Colorado Springs councilman walks out of executive session, cites lack of transparency

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Accusing Colorado Springs leaders of lying and misdirection, City Councilman Bill Murray walked out of an executive session Wednesday morning in protest.

The closed meeting pertained to proposed changes to the 30-year-old annexation agreement for Banning Lewis Ranch, long blamed for stagnation on the 24,000-acre parcel.

A federal judge upheld the language of the current agreement in August 2015, but sometime later city leaders began negotiating with the approximately 40 property owners at the ranch to tweak the document and stimulate growth in the area.

But Murray said those negotiations are hidden from the public because city representatives, chiefly City Attorney Wynetta Massey, have improperly labeled them settlement negotiations, which allows them to be discussed in executive sessions.

Murray said he plans to boycott any future executive sessions regarding the ranch and is calling for the rest of the council to bring the closed negotiations into the public spotlight.

Before he walked out of Wednesday’s meeting, Murray said, he asked Massey several questions, including when the last settlement discussion was held. He said Massey replied that the last such discussion was held in a Feb. 5 executive session, which took place during a regular council meeting. Murray was out of state at the time and unable to attend.

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