City Councilman Tim Leigh says the deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity called him Tuesday morning to ask him not to engage in a public debate about a homegrown coal emissions technology being tested at the Martin Drake Power Plant downtown.
“I just took a phone call from my pal, Sean Paige who asked if I couldn’t argue with Dave Neumann outside the front page of the Gazette,” Leigh wrote in his electronic newsletter.
“I told Sean, it’s not my intention to argue with anyone in the Gazette or otherwise, and that I feel no animas toward Dave Neumann or his Neumann Scrubber system,” he wrote.
(Read the story that sparked the telephone conversation between Leigh and Paige by clicking here.)
Paige, a former city councilman and former editorial page editor of The Gazette, disputed Leigh’s characterization of what he said.
“It’s not that I would say he misrepresented what I called for,” Paige said.
“I wasn’t telling him not to discuss it in The Gazette. All I did was call to say, ‘Hey, have you sat down with Dave Neumann? Have you guys done a briefing? Have you talked about it?’” Paige said.
Colorado Springs Utilities, which owns the downtown power plant, has invested about $17 million in the technology and stands to profit if it goes commercial. The technology could also help it meet increasingly strict regulations involving sulfur dioxide emissions.
Paige said he had been out of town for 10 days and came back to see a story about Leigh questioning the technology and Neumann alleging that Leigh has a financial motive to kill the deal.
“I’m just trying to be peacemaker as someone who is familiar with the Neumann project and also somebody who respects Tim Leigh,” Paige said. “I just felt like maybe there was a lack of communication and a situation of talking past each other.”
When asked if he was trying to silence Leigh, Paige said: “Absolutely not.”
“For once in my long and undistinguished career, I was trying to maybe play peacemaker,” he said, laughing.