Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Honorable (??) Larry Manzanares, Denver's (Hickenlooper's) City Attorney

In spite of the fact that everybody and their brother, their first cousin and next door neighbor is posting about Denver's City Attorney, Larry Manzanares, and his "purchase" of a city-owned (actually could be state-owned, as it was the property of the District Court) laptop from some guy in a parking lot near the City and County Building, I've got my two cents to offer.

In an earlier post that dealt with alleged purchasing fraud at Denver International Airport I noted:

Suffice it to say, within any organization, public or private, there are and forever will be those who will not hesitate to take advantage of any opportunity to "beat the system;" to exploit any weakness in established process or procedure to protect the integrity of that system. I contend that the exploitation of such a weakness in a public sector system--specifically a public sector purchasing system--where public monies (local, federal or state taxes, fees, surcharges, grants, public/private co-op funding) are expended, is a crime of higher order than those perpetrated upon private sector entities. I contend that the fiduciary responsibility to protect the best interests of "the people," rather than the best interests of the corporation, is tantamount.
The point here, of course, is that public servants--a low-level clerk at the airport as well as the City Attorney--must necessarily be held to a higher level of accountability than those in the private sector. Why? Precisely because the contravention of trust in the public sector is a breach against the people.

Recalling my own twenty-three year slog through the, at times, onerous womb of the City and County of Denver, it was my habit to bring city-owned pens home from work. They were nice pens--velvet tipped or something like that. Invariably, my partner would grab the pens and proclaim them superb, with the unsaid but obvious suggestion that they would serve us well at home. My partner was just pushing my buttons, as he understood that keeping the pens for home use was something that would keep me awake at night; was something unthinkable given my--admittedly anal--fixation on preserving my own integrity as well as the best interests of the city. Sure, it was only a pen. But, it wasn't mine. It belonged to the people.

You all know the story. Manzanares allegedly purchased the laptop from some "guy" in a parking lot near the Denver City and County Building. The "guy" said he was "...trying to make bail..." and had some audio speakers to sell--Manzanares said he didn't need speakers--so the "guy" then offered the laptop. As Manzanares tells the story, he bit at the offer of the computer, shelled out the cash (how much?), and, wallah!, he became the proud owner of a Gateway laptop valued at about $1600.00.

The computer was reported stolen from the Denver District Court in January, and through Internet investigation (the software pings back to the mother ship, I guess), the Denver Police Department traced the laptop to Manzanares's Comcast account. He was using the laptop in his home.

A Harvard-educated attorney who served on the bench both as a County Court judge and a District Court judge and who also teaches law at the University of Denver, Manzanares explains that his weak moment in that parking lot was the product of naivete. Uh-huh, sure. (Wondering now how many defendants who appeared before dah judge in either the County or District courts pleaded naivete as a defense?)

Brilliance from Denver City Councilpersons. Councilman Charlie Brown: "I know personally from friends that he [Manzanares] spent Saturday just over at his house crying. This is horrible." From Councilwoman Kathleen 'Mack-the-Knife' MacKenzie: "I'm sick about it, but I have to say that his version of events shows an astonishing lack of judgment. He just took office as city attorney."

Oh, well... I really haven't come to expect much more the Hickies than daft diatribe well-greased with snake oil.

Innocent until proven guilty? Sure, that works. But, gotta note here that I got a wee bit of a feeling we're being patronized by this "naive" Harvard grad. I mean, how stupid do we look?

P.S. Update (Thanks, Jeffrey):

Mayor Hickenlooper Issues Statement on City Attorney’s Resignation

(DENVER) Larry Manzanares notified the Mayor’s Office early Tuesday afternoon that he has decided to resign his position as City Attorney. Mayor John Hickenlooper accepted the resignation and issued the following statement:

“We fully respect Larry’s decision and wish him and his family the very best during this difficult time. The fact that he did not want the ongoing investigation or questions surrounding this situation to interfere with the important work of the City Attorney’s Office speaks to the character and integrity he demonstrated during his respected career as an attorney and District Court judge.”

Manzanares was sworn in as Denver’s City Attorney on January 4, 2007. Deputy City Attorney Arlene Dykstra will serve as Acting City Attorney until a new City Attorney is appointed by the mayor.

A public statement issued by Manzanares is below.

# # #

Statement from Lawrence A. Manzanares: “Current events which have been highlighted by the media have created an untenable distraction for the Mayor's office and the position of Denver City Attorney. The position of City Attorney should be uncompromised by such distractions, and it would be unfair to the City and to the many fine attorneys in the City Attorney's Office to allow such a situation to continue. Therefore, I believe it is in the best interests of the City and the City Attorney's Office that I resign my position as City Attorney. I have had very many well-wishers and supporters encourage me to ride out the storm, and while I am grateful for their support, I believe the continued effectiveness of the City Attorney's Office must come first.”



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

George,

The pen thing is just too funny. Your best anecdote yet. Who else is blogging with inside knowledge of C&C affairs, similiar to your's? Would you throw a few other blog names out there.

My two cents? I hadn't even heard about l'affaire manzanares until yesterday. Is this a "tragedy", as Hizzoner described it? There will be more to this story. Manzanares himself may have stolen the laptop and this is just a weak cover story. Why won't he say how much he paid? And where is the guy that "sold" it to him.

Manzanares and the "cured" pastor from the Springs should start a consultant group. LOL.

Doogman said...

Resignation is good prelude to charges.

There WILL be charges? Right?

Right?

George said...

Doog - One would assume that charges would be filed (misdemenor or felony theft, methinks; or, maybe, receiving stolen goods) if the special prosecutor determines evidence is adequate to do so. But, of course, there's the rub: no witnesses, a phantom seller, a dubious tale by a respected former attorney and judge. Who knows... Faith in the system? Hmmmm...

Anonymous said...

Motive...

Color me naive, but I don't get it. Why would someone who can afford to (privately) purchase a basic laptop computer resort to stealing a state-owned computer or buying a used/unknown computer via a parking lot transaction? What am I missing here?

Anonymous said...

Well, guess we'll need to start talking about Paris again - Larry killed himself yesterday - as someone who dated him in the early '80s, I'm shocked and saddened that he felt that was his only way out. What a waste.

Discount Pens said...

I really hear what you're saying and I'm sympathetic to it. Suicide is contemptible and cowardly. No doubt about it. And Larry was a respected man who had given to his community through his life. I don't mean to vindicate Larry on these issues, but that doesn't vindicate the media's frenzied obsession over Larry's issues.

Manzaneres may have made the mistakes but suicide seems like a big step to take.

Thank you for posting,
Dannie