DenverHot SheetLocal government

Denver looks to formalize a censure process for its city council

Author: Adam McCoy - July 23, 2018 - Updated: July 23, 2018

The Denver City and County Building, its city hall. (iStock)

Denver is drafting a procedure to publicly reprimand members of its city council for bad behavior through censure.

The proposed measure would implement a formal censure process — “a disciplinary procedure that may be imposed upon a member of the Denver City Council for violating the Denver Charter, Denver Revised Municipal Code, or an officially adopted Council policy,” the draft resolution reads.

The Denver City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee is scheduled to discuss the censure resolution Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.  If approved in committee, it would move on to the full council for consideration.

On governmental bodies, censure is a mechanism for publicly reprimanding a member, and issuing a formal statement of disapproval for bad behavior. The censure process often includes the member in question listening to other body members read a censure resolution publicly on the floor.

Under Denver’s censure proposal, 10 members of the 13-member city council would have to vote in favor for a resolution to pass and the council member subject to the censure may issue a rebuttal. Additionally, if the council president were the subject of censure, the president pro-tem would preside over the resolution during a meeting.

The proposed censure procedure is being vetted in Denver committee alongside a new harassment policy called the “respectful workplace policy.” The harassment policy would create definitions of harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation and establish a process for council members to reprimand other members — something missing following appeals for a formal investigation into alleged misconduct by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Hancock admitted in February to sending suggestive text messages to Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise when she was an officer serving on his security detail in 2012.

That episode called attention to the fact that Denver lacks a formal censure policy in its city charter. The censure policy being reviewed by the council would not apply to the mayor.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.