Rivera: Why the sign-ins?

February 10, 2009

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera said Tuesday that he wants answers from city workers after a citizen raised questions about a requirement that visitors sign in when entering the City Administration Building.

The seven-story building, at 30 S. Nevada Ave., houses many functions such as the land-use planning department, the Stormwater Enterprise, the City Attorney's Office and the City Clerk's Office. It's also the site of many public meetings. For the past couple of months, visitors have been stopped at a security desk just inside the front door and asked to provide their name and reason for their visit on a sign-in sheet.

Don Ortega, who frequently brings complaints to the City Council, told the nine-member panel he opposes the sign-in requirement and sought documents about the building's security plan in a formal request filed Dec. 22. He said officials didn't produce the documents until Tuesday, well after the deadline set in state law. The law says the government must provide access to most documents within three business days, or 10 business days in unusual circumstances.

"Mr. Ortega raises some very valid concerns," Rivera said during a council meeting. He said he wants assurance that officials are responding to records requests within the legal deadline. He also said he wants to know why visitors are being told to sign in even after a similar controversy in 2003 over a sign-in requirement at City Hall. The City Council at the time told officials to eliminate the requirement.

City Manager Penelope Culbreth-Graft said her staff followed the law.

"We do respond to those, and we do follow up in a timely manner."

The city started requiring sign-ins at the administration building after some administrative staff were laid off last year, spokeswoman Sue Skiffington-Blumberg said in a Jan. 22 e-mail message to The Gazette.

"We were experiencing an increased number of visitors roaming the hallways looking for assistance," she said.

Normally two security guards are on duty during the day. They give directions and offer other assistance, and they're under orders to allow people in even if they refuse to sign in, she said.



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