Aurora councilman’s open records requests lead to testy public face-off with city staff

Aurora Sentinel: Several Aurora City Council members, led by Councilman Charlie Richardson, clashed with city management staff at a tempestuous council study session Monday night, claiming workers in City Manager George “Skip” Noe’s office have been providing the city’s elected officials with shoddy information.

At the end of the regularly scheduled meeting March 20, Richardson lashed out at city management, saying recent responses from city staffers to his calls for background information have driven him to file open records requests in lieu of asking for a council report, which is the typical course of action for council members who desire generic information on particular issues. Richardson said heavily redacted responses paired with a lack of speed and clarity have led him to file several recent records requests, which are often referred to as CORA requests, shorthand for the Colorado Open Records Act.

Richardson, who served as the longtime City Attorney before being elected to council in 2015, said his requests have ranged from inquiries about public funds being used for an upcoming, voluntary trip for city council members to South Korea, salaries for city management staff, private sector funds being used to support the city’s Sister City Program and details regarding an alleged wolf-hybrid dog named Capone, who has been in the control of Aurora’s Animal Services Division for nearly one month.

“I sought information from the city administration — I don’t feel I got all the information I had requested,” Richardson said. “…I have recently been hit with ‘Unless you get six members of council, the city administration is not going to respond’ to some of my requests, so that has driven me to CORA requests, which I did in this instance.”

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Noe spurned Richardson’s claims.

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