(COLORADO SPRINGS) — It’s the night before Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade is set to give his inaugural State of the City address, but before he can do that, he is responding to concerns from one City Council member over transparency.
Colorado Springs City Councilman Dave Donelson believes he is being censored by the Mayor because he says he asks inconvenient or tough questions. This feud between Councilman Donelson and Mayor Mobolade began Monday, Sept. 11, after the councilmember raised the question ‘What is the current total budget for city spending’ and ‘What was it four years ago.’
“For the first time since I’ve been elected, the Mayor got in between me and a department head,” Councilman Donelson says.
The councilmember has served under two city leaders, former Mayor John Suthers and Mayor Mobolade.
“We’ve always been encouraged if we have questions about parks, we could send them to the head of parks, if we have questions about roads, we could send it to the head of public works,” Councilman Donelson said. “If I have questions about finance, the city’s budget, I can send it to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). It’s always been the policy and has always been encouraged.”
Councilman Donelson says, the policy suddenly changed Monday when he sent an email to the city’s CFO asking what is the current total city spending and what was it four years ago. That’s when Councilman Donelson says he got an email from Mayor Mobolade asking the councilman to explain his intentions.
“You can look at the emails, I reply telling them this isn’t how we’ve ever done this,” Councilman Donelson explains. “I reply, I’ll just have our staff do it, or I’ll look it up myself if this is a problem and he replies that he needs to know why so that he can task people out to do research.”
Councilman Donelson continued: “What reason could there be not to answer a councilman’s question? I represent 84,000 citizens in Colorado Springs District 1, I can’t do my job if I can’t ask questions and get answers.”
The councilmember believes Mayor Mobolade is overstepping and wants the conflict nipped in the bud.
“It’s kind of ironic that the mayor who ran on a platform of transparency is the first mayor to ask me to justify or explain my intentions,” Councilman Donelson said.
Mayor Mobolade responded with the following statement.
“As Mayor, I have prioritized a great working relationship with City Council, and I’m proud to say that we’re more collaborative than ever. It’s why I partnered with Councilmembers on the Listening Tour and in several other efforts in my first 100 days. I will continue partnering with City Councilmembers on behalf of the residents of our great city. It is important that City staff continues to support both City Council and our community. I have been tasked by our voters with ensuring responsible use of City resources, so I will seek clarity if a single council member seeks to utilize these resources outside the needs of the larger body. I am disappointed that Councilmember Donelson hasn’t come to me directly to address his concerns. Democracy is about working through your differences and speaking with one another. I’ve been engaged with many council members on a regular basis, and I invite Councilmember Donelson to engage with me as well.”Mayor Yemi Mobolade
Councilman Donelson said he just wants to hear Mayor Mobolade say it was his mistake and that the mayor won’t interject between councilmembers and department heads.
“It’s dangerous if the mayor is now going to screen certain councilmembers from having direct access to department heads. Why would that happen? Why would I be the one?” Councilman Donelson asked.