Aurora lawmakers bicker, bolt over chaotic censure ordeal — pay Jurinsky’s lawyer $16K 

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AURORA | Aurora’s City Council sparred and Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky walked out in the middle of Monday’s discussion about paying her attorneys for representation during proposed censure proceedings that were shelved behind closed doors March 14.

Councilmember Juan Marcano previously attempted to censure Jurinsky for provocative comments made to and about Aurora Police Department Chief Vanessa Wilson, which he said violated the city charter and council rules. In an executive session on March 14, the group decided to end the censure process without confirming any violation by Jurinsky.

According to council rules, “if after a public hearing … a violation has not been established, the Council Member who is the subject of the hearing shall be entitled to reimbursement from the City for all reasonable attorney fees incurred in his or her defense.”

No public hearing on Marcano’s allegations took place — regardless, the council voted 6-4 along party lines in open session to pay $16,162.50 to defense attorneys David Lane and Suzanne Taheri of law firm Killmer, Lane & Newman.

The city also hired outside law firm Burns, Figa & Will to investigate Marcano’s allegations. While city spokesman Michael Brannen said Wednesday that the city hadn’t received the bill for those services yet, City Attorney Dan Brotzman told Marcano on Monday that the cost would likely be “nearly the same as the defense counsel.”

Jurinsky and Marcano argued over the appropriateness of the payment as well as the majority vote to end the censure in executive session, which experts say was illegal under state open meetings laws.

“This should have been a public process,” Marcano said. “What’s happened instead is we’ve had a nakedly partisan display of corruption employed to protect bad actors. … If you have a majority, a partisan majority, you can get away with whatever you want.”

Jurinsky, in turn, accused Marcano of wasting public resources with his censure attempt.

“Not one attorney, (including) the outside counsel, said that I violated anything. So the public should really know, Councilmember Marcano, that you in fact are the one who has wasted the taxpayers’ dollars,” she said.

A letter from Burns, Figa & Will that was attached to the council’s agenda packet notes, however, that the firm halted its investigation “without making any findings regarding the alleged violations, and without advising the City Council or preparing any report on the merits of the charges.”

Marcano and Councilmember Alison Coombs previously told The Sentinel that Jurinsky began arguing with the third-party attorneys before those attorneys were able to present any of their findings March 14.

“You stopped the investigation in an executive session, breaking sunshine laws while we were at it, to protect yourself from any kind of investigation,” Marcano said. “So, sure, you have the votes to pat yourself on the back and say, ‘Look, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ … You wasted money the moment you decided to go on the public airwaves and violate the city charter.”

Marcano told Jurinsky to read the charter. She interrupted to say that she had and “so have several attorneys.” Mayor Mike Coffman gaveled at her and said the discussion was “not a back-and-forth.”

“You’re right, we are protecting bad actors, because I haven’t filed my censure charges against you yet,” Jurinsky told Marcano. She previously asked Brotzman about censuring council members who shared information about the closed meeting with the media.

“It’s not me that ended (the censure); it took a majority of council,” Jurinsky said. “The only reason you brought these censure charges against me, Councilor Marcano, in my opinion … is because you now stand in the minority on this council.”

Part of Marcano’s allegations focused on Jurinsky’s recent appearance on a radio talk show where she criticized the police chief, referring to her as “trash.”

Coombs, too, said she was “appalled” by the “partisan” and “behind-closed-doors” nature of the proceedings. She also brought up Jurinsky’s past comments about meeting with Wilson and suggesting that Wilson “reappoint someone else” in place of Deputy Chief of Police Darin Parker. Coombs characterized those comments as telling the chief to fire Parker.

The chief’s attorney has since said that a group of council members are conspiring to oust her and that, last week, Wilson was pressured by City Manager Jim Twombly to resign.

On Monday, Jurinsky tried to interrupt Coombs, saying the council member was making “false statements.” The mayor again admonished Jurinsky for speaking while another council member had the floor. Jurinsky then walked out of the meeting and was not present for the final vote to reimburse her attorneys.

Council members also discussed ongoing efforts to reform the censure process. Members who reportedly voted to dismiss the censure said they wanted to see greater council control over the process, while Marcano said he thought it should be taken out of the council’s hands entirely.

Dustin Zvonek said the proposed new censure process would provide for a public hearing, which is a feature of the existing rules, and called the existing procedures “kangaroo court.”

He also sniped at Marcano, calling him the “minister of truth” and suggesting Marcano wanted to be the sole arbiter of rules violations. Marcano retorted that Zvonek was the “minister of propaganda” and said the desire to give elected officials more control over the process was an example of “fascistic” tendencies in the Republican Party as a whole.

Zvonek said proposed changes to the censure process would be coming before the entire council “in the coming weeks.”

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Brent Taylor
Brent Taylor
8 months ago

Can we get Marcano removed from City Council? Coombs (my ward), too? Oh yeah, right, that’d be 2023. It’ll feel like eternity waiting that long.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
8 months ago
Reply to  Brent Taylor

Yes, we understand you won’t be happy until all seats are occupied by republicans.

sugar
sugar
8 months ago
Reply to  Brent Taylor

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I pay my bills I know exactly what I’m paying for.

The Citizens of Aurora have no idea who was interviewed, the results of the interviews, hourly
expenses, etc. but have to pay thousands of
dollars!

Even the Council members weren’t able to learn this information.

Something stinks to high heaven!

Publius
Publius
8 months ago

The ongoing modeling of childish behavior continues apace. I expect more from my elementary aged children. Both sides believe there is some vindication for them in this sad display. There is not.

Paul Reimer
Paul Reimer
8 months ago

The Right is a vile cesspool, as evidenced once again by the behavior here.

Don
Don
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Reimer

Great childish generalization. You sound like you should be on the council.

GeneD
8 months ago

Do ReTrumplicants at any level of government have any idea of how to govern?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
8 months ago
Reply to  GeneD

It’s called “control everything” and “be a bully.”

Roberta Johnson
Roberta Johnson
8 months ago

Aurora City Council has gone to the dogs! Jurinsky started this whole circus by going on public radio and bashing our Chief of Police and her second in command. Then, behind closed doors they come to a gentlemen’s agreement (Right wing) not to do anything about it and now the City of Aurora (taxpayer money) pays her legal fees? So, the Ringleader (Clown Jurinsky) comes out swinging the other night at the council meeting, gets gaveled after gaveled by Mayor Mike for talking out of order and then like baby storms off the dias cause she can’t handle the pressure. Oh please! What a clown she is!! Our citizens deserve better and she is the one responsible for hiring her own attorneys and paying their bill not the folks here in Aurora.

Robert Garcia
Robert Garcia
8 months ago

My recollections from past councils was that while there were partisan criticisms of council person Marciano, the objects of that criticism were generally issues that had potential to benefit the citizens of Aurora.

In her short tenure, council person Jurinsky’s actions appear to have resulted in negative impact to the city.

Doug King
Doug King
8 months ago

Not withstanding the give and take here showing the anger on both sides, what I want to know is why there isn’t some authority that can’t step in and mitigate this situation. It seems very obvious that Jurinsky violated the City Charter. The question is (kinda like a School Rule) is she held accountable as an elected city official for what she says only when she’s on the dias or anytime anywhere she maybe be saying what she says? Does her free speech over ride her oath to the City Charter ??? If it dosn’t? then right now with all that has happened due to her own actions? she needs to resign. If it does over ride an oath then what’s the point of taking it? And we’re in deep doo doo …. seems we may be there anyway. So….City Council! Find someone or some agency that can sort this out legally and settle it immediately, huh?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
8 months ago

This whole thing could have been avoided if one council woman had minded her manners and behaved professionally.

Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

It certainly could have been avoided if people like Becky Hogan and John Ronquillo had been elected. Civil, thoughtful, calm. Sad to watch this stuff transpire.

Dave Dooley
Dave Dooley
8 months ago

Children, please!

Kelly Costin
Kelly Costin
8 months ago

So, the guy who called Republicans a “sadistic death cult” is concerned about a fellow council member calling the Chief ‘trash’. A police chief watching over some of the worst crimes rates, and worse police morale in Aurora’s history. 2 years ago we were among the safest place in the country! Council members should have the right to speak openly about problems within our little city, even those with hateful stalinist tactics like insulting innocent people that he represents. 2023 will come. Thanks for motivating me on the importance of local elections, Juan….

Nilta
Nilta
8 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Costin

“2 years ago we were among the safest place(s) in the country!”?? Typical revision of history and facts to suit your needs. You must also believe the Capitol insurrection was merely a tour group.

sugar
sugar
8 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Costin

The concern was not about Jurinsky calling the Chief
trash (at least four times during the radio interview.)
She violated the Charter by demanding the Chief and Deputy Chief be fired.

Gigi from Parkhill
Gigi from Parkhill
8 months ago
Reply to  sugar

can someone please post the city charter where it says that a city council member can’t have a personal opinion.

Gigi from Parkhill
Gigi from Parkhill
8 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Costin

Exactly what happened two years ago, a leftist commie socialist board was elected.
This website panders to commie leftist and any rational common sense thinking falls on deaf ears. Now I remember why I don’t patronize this news source and this will be my latest visit to this site. Let them have it nothing but jokers on here.
I’m a native of Denver and have lived in Aurora for over 25 years. What this city has become is a travesty. People need to wake up!!!!

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
8 months ago

All CMs involved on both sides owe the citizens an apology for the valuable time and resources wasted on this charade.

With no strategy, council is leaving about $30 million in sales tax revenue per year on the table. This bickering in their minds is far more important.