Denver Direct: Inside Deal

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Inside Deal

From Dave Felice:
If you had any thought the city is altruistically adding five “new” acres of park land in Montbello to partially make up for the loss of Hentzell Park Natural Area, think again and read the attachment.
The proposal involves acquisition of the land by Urban Land Conservancy, which will then transfer the property to the city, which will lease the land to ELK (Environmental Learning for Kids). 
Founders of ELK?  Deputy Parks Manager Scott Gilmore and wife, Stacie.  ELK executive director is Stacie Gilmore.  Member of ELK Advisory Board is Scott Gilmore.
In May 2012 — months before the November election, but apparently after the deal was made with DPS and the City for the park swap with 1330 Fox — Gilmore sought an informal opinion.
Gilmore apparently seized the opportunity to be rewarded for good and faithful service to Michael B. Hancock as Council District 11 representative on Parks Advisory Board, even after getting appointed to Parks Department.  But Gilmore also created plausible deniability by stepping aside only slightly after the deal was in place. 
You would probably like for the city to provide property on which you could operate your business.

May 31, 2012
Mr. Scott Gilmore
Deputy Manager of Parks and Planning
201 West Colfax Avenue, Department 601
Denver, CO 80201
RE: Case 12-23 – your
request for an advisory opinion
Dear Mr. Gilmore:
On May 24, 2012, after
discussing the matter with you, Denver Board of Ethics considered the
request for an advisory opinion that Manager of Parks and Recreation
Lauri Dannemiller filed on March 15, 2012.
The facts as the Board
understands them are as follows. You are the Deputy Manager for Parks
and Planning of the Parks and Recreation Department. You and your
wife, Stacie Gilmore, founded a non-profit organization called
Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) about 16 years ago. You have
never been a paid employee of ELK. Your wife is now the executive
director of ELK.
The Parks and Recreation
Department is partnering with other communities in the metropolitan
area to obtain funds from the federal government from a settlement of
litigation concerning environmental contamination at the Rocky
Mountain Arsenal, now transformed into a National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the four projects in Denver’s proposal is to purchase land
in the Montbello neighborhood that would be leased to ELK. Manager
Dannemiller says that:
order to avoid a conflict of interest, before submitting the
application (for funding to the federal government) Denver Parks and
Recreation put a plan in place which removed Mr. Gilmore from the
decision-making process. Mr. Gilmore took no direct official action
in the decision to go forward with the application. Mrs. Gilmore met
only with Manager Dannemiller and (Director of Planning) Gordon
Robertson to provide background on the necessity of the project to
the Montbello area…All recommendations for projects from this fund
came from Gordon Robertson…directly to Lauri Dannemiller, Manager
of Parks and Recreation.. Ultimately, funding will be accepted by the
Mayor and City Council for final approval.
Manager Dannemiller
asked: “Given these circumstances, does the Ethics Board perceive
any conflict of interest in our proposed handling of the application
process and future securing of funds from this settlement?”
On another subject, you
and/or your wife informed several young people in the ELK program
that paid summer internships will be available in the Parks and
Recreation Department, with the selection process being managed by
Career Service Authority. You say that you recognize that the ELK
young people must be given no special preference in selection of the
interns and that any non-ELK applicants must be treated fairly and
measured by the same criteria.
Conflicts of interest are
regulated by Section 2-61 of the Denver Code of Ethics:
Sec. 2-61. Conflict of interest while employed.
The purpose of this section is to avoid influence on the official
actions of city officers, employees or officials by their private or
family interests,
(a) Except when advised by the city attorney that the rule of
necessity applies, an officer, official, or employee shall not
take direct official action on a matter before the city if he or she
or a member of the immediate family, a business associate or an
employer other than the city of the officer, official or employee has
any substantial employment, contractual, or financial interest in
that matter. A substantial interest shall be deemed to exist if:
(1) He or she or a member of the immediate family, a business
associate or an employer other than the city is the other party in
the matter;
(2) He, she, a spouse, a domestic partner or minor children solely
or aggregated together, a business associate or an employer owns or
own one (1) percent or more, or a member of the immediate family
other than a spouse, domestic partner or minor children own or owns
five (5) percent or more, of another party in the matter;
(3) He or she, a member of the immediate family, a business
associate or an employer is an officer in another party in the
(4) He or she, a member of the immediate family, a business
associate or an employer is directly involved in obtaining the city’s
business for another party in the matter;
(5) He or she, a member of the immediate family, a business
associate or an employer is directly involved in negotiating the
contract or preparing the bid, proposal, response to a request for
qualifications, or similar document for another party in the matter,
other than in a purely clerical capacity; or
  1. A member
    of his or her immediate family performs more than a nominal portion
    of the work in the matter, or supervises or manages more than a
    nominal portion of the work…
(f) Officers, employees or officials who are
prohibited from taking direct official action due to a substantial
conflict of interest shall disclose such interest to his or her
colleagues on a board or commission or to his or her supervisor or
appointing authority, shall not act or vote thereon, shall refrain
from attempting to influence the decisions of others in acting or
voting on the matter and shall work with his or her supervisor or
appointing authority to ensure that the matter is assigned to someone
without conflicting interests.
(g) No officer, employee or official may have any other
employment or position which is incompatible with his or her duties
or that adversely affect the interests of the city. (emphasis added)
official action” is defined in Section 2-52(b) as:
(1) Negotiating, approving, disapproving, administering,
enforcing, or recommending for or against a contract, purchase order,
lease, concession, franchise, grant, or other similar instrument in
which the city is a party.
With regard to “recommending,”
direct official action occurs only if the person making the
recommendation is in the formal line of decision making.
(2) Enforcing laws or regulations or issuing, enforcing, or
regulating permits, licenses, benefits or payments;
(3) Selecting or recommending vendors, concessionaires, or other
types of entities to do business with the city;
(4) Appointing and terminating employees, temporary workers, and
independent contractors.
(5) Doing research for, representing, or scheduling appointments
for an officer, official, or employee, provided that these activities
are provided in connection with that officer’s, official’s, or
employee’s performance of (1) through (4) above. (emphasis added)
The Board of Ethics advises you and Ms. Dannemiller that the Code of
Ethics will not be
violated if you did not and will not take any direct official action
regarding the ELK
program, if the land is obtained and leased to ELK and that you must
not attempt to
influence the decisions of others in the Parks and Recreation
Department regarding ELK,
including Mr. Robertson. The Board urges you to be particularly
mindful of the need to
separate yourself from any decisions at Parks and Recreation
regarding ELK in order to
avoid the appearance of impropriety, particularly since Mr. Robertson
directly reports to
you. In addition, in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety,
you should remove
yourself from any role in interviewing or selecting young people from
ELK for any Parks
and Recreation internships.
The Board thanks you and
Ms. Dannemiller for submitting this request for an advisory opinion
and you for attending the Board’s meeting on May 24, 2012.
For the Board of Ethics:
Leslie M. Lawson
Copy: Lauri Dannemiller