Aurora, CO

Aurora councilmembers defend Paris trip sponsored by city

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A pair of Aurora City Council members defended their city sponsored trip to Paris Monday after the mayor called it extravagant.

Council members Juan Marcano and Crystal Murillo jetted to France last week to attend the International Making Cities Livable conference. When Mayor Mike Coffman learned of the trip, which staff approved, he made a fiery Facebook post Monday.

“Council Members Juan Marcano and Crystal Murillo just returned from a trip to Paris that will be paid for by the taxpayers of Aurora,” Coffman said. “How did this happen? Apparently, they found a conference in Paris, signed up for it, and are using the taxpayers of Aurora to pay for it.”

He called the trip to one of the world’s most lavish places “an insult to the hardworking taxpayers of this city,” adding, “This morning, I will be putting in a request to City Manager Jim Twombly for a complete breakdown of their expenses.”

‘Hearsay and lies’ about who paid for trip

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Murillo and Marcano said they learned a lot on the trip. “I think it was a really successful trip learning about best practices in other communities,” Murillo said.

Marcano added there had been “hearsay and lies” expressed about who paid for it. He did not elaborate or mention Coffman. He said he will give a presentation on his trip at 6:30 p.m. June 1 in City Council chambers at Aurora City Hall. Murillo also will present.

Residents weigh in on jet-set councilmembers

Two residents commented Monday about Coffman’s post. Resident Missy Berglund called it “incendiary accusations,” shaming the mayor for focusing on something political instead of working to battle problems like youth violence.

“Mr. Coffman, I hope you do better,” Berglund said.

Another woman, Tanya, expressed disbelief at news of the trip. “Many people in Aurora cannot pay for gas, or rent,” she said. “I’m upset but I’m not as upset as my mom.” She said they want to know why the pair went to Paris.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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