Thornton City Council unexpectedly fires city attorney

Four councilors accuse other five of knowing more about sensitive personnel matters

Liam Adams
Posted 1/19/21

Thornton City Council terminated City Attorney Luis Corchado on a narrow 5 to 4 vote at a Jan. 19 special meeting.

The reasons for Corchado’s termination are mostly unknown, except for hints …

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Thornton City Council unexpectedly fires city attorney

Four councilors accuse other five of knowing more about sensitive personnel matters

Posted
Thornton City Council terminated City Attorney Luis Corchado on a narrow 5 to 4 vote at a Jan. 19 special meeting.
The reasons for Corchado's termination are mostly unknown, except for hints that a few council members dropped. Regardless of how much each city councilor knew about the situation, it was clear the decision was sudden.
Mayor Jan Kulmann, Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Sandgren and Councilors David Acunto, Adam Matkowsky and Angie Bedolla voted for terminating Corchado. Councilors Jacque Phillips, Sam Nizam, Julia Marvin and Sherry Goodman dissented. In terminating Corchado, the city will pay him a severance of at least $89,000. Council also appointed Deputy City Attorney John Mallonee to serve in the interim.
“As usual, I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes with the mayor and four council members who have made a decision about the attorney's contract,” Phillips said passionately. “This is another, behind closed doors, dirty deal,” she added.
The four councilors who voted against Corchado's termination all said they didn't have enough information about the situation to make a decision. Marvin also said she feels that five council members were privy to information that she wasn't.
Kulmann and Sandgren seemed especially prepared for the agenda item beforehand. When the meeting started, Kulmann immediately asked Sandgren to make a motion.
Several councilors alluded to email communications from Kulmann over the weekend regarding Corchado. The mayor asked Phillips to participate in a “secret Zoom meeting” with Kulmann and a “secret third person,” Phillips said.
Nizam said he also communicated with Kulmann over the weekend about the situation. What Nizam learned, which he called “very disturbing,” was the first time he heard about it.
“Some of the allegations were that it's a toxic work environment, some of a sexual nature in there,” Nizam said.
Before the councilman could expand further, fellow councilors stopped him in his tracks because he was discussing personnel matters in a public meeting. It wasn't clear if Corchado was responsible for the toxic work environment or someone else.
However, Kulmann said at the meeting, “Information that I have learned has caused me to lose trust and faith in the city attorney.”  Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Sandgren offered similar comments. “Trust has been broken and confidence has been lost,” she said.
Whatever the allegations about Corchado are, no members of the city council or city staff have launched an official investigation to learn more, Nizam said.

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