Lisa C. responds to Hughes’ broadsides

       Dave Hughes, an outspoken Westside civic leader for 35 years, this week accused District 3 City Councilmember Lisa Czelatdko of failing to do “anything of value” since being elected last April. Included in his e-mailed charges (on which the Westside Pioneer was copied) was the statement that “you don't know the Westside and I have come to the conclusion you don't much care.”

Lisa Czelatdko

Dave Hughes

       Czelatdko responded, also by e-mail, that she is “one of the hardest working councilmembers this city has.” She cited as an example her efforts to help Westside business people in connection with the Prologue bicycle race down West Colorado Avenue Aug. 22. “Some of my Westside business owners had problems with the police and parking,” she wrote. “I contacted them as well as police. They kindly responded that I was the only official to get back to them.” Furthermore, “I have personally invited constituents to council meetings to get involved who have never stepped in chambers before. Every day since being sworn in I have busted my butt as District 3 rep and I have the list and relationships and support to show it.”
       District 3, one of four geographical council areas, takes in the southwest part of the city, including the lower Westside and the Cheyenne area where Czelatdko lives.
       Another Westside issue about which Hughes upbraided Czelatdko was a perceived lack of support for historic preservation. Through the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), merchants and the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), he has successfully advocated preservation of classic-era homes and commercial buildings as a key economic development tool. In recent years, the retired Army colonel and two-war veteran advocated establishing a Westside historic overlay zone (still not in place) that would use tax incentives to encourage private restoration of older homes. He also unsuccessfully urged the city to keep the planner who handled historic preservation (let go for budgetary reasons in 2010).
       “I frankly got more support from your [District 3] predecessors for these efforts - Councilman Sean Paige, and before him Councilman [Jerry] Heimlicher than from you,” Hughes wrote, noting that Paige supported keeping the historical planner. “They also both took the time and trouble to listen to my 30-plus years of Westside knowledge, actions and recommendations.”
       Czelatdko (pronounced sal-lot-ko) shot back that she “absolutely informed OWN I would help with the Westside overlay plan. I also sought out replacements for my seat [she had been a member of the city's Historic Preservation Board], and as a result a very intelligent, nice man, Brad Schmitt, is on the HP board.”
       Hughes expressed particular pique at the present uncertainty surrounding the future of city-owned Memorial Hospital, in large part because, as past OCCHS treasurer, he had invested society funds in Memorial bonds - along with personal savings - in the belief they were a sound investment. “You have been virtually silent on your MAJOR responsibility, governance of Memorial Hospital,” he wrote. “If you think it should be sold just for some doctrinaire politically conservative theory, you are contributing directly to its harm and my welfare.”
       Czelatdko's response was that “Memorial is a very emotional issue and there are decisions being made by the task force that are wrong. I voted no to tax repeal because I know the facts and why it is being offered. I'm questioning its members because the way they have been selected is wrong, unclear, unsubstantiated, and I won't sit by and be a part of it.”
       Hughes' nearly 1,200-word critique also reflected a political persuasion, lauding Democrat Michael Merrifield - whom Czelatdko defeated in the District 3 race - for supporting Westside causes when he was a state representative. Meanwhile, Hughes accused Czelatdko of being led by [County Commis-sioner] Sallie Clark, “your Republican political mentor.”
       Czelatdko did not get into party politics herself, but listed several civic tasks she's undertaken. “I have been one of the most vocal [councilmembers] and have reached out to the most constituents through social media and e-mails. I was the only councilmember to respond to every e-mail regarding the gay proclamation and now Memorial… I've promoted sustainability on the Westside. I've toured MMJ facilities and last week had staff publicly explain fees with people from the industry there. Everything I'm doing, Dave, is for education, communication, and what's right for my district. This in addition to the councilmember responsibilities of land planning, being on the BOD [board of directors] for a $1.8 billion utility company, oversight of a health system, working on a $255-million budget and advocating for my neighbors. Where I'm doing a bad job, Dave, is at home now with [my husband] Tom and my girls. Whether you like it or not, you have a very smart, hard-working representative who isn't afraid to ask the tough questions and tell people what's going on.”
       Hughes intimated that he might go to a City Council meeting and criticize her there. “If I appear before City Council - and I have before, very effectively and forcefully - I will address you personally for your failure to support 20,000 of your constituents, including me,” he wrote.
       Czelatdko's first e-mail response to Hughes concluded with the statement, “Perhaps you need to start actually watching past council meetings or better yet, contact me with questions rather than insults and misinformation.” She followed this up with a second e-mail, including the revelation that “this is the first and only communication I have ever gotten from you, Mr Hughes… you have obviously done a lot for this community because you care. So do I and I'm proving it. You just have to want to see it.”
       In her third and last e-mail response, Czelatdko mentioned work she and her husband have done with city community centers and finishede with the offer, “If you would allow me to introduce myself personally I would appreciate it.”
       Hughes had not replied to any of Czelatdko's e-mails - or at least did not copy the Pioneer if he had - by press deadline.

Westside Pioneer article