When is a decision a decision?
ASPEN City officials flip-flopped on just exactly who was responsible for giving Public Works Director Phil Overeynder housing for life in his city rental property on the Holden-Marolt Open Space.At first, City Manager Steve Barwick said he had gone to City Council in executive session May 4 seeking its permission to make an exception to the city’s housing policy. But a few days later, City Attorney John Worcester and Barwick said City Council didn’t make a decision; Barwick was simply advising the board on what he planned to do.After The Aspen Times requested the city release the audiotape of the May 4 executive session to the public, it became clear that each council member said “yes” to the request.Here is a rundown of conflicting statements The Aspen Times printed regarding the matter: “Because Barwick values Overeynder as an employee, he said he went to the City Council in executive session and asked it to make an exception to the housing policy.” – The Aspen Times, June 15 “Aspen’s city attorney on Monday said the City Council didn’t violate the state’s open meeting law last month when it met behind closed doors and granted lifetime housing to an employee. That’s because the City Council didn’t make a decision but instead was being advised by City Manager Steve Barwick that he planned to give Phil Overeynder and his wife, Deborah, housing for the rest of their lives. “‘We might be arguing semantics here,’ said City Attorney John Worcester. ‘The council was not asked to make any decision. He just explained to them that he had a personnel issue and advised them on what he was planning to do.'” – The Aspen Times, June 19 “‘I’m asking you for permission to let me enter into a contract for a professional rental agreement,'” Barwick told the City Council on May 4, according to the audiotape of the meeting. ‘He has not agreed to this. I put this on the table an hour ago with him. He did say that changes everything because he’s in this situation of where do I go [after I retire?] … I’m asking for this one employee and one employee only.'”
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