The Denver Post

Mayor, city headed back to court

- By Jocelyn Rowley Reporter-herald

Mayor Jacki Marsh and the city of Loveland are at legal odds over another records request. In January, attorneys working on behalf of the city filed a petition in the 8th Judicial District over a request Marsh made in November for responses to an employee engagement survey.

The case is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 28. Marsh will be represente­d by attorney Troy Krenning, a former Loveland city councilor.

“Once again they’re taking me to court, just like the text- gate,” she said, referring to a case between her and the city in 2022, concerning the release of text messages between another City Council member and a city employee. “They’re going to ask the judge to determine whether (the records) should be released or not. It’s actually them taking me to court. It’s the city of Loveland versus Jacki Marsh.”

Marsh filed the open records request in wake of the debate over Loveland City Manager Steve Adams, who was involved in a criminal harassment case last year.

Marsh said she planned to use the materials in preparatio­n for Adams’ annual performanc­e review, scheduled for Dec. 20. Adams is one of three city employees that reports directly to City Council, along with City Attorney Moses Garcia and Municipal Judge Geri Joneson.

“To not hear from your employees, how do you do a performanc­e review?” she said. “And not hear from the people that report to the people that report to us? Everybody knows your employees are going to be on their best behavior when they’re dealing with their boss, but how do they feel the rest of the time?”

Marsh initially made a direct request by email to city human resources director Julia Holland on Nov. 21, asking for “the complete 2021 Employee Citywide Engagement Survey; to include all instructio­ns, questions, employee comments, summaries and analysis.”

Holland responded by email on Nov. 23 with nine attachment­s, containing the “citywide instructio­ns, questions, and results, as well as the results for all three of your direct reports.” However, Holland declined to provide “employee comments” due to “privacy reasons.”

“…We only verbally provide the themes from the employee comments to the respective department­s when there are any applicable themes or areas of concern,” she wrote in response to Marsh. “We do not have a report that includes themes to include with this request aside from what is already identified in the attached documents.”

The response prompted Marsh to file the formal Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request on Nov. 30. The law requires state and local government­s to make “all writings made, maintained or kept” available to the public, and says that exceptions must be “narrowly construed.”

According to a copy of the handwritte­n form, Marsh sought “All responses to the three openended questions on the 2021 Citywide Engagement Survey.” She appended this note to the bottom: “Employees complete these surveys anonymousl­y, therefore the above requested informatio­n cannot be withheld.”

The request was denied by the city on Dec. 5, according to the city’s fourth quarter Open Records Request Report, prepared by the city clerk’s office. It’s a decision that Marsh finds puzzling.

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