Monday, April 30, 2007

Goodbye, greenhorn

I'm making a list this evening about entitled "Top Ten Ways to Ruin Your Political Prospects." The list isn't complete yet, but it includes oldies-but-goodies like:
10) Nevermind niceties like personal grooming.
9) Greet voters by kissing hands and shaking babies
8) Use your prison cell as campaign headquarters
... et cetera
More to the point of this post is the decision by Clerk and Recorder candidate Jacob Werther to end his political career before it started. Because if there's one way to ruin your own political prospects, it's to expose your own supporters to public ridicule.

For some reason, Werther has released to Colorado Confidential a personal phone message recently left on his answering service by Councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie. In it, MacKenzie apologizes for not being able to support Werther publicly, since she had previously pledged to support candidate Stephanie O'Malley.

Read the entire article in Mark Mehringer's "Apology Regarding Endorsement Leads to Hurt Feelings in Denver Clerk Race."

There's no serious harm in the release, aside from hurt feelings, but it certainly reveals a lack of both awareness and sensibility about basic political matters.

So in a last homage to Mr Werther before his drubbing at the polls is announced, we offer this thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"The best way to have a friend is to be a friend."

O'Malley pledges to do better

The backlog at the Clerk & Recorder's office has gotten a good deal of press lately. Today's Rocky Mountain News reports that appointed chief Stephanie O'Malley has fallen even further behind in the last few months, but is now taking steps to rectify the situation. Read the full article by Sara Burnett entitled "Clerk and recorder's office dives into big backlog of foreclosures."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gerald Styron's weird candidacy

Opposing Rick Garcia in Council District 1 is Gerald Styron. Although he failed to gather the required 100 signatures, he continues to mount a write-in campaign.

Westword's Amy Haimerl had an interesting confrontation with the man last week. His parting question was "What do I have to do to get your attention? Bring a gun?”

While the difficulty of political challengers garnering media attention in Denver is a very real one, Mr Styron's candidacy is a bit more loony than the norm. Through a personal media outlet he calls "Dragon Radio," he speaks directly to the masses.

Check out especially his tirade against public officials, irritation over barking dogs, and remarks before City Council.

The full discussion and more campaign materials are available at Westword's "Happiness is a Warm Gun When You're Running for City Council."

ProgressNow supports 1A

Michael Huttner of Progress Now urges support for ballot initiative 1A.
We need experienced district attorneys to prosecute criminals and protect the public. Question 1A will allow the Denver District Attorney to serve three terms, the same as all other Denver elected officials.

Question 1A is supported by Governor Bill Ritter, the Denver Bar Association, the Denver Firefighters, the Denver Police Protective Association, leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties, and thousands of your friends and neighbors.

"The Denver Bar Association supports Denver measure 1A, which will make the term limits for the Denver district attorney equal to the terms of other elected officials in Denver. All city officials, including the mayor, City Council members, auditor and county clerk, are allowed to seek three consecutive terms in office. Measure 1A would extend this provision to the district attorney, a position currently limited to two terms.

The job of district attorney is incredibly important to the safety of citizens, and is a job that requires expertise and knowledge. Allowing district attorneys the opportunity to serve three terms in office will promote justice and continuity in the prosecution of crimes in Denver. We urge voters to consider a "yes" vote on 1A."
-Paul H. Chan, President, Denver Bar Association

“As Denver's District Attorney for over a decade, I know that more experience leads to a more effective prosecutor. The people of Denver will benefit by allowing the district attorney the opportunity to seek three terms in office, like other elected officials in Denver. I am proud to join law enforcement leaders in supporting 1A.”
-Governor Bill Ritter

A partial list of Question 1A supporters:
Governor Bill Ritter
Speaker Andrew Romanoff
Representative Joel Judd
Senator Chris Romer
Representative Alice Borodkin
Representative Jerry Frangas
Representative Mike Cerbo
Councilman Michael Hancock
Auditor Dennis Gallagher
Denver Police Latino Organization
Former State Republican Party Chair Bruce Benson
Former State Senator Penfield Tate
Former State Senator Paul Sandoval
Josh Hanfling
David McReynolds

Please visit for more information.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

DIffering interpretations of Hick's relative popularity

Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News writes "Despite slips, Hick feels the love."

However, the real meat of the article is in the subtitle, which provides historical comparison: "Easy re-election was never in cards for Peña, Webb."
There are differing explanations for the Hickenlooper phenomenon, ranging from the mayor's boyish charisma to his history as a downtown businessman who is comfortable with Denver's corporate elite.

By contrast, both Peña and Webb were seen as outsiders who were committed to opening up City Hall to people who had been excluded - including women, Hispanics, blacks, and gays. Peña was Denver's first Hispanic mayor, and Webb was the city's first black mayor. Barnes-Gelt thinks that partly explains Hickenlooper's success...

Webb has said he believes minority mayors receive far more criticism than their Anglo counterparts.

"Both Mayor Peña and myself took arrows for being firsts," said Webb. "If you go up to City Hall and look at the picture of mayors, there are only two that are different. John is the 39th or 40th white man."...

Peña disagrees with those who attribute part of Hickenlooper's success to race. Peña says his narrow re-election in 1987 was largely because the local economy imploded during the mid-'80s oil bust.

"In 1987, any mayor would have received complaints regardless of ethnicity or race," said Peña.

Denver's largely white electorate gave him two terms and Wellington Webb three terms, Peña pointed out.

"The people of Denver have been very supportive of individuals regardless of ethnic background," he said...

Hickenlooper doesn't dispute that his background as the owner of several of downtown's most successful restaurants helped give him a network of well-connected supporters. But he was visibly annoyed at the suggestion he is part of a "white boys club."

"I think that characterization is unfair," he said. "We are as trusted and have as positive a relationship in Latino and African-American communities as we do in Anglo communities."

Where are all the ballots?

Turnout remains light for the 2007 Denver municipal election. Mark Mehringer of Colorado Confidential reports that with 2 business days left to vote, only 55,820 official ballots have been received.

29.5% of active voters (or 15.4% of the total voter registration list) have fulfilled their civic duty. Where are the rest of you?

Full details available online at "29.5% of Denver Ballots Returned So Far."

Please don't mail your ballot, because they must be RECEIVED by 7 pm on Tuesday.

Dropoff locations and hours can be found at the Election Commission website.

Fighting for civility in Denver City Council

Dear Denver has created another wonderful video montage of the soon-to-end feud between Council members Brown and MacKenzie.

The assembled quotes were taken from Council deliberations over the course of two weeks in March 2007. The concern arose from a number of situations when members of the public were berated, disdained, and talked down to. Councilwoman MacKenzie's stand on behalf of legislative civility was both long overdue and much appreciated.

Enjoy the video entitled "Diminution of Civility."

Friday, April 27, 2007

A scorecard for Hickenlooper's promises

Daniel Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News offers a rare and balanced profile of Denver's most overcovered campaign: that of Mayor John Hickenlooper. The article entitled Hickenlooper: Success, unfinished business is excerpted below:
The mayor, who faces nominal opposition in his re-election bid Tuesday, has made myriad commitments in the last four years. For the most part, he's done what he set out to do, but other promises still need more work...

In other big cities, crime is up. But not in Denver, which saw a 10 percent drop in 2006 after the city invested $22 million in safety-related technology and hired a consultant who believes — in a nutshell — that fixing "Broken Windows" and other signs of lawlessness leads to safer neighborhoods...

He's visited nearly every public school, telling wide-eyed Denver children that college translates into $1 million more in earnings over the course of their lifetimes.

The city is also going "green," encouraging energy conservation and recycling, and the mayor, a geologist, is leading the way by driving a hybrid Ford.

His 10-year plan to end homelessness has helped hundreds of people find shelter and services...

However, several of the mayor's initiatives haven't been so successful. Some of his highly-publicized promises to reform city government have yet to be realized...

Andrew Wallach, a senior aide to each of Denver's past three mayors, including Hickenlooper, said Hickenlooper hasn't fulfilled a promise to find ways to track the performance of city agencies...

Wallach ran the office of accountability and reform for Hickenlooper for eight months. He says the mayor backed off major reform after running into opposition from the bureaucracy...

Hickenlooper promised that Blueprint Denver, the city's land-use and transportation plan, would be a guiding vision in the preservation and revitalization of the city's neighborhoods. But some elected officials and residents say the plan offers no incentives for investment in "areas of change" and that development in "areas of stability" is ruining neighborhood character...

Hickenlooper advocates transparency in government, but he refused to identify the person who offered to donate $150,000 to support gang prosecutions...

Parents of former Cole Middle School students say the mayor promised "full college tuition" to every 2003-04 Cole student who graduated from high school. But the mayor says he promised that money wouldn't be a barrier for them to attend college, and the city would help cover the "gap" between tuition and other scholarships and financial aid won by the student.

Predictions found in Westword comics

Westword's Kenny Be has weighed in on the upcoming election, playing on themes of boredom and silliness.

Prospective winners are indicated for all offices, included contested races as Council District 3 (Kathy Sandoval, Paul Lopez), Council District 7 (Shelly Watters, Julie Connor), and Council District 8 (Carla Madison, Darrell Watson).

Then there's the fun made of challengers Waldo Benevidez, Niccolo Casewit, and RJ Ours.

It seems to be all in good fun... and anything that helps to alert folks to the election is a good thing. View the original comic with all its caricatures at Westword's "Worst Case Scenario."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hickenlooper seeks universal access to cable

An article in Florida's Palm Beach Post quoted Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper regarding telecommunications access for the masses. The excerpt below is from "Phone cable plan touted as boon, feared as bias":
In Colorado, Qwest Communications lost its fight in the legislature to get one statewide permit to sell cable, in large part because it wouldn't agree to build its fiber-optic cable everywhere.

"It's going to be as important as the telephone," Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said. "Would we let a telephone company not build out to certain parts of the city?"

Channel 9 mayoral profiles

Adam Schrager of Channel 9 News boldly offers a profile of one of the the least competitive races in Denver: "A Look at Denver’s Mayoral Candidates."

Mayor John Hickenlooper's profile aired on April 24th at 4 pm ; challenger Danny Lopez's profile aired on April 25th. Both are presented as a single article online, as excerpted below:
John Hickenlooper

...Hickenlooper came from a career running restaurants to win a resounding victory in June 2003. He promised better relations with the city of Aurora and with the state of Colorado and by all accounts, has delivered. However, his biggest campaign pledge was to do business differently; to treat Denver city government as a business.

He sees this re-election campaign as a referendum on whether Denver voters think he's come through on his goals...

Despite significant popular support (poll results show his approval ratings in the 70 percent range), his administration has made decisions that have been challenged. He entered office with a budget deficit and vowed not to cut city services to balance it. His decision to put all city workers on unpaid leave for three days left numerous employees angry. Plus, the fact the city was crippled for a period of time during last winter's blizzard opened Hickenlooper's administration to criticism that he was out of touch.

He says he hopes Denver residents realize his administration may not have been perfect, but it worked as hard as possible to create a better, more accountable city...

Danny Lopez

Danny Lopez realizes the odds he's facing taking on incumbent John Hickenlooper, but the Public Works employee is drawing inspiration from the smallest Denver Nugget as he seeks to make history.

"I'm out there to give voters an alternative choice to Mayor Hickenlooper," said Lopez. "If there are people out there not satisfied with the job he's done, they at least have an alternative choice. If Allen Iverson is the 'Answer,' Danny Lopez is the 'Alternative.'"...

"I think there are some poor neighborhoods this administration has forgotten," Lopez said. "The city workers are clearly forgotten. Forty percent of the workforce hasn't seen a raise in four years."

Lopez is not one of that 40 percent, but believes it is his responsibility to stand up for those who don't feel capable of standing up for themselves...

The self-described underdog wants to be known as the "Alternative" and if he proves successful, he says his victory will be remembered as Denver's "great miracle."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What your city officials USED to say

The exercise with Mr Werther got me to wondering what our city officials' websites looked like way back, even before they were elected. And by extension, how do they compare to their official actions?

Using a wonderful resources called the Wayback Machine, I perused the old websites. One limitation is that certain graphics may not load and links may be broken, but you can still navigate (guessing at what the missing images may have shown) and see what they had to say about themselves.

I invite you to peruse Denver's election facades as they looked in April 2003.
John Hickenlooper
Dennis Gallagher
Rick Garcia
Jeanne Faatz
Rosemary Rodriguez
Peggy Lehmann
Marcia Johnson
Kathleen MacKenzie
Elbra Wedgeworth
Judy Montero
Jeanne Robb
Michael Hancock
Carol Boigon
Did you notice anything different or strange? Comments, ideas, and critiques of "how they were then" appreciated.

Soporific Rick

Dear Denver has compiled an amusing little video on Councilman Rick Garcia and his excessive, um... speech disfluencies.

Voting for bicycles

Everyone votes what they know, what they want, and what they fear (or some mix thereof). Today, touches on the issue of bicycles in the city of Denver, and how that impinges upon the Council District 8 election as well the future of his neighborhood.

In "A Cyclist For City Council District 8," he writes: "I believe the bicycle can solve many of today's problems":
Childhood obesity? Get kids on their bikes. Adult obesity? How about cycling as a low-impact, fun and healthy adult activity? Concerned about traffic? Get more people on bikes for commuting. Dependence on foreign oil? Pollution? Ditto. Even the issue of gangs and keeping youth out of trouble has some relevance to cycling--Supposedly Fred Rodriguez, one of the top American competitive cyclists, credits the bicycle for keeping him from heading down the path of destruction that many of his friends did, growing up in urban Los Angeles.

Denver is a relatively bicycle-friendly city thanks to efforts by Bicycle Colorado, Bike Denver, and other advocacy organizations, but the bicycle needs to be taken into consideration in any urban planning to be done in North Denver, too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Werther's expanding Web presence

Today I came across another first in the May 2007 municipal elections: a candidate buying weblinks.

Perusing the Rocky Mountain News, I saw the following sponsored links at the bottom:

I clicked on his site and found a greatly-improved Web presence, including the heroic flag pose and lots of white space.

I remembered his old site to be bland and blue, disorganized and rambling. It appears he is taking the race a lot more seriously now, as O'Malley has begun to stumble.

For fun, I went to recover the information from old Internet sites, but all I came up with was this: Werther's web presences from roughly 2002-2005:

In any event, I thought the paid weblink was novel and the history of his site renovations at least mildly interesting. Enjoy!

Video Interview: Paul Lopez (CD3)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer recently interviewed Paul Lopez, candidate for City Council representing Council District 3.

Born and raised in West Denver, Lopez discussed a community activism inherited from his mother, a bilingual kindergarten teacher.

Lopez mentioned graffiti & crime as the #1 issue in District 3. For solutions, he suggests better libraries, rec centers, and schools, as well as stiff penalties.

His #2 issue was business revitalization. Improving city services, road developments along Federal Boulevard, and flower-filled parks were among the suggestions (he later indicates that District 3 has less park space than any other district in the city). He expressed frustration with the adult bookstores, liquor stores, and check cashing places that dominate the area.

As for education, he notes that the city does have responsibility for student opportunities outside of school hours. Transit-oriented development is discussed as relates to property values, business planning, and FasTracks in general.

The most interesting question referenced Paul's age. He calls his youth a benefit, reflecting new leadership and understanding of new challenges.

Unique city government needs in Council District 3

Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News offered a lengthy look into the Council District 3 race that focused on the people and the issues as much as the candidates, providing a window into a world that most Denver voters don't even know exists.
A casual visitor to west Denver might wonder if he was still in the Mile High City.

Deserted homes lost to foreclosure seem to dot every other block. Graffiti is splashed over garage doors and on fences. Cars are parked on front lawns and a few houses even have boarded- up windows.
Former City Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez sees the area as "on the brink. It could stay the way it is, slide backwards, or really become vital."
What frustrates Rodriguez is that west Denver has real advantages that should make it appealing: easy access to downtown, affordable single-family homes, and some of the best Mexican and Asian food in the city.
Because the district is 72% Hispanic, it represents an awful lot of folks either unfamiliar with or excluded from the process of Denver city government. Rodriguez quoted a most shocking statistic, indicating that "Half the district is ineligible to vote because of citizenship status or age."

Each candidate for City Council in District 3 is then briefly profiled. A good paragraph is all that the crowded, 7-person field can be spared.

We invite you to read their comments directly in the article entitled "Denver's West Side Home of Frustration."

Cole Neighborhood blog urges you to vote for...

The ostensible goal of Cole Neighborhood blog's "Get Your Denver Election Ballots In!" is to increase participation:
It's shocking to me how little action some residents take in improving their neighborhood - whether it be participating in their neighborhood association meetings, volunteering, getting involved with neighborhood safety, or even more basically, VOTING.
The author ties this lack of involvement to the endemic difficulty of getting Denverites to participate in any form of local government:
One couple is never short on complaints about Cole--Whether it be the crime problem, the trash problem, the condition of their neighbor's home, etc.--Yet despite numerous efforts on my part to get them involved in the neighborhood, it has been somewhat like keeping a candle lit in a gusty windstorm.

Similarly, we've had neighborhood meetings as large as 45 people, but inevitably, the next one shrinks back down to the same 4 or 5 involved residents. How do these people expect things to change in Cole? It takes a few, committed individuals, some luck, and some momentum. But it starts by getting involved, rather than just complaining.
Yet to us, the more interesting part comes when the unnamed blogger BigSprinter offered endorsements. In addition to John Hickenlooper, the site endorses Dennis Gallagher and Stephanie O'Malley for somewhat facile reasons (e.g., "because the Denver Post endorses them, and for reasons that make sense to me.").

More substantive remarks are directed at the candidacies of Doug Linkhart and Carol Campbell:
Doug Linkhart seems dissatisfied in both Mr. Hickenlooper's and outgoing Councilmember Elbra Wedgeworth's track record in tackling the many issues North Denver metro neighborhoods face. Additionally, he seems sincerely interested in "filling in" and redeveloping the blighted "horseshoe" that still rings the redeveloped downtown to the north (and of which Cole belongs). Similarly, he shares my belief that the North Denver neighborhoods like Cole, Whittier, and Curtis Park at this point have enough homeless, drug and alcohol-related shelters--It's time for Highlands, and some of the other urban Denver 'hoods to do their part and host some of these important facilities.

Carol Campbell similarly seems ready to tackle head-on the crime and disorder issues that plaque urban Denver. I applaud her for consistently not skirting the issues, or candy-coating her opinions. For example, she's not afraid to speak out about the dim-witted Denver tradition of spending police dollars every year to facilitate Cinco de Mayo cruising. Is she being racist in speaking out about it? Come on, people. I don't care if they're Starbucks-drinking yuppies blasting Yanni in their 3-series BMW's, cruising is a big problem, that adversely affects residents and businesses along the Federal corridor. I lived over there, and know first-hand. So, because Carol Campbell is a straight-shooter that has the interests of responsible, law-abiding urban Denver residents in mind, she gets my vote.
Finally, the site endorses Carla Madison in Council District 8. The explanation was negative insofar as BigSprinter was troubled by the candidacies of Darrell Watson, Greg Rasheed, and Sharon Bailey, for some well-considered reasons.
Which brings us to Carla. Why do I like Carla? One, she isn't a good public speaker. I know, you're probably laughing now, but while I wish she'd practice her public speaking skills a bit more so more people would embrace her, I feel that what you see is what you get with her--And that makes all the difference too me.

She also supports Broken Windows, stimulating redevelopment while maintaining the historical and architectural character of the neighborhood, and she has consistently attended neighborhood and Cole-Whittier Against Crime meetings (not just the one where all the candidates were in attendance to give their sales pitch). Not to mention that she has a strong track-record at the neighborhood level as president and involved member of her City Park neighborhood association.

Whomever you pick, VOTE! And the bottom line is realistically that any of the above candidates will be an improvement over Elbra Wedgeworth, who checked out years ago.

Video Interview: Kathy Sandoval (CD3)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer recently interviewed Kathy Sandoval, candidate for City Council in Council District 3.

After brief remarks about her background in local schools and city planning work, the discussion turned to neighborhood interest in the new light rail system to District 3. Sandoval demonstrates a strong understanding of balancing development opportunities and community needs.

Transportation then gave way to a discussion of foreclosures, which leads to further concerns about graffiti, crime, and property values in general. Sandoval foresees solutions through housing non-profits, land banking, and effective targeting of resources to District 3.

Sandoval directed a question about education toward city-school partnerships, and the nexus between educational performance and neighborhood communities.

More information available in the 12-minute discussion.

Video Interview: Doug Linkhart (At-Large)

Colorado Confidential's Kerri Rebresh interviews Doug Linkhart, candidate for one of the two City Council At-Large seats.

Linkhart discusses his background in the federal government, state government, neighborhood associations, and city council.

Overall philosophy is "investing in people." He speaks to mundane issues like expanded after-school opportunities and public safety initiatives in ways that reference the real lives of Denver citizens.

With the exceedingly-meager "safety net" offered by state funds, the work done on the city level becomes ever more obvious. Linkhart tries to save money wherever possible, including the great hope that Denver's new jail would never have to be built. His remarks focus on the effects of substance abuse in Denver, which are particularly prevalent in our city.

This is another terribly impressive interview, and recommended for others to review.

Video Interview: Carol Boigon (At-Large)

Colorado Confidential continues its video interviews with candidates, as Kerri Rebresh interviews Carol Boigon, candidate for City Council At-Large candidate Carol Boigon.

Boigon's biographical story is especially interesting, ranging from her Detroit origins, teaching background, reportorial work, and then service to Governor Roemer, presidential candidate Bill Clinton, and Mayor Wellington Webb.

She highlights her work in allowing neighborhood daycare facilities and supporting the new Denver preschool initiative.

Boigon's primary concern is making Denver better for children and families. She provides a compelling discussion of safety, culture, and education, and how they provide the central foundation of a strong city.

She also discusses in hard detail the development of Colfax, referencing both the process that led to the new Tattered Cover and the plans to use Main Street zoning on behalf of Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7.

In my personal opinion, this is one of the most impressive interviews of all the city electoral candidates. I recommend it to others.

Got ballot?

If you haven't gotten a ballot yet for the May 2007 municipal elections, you still may be eligible to pick one up. Contact the Denver Election Commission, as per their news release below:

Active Denver voters who haven’t received their ballot for by their regular mail delivery time on Wednesday, April 18, should contact the Denver Election Commission to get a replacement ballot form.

The DEC can be reached at 720-913-VOTE (8683). The office is located at 303 W. Colfax Ave. Dept 101 and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 20.

Beginning Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27, the office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and also on Monday, April 30. The DEC will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day and replacement ballots may be requested on Election Day.

Ballots must be returned to the Commission by 7 p.m. on May 1. Ballots received after 7 p.m. will not be counted regardless of postmark.

Ballot dropoff site details

The Denver Election Commission is announcing new drop-off sites for your ballot, which must be RECEIVED no later than next Monday at 7 pm. A postmarked envelope dropped in the mail next Monday afternoon will not count. More details below:

The Denver Election Commission will have 13 sites (new site added) available for voters to drop off their ballots for the Tuesday, May 1 General Municipal Election.

Even though the May 1 Election is an all-mail ballot election, some voters prefer to place their ballots in a ballot box instead of a mailbox. The secure ballot boxes at the drop-off sites will be staffed by teams of election judges.

Since only sworn Election Judges are to receive ballots, the DEC requests that voters do not attempt to drop ballots off at these locations before or after the posted hours.

The following drop-off locations will also be available Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27, and again on Monday, April 30 from 10 AM - 7 PM.

Athmar Recreation Center, 2680 W. Mexico Ave.
Montclair Recreation Center, 729 Ulster Way
Barnum Recreation Center, 360 Hooker St.
New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Blvd. ***New Site
District 3 Police Station, 1625 S. University Blvd.
Scheitler Recreation Center, 5031 W. 46th Ave.
Eisenhower Recreation Center, 4300 E. Dartmouth Ave.
Tattered Cover Bookstore, 1628 16th St.
Harvey Park Recreation Center, 2120 S. Tennyson St.
Tattered Cover Bookstore, 2626 E. Colfax Ave
Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 E. 53rd Ave.
Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave.

The DEC headquarters located at 303 W. Colfax Ave. will also be available for ballot drop-off from 8 AM - 7 PM. Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27 and again on Monday, April 30. The DEC will also have curbside drop-off on Court Place between Colfax and 14th St. from 7 AM - 7 PM on Election Day, Tuesday, May 1.

All sites will be open from 7 AM - 7 PM on Election Day.

Ballots MUST be in NO LATER than 7PM on ELECTION DAY.

Monday, April 23, 2007

O'Malley in the hot seat

At 11:09 am today, Channel 7 became the first media outlet with enough cohones to investigate allegations of impropriety by an incumbent in the Denver municipal elections.

Stephanie O'Malley hasn't been elected before, but she is the appointed Clerk & Recorder, which means we can evaluate not only her statements, but also her performance on the job.

We invite all voters to read "Foreclosures Held Up Because Of Clerk's Failure To Follow Law" and decide whether the allegations represent a serious public failing.

Below is an excerpt:
Hundreds of mortgage foreclosures worth millions of dollars are being held up because the Denver Clerk and Public Trustee failed to follow state law.

The state law requires that homeowners be notified of the foreclosure within 20 days before proceedings can move forward, and a Notice of Election and Demand must also be recorded by the Denver Public Trustee. The law is in place so that a homeowner is given time to pay any back payments and fees.

Stephanie O'Malley was appointed Clerk and Public Trustee by Mayor John Hickenlooper in January, and is running for election as the permanent Denver Clerk and Recorder, which would make her responsible for fixing the city's troubled elections.

When O'Malley took the job of Clerk and Public Trustee, she inherited a backlog of hundreds of foreclosures.

The build up may mean some Denver residents get to stay in their homes for free.

"It takes time for me as an individual to get up to speed, to understand the nature of the business around here. You know, as much as I want to sit here and claim I've been a clerk and recorder before or a deputy public trustee, I have not," O'Malley said.

...There have now been almost 1,000 foreclosures withdrawn.

O'Malley's critics question her ability to run elections in light of the problems with the foreclosure issue, but she said she can do the job if she has enough people and resources to make it work.
Update 4/23: Dear Denver has offered a longer view of failures in the Clerk & Recorders office, trailing back to Rosemary Rodriguez's tenure in that office. She also notes that if all of these appointed leaders are failing, perhaps those placing them in the office (namely, John Hickenlooper over the last 4 years) are also failing us.

Gallagher's spaghetti remarks

Denver Direct has videotaped the Denver Democrats spaghetti dinner, and offers the following vignette of Dennis Gallagher on the campaign trail, complete with glad-handling, puffery, and jokes in Latin.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

POLL: City Council District 7

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

What's at stake in the Clerk & Recorder election

Rocky Mountain News reporter Daniel Chacon has offered an excellent, balanced review of the current Clerk & Recorder race.

The post not only provides biographical details about the candidates, but actually discusses the real issues behind the race itself and plans to implement once the election is decided.

I highly recommend review of the article, entitled "Two vie for clerk and recorder post: Candidates' views differ on precincts vs. vote centers."

Historic hangar left hanging

On behalf of Lowry rsidentcs, Dino Maniatis sent a letter to Councilwoman Marcia Johnson expressing frustration over the desired preservation of historic Hangar #2. The Cherry Creek News recently published the correspondence as "A Letter from Lowry," as excerpted below:
Most of your constituents I have spoken to overwhelmingly oppose the demolition of Hangar 2, regardless of the reason. A fraction of those are uninformed or indifferent, and even fewer than that support such a proposal at all...

We are writing to you not just as residents of Lowry and citizens of Denver, but as stewards of our community. The planning of Lowry did not and does not include the convenient disposal of what is considered the architectural cornerstone of this community. These hangars represent more than just heritage and history. They serve to remind us all of the remarkable efforts and sacrifices of many great Americans. It would be a very grave error indeed should we find ourselves incapable of safeguarding a legacy that helps define the meaning of the word, American.

Imagining Hickenlooper's second term

When everyone is ac-centuating the positive, it's especially important to inject a dose of reality into the discussion. That's just what the Cherry Creek News did yesterday in an article entitled "Sending Hickenlooper Back."

Rising above a bland retelling of Mayor John Hickenlooper's fan base, the News investigates some of the soft spots in his strength. They especially note the departure of senior staffers such as Michael Bennet and Cole Finegan, which has left City Council members and others "uncertain as to who to go to on given issues."

The article also discusses serious shortfalls in the current administration:
In three substantial policy areas, Hickenlooper has disappointed: economic development, health care, and community planning. In economic development, the city and region continue to lose headquarter companies, and long term that impact will hurt everything from wages to philanthropy. In building small businesses and attracting start-ups, the cover remains relatively bare. The city desperately needs to pioneer new economic development strategies that go beyond the tired patterns of the past. In health care, Denver’s number of uninsured continues to grow. Hospital beds, trauma care and basic health services continue to leave the city, leaving a crisis for the future. The glacial pace of a zoning update that would protect neighborhoods, and effectively balance scrape-offs with the need for new investment and housing stock has been disastrous. Many neighborhoods are changed forever, and much of the city’s historic character and livability are at risk. Replacing hundred year-old homes with disposable development that won’t last more than thirty years makes today’s bad decisions a painful legacy for future generations.

Video Interview: Shelly Watters (CD7)

Colorado Confidential's Kerri Rebrush interviewed Shelly Watters, City Council candidate for Council District 7.

Watters speaks to her personal background and work with former City Council Councilwoman Joyce Foster and current Councilwoman Carol Boigon.

She speaks to her knowledge of zoning and constituent services, and discusses the fun of running for City Council.

As for the locus of her support, she indicates that she is the only candidate who served on a neighborhood board.

Her top issues are safety and graffiti. She indicates that the rebuilding of higher-density homes is a real issue on the east side of Council District 7 (in contrast, Julie Connor and Chris Nevitt see that as an issue on the west side of the district).

She goes on to talk about the public schools and the impact of city government on the daily lives of citizens.

She pledges to locate her Council office in the district itself, instead of downtown at the City & Council Building, as well as meet regularly with the presidents of registered neighborhood organizations.

Deactivated voters in a sonorous campaign

Guerin Lee Green of the Cherry Creek News provides a good overview of the controversy and fallout of the Election COmmission's decision to decommission Denver's active voter list in "One hundred thousand voters disenfranchised for May election." An excerpt is provided below:
“With more than 20,000 voters leaving the polls in Denver on November 7th, 2006, the Denver Election Commission’s decision to not mail ballots to the additional 50,000 voters who voted in 2004 is adding insult to injury,” said Rich Pelletier, Colorado State Director for America Votes. “It is all of our sincere hope that the DEC will reverse its decision and not multiply the awful effects of the 2006 election here in Denver.”

...Denver Election Commission spokesman Alton Dillard says the Election Commission has ordered four hundred thousand ballots, enough for all of the “inactive” voters. Voters in Denver unsure of their status can call the Election Commission at 720-913-8683 to reactivate or confirm their status.

What the city should call foreigners who aren't allowed to work in the US

A "Tempest in a Teapot" has arisen over the correct phrasing of "undocumented workers" or "illegal aliens," as reported by Dear Denver.

Councilwoman Judy Montero initiated the conversation in a 1-minute segment of a recent City Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Mayor John Hickenlooper denies any official city policy regarding the matter.

Update 4/24: The persnickety George in Denver is outraged by the comments. See his post entitled "Judy Montero - Patronized and Pandered" for his seething anger.

Don't let the dogs in

In an article entitled "An Election? What Election? Oh, You Mean the Developers Dream Team!" George in Denver echoes other discussions of Denver's boring elections. But he offers a twist. Actually, two.

First, as the title indicates, George recognizes that in the absence of public interest, special interests will rule. And who are foremost among those special interests? Developers.

Second, George decides to do something about it. Rather than vote at all, he decides to cast his ballot for his dog.

Will that scare the special interests? I doubt it. I'd rather investigate the candidates, participate in the public process, and vote.

Don't leave city government to the dogs.

Video Interview: Greg Rasheed (CD8)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer interviewed Greg Rasheed, City Council candidate in Council District 8.

The YouTube servers were having trouble with these videos at press time, so the URL is presented here without comment.

Video Interview: Carla Madison (CD8)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer interviewed Carla Madison, City Council candidate in Council District 8.

She discusses her background in physical therapy and discusses some of the most important issues to her, including zoning, affordable housing, and neighborhood preservation.

Youth was another major focus, including public schools and gangs.

A new question also popped up in this interview: "what is it like to be a candidate?" Madison speaks of the roller coaster experience, with great highs such as the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News endorsements.

Later questions went to business needs, vacancy rates, and the like.

Video Interview: Darrell Watson (CD8)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer interviews Darrell Watson, City Council candidate in Council District 8.

Unlike other interviews, Watson cleverly sat himself in front of a projected image of his campaign advertisement. The camera isn't well placed, however, placing Watson on the extreme right of the screen and washing out his visage.

To more substantive points, Watson begins with biographical details, including his large family and upbringing in the Virgin Islands. He discusses educational concerns, partnerships with private foundations, and community policing.

He also discusses zoning as a long-term planning tool, ensuring higher density structures among major thoroughfares and opposing comprehensive overlays as negative expressions of neighborhood fears.

Profile: Stephanie O'Malley (Clerk & Recorder)

We found it! For the first time, we can actually access Stephanie O'Malley's own online presence at her campaign website.

We have no idea how long it's been online, but persistent efforts to locate the same (as outlined in several previous posts) finally paid off.

You are invited to visit her site for more details on O'Malley's candidacy, but we found her biography most interesting. Why? Because she utterly failed to mention who her parents were. They were kind of important to Denver, and to her governmental appointments.

What an interesting (and yet understandable) omission.

Turnout so far... and where to vote

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer reports that 30,000 voters have submitted ballots in May 2007's all-mail election, representing roughly 16% of the electorate.

That percentage seems fairly healthy given the recent delivery of ballots and the weeks remaining until D-Day, but is perhaps less impressive considering the nearly 100,000 people who are no longer counted as "active" voters.

Folks who haven't yet submitted a ballot by now to get out and vote. To that end, Mehringer also offers the following public service message:
Voters have until 7pm on May 1 to get their ballots in to the Election Commission by either mailing them in at a cost of 63 cents in postage, or dropping them off at one of 14 locations across the city.

April 23-27 and April 30, 8am to 7pm
Denver Election Commission Office - 303 W. Colfax Dept. 101

April 23-27 and April 30, 10am to 7pm
Athmar Recreation Center - 2680 W. Mexico Avenue
Barnum Recreation Center - 360 Hooker Street
District 3 Police Station - 1625 S. University Boulevard
Eisenhower Recreation Center - 4300 E. Dartmouth Avenue
Harvey Park Recreation Center - 2120 S. Tennyson Street
Wellington Webb Building - 201 W. Colfax Avenue
Scheitler Recreation Center - 5031 W. 46th Avenue
Montbello Recreation Center - 15555 E. 53rd Avenue
Montclair Recreation Center - 729 Ulster Way
Tattered Cover Bookstore (Lodo) - 1628 16th Street
Tattered Cover Bookstore (Colfax) - 2526 E. Colfax Avenue

May 1, 7am to 7pm
Denver Election Commission Office - 303 W. Colfax Dept. 101
Drive Thru Ballot Drop Off - Court Place off of Colfax Ave

Election information on Channel 8 TV

Channel 8 TV is patting itself on the back, calling itself "the one place where you can compare candidates, explore the issues and get all your election information."

That may be a bit self-congratulatory, but since they're not running for office, we'll let it pass.

And we do encourage you all to visit their election programming online for "candidate introductions, community-based debates, complete transcripts and Election Night results."

Take special note of the navigation bar on the right, with the full Meet The Candidate links and an ever-expanding list of community forums to watch.

You should have your ballot by now

If you haven't received your ballot yet, it's time to be worried. The Denver Election commission has issued the following press release regarding ballots:
Active Denver voters who haven’t received their ballot for by their regular mail delivery time on Wednesday, April 18, should contact the Denver Election Commission to get a replacement ballot form.

The DEC can be reached at 720-913-VOTE (8683). The office is located at 303 W. Colfax Ave. Dept 101 and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 20.

Beginning Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27, the office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and also on Monday, April 30. The DEC will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day and replacement ballots may be requested on Election Day.

Ballots must be returned to the Commission by 7 p.m. on May 1. Ballots received after 7 p.m. will not be counted regardless of postmark.

Did the Clerk & Recorder election break election laws?

According to former Denver Election Commissioner Jan Tyler, Denver's January 2007 election violated Ordinance #851. It was conducted after just 30 days notice, yet the controlling ordinance requires at least 60 days notice.

Dear Denver wonders "What if, on May 1, a judge declares Denver's January special election void?"

In essence, the judge would have to decide whether the election violated city election laws. And if so, what's the remedy?

It's possible that our current Clerk & Recorder race between Stephanie O'Malley and Jacob Werther would be for a non-existent seat. We'd have to have another special election to validate the need for an elected Clerk & Recorder, and one more special election for the potential candidates for this seat. All of this would be the result not of some "mad" judge, but of the city's failure to follow its own ordinances.

What a shame. But what a question. Where do you think it'll land?

More details available from Lisa Jones in "Can An Election Be Nullified"?

Video Interview: Niccolo Casewit (CD3)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer interviewed Niccolo Casewit, City Council candidate for Council District 3.

Casewit focuses on the use of Federal Boulevard as a pedestrian zone, instead of just an automotive thoroughfare. As a working architect, he believes he has special insights into zoning concerns. As a lifelong Barnum resident and graduate of the public schools, he believes he understands the special qualities of the district.

As for crime, Casewit talks at length about graffiti, illegal dumping, and gangs.

Whereas most CC interviews have ranged from 10-15 minutes, this discussion extended to nearly a half an hour. We welcome visitors to view the entire discussion.

Denver Direct posts impugning the Madison candidacy

Does Denver Direct have it in for the Carla Madison campaign? A series of negative posts this week seem to run a one-note theme.

The Darrell Watson campaign has previously indicated that the author of Denver Direct supports their candidate. However, the site does not indicate open support of any other candidate, and the posts (which are listed below) provide objective data, so visitors are welcome to interpret the posts however they choose.

April 17th - "Flag This" about Madison's use of the Colorado flag into campaign materials.

April 18th - Financial hope and resignation in the City Park West Neighborhood Association, suggest improprieties in the Madison's leadership.

April 19th - "The Overlay Railroad" questioning whether Madison "implemented a 30-block overlay with 100% approval."

Update 4/24: A new post has now been added, with the author converting an informal interview after the Denver Democrat's spaghetti dinner into a series of questions and answers. While we were not there, "Why are You Being So Mean to Me?" seems to offer rather unfair characterizations of candidate Madison's statements, and thus strikes us as more attack than journalism.

Video Interview: Marcia Johnson (CD5)

Colorado Confidential's Mark Mehringer interviewed Marcia Johnson, incumbent City Council candidate for Council District 5.

Councilwoman Johnson outlines her political life, starting with work in her father's failed election campaign and moving on to her own service in the Denver School Board and Election Commission.

Regarding issues, she searches for more business development on Colfax, redress of traffic congestion on Quebec, and completion of a regional bicycle path to Lowry/Stapleton.

Video Interview: Chris Nevitt (CD7)

Colorado Confidential's Kerri Rebrush interviewed Chris Nevitt, City Council candidate for Council District 7.

Chris indicates the top issues in District 7 as united around the question of schools, but that the east side of Broadway is more interested in controlling development and the west sides of Broadway is more concerned with crime.

As for his support, Chris mentions politicians, neighbors, and businesses, with a brief mention of his union friends.

Regarding redevelopment, Nevitt supports voluntary downzoning of neighborhood homes to preserve single-family neighborhood quality.

Finally, regarding his unique qualities for City Council, he mentions his ability to create results in a short period of time, referencing negotiations within the Gates redevelopment project.

Video Interview: Julie Connor (CD7)

Colorado Confidential interviewed Julie Connor, City Council candidate for District 7.

Describing the district and her constituent services in Councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie's office, she jokes that she is a "professional meeting-goer." As for particular accomplishments, she notes improved bicycle pathways in the Gates redevelopment and a new South Broadway business improvement district.

Perhaps the most telling question was what would change in the District 7 council office if Julie were elected. She remarked, "On Monday nights [weekly City Council meetings] I have to sit on the dias and vote. That's how things will change."

She also makes the case for focusing on city government, and how fixing potholes can expand horizons for local residents.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

POLL: City Council District 3

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

O'Malley's daddy

Does anyone find it strange that virtually all of the campaign financing in support of an elected Clerk & Recorder position was provided by "Wellington Webb International"?

Having Webb's daughter (Stephanie O'Malley) appointed to the position by Mayor Hickenlooper seems rather... convenient, doesn't it?

Does it make it better that Dad waited two months to fund the campaign, or more suspicious?

Questions should be directed to Hick, O'Malley, Webb, and the group's treasurer, Dennis Gallagher.

Candidate responsiveness in Council District 8

Denver Direct has analyzed candidate responsiveness to Internet questioning in Council District 8.

The winner? Greg Rasheed.

The losers? Lynn Smith and Sharon Bailey.

Tidbits from Council District 8

Denver Direct offers several tidbits about the election, including Harold Brewer's support for Darrell Watson and a photo of a Carla Madison yard sign placed in a rather inauspicious location.

What about Iraq?

What do City Council candidates think about the Iraq war?

Denver Direct videotapes their answers in a recent community forum.

To save you time, we will note that their responses were universally against the war.

Candidates in Council District 3

George Merritt of the Denver Post has turned some focus to the issues, looking in on the City Council race in Council District 3.

Each candidate has two sentences to highlight their campaign platforms in this morning's article: "7 run to revitalize district: West Denver hopefuls target graffiti, foreclosures."

Denver Politics endorses... Julie Connor in District 7

What do you look for in a City Council candidate? We think four things are paramount:
  • Intelligence applied to real-world problems
  • Commitment to public service
  • Identification with ordinary citizens
  • Experience in city government
City Council District 7 is fortunate to have several committed candidates. But in terms of the listed characteristics, one stands above the rest: Julie Connor.

Connor knows the ins and outs of city government, having worked in constituent services for outstanding representative Kathleen MacKenzie. She knows each and every major (and minor) question before our district, and she has developed the personal relationships necessary to achieve desired outcomes.

Even more importantly, she identifies with ordinary citizens, helping the advantaged and disadvantaged alike to participate in city government. As a historian, I was impressed by Connor's dedication in finding common ground in the contentious DeBoer Historic District, reconciling divergent interests so that a compromise could be reached.

And she is smart. Watch the forums, read the interviews, and talk with her. She is sharp, alert, and alive with the issues. That's the sort of person I want on City Council.

Chris Nevitt is also a great candidate, with both the "common man" viewpoint and the intelligence to carry through the work, but he has been on the fringes of public policymaking. Meanwhile, Shelly Watters has become a favored candidate, raising lots of money from development interests. But the trust of such well-heeled insiders and politicos leads to questions of access, fairness, and perspective. I want someone who will hear the rest of us: new participants and old hands, small donors and no donors, and previously-excluded as well as seasoned veterans.

Connor has been committed to public service from the Peace Corps to the present day, in wide-ranging issues facing the district in all of its complexity. For all these reasons, we enthusiastically endorse Julie Connor as our next City Councilwoman from Council District 7.

More Post complaints about the election

The folks over at the Post must have some rather scintillating lives. I'm growing bored with Denver Post comments about boring elections, such as Susan Barnes-Gelt's article entitled, "Denver's doldrums election."

She thinks that "[t]he climate reflects too much groupthink leading to a faux election where important issues (and there are several) aren't debated." I think that the lack of a serious mayoral contest has destroyed any campaign coverage, meaning issues have not been presented in the mainstream press until very recently (and limited at that).

Barnes-Gelt can talk all she want about the serious questions in front of us - including government privatization, FasTrack compromises, the zoning code update, and the infrastructure task force - but until the media seeks (and publishes) answers about serious questions from our local candidates, we'll have the kind of vapid race their coverage demands.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Denver Post endorsements

Again, the Denver Post strikes on the theme of boring elections. The campaigns "have generated only a handful of competitive contests and all too little public interest." How is the public supposed to be interested in a campaign the Denver Post news division does not cover?

Nevertheless, they claim to have been "struck by the quality of candidates who have put themselves forward for city offices." Their endorsements represented frontrunners in every race with just one exception: Council District 3's JoAnn Phillips. Since she has scant been mentioned in this entire campaign, the full text of that endorsement may be helpful:
Our choice is JoAnn Phillips, who has an intimate knowledge of the district gleaned from her service as an aide to former Councilwoman Ramona Martinez. Phillips has solid views on economic development, strengthening neighborhoods and public safety. She faces Kathy Sandoval, Paul Lopez, Mark Roggeman, Ben Romero, Antoinette Alire and Niccolo Casewit.
Their complete list of endorsements is below:
Clerk and Recorder: Stephanie O'Malley
Auditor: Dennis Gallagher
Council District 3: JoAnn Phillips
Council District 4: Peggy Lehmann
Council District 5: Marcia Johnson
Council District 7: Shelly Watters
Council District 8: Carla Madison
Council District 9: Judy Montero
Council At-Large: Carol Boigon and Doug Linkhart
Ballot Question 1A: "Yes"

Divided Council District 7

Daniel Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News has written about the chasm between communities in City Council's District 7.

The article was entitled: "In divided District 7, there are two sides to everything: East, west zones split by wealth, development."
In some ways, [Councilwoman] MacKenzie said, District 7 is "like two different districts."

"On the east side of the river, I get constant complaints about scrape-offs and infill developments because there's so much private investment, and people want it to stop," she said.

"But on the west side of the district, they'd love to have pop tops and scrape-offs and that kind of investment that indicates that people want to stay in the community."
The candidates mainly offered platitudes about spreading the wealth, encouraging redevelopment in the western "areas of change" and supporting the eastern "areas of stability.

In terms of neighborhood character, three of the four were in agreement:
Connor, Watters and Nevitt said they support private investment but would work to preserve neighborhood character.

The fourth candidate, Dennis Smith, a teacher at South High School and the only Republican in the nonpartisan race, said the development in the east side is "a nice problem to have."
Watters was described as "supported by development interests," while "Nevitt and Connor have received campaign contributions from several labor interests" and "Smith is neither soliciting nor accepting campaign contributions."

Biographical sketches and forums below:
Age: 40
Occupation: Senior analyst for MacKenzie.
Family: Single, no children.
Etcetera: Speaks Spanish and served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay.

Age: 45
Occupation: Political economist. Former executive director of the Front Range Economic Strategy Center.
Family: Married, no children.
Etcetera: Born in Thailand and has lived in Africa, Australia and Russia, among other places.

Age: 48
Occupation: Teacher at South High School.
Family: Married, two sons, ages 12 and 8.
Etcetera: Serves on the Denver Parks and Recreation advisory board.

Age: 61
Occupation: Former aide to at-large Denver City Councilwoman Carol Boigon and former Councilwoman Joyce Foster.
Family: Married, one adult daughter.
Etcetera: The New York native has lived in Denver for more than 30 years.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Denver's five nonvoting political candidates

We care to know that political candidates show political leaders, so it is discouraging when they fail to fulfill even the most basic democratic responsibility to vote. Daniel Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News has investigated the voting records of the current candidates for municipal office, and found that five didn't vote at all in the January 2007 election.
They want your vote, but five candidates running for office in Denver in May didn't cast ballots in the last election.

Their reasons for not voting in January - when voters were asked whether to replace the troubled Denver Election Commission with an elected clerk and recorder - are as varied as the candidates.
Dennis Smith didn't remember receiving his ballot.

Bill Wells lost his ballot.

Greg Rasheed forgot to mail it.

Mitchell Poindexter said he didn't understand the question.

Waldo Benavidez thought it was a waste of money.

View the entire article online at "Five city candidates didn't vote in January election."

Changes to Auditor and Clerk & Recorder positions

Bob Ewegen of the Denver Post outlines some of the changes in Denver's elected Clerk & Recorder and Auditor positions in an editorial entitled "Denver pours 'new wine' in old offices," noting:
For the first time, [Denver voters] will directly elect their city clerk and recorder, pouring new powers into that old office in hopes of solving Denver's election mess.

Additionally, whoever wins the familiar office of city auditor will face a radically different set of duties than the office formerly performed...

Support for Roggeman

Donald Hildmann has penned a "Letter to the Editor" to the Denver Post in response to George Merritt's April 10 story, "Council candidate indicted in 1981":
I cannot imagine what purpose your article served except to sully the character of a really good man, Mark Roggeman. This article dealt with an incident that happened 26 years ago. Charges were eventually dismissed. What really happened is that Mark was trying to save a girl's life. Letters she had written to her parents showed she was on the verge of suicide. Mark helped to locate her. I know Mark Roggeman to be a compassionate, honest person who can be counted on to take action in tough circumstances. West Denver has tough problems. That is exactly the kind of person I want as my city councilman.

Taylor endorses Carol Campbell

Rick Taylor, former president of the Athmar Park Neighborhood Association, endorses Carol Campbell in her bid for an at-large seat for City Council. He writes, in part:
Carol has never waited for others to lead. When an issue arises, she finds the solutions. As the chair of APNA's zoning committee, she spent countless hours assisting neighbors with code compliance issues and implemented the "Landlord Project" to foster cooperation between residents and owners of rental properties. She was a strong advocate of "Broken Windows" policing in 2005 after a series of crimes in Athmar Park that included the murder of a Denver police officer and her advocacy helped to convince the Denver city administration to implement "Broken Windows."

This year she is "stepping up to the plate" again to run for City Councilmember-at-Large. Typical of Carol, she has the courage of her convictions to take on two well-known and well-funded incumbents. She is unwilling to wait for a "safe" time to run for office and believes, strongly, that every election should be contested.

I strongly urge Denver voters to elect Carol Campbell to the Denver City Council.

Rocky endorses frontrunners

The Rocky Mountain News today issued official endorsements for the May 2007 municipal election. With due caution, they endorsed the frontrunner in every race... except for Council District 8, in which they offered kudos for both Sharon Bailey and Carla Madison:
Mayor: John Hickenlooper
Auditor: Dennis Gallagher
Clerk & Recorder: Stephanie O’Malley
District 3: Paul Lopez
District 4: Peggy Lehmann
District 5: Marcia Johnson
District 7: Chris Nevitt
District 8: Sharon Bailey or Carla Madison
District 9: Judy Montero
At-large: Doug Linkhart and Carol Boigon

Financial questions regarding Festival of the Arts

Denver Direct is leading a discussion about potential financial irregularities between the City Park West Neighborhood Association and the City Park Festival of the Arts, as led by Paul Weiss (husband of Carla Madison).

First, the questions are raised and then conversation ensues.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Profile: Sharon Bailey (CD8)

Several readers have mentioned Sharon Bailey's husband, John. For the record, John Bailey ran for City Council in 1991, 1999, and in a special election in 2000. Scott Stocker & Gerry Valerio also wrote an article for the March 29, 2007 Rocky Mountain News regarding his work, entitled "Bailey's effort a cornerstone."

A quick Google search also revealed the article below, which references both Sharon and her husband upon the bestowal of a service award from Princeton University. Below is a short excerpt:
Sharon Bailey, who studied anthropology and teacher preparation at Princeton, volunteered at Community House as an undergraduate and became its director after graduation. Her future husband, John, a Princeton resident who attended Wagner College in New York, was mentoring local students through the Princeton Youth Center at the time.

The two collaborated to develop mentoring programs in academics and sports, focusing on youth in the predominantly African-American John Witherspoon community.

"We really appreciate the award," Sharon Bailey said. "I really felt a great grounding [in my service], and I'm still indebted to Princeton. The motto 'Princeton in the nation's service' has really stuck with me."

Diversity in the City Council District 8 campaign

Finally, an informative article in the Denver Post regarding the shape of our upcoming election, focusing on issues and illuminating heretofore unknown challengers.

Hopefully the dailies realize that this is a mail-in ballot, and they can't wait until the weekend before the election to provide fuller coverage.

Constituents in Council District 8 should definitely read this article by George Merritt. It's entitled "Diversity shaping election."

Yard sign allegations

The following email was sent this morning, alleging improprieties by the Sharon Bailey campaign. This information was sent by a "Seth Oake" but has not been confirmed (Google revealed not even a single listing for a "Seth Oake" and official Denver records reveal no homeowners with that last name):
After a call to Sharon's city office to let her know of her illegal campaign signs, I received a disturbing voicemail from her husband John Bailey. My message to Mrs. Bailey was that she knows she has illegal signs and she is responsible for making sure they are placed in legal areas. I let her know that I have been and will continue to remove the litter I find on public property. Her husband left me a voice mail a couple hours later that warned me to not let him catch me out there removing signs, that "aggressive campaigning is what I do" and it's "not my job to police him". He continues "if I catch you out there, there's going to be a problem". "Don't let me catch you out there."

I find this very disturbing that the campaign manager for one of our city employees is using threats when he is actually the one breaking the law.


What others think of City Council

Penny Parker of the Rocky Mountain News sums up the dull (but important) work of our city council:
EAVESDROPPING on a man at Elway's: "Denver City Council is like a really long PTA meeting."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Apparent end to the "Anybody But Hickenlooper" campaign

John Wren has apparently abandoned his write-in campaign for mayor. The plan was to get dozens of minor candidates with their own group of supporters to write in various names. The idea was to deny the Mayor a majority (the "50%+1" rule), and thus force a runoff, during which Republicans and disaffected others could coalesce behind the "Anyone But Hickenlooper" alternative.

But yesterday, he threw in the towel:
We Will Re-elect Mayor Hickenlooper. He is absolutely unbeatable. It would be a complete and total waste of energy to continue to promote a write-in campaign against him.

What a brilliant insight, right?Everyone else could see this months ago, but not me. It finally sunk into my thick skull when last night I attended the first of a series of meet the Mayor events that are being held around the city.The next one’s in South Denver tonight, but I think I’ll pass. If you want to go, see
Wren goes on to endorse Dennis Gallagher and Stephanie O'Malley. He also mentioned Ike Kelly in District 4 who "seems to be attracting support in his tough race to beat a popular incumbent."

POLL: City Council District 8

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

Denver Politics endorses... Sharon Bailey in Council District 8

Council District 8 has been filled with brimstone and fire. At the beginning of the race, City Park West representative Carla Madison seemed to hold the lead. But the Darrell Watson campaign came roaring back, gaining powerful endorsements and raising lots of cash.

And then came Sharon Bailey. Although late to the campaign race, she brought a level of understanding and gravitas previously unappreciated. As a former elected Education Board representative and current employee in the Auditor's office, Sharon Bailey seems to understands what it is to govern.

If we were calculating folks, we'd look at the financial disclosures and decide between Darrell Watson and Carla Madison. But voting isn't a horserace, and City Council isn't a gamble. Considering the best person available for the job, we select Sharon Bailey as your next City Council representative.

Carla Madison, Darrell Watson, and Greg Rasheed may well climb to greater posts in Denver city governance... and we hope all do. But the most seasoned, intelligent, and worthy candidate for Council District 8 is Sharon Bailey.

Dennis Gallagher on the hot seat

Sometimes the most important news about an election is never mentioned, because the newspaper dailies are too busy figuring their advertising revenues to figure out what's happening.

And then... something strange appears.

Such is the case with Dear Denver's revelations regarding the Denver Auditor's office:
In January 2007, Denver voters received a strange phone call:

"This is Thomas Jefferson. I'm told that 20,000 people lost their right to vote in Denver last November. That is appalling. And it is not what I had in mind when I wrote the Declaration of Independence and we fought the Revolutionary War. It can't happen again. Please vote yes in the January 30th election to create an elected Clerk and Recorder in Denver. It works in the rest of Colorado. It will work here. Protect your right to vote. Reform the system. Vote yes for an elected Clerk." (Listen to the mp3.)
Dear Denver describes several reasons why this solicitation was suspicious. Was Gallagher responsible for illegal (or at least illicit) phone calls in the 2006-07 election campaign?
The mystery lingers: Who paid for the weird "Thomas Jefferson" robocalls during the January special election? It's not a mystery, really. Auditor Dennis Gallagher's campaign was responsible. Even so, questions remain.
I do not classify myself as a credulous supporter. I have mentioned before my personal affiliation with Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher. We are not personal friends, but as a fellow Jesuit graduate, politico, and Irishman, I could hardly oppose my compatriot.

Even still, these are serious allegations requiring serious answer. I hope the public process can help illuminate the situation.

The full article is entitled "No one audits the auditor."

Mark Roggeman's past

I like Denver Post reporter George Merritt as both a journalist and as a person. But really - does every one of his articles about challengers in the 2007 municipal elections have to be an expose?

The below article regarding Mark Roggeman may well appear a serious matter at its face. But for a 1981 mistrial of a public officer who has served the community for nearly three decades since, is this news?

Without further review, I direct your attention to "Council candidate indicted in 1981."

CD8: Watson on national coverage

Keith Boykin is the host of BET's My Two Cents, the best-selling author of three New York Times listed books, and a regular commentator on CNN's Paula Zahn Now."

And now, he's endorsed Denver City Council candidate Darrell Watson. In the interview, he indicates that he is supported by The Kenney Group, Denver's most savvy political consulting firm.

Earlier this month, the Watson campaign sent out a misleading press release regarding campaign finances. For the first time, Darrell Watson himself engages in the process, as described below:
Boykin: How much have you raised?

Watson: We’ve raised $34,000 and I believe our nearest opponent raised $26,000.
As of the March 2006 reporting period, the Watson campaign had raised $31,554.91 and Carla Madison had raised $26,385.99. Might he have been comparing his own April figures against Madison's March figures? That's a bit disingenuous but not unprecedented for this campaign.

And then finally:
Boykin: So if I come to the convention will you give me a hookup?

Watson: [He almost says yes, and then laughs.] I’ll make sure you’re treated well.
Unseemly, but certainly not important for the voting public.

No on Campbell

The Wash Park Prophet urges a "No" vote on Carol E Campbell for the City Council At-Large seat.

Political force in the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver

I have been openly (sometime unreservedly) critical of the Denver dailies. But occasionally critical and hard-working reporters do slip through the cracks. One such reporter is Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News.

It takes more than a little gusto to rip through the campaign statements over every political candidate for municipal elections in Denver. But if you want to understand the power of such powerful organizations as the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, that's what it takes.

Especially when one of the most important tasks of the next Denver City Council is going to be implementing the recommended changes of the Zoning Code Taskforce.

Review Steers' article entitled "Developers build campaign coffers: Elected officials bound to have say in major projects." Specific mention is provided to council candidates Marcia Johnson, Carol Boigon, Jeanne Faatz, Peggy Lehmann, Doug Linkhart, Shelly Watters, Carla Madison, and Charlie Brown.

Ho hum... mayor's race

In a politics without season, I guess the Denver Post has decided that the campaign of a mayor "who does not face serious opposition in his bid for re-election" deserves attention without further review.

Nevermind that Danny Lopez has offered an alternative, and that John Wren is working furiously on write-in candidates.

George Merritt's "Mayor touts tenure without politics" leaves us to suspect (but not understand) issues in the article's final sentence:
Danny Lopez, a public works employee, is Hickenlooper's only challenger in the May 1 mail-only election.
Thanks for the public service announcement.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If journalists don't cover the news, is it news?

I love it when media outlets proclaim elections boring... as if the candidates are somehow supposed to amuse them or cause news to happen.

Elections are about ideas and policies and the future of our community. Perhaps that's boring, but the most important focus for a democracy.

Yet candidates are in a lose-lose situation. If they make the slightest misstep, they're hung out to dry. If they play it straight, they're boring. Turns out the way to get coverage is by clowning around or injecting emotional attacks into the race.

And if it's just issues and ideas to trumpet, well... let's go with that story about a shooting in southeast Denver. Sad, and more to the shame of our local media.

It's enough to make one wax philosophic. If a candidate stirs imaginations and injects life into a campaign, but no one is there to report it... was it news?

I don't expect the CBS Evening News to cover local elections, but when the Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post, and 5280 (among others) all decide to ignore campaigns in the search of something more "compelling" in the days and weeks leading up to the ballot, well that really gets my Irish up.

Jason Bane at 5280 has dubbed the "Denver Election a Yawner," with the thrilling conclusion that "politics is normally good theater, but this show is boring."

There's your media, folks.

Prophet predicts

In early March, the Wash Park Prophet predicted victories for Chris Nevitt in Council District 7, Darrell Watson in CD8, and Stephanie O'Malley for Clerk and Recorder. He had no prediction for CD3, and anticipated incumbents would win without a runoff in all other races.

He added to those predictions today, indicating the likelihood of Shelly Watters getting into a CD7 runoff, Carla Madison making the CD8 runoff, and Paul Lopez facing down Ben Romero in a CD3 runoff.

The Prophet's predicted winners all have one thing in common: they are the financial frontrunners in their race. Furthermore, his predicted runners-up all have the second largest coffers. And the races he anticipates to avoid a runoff all have enormous financial divides between the frontrunner and any challengers.

We understand that the "money primary" represents votes - and the opportunity to get more votes. Those facts lead toward the obvious conclusion: candidates with the most money normally win. Nevertheless, simply following the money line doesn't strike us as a terribly inspired "prediction."

But it does lead us to wonder... does the Prophet moonlight as an Accountant?

The battle for Denver Auditor - full profiles and issues

Some of the most informative pieces regarding Denver politics are not available on the Web. The Colorado Statesman has been around for more than 100 years, providing in-depth coverage of policy issues, elections, and political personalities at both the state and local level. Yet it's small, with monthly editions available only in the State Capitol Building and through online subscription.

In February 2007, reporter John Schroyer offered the following article entitled "Denver auditor faces 'candidate of destiny' in May election." Reprinted in its entirety with permission from the author, this article provides extensive profiles of each candidate along with the issues animating the campaign.

If you don't think this is the most thorough and engaging story of the 2007 Denver auditor's race, I'll eat my hat.
For Bill Wells, the job of Denver City Auditor isn’t just a job. It’s a calling.

“It’s just something I’ve got to do,” Wells explained. “It’s a dream.”

Wells, a retired automobile parts manufacturer who’s been filling his spare time working as an airport inspections officer for TSA, has already run for the auditor’s job, in 1979 and then again in 2003, when current Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher won his first term. But Wells isn’t letting his past failures distract him from his goal.

“I started campaigning shortly before the November election. It’s been a very behind-the-scenes thing so far, but I’m not going to lose,” Wells said. “I knew, election night four years ago, that I was going to run again. It didn’t make any difference who else was running.”

Though he came in dead last of the five candidates listed on the ballot in the 2003 election, with only 5 percent of the vote, the 60-year-old Wells says this time will be different (Gallagher took first in the 2003 general election with 31 percent and then won a run-off a month later against second-place finisher Ed Thomas).

With a campaign slogan of “An auditor for auditor — what a novel idea,” Wells has been quietly shoring up support and canvassing neighborhoods. He’s been talking about the different ways he wants to cut out inefficiency from Denver’s daily operations, which he learned about firsthand between 1973 and 1980, when he served as Denver’s Budget and Management Analyst.

“I was bewildered to see the amount of government waste and the bureaucracy that prevented any improvements. I know what some of the problems are, and I know what some of the solutions are,” Wells said.

He said one of the biggest problems he noted at the time was the inefficient upkeep of municipal vehicles.

“I uncovered the city spending $10,000 to $15,000 thousand a year on vehicles that were only worth $5,000. The same amount of dollars could have purchased a new vehicle that would have lasted longer,” Wells recalled.

“That’s kind of a no-brainer,” he said with a chuckle.

Wells also cites his ingenuity and foresight in devising a method for calculating licenses and permit fees, a fifty-point plan that was adopted by the Denver City Council while he was working with the Budget Office. In 1999, Wells said, the Financial Accounting Standards Board adopted a similar plan and required it be implemented nationwide.

“I started that twenty years before it became the standard,” Wells said.
More than his qualifications, though, Wells says Denver voters are tired of Gallagher’s style.

“Dennis wasn’t cut out to be an auditor,” Wells said. “Dennis just doesn’t have the makeup to be an auditor. He’s a very good politician, no one will disagree with that. He’s probably one of the best. Meeting and greeting people and name recognition, he’s very good at that, but when it comes to running an office of professionals in a non-political way, I don’t think he knows how to do that.”

Wells said though Gallagher has made a number of mistakes over the years, one that stuck out for him was the “$9 billion mistake,” at the very beginning of his term, when Gallagher calculated the amount of debt Denver has. His office somehow misplaced a decimal point, and instead of the true amount of debt, Gallagher wound up proclaiming that Denver was $9 billion less in the hole than it actually was.

Wells has held office before — he ran for and won a seat on the city council of Smethport, Pennsylvania, a town of roughly 1,700 people, where he lived from 1983 to 2001. Wells said he moved to Smethport when his father, who was ailing, asked him to run the family business, Smethport Auto Parts, a now-defunct parts manufacturer. Simply moving from one state to another didn’t relieve Wells’ desire to serve in public office, though, and he wound up serving on Smethport’s city council, from 1988 to 1996, and was elected council president both terms.

So far, he’s hired no official campaign staff, and though he said his campaign will be “the typical deal,” he also said it would be much smaller and less of “a high-profile type thing.” His strategy was to keep his candidacy quiet until the last minute in the hopes that “no one else would jump on the bandwagon.”

Gallagher, by contrast, has been proudly extolling his campaign to voters for months, and was even able to kill two birds with one stone, thanks to the special election in January when Denver voters approved a measure to disband the Denver Election Commission in favor of an elected clerk and recorder. Gallagher, a longtime proponent of the switch, campaigned hard for the measure, and was delighted when it passed.

“The campaign is going very well,” Gallagher said. “I got a little bit of an early start because I was supporting the amendment for the elected clerk. That was a sort of prelude to the campaign. By supporting that, I reminded everybody that I’m up again in May.”

The 67-year-old Democrat has held public office without a break since 1970, when he was first elected to the state House of Representatives. He stayed there until 1974, when he moved over to the State Senate. Once term limits for public officials were approved by voters, though, Gallagher found himself term-limited after the 1994 election, and quit the senate for a Denver City Council campaign a year later. He served there until 2003, when he was again term-limited, and then was elected to city auditor. For this election cycle, he’s already turned in his petitions, weeks ahead of the deadline, and with 500 signatures as opposed to the requisite 300.

After this term, though, he says he’ll be done with politics, and plans to retire and write short stories “like James Joyce,” he said with a grin.

For now, however, he’s taking reelection quite seriously.

Gallagher laughed at Wells’ slogan, and retorted, “That’s a great motto. Mine is ‘audit the hell out of them, no matter what.’”

He also rejected Wells’ suggestion that he was unqualified for the post.

“I was sixteen years on the state audit committee. Do you think that’s long enough?” Gallagher asked rhetorically. He served on the state senate audit committee from 1978 to 1994.

He also scoffed at the insinuation that the so-called $9 billion mistake was a crucial slip-up, and said he even heard from his 7th grade math teacher about that snafu.

“She said, Dennis, I’m praying for you, and with a mistake like that, you should be working for the federal government,” he laughed.

His mission, he said, is bringing ever more accountability and efficiency to Denver city departments. Gallagher cited one example where his office had discovered an agency using 411 every time they needed to find a phone number, instead of simply using either the Internet or a phone book, at an estimated annual cost of $25,000. After they brought the matter to light, Gallagher said, the cost was reduced to just a few thousand.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to improve city government and making it more accountable to the taxpayers,” Gallagher said.

Another issue Gallagher says resonates with voters is performance audits, which his office was authorized to begin after Denver voters passed 1B last November.

“That is going to be our new thrust,” Gallagher said. “It’s through performance audits that you find out almost everything that’s going on.”

Gallagher said that tool is going to increase Denver’s bureaucratic effectiveness by allowing his office to “get in deep” and find out how to help city offices figure out the best and most effective ways to do their jobs.

Another aspect of 1B Gallagher’s pleased with is that from now on, the city audit committee will be comprised of financial experts from outside the city’s infrastructure, which he believes will increase the committee’s objectivity and integrity.

“If you remember Enron, that’s how they got in trouble,” Gallagher said, referring to the past structure, which allowed for two members of the committee to be appointed by the mayor. “I’ve always supported getting outside members on the audit committee. All along, in my years in office, we’ve been pushing for a totally independent audit committee, and I’m pleased to report that we’ll have that now.”

Gallagher said he will also be campaigning on his role with the prevailing wage law, which protects construction workers and other contract employees from being undercut by companies with which Denver contracts for projects. The law requires employers to pay a competitive wage, and Gallagher says his office has concentrated on enforcing those protections.

“We’ve made it very clear from the beginning with construction companies and companies that do business with the city what prevailing wage is,” Gallagher stated.

Gallagher’s also being supported by an enormous contingent of Colorado Democrats, including Denver lawmakers Sen. Paula Sandoval and Rep. Jerry Frangas, former legislators Regis Groff, Paul Sandoval, Rob Hernandez, Frank DiFillipo, Bill Thiebaut, Gloria Tanner, Wilma Webb, and Frana Mace. Gallagher has also been endorsed by the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council, the Laborer’s local 720, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees local 821, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 68, the Teamsters local 2004, the United Food and Commercial Workers local 7, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades local 930, the Plumbers Union local 3, the Plumbers and Pipefitters local 208, and the Colorado State Electrical Workers. Gallagher has also been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-CD 7.

As of Feb. 5, Gallagher had $29,672 on hand. Wells has not filed campaign finance reports with the Denver Election Commission yet.