whether or not they have agreed.
  4. This puts the participants in a bind. If they are not her favored candidate, they will face a rigged debate where the format and moderator are already stacked against them. If they reject the invitation, they will be accused of refusing to publicly debate. The goal, of course, is to convince the voters that her favored candidate is the best choice by rigging the debate from the start.

This little trick worked pretty well for a few years, but last year the whole thing began to unravel. In October, Barrentine planned a debate and designed the flier using her organization “Englewood Citizens for an Open Government” (Barrentine’s home address was identified in documents as the address for ECOG) and directed her friend (and front person for ECOG) Belinda Porter to distribute the fliers. The problem came when all three at-large candidates declined the invitation.

Instead, they all attended a fair, even-handed debate hosted by another organization. ECOG tried the same trick again in the 2018 special election for district 1. Two of the three candidates refused to attend the rigged debate (although of course Barrentine’s favored candidate was happy to attend). Once again, another group hosted a real debate with all three candidates in attendance.

When the rigged debate trick failed for a second time in a row, it was apparent that ECOG had lost all credibility. But suddenly a new organization appeared—Englewood Citizens for City Transparency—again fronted by Barrentine’s cronies. With the recall coming up, the new organization ran exactly the same play, planning a rigged debate moderated by one of Barrentine’s friends.