Cloak & Dagger

 

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.”

Barrentine’s Vendetta

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.

 

 

 

 

Obstructing City Budgets

Our city needs council members who will make constructive contributions to discussion. Instead, Ms. Barrentine obstructs necessary measures to maintaining basic levels of function in the city.

Ms. Barrentine opposed the adoption of the 2018 budget (see pages 5-6 of the meeting minutes), maintaining that the budget was not balanced. In fact, it was.

Ms. Barrentine did the same in 2017.

False Accusations: Giving Heart

On February 26, 2018, Ms. Barrentine launched an unprovoked and slanderous attack on Giving Heart, a local nonprofit that assists homeless Englewood residents.

View the Study Session here. Ms. Barrentine’s attack begins around the 2:50:00 mark, and paints a picture of Giving Heart as a public nuisance and a hotbed of criminal activity: drugs, violence, the whole works.

Ms. Barrentine’s claims are lies and distortions throughout. The Englewood Police Department’s assessment of activity around Giving Heart paints a very different picture: “I conclude there is no evidence to substantiate the claim of criminal activity due to Giving Heart being located in this block. Nor is there evidence showing Giving Heart to be deemed a nuisance property.”

Violating the Charter: Council Walkout

The Englewood city charter requires that council members present vote on all ordinances, resolutions and motions:

Article 5-37 – Every member, when present, must vote upon ordinances, resolutions and motions, except he shall be excused from voting on matters involving the consideration of his own official conduct or when his personal or financial interest is involved.

In violation of this provision of the charter, three council members, including Ms. Barrentine, refused to vote on a motion to reconsider council management and walked out of the January 17, 2017 meeting.

Needless to say, denying council quorum does not constitute a legal means to shut down a vote. In fact, according to charter provision 1-5-2-4, under such circumstances, council has the power to “compel the attendance of absent members.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Englewood Herald describing the situation:

The Jan. 17 Englewood City Council meeting ended abruptly when three members left the meeting because they refused to vote on a proposal that could have resulted in the immediate election of a new mayor and mayor pro tem….

There were some heated exchanges and, when a vote was called on the proposal, at-large Councilmember Rita Russell walked out, as did Jefferson and District 3 Councilmember Laurett Barrentine, meaning no formal action could be taken due to lack of a quorum. Gillit then adjourned the meeting.

Read the full article here.