Aurora lawmakers spar over members’ trip to France conference

1466

AURORA | Mayor Mike Coffman on Monday slammed two Aurora City Council members for taking a “European vacation” earlier this month on the taxpayers’ dime, after Juan Marcano and Crystal Murillo flew to France to attend an urban planning conference.

According to travel records released by the City of Aurora, Marcano and Murillo requested $3,050.24 and $5,535.15 in respective reimbursements for traveling to the International Making Cities Livable Conference in the Paris suburb of ​​Le Plessis-Robinson.

Those amounts could be adjusted during the budget reconciliation process, city spokesman Michael Brannen later said, adding that Murillo’s expenses “could and likely will be” reduced, as she may pay for some or all of her lodging expenses herself.

The event held May 17-May 21 included presentations by planners, economic development experts, developers, activists and others, as well as tours, receptions and dinner events.

On the conference’s website, the focus of the 2022 event was described as “the role of architecture in supporting more active, more connective, more beautiful public spaces, promoting human and planetary health, well-being, and livability.”

Murillo said Monday that she and Marcano also had the opportunity to promote Aurora in front of the area’s chamber of commerce.

But the mayor took aim at Marcano and Murillo for the international excursion, which he called “an insult to the hardworking taxpayers of this city.”

“It’s time for Council Members Marcano and Murillo to understand that we work for the taxpayers of this city and that they don’t work for us,” Coffman wrote in a Twitter post on Monday. “Next time they want to take a European vacation, they can pay for it themselves.”

The mayor wrote in his Twitter post that he would be introducing an ordinance prohibiting council members from using city funds to pay for attending international conferences.

City spokesman Ryan Luby said in a statement that the reimbursements will come out of the $7,000 travel budget afforded to every council member, which may be rolled over into subsequent years.

Coffman’s progressive opponents on the council were quick to accuse him of hypocrisy. In a reply to his post, Councilmember Alison Coombs asked about a delegation Coffman led to El Salvador as part of the Aurora Sister Cities International program, which cost the city $2,350.

She also brought up conservative lawmakers’ trips to Washington, D.C. with representatives from Accelerate Colorado, a local business advocacy group. The travel records shared by the city indicate six council members plan to make a trip with Accelerate Colorado this year, which is expected to cost the city $17,500 in registration fees.

Marcano called the D.C. trip a “wine-and-dine junket” in a Twitter thread responding to Coffman’s comments, accusing the mayor of stoking a controversy to distract from the projected cost of the city’s new unauthorized camping ban.

“It’s clear that Coffman’s problem isn’t the cost to taxpayers. His problem is either that he bears some grudge against France in particular, or that he bears some grudge against me,” Marcano wrote. “This is just another instance of Coffman throwing a tantrum and lying to the public.”

Marcano and Murillo also pushed back against Coffman’s criticisms at the end of Monday’s City Council meeting.

“Aurora is one of the few cities in the country that actually has an office of immigrant affairs, and has an immigrant integration plan, and so to be able to connect and build relationships with another community internationally I think is in our best interest as a city,” Murillo said. “I think it was a really successful trip.”

Marcano said there had been “a lot of hearsay and frankly just lies” spread regarding their trip, which he shared information about via Twitter as the conference unfolded. He later said he was referring to Coffman’s characterization of the conference as a “vacation,” which he said was misleading.

The council member also invited the public to a meeting June 1 at 6:30 p.m., where he said they would recap the trip. He said the meeting will be held either in the council chambers or in the Aurora Room, both at the Aurora Municipal Center.

Luby said in his statement that Marcano and Murillo had “submitted the attached travel records to the city in accordance with the Council travel policy” and that the council members had “previously attended the 2021 IMCL conference, which was held in the Indianapolis area.”

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Publius
Publius
1 month ago

How could the trip be $2500.00 more expensive for Ms. Murillo than it was for Mr. Marcano? Presumably the same air travel and the same hotel accommodations. seems strange and worth looking into.

Dave Dooley
Dave Dooley
1 month ago

What did we get from Mikey’s junket to El Salvador?

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Dooley

I heard he came back with a killer recipe for pupusa.

Tawny Fox
Tawny Fox
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Dooley

I am, suffice it to say, not a fan of little Mikey Coffman, but traveling to other cities is how we learn and grow our community. I don’t begrudge the trip to El Salvador, I begrudge the hypocrisy.

cammy1938
1 month ago

the mayor needs to realize he, too, works for the taxpayers which he has done for years. has he ever held a “real” job like most of us? as a retired c ity employee i’ve been thru lots of mayors, none of them as %$(&[email protected] as he has proven to be

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
1 month ago

Coffman does nothing but spread hatred, dissension, with no capacity to lead a team or inspire teamwork, has no awareness of Aurorans’ real and meaningful needs nor ever works together for solutions. He always makes sure there a camera on him too when he wants to try to hurt someone on the Council or pick on the homeless population as his latest place to blame for all our problems – he’s always out to oppose and bully in self-serving ways with no capacity to listen and learn.

Deborah
Deborah
1 month ago

good

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

“Sparring” not necessary. As I understand it, this was preapproved and budgeted. If the Council wants to change the rules, it is within its power to do so, but don’t argue over something done under previous rules or guidelines.

And it would be appropriate for persons on “business” trips for the City to give a presentation on what was done and learned at the various conferences. That may have been something that was actually beneficial, and would show that the attendees were actually present and not just on “vacation,” which was how this was referred to by the mayor.

And I wonder if he was butt-hurt because he wasn’t invited or didn’t get to go.

I am retired now, so certainly not hard-working, but as a taxpayer, I also am not insulted.

Publius
Publius
1 month ago

Foolish, of course, to believe this junket was about information gathering as that could have been done in far more cost effective and even more timely means. Still, pretend it was. Why did it take two to obtain the information, could that not have been done by only one, saving the money? Why did the other not go to an alternative conference thus doubling the information brought back, were that indeed the goal.?

Now we are going to have the next trip, the one where half of the Council goes to Washington to drink, eat, and hobnob with special interests and their money, oops, I mean learn important stuff which will make them better legislators.

The travel budget is a perk, always has been. They should stop with the pretense. They are paid very little. One perk is O.K. as long as it is within reason. This perk, when added to their salary still makes the position far from desirable from a financial point of view. Much ado about nothing until they insult us with their justifications, and that means all of them.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago
Reply to  Publius

Then you will be present at the June 1 meeting?

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug
Tawny Fox
Tawny Fox
1 month ago

Dear God, is anyone else just sick of little Mikey Coffman strutting round like the scrawniest rooster in the barnyard, afraid the big roosters will notice he’s subpar in every way?

He “sprung” this publicity stunt as if it wasn’t city approved and planned. He doesn’t talk about how he and his cronies use their travel budget for basically campaigning.

The fact that Councilmembers Marcano and Murillo got to represent Aurora in an international conference should be a source of pride for our city, instead of a political game by a failed erstwhile congressman.

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Tawny Fox

😂 “Scrawniest Rooster in the barnyard.” 😂 Now that is evocative.

DICK MOORE
1 month ago
Reply to  Tawny Fox

Dear God, Brown Foxy. Try this representation scenario. Socialist Marcano and Murillo go to France to a convention of mostly socialists teaching socialist city planning and represent Aurora as a socialist city to those attending. Now that would be political gaming. of course based on untruths. That is unless you believe that Aurora is a socialist city. Do you?

Tawny Fox
Tawny Fox
1 month ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Yes, city planning for a city that serves all of its citizens, regardless of race or socio-economic status is much preferable to one that serves only the rich and the white is preferable to me, if that’s how you want to define it.

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

It’s the unprofessional conduct of Mikey and “some” of his conservative team members that is so offensive!!

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

The city has in good faith allowed lawmakers the discretion to spend taxpayers money on trips to benefit the greater cause. Channel 7 has covered this story with further detail of expense ledgers from CM Marcano and CM Murillo.In theory the two should have identical expenses. But, CM Murillo somehow spent about two thousand more on lodging for somebody else for several nights according to the report from channel 7. Does this city perk also allow for friends of council to travel at taxpayers expense? Council Murillo, has some explaining to do why the extra two thousand dollars? And if this extra bonus is not included, CM Murillo, owes some money back to taxpayers.Regardless, this whole messy thing, these two used very poor judgment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFt38O0Zek

Last edited 1 month ago by Bob
Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
1 month ago

I think it’s important to remember that council is a poorly paid part-time position, $18k pre-tax as I recall, but with a heavy full time workload. So as a “perk,” the CMs travel budget seems wholly reasonable. It’s wrong for thr mayor to criticize these travel expenditures that were budgeted and left to the CMs discretion. I categorize his criticism as simply more partisan bickering that is of no value to citizens whatsoever.

What’s not being addressed while they bicker and lash out at each other?

With the city’s retail tax base in the toilet and with the city now resorting to $35 million in new debt to address the road maintenance backlog, both the mayor and council are shirking their duty to protect and nurture the city’s retail economy. The city is financially rudderless.

Without a strategy, the mayor and council are leaving over $30 million/year in sales tax revenue on the table. We need new Independent non-partisan leadership to correct. Mayor Coffman refuses to step up.