May 29, 2024 - News

Denver city council members call for investigation after Civil Service Commission leader's firing

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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Denver city council members are calling for an investigation to untangle a political knot embroiling City Hall and affecting public safety agencies.

Driving the news: Member Kevin Flynn has asked the council's safety committee to schedule a meeting to get to the bottom of Niecy Murray's allegations and her firing as the executive director of the Civil Service Commission, he told us by email on Wednesday.

  • "I am hearing a lot of information that conflicts," he wrote. "We need answers."

Catch up quick: On Tuesday, Murray was fired as head of the commission — which vets candidates for the city's police and fire departments.

  • Her firing by the Board of Commissioners was announced hours after she alleged Mayor Mike Johnston's administration was using political pressure to lower safety hiring standards to meet his campaign goals of swiftly staffing up the police department.
  • In a statement, the five-member board said its decision to pull Murray from her position was made May 16, and it had been trying to schedule a meeting with her since that time to deliver the blow.

The intrigue: The board, which disputes Murray's claims, did not specify why she was terminated.

  • Its president Amber Miller told Axios Denver in a statement Wednesday that it was "a personnel issue, and we will not be providing further details."

What they're saying: Council members Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Sarah Parady, who stood with Murray at the Tuesday news conference, told Axios Denver on Wednesday that they remain on her side despite her firing.

  • Gonzales-Gutierrez wants an investigation into the matter. She questions the timing of Murray's termination and says the claims of political interference she's heard from the ex-director are "incredibly compelling."
  • She and Parady also maintain they have seen a redacted psychological evaluation of a public safety candidate who failed and was allowed to continue in the academy to help fill the mayor's staffing quotas.
  • Council member Shontel Lewis, who also backed Murray on Tuesday, did not reply to Axios Denver's request for comment.

What's next: Gonzales-Gutierrez, who chairs the council's safety committee, said she is weighing Flynn's request for a meeting on the matter and the best way to go about it.

  • She wants to ensure Murray can attend, "because if we don't have her, then it will be just a one-sided conversation — and I don't think we would get all of the information that we need," she told us.

Go deeper: Exec fired after accusing Denver mayor of lowering public safety hiring standards for political gain

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