Dr. Chris Urbina, Governor John Hickenlooper’s executive director and chief medical officer a the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, resigned during the outbreak of wildfires last week.
Is this just the beginning of a mass exodus within the embattled Hickenlooper administration, or is Urbina simply departing quietly after the string of missteps in his organization? Urbina’s leadership had been the subject of criticism in recent months after it was discovered that its toxicology labs had fubar’d operations to the point that some police units had stopped using the labs in recent months, according to the Denver Post. Attorney Gary Pirosko, affiliated with the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar placed the responsibility of the bungled testing on Urbina:
“I don’t know what Urbina knew and when he knew it; he may have just gotten caught up and this is a political move to save face. I think he’s responsible because of the breadth of all the problems. He may not have known, but he certainly should have known.”
Of course, Hick was quick to heap praise on the disgraced official:
“Chris is a true public servant and valued member of our Cabinet. We are grateful for his work at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, particularly his support of safe and responsible development of the state’s oil and natural gas resources.”
But, Urbina isn’t the first high-profile exit to occur while all of Colorado’s eyes were turned to the devastating wildfires in Colorado. Also last week, the Department of Corrections announced that Tim Hand, the head of paroles, was out as of June 30. Hand may have overseen the bungling of paroles that lead to the death of the head of Corrections, Tom Clements earlier this year.
Both figures left under a shroud of disgrace, but who else will leave and what kind of mess will they leave behind? Are very public and very costly screw ups just a hallmark of this administration?