Florence Taxpayers hold protest to investigate corruption allegations
FLORENCE, Colo. (KRDO) – The taxpayers of Florence are hoping someone in authority is listening to their pleas for help as the city is in crisis.
The entire Florence city council resigned this week, leaving the mayor as the small town’s sole elected official.
“When the cards started falling, they fell,” former councilman Mike Vendetti said of his resignation.
With signs in hand, a group of Florence citizens showed up at a protest organized by resigning councilman Allen Knisley and Vendetti.
“And that’s where we are right now. But I want to make it very, very clear that we support the police. We support the employee of the city of Florence,” Vendetti explained. “We need to investigate thoroughly and find the bad apples and get rid of them, so this town can function.”
It’s only 13 Investigations got involved that many taxpayers finally began to feel heard about what they had witnessed for years.
“We are here to protest and demand answers and transparency, a forensic audit, among many other things that have plagued our city government for at least a decade,” said the former Florence court clerk, Nicole Phillips.
“Speaking out about the problems in this city, even if they are painful, is necessary,” said resident Mark Sullivan.
Our team uncovered a pattern of female abuse overseen by now fired and arrested Florence City Manager Mike Patterson.
“I considered it a dangerous work environment and that’s why I ended up leaving,” said former Florence employee Talia Smith.
“You shine a light where a lot of people didn’t want to shine it,” said resident Kathy Madonna.
13 Investigations revealed that former city leaders took out tens of thousands of dollars in authorized interest-free loans at taxpayer expense. About $2,000 of that amount is still missing.
“It’s not just two grand. I’m sure there’s more that we haven’t looked at yet. Uh, but that’s a lot of money,” Madonna said.
Along with the protest, the Florence Police Department and first responders were honored.
“Just come say thank you, we appreciate you guys,” Mike Montgomery said of the previously scheduled event.
The Royal Gorge Mustangs held a backside barbecue and free massages for the police.
The controversy has divided some in the town of less than 4,000 people.
“People are torn between loyalty and a desire to know,” Madonna said.
However, most who live in Florence say the search for the truth is worth it.
“I’m incredibly grateful to you and KRDO for sticking around and chasing this and finding out what you found,” Phillips said. “Because if the city council can’t solve this problem, then what hope do we have?”