COUNCIL CLASH: Go-along, get-along Aurora lawmakers bristle while they work

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AURORA | Tempers flared during the Aurora City Council meeting Monday night, sending Mayor Bob LeGare storming out of the group’s study session after he was challenged for ending discussion on a measure reversing the police department’s policy of only hiring U.S. citizens.

Council member Francoise Bergan, who sits on the city’s Public Safety Policy Committee, raised her hand to comment on the request unanimously approved by the committee. LeGare said there was no more time for discussion.

Bergan said she wanted to explain some misconceptions that have been circulating on the internet about the recommendation. She did — after council member Charlie Richardson made a formal motion to overturn LeGare’s closure of the discussion. 

That motion would’ve been granted by a unanimous council vote, according to council rules. But before a vote could take place, LeGare gathered up his meeting materials and handed the remaining 20 minutes of the meeting to Mayor Pro Tem Bob Roth. 

“I’ll see you on the floor at 7:30 p.m.,” LeGare said as he left the meeting room.

Bergan said she just wanted to highlight that the approval of the recommendation from the committee was unanimous and made in order to protect the city from potential litigation. 

Other law enforcement agencies have been fined by the federal government for similar hiring practices. Now less than a handful of Colorado police agencies hold the rule. 

Later, during the formal city council meeting, tensions returned, but this time over a ordinance brought up by Richardson that would mandate a seven-day stay of execution for court surrendered animals. 

The measure was written after a dog named Blu was destroyed by animal shelter staff after it was ordered to be surrendered by a local court.

Richardson accused City Manager Jim Twombly of “sabotaging” the ordinance by implementing a city policy that mandated the same seven-day stay of execution. Richardson previously told the Sentinel he believed the ordinance to be a better option because it couldn’t be easily changed by city staff.

Mixed-breed Blu poses with one of his owners before the 3-year-old dog was destroyed by the Aurora Animal Shelter Jan. 9 Contributed photo

“I reached out to you again and again and again to work on this,” Richardson told Twombly during the meeting.

Twombly insisted that was not the case and city staff was simply working in the direction it felt council members wanted.

The ordinance attracted testimony from across the Denver metro region and the country, one animal behaviorist flew in from Florida to speak for the three minutes allowed for public comment. 

The man, James Crosby, who said he teaches handling and rehabilitating dangerous dogs around the world said Aurora is known as “the city that kills dogs.”

Despite the kerfuffle, the measure passed with a 9-1 vote. Councilman Dave Gruber voted against the measure. Roth offered a friendly amendment that allows animal owners 30 days to appeal a surrender. Richardson originally asked for that to be 60 days.

“It’s our job, when we have a policy that comes forward that’s a matter of public concern… we need to do what we can,” Hiltz said of her support of the ordinance.