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Manitou Springs council members say they learn more from media than city

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- There appears to be tension among Manitou Springs council members and city leaders over the information being released to the public.

Specifically, some council members say they are learning more about what the city is doing from media reports than their own city government they represent. This comes in the wake of the town's police chief resigning after being placed on administrative leave for months.

In a city council meeting Tuesday evening, Manitou Springs council members Julie Wolfe, John Shada and Judith Chandler expressed concerns over not being made aware of what the city is releasing when responding to open records requests.

"I get a lot of my news from KRDO because I don't get it from Manitou. I had no idea what was going to be released by in response to the FOIA request or the open records request, CORA request," Councilwoman Julie Wolfe said.

Those frustrations follow the resignations of Manitou Springs Police Chief Brian Churchill and Councilwoman Susan Wolbrueck in less than a month.

The three council members voiced communication concerns while discussing a new Manitou Springs media relations policy.

"There is a major disconnect," Councilman John Shada said. "I find that many times I get more information about what city administration is doing from reading the media than from our own staff."

It's unclear exactly what the council members are referring to.

But KRDO 13 Investigates did submit a Colorado Open Records Act request related to now-former Police Chief Brian Churchill. Churchill resigned in March after a more than two-month internal investigation. We were denied access to those records. In a denial letter, the city clerk cited a state law that only appears to relate to sexual harassment investigations and complaints as part of the reason for not allowing us to view those records.

To this day, city leaders refuse to talk about the investigation or why Churchill resigned.

"I really don't want our media and our press releases to be a learning opportunity," Councilwoman Judith Chandler said.

13 Investigates reached out to Wolfe, Shada, and Chandler but have not yet heard back.

Article Topic Follows: Local News

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

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