One state Economic Development Commission member switched his vote on City for Champions and another couldn't believe the outcome, according to emails obtained by the Independent.
When the EDC voted 7-2 on Dec. 16 to authorize $120.5 million in state sales tax money to support four new tourist venues in Colorado Springs, member Bill Sisson was a "yes" vote. But two days earlier, the retired banker had emailed Ken Lund, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, to say that he would follow Lund's recommendation — which called for C4C to receive only $53 million.
Lund based his recommendation, which matched that of third-party analyst Economic & Planning Systems, Inc., on the number of out-of-state tourists that EPS estimated would be drawn to a downtown sports/events center, downtown Olympic museum, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and an Air Force Academy Visitors Center.
"Ken," Sisson wrote, "a well thought analysis and I plan to vote as you recommend."
Two days later, he voted to give the Springs its full $120.5 million. The Indy was unable to reach Sisson for comment.
As for Noel Ginsburg, the chairman and CEO of Intertech Plastics, Intertech Medical, and Twist Body Brands, he was one of just two commissioners to come down against full funding. And he sent an email a few hours after the vote to Gov. John Hickenlooper's chief of staff, Roxane White, saying he was "stunned" and "speechless" over his colleagues' decision.
In an interview, Ginsburg says that while he supports the projects, he can't believe the commission didn't follow the staff and third-party analysts' recommendation.
"Next time, I will kick up more of a fuss," he says. "The commission has a responsibility to the people of Colorado. I felt I didn't do my job well enough to question loud enough why we would go against what was recommended to us by our own expert and our staff, whom I highly respect."
Within minutes of his Dec. 16 message, White got back to him, writing, "Ken was so grateful to you ... We were stunned with [Dick] Monfort and JJ [Ament]..." both of whom voted in favor of the $120.5 million allotment.