Awaiting response on Burlingame | AspenTimes.com
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Awaiting response on Burlingame

Dear Editor:I have not yet received a response to my letter of June 26, yet I see that you have told The Aspen Times that you have answered my request for an investigation. I will take what you said to the Times as your response to me, presuming that it is consistent with your written response. Your statement that no one has admitted that they did anything knowingly is incorrect. In a letter to the editor of The Aspen Times written by Rachel Richards on June 9, 2008, the third paragraph states: The City Council was aware of the costs, both as estimates and after hard bids were selected. Later in the paragraph Ms. Richards states I believe excluding those cost components in the Burlingame informational pamphlet was an attempt by staff in 2005, however misguided, to create a picture of hard construction cost only because there were no easy comparisons available. In an interview with The Aspen Times, on the same date, Ms. Richards goes on to state that in a question to then Assistant City Manager Edward Sadler these numbers cant be right. Sadly, Ms. Richards did not follow up on this question. Although, in fact, people have admitted knowingly distributing the incorrect figures, that should not be the standard for an investigation. The investigation should be completely objective and not aimed at any conclusion, such as one individuals guilt or innocence. The purpose of the investigation should be to determine whether anyone knowingly disseminated false voter information. The brochure was printed at the beginning of 2005, stating the total cost was $74.3 million and the total subsidy was $14.7 million. The brochure was disseminated and quoted in the press. The GoBurlingame.com website quoted the citys recent study, and comparison of $62,000 subsidy to infill project subsidies of five times more.The Aspen Times, on Jan. 8, 2005, stated that the $62,522 subsidy represented total costs, including soft costs, infrastructure and design fees. During this time, the City Council or city staff made no attempt to correct the information that was being distributed, even though they were aware of the error of the misstatements.Mr. Steve Barwick, the city manager, has gone on the record on two occasions (June 25, 2008, The Aspen Times, and on June 26, 2008, on KNFO with Michael Conniff) stating that city management and the City Council were discussing higher subsides on Burlingame in the years prior to the May 2005 election, but focused on partial costs in the 2005 election season. Yet the public was told that the voter materials included total cost.Also, according to Mr. Barwicks statements, Mr. Sadler (the 2005 assistant city manager) also was aware of the disclosure of only partial cost and had made a decision to include partial cost, stating that is the way that Council communicated about subsidies. Again, the voter materials claimed them to be total cost.In addition, a Mr. Bentley Henderson (current assistant city manager) stated that the brochure was a marketing piece with no basis in reality. This statement was told to both the Budget Task Force and the press, and was printed. Voter information is supposed to be factual and objective when published by the city. Even your assistant city manager claims that it was not.Hence, with the brochure, the interviews with press and information that was distributed by a privately owned website (GoBurlingame.com), the public at large was led to believe that the total subsidy would be approximately $14.7 million, when numerous city officials seemed to be aware of this huge understatement of the numbers at the time the city published the brochure. In stating all this, the evidence appears very clear that city officials, and possibly private citizens, knowingly distributed false or very misleading information.Furthermore, I applaud the city on the outside audits that they have contracted with Alverez & Marsel, but audits are not part of the language of the Municipal Code sec. 9-04-080 and that will not satisfy the requirements of the law. A legal investigation must be undertaken. Let me remind you that you are conflicted in making the decision for an investigation on this matter. It is time to step away and appoint independent counsel.I look forward to reading the papers for your response to my request.James H. PerryAspen


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