Jan 15, 2014 1:28 AM by Maddie Garrett

Power Struggle Between Mayor, Council Continues; Emails Show Trouble with Fired Analyst

The ongoing power struggle between Colorado Springs' Mayor and the City Council has taken yet another twist. On Tuesday, new information was released on recently fired Council Legislative Analyst George Culpepper, Jr..

While City Human Resources Director Mike Sullivan confirmed Culpepper does not currently work for the City, he couldn't elaborate further.

"That is a matter of confidential nature, it's a personnel matter and it's not settled," said Sullivan.

But other sources tell News 5, Mayor Steve Bach fired Culpepper just weeks after the city council hired him. Culpepper reported directly to the city council.

"The Mayor does have that authority to appoint, remove those authorities," added Sullivan.

The reason for Culpepper's dismissal is still unknown, but email messages obtained from the City show troubles between Culpepper and Mayor Bach. In one email sent to Mayor Bach, Interim Airport Director Dan Gallagher expresses his dissatisfaction that Culpepper contacted airlines directly, including newly signed on Alaska Airlines, asking their opinions on banning marijuana at the airport.

In that email, Gallagher writes, "...this is not a good sign, that, again, Council chose to contact an Airport stakeholder, this time an airline, directly, without even a courtesy call to the airport."

In following emails, it's revealed that Culpepper was directed by council members to research the matter, in fears that airlines would leave the airport if a ban on marijuana wasn't put in place.

In a response email, Culpepper wrote, "If I knew the airport could provide the information needed, I would have contacted them. But, considering the airport is the main reason for the reactive nature of the issue, we have to ensure all questions are asked."

In another email, Culpepper told City Council President Keith King: "Further, in light of the difficulty we are and have been having with the Executive, we have to (b)e proactive and not reactive."

A special meeting on Culpepper's employment was called off. Sullivan reitterated that the matter has not been settled yet.  It's unknown if Culpepper will receive a severance package.

Adding to the struggle between the Mayor and the Council, council members moved forward with a new ordinance on Tuesday, that outlines its ability to confirm and vet all mayoral appointments, including interim and acting appointments.

"In this we're making sure that interim is indeed a temporary appointment and not a back door, pocket appointment, bypassing council's obligation and duties to do a confirmation, vetting process on that person," said Councilman Don Knight.

But Sullivan voiced his disapproval of the ordinance at the meeting, saying such an ordinance goes against the City's Charter because the charter gives the Mayor the sole authority to appoint people.

Council retorted back to Sullivan's objections, saying the Charter also gives it the authority to confirm and vet all of the Mayor's appointments.

The Council will revisit the ordinance in two weeks for a final vote on it. Sullivan said the HR Department and Mayor's Office maintains that such an ordinance violates the Charter and they will address the issue further if and when the Council passes it.



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