Strong mayor proponent offers city $52,500 implementation plan

December 7, 2010

Kevin Walker seems to have his fingers in a lot of city business.

He set up a Monday meeting between the CEOs of Health One and Memorial Hospital to talk about Health One buying or affiliating with Memorial.  

And less than three weeks after Colorado Springs voters approved a strong-mayor form of government, Walker, the director of the group that spearheaded the ballot initiative, offered the city a $52,500 implementation plan.

Kevin Walker, director of Citizens for Accountable Leadership, sent city spokeswoman Sue Skiffington-Blumberg an e-mail Nov. 19 with a two-page proposal “to assist in the implementation” of the new form of government.

“It is the objective of this proposal to provide education and create dialogue,” wrote Walker, who recently started a new consulting firm called Walker Strategies, LLC.

Walker proposed for mayoral and City Council candidates to be involved, adding that one of the overarching areas affected by the change was the “political and ideological perspective of the new mayor that may be brought to bear on various city functions, programs and services.”

Skiffington-Blumberg responded with bewilderment on Nov. 22.

“I am just not clear on one major point,” she told Walker in an e-mail, which The Gazette obtained under an open-records request.

“Since the intention of a “Strong Mayor” was to have a leader that would set the vision and direction, are we not putting the cart before the horse by doing this before a mayor is elected?” she wrote. “It seems rather presumptuous to make some of these decisions or set direction prior to the election.”

Mayor Lionel Rivera said Tuesday that anyone is free to hold meetings and invite candidates. But Walker had no business “proposing some kind of consulting agreement to city staff,” he said.

“He’s been around long enough to know that staff is professional and will basically tell him, ‘Frankly, you’re meddling where you don’t belong,’” Rivera said.

“We will have our own transition process, and we’ve already set that in motion,” he said. “We don’t need Mr. Walker or anyone else trying to pull our staff into a political and policy meeting. Frankly, they’re too professional to get caught up in that.”

In an e-mail, Walker said his proposal was a “preliminary idea about how to continue to have lively and informed discussions” about the change in city government.

“Now, I think other groups and individuals are asking the same sorts of questions: ‘What’s next?’  ‘What will April look like?’” he wrote.

“Our proposal is off the table, but perhaps other kinds of forums and presentations will take place, and I think that’s probably a good thing,” he said.


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