By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
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Financial consultant Richard Daniel has been on the receiving end of more than $30,000 in city contracts the past few years, including the job of selecting a developer to build Denver's controversial eighth municipal golf course at Green Valley Ranch near Denver International Airport.
At the same time, Daniel, who helps the city make business decisions, has been swamped by personal financial mishaps--including a string of lawsuits filed by creditors and a delinquent tax debt to the city itself that went unpaid for four years. His contracts have drawn the wrath of City Auditor Don Mares, who discovered that several of them were awarded during a time when Daniel's company--RMD Financial Corporation--had been dissolved by the Colorado Secretary of State's office. But they just seem to keep on coming. And none of the contracts Daniel has received has been put out to competitive bid; they've just been handed to him.
Daniel says the reason he continues to get work is that he's the best man for the job. "I've done a lot of work for the city and have gotten really great reports," he says, adding, "It's hard for me to believe I'm the only person doing business for the city who's gone through financial difficulties."
His money problems, Daniel says, stem from a dropoff in business and two subsequent lawsuits that nearly bankrupted him in 1994. In the last year, various creditors have garnisheed the city for a portion of Daniel's contracts earnings; he estimates he's lost about a quarter of his revenue from the city to pay off people he owes. Daniel says RMD has earned $39,000 in city contracts since 1988, which he calls "a drop in the bucket" for the city. It's vital money to him, however, in his struggle to keep afloat.
Two of the city's contracts involving Daniel were vetoed by Mares. Mares says it's the first time he can remember sending back two contracts involving the same company since he was elected in 1995.
In May 1996 Mares vetoed a proposed Amendatory Agreement between Daniel and Denver's Department of Parks and Recreation. That contract, worth $1,290, called for Daniel to "negotiate for food and beverage providers at Mile High."
Why the Mares veto? Because from May 1, 1995, to May 22, 1996, RMD Financial, the corporate entity named in the city contract, did not exist. The company was dissolved for failing to file a biannual report. Both the Mile High contract and the Green Valley Ranch contract were drawn up during the time RMD was off the books, prompting Assistant City Attorney Andrew L. Weber to send a memo to Mares stating that he was concerned about "the failure of Mr. Daniel to maintain his corporate paperwork."
Once he learned his contract had been stalled, Daniel wrote to the auditor's office that the reason the report was never filed was that "we have moved our corporate offices twice since 1994 and never received the secretary of state's notice." A few days later, RMD was reinstated as a corporation, and the contracts eventually went through. But Daniel's problems continued.
In October 1996 he received the first of two contracts to assist in the selection of a concessionaire for City Park, Willis Case and Evergreen golf courses. A contract extension through this July was awarded earlier this year. The combined contracts were worth $7,300, but when the extension was sent to Mares's office for review, the auditor nixed it. The reason this time? Delinquent property taxes.
Daniel owed $541.93 in personal-property taxes from 1992 to 1995. The auditor's office issued a press release on Daniel's tardiness, which Daniel viewed as an attack. "I wonder how productive it is for the auditor's office to hold a press conference on taxes," he says. "He runs a $6 billion budget, and I was past due a few hundred dollars on my taxes?"
Chip Spreyer, an official in the auditor's office, says the press release went out because Daniel's case was the first in which a company doing business with the city had gone four years without paying its taxes.
"This is the second time I have had to reject a contract from RMD within the past year," wrote Mares in a letter this past January to B.J. Brooks, head of Parks and Recreation. "It is primarily the responsibility of the agency to ensure a potential contractor/consultant is qualified to do business with the city. Apparently, in the case of at least one agency, this is not being done." Brooks did not return several calls from Westword.
Daniel did not pay off the remainder of his taxes until the start of this year, say officials at the Department of Revenue. After that, the contracts that had been held up went through.
Some people shake their heads at Daniel's continued ability to get city work. Matthew Spriggs, a former intern for Daniel who later filed a lawsuit claiming that Daniel owed him a paycheck, says his former boss's work was "mediocre at best."
Spriggs, who is white, argues that Daniel's constant work with the city comes because Daniel is black. "There aren't a whole lot of people in the minorities who have this background in economic