Welcome, to the new Aurora, folks. Get out your checkbooks.
That’s the unmistakable message a very little more than half of the Aurora City Council wants to send to the world after they promoted the guy on the dais recently shamed for flirting with being on the take.
This week, city lawmakers tabbed Councilman Bob Roth as Aurora’s mayor pro tem.
For those on the inside of clubby city politics, the distinction means little. Somebody has to run the meetings when the mayor is away, and in Aurora, they force the privilege on one person for a year. It looks good on a resume, and to many outside of city hall, it sounds like it means something.
The perplexing part of Monday’s appointment of Roth is why any sitting council member would bestow this or any kind of honor or promotion on Roth after he got busted for publicly trying to curry favor to his personal bank account by hawking the influence of his elected position.
Earlier this summer, Sentinel reporter Kara Mason spelled all this out after it became apparent Roth’s private-commercial-construction-consulting business website was touting his elected office and how it might benefit his clients.
The Sentinel story also raised the problem with Roth previously having voted on Gaylord Hotel issues while working with potential contractors.
But that serious infraction, which has never definitively been examined nor answered, pales in comparison with his past and present flagrant flaunting that he’s an important elected guy who can “open doors” for clients interested in doing business with area governments.
In June, Roth announced on social media that he was creating his own consulting firm, Roth Collaborative Resources. His website, rcrinc.org, is thick with ethical red flags and blatant violations of the spirit of state ethics laws, if not the laws itself.
The city, however, has no real ethics law, which is a worrisome story unto itself. Among the services Roth said in June and STILL says he can provide those in the construction industry are lobbying and more.
Here’s what The Sentinel said in a house editorial earlier this year:
“Open doors – With a vast network in the public and private sector, in vertical and horizontal development, we can open doors that have not been available previously; Legislative assistance – Engage civic executives and elected officials on behalf of clients for development projects.”
“Open doors” by tapping a “vast network” in the “public” sector is marginally suspect. But promising legislative assistance by tapping “elected officials” whom Roth works with in his official capacity as a city councilman and official in the Denver Regional Council of Governments is expressly forbidden, even for two years after Roth leaves office.
An elected official offering to sell influence over another elected official is anathema to honest, ethical government. It’s the very reason voters sanctioned Amendment 41.
It’s shameful and shameless. So after outing Roth for these problems, city council members did — nothing.
Inside and out of the council, lawmakers have been pushed to create a meaningful ethics law. But they instead offered up a pathetic imitation two weeks ago that some lawmakers tried to ram through the city legislative process. It barely failed. The bill didn’t even address graft-grubbing city officials.
After the entire city council was shamed on the issue, and it was pointed out again that the Roth ethics infection was still active, lawmakers sent the faulty back for study.
But this week, they showed just how important ethics on the Aurora City Council are and promoted Roth as mayor pro tem.
Roth has hardly been coy about his elevation.
“My colleagues on Council extended a great honor to me tonight, voting me in as the 2019 Mayor Pro-Tem,” Roth said in a tweet. “I look forward to serving in this additional capacity for the great City of Aurora…”
I’ll just bet he does.
If Roth is able to persuade the public that his ward council position and seat on DRCOG is worth paying for, peddling his promotion to provide “additional capacity” has got to be worth plenty.
What’s so surprising is that after having been outed for his outlandish website, he’s as unapologetic about his MO as are the five fellow city lawmakers who think peddling the influence of a city council seat is just no big deal.
“Father and friend. Conservative, pro-business advocate. Man of character, man of faith. Community activist and leader. Aurora City Council Member,” is how Roth describes himself on his Twitter account.
Those who apparently agree with his assessment must also be men and women of equal character — council members Johnny Watson, Charlie Richardson, Marsha Berzins, Francoise Bergan and Dave Gruber.
It’s scummy. If the city council hasn’t got the temerity to pass even a marginal ethics law that would force Roth to take that grifty grafty crap off his website, at least ask him to do it. At least publicly acknowledge that Aurora isn’t Denver or Chicago or China where pay-to-play is just a part of doing business. Let Aurora residents know that city council votes are always in their interests, not the private business interests of the reps they elect.
Either that or just roll the Price is Right credits at the beginning of the Aurora City Council meetings. Just be up front about all this and ask developers and others coming to city council if they want to make a deal on the council floor or trade for what’s behind the website where Mayor Pro Tem Bob Roth is sitting.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]