Citizens Push Back on Being Silenced @ Cortez City Council Meeting
Rachel Medina sitting in for absent Mayor Mike Lavey addressing the audience, Council member D. Rainey turns his back to the people
By Kelly Moore-Chesney
Cortez City Council Meeting 02/22/2022
Below are a few of the topics discussed within the council:
*Presentation from Southern Airways on contracted aircraft service
*Vehicle Replacement bid for Cortez City PD
*Approval Of Change of Owners of Live Well
*Resolution to move 300,00 loan from Equipment into General Fund
*New Phone System with Ring Central
*Architectural Bid On Jury room for Muni Court
*City Managers Report
Several items brought before the council caused reason to pause. Here's a few key points.
A request for $19,860 from the budget of 125,00 for a Jury Room addition for Municipal Court.
This amount asked for is 15% of the budget and is not including the construction. The statement was made that the cost to build was based on 2.50 per foot. The City Hall where Municipal Court is held is in a very large building which once was home of the Cortez Journal. Perhaps an account of the current footage now being used might justify such an expenditure. As it seems now the building is large with a feeling of vacancy as your steps echo when walking down the hall.
Council approved 2 vehicle purchase for PD and Public works. The Bid came from Keeses Motors $41,000 for a 2019 F150 and $42,813 for a 2021 F150
A Request for a resolution to amend the city books, moving the loan of $300,00 from the equipment budget over to the general budget. The $300,000 loan was taken out by CCN- Cortez Community Network at a 2% interest. City Manager Sanders said this need to be done to avoid audits problems .
Audits were also discussed stating the Audit of 2018 is still not complete.
At the close of the session Rachel Medina sitting in for Mayor Lavey who was absent called the meeting adjourned, but voices broke out in disapproval.Citizens who had come to speak were telling the council they needed to listen to the people and demanding transparency. Rachael Medina thumbing through papers on her desk, spoke out saying "OK ..we invite you to our next meeting for public comment, and you can also submit comments through email." Voices coming from the audience shouted out" you never answer emails"
You could also hear comments of " This needs to change" "ya'll are already here just stay and listen" Ms. Medina then reads again to the audience
"Although open public periods are a traditional engagement tool, there is no legal obligation to provide such an opportunity"
Council member Mr.Rainey is seen gathering up his belongings as he stands and signals to Cortez Police Department Chief Vern Knuckles before exited the chambers to go speak with him. Mr. Rainey appeared annoyed at the community wanting a voice as he stood in the hall speaking with the Chief of police.
Chief Knuckles was mentioned earlier in the 6 allowed comments concerning collusion with the Mayor and black lives matter organizers on how to deal with the patriots.
It is at this point the City Council video stops leaving those who were watching on YouTube to wonder what happened next. Two Ladies from the audience quickly pulled out cameras and started filming. City Manager Drew Sanders offered to stay and listen and city Attorney Mike green who had exited came back in and stood against the wall. The Council remained and the citizens who had not gotten an opportunity to speak did so. There were three people who spoke, who had sat through the entire council meeting waiting for their chance. When the meeting was Adjourned is when emotions came in. These people only wanted to have their voices heard. They were not demanding anything accept a voice.
The Council changed the rules back round July of 2021. This Changed allows Only 6 comments before business and no comments concerning anything on the agenda.
Six people spoke in-which you can watch in the video below :
The community members who remained spoke about the City's Refuge department and the possibility of the employees being jobless. One of those who Spoke was Lisa Passel. She gave a very powerful speech about transparency, the fact that there were real people involved- 8 families concerning the City's Refuge service, and that very limited information had been given to the public. Below is one of the private citizens recording.
All this commotion could have easily been prevented by giving the people a voice in the first place. How can a council serve the people if they do not engage with them? Lisa stated in her comments that there are 8 thousand citizens in the city of Cortez yet the council is limiting comments to only 6.
The comments earlier were also powerful and moving, Some of the comments were, aimed at the tampering of public records,- collusion between the mayor the PD and Black lives matters groups,- a brief history of the destruction the black lives matter movement has caused, the disrespect of veterans via the mayor, violation of the Sunshine Law, the refuge department and their families, and several people called for the resignation of the mayor.
We can hope as a community the Council will change the rules and give the community a voice. Changes can happen when served by a council who listens to the community as there an election coming up, April 5, 2022
City Council candidates:
Rafe M. O'Brien
For more information please call 970-564-4008
The City has changed servers on emails, the City Council website has NOT updated corrected Emails for council Members Please contact the Clerk for updated email addresses:
Current Council Members include:
Mayor Mike Lavey
Mayor Pro-tem Rachel Medina
Council member Arlina Yazzie
Council member Orly Lucero
Council member David Rainey
Council member Robert Dobry
Council member - Matthew Keefauver
Second and fourth Tuesday of each month
View City Council Meetings Live
Cortez City Hall 123 Roger Smith Avenue Cortez, CO 81321
Above:Mayor Lavey email showing violation of the Sunshine law
What is the Sunshine Law?
The Colorado Sunshine Law for open meetings informs of the methods by which public meetings are conducted. The law was first passed in 1972 and then modified in 1996. The law states that all meetings of two or more members of any state public body where any public business is discussed must be open to the public.
Above 2 photos from Mayor Lavey via CORA request. Here's a question how many business received a visit from Mayor Lavey hand delivering the applications for the CARES Act Grant
What is CORA?
The Colorado Open Records Act "CORA" requires that most public records be available to the public. A "public record" includes most writings made, maintained, or kept by our office. However, there are some exceptions concerning records made available under CORA.
Anyone can request public records in the possession of a government office, including the Secretary of State's office. See the Department of State CORA Policy (PDF) here.