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Colorado Springs group alleges accessibility issues in Mayor and City Council Listening Tour

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Friday night, Mayor Yemi Mobolade and Colorado Springs City Councilman Randy Helms hosted a listening session at Liberty High School.

The Aug. 25 listening session was the fourth in a larger Listening Tour, with this session scheduled for constituents in District 2 of the city.

However, a group called Integrity Matters says the listening tours are not inclusive of the Colorado Springs population or diversity of thought on how the city should move forward. Their issues include frustration with a registration limit on the city website, which showed the Aug. 25 meeting full and closed to further registrations.

The city denied all claims that the listening tour was exclusive or designed to keep input out of city planning.

According to Courtney Brown, Senior Policy and Strategic Plan Analyst for Colorado Springs, the city decided to adopt a discussion-based format for the listening tour that's recommended by community planning experts.

Brown said the ideal number for the event is 200, with tables of ten people each that discuss future plans for the city and then present their thoughts to the entire group.

She said the number is the "sweet spot" for facilitating discussion and their website reflected that, capping the number of people who could sign up to attend at 200.

After 200 signed up, the website produced the message "SESSION lS FULL, YOU CAN NOT SUBMIT FORM."

The city said they would not turn anyone away at the door from the event, but Integrity Matters believed the website led people to believe the event was closed.

"I don't think those table breakout sessions do anything more than drive a conversation in a direction that they want it to go," said Dana Duggan with Integrity Matters.

Duggan said she believes the city could have moved the session to a larger building but consciously decided not to while knowing there was interest from more than 200 people.

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition told KRDO that the listening sessions don't violate the law. They said it's not a Sunshine Law violation because city officials in attendance do not belong to one sole governing body.

The Coalition said even if multiple elected officials were in attendance, the law does not specify a number of citizens when saying meetings must be open to the public. So, the presence of multiple elected officials wouldn't necessarily mean a violation occurred because the meeting was open to members of the public.

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Integrity Matters

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Annabelle Childers

Annabelle is a reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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