Councilors and Citizens Call for Burlington CAO to be Put on Leave | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Councilors and Citizens Call for Burlington CAO to be Put on Leave 

More Burlington city councilors are asking Mayor Bob Kiss to put Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold on leave while an audit is conducted of Burlington Telecom's finances.

As of today, six of the council's 14 members are calling on Kiss to place Leopold on some form of leave — either paid or unpaid — due to his role in loaning $17 million from the city's "cash pool" (i.e. checkbook) to Burlington Telecom.

That loan has accumulated over a period of almost two years, and is in violation of BT's license to do business — its certificate of public good (CPG) — issued by the Public Service Board. Any borrowed money had to be repaid within 60 days.

Leopold has claimed responsibility for making the loan happen, though he remains steadfast in his claim that state and city officials were briefed about BT finances and the use of the "cash pool" financing. However, he admits in hindsight that he should have been more forthright with the council and the board of finance about the violation.

Ed Adrian (D-Ward 1) was the first councilor to call for Leopold's removal. He sent a letter to Kiss on Tuesday before a special city council meeting called by the mayor. At that meeting, the mayor laid out a multi-step plan to clear the air around Burlington Telecom. Councilors also grilled the administration for more than two hours, trying to find out why the administration had failed to tell them, or the city's board of finance, about the violation for more than six months.

Now, five other councilors have joined Adrian's cause: Ward 7 Republicans Vince Dober and Paul Decelles, along with Democrats Nancy Kaplan (Ward 4), Mary Kehoe (Ward 6) and David Berezniak (Ward 2).

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Shay Totten

Shay Totten

Bio:
Shay Totten wrote "Fair Game," a weekly political column, from April 2008-December 2011.

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