We are greatly humbled and so proud of the Brighton community this evening. Tonight the residents of Brighton united in a historic show of resolve and sent a message loud and clear to the government of Brighton: the old way of doing business is over, forever.
In the first recall election in Brighton’s 133-year history, Ken Kreutzer and the secretive, ineffective clubhouse that has been our City Hall for so long, has been rejected. The groundswell of support we received was awe-inspiring. This was a true grassroots campaign, and the People’s voice is clear and unequivocal: “business as usual” will no longer be tolerated in our city.
Tonight’s vote proved that the citizens of Brighton have come together to turn the page on the past failures of Brighton’s leadership, and are working together to shape our city and help it thrive in the years ahead.
Our goal now is to stay united as we tackle the tough challenges, hold our leaders accountable, and chart a new course for our community.
To the City Government of Brighton: we know and appreciate that so many of you are good, hard-working members of our community and we thank you for your service. But service we must have.
The overcharging of our residents and businesses must end immediately. Failure to complete projects will no longer be acceptable. Arrogant and dismissive attitudes toward the residents will no longer be tolerated.
No more long monthly billing cycles and tiered rate schemes that gouge our families and businesses. No more unfinished streets, projects that go nowhere, shoddy planning decisions, or developers allowed to fleece our city.
You serve the People of Brighton, not our politicians or their donors. Please remember that.
To our current and future City Council, you are now on notice: the lack of leadership, transparency, and accountability that we’ve seen the past several years is over.
The “good old boy” network is finished. With much of Ken Kreutzer’s support coming from outside of our city, even having seven times the money we did, plus a city government working overtime to save his job, it was not enough to keep the will of the people down. It is those people you work for: the hard-working residents of Brighton who play by the rules, pay their taxes, and share life together here in our neighborhoods. Never forget, you were elected to represent the interests of the residents of Brighton and no one else. No more backroom deal-making. No more developers and contractors on boards that oversee their activities. No more broken promises. No more walking quorums and illegal executive sessions. No more contracts awarded without bids. No more expensive PR firms and orchestrated “messaging”. No more collusion between elected officials and city employees. No more hiding the failures of our city infrastructure or the shortcomings of its leadership.
This effort to “clean house” began with the recall of Ken Kreutzer, but it will not end there. The residents of Brighton deserve and expect disciplined, cooperative, ethical and aggressively transparent leadership, and we will hold you accountable. To Philip Rodriguez and his family: the work you did and the sacrifices you made for our community will never be forgotten. You stood up for what is right and it cost you everything. We were honored and proud to stand alongside you. We sincerely thank you for your honesty, integrity and professionalism. We wish you the very best and all of God’s blessings as you tackle new challenges in your next city! You’re the best, Phil! Thank you.
To the voters and residents of Brighton: THANK YOU. Your hard work and determination to carry this movement through to victory is awe-inspiring. YOU made this happen. YOU came together and set a new course for the future of our beloved city. YOU gathered signatures, made phone calls, put up yard signs, and attended meetings to make our united voice heard.
We may have carried the torch, but YOU carried the day. We’ll be forever grateful for the friends and supporters (old and new) from all over our community.
As divisive and difficult as growing pains can be, we must now move forward as a community together united. We have every confidence this will happen, because we are Brighton.
Now let’s get to work!
Jeremy Torgerson, Matt Johnston, and Mary Ellen Pollack The Committee To Recall Brighton CO Mayor Ken Kreutzer
Did Mayor Ken retaliate against a whistleblower? That is the fundamental question and reason for the recall campaign.
The answer to that question is, absolutely YES.
The recordings and text messages below are just some of the evidence we have.
And not only did Mayor Ken conspire, but he led several other councilmembers to do it, too.
To explain the evidence we are providing here, let’s give you a timeline of events:
Philip Rodriguez was unanimously hired by the City of Brighton after a thorough, nationwide search and extensive vetting of his background and qualifications.
Mr. Rodriguez began working in City Hall after moving his family to Brighton. During this year, Mr. Rodriguez heard from many concerned residents and council member Matt Johnston about longstanding problems with water bills. He began to look into this issue in greater detail over the next several months.
Rodriguez placed Utility Director Curt Bauers on a performance improvement plan and insisted on utilities staff improving their performance and becoming accountable. He finds more serious deficiencies and that Director Bauers was the individual most responsible for the lack of accountability to the city manager and the public.
Mr. Rodriguez received his first annual performance review by Mayor Ken and the city council, scoring a 4.3 out of 5 out of 405 metrics, and earning a merit pay raise and additional benefits from the city. The vote was a unanimous 9-0 in favor of this positive review.
Mr. Rodriguez began work on his first full annual budget for the city of Brighton (the previous budget was created by then-acting city manager and current city council member Clint Blackhurst) with significant multi-million dollar budget shortfalls. Philip Rodriguez cut those shortfalls in half in less than two months, and was even publicly praised for doing so by then Mayor Pro-Tem Ken, mayoral candidate Kirby Wallin and mayoral candidate Wayne Scott.
During this process, Rodriguez began uncovering several other serious concerns with the Utility Department management, including a decade of unjustified water and sewer rate increases.
After delving into Utilities issues for a number of weeks, Rodriguez discovers $70 million in unspent and unbudgeted money in the Utilities Department. He fired Curt Bauers with cause, tells all utilities staff that he will not allow rate “gouging” to continue and would demand increased accountability, and then immediately alerted Mayor Ken and city council about the severity of his discovery. Each council member was offered personal briefings about his findings and concerns at the advice of the city attorney.
All but two council members agreed to be briefed – Lynn Baca and Clint Blackhurst refused. Mayor Ken was individually briefed for many hours by Mr. Rodriguez over three days, on September 17, 18, and 19.
Mr. Rodriguez also learned from the state that the city failed to conduct the required yearly financial audit under then-interim city manager Clint Blackhurst. He immediately takes action and requires staff to conduct an expedited financial audit.
Late September 2018
Council member Matt Johnston reported to his constituents via social media that it appears there have been pricing issues and billing errors in the Utilities Department, and informed the residents of Brighton of the discovery of the surplus funds.
September 28, 2018
Mayor Ken is notified by ICMA (International City/County Management Association) that past city manager Manuel Esquibel is publicly censured due to his unethical conduct while at the city and is banned from the largest professional organization for city managers in the world. Mayor Ken pressures the Brighton Blade to not run an article about this information and they oblige based on their close personal relationship with Mayor Ken.
October 2, 2018
At the end of a regular City Council meeting, Mayor Ken took the council into an illegal executive session (using a 5-4 vote instead of the legally-required supermajority of 6-3), and threatened Mr. Rodriguez’s job for the disclosure of the funds and the termination of Curt Bauers. Mayor Ken claimed he “has the votes” to terminate and flatly tells Rodriguez to quit or be fired. The plan is to vote to terminate Rodriguez immediately at the end of the council meeting if Rodriguez did not resign first.
The city attorney drafts and sends Rodriguez a canned resignation letter and continues to edit it without Philip’s knowledge while they sat at the dais. Mayor Ken prepared beforehand to appoint Marv Falconburg that night as the interim city manager, and Marv had already agreed, all behind the back of Philip Rodriguez and in violation of the City Charter.
The audio provided here is from the illegal Executive Session on October 2.
You can hear Mayor Ken call it to order, council member Matt Johnston rebukes Mayor Ken and warns the council that this attempt to terminate Rodriguez is retaliatory in nature for the disclosure of the utilities surplus money. You then hear city attorney Jack Bajorek tell the city council about his own serious concerns over Curt Bauers, followed by council member Clint Blackhurst defending Bauers, his personal friend and hand-picked protege in the Utilities Department.
This meeting took most of the council by surprise. The majority had not heard of any performance issues, especially considering they had just given Rodriguez a stellar review and an increase in pay for his good performance only a few weeks before. Blackhurst appeared motivated to retaliate because Bauers was a personal friend and his own successor in the utilities department.
Matt Johnston alerted the residents and local media of the attempt to fire Rodriguez over the newly-discovered funds that he and Mayor Ken had been briefed about, and asked the public to attend the next council meeting. Mr. Rodriguez’s job was spared largely because of the sudden public pressure that night, and that Mayor Ken could not secure one of the votes he claimed to have in his pocket.
Although Mayor Ken was on council for 6 years, including Mayor for 2 and Mayor Pro-Tem for 2 more, he claims to Fox31 he had no idea what the city and state laws were for calling an executive session:
Colorado law provides strict rules for the use of Executive Sessions, specifically to prevent public servants from abusing them to keep otherwise public matters secret.
Any time an executive session is not properly convened, it is an open meeting subject to the public disclosure requirements of the Open Meetings
Law. Gumina v. City of Sterling, 119 P.3d 527 (Colo. App. 2004).
Entering an Executive Session illegally, which Mayor Ken admits he did, voids the special protections of that meeting, and makes it a regular session, open to public participation and with strict requirements for retention of the meeting’s recording.
However, the City of Brighton, even after being told the session was illegal and to retain the recordings, destroyed them.
Within days, Philip Rodriguez proposed a “75-Day Work Plan”, an action plan to begin to resolve the many problems he discovered in the Utilities Department. This plan met with council approval; although his newfound antagonists on the council began speaking out publicly of their displeasure of Rodriguez and his plan.
December 2018 / January 2019
In creating the audited financial statements for the City of Brighton for 2018, Mr. Rodriguez and his newly appointed Director of Finance found 67 instances where the numbers being reported from within the city were wrong and were carried forward for years. This resulted in 67 restatements having to be done before the audited statements could be finalized.
Philip Rodriguez finds a number of additional, longtime deficiencies in the organization, and learns that assistant city manager Marv Falconburg is working with Mayor Ken and a few select council members behind his back to circumvent his leadership as city manager. Rodriguez places Marv Falconburg on a performance improvement plan and notifies him that he needs to resolve years of outstanding issues and to follow the City Charter.
Upset by having his performance called into question, Falconburg begins appealing to Mayor Ken to protect his job, an action that violates the City Charter and fractures Rodriguez’s leadership as city manager.
Mr. Rodriguez became so concerned over the serious financial discrepancies all over city hall, combined with the determination by Mayor Ken not to look into or resolve any of them, that independently, he informed state and federal authorities of his concerns as a private citizen, becoming a state- and federal-level whistleblower.
June 25 & 27, 2019
Mr. Rodriguez starts preparing council for the upcoming reality that they most assuredly will have to significantly reduce water and sewer rates as the rate study he began as part of his 75 Day Work Plan was drawing to a close. This required rate reduction would prove that residents had indeed been gouged for many years.
Mayor Ken states he has always supported a forensic audit, but this is a false claim. In an attempt to convince others to not vote for a forensic audit, Mayor Ken says to the council in meetings on both 10/23/2018 and 5/21/2019, “And we will do ourselves nothing but harm to when we go to the past. Let’s look for facts to make the future brighter. Let’s not look for trash to make our streets dirtier”. Conducting a forensic audit in Mayor Ken’s view, would cause harm and “dirty” the city.
Mr. Rodriguez also told the public that his job had been threatened before for making his findings public, and although he knew he was risking his job to do it, he felt the public had a right to know. Audience members in attendance told the council that any move to retaliate against Rodriguez would be met with a recall.
In a second session of council that same night, and at the proper request of two sitting council members, Greg Mills and Matt Johnston, it was reported to the entire council that Rodriguez had been pressured for a job in the city government for months by council member Lynn Baca, a direct and serious violation of city law.
Mayor Ken acknowledged that he had indeed been informed for more than a year but took no action because he’s “not the disciplinarian of the council.” He willfully hid it from at least four of the city council members and did not believe it was in their interest to know about the complaints from Rodriguez, even though they too were his supervisors. Council member Baca initially does not deny that the claims are true but instead highlights the technicality that it is outside the statute of limitations. This is also a repeated message in texts between Lynn Baca and JW Edwards preparing for the meeting.
Council member Clint Blackhurst was absent from both sessions.
Later that night, Mayor Ken text-messaged Clint Blackhurst, telling him he missed “a sh*tshow” and said, “We need to mobilize for next week.” That text message is here.
Mayor Ken later asked Blackhurst for contact numbers for the now 10-months fired Utilities Director Curt Bauers, which Blackhurst provided.
July 3-8, 2018
A flurry of behind-the-scenes “mobilization” was taking place between Mayor Ken and the four council members who would later vote in lockstep with him.
This text message from Mayor Pro Tem JW Edwards to council member Lynn Baca, for instance, asking on behalf of Mayor Ken if she will add her name to the list of members calling for a “special meeting” the Mayor planned for July 9, to begin the process to fire Rodriguez yet again. Baca replied, “Yep – if we are going to lock arms on this – we might as well start out that way.”
July 8, 2019
Mayor Ken sent a letter to the remaining four members of council declaring a special meeting for the very next day, with no further information or context. The only item on the agenda is to suspend Philip Rodriguez and place his termination on the agenda for the regular meeting on July 16.
In the letter, Mayor Ken states plainly, “Having conferred independently with council members JW Edwards, Clint Blackhurst, Mark Humbert, and Lynn Baca…”, admitting in black and white that he conducted an illegal process and unethical political ploy called a “walking quorum”, wherein he directly obtained the votes of other council members on official city business outside of a lawful assembly. Behind the public’s back, these same four council members would “lock arms” with Mayor Ken, as Baca described, and be the voting bloc that would eventually fire Rodriguez without cause.
No reason was ever given to the other four members of the council.
Assistant city manager Marv Falconburg was mentioned by Mayor Ken as taking control of the city immediately upon Rodriguez’s suspension, something they had tried but failed to do back in October.
July 9, 2019
In a packed and very contentious City Council meeting, Mayor Ken initiated the vote to suspend Philip Rodriguez, despite several pleas from the public in attendance, to wait for the forensic audit to conclude before taking any action against a whistleblower. Mayor Ken and these same four council members: JW Edwards, Clint Blackhurst, Lynn Baca, and Mark Humbert, voted as previously promised to each other, to suspend Rodriguez and place an item to terminate him on the July 16 meeting agenda. The only answer ever given as to the reasons the suspension was taken, according to Mayor Ken, is “a personnel matter”.
Marv Falconburg was installed immediately as acting city manager.
July 10, 2019
Council member Clint Blackhurst began appearing in local media, claiming that he had personally talked to “over 100” city employees about their now-suspended boss, in violation of City Charter about the separation of powers between council members and the city manager – a direct violation of the Charter he swore to uphold. Mayor Ken maintained that he cannot discuss “personnel matters”.
He did, however, reluctantly admit to Fox31 that Philip Rodriguez deserved the credit for finding and exposing the $70 million fund, even as he led a coalition of council members to oust him:
This move cost the residents of Brighton more than $150,000 in severance and leave pay to Rodriguez and risks hundreds of thousands more in litigation for wrongful termination and violations of Rodriguez’s contract terms.
The recall movement began that evening in the parking lot of City Hall and obtained over 300 signatures and 45 volunteers during this meeting.
To date, the city has spent in excess of $27,000 of taxpayer money on this firm, with more bills coming.
In his own words, Mayor Ken DID retaliate against a whistleblower. But perhaps worse than that, Mayor Ken also led four other council members to do the same thing.
Mayor Ken has lied repeatedly to the citizens of Brighton. He has plotted to quiet a whistleblower more than once. And he formed a voting bloc to push his agenda through council without even informing the other four members of council of the issues involved.
Through inaction, collusion to retaliate, misusing public funds for his own political gain, and inappropriate meddling in the management of city employees, Ken Kreutzer has demonstrated again and again that he is unfit to hold the position of Mayor of Brighton.
Brighton, ballots are here. We CAN and WILL remove this failed Mayor from office. This lawful citizen action will be an historic wake-up call to the city leaders and turn the corner on the culture of failure, ineptitude, and arrogance that has for so long festered in City Hall.
The Mayor and his friends say this movement is tearing Brighton apart. We strongly disagree. Mayor Ken himself caused this action. He is the divisive and destructive agent, and it is time to send him into retirement.
QUESTION: What do these 14 world-class cities have in common?
Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, NV (VIVA!)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
ANSWER: They’re all cities that Mayor Ken has visited on the PUBLIC’S DOLLAR!
He’s enjoyed some of these places, like Ziębice, Poland, Vail and Breckenridge MANY times over again. Not bad for 6 years of public service!
In fact, our jet-setting mayor is pacing to take at least one publicly-paid trip every three months, for the entire six years he’s been involved in Brighton government. Mayor Ken loves his perks.
Now, even while facing a RECALL election, and while the rest of our elected officials will be discussing the highly charged and oh-so crucial water rates for the 3rd time, Mayor Ken is away, on the public’s dollar, in HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA this week!
HOORAY! It really does pay to be Mayor!
Yet, what’s maybe even more troubling, is that he’s knowingly missing a very important City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17, where the Council will discuss and vote on issues like that pesky backflow and cross-control program for utilities (remember that letter you got in the mail recently about potentially unsafe drinking water?), water rates (we think that’s a pretty important issue during this Recall election), water rights and the first annual review of the City Attorney – 1 of just 3 people who report to the Mayor and Council.
The City Council originally planned to take action tonight to lower our water rates, but Mayor Ken had them put that off for an entire month so that he could head out on his publicly-financed vacation.
He’s even choosing to miss an Executive Session where he would be briefed by the City Attorney on some apparent litigation that Brighton is facing. What a leader!
Is Brighton’s business so rubber-stamped or so unimportant that Mayor Ken would miss the first annual review for one of the most crucial positions in the entire city government, just so he can travel to another country on the public’s dime?
And this is the mayor who claims to “Bleed Brighton”?
He sure does. He bleeds us dry.
BONUS ROUND: Did you know that Mayor Ken already has a city-provided trip scheduled to enjoy the beautiful San Antonio, Texas Riverwalk just days after the November 5 election.Please join us to make sure he won’t be making that trip on the public’s dollar!
But what if you found out that they overcharged us and STILL failed to make sure that our drinking water was safe, clean and reliable?
Even worse, what if the city overcharged us, had $70 million of our money in the bank, and still failed to perform one of the most basic and crucial projects for any public water system to undertake?
That’s exactly what we’re now facing, and here are the startling facts about this situation.
The City of Brighton is in the process of mailing you a notification demanded by the State of Colorado, to inform you that, once again, they’ve taken from you and provided worse than nothing in return.
Once again, the City of Brighton failed to perform basic, minimal duties of the city water department. For a city with a project completion rate of just 23% for the last decade, this is no surprise.
But this time, their failures potentially put all of our health at risk.
FACT: The State of Colorado told Mayor Ken and the city over a month ago that they are now in serious violation of drinking water requirements in Brighton.
What does this mean? What should we do?
FACT: These words are straight from the State of Colorado about the City of Brighton’s water system:
“You may want to use an alternative drinking water supply (e.g. bottled).”
“If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.”
“(This violation) can lead to inadvertent contamination of the drinking water.”
“If you have an infant, severely compromised immune system, are pregnant or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your doctor about drinking this water.”
On August 12, the Committee to Recall Brighton Mayor Ken Kreutzer (the “Committee”) received verification from Brighton City Clerk Natalie Hoel that our recall petition was successfully filed, and a recall election shall be scheduled.
However, to our disappointment but not our surprise, the city has rejected the recall language of its own Charter, and notified our Committee of this fact, a full four days after our petition was submitted.
In a letter to our Committee dated August 9, 2019, City Clerk Natalie Hoel confirms that Brighton will not pursue a special election within 30-60 days of a successful petition, as the City of Brighton Charter prescribes, but will instead allow the divided city council, led by Mayor Ken Kreutzer, to pick any date it wants for the recall election.
In short, this means the city plans to provide Mayor Ken Kreutzer the opportunity to not only vote on the date of his own recall election, but to take the lead in actually picking that date. One can only guess the reasons for this deeply troubling political ploy.
Our Committee wishes to stress to the public that the city’s decision to suspend its own Charter requirements for the recall election was not done prior to or during the recall effort. Through multiple discussions about the city’s rules, the Committee was told by city officials to follow those rules or risk the petition being rejected altogether. Further, nowhere in the three weeks before submission of the petition were the rules ever called into question or given this last-minute alteration by the City Clerk. It is regrettable that we were specifically given Brighton Charter Article VI and instructed that those would be the rules we must follow, yet we believed falsely that the city too would follow those rules. We acted in good faith that city officials would hold themselves to the same standard.
Instead, it was only after our petition was submitted and in the Brighton City Clerk’s hands for 4 days that we learned they would move the finish line on our effort. In doing so, and in waiting until a week after our petition was submitted to make this change, it appears that the city government in Brighton now stands fully prepared to act as an extension of Mayor Ken Kreutzer’s own campaign staff. Unfortunately, this yet another example of the lengths that city officials will now go to in protecting their highest official.
Nonetheless, we now fully expect the question of recall will be added to the November general election ballot.
The Committee will explore its legal options in light of this statutory dispute, but we firmly believe this calculated delay tactic will not give Mayor Ken Kreutzer the advantage that city officials are clearly hoping for.
The Committee also demands that Mayor Ken Kreutzer recuse himself from any vote placed before the City Council on any matter related to his own recall. To do anything less is to once more confirm the worst fears of Brighton residents about his ethical constitution. We expect him to begin doing the right thing through his recusal on setting his own election date. The era of cronyism and political shenanigans in the City of Brighton are rapidly coming to an end. We know it. The mayor and his friends must now know it.
We stand ready to successfully recall this mayor; and on any such day that Brighton voters are given the opportunity to cast their vote between now and November 5, we will do so.
The City of Brighton can try to alter their own rules after the fact in order to have this recall go in the mayor’s favor, but they cannot change the resolve of the now united citizens of Brighton, who demand transparent, ethical, and uncompromised city leadership in the mayor’s role. We will not and should not accept anything less.
In spite of these political games coming from city hall, we invite all Brighton residents to become informed, involved, and engaged in the process of “cleaning house” at City Hall, beginning with the recall of the mayor.