Current, former council members welcome city attorney's resignation
Chris Melcher will leave in January
After two years of problems between Colorado Springs city council and the city attorney , current and former council members say they're glad to see Chris Melcher go.
Melcher announced he will resign at the end of January, saying in a statement: "When I accepted Mayor Bach's request to serve, I agreed to a commitment of two years - and I have enjoyed every day. Now that we have accomplished so many of our goals, it is time for me to return to the private sector."
It's welcome news to those on city council who've accused Melcher of being neglectful of council's requests for legal opinions and biased toward the mayor in opinions he did give them.
"It's no surprise that council has been less than satisfied with service we've received from him," said council member Don Knight. "I think his resignation will remove a major hurdle in council and the mayor working together."
In September, council voted to cut Melcher's pay by $4,000 and council president Keith King even said he would fire Melcher if he had the authority. Knight said he doesn't think Melcher leaving had anything to do with that.
"I think he has thicker skin that that," Knight said.
Former council member Lisa Czelatdko said problems with Melcher began soon after Bach appointed him two years ago.
"Things like agenda deadlines not being met," said Czelatdko. "Then, a lot of times when we would give direction for policy or ordinances, which is part of our legislative role, Chris would come back with the absolute opposite things we would ask for."
Czelatdko said if she knew that Melcher planned to leave in two years she would have fought his appointment from the get-go.
"It really takes time to build up knowledge of city procedures," she said.
Mayor Steve Bach has defended Melcher. In a statement Bach called Melcher "an outstanding leader, attorney and adviser for many working in the City," and said he would be greatly missed.
City communications said neither Melcher nor Bach would agree to an interview Thursday.
Since Bach took office in June of 2011, dozens of city leaders have been fired or resigned from their posts. As of this past June, the city had paid more than $1.6 million severance packages. It's unknown whether Melcher will get a golden parachute when he leaves or if he'll continue getting paid as a "consultant," as did Former Fire Chief and Economic Vitality Chief Steve Cox, former Airport Director Mark Earle and former Fire Chief Richard Brown.
Knight says he would oppose either arrangement.
Council president Keith King released a statement on Melcher's resignation saying in part, "Council is willing to work with the Mayor to help find a new City Attorney. Public service is very demanding and I understand why someone would want to limit their service."
Knight said city council could be involved with vetting and confirming a new city attorney, but only if Bach chooses to include them in the process.
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