PERRY: Mayor Coffman cooks up another gaucherie trying to French fry his political enemies

1604
Mayor Mike Coffman at a March 14, 2022 Aurora City Council meeting.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has officially become the political equivalent of the asparagus peeler.

Like Coffman, the asparagus peeler is one of those things that mysteriously turns up one day, taking up important space, isn’t very useful and keeps coming back no matter how many times you thought you’d gotten rid of it.

Coffman proved that point yesterday when he got on the Googles to mean-tweet about those damnable progressives on the city council going not just to France on a tax-paid junket, but to Paris.

“Council Members (sic) Juan Marcano and Crystal Murillo just returned from a trip to Paris that will be paid for by the taxpayers of Aurora,” Coffman said in one of his frequent pic-to-tweets, uploading a picture of his rant to avoid that tricky thread thing. “For Aurora city council members to be attending a conference, in Paris of all places, is an insult to the hardworking taxpayers of this city. This morning, I will be putting in a request to City Manager Jim Twombly for a complete breakdown of their expenses.”

But wait. There’s more.

Not only is Mayor Karen shocked, shocked and dismayed by his two political nemeses on city council taking an airplane to Paris for the annual International Making Cities Livable conference, but he insists it was a “vacation,” and has demanded to speak to the city manager.

Well, to be factual, the conference wasn’t in Paris, it was in the Thornton of Paris, Le Plessis-Robinson. It used to be a sort of sketchy outlier of Paris that’s now become kind of famous after being reinvented into a cool, diverse place where people can actually walk and bike to places they want to go to without having to take a taxi to get to a bus station to take you to the nearest Metro stop to get to Paris. It’s that “livable” city thing that Aurora has hungered for long before Coffman came along.

But then being factual has never been Coffman’s thing. Attention-grabbing stunts? That’s so Mike.

Not so long ago, just over a year, Mayor Mike infamously and eternally became “Homeless Mike,” while saddling up with a Denver TV reporter in a scheme to pretend to be a homeless vet for a week, mugging for B-roll video and an exclusive interview after. Looking like he did when he started his escapade, Coffman on camera awarded himself a seven-day doctorate in homeless-ology, determining that homeless people “want” to be homeless, mostly because it allows them to be free-wheeling drug addicts.

Mayor Mike parlayed his dissertation into an Aurora homeless-camping-ban law, which is turning out to be about as practical as an asparagus peeler, as his critics on city council pointed out. In another grab for the headlines, Coffman worked to outlaw incivility on the city council, saying he’s never seen such rudeness among elected officials. It was unclear whether he had in mind the time he didn’t know he was on camera as a congressman and called President Barack Obama un-American, or yesterday when he called Murillo and Marcano vacation-grubbing tax cheats. 

There’s been more than a few peeler moments in Coffman’s long, long career as a politician in the state House, the state Senate, the state treasury, the state state department, congress and now Aurora’s city hall.

But after decades of flying all over the country and the world on the dimes and dollars of taxpayers and lobbyists, Coffman has drawn the line at flying out of the country on official government business from now on.

Well, maybe just France.

Indignant over flying to France on city business, he had no such concerns last year when he flew to El Salvador for about $2,500 — approaching the same $3,500 amount he’s having a meltdown peddling for his enemy’s Franco file.

City lawmakers here get hefty travel budgets every year and decide themselves how to spend them. For decades, they’ve balanced the always dubious optics of traveling for government business with the benefit of the destination.

When 9News reporter Kelly Reinke pressed the mayor yesterday for a reality check in this yet another made-for-TV Coffman controversy, he defended his international trip.

“Coffman says it’s tradition for the mayor to go to El Salvador because many people in Aurora are from there,” Renike reported.

Tradition?

Sentinel journalists have extensively reported on the El Salvadoran community in the Aurora region. Among the many, often heartbreaking conversations we’ve had with people here trapped in the Republican-inflicted immigration crisis, I don’t recall anyone wishing Coffman would visit their homeland, which has been decimated by crime, gangs, corruption and natural disasters. It’s like wishing for an asparagus peeler.

I do recall, however,  a real-live homeless vet, whom Coffman recently tried to exploit against city staffers who questioned his Aurora boot-a-homeless-camper scheme. That vet did insist in Coffman’s public chagrin that Coffman absolutely go somewhere, but it’s far, far south of San Salvador.

Coffman had no comment at all for Channel 9 News reporters back in 2013 when an investigation revealed that he and his then-wife were put up in a five-star hotel in Israel during a lobbyist-paid junket. The investigation revealed Coffman accepted a whopping $35,158.35 in travel graft, including to China, for “education” by organizations that lobby Congress each year for billions of dollars. “Coffman’s office did not respond to several phone calls seeking comment or statements about his travel,” 9News reporters said then.

Mad as hell now, however, Coffman says people using government money for international junkets is an abomination.

“I will also be putting forward, for a vote, a proposal that will prohibit Aurora city council members from ever again using tax dollars to pay for a trip to an international conference,” Coffman huffed. “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. Next time they want to take a European vacation, they can pay for it themselves.”

This from an elected representative whose only job description as Aurora’s $80,000-a-year mayor is to run the weekly meetings for a couple of hours. And if you’ve tuned in that chaos lately, you’ve probably wanted your money back.

Coffman’s new rant puts the city in an awkward position. While the mayor finds spending tax dollars on junkets detestable, Aurora and Colorado have made a more than $300 million-investment of your tax dollars into the Gaylord of the Rockies resort and hotel in Aurora, which has a rack rate of better than $400 a night. It’s sole purpose is to make a handsome living by luring national and international tax dollars, and any dollars, to come camp out on their lazy river during an endless catalog of junkets and conferences — and bring the family.

Most embarrassing, Coffman makes Aurora look like we’re a city full of jaundiced hillbillies.

“It’s OK if fellers from here wanna spend tax dollars in El Salvador or Leadville or Warshington — like a herd of Republican pro-business types from Aurora recently did, many on your dime — or anywhere ‘ceptin’ to go gawking at the Eiffel Tower with those uppity Frenchies in France.”

Whether any elected official or government employee should travel anywhere in the age of Zoom meetings is worthy of debate. But picking out this among endless junkets Coffman and every other government type has been on is just ripe political brie.

Coffman seems determined to ”en faire tout un fromage,” make a whole cheese in yet another TV and talk-radio distraction.

Isn’t there some asparagus that needs peeling?

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

 

3.1 12 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
28 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Publius
Publius
1 month ago

In a day and age where remote attendance at events is ubiquitous a travel budget for elected officials seems anachronistic. Whatever information was attainable by attending this conference could have been obtained elsewise and essentially for free

Aurora City Employees will once again loose purchasing power this year as their salaries lag far behind inflation and many will leave for greener pastures. The ranks of the homeless increase daily as the cost of housing outstrips the financial resources of many. Aurorans are now choosing which things to forego to fill up their gas tanks and the family BBQ this memorial Day will be Hamburger Helper patties on the grill which contain only the “Helper” as hamburger is now priced.as filet mignon was only a few short years ago and can no longer be afforded by many. If our elected representatives wish to posture themselves as champions of the people, the oppressed, the down trodden, the tempest tossed, perhaps they ought to forego this bit of largess entirely.

This whole sad episode which reflects no credit on either side of the political aisle reminds me of another incident a few years back where our elected officials managed quite a bar tab at a conference for many bottles of expensive wine. When noticed they then, too, had explanations as to why that was reasonable, in the moment. We citizens did not buy that then nor do we buy this now. I would respect them more if they simply admitted they like their largess, their perks of power.

Susan Smith
Susan Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Publius

Mayor Coffman could have visited El Salvador virtually last year, especially during a world wide pandemic that was still raging at the time. He chose not to do so. Politicians have budgets for travel. As long as they stay within those budgets and beign back informaiton from their travels that can benefit Aurora overall, I don’t have a problem with it.

I’m wondering how the Mayor’s visit to El Salvador has benefitted the citizens of Aurora in anyway? If the two councilmembers bring back informaiton from France that helps them in their jobs and benefits Aurora leave them alone.

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Smith

I agree with you that Mayor Coffman could have visited El Salvador virtually. Whether that would have represented a slight to the El Salvadorans I cannot speculate. I do believe in the old adage that persons living in glass houses ought not to throw stones. Perhaps the sentinel can ask the Mayor his understanding of that adage.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago
Reply to  Publius

Assuming all of this is true, it would be up to the Council itself, by a majority vote, to change the rules going forward. Neither the court of public opinion nor rising prices is going to affect this. In the meantime, money has been allotted and no one has the right to complain about trips rightfully taken. But a trip to El Salvador just because “many people are from there” becomes suspicious to the taxpayers.

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

I disagree, respectfully, with the premise that the Court of public opinion will not affect matters. This Council, both sides, seem inordinately sensitive, at times. They recently responded to public opprobrium on police oversight.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
1 month ago
Reply to  Publius

I can understand federal officials going on international junkets since enough interaction with foreign entities takes place to warrant such networking and relationship-building, which is really all these conferences are for. But one would think there’s enough to worry about at home that municipal employees, particularly ones from a bog-standard suburb like Aurora, should probably avoid such trips. The Gaylord Hotel likely has a competent enough PR and marketing staff that they don’t really need two city council members flying to France to act as glorified tourism promoters, and the idea that a city as spread-out geographically as Aurora is EVER going to be turned in to some New Urbanist wonderland that’s been getting pimped by various galaxy-brains for the last 20-plus years, is sheer fantasy.

Municipal newspaper editors should also probably avoid playing the whattaboutism game, offering up lame Squealer-like qualifiers for their political allies (“it wasn’t ACKSHULLY Paris, it was a seedy suburb of Paris!”), and various non-sequiturs in their apologia for similar purposes.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago

If you think Aurora is a “bog standard” suburb, you need to get out more. There are damned few “bog standard suburbs” that have the likes of East Colfax Avenue. And if you travel to the eastern part of the country, you will find suburbs that routinely have something called a “town center”, a feature that Aurora not only lacks but could sorely use. This place is an amalgamation of residences and shopping areas with no central anchor. Worse, it lacks an identity. No wonder the community has problems. It isn’t a community, for starters. Or perhaps you can direct me to “downtown Aurora”? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Specialized conferences serve an important function: Learning how other towns have dealt with problems suffered by all towns. The opportunities to learn are invaluable. The connections that are to be made often pay off in huge dividends. Attending out of town and out of state conferences brought me literally hundreds of connections I would never have known of. And these connections paid off when I had to deal with novel problems, because I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

“If you think Aurora is a “bog standard” suburb, you need to get out more.”

I wager I’ve lived in far more areas than you have, Jeff. Unlike you, I even recall who Colorado’s governor and Senators were in the late 70s when you claim to have moved here.

“There are damned few “bog standard suburbs” that have the likes of East Colfax Avenue.”

One small section of the city does not Aurora make.

“And if you travel to the eastern part of the country, you will find suburbs that routinely have something called a “town center”, a feature that Aurora not only lacks but could sorely use.”

Did you flunk geography? Aurora is in the American West, not the east.

“This place is an amalgamation of residences and shopping areas with no central anchor. Worse, it lacks an identity. ”

::”Aurora’s not a bog-standard suburb!”::
::Lists several common features of suburbs that left-liberals have been complaining about for decades::

You know what Colfax Avenue used to be? Aurora’s town center. You know what happened? It became a bog-standard suburb after World War II and Colfax stopped being the town center.

“Specialized conferences serve an important function: Learning how other towns have dealt with problems suffered by all towns.”

That’s great. There’s no need to go across the Atlantic to learn this, because there are plenty of places right here in the US to learn those things.

“Attending out of town and out of state conferences brought me literally hundreds of connections I would never have known of. And these connections paid off when I had to deal with novel problems, because I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Again, that’s great. This wasn’t “out of town” or “out of state.” This wasn’t even on this continent. It was literally across the ocean.

Publius
Publius
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

So have the City Planners attend.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

The conference was about city planning, which is out of the scope of what our council members’ jobs are. Yea, it’s cool to look at what a once sketchy area of France looked like before some innovative planning took place but how is that applicable to Aurora? Newsflash, it isn’t. I guess this would not have bothered most people in Aurora so much had he not listened to this guy bitch and moan about all the money being wasted on the camping ban and stonewalling on any other efforts put forth within the city “cost money.” So, it’s hypocrisy at its finest. Yes, they get a travel allocation for things like conferences, but why not find something local that is actually applicable to his job? Or, boots on the ground, go talk to people in his ward, and businesses, research options for homeless shelters, then expense out the gas and a cheap meal for the day instead. What he did instead was disrespectful to the very constituents he claims to care about. Just because you can do something, does not always mean you should…4k trips to Paris, are not really relevant to our city.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

City planning is outside the scope of a city councilman’s job?

Okayyyy…

Don
Don
1 month ago

The poor councilmembers can’t afford a decent laptop for a Zoom meeting so they had to spend $8,000 to be there in person and hear someone talk.

sugar
sugar
1 month ago

Coffman is such an embarrassment.

Nilta
Nilta
1 month ago
Reply to  sugar

And hypocrite.

Juan
Juan
1 month ago

From the article: “Well, to be factual, the conference wasn’t in Paris, it was in the Thornton of Paris, Le Plessis-Robinson. It used to be a sort of sketchy outlier of Paris”

When a partisan opinion piece has to nitpick facts you know they are scrambling to defend ideology that is indefensible.

Bluebird
Bluebird
1 month ago
Reply to  Juan

The location does matter a great deal in this case.

Nilta
Nilta
1 month ago
Reply to  Juan

As you do the exact same thing.

Kristin Mallory
Kristin Mallory
1 month ago

City Leaders who spend money on conferences to learn how to make the City more walkable, healthier, and less reliant on cars seem more in touch than City Leaders who spend the same amount of money for a lobbying trip to DC, Accelerate, where they will just push right wing, small government propaganda.

Also, can we please get some receipts on the City’s “Water Tour” to ASPEN and who had continually gone on that tour, year after year, and the expenses related to that.

People who live in glass houses should be careful about throwing stones.

DICK MOORE
1 month ago

My guess, we can take any comment from the leader of the Arapahoe County Democratic Party as not only biased but completely biased. Support the socialists, bash the Republicans while throwing her own stones.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
1 month ago

City Leaders who spend money on conferences to learn how to make the City more walkable, healthier, and less reliant on cars seem more in touch than City Leaders who spend the same amount of money for a lobbying trip to DC, Accelerate, where they will just push right wing, small government propaganda.”

As opposed to left-wing propaganda by a graduate from a TTT, for-profit law school that doesn’t even exist anymore, pimping a buzzword-laden New Urbanist fantasy that will never come to pass.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

This has to be one of the more-amazing hypocrisies of our time. Every elected official on the face of the planet takes trips for various reasons that are deemed to be beneficial. It’s why budgets allow for this. I am begging the Sentinel to do a study and report on all of Coffman’s junkets during his long tenure as a professional politician. He’ll shut up when he realizes that’s being done.

It is amazing how politicians criticize folks who are in office for the same things they have done, in a lame attempt to make political hay.

Dean
1 month ago

Well Dave, why should we be surprised this latest trip from the two Socialist at taxpayers’ expense and some blow back comes with it. These two, thinking they were providing the city with some hard learned, useful lessons learned in utopia city planning, come -on Dave. Some scrutiny from the mayor that has now requested from the city manager a breakdown of their trip’s expenses is going to open a problematic discussion for these two. Dave, and that conversation is going to be more complex than you think.
What’s interesting and not hard to look at, is how money is spent. That is the mayor’s point. The meeting, and other associated tours, opera performers are now on YouTube. A preview about 8 minutes, to see what these two and a couple of their buddies perhaps family will share with us.

https://www.imcl.online/post/a-very-memorable-imcl-2022-gathering-draws-to-a-close

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

It’s nice little video somebody took, starring CM Juan Marcano, with CM Crystal Murillo. Price for all three days was $750 a person, of course wine and cheese included.
The video shows out on a walk-through town. It oddly has seven in their group, one in a wheelchair, closely and always together. Did the city also help pay for the other five? Were these fares covered by the city- Dave? Thats where the accounting will be nice to keep things transparent, something CM Marcano and Murillo claim to be big on.
You decide for yourself in the video if all seven are family. But clearly, our two international ambassadors are there to represent Aurora. No doubt….

https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio

https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=373
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=377
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=379
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=408
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=430
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=446
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=452
https://youtu.be/gEqmCUcWwio?t=475
.

Dennis
Dennis
1 month ago

Ho Hum!

DICK MOORE
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis

Dennis, congratulations, you have the best comment yet. Citizens of Aurora this is not a mind altering new problem that we have to face. There is an annual budget amount for these trips, where ever they decide to go and it is limited equally to all council members.

Two socialists on city council go to a socialist led country to educate themselves on how to make a city more socialistic and you are surprised and some of you are outraged? Disagree on what they are teaching themselves not on the location. This will continue until you decide to vote the socialists out of office in the city of Aurora and anywhere else in the USA. Vote no on Marcano’s reelection, Ward IV.

The Mayor did what all good politicians do, try to make the other side look stupid because they have a “bully pulpit” to do that, right or wrong.

The Sentinel and Dave Perry does what it always does. Starts with true facts, twist and turn those facts, encourage blame on those that are encouraging blame on others and come up with something not recognizable from the beginning true facts.

Is there such a thing as an asparagus peeler, or is that just another big Dave lie trying to make some point? Never mind, this is the 21st Century, I’ll Google it!

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
1 month ago

Coffman is good at only one kind of thing: spreading division, hatred, bullying, hypocrisy, and total lack of team leadership and working together. Let’s please vote him out before a complete stalemate and totally toxic environment is all that is left of the Council under Coffman “leadership.”

Jeffery Moser
1 month ago

So much for having a worldly mayor.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeffery Moser

“Worldliness” is nothing more than a vastly overrated striver pose.

Katrina Z
Katrina Z
1 month ago

Per the city’s FB page:
This weekend, Council Member Jurinsky will join Council Members Gardner, Zvonek, Sundberg and Lawson on the Accelerate Colorado trip.

***Each of them requested $3,500 from their travel budget to cover the member pricing.***

$3,500 is the same amount expensed for this conference on Making Cities Livable. Except Accelerate Colorado is a conservative lobbying, networking and fundraising event that benefits individuals and not this city.

Making Cities Livable, the event in France, didn’t have a remote option. It was not that type of conference.