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Two Dacono city councilors face recall over alleged open meeting laws violation

Four councilors suddenly voted to fire city manager in February
Dacono
Posted at 7:45 PM, May 01, 2023

DACONO, Colo. — Four city councilors in the town of Dacono may have violated open meeting laws on multiple occasions, including when they fired the city manager in February.

Two of those councilors are now facing a recall election in June due to their actions and other allegations that the four councilors met and discussed city business without notifying the public.

Meanwhile, council business in the small Weld County city is nearly at a standstill without a city manager and city attorney, who resigned the day after City Manager AJ Euckert was fired.

“This is embarrassing to our city,” said Mayor Adam Morehead, who opposed Euckert’s firing and called for an investigation into the open meeting laws violations.

City Council started its regular meeting on Feb. 13 by recognizing Euckert for his 20 years of service. But during council reports at the end of the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Kathryn Wittman brought forth a motion to fire the city manager, effective immediately.

Nothing regarding the city manager’s job appeared on the council’s agenda for that meeting, but within seconds the motion was seconded by Councilman Jim Turini and Councilman Danny Long called for a vote. Jackie Thomas was the fourth councilperson to vote in favor of firing Euckert.

Councilors Kevin Plain and Doris Crespo voted against the firing. Morehead only votes to break ties or veto resolutions but does not have the power to veto a motion such as the one used to fire Euckert.

“It was planned, it was coordinated,” Morehead said

Colorado’s open meeting laws prohibit public business from being discussed unannounced without notifying the public.

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts said it appears the actions of the four council people are a violation of the law.

“It certainly looks like four members of the City Council met outside of public view, probably in violation of the open meetings law to make this decision,” he said.

He added that he had also never heard of an investigation into an open meeting law like the one Morehead called for, which was conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

A CBI agent conducted interviews and detailed at least two other cases where those four council people appeared to violate open meeting laws.

Turini told Denver7 Investigates that he did not believe he violated any laws and said there were no plans set in motion to fire Euckert prior to the Feb. 13 meeting.

“The opportunity presented itself and I followed what my citizens have been asking me to do,” he said.

Turini said he voted to fire Euckert for not moving the city forward. He also pointed blame at Morehead for not approving of a new city attorney and vetoing a candidate supported by Wittman, Turini, Long and Thomas.

The upheaval has led to a recall election against Turini and Thomas. Citizens were able to collect enough signatures to trigger an election, which will be held on June 27.

Megan Thornam is one of the residents who led the recall effort.

“Corruption. What’s happening is corruption,” Thornam said. “I couldn’t stay silent anymore, so I’m not going to let them get away with it.”

The latest issues arose at the April 24 council meeting where Turini, Wittman Thomas and Long walked out of the meeting while discussing a contract for an attorney to advise the council through the recall election and allocating money for voting machines for the recall.

Turini and Thomas were upset they could not vote on the matter since they were involved in the recall, per the city charter.

“Now they’re trying to stop a recall election that the citizens deserve,” Thornam said. “I’m outraged. I feel like it’s completely anti-democratic and it’s really a shame.”

Turini said he does not object to the recall but is against how Morehead runs the meetings.

“If the people want to recall me, they will. I just object to the way the mayor is declaring himself king of Dacono,” he said.

Morehead has a much simpler message to Turini, Wittman, Long and Thomas.

“Knock it off. Do your job. Obey the law. Don’t violate your oath,” he said.