While the New York Times was ruining the current news cycle for Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton nationally, major local news outlets finally caught up to the other line of bad press for Stapleton this week–the ill-explained delay within Stapleton’s office issuing certificates of participation to authorize millions of dollars in funding for capital construction projects throughout the state.
Yesterday’s hearing of the Capital Development Committee was supposed to be Stapleton’s opportunity to clear the air after contradictory statements from Stapleton and his staff about the reason for this delay. Instead, Stapleton sent Deputy Treasurer Ryan Parsell to take his lumps. And as FOX 31’s Joe St. George reported last night, it wasn’t a good look:
Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, said his main concern was a delay could mean higher costs to the state including higher interest rates and construction costs.
“Having a three month delay means you have two major financial impacts,” Hansen said. “We are probably looking at a quarter point impacts because of this delay. That adds up to tens of millions of dollars.” [Pols emphasis]
…Parsell testified that July 1 wasn’t a deadline but instead the first day the paperwork could be finalized.
Parsell said technically the Treasurer’s office has until June to get the paperwork completed.
Westword’s Nora Olabi:
Parsell continually reiterated that the word “delay” was a mischaracterization since, legally, the treasurer’s office has until June of next year to issue the bonds. That is the same messaging Stapleton pushed after publicly trying to walk back statements he made on the lawsuit’s relevance to selling state bonds at last week’s press conference. [Pols emphasis] The state treasurer’s office has attributed the delays to a few things, including investor skittishness because of the lawsuit, a (now-fired) bond attorney who went so far as to say that it was illegal to issue the bonds before the lawsuit was resolved, and concerns about the state’s creditworthiness…
Hansen and other critics point out that Stapleton had more than a year to address those concerns, since funding has been approved since May 2017. Two projects on the committee’s long to-do list were supposed to break ground this month at a cost of about $2.7 million, and about one-third of the 98 projects were slated to be designed this month. Now projects are on hold until the treasurer secures bond underwriters.
In short, Stapleton’s surrogate can insist that there’s “no delay,” but in reality there most certainly is one–and it does appear that the original bond attorney who wrongly believed the TABOR Foundation’s lawsuit could scuttle the whole deal is a factor in that delay, as Stapleton indicated before his office tried to walk it back. The situation may not be as visually problematic as, say, the Ku Klux Klan, but it paints a picture of a Treasurer more interested in political appearances than carrying out his nonpolitical responsibilities. And as a result, he’s dropping the ball on those responsibilities.
All we can say is, it’s one hell of a way to ask for a promotion.