PUEBLO, Colo. - A standing ovation ensued after Pueblo business owner Frank Cortese said he was initiating a recall effort against Council President Sandy Daff and Council members Ami Nawrocki and Chris Kaufman.
"Resign now," shouted several from the packed City Hall chambers.
Cortese is co-owner of C & C Disposal, a local trash company that he runs with his wife, Becky. The Cortese's are one of several people criticized in a series of email exchanges recently made public. KRDO NewsChannel 13's news partners, The Pueblo Chieftain, obtained more than 1,100 pages of emails Pueblo County transportation director Greg Severance exchanged with Daff, Nawrocki and Kaufman. In one of the emails, Severance refers to the Cortese's as "the hauler mafia."
About 115 people were at City Hall as Cortese addressed council. He called the emails racist and offensive. "It certainly has no place in any level of government or anywhere in this community. Shame on you," he said.
"Serve notice that we are leading the effort to see Ami Nawrocki, Chris Kaufman and Sandy Daff recalled," he said, before the crowd broke out in applause.
Mike Occhiato, former city council member, read a letter from the Sons of Italy's Southern Colorado chapter expressing disappointment. "Pueblo is taller than this type of a grade-school activity. These remarks made belittling Frank and Becky Cortese are insulting and degrading. They are owed an apology."
Nawrocki, Kaufman and Daff apologized to the public for the emails but Daff argued she did not do anything illegal. She was noticeably fighting back tears when she addressed the public.
"All that I can possibly say to the people of PEDCO and to our partners is that I'm sorry," Daff said.
Kaufman said, "I, too, am embarrassed. I, too, am ashamed. I, too, believe that we have brought this community under a magnifying glass of embarrassment."
"I would like to apologize to everyone for the sophomoric language that some of them contained and for my clear lack of good judgment in not exercising a proper filter on city email," Ami Nawrocki said.
Councilman Steve Nawrocki said council has a responsibility to repair the public's trust in council. "Unfortunately, in the last week it's really broken down that trust. And that's the thing that has made me sick all week long about what is happening in our community," he said.
Councilwoman Eva Montoya echoed similar sentiments. "The emotions that we've all gone through have just been horrendous. The trust is gone. You people are saying: what the hell are they doing now?"
The crowd shouted: "Amen."