Denver Mayor Michael Hancock may be breathing easier upon the departure of Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher, who is retiring this year. But, not quite yet. Gallagher left Hancock a parting gift in the form of a pointed letter about the Denver Department of Human Services’ ability to fulfill its duties. Gallagher pulled no punches in the letter, which places blame squarely on the ambitious Mayor. From Gallagher’s letter:
“I am deeply troubled and disappointed that your employees in the Department of Human Services are refusing to comply with Charter and ordinance provisions granting me and my staff unfettered access to records, files and other documents in their control. This despite the enactment of House Bill 1370 that removed any supposed impediment to that access. Moreover, they have lied to my staff about the existence of certain information and documents and senior management in DHS have attempted to intimidate those members of DHS staff that have been cooperating with my auditors. This is particularly outrageous given the absolutely abysmal record of DHS in fulfilling its obligations to its clients.”
Lying, intimidation, and secrecy. Sounds like a juicy political tale. Or, it would be if Gallagher wasn’t talking about caring for some our city’s most vulnerable populations.
While it may be the last time, this isn’t the first time that Gallagher and Hancock have tangled over DHS. Gallagher’s criticism has been audible since 2013 when he threatened to sue Hancock’s DHS for a variety of alleged mismanagement issues, including mishandling of record keeping. Here was Gallagher’s rationale in 2013, according to the Denver Post:
“oversight and monitoring at the local level is vital to maintain the best level of customer service for Denver’s most vulnerable citizens and to prevent catastrophic outcomes such as (The Denver Post’s) ‘Failed to Death’ series of events that (documented) multiple child deaths.”
While Gallagher may no longer be a thorn in the Mayor’s side, there’s no word about whether incoming City Auditor Tim O’Brien will be any less lenient. If campaign promises are to be believed, Mayor Hancock may be in for more of the same.