From Darkness To Light

12 Nov 2023

City Clerk, City Manager, City Attorney defy transparency & get sued

Posted by Adam Howell


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City Clerk Faye Harmer has been sued once again for refusing to provide public records to a city resident.

City Clerk Faye Harmer has been sued once again for refusing to provide John Simpson with public records.

John Simpson filed another suit against the city of Durango over an alleged CORA violation.

John Simpson requested emails that were exchanged between City Councilors and City Attorney Mark Morgan regarding the creation of governance documents for the Financial Advisory Board, a public city advisory board.

Simpson and his attorney allege that Simpson was denied access to public information that’s guaranteed for him by the Colorado Open Records Act.

Basically, city officials are claiming that the emails between City Councilors and City Attorney Mark Morgan are exempt from disclosure simply because of an attorney-client privilege.

Specifically, Harmer cited privileged information as part of the reason for denying him the records.

24-72-204. Allowance or denial of inspection – grounds – procedure – appeal – definitions – repeal. (3)(a)(IV) Trade secrets, privileged information, and confidential commercial, financial, geological, or geophysical data, including a social security number unless disclosure of the number is required, permitted, or authorized by state or federal law, furnished by or obtained from any person;

Durango City Clerk Faye Harmer appears to be saying that the emails between the City Manager, City Attorney and City Councilors used to develop the Financial Advisory Board governance document was protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege.

13-90-107. Who may not testify without consent – definitions.(1)(b)An attorney shall not be examined without the consent of his client as to any communication made by the client to him or his advice given thereon in the course of professional employment; nor shall an attorney’s secretary, paralegal, legal assistant, stenographer, or clerk be examined without the consent of his employer concerning any fact, the knowledge of which he has acquired in such capacity.

In other words, the logic that city officials are using would suggest that any email containing a matter of public interest that’s sent to or from City Attorney Mark Morgan is not a public record, no matter what the topic of discussion is.

In a prayer for relief, Simpson requested the following in the event of a favorable ruling on his claim for relief in the lawsuit:

  • An order issued pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-204(5)(a) requiring the Custodians to
    appear at the earliest practical time and show cause why the Emails should not be
    made available for public inspection;
  • An order commanding an in-camera inspection of the Emails;
  • A judgment issued pursuant to C.R.C.P. 57 declaring that the Emails constitute
    meetings conducted by the City Council in violation of COML;
  • A judgment issued pursuant to C.R.C.P. 57 declaring that the Emails are not
    protected from disclosure under CORA as privileged attorney-client
    communications;
  • An order issued pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-204(5)(b) requiring the Custodians to
    make the Emails available for public inspection;
  • An award of costs, expenses, and attorney fees to Mr. Simpson; and
  • Such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.

Moreover, John Simpson won a lawsuit in District Court this year over a separate records request for a draft financial statement for the year 2021 that Faye Harmer also refused to provide him. The city appealed the ruling; the appeal has yet to be adjudicated.

John Simpson's lawsuit about FAB emails

City Clerk response to records request
Durango Herald’s statist Opinion Editor teams up with soft-skinned city officials

Hiding the emails between City Councilors and the City Attorney about governance documents for the City of Durango’s public Financial Advisory Board wasn’t enough of a shady move for City Attorney Mark Morgan.

City Attorney Mark Morgan recently sent city resident John Simpson a cease and desist letter in an attempt to chill the man’s First Amendment right to redress his grievances.

Now, Morgan has taken the city’s lack of transparency a step further by sending Simpson a cease and desist letter for redressing his grievances.

In a cease and desist letter that was meant to chill Simpson’s First Amendment constitutional right to redress his grievances, Morgan has complained about Simpson sending the city too many emails.

Taking  it to the newspaper, Morgan and Public Information Officer Tom Sluis met with Durango Herald Opinion Editor Ann Marie Swan to coach her how to be the best megaphone and conveyor belt for for government officials possible.

Her latest staff editorial teams up with the City Manager’s Office as a fourth branch of government to bemoan Simpson’s redress of grievances with government officials.

Labeling his emails as harassment, intimidation and racism, statist Opinion Editor Ann Marie Swan exemplifies everything that we see in modern legacy establishment press to this day:

  • a lack of skepticism of government officials.
  • a lack of independence from government officials in reporting about governmental operations.
  • an over reliance on government officials when reporting on the activities of government.
Howell_5_emails
Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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2 Responses to “City Clerk, City Manager, City Attorney defy transparency & get sued”

  1. City suits cost me money.

     

    Fishoil Fantasies

  2. Corrupt, shady and unethical city officials cost US money.

     

    Adam Howell

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