Friday, March 30, 2007

An argument for giving

A recent poll at Denver Politics revealed the paucity of campaign contributions by ordinary citizens. When asked how much money they would ordinarily contribute to their favorite City Council candidate:
  • 25% said $0
  • 25% said $1-49
  • 32% said $50-99
The results were a bit surprising, especially given the huge sums of money raised by presidential candidates. In 2004, George Bush and John Kerry raised an average of more than $230 million. In contrast, candidates for Denver City Council need only $50,000 to be viable for most competitive seats.

Contributions to Denver City Council candidates thus provide a much more dramatic effect on campaigns. A $500 gift could represent a full 1% of the candidate's funding.

Even a $100 contribution would be extraordinary. In order to have the same effect on a presidential election, you would have to contribute nearly a half-million dollars ($460,000)!

So unless you've got an awful lot of cash lying around, I'd suggest donating to a few Denver City Council candidates instead of sending it off to Barack, Rudy, Hillary, or Newt. You'll have a much greater effect on the election, and a direct effect on local questions which matter to you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are You An Active Voter?

More than a third of the voters registered before last November's election have been taken off the "active voter" rolls.

This means that if you didn't vote in November 2006, you will have to make a specific request for a ballot.

If you haven't registered to vote at all, the last day to register to vote is Monday.

Denver Post reporter George Merritt offers valuable insight into an unsexy yet key question: that is, who gets a ballot?

The article, entitled Voters' List Idles 100,000, is excerpted below:
The Denver Election Commission has scrubbed more than 100,000 residents from the active voter list since November, creating one of the smallest such lists in recent years....

The change does not purge registered voters. However, only "active" voters will automatically receive ballots when the city sends them out early next month. Active voters are people who voted in the last general election - in other words, last November.

Councilman Doug Linkhart took issue with the move Tuesday, given what he called "extreme problems" during the November election...

Linkhart suggested the city mail ballots to the 287,000 active voters from the November election, instead of the updated list of 184,000.

But Election Commission executive director John Gaydeski said Denver's voter list needed to be updated.

"We had 52,000 ballots returned as undeliverable" in the January special election, he said.

Election Commission operations manager Matt Crane said the commission sent out about 117,000 cards to registered voters who did not vote in either November or January to see if they want to remain "active." About 7,000 people responded.

Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said the commission had followed the law... But he acknowledged that he, too, had been curious about the low number of active voters.

He said the 184,000 ballots "may be the least number that we have mailed out in a mail-ballot election."

Monday, March 26, 2007

POLL: Council At Large seats

Official Disclaimer: Internet polls are NOT scientific and anyone who suggests otherwise is a fool.

Profile: Carol Campbell (At Large District)

Several candidates for a City Council At Large seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Carol Campbell's candidacy was described as follows:
A wife, mother, artist, teacher, and activist, Carol E Campbell has lived in the Athmar Park neighborhood in southwest Denver since 1988. She has worked to improve the quality of life for Denver citizens since 1991, when she helped form a neighborhood association.

Campbell says that "crime is rampant and negatively impacting our lives." She is running for a Council seat because she believes that her first-hand experiences dealing with crime and working for over 15 years to affect positive change in her. neighborhood gives her a point of view that would benefit the citizens of Denver. She wants to use her experiences to "boldly identify issues and champion common-sense solutions that will make all of Denver a safer, more vibrant place to live, work, and raise a family."

She is running on what she terms a "solutions-based" platform designed to deal with the escalation of crime and violence in Denver neighborhoods. She also proposes an ordinance to remedy the negative impacts experienced by residents and businesses along Federal Blvd. due to cruising.

She states that she has "a long track record of balancing her work on tough issues with dynamic projects which build bridges and unite diverse groups in the community."

Profile: Doug Linkhart (At Large District)

Several candidates for a City Council At Large seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Doug Linkhart's candidacy was described as follows:
Incumbent At-Large Councilman Doug Linkhart launched his campaign by saying, "I am choosing to run for re-election because, although our city has made great improvements, our work is not done. We must build upon the momentum our economy has gained in the last four years. We must continue to protect our streets from violence, crime, and gangs. And, we must continue to create better opportunities for our children."

If re-elected he intends to "continue to build upon the progress we have made during the past four years, which has included: adding 24,000 jobs to a once-stalled economy; bringing over 100 more police officers onto the streets," resulting in a 2006 crime drop of nearly 10%; and expanding after school, preschool and summer programs for our children."

He notes that, "Significant projects to streamline development review processes, preserve historic homes and neighborhoods, combat homelessness, and prevent crime" must continue and be improved.

Councilman Linkhart has more than 13 years of public service experience to City Council. Having served two years in the State House of Representatives and eight- years in the State Senate. He was the founder of the Neighborhood Resource Center of Colorado, a non-profit organization that works with neighborhood associations to strengthen local communities throughout the state.

Profile: Carol Boigon (At Large District)

Several candidates for a City Council At Large seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Carol Boigon's candidacy was described as follows:
Incumbent At-Large Councilwoman Carol Boigon is focusing her re-election campaign on neighborhood and family issues, redevelopment of urban corridors, and neighborhood stability.

Boigon notes the accomplishments of her first term, including: helping to preserve the Lowenstein Theatre while bringing redevelopment to East Colfax; working on several city- and state-level legislative initiatives that support early childhood education services for Denver children; participating at a neighborhood level to help communities with issues regarding crime, liquor license proliferation and access to city resources; helping to lead the push for additional police officers in the 2006 budget; revising Denver's zoning code to support neighborhood-based' ' preschool, daycare and early childhood education programs; and championing. the successful vote to lift restrictions in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR).

Councilwoman Boigon has many issues she wants to address- in a second term, among them: successful implementation of the Denver Preschool Program; sound planning around the 38 FasTracks transit stops that will be located in neighborhoods, so that the new stops are an asset in each community; protecting the existing mature trees in Denver; improving the city's irrigation system for its parks and parkways; and using the redevelopment lessons learned along East Colfax and applying them to other parts of Colfax as well as other troubled corridors.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Official Ballot for 2007

The official ballot for the mail-in May 1, 2007 municipal elections will include the following candidates:
(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Danny F. Lopez_____
John Hickenlooper_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Bill Wells_____
Dennis J. Gallagher_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Jacob Werther_____
Stephanie Y. O’Malley_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for Two/ Vote por Dos)
Carol Boigon_____
Doug Linkhart_____
Carol E. Campbell_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Rick Garcia_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Jeanne Faatz_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Antoinette Alire_____
Paul D. López_____
Niccolo Casewit_____
JoAnn Phillips_____
Kathy Sandoval_____
Mark Roggeman_____
Ben Romero_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Peggy A. Lehmann_____
Ike Kelley_____
Bill Rutherford_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
R.J. Ours_____
Marcia Johnson_____
Mitchell Poindexter_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Charlie Brown_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Shelly Watters_____
Dennis Smith_____
Chris Nevitt_____
Julie Connor_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Darrell B. Watson_____
Carla Madison_____
Sharon Bailey_____
Greg Rasheed_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Judy H. Montero_____
Waldo Benavidez_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Jeanne Robb_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____

(Vote for One/ Vote por Uno)
Michael Hancock_____
(Write-In/Otros nombres)_____


Referred Question 1A
Shall the elected office of the District Attorney in and for the Second Judicial District of Colorado (the Denver District Attorney) be limited, as are the offices of the Mayor of Denver and the members of the City Council of Denver, to no more than three consecutive four-year terms, thereby lengthening the term limitation set forth in the Colorado constitution by one term, for any District Attorney elected or appointed on or after January 1, 2001?

_____YES _____NO

For the exact (and possibly updated) wording of the ballot, please visit the Denver Election Commission.

The following candidates either dropped out or never submitted the requisite number of signatures to appear on the May 2007 ballot:

Mayor: Dwight Henson
Clerk & Recorder: Kevin Slevin, Don Henderson, Kim Sayers, Sharron Klein
District 1: Gerald Styron
District 3: Donald Sandoval
District 6: Steven Frank
District 7: Andy Archuleta, Jan Belle, Ari Harrison, Jake Schroeder
District 8: Lynn Smith, Donna Davis, Roger Cobb, Joshua Mitchell

CD7: Candidates take on zoning issues

Kevin Dickson, chair of the Overland Neighborhood Association, sent all of the City Council District 7 candidates a set of question affecting his neighborhood. Among the questions were:
1. What is happening with zoning changes afoot in the District?
2. What do you think should be done?
3. How will the Zoning Code Update address the wishes of the neighborhoods?
4. What do you perceive are the wishes of the individual neighborhoods?
5. Do the wishes of the neighborhoods align with what's best for the city overall?

Each candidate provided a statement. The full statements from all District 8 City Council representatives has been posted online.

Below are excerpts from the candidates who are on the May 2007 ballot.

First, from Shelly Watters:
In 2001 the Denver City Council adopted Blue Print Denver as its land use and transportation plan. According to the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Denver region is expected to grow over the next twenty years from 2.5 million to 4 million people. Blueprint Denver is an attempt to rationally plan for that growth. Blueprint Denver divides the City into areas of change and areas of stability. It calls for growth to be directed to areas of change and for tools to be developed to protect the character of our existing stable neighborhoods. Last year the Community Planning and Development Department convened a broad based task force to look at Denver’s outdated zoning code to eliminate barriers to implementing Blueprint Denver. I worked with my neighborhood, other neighborhoods and City Council members to successfully put pressure on the task force to make developing tools to preserve the character of our existing neighborhoods their first priority. I believe the task force which includes realtors, developers and neighborhood activists, among others, is the best place to deal with this issue. The Task Force seems to be headed in the right direction. It is currently looking at different neighborhood typologies to develop tools specific to that neighborhood rather than a generic one size fits all solution. I support Blueprint Denver and want to see it implemented.

I do not believe in freezing neighborhoods in time. Neighborhoods need to constantly change and regenerate in order to remain healthy. Families want larger houses than they did in the past. However, I do believe the diverse character of our neighborhoods is one of Denver’s greatest assets. We need to find ways to allow for growth and change while still maintaining the existing character and scale which attracted people to the neighborhood in the first place. Many of us do not want to see the same fake stone generic, suburban house throughout Denver.

Some neighborhoods are looking at rezoning from R2 to R1. R2 allows duplexes and triplexes and R1 only allows single family homes. These neighborhoods have had many single family homes scraped and replaced with duplexes that take up the whole lot. They see rezoning or historic preservation as the only tools available to them to protect their neighborhood’s character. Sloan’s Lake was directed by the Planning Department to submit an application for a defined area that included all properties in that area. West Washington Park is meeting with homeowners in a specific area (I don’t believe the area has totally been decided, it will be based on the amount of support.) The difference is West Washington Park will only include those homeowners who want to rezone. I believe this is the right approach, even if there are pockets of homes which do not have their zoning changed. I support the right of these homeowners to rezone their properties...

Second, from Chris Nevitt:
Zoning is one of the most important areas of responsibility for City Council. It lies at the heart of our aspirations for our city and our neighborhoods – how they look, how they feel, how they function. It’s wise, therefore, of the Overland Neighborhood to subject candidates for City Council to close scrutiny in this area.

... a good approach to “right” zoning is, I believe, an effort I am currently helping lead in my own neighborhood, West Washington Park. Ours is a grass-roots, entirely voluntary effort, pursued by individual home-owners, working together, to “right” zone their own properties in an effort to preserve the character of the neighborhood they love. Our effort respects individual property rights, and the inevitable disagreements among neighbors, while nonetheless moving forward to make the greatest possible impact on a widely-shared concern.

Here is the problem we face: much of the zoning in my neighborhood is R-2, which allows for multiplex units. For most of the last century, however, the neighborhood has maintained a stable single-family character more consistent with R-1 zoning. That character is now under serious pressure. The steady escalation in per-square-foot prices, combined with the much greater square-footage allowed by current zoning, has created a perverse incentive for developers to pursue a speculative scrape-and-flip business model.

Some of the new homes are welcome additions to the neighborhood; some of the homes we’ve lost won’t be particularly missed. More often, however, it is perfectly good old brick homes that are being knocked down, replaced by oversized, shoddily-built, poorly designed, multiplexes. This is neither good for the neighborhood nor sustainable as a longterm development pattern. We should be discouraging this kind of short-term land speculation, and encouraging, instead, long-term investments by residents in the value of both their property and their neighborhoods.

The problem faced by my neighborhood is not unique. With different local variations, it is a problem shared by many of our neighborhoods. I have always been a strong believer in the power and value of focused, intelligent, and determined local action. I am pursuing that action with my neighbors. I encourage others to follow suit, and I will help them every way I can. But such action also needs to be supported by the City. And the City needs to do more to make it easier for residents to improve their own properties, to make the kind of long-term investments that build stable, healthy, and attractive communities.

With some leadership, and some luck, we should be able to end up with both “good” zoning and “right” zoning – zoning that promotes the kind of quality, community-sustaining development we want to see, while preserving and protecting the unique character of the Denver neighborhoods we love. I look forward to working with all of you – and working constructively through the disputes and disagreements – to achieve those ends.

And finally, from Julie Connor:
1. What is happening with zoning changes afoot in the District?

...Zoning issues in Overland, Athmar Park, Godsman, Ruby Hill and College View have tended to revolve around out-of-date PUDs (i.e., Catholic Charities housing project in Ruby Hill), neglected opportunities (i.e., Evans light rail station area in Overland) and undesirable adjacency issues (i.e., RTD bus barn across the street from single-family homes in College View). Heretofore, these types of zoning issues have been dealt with on an ad hoc basis rather than by zoning language amendments or policy changes, and this is unlikely to change much in the near future. (Although problematic adjacencies are a citywide issue so it might be addressed in the zoning code update.)

All of these zoning issues require vigilance, creativity and persistence in trying to reconcile what’s permitted with what’s wanted so we can get to and encourage desirable investment in every neighborhood.

2. What do you think should be done?

One thing that needs to be recognized is that different neighborhoods have different needs and character. The current zoning code treats every R-2 in every neighborhood essentially the same. A common complaint of Quick Wins II is that it solved a problem for University Park and Hilltop neighborhoods, but created worse problems for others. Whether that is the general consensus or not, it is clear that zoning categories probably need to be differentiated in some way from neighborhood to neighborhood, in addition to having a transparent and predictable zoning code and maintaining private property rights.

Another measure requiring action is the creation of interim tools. The zoning code update is held up as a forthcoming panacea, but in the meantime, divisive battles are being fought with the paltry land use tools available. In neighborhoods concerned about the loss of neighborhood character, interim tools need to be employed or invented prior to the completion of the zoning code update. A couple possible intermediary steps between here and there might be conservation districts or pattern books.

As stated in the first question, industrial/residential and commercial/residential adjacency issues need to be addressed in the zoning code update. How they are addressed should be tackled by the consultants.

A final matter I think needs looking into is our public hearing process for rezonings. Although the City Planning department encourages public notification and input on rezonings prior to submitting an application, essentially the public hearing (and thus, the legal protest process) comes at the end of an arduous, expensive and time-consuming course. I would not support doing away with people’s right to protest at the last possible moment, but I think the process might be better organized with the aim being to reduce the number of contentious rezonings, which leave both sides battered and resentful.

3. How will the Zoning Code Update address the wishes of the neighborhoods?

There seems to be the intention to create more zoning categories, which would provide a wider range of options, and therefore, theoretically, provide better fits for various areas. For instance, there might be a residential zoning for narrow lots in the urban core (such as the Speer neighborhood) and a residential zoning for large lots in the suburban-like areas (such as College View). Additionally, as mentioned above, these various zoning categories could drill down to even more specificity to address the individual characteristics of a neighborhood while still providing the freedom to expand or scrape and rebuild.

4. What do you perceive are the wishes of the individual neighborhoods?

To protect their quality of life and maintain their property values seems to be what I hear most from residents. Typically, conversations revolving around what people want for their neighborhoods includes the desire to preserve trees, reduce vehicle traffic, maintain a residential character while having access to amenities nearby, diminish crime and graffiti, and support and improve our schools.

5. Do the wishes of the neighborhoods align with what's best for the city overall?

In the general sense that pretty much everybody’s looking for a good quality of life, yes. Where we diverge is when one person’s version of quality of life precludes another person’s version – and they’re both defining it for the same area. Those conflicts simply have to be dealt with as they arise, with respect for all perspectives.

Sometimes what's best for the city overall is a theoretical vision of what we would like to see 20 years from now. But implementing that vision can have impacts and consequences for residents living here today. Regardless how laudable the vision might be, the real-time, on-the-ground effects of implementation cannot be dismissed and need to be addressed. A council person should work to blend these sometimes disparate voices and visions into a coherent course of action that ideally is better than what was originally proposed because it achieves the vision while alleviating or mitigating the impacts. But if that synthesis cannot be achieved, at the end of the day, my job is to represent the concerns of District 7 residents.

Profile: Stephanie O'Malley (Clerk & Recorder)

Colorado Confidential is stepping up efforts to provide information to Denver voters regarding the 2007 municipal elections. This is the first in a series of planned video interviews with candidates, conducted by fresh reporter Kerri Rebresh.

As the first extended discussion of Stephanie O'Malley's campaign platform found on the Internet, it is very valuable indeed.

The entire interview with Stephanie O'Malley is available online, but an excerpt of her campaign promises is provided below.
As the elected Clerk and Recorder, I intend to:
Lead a comprehensive review and audit of Denver’s election methods, processes and procedures. I will use results of the election audit to further guide decisions focused on holding successful elections in the City and County of Denver.

Partner with a neighboring county, such as Larimer County, that has successfully engaged in a "vote center " model election. I will use this collaborative partnering experience to develop strategies that will lend to Denver successfully engaging in a vote center model.

Fix all challenges associated with Denver’s e-poll book.

Hire the best available Election Director.

Use a second available appointed position for the elections division to hire a Deputy Director of Elections. This is a necessary as regaining voter confidence is a priority. The presence of a Deputy Director of Elections will lend to regaining this lost confidence.

Make staffing revisions where needed to improve the department’s service delivery around elections.

Engage in a comprehensive review of costs associated with hosting various types of election models. Use the results of this review to assure that adequate resources are delivered during elections.

Engage in collaborative efforts with the Secretary of State’s office to comply with Federal and State legislation that has significant impacts on election matters within the City and County of Denver. For example, the Help America Vote Act instructs the Secretary of State to establish a state-wide voter registration list. Under my leadership, Denver will participate in this process.

Hold the management staff accountable and responsible for their performance and that of their staff members.

Work with the disabled community to deliver a voting model that affords them opportunity to vote independently.

Profile: Danny Lopez (Mayor)

The television studios have suddenly realized there's a municipal election starting in 2 weeks. To prepare, Eli Stokols of Channel 2 News has offered a profile of Danny Lopez, who may well be the least-covered official candidate in the entire campaign.

Excerpts from the piece, entitled "Meet Denver's other mayoral candidate: Danny Lopez has a mullet and a mission," are quoted below:
He's a public works supervisor named Danny Lopez.

He's a youth baseball coach and a disc jockey known as "DJ Muscle."

And, he's the only person in all of Denver with the cojones, not to mention the requisite 300 petition signatures, to challenge Mayor John Hickenlooper's re-election bid.

"Voters need an alternative choice," said Lopez. "He's going to spend $500,000 to beat me. I'm going to spend nothing to beat him.

... "If I'm elected to be mayor of this city, I want to return government to the common, hard-working family man," Lopez said. "There are some neighborhoods out there that have been forgotten by this administration. The city workers have surely been forgotten."

Lopez, a supervisor for the public works department's television unit and an emergency snowplow driver during the winter's snowstorms, wants to give his co-workers a raise and the power of collective bargaining.

"Over the last four years, there's been 40 percent of the workforce that has not seen a raise," he said. "I'll govern from the heart. I'll do what I think is right."

Friday, clad in synthetic yellow alligator boots, Lopez said he thinks voters will appreciate all the miles he's walked in a working man's shoes.

"I want those people out there who think politicians spend too much money to get elected to office, I hope they identify with me and vote for me," he said. "I want those protest votes. Those people who want to send Mayor Hickenlooper a message, I want them to vote for me."

Denver Public Library resource page

In anticipation of the May 2007 municipal elections, the Denver Public Library has just created an independent webpage offering useful election advice to voters.

Please visit DPL's Election Information site for more information regarding the mechanics of voting or other objective questions regarding the process.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Profile: Videotape of the District 8 and At Large City Council candidates

An image is worth a thousand words, then Denver Direct has just offered a million or so helpful words for Denver voters this campaign season.

Gerald Trumbule visited a candidates forum sponsored by the San Rafael neighborhood association on Thursday evening (March 22nd), and videotaped all of the introductory statements by candidates.

Would you be interested to see the likes of District 8 candidates Sharon Bailey, Carla Madison, Greg Rasheed, Lynn Smith, and Darrell Watson? No matter where you live in Denver, the candidates for the At-Large Seat are important: Carol Boigon, Carol Campbell, and Doug Linkhart.

Please visit Denver City Council District 8 Candidates Speak at San Rafael 3-22-07.

The vast majority of Denver voters will never meet these candidates face-to-face. That's why issue-based, Internet resources are so valuable. Thanks, Jerry!

Profile: Sharon Bailey (CD8)

Several candidates for the District 8 City Council seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Sharon Bailey's campaign was described as follows:
Dr. Sharon Bailey is one of three candidates who have recently joined the race for the Council District 8 seat. She currently works as the Director of Accounting, Finance & Policy in the City Auditor's office. A former Denver Public Schools board member and a life-long resident of District 8, she has outlined eight priorities for the district:

Effective and efficient responses to constituents; neighborhood & school safety; services for children and families; more affordable housing; economic opportunity & workforce development; city-school partnerships; services & support for seniors; and advocating for more youth services and programs.

Dr, Bailey earned and a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Colorado. On the DPS board she served as liaison to the Colorado legislature, a member of the City-Schools Coordinating Council, and as national co-chair of the Council of Great City Schools Task Force on Urban Education.

She has worked as an administrator at Metropolitan State College and as a consultant to a number of agencies and organizations, including the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and as a member of the University of Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity.

In the auditor's office she chaired a collaborative effort to update the city's fiscal rules and has led the move to stabilize the use of technology in its business processes.

Bailey is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions and received the 2005 "Legacy of Service" award from Princeton, her alma mater.

Profile: Lynn Smith (CD8)

Several candidates for the District 8 City Council seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Lynn Smith's candidacy was described as follows:
Lynn Smith, who has owned and run Kate's on 35th for 30 years, formerly coordinated special projects for the city. When she worked for the city she was "connected to the authority and resources of the administration."

As a private citizen she has come to realize that accessing the services citizens are entitled to "requires the kind of time, focus and political connections most residents don't. have (since) such a system is inherently ineffective and inherently unfair."

If elected, she plans on committing full-time energy and focus to initiating and developing such major projects as: ombudsman offices for historic preservation and neighborhood senior services; express lanes in regulatory agencies; revitalization grants for neighborhood-commercial districts; and prototype xeriscape and median strips designed by Denver Botanic Gardens with trained youth installing and maintaining them.

Smith intends to give the neighborhoods north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. more help than at present since they are currently areas with "residents for whom access to even basic services is limited," people who are "long overdue for a champion on City Council."

Specific projects targeted in those neighborhoods could include full-service grocery and general (such as Walgreens) stores; pedestrian pathways; and careful monitoring of zoning laws and Public Works' priorities "to ensure that neighborhoods and individual rights are respectfully and equitably protected."

Profile: Roger Cobb (CD8)

Several candidates for the District 8 City Council seat were profiled in the March 2007 edition of Life On Capitol Hill.

Roger Cobb's campaign was described as follows:
Roger D. Cobb has a wide variety of civic and community involvements through both his employment and his private life. His many contributions include: 20 years of employment shared amongst the Denver Housing Authority, the City Attorney's office, the Public Defender's office, Denver Urban Renewal, DIA, Council aide for districts 5, 8 and 10, Parks & Recreation, Human Services, and Public Works, among others.

His collaborative community experiences have included participation in HOPE VI, East Village, the Dahlia and Holly shopping centers, the Stapleton and Lowry Redevelopment Authorities and registered neighborhood organizations, Seniors, Inc., Youth Biz, the Denver Ministerial Alliance, and the Manual High School Community Council, among others.

He states that he wishes "to serve the citizens of District 8 with integrity, transparency, and accountability" and "to link and educate the citizens of District 8 to all appropriate federal, state, and city resources."

He is concerned about what he labels the "educational & economic divides" in the district due to what he terms as "our underperforming" and "under-resourced" schools. He allots the economic problems to "universal financial strain caused by employment loss, fewer "available" jobs; low wages; and reduced government budgets used to finance all forms of public assistance. "

Cobb envisions working with constituents "to position our district as the 'Most Desirable District' in Denver through education, empowerment, and implementation of community-inclusive ''best practices."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Issue: Private money to combat Denver's gang problem

It's an interesting idea to allow private citizens or entities to support the public prosecution of gangs in Denver. The question, however, is whether it's good idea.

Mayor Hickenlooper proposed it a while back, and city council appears skeptical. Read the entire article at the Rocky Mountain News, and let me know what you think.

Issue: No More Potholes

The best politicians connect with voters on emotional issues that affect their everyday lives. Such folks would do well to consider a new campaign launched earlier today.

No More Potholes may be an idea whose time has come. With oil prices rising and a long, cold winter coming to an end, it seems the perfect time to launch a campaign to change the way Denver's roads are constructed. And with the elections just around the corner, this issue will surely resonate with voters.

The full story of this launch is found at the Denver Business Journal, entitled "Campaign Begins For Concrete Roads."

Unsurprisingly, the campaign is led by concrete manufacturers, with a slick website and billboards around town to help stir the masses.

CD8: The case of the vanishing attack ads

The attack ads against Darrell Watson (which used to be here, here, and here) are now gone. One of the original authors has vanished, and another removed his/her two postings.

Denver voters will be thankful for the ads' removal from the campaign, as they were Shakespearean in their presence: "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The original Denver Post story was obnoxious from the start, and clearly demeaning of the public interest.

Yet the story had legs, and appeared on several Internet sites, including Denver Politics. The prominence of the attack ads got another boost earlier today when a Westword article discussed the issue. Yet as soon as the ads gained the spotlight, they vanished, begging the question: why?

Did the author have a change of heart?

Were they removed at the threat of litigation?

Or were did another candidate in Council District 8 lose nerve, and order them removed because they feared being exposed for such extraordinarily negative politics?

I'm thankful they're gone, but the story behind this disappearance removal seems potentially more revelatory than ever existed in the original story itself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Videotaping prohibited at campaign forum

Apparently it's even harder to get issue-based information out to folks than I'd earlier thought.

Gerald Trumbule from Denver Direct recently hatched a plan to provide the public with more information about the election.

His blog entitled "Hatchett Axes Videotaping at Candidate's Public Forum" not only describes the situation, but also captures the controversy on video.

Who is Karen Hatchett and why was this effort quashed? Visit Denver Direct to find out.

Update (3/24): The community forum in question is now online at Denver 8's Denver Decides website. View videotape of the entire forum here.

A frothy campaign season

Not to be outdone in the media's search for vacuous electoral comment, Rocky Mountain News' Daniel Chacon has found another hard-hitting story on the 2007 Denver municipal elections.

The story is entitled "Mayoral Hopeful Has a Beer Whoopsie":
The first meeting between Denver's mayoral candidates got off to a splash Tuesday.

Danny Lopez, who is challenging Mayor John Hickenlooper in the May election, spilled beer on Hickenlooper's lap when the two rivals met for lunch at Pints Pub, a couple blocks south of City Hall.

Really? That's the extent of our political conversation just a few weeks before the ballots are mailed? Perhaps there's some deeper meaning to the story, or political ill-will to be exposed.
Lopez, a supervisor in the city's Public Works Department, said he didn't do it on purpose.

"No, it was an accident," he said. "I have the utmost respect for him, both as the mayor and as my boss, and just as a fellow human being out there."

Chacon reports (via Hickenlooper) that candidate Danny Lopez wanted to get into the race in order to offer voters a "choice," but offers no hints as to the issues or concerns that define the political debate.

Which begs the question: What's our choice?

What are we voting on in May, if candidates and the media refuse to discuss issues?

On a related note, please visit the candidate questions below. As of this writing, only Council District 8's Carla Madison seems eager to engage substantive issues in this public forum.

Good for her. And for us. If only there were more like her, we wouldn't have to cry over spilled beer.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Candidate Questionnaire: Downzoning

Each campaign is invited to respond to the question below by adding a comment to this post. Answers may be submitted by candidates themselves or their direct representatives. This is not intended for an ongoing debate, so please: only one answer/response per campaign.
Downzoning is a major concern throughout Denver, with neighborhoods seeking to retain their residential character by limiting their own development opportunities. People wonder as to the efficacy and purpose of this tool, as well as the availability of other options. What is your position on downzoning efforts in Denver neighborhoods?

Candidate Questionnaire: Liquor in Denver's Parks

Each campaign is invited to respond to the question below by adding a comment to this post. Answers may be submitted by candidates themselves or their direct representatives. This is not intended for an ongoing debate, so please: only one answer/response per campaign.
Last year, Denver Parks & Recreation allowed race sponsors to provide alcohol to participants as part of their event. The department is now requesting a change which would both comply with state laws and expand to the sale of alcohol. What is your position on the expansion of alcohol policies in Denver city parks?

Candidate Questionnaire: Graffiti

Each campaign is invited to respond to the question below by adding a comment to this post. Answers may be submitted by candidates themselves or their direct representatives. This is not intended for an ongoing debate, so please: only one answer/response per campaign.
Graffiti is proliferating in Denver, with private homes and businesses increasingly tagged by city gang members. In 2006, the city's public works department erased 3 million square feet of graffiti, nearly twice as much as in 2004. How do you propose to solve the graffiti problem, and how much do you think this will cost?

An issue-based blog

I despair over the lack of issues-oriented discussion in the May 2007 election. Though I look each day for news articles highlighting the differences between candidates, I rarely find them.

It's not just the media's fault. With a few notable exceptions, the candidates also eschew definitive position statements on their websites, preferring instead to offer lofty phrases and commonsense platitudes that alienate no one. It seems that the nature of this race is to play not to lose, instead of igniting real passion or driving controversial points into the public debate.

I can't say I blame them, because the voters don't demand it and the media doesn't cover it. So you seek financial contributions, gather ye endorsements while ye may, show up wherever you can, and hope it turns out well.

Rather than await the arrival of a more issues-oriented campaign, I would offer this blog site as a forum for debate. Rather than await the media to "see the light" or candidates to see the need, I will offer space on this site for candidates to debate the issues. Underfunded candidates with serious ideas will thus be given as much attention as political insiders with enormous war chests, and voters will have their campaign experiences enriched.

Feel free to email me with question ideas. In the meantime, let's start the discussion.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Opinon: Denver needs more spirited politics

Former city councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt penned a March 3 column for the Denver Post entitled "Election Below the Radar".

So much of the article is good, it's hard to know where to start. The column begins with a rundown of the current apathetic political situation:
So far, Denver's all-mail, May 1 municipal ballot looks like a nothing burger. With the exception of three open City Council seats in Districts 3, 7 and 8, there are no truly contested council races. There are no serious candidates challenging the mayor or the auditor. Nor does there appear to be a real horse race to fill the newly created, $125,000-per-year elected job of clerk and recorder.

Oh, sure, the perfunctory Harold Stassen candidates (the Minnesota Republican who sought the presidential nomination nine times between 1948 and 1992) have pulled petitions: Dwight Henson, Denver's "homeless mayor," may run for mayor; CPA Bill Wells is gathering signatures - again - to run for auditor; Ike Kelley Jr. and William Rutherford III want the District 4 seat; Mitchell Poindexter and R.J. Ours are running in District 5; and there's Waldo Benavides in District 9. Denver voters see these names regularly on the ballot.

In the at-large race, only Carol E. Campbell, a credible west Denver neighborhood activist, has pulled a petition. The at-large race has been a slam-dunk incumbent's dream for as long as anyone can remember because of two significant factors: money and geography. It's nearly impossible to build a political base by going door-to-door citywide. The other alternatives are a challenger with high citywide name recognition or a wealthy, self-funded candidate who would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy name recognition though direct mail, TV and radio.

In fact, Councilwoman at-large Carol Boigon did exactly that four years ago. She loaned her campaign nearly $190,000 for advertising in the 2003 election and placed first in a field of seven - with 22 percent of the votes cast. Doug Linkhart secured the other at-large position with 17 percent.

After discussing the now-discarded idea of splitting the at-large council elections into two separate seats, which would have ensured more direct accountability and head-to-head campaigns, she returns to the question of political candidacies in Denver.
In 1995, Denver voters extended municipal terms to 12 years and in 2003, 10 of 13 council seats, the mayor and the auditor were open. Despite record candidate interest and numerous hotly contested seats, less than 47 percent of Denverites voted in the May municipal election.

Honestly, I don't know what to make of a citywide election for 16 important positions and little controversy. Are we so absorbed in national and international affairs and the doings at the state legislature that we simply don't care about the direction of our city, its condition and its future?

Maybe I'm tone deaf, but the absence of a spirited civic dialogue that should accompany municipal elections is not music to my ears.

Endorsements from Progressive Majority

Progressive Majority has decided to endorse candidates in all three open City Council Seats. Below are candidate profiles taken from their website:
Paul Lopez
Candidate for Denver City Council - District 3 (Open Seat)

Paul Lopez is a SEIU organizer who defines the phrase ''community organizer.'' Paul was born and raised in District 3, where he has worked in the community since he was 13 years old (starting out as a dishwasher). He has spent his entire life improving the lives of people who live in West Denver through his work with multiple organizations and initiatives. Paul will add youth, diversity, and passion to the council and will serve the 3rd District well.

Chris Nevitt
Candidate for Denver City Council - District 7 (Open Seat)

Christ Nevitt tirelessly works to promote healthy neighborhoods and responsible re-development. Chris understands and lives the commitment to public service. His parents were in the United States Foreign Service and he grew up understanding that representing America overseas was not just a job, but a way of life. He learned the value of hard work, commitment to ideals, passion to learn, and contribution to community. He is a lifelong, committed progressive who will be a strong advocate for labor union issues and will bring a progressive voice on the Denver City Council.

Darrell Watson
Candidate for Denver City Council - District 8 (Open Seat)

Darrell Watson is an African-American community leader who is openly gay. During the past 12 years, he has worked with over a dozen community organizations, including the Denver Police department Cultural Competency Board, Co-Chairing the Colorado Stonewall Democrats, and he is a recipient of the 1999 Colorado Democratic Party Rising Star Award. For the past seven years, Darrell has worked as a financial manager for US Bank and TIAA-CREF. Darrell's major campaign goals include restoring funding for after-school programs to reduce gang violence. District 8 is predominantly African American and Latino although the district demographics are changing with more affluent Caucasian homeowners moving into the district. Darrell's candidacy will broaden the city council's diversity and provide support for Progressive Majority's over-arching goal to help deliver collective bargaining rights to the Denver City and County employees.

Mayor: How am I doing?

Former mayor Ed Koch of New York was famous for asking city residents, "How am I doing?" Current Denver mayor John Hickenlooper has just done the same, albeit in a bit more rigorous and scientifically-valid method.

He spent nearly $25,000 to hire The Kenney Group, a large political consulting firm, to poll city residents on their feelings.

Their reactions were summarized in a news article this morning by Rocky Mountain News political reporter Daniel Chacon entitled "Hickenlooper Weathers Storms."

The centerpiece of the discussion was the mayor's handling of the snowstorm, which "found that 66 percent of voters rated Denver's performance managing snow removal as excellent, good or fair." While I'm sure that number is acccurate, the fact that The Kenney Group felt the need to lump together all three categories suggests a very high percentage of "good" or "fair" responses.

More pertinent excerpts from the article are included below:
When asked about the May election, 49 percent of respondents said they would definitely vote for Hickenlooper.

"The honeymoon may be over," Kenney said, "but the marriage is off to a very good start."

The mayor's approval rating is 84 percent - 10 percentage points higher than Gov. Bill Ritter, according to the survey.

"The mayor continues to have an astounding relationship with the voters of Denver," Kenney said. "I've not quite ever seen a number like this. Almost half have a 'very favorable' rating."

Hickenlooper, who said he hadn't yet seen the results of the poll, said he doesn't know why he connects well with voters.

"We've always tried to tell the truth, and when we've made mistakes, we've tried to work harder to correct them," he said. "I think that's what most people try to do and maybe that connects with people in some way."

Kenney, who often works for Democratic candidates, said his firm convened two focus groups in conjunction with the poll.

He said they viewed Hickenlooper as "an everyday guy."

"He's viewed as somebody they could invite over to their house or have a beer with," Kenney said.

Among the findings:

• 68 percent believe "things in Denver are generally headed in the right direction."

• 14 percent said education and schools are the most important issues facing Denver.

• 55 percent feel their quality of life is about the same as it was four years ago while 24 percent say it's much or somewhat better.

• 59 percent think local taxes are "about right" compared with the services they receive.

• 62 percent rate Denver's economy as fairly strong, but 43 percent said it's very or somewhat difficult to keep up with their bills.

CD8: Watson spanked a child

The Denver Post is always eager to sensationalize. After ignoring political candidates throughout the city, reporter George Merritt has uncovered a major new story.

Darrell Watson (and the boy's father) spanked a child. The boy's mother got upset, and Darrell received a judicial slap on the wrist.

The so-called story entitled "Dist. 8 hopeful pleaded guilty" is excerpted below:
Darrell Watson, who is running for the open District 8 council seat, received a deferred sentence for "wrongs to a minor," according to police and court records.

Watson was taking care of the boy, and the child suffered bruises after Watson and the boy's father spanked him. Both men were charged.

The boy's mother, Lisa Buchholtz, reported the bruises as an incident of child abuse, according to a Denver police report...

In February 2003, Watson said, he and the boy's parents all agreed that the boy had misbehaved and deserved a spanking.

"There were three swats on the behind by myself," Watson said. "He did not change his behavior, so about 30 minutes after that, the biological father spanked the minor child again three times, and that was it."

Update (03/16): Jason Bane at Denver's 5280 is also picking up the story, claiming confusion over what was clearly a personal family matter.

Update (03/19): Coyote Gulch reports on the emergence of an attack ad on YouTube, spurred by the Denver Post and continued on the Internet.

Update (03/21): Michael Roberts at Westword has now gotten into the act, reporting on the attack ads spurred by this supposed controversy. There are two new ads at YouTube, which underlining the nastiness (and meaninglessness) of the reported charges. Viva la Internet! And more importantly, viva la Denver Post!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

POLL: Your political contributions

Official Disclaimer: Internet polls are NOT scientific and anyone who suggests otherwise is a fool.

CD7: Jake Schroeder's old news

I'm not sure how a candidate who withdrew from a city council race nearly a month ago could possibly qualify as "news," but Westword has just released an article about the political ambitions of Jake Schroeder.

Most of the article simply repeats details that have long been on the erstwhile-candidate's webpage. The only thing that could possibly qualify as news is the final paragraph:
Besides, Schroeder hasn't given up all thoughts of public office. A lifelong Republican, he changed to "unaffiliated" about nine months ago and hasn't yet decided how to register next. How politic! Although city races are allegedly non-partisan, it would be tough to run for the Colorado Legislature as a Denver Republican. Even a Denver Republican who makes a great cup of coffee and is one of this town's true celebrities.

CD8: Darrel Watson winning the money race

ColoradoLib's 300 Spartans Gym recently wrote about Council District 8 candidate Darrell Watson, noting that his campaign had sent out a press release claiming a significant lead in the money race.
Denver County Clerk and Reporter reported yesterday that District 8 candidate Darrell Watson raised $13,201.36 during course of his campaign. He has out-raised his closest opponent by over $5,500.

"Not only are we doing a great job on fundraising, we are proud to report that we did it with 168 donors, of whom two-thirds gave $50 or less," stated Watson. "This shows that we have a broad base of support from throughout Council District 8."

Visit ColoradoLib in order to review the entire article online.

Anything happening?

ColoradoLib's MountainMan was recently wondering "Anything Happening In City Council Races?"

The ensuing discussion was interesting, both in terms of the jockeying between campaign staff members, financial details of the CD7 race, and various endorsements. Among the observations:
  • Mr Toodles likes Paul Lopez in CD3.

  • Money is flowing in the CD7 race, with $43k to Shelly Watters, $38k to Chris Nevitt, and $18k to Julie Connor.

  • According to The Denominator, Julie Connor's campaign claims the support of 6 of the 10 presidents of RNOs (registered neighborhood organizations), so she certainly has a lot of the activists on her side.

CD7: Dennis Smith questionnaire

In advance of last night's forum for City Council District 7 hosted by the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association (WWPNA) (of which I am Vice President and History chair), the candidates were provided a list of questions. Dennis Smith could not attend, but answered all of the questions in writing.

Visit the WWPNA site online for the complete questionnaire. A sampling of answers is provided below:
How would you vote when presented with a petition from homeowners in our neighborhood who would like to change their zoning from R-2 to R1?
Assuming every homeowner on a block signed the petition in favor of downsizing, I would support downsizing. Otherwise I am opposed to downsizing.

What have you done for your community?
I teach illiterate refugee immigrants (and there are many in Denver) fundamental English. I get them jobs, advocate for them across the community (health care, legal problems, sports, etc.) and I nurture them to embrace American ideals: equality, freedom of religion, civic duty. I was instrumental in getting Denver outdoor pool hours extended last summer. And I was an early and persistent advocate of Denver getting a disc golf course. Denver’s 1st course opened last summer in Paco Sanchez Park.

Where are the majority of your campaign contributions coming from?
I don’t solicit nor accept monetary campaign contributions.

What is your position on allowing liquor to be served in the parks and in particular the recent proposal to allow the sale of alcohol in the parks?
I am opposed to both alcohol-in-the-park proposals. I voted against the first proposal, allowing liquor to be served in the park (my side lost) when the issue came before the Denver Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and I will vote against the recent proposal to allow for the sale of alcohol in the park when it comes before the board later this spring.

Would you support neighborhood traffic calming measures as requested by neighborhoods in your district? For example, will you support returning one-way to two way streets interior to neighborhoods in your district, lowering speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on interior streets, and/or measures (e.g., cul-de-sacs) to reduce cut-through traffic?
Yes!! On all counts. In addition, an issue that is high on my agenda is calibrating pedestrian cross walk lights to be responsive to users. My goal: when a pedestrian pushes a cross walk button in district 7 it will respond within 90 seconds.

We love old homes as well as the rights of their property owners. In the case of both “adverse” historical designations and demolition of civic structures, however, these interests clash. If compromise was impossible and you had to make a hard decision, how would you weigh the inherent rights of property owners against the historical legacy of the city? OR How would you have voted on the DeBoer historic
designation issue?
I would have voted against the DeBoer historical designation.

Is District 7 a neighborhood or is it a group of neighborhoods? What is your vision for these neighborhoods and the relationships between them?
District 7 is a group of neighborhoods. I advocate the further maturation of these neighborhoods through the power of the market economy and free enterprise.

What is it that you want to do if you are elected to City Council?
Maintain the positive momentum that Kathleen MacKenzie has generated. I’d like to help the Gates site developers get their proposed pedestrian/bicycle bridge built connecting the east side of Santa Fe Drive to the Platte River Bike Trail.

What does it mean to "preserve the character of the neighborhood" in WWP? Would we want to preserve the character of every neighborhood in District 7? How does this fit these neighborhoods into the Greenprint Denver plan? What needs to be preserved and what needs to change over the next 50 years? What would you do to start work in this area?
It’s a trite expression meaning “maintain the charm.” I would defer to private enterprise and our market economy to continue enhancing district 7.

If election to City Council can be seen as a first step in a public elected career, what are your aspirations, and what sort of political agenda do you have? What party affiliations or attractions do you have?
I’m a registered Republican, but I don’t vote a straight party line. I have no political ambition beyond city council. I enjoy teaching and I’ll probably keep my hand in it.

What are the city-wide issues you care most about? What approaches to working on those issues do you favor?
1. It’s no surprise, but I see a connection between our high drop out rate and the increasing popularity of gangs, and thus the ensuing graffiti. Getting kids to care about their education is a tough nut to crack. But the city as a whole, not just DPS, should take a vested interest in selling kids on the benefits of literacy.
2. Dedicated funding for Denver Parks & Recreation. I’d take a hard look at a RETT (real estate transfer tax). This would be unpopular with most realtors, but a case can be made that well-funded and maintained parks raise the value of adjacent land, thus the property tax as well. Denver has a lot of parks that are neglected due to funding shortages.
Maintain the parks, improve the neighborhood, increase the property values, and increase the property taxes.

Candidate forum at Denver Young Democrats meeting

TakeBackTheHouse has provided a terrific first-hand account of a recent candidates forum hosted by the Denver Young Democrats. I highly encourage you to read the entire article at SquareState, but include excerpts below for your convenience.

First came the Mayor:
He pointed towards future issues such as global warming as a place where simple changes on the municipal level could have ripples of impact. "Even if there is a 2% chance that 95% of leading scientists are right, we'd be insane not to spend billions." He didn't propose any billion dollar programs, but he did point to increasing the City's tree canopy as a way that we could have a real impact on the use of domestic and automotive air conditioners. The solutions he was looking for on all topics; environmental change, crime, etc. were ones where you were "not just throwing money at the problem," but ones that led to intelligent solutions. Putting more police on the streets was obviously a large contributor to Denver's 2006 10% drop in crime, but so too was the implementation of new systems that chart the hot spots in real time and help plan the new deployments.

Michael Hancock then followed:
He told us to be prepared to make some difficult decisions, and to decide if we were, "ready to pay more for a better managed government." He said that his constituents tended to make good decisions when given good information, but we have, "lost our way on some issues that are very very very germane to being Democrats." He encouraged the young crowd to become an army ready to knock on doors and to go around the media and the national organizations and find out again what changes the people really wanted in the neighborhoods. He looked around the room at all the hopeful candidates and said he had no doubt all of them were able to do the job, but wondered if all of them could look the people in the eye and make the hard decisions.

Doug Linkhart offered brief remarks about returning Denver to being a "shining example of Democratic values.":
After joking that he remembered what Denver politics was like back when he would march with Sojourner Truth, he said that this race today was mistakenly called 'non-partisan'. He said that it was very partisan, but that we were all on the same side. Aligned against us were the challenges we were facing.

Rick Garcia then spoke:
The very popular Councilman spoke of the great economic advantage brought to our businesses by foreign born residents, and how the research and policy dynamics in this region were changing with 12,000 people per day turning 60 years old.

Then came Clerk & Recorder candidate, Stephanie O'Malley:
She wants to be at the helm of the new office because, "It's no one's place to disenfranchise anyone from casting a vote." Obviously, conduct of the elections will be a large part of her role, but the Clerk's office also deals with many other issues. Increased foreclosures mean increased documentation flow. She says she intends to prepare the office to meet the statutory requirements of the greater workload, and improve accessibility by moving the old paper and microfiche documents into electronic form.

The narrator unfortunately missed the presentations of Kevin Slevin (write-in candidate for Clerk and Recorder) and Danny Lopez (mayoral candidate).
While you are at it, someone tell me where Paige Wolf came from. She is managing the campaign for Carol Boigon, and she has ~wunderkind~ written all over her. She is young, charismatic, and smart, so of course I am instantly suspicious. She made a very able surrogate for the Councilwoman-at-Large, and ran through her employer's accomplishments, including the redevelopment of the Lowenstein Theater into the Tattered Cover Bookstore. My job has me constantly researching the Council Members, and Boigon has easily the most interesting corners. She supports working family issues and development interests, her donors include labor, community leaders, and her husband's large oil company law firm buddies. I do not envy her having to appeal to the amazing clutter of an At-Large seat.

After a staffer for District 5 Councilwoman Marcia Johnson said a few words, two challengers were invited to speak:
R. J. Ours, a former government relations director for the American Cancer Society, spoke of building coalitions and investing in infrastructure. He said if we were going to spend, "three quarter of a billion of your tax dollars, I want the best price, best projects, and the best quality." He spoke of his work on Amendment 35 which increased the tobacco tax, and he advocated for smoke free casinos.

There was another candidate for District 5. He called himself a 'property rights advocate' and called for the abolishment of historic preservation designations. He talked about his experience in the 'energy infrastructure business.'

Then came Julie Connor for District 7:
As aide to the outgoing Mackenzie, she has the right to claim she represents a continuity of knowledge. Like my favorite candidates in the municipal elections she is an unashamed lover of provincial politics. Zoning issues, potholes, overlay districts; she loves that stuff.

Finally came the candidates for the District 8 City Council seat [it should be noted that although the description of all candidates seems exceedingly fair, the author of this account is himself a Darrell Watson supporter]:
First up was the very accessible Carla Madison. She shares Darrell Watson and Julie Conner's love for urban policy. She spoke about her work with the zoning code and about increasing density on the corridors of neighborhoods while preserving the character within them. She proposed a good idea about establishing a Senior Advocacy Hotline, and she finished with a statement that sounded a bit darkly cryptic, "Welton St. is sad. The 16th St. Mall is ailing. There are a lot of reasons. I won't go into why that is."

Greg Rasheed opened with a song. Really. "Helloooo Young Democraats wherever you arrrre. I hope yooou willlll vote for meeeeee..." Really. He sang. Then he talked about gang issues. Coming out of a childhood surrounded by gang culture he wants to "give young people hope." Part of that is starting a 'Youth Advisor Council'. "I'm not looking for the A students. I'm looking for the hard heads." He spoke about students, "already being earmarked not to pass."

....After a long day and too many speakers, I was ready to take a nap, but with incredible energy [Darrell Watson] moved around the room and woke people up. "Who here, who in this corner right here, which of you thinks City Government should work for you?" Darrell did, and he explained his vision for a 'City that Works'. Darrell can cover a lot of territory in two minutes; culture of the neighborhoods, economic development, safety, broken windows, bike lanes, advocacy for the people... but obviously you can't get into detail on anything in that time. So instead of just keeping it vague and running off, he stuck around for a long while to answer all the questions. An evening that started with a room full of politicians ended with a room full of active Young Democrats and a candidate interested in helping them make the city a little better.

Again, I highly recommend that you read the full account at

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Denver Decides

Denver's Channel 8 is starting its Denver Decides coverage, offering a current list of election events for broadcast:

March marks the start of Denver Decides, our effort to fully cover the candidates and races of the May Municipal Election. Denver 8 TV will give you a first look at the candidates in several races for city offices.

Denver Decides is a dynamic collaboration with recognized community groups active in organizing a variety of local forums. Leading our community partnership is InterNeighborhood Cooperation and the League of Women Voters.

Coverage of these forums can be seen beginning mid-month.

Clerk and Recorder forum
Mon., March 26, 9 pm

Council District #3 forum
Mon., March 26, 8 pm
Wed., March 28, 8 pm

Council District #7 forum
Sat., March 17, 8 pm
Sun., March 18, 2 pm
Mon., March 26, 10 pm

Council District #8 forum
Sat., March 24, 10 pm
Sun., March 25, 1 pm
Mon., March 26, 7 pm

District 7 candidate forum

Tonight, the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association is hosting a candidate forum for the District 7 City Council race.

Though space in the auditorium itself is expected to be tight, those interested may wish to tune in to Channel 8 television on Saturday March 17th at 8 pm and Sunday March 18th at 2 pm.

The forum will also be available online at Denver Channel 8.

Where are you?

If you're a candidate for city government in 2007, can the voting public find your campaign website? I'd suggest the following test: go to google and try to find your name (in quotes) along with the words "city council" (or whatever post you're running for) and "denver". For example:

"Kathy Sandoval" "city council" denver

If your site doesn't come up, preferably on the first page of results, folks may well have trouble locating you.

In the meantime, if you know of campaign site which is not listed among the roster of candidates to the right, please pass the information along. I suppose one or two candidates might actually be running without a campaign site, but I can't imagine you have much of a chance these days without a sustained and highly-findable Web presence.

Comments and suggestions requested.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Prophet's Predictions for 2007 races

On March 9th, the Wash Park Prophet predicted victories for all incumbents in the upcoming city elections. He also tabbed Stephanie O'Malley (Clerk & Recorder), Chris Nevitt (CD7), and Darrell Watson (CD8).

The only race he declined to predict was Council District 3.

The blog also provides brief descriptions of the candidates, which may also be helpful to voters craving more information.

Visit the Wash Park Prophet for the full article.

Candidates Fail To Report Donor Details

RMN political reporter Daniel Chacón today exposed widespread violations of the city's campaign finance laws.

According to the law, candidates must report both the occupation and employer of all donors who give more than $200.

However, they are failing to do so. Mayor Hickenlooper and Auditor Gallagher are among the violators, while Julie Connor's campaign seems to have been cleared. Other candidates were not mentioned in this story.

The only reason violators haven't been caught is that the Clerk & Recorder's office isn't doing their job and auditing any of these statements. Stephanie O'Malley is looking into the matter.

The full story can be found online: "Campaign Finance Laws Being Violated."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jockeying for position

Excitement is building. Selection Sunday is here, and in just a few hours we will know the full lineup for the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament also known as March Madness.

But Denver politicos are excited about an even more important day: Selection Monday. At 2 pm tomorrow at the Denver Election Commission offices, lots will be drawn to decide ballot position!

Will Connor be listed before Nevitt? Watson before Madison? Casewit before the Sandovals?

We'll know after tomorrow. Stay tuned...

POLL: City Council District 3

Official Disclaimer: Internet polls are NOT scientific and anyone who suggests otherwise is a fool.

CD1: Garcia running (officially) unopposed

Jason Bane wrote an article for Denver's 5280 Magazine that Councilman Rick Garcia is going to have an unexpectedly easier time running for re-election. The title of the piece was "You’ve Got to Know When to Fold ‘Em":
Denver’s city elections in May won’t be all that exciting given that many candidates don’t have challengers. Yesterday was the deadline to turn in signatures in order to qualify for the ballot, and four city council candidates didn’t even draw an opponent because nobody submitted any signatures. As the Rocky Mountain News reports, a fifth name could be added to that list…but one guy is still trying anyway. Gerald Lee Styron failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot in Council District 1 (North Denver), but he says he’s running as a write-in candidate.

That’s probably not a good idea, because I can virtually guarantee that Styron won’t beat incumbent Rick Garcia.

How do I know that?

Styron only needed to get 100 signatures in order to get his name on the ballot. 100!

If he couldn’t find 100 people who thought he should run for city council, the chances are pretty good that he’s not going to get a lot of people willing to write his name on the ballot in May.

Ballot question on DA term limits passes

As reported by Denver's Channel 8 television:
Council did vote to refer to the voters on the May ballot a question regarding term limits for the District Attorney.

Council Bill 100 asks voters whether or not to lengthen the term limits for the District Attorney to no more than three consecutive four-year terms.

The measure, if approved, would bring the DA in line with all other elected City officials, and would lengthen the time in office by one four-year term.

Ballot question on At Large Council voting fails

On March 5th, City Council considered a measure that would have changed the procedures for voting for At-Large Council members in Denver. Council Bill 92 would have asked voters to approve a charter change to require candidates running for an at-large council seat to receive a majority vote.

Denver's Channel 8 Update recorded the conversation as below:
As it stands now in the Charter, all at-large candidates run in a single pool and the two candidates who tally the most votes get the seats. The new measure would essentially split the race into two individual races.

Current Councilman-at-large Doug Linkhart, the sponsor of the bill, shared his reasoning for authoring measure…

“Let me tell you what I see the problem is. One is there are two people out of all the elected officials in Denver, including the Mayor, Auditor, Clerk and Recorder that we just created, and of my colleagues here, everyone else is elected by a majority except for the two At-Large. And what that creates is the possibility of having someone in this position who is elected by a slice of the population. I use myself as an example. I was elected with 17% of the vote. Now, hopefully, you think I represent the entire city. But that 17% could have easily gone to someone who doesn’t represent the entire city. It could be simply a slice of the population geographically or in some other way. So I would like to see the At-Large members elected by a majority to truly reflect the entire city. The second issue is accountability. There is no way currently, or let’s say it’s very difficult, to hold incumbents accountable in this position.”
- Doug Linkhart, City Council Member-at-Large

...Other Council members, predicting a low voter turnout in May, questioned the push to get this measure before the voters without hearing from the public.

“We are possibly looking at a turnout of between 10 maybe 12 percent. I think this is a serious issue. And if we really want to put it on the ballot, let’s do it in November when we have an 80 percent turnout.”
- Charlie Brown, City Council Member, District 6

“People say to me ‘WHAT? You’re running again? What? Four years has passed?’ So, they don’t even know the Council’s up, much less that there are going to be two issues on this ballot. And so I’m willing to vote not to put it on the ballot this time, but to do a better job of presenting it to the public so that they have time to weigh in.”
- Peggy Lehmann, City Council Member, District 4

District 9 Councilwoman Judy Montero added anther perspective to the opposition.

“I do not have letters of support from, for example, the League of Women voters, and that really bothers me. Because what that says to me is that maybe this initiative or this proposal before is not driven by the voters and it’s not driven by the community. And that really worries me.”
- Judy Montero, City Council Member, District 9

While the vote was 6 to 4 in favor, the bill was defeated as it failed to muster the required majority of council.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

POLL: City Council District 8

Official Disclaimer: Internet polls are NOT scientific and anyone who suggests otherwise is a fool.

Campaigns struggle for publicity in 2007

Denver Post reporter George Merritt today highlighted the very issue that initiated this blog. The article was entitled "Slew of council candidates under the radar."
No fewer than 18 candidates are vying for three open seats on the Denver City Council this spring, but the contests have largely gone under the radar without a high-profile race for mayor to draw attention to the campaign season.

...No one currently in Denver government knows the difficulties of running for office in a low-profile election year as well as outgoing Councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie. She won the only open seat on the council in 1999 - a year in which the incumbent mayor, Wellington Webb, won handily.

"I think that was one of the worst turnouts ever," MacKenzie said. "I was nervous as the day went by and the turnout was so low."

Similarly, this year's race for mayor is not likely to drive people to the polls. Mayor John Hickenlooper has a war chest closing on $600,000, and the only opponent to turn in petitions, Public Works employee Danny Lopez, does not have a campaign budget.

Hickenlooper officially launched his re-election bid Tuesday, filing more than four times the necessary 300 signatures.

Adding to the difficulty of stirring public interest, this year's election will be by mail ballot - effectively shortening the campaign for candidates because ballots go out about a month before the May 1 election day.

Regardless of the lack of buzz surrounding the election, Mac Kenzie and others said council seats are still won by pounding the pavement.

"The papers tend to cover the mayor ... but there's still not much coverage of the council race," MacKenzie said. "Those races are won by a real, door-to-door grassroots effort."

...Challengers facing the 10 council incumbents seeking re-election face the biggest obstacle. Since the 1970s, just three incumbents have been knocked out of a council seat.

"There is approximately a 95 percent re-election rate among incumbents" on the City Council, said John Bennett, a former council administrator who analyzed the council elections. "The chances of an incumbent losing is almost nil."

Waldo Benevidez on Immigration

Though no website could be found for the Walter Benevidez campaign, his views were outlined in an April 16, 2006 article in the New York Times. The article was entitled "3 Perspectives On Immigration," and Benevidez's role offered "A Liberal's Contrarian Views," as quoted below.
Mr. Benavidez has spent most of his adult life working on behalf of the poor. For the last 25 years he has managed the community center and a food bank here on Denver's west side, where low-income families can get groceries. He marched for civil rights in the 1960's and relishes the memory of his first vote for president, for John F. Kennedy, in 1960.

But immigration's tangled implications have pushed him out of his comfortable old political box with its predictably liberal labels and causes. Supporting the poor in America, he said, now means shutting down the system that has created a flood of even poorer immigrants from Mexico...

Mr. Benavidez, whose ancestors have been in the West for 250 years, since the days of the Spanish empire, supports sealing the Mexican border, and is working for a proposed ballot proposition here in Colorado that would deny government social services to illegal immigrants.

He rails against multinational corporations that he says have rigged the political systems of the United States and Mexico to keep the border porous as a tool for suppressing wages and labor unions.

Profile: Niccolo Casewit (CD3)

The Niccolo Casewit campaign today released a flier introducing local voters to his campaign and, most importantly, his stand on the issues. It is excerpted below:
Who is Niccolo Casewit?
Raised in West Denver’s Barnum neighborhood,
Niccolo Casewit is founder and principal architect of Environmental Productions. His extensive background in land planning, urban design and sustainability have been instrumental in shaping “quality of life” issues in West Denver.
  • Member of the Denver Mayor’s Infrastructure Priorities Task Force, Transportation Sub-committee.

  • Public Advocate for Denver’s Main Street Zoning Ordinance for E. Colfax, W. Colfax and Federal Blvd.

  • Stakeholder on the West Colfax Area Plan, Saint Anthony’s Hospital Redevelopment
    and the Civic Center Plan.

  • TOD Advocate for Transit-Oriented Development that encourages creation of pedestrian-friendly communities.

...Niccolo Casewit wants to work for you to create:

Safe Communities
Niccolo Casewit will work to strike out graffiti-vandalism and encourage prevention activities such as murals, performing arts, and other youth activities. He’ll promote increased law enforcement with greater parental responsibility. Niccolo will advocate increased funding of education opportunities for at risk youth leading to jobs in the building trades, health services and technology.

Neighborhood Vitality
It’s time to ‘fix’ Federal Boulevard, the stretch of road that connects the wonderfully diverse West Side communities. Improving Federal will boost civic pride, increase property values and accurately reflect the area’s vitality and culture.

Smart Growth & Strong Economy
With RTD FasTracks and other large improvement projects approaching, Denver’s District #3 is in a time of great change. Neighborhoods must be mobilized to participate in the planning and effective management of the $100 million road infrastructure investment planned for District 3. Casewit is working hard to ensure that West Denver developments are smartly planned, managed and executed.

Inclusive Leadership
Our community has demonstrated great talent and dedication. When we unite to elect a government that is responsive to citizen vision, we can solve challenges and create a diverse, enduring community. If elected as Councilman, Casewit will keep regular evening and weekend office hours to stay in contact with constituents and business owners.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Profile: Carla Madison (CD8)

The Carla Madison campaign recently released the following memo describing her biography and concerns. I'll call it a "profile" and quote it below:
Carla Madison, a Denver native and 16-year District 8 resident, has launched her campaign to run for the city council seat in District 8. The seat will be vacated later this year when District 8 councilperson Elbra Wedgeworth is term-limited.

“I’ve been working to better my district for 17 years,” Madison says from her home in the City Park West Neighborhood. “I’ve decided to increase my efforts on behalf of my neighbors by running for City Council.”

“Our district faces many challenges over the next few years,” Madison adds, “and I want to make sure we have a city council person who can properly address and manage these challenges.”

Madison is immensely qualified for the District 8 council seat, because she has a wealth of experience and expertise in working on behalf of her community.

She has served on a variety of city panels and task forces, including the Uptown Healthcare District Committee, the Manual High School Redevelopment Council, Children's Hospital Redevelopment, the Cabaret Liquor License task Force, the Off- Leash Dog Park Task Force and the Citizens Advisory Group to the Zoning Code Task Force.

Her extensive contributions to the North East Denver corridor include being founder and chair of the City Park Festival of the Arts, a non-profit arts and entertainment festival in its 7th year. In 2004 she was the architect of the City Park West OD-9 zoning overlay. The overlay preserved the existing character of the residential neighborhood, while defining and promoting development in determined corridors of a 30-block area west of City Park.

She is considered an expert on zoning issues and has consulted many neighborhoods dealing with the balance between development and stability. A strong advocate for small business, she is currently a co-coordinator of the Uptown Sampler and last year's startup Feast on the FAX.

Her numerous awards include the 2003 King Trimble Jr. Recognition Award, the Community Planning and Development Agency's 2004 Citizen's Award, and Capital Hill [sic] United Neighborhoods Good Neighbor Award.

Holding a BS in Physical Geography and a Masters in Physical Therapy from Boston University she has worked as a Physical Therapist for the Visiting Nurse Association for 17 years. Along with the Assistance League of Denver and the Dominican Sisters she has worked to provide the elderly in District 8 the equipment they need to be safe in their homes.

For more information, please visit her website at

Opinon: Hickenlooper's style needs improvement

Susan Barnes-Gelt may be the city's best political critic. In our polluted political atmosphere, we tend to equate a critic with applying negative judgments on others. But criticism derives from a Greek word, kritikos, meaning "one who discerns."

And that's what Barnes-Gelt does.

Mayor John Hickenlooper could especially use such discerning review. His seemingly-untouchable popularity creates a ripe environment for hubris and intellectual stagnation. The December 30, 2006 column below, entitled "Hick's Game Strategy Needs Work," provides a measure of reality and insight rarely seen these days, especially in the stagnating Denver dailies.
John Hickenlooper had a tough third quarter. Witness:

  • He dismissed high-profile architect Steven Holl amid charges and counter-charges about the designer's willingness to adhere to budget and program constraints for Denver's new courthouse.

  • The November mid-term election was a complete failure, from absentee ballots to vote centers.

  • Denver's all-weather international airport was shut down for 45 hours before Christmas, raising questions about crisis planning and management. Nearly all of Denver's side streets and too many commercial corridors remained impassable throughout the long holiday weekend.

  • Numerous senior appointees have resigned six months before the end of the mayor's first term.

For the 50-something, successful entrepreneur who promised to get rid of the "fundamental nonsense" of government, jumping out of an airplane looks easier than the sturm und drang of governing.

As he prepares for re-election in May, the mayor describes himself as an open-field runner, heading toward the goalposts with the ball. Hickenlooper wants to advance new ideas while looking to his Cabinet and staff to run interference and resolve skirmishes.

The mayor's track record of championing a bold idea and using the power of his high-persuasion personality and fund-raising skills to sell it remains strong.

His Achilles heel may be his failure to encourage challenges to the efficacy of a new program or big idea. Integrating and coordinating change into the balkanized silos of government requires enormous patience.

Case in point: voter approval of a sales-tax increase to fund preschool for Denver's 4-year-olds. Perhaps the narrow victory margin - 1.16 percent of the vote - reflected concerns about still-to-be-developed governance, quality assurance, full-day versus half-day, church-state conflicts, whether Denver will lose state-funded preschool slots and if providers will have to increase tuition despite the new $12 million.

Resolutely upbeat, the mayor believes the program will a template for the state and the nation. Never mind that implementation details remain unclear. Universal preschool is vital to the success of public education, the mayor argues.

Similarly, Hickenlooper's commitment to prudent financial management led him to cap the costs of the new justice center at $378 million - reducing the project's scope to come up with a figure that could be sold to the voters without a tax increase.

He also insisted on world-class architecture and set up a public jury to ensure a quality selection. Was the jury advised about serious budget constraints? No. When Steven Holl was selected - by a narrow 8-7 vote - did staff vigorously investigate the designer's record of completing public commissions with constrained budgets, communicating that information to the jury and the mayor? Apparently not.

John Hickenlooper sees Denver as a petri dish for innovation. His curiosity and acute intelligence draw him to big ideas, which he hopes to translate into broad and systemic change.

For three years, he has put himself at the leading edge of attractive trends - regional cooperation, expanded transportation infrastructure and sustainable development. His instincts and vision have been good for Denver and for the region.

However, God is in the details. Though surrounded by talented Cabinet and staff, like many relentlessly optimistic entrepreneurs he has little patience for bad news. He is a man accustomed to blowing through problems by sheer force of personality and positive thinking.

After nearly four years, perhaps he's learning that government isn't all nonsense. Unfettered boosterism may work for sports teams and economic development initiatives. But real change and authentic stewardship must be subject to critical thinking accompanied by the patient poking and prodding of a loving skeptic.

Just over the horizon are several key initiatives: a mammoth capital improvements list; the need to increase resources for annual maintenance and repairs; Sloan's Lake down-zoning and increasing private encroachments into Denver's fragile public right- of-way.

Perhaps city government and the public would be better served if Mayor Hickenlooper plays the role of tough head coach instead of open field runner.