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Last updated 5:50PM ET
December 13, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Harsh Encounter Marks Durango Budget Approval
(2007-12-05)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: After more than two months of discussion, Durango City Councilors voted unanimously last night to adopt a 51-million dollar budget for 2008.
Just as it appeared the approval would be uneventful, harsh words were exchanged between one councilor and the city attorney over a seemingly routine part of the spending plan.
KSUT's Victor Locke explains.

VICTOR: One after another, freshmen city councilors Scott Graham, Michael Rendon and Leigh Meigs expressed their pleasure, with what they termed the many positives contained in next years budget.
And they praised interim city manager Jack Rogers and City Finance Director Julie Brown for leading them through the exhaustive process.
Councilor Renee Parsons also praised the budgeting process as more open than in the past.
Then Parsons, who has been critical in the past about city attorney David Smith, and in particular what he is paid, once again raised those concerns.
PARSONS: WHEN WE APPROVE THIS BUDGET WE APPROVE THE CITY ATTORNEY'S RETAINER. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S THE USUAL PROCESS OR NOT. AND ONE OF THE ISSUES I RAISED LAST YEAR IS ACCOUNTABILITY, AND MR. SMITH HAS, BASED ON A REQUEST I MADE TO HIM, SUPPLIED THE COUNCIL YESTERDAY WITH A SUMMARY OF HIS LEGAL PROJECTS FOR 2007, SO I THANK HIM FOR THAT, AS A RESULT OF THE COLORADO RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT REQUIRE THAT IF ANYONE, IF ANY CLIENT ASKS FOR THAT INFORMATION IT HAS TO BE TURNED OVER.
Parsons then said she wished a council review of Smith's performance could have been conducted before last night's budget approval, and by an independent counsel saying that would better serve the public.
A few moments later, Smith confronted Parsons.
SMITH: MR. MAYOR, MAY I RESPOND TO COUNCILOR PARSONS SINCE I'VE BEEN ACCUSED OF VIOLATING THE RULES OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
(exchange)
PARSONS: I APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU MADE THE COMMENTS ABOUT WHAT WAS SUPPLIED TO YOU THIS YEAR, BUT MY REAL GRIPE IS LAST YEAR WHEN YOU ASKED FOR THAT INFORMATION I TOLD YOU I WOULD DO SPECIFICALLY WHAT THE COUNCIL REQUESTED. YOU NEVER TOOK IT UP WITH THE COUNCIL, YOU NEVER ADDRESSED IT, EXCEPT TO DO A LITTLE POLITICAL THEATRE THE NIGHT OF THE BUDGET AND SAY YOU COULDN'T APPROVE IT BECAUSE OF MY LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. AND NOW TONIGHT, YOU SUGGEST THAT BECAUSE A CLIENT REQUESTS THAT I'M BOUND BY THE RULES OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE A SUMMARY OF WHAT I'VE DONE AND YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, WITH ONE EXCEPTION, MY CLIENT IN THE CITY COUNCIL. IT IS NOT YOU, IT IS NOT SCOTT, IT IS NOT MICHAEL. AND IF THE COUNCIL REQUESTS THE INFORMATION AND I DON'T PROVIDE IT THEN I'VE GOT A PROBLEM, BUT DON'T CREATE THE IMPRESSION IN YOUR STATEMENTS TONIGHT THAT SOMEHOW I VIOLATED THE RULES OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY LAST YEAR UNLESS YOU'RE PREPARED TO PROVE IT.
PARSONS: NO THAT'S NOT WHAT I WAS IMPLYING AT ALL.
SMITH: THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU IMPLIED.
DOUG LYON: THAT'S WHAT I TOOK OUT OF IT ACTUALLY.
PARSONS: NO WELL THEN I MIS-SPOKE BECAUSE THAT WASN'T WHAT I WAS IMPLYING AT ALL. WHAT IT WAS SAYING WAS...
SMITH: THAT I COMPLIED WITH THE RULES THIS YEAR, AND THAT BY IMPLICATION SAYS THAT I DIDN'T DO IT LAST YEAR, IT'S AS CLEAR AS DAY.
PARSONS: WELL MAYBE THAT'S CLEAR TO YOU BUT THAT WASN'T WHAT I WAS IMPLYING AT ALL.
The council then voted unanimously to approve the budget.
There is significance in the exchange.
Council will meet behind closed doors later this month to evaluate Smith's performance.
They'll then decide if Smith, who at 31 years is Durango's most tenured city employee will keep his job as city attorney, for another year, at a salary of about 130-thousand dollars.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

TAG: Text and audio of this story can be found online at ksut.org.
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