With vacancies, Westminster missed chance to be transparent

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 1/28/19

By the time you are reading this opinion column, the die will have been cast. What am I referring to when I say this? It isn’t a resolution to the stalemate between President Trump and the …

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With vacancies, Westminster missed chance to be transparent


By the time you are reading this opinion column, the die will have been cast.

What am I referring to when I say this? It isn’t a resolution to the stalemate between President Trump and the Democrats in Congress over the partial shutdown of the federal government or funding a portion of the Wall. I am not referring to the Broncos acquiring a decent quarterback to get the team back on track. Nor am I referencing state legislation on transportation or K-12 public schools funding.

The point is that the Westminster City Council will have filled two more city council vacancies without an election by the people. One will be for 9 months while the other appointment will be for a little less than three years.

To say for sure, the die will have been cast and Westminster voters will have been usurped yet again.

Inconsistent approach on second group of applicants

Going into the January 28th city council meeting, the council had narrowed the field from approximately 60 applicants to 17 “finalists.” However, the council chose an expedient route and did NOT interview the 11 citizens who applied when the process was reopened after Maria de Cambra’s vacancy was filled.

First, this is inconsistent with how the council set up the process for the first group which ended up being approximately 45 separate interviews.

Why would you change the process in mid-stream? Apparently, the city attorney had advised that they could do so. Why is that? The failure of not interviewing the second group was not only unfair but inconsiderate to those 11 citizens. Out of the 11, six were selected to be among the 17 to be considered for the two appointments which has been scheduled to take place at the January 28th city council meeting.

Hmmm, that seems somewhat strange to select almost one-third of the finalists without an interview. For a city council which prides itself in inclusivity, transparency and fairness, they failed their own standard in this case.

Will Emerge again have control over city council?

Finally, it will be interesting to see if either appointee is a fellow “sister” in the Emerge Colorado “sisterhood.” Just think, if both appointees are “sisters”, they would join Anita Seitz and Sheela Mahnke in the young Democratic women’s sphere of influence — while creating a majority on the city council!

Councilor Kathryn Skulley has said she is not an Emerge graduate and has the opportunity to demonstrate her independence in these votes. Mayor Atchison and Councilor DeMott are not members nor share the political leanings of Seitz, Mahnke and Skulley.

Adams County Honor music festival was outstanding

Turning to a more positive topic, I had the pleasure of attending the recent 12th Adams County Honor Music Festival, sponsored by the North Metro Arts Alliance.

The festival was divided into three segments — Honor Choir, Honor Orchestra and Honor Band. Each group was directed by a distinguished director. Marie Hayden-Huerta directed the vocal group. Her vocal music credentials spans over 25 years of choral and a cappella music.

Dr. Lindsay Fulcher was the orchestra conductor. She is Assistant Professor of String Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado.

Members of the band component had the pleasure of Dr. Alan W. Mills being their director who is Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Colorado State University, Pueblo.

Making beautiful music

Approximately 230 students from 14 different Adams County high schools participated. Each student earned the opportunity to perform in the honor groups.

The annual festival provides students the opportunity to perform in a setting “that is nurturing, inviting and welcoming to all students.” As stated in the program, “this might be the experience that helps a young player to realize that they want to pursue a career in music, or this could be one of many honor groups in which your student participates throughout their curricular musical career.”

Needless to say, the two-day practice and performance was inspiring and enjoyable for the students, the conductors, clinicians and the various high school music teachers. A standing room only crowd of more than 450 proud parents, relatives, friends and Alliance board members were thrilled by the exceptional music which each group provided.

You had to be there to have the chills go down your spine when hearing these talented students. Many kudos to everyone involved who had a hand in producing such a quality event held at the Joanna Ramsey Theatre at Westminster High School, and a big thank you to the Metro North Arts Alliance (MNAA) Board of Directors for their financial support is certainly appropriate.

35 years of cultural experiences

While listening to the music, I could not help but reflect back on how the MNAA got started. The non-profit group was first formed as the Westminster Community Artists Series in 1983 by five Westminster Rotarians.

Newspaper publisher Wilbur Flachman created the idea of a performing arts group in Westminster. Led by Flachman, Dr. Jay Heil, attorney Dick Bauer, banker Don Hogoboom and I established the group with the inaugural event being a Colorado Symphony Orchestra performance in the Ranum Auditorium.

The core group then expanded the board of directors into a community-based board. School District 50, Hyland Hills Parks and Recreation District and the City of Westminster were major contributors along with private businesses.

After the Scientific Cultural Facilities District was formed, the Artists Series received regular funding through grants. Subsequently, the arts organization board thought it best to expand the geographical focus of the organization and renamed the group the Metro North Arts Alliance. Over the past 35 years, the community has enjoyed a variety of performances, lectures, art competitions, the purchase of art for public display, student instructional opportunities and others. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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