Mediation sessions over the weekend regarding the Christopher Columbus statue dispute were constructive and more talks are planned later this week, according to Mayor Nick Gradisar.
"I did get a report Saturday after those meetings, I haven’t heard about Sunday’s meetings, and the mediator thought they had gone well I think in terms of people showing up with open minds and talking in good faith," Gradisar said on Monday. "I think that it’s a start ... I think that’s a positive that people are at the table talking about identifying what the issues and interests are and how those can all be addressed."
Additional mediation sessions have been scheduled for Friday and Saturday, according to Gradisar, who said he considers the fact that the sides are meeting again to talk more a good thing.
The city entered into a contract with professional mediator Fred Galves who is sitting down with both those who want to see the Columbus statue taken down and those who support the statue to determine if a compromise can be reached between the entities.
For almost two months now, demonstrations have taken place each Sunday where the statue sits in the Mesa Junction across from the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library. Protesters have been calling for the removal of the statue, while the Italian community and those who support it insists it stay put.
There are six individuals from each side of the issue participating in the mediation.
Gradisar has said Galves is uniquely qualified to serve as a mediator in this dispute because he has ties to Pueblo having been born and raised here.
Galves, a professor, is a South High School graduate who also graduated from Harvard Law School. He resides in California and runs a law firm there.
According to the contract the city entered into, Galves will be paid $100 an hour for the first 40 hours he works. He would then be compensated $80 an hour for the next 40 hours, and $60 an hour after that until a resolution or impasse is reached.
The contract also provides that Galves will be reimbursed by the city for airline travel to and from California to Colorado, and will be reimbursed by the city for car rental costs while in Colorado.
Chieftain reporter Ryan Severance can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @RyanSevvy. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow