Colorado Springs council opts for code change to force public votes in lawsuit settlements

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): The majority of Colorado Springs City Council members said Monday that they want to change the city’s code to require themselves and future council members to publicly vote whether to approve high-dollar lawsuit settlements.

That practice is done in closed executive sessions, in apparent violation of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law. The council has approved at least seven high-dollar settlements in closed meetings since 2013, totaling about $5.4 million, The Gazette has reported.

The council asked City Attorney Wynetta Massey in June to offer recommendations that would bolster transparency with expensive settlements.

Massey and Tracy Lessig, an attorney for the city, told the council Monday afternoon it can either change the council’s rules or city code to publicly vote whether to approve settlements above $100,000. The two recommended changing the council’s rules.

“This is how this council has decided that they would like to conduct their business. Another council could come in and decide that the way we were conducting settlements before is the appropriate way to conduct settlements,” Lessig said.

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