Collins lashes out, seeks delay in ethics proceeding

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City Councilor Helen Collins says the ethics complaint against her is a "sham proceeding" resulting from "patent political retaliation" and asks that the process be delayed until May 18 so that she can "determine whether I should retain an attorney."
Collins: Ethics complaint is "void on its face." - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Collins: Ethics complaint is "void on its face."
The ethics complaint, filed by City Attorney Wynetta Massey, whose pay bump was opposed by Collins, alleges Collins conspired with anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce to deprive the city of roughly $7,600 in court costs and attorney fees awarded to the city in a lawsuit Bruce had filed against the city a couple of years ago.

Massey alleges Collins allowed Bruce to deed a property to her one day before the city attached a lien to the property, and then she deeded it to another buyer.

Collins also asserts she had no prior knowledge that her actions would deprive the city of its court costs: "I had no knowledge of that court order until I saw the complaint in late January."

Here's Collins letter to the attorney hired by the city to represent the Independent Ethics Commission in the matter:

16 March 2015

TO: Jane T. Feldman
1335 Glencoe Street
Denver CO 80220

jtfdenver@me.com

Eileen Doherty of the “Independent” Ethics Commission sent me a letter on March 10, 2015. It said I have 15 days to respond, and any response must be directed to you. Her letter does not even have a mailing address for responses to the IEC, which apparently has no office.

I request a continuance to May 18, 2015 to determine whether I should retain an attorney. I read I may have an attorney and the city would pay $10,000 or more for such an attorney. That is a concession that I have a right to an attorney, so I wish to investigate that option. In case there is an appeal, which is also my right, what is the upper limit the city will pay? Where is the dollar amount stated in the city code or charter or IEC rules? Please furnish a copy of the IEC rules.

Has this specific appropriation been approved in this case by the city council, as required by the charter? Will it be paid in advance, which is customary in attorney retainer contracts? If I refrain from hiring an attorney, will the savings of $10,000 or more offset the false charge that I cost the city $7,600? Will the attorney fee be included as a cost to the city for which the IEC expects I pay double as a penalty? Will you demand I repay that attorney fee even when I am exonerated? Will I be charged for your attorney fee (X 2) as a cost to the city? Will I be charged for the
city attorney's time in preparing her complaint? The time of her assistants?

Despite the IEC accusation, I am a vigilant guardian of public funds. Please also furnish a copy of your employment contract in this proceeding, specifically stating your fixed maximum payment amount. As I am being falsely charged with costing the city money, I must know all alleged expenses of this sham proceeding. Has the council approved that amount? If not, your retention violates charter section 13-90 (b), naming solely the council to “employ other counsel...whose compensation shall be fixed by the Council at the time of employment.” At what sum did the council fix your compensation? When was that?

If you were hired by the city attorney, who has no charter authority to hire outside
counsel, that was because of Wynetta Massey's obvious conflict of interest. She is the complaining party, suing her own client. I have publicly criticized Ms. Massey
for delaying for a year my draft business fee reduction ordinance, which she openly criticized. I also voted against her salary increase to $192,000, twice the
salary of the mayor. She also lied to the council about the cost of a special recall election, saying it was up to $300,000. She tried to delay access to people who wanted to verify the signatures, as guaranteed by city code section 5.1.511. She urged holding the recall election before the time to file a protest of signatures had expired, citing her phony cost as an example. The cost of a special election in my
district of 25,000 active voters would be under $7,000 for ballot printing and non-profit postage. If held on May 19, the run-off date, there would be no postage cost.

Her complaint is patent political retaliation and an abuse of process by someone who is the ethically-deficient party here. She should be reported to the state bar.

A person with a conflict of interest does not get to pick or pay her successor. Her retaining you to conduct a proceeding violates the charter. Isn't that also unethical? Isn't that a real cost to taxpayers, in contrast to the vague charge here of subjective “appearance?” My signing a deed did not cost the city one dollar.

The IEC and/or city attorney (complainant) violated its own rule of confidentiality
(city code 1.3.108 K.) by anonymous delivering a copy of the complaint to a local newspaper. It later publicized it in violation of its own rule. Who did that? There
was no reason other than a brazen attempt to influence the illegal recall election.

The city attorney filed her complaint after a six-week delay, timed with the recall election. That was two weeks after the recall signatures were filed. The signatures were paid for by Dede Laugesen, whose husband writes editorials for the Gazette. The Gazette wrote a scathing editorial Sunday, though admitting it had a glaring conflict of interest in doing so. It obtained its story by the city's illegal breach of confidentiality. This frame-up is intended solely to affect the recall election.

The deed to me was recorded December 4. The court order was issued December 5. The court order was recorded after I had signed the deed to the buyer. I had no knowledge of that court order until I saw the complaint in late January. The complaint is void on its face. It is unethical of you to proceed with it so you can cash in personally at taxpayer cost on these political theatrics.

To expect me to prepare a defense to this frivolous charge in the middle of a recall
election is unreasonable and improper. Even though this politically-motivated charge is an overt attempt to influence the election through a political show trial, I am still entitled to be treated fairly. I am also aware that the commission telling me I have a right to an attorney at taxpayer expense is a set-up to further criticize me
for costing the taxpayers money in order to corroborate its original false charge.
Note the only public expense so far has been caused by the IEC and city attorney.

Please confirm in writing that I may continue this proceeding to May 18, 2015, by
which time I will contact you again. Please also furnish the requested information.

All the ethical violations in this case are on your side. Your ethical duty is to withdraw, refund any advance fee, and to decline to participate in this witch hunt.

Helen Collins
City councilmember

632 Lakewood Circle
Colorado Springs CO 80910
hcollins@springsgov.com

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