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Councilwoman accused of soliciting job from city manager

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Lynn Baca, councilwoman of ward 3, allegedly asked the city manager for a job and the mayor and mayor pro tem withheld action, despite knowing about it

 

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By Liam Adams

Staff Writer

Ward 3 Councilwoman Lynn Baca allegedly asked the Brighton city manager for a job, a clear violation of city code. City Manager Philip Rodriguez reported the request to Mayor Ken Kreutzer and Mayor Pro Tem J.W. Edwards, but they took no action.

At a July 2 special session called by Councilors Matt Johnston and Greg Mills, Baca was called out for violating Sec. 2-10-60 of the city charter. It states, “no member of the City Council shall seek or obtain employment with the City…during his or her term of office on the City Council.”

Brighton City Attorney Jack Bajorek said such a violation of the city charter is “unlawful.”

Baca denied the allegation. “I am being wrongfully accused this evening by City Manager Rodriguez of seeking, applying, or soliciting employment with the city of Brighton,” she said. 

However, documents detailing accounts of Baca's attempts were discussed at the meeting.

The first alleged incident was Sept. 22, 2017, 11 days after Rodriguez started his job. Rodriguez said he met with Baca at a Starbucks at 50th Avenue and Bridge Street at 4 p.m., where she asked to be hired as assistant city manager. He said he reported the conversation to Edwards and previous city attorney Margaret Brubaker in an email dated May 15, 2018.

Copies of the email and others were provided to the Blade by Johnston.

Then, shortly after the departure of Assistant City Manager Chontel Trujillo in December 2017, Baca asked Rodriguez again, he said.  

Later in the spring of 2018, Rodriguez said Baca made additional statements about issues she was having with her current job, saying it was all the more reason for her to be hired.    

Rodriguez went on to write in the May 15 email, “The Councilor inquired of my current Assistant City Manager if I had anyone picked out for the job, and even asked me directly whether I would just consider making it an Assistant City Manager position so they could pursue it.” 

In an email to Edwards and Brubaker soon after these encounters, Rodriguez said he felt Baca was becoming increasingly hostile toward him. At an April 24 study session, Baca “began making very negative comments about me and my staff,” unrelated to study session discussion topics, Rodriguez said.

Eventually, Baca stopped asking for a job because she decided she was going to run for a new office after her council term ends, the email says. While Rodriguez doesn’t say what that office is in the email, Baca clarified at the July 2 special session that she’ll be running for Adams County commissioner in November. 

Baca said Rodriguez interrupted her speech at a different study session on May 21, and that Rodriguez had called her a “liar.” She did not elaborate. 

After the May 21 study session, Baca said she exchanged emails with Rodriguez, who accused her of retaliation for not hiring her. Baca said she replied to Rodriguez with, “I view your accusations as a sophistry to divert attention from the conduct displayed at the May 21, 2019, meeting. I am confident that the city calendars, phone records, or any emails, text messages, will demonstrate actual interactions and frequency.” 

At the July 2 special session, however, Baca did not present additional information to support her claims.

In addition to an email sent to the mayor pro tem, Rodriguez chronicled other times he discussed the matter with the mayor, both in one-on-one meetings and in emails. 

In an email Rodriguez sent to the mayor dated November 1, 2018, Rodriguez said, “I do think this is a very serious matter, [and it] will cause harm to all of us and the City if it remains unresolved.” 

The mayor responded: “We (Council included) need to work together for the city. Hopefully your 75-day plan will provide her with enough proof to calm her antics down.” The 75-day plan was Rodriguez’s effort to fix issues related to unused utility funds. 

At the July 2 special session, Kreutzer acknowledged concerns expressed by the city manager. “Mr. Rodriguez did bring to my attention, as we were discussing difficult situations with council members, that Councilwoman Baca wanted a job with the city.”

Kreutzer went on to explain that he didn’t act, because, “I’m not the disciplinarian of the council.”

Edwards also said at the July 2 special session that he met with Rodriguez, who said Baca asked him for a job. Edwards said, though, that the meetings were, “low key” and “there was no sense of urgency that there was ever going to be anything come about this.” 

However, in the email that Rodriguez sent to Edwards and Brubaker in May 2018, Rodriguez says, “Thank you for considering this request for confidential assistance, and I trust we’ll find an opportunity to soon resolve.”

The council took no action on the matter.

This story was updated July 5 at 11:00 a.m. to adjust grammatical errors.