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Durango Board of Ethics gives resident watchdog 20 days to respond to allegations

Committee dismisses five complaints against John Simpson, seeks response to five more
John Simpson, a former member of the Durango Infrastructure Advisory Board, has 20 days to respond to an investigative report summarizing 10 allegations against him. (Durango Herald file)

A Durango Board of Ethics review of a complaint lodged against resident and former Durango Infrastructure Advisory Board member John Simpson is nearly complete.

An investigative report summarizing 10 allegations against Simpson filed by then-Mayor Melissa Youssef in January has been produced and is ready for Simpson’s review. Now, the ethics board awaits his response.

Simpson

The ethics board dismissed half of the allegations against Simpson because they lacked substantive information. He was given 20 calendar days to respond to the remaining five allegations.

The city’s codes of ethics and conduct allots five business days for recipients of such investigative reports to respond. Simpson appealed to the city’s Board of Ethics on Thursday to allow him more time to respond, which the board granted by a unanimous vote.

Ethics board member Jay Eagen said the investigative report states the five remaining allegations “may” constitute ethics violations and the report makes no conclusions about them.

The report includes a large block of emails, at least some of which were revealed in response to a records request filed by The Durango Herald in November, he said.

“Numerous” emails were excluded from the report because they weren’t timely enough and/or the complaint wasn’t filed timely enough to consider them, Michael Goldman, special counsel to the ethics board, said.

The ethics board will hold at least one more meeting regarding the complaint filed against Simpson, he said. The board will decide at that time whether to move forward with the complaint or dismiss it.

The ethics board will discuss its options publicly at the next meeting, which was tentatively scheduled for July 8, 9 or 12.

“John Simpson has put his personal vendetta against other city officials above the best interest of the city,” Youssef said in her complaint.

She said Simpson violated the Colorado Open Records Act and anti-discrimination laws; hid emails about city business; made unfounded and racist allegations against city officials; among other allegations.

City Attorney Mark Morgan said in March after the ethics board concludes its investigation, it can decide to hold more hearings or dismiss the complaint.

If a hearing is held and the ethics code is found to have been violated, City Council could take disciplinary action. That could be public censure, removal of a violator from a board or commission, or prohibiting him/her from serving on boards in the future, he said.

cburney@durangoherald.com



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