BRIGHTON, Colo. – Is it damage control or more damage done?
New invoices show the City of Brighton has now paid Denver-based Webb Strategic Communications, a crisis consulting firm, $27,000 to help the city manage the messaging coming out of city hall given the "unprecedented" water scandal, financial concerns and mayoral recall.
"PR firms are to spin away from truth, not to spin toward it," said Jeremy Torgerson, director of the recall effort. “Just tell us the truth."
And after years of controversy over sky-high water bills, the City of Brighton is also on the verge of passing an 8% cut to water rates.
"The minute they do that - it's confirmation for everyone that they have been overcharging," Torgerson said.
The move to decrease rates comes just weeks before the mayoral recall election on Nov. 5.
While the city denies the crisis team is advising city leaders how to handle the recall, Webb’s own invoices show the recall as a discussion point in at least five separate meetings.
And now, an e-mail between the acting city manager and the city's director of communications suggests the city manager even considered sending the mayor, the subject of the recall, to a meeting with the Webb crisis team.
The e-mail reads, in part, "Kristen, In talking to the Mayor, we both see more value in him attending this than me so he will meet Sam tomorrow."
The e-mail is signed by Marv Falconburg, the acting city manager. Sam Mamet is a consultant with the Webb crisis team. The city says the mayor never took that meeting with Sam, which could be considered illegal - a city meddling in the election process.
The city declined again to go on-camera on Friday.
Leaders of the recall effort says this is all a wake-up call to city hall.
"To the fact that they have grossly underestimated the sentiment of their town," Torgerson said. “I think the fight to change the culture is winning."