Saturday, April 21, 2007

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.

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