The Folly of Denver’s Residential Requirements Effort

There is an effort underway in Denver to re-establish a degree of residency requirement that may appear on the May 2015 ballot. This is a stupid idea, for reasons that we'll explain in a moment. But first, we'll let Jon Murray of the Denver Post explain the trumped-up controversy:

Denver voters long ago repealed a requirement that city workers live within city limits, but a group of residents is working to revive the rule for mayoral appointees.

They're aiming to place a charter amendment on the ballot for next May's municipal election, when Mayor Michael Hancock is up for re-election...

…For about 20 years, landlocked Denver had the rule for all city employees, from top political appointees to janitors.

But in 1998, Denver voters decided, 58 percent to 41 percent, to expand the residency rule significantly, allowing city employees to live not only in Denver, but also in six nearby counties.

In 2001, Denver voters repealed the residency requirement altogether, 51 percent to 48 percent.

SWDenver-Map2

You’re not in Denver anymore. Or are you?

The editorial board of the Denver Post weighed in over the weekend, calling the residency requirement "a step too far" and "unnecessary," and we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. We have no problem with requiring elected officials to live in the area in which they seek to represent, but there's a good reason that Denver scrapped this requirement for city workers in general.

Denver's City and County boundaries evolved in a weird way over the last century, which you can see from the map at right. There are official Denver tentacles that stretch wayyy outside reasonable boundaries, with little pockets of the City and County existing as municipal islands in the middle of Jefferson County.

The reason that Denver County juts well past Sheridan to the Southwest is because old residency requirements once required all city employees — including those working for the fire and police departments — to live within official Denver boundaries. As Metro Denver grew into the vast sprawl that exists today, many of these Denver employees wanted to move into newer, and more affordable, developments popping up in nearby unincorporated Jefferson County.

As a workaround solution so that Denver employees could keep their jobs and their new homes, odd sections of land were annexed into Denver — the metropolitan mountain moving to Muhammad, to borrow a phrase. This is a middle finger to the entire argument in favor of residential requirements, which is the idea that City and County employees will be more attuned to the needs and desires of Denver so long as you extend a boundary on a map.

Today, these neighborhoods are so far removed from the City and County of Denver that residents spend most of their lives (and money) in Jefferson County, even if their property taxes go somewhere else. Denver residents wisely voted to drop the requirements in 1991, but now some folks want to reestablish these requirements for mayoral appointees for petty reasons. This is a slippery slope that can quickly become problematic as more and more levels of local government get obsessed with the relevance of residency. Employees of Jefferson County are not required to live within the county boundaries, nor should they be. We can only imagine how it would stifle diversity if we required all government employees to live in specific areas.

The Denver Metropolitan Area is more than just the boundaries of its capitol city…and that's a good thing. If you don't like a particular mayoral appointee, then you can take it up with the Mayor's office; requiring an employee to move into the dotted-line sections of a map isn't going to change anything.

 

Put the Stamps Away and Drop Off Your Ballot

Remember, folks, that ballots must arrive at the county clerk's office prior to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday; the postmarked date is irrelevant in this case.

To find your ballot drop-off location, go to JustVoteColorado.org.

For Denver voters, ProgressNow has developed a cool text message system that allows voters to find the nearest 24-hour ballot drop location. To use this free service, Denver voters can text DROPOFF to 30644.

dropoff

 

Hancock Earns Praise on Eve of “State of City” Address

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will deliver his annual "State of the City" address today — his last "State of the City" before next May's Denver city elections. Hancock has little reason to be concerned that he will even face a serious challenger in his bid for re-election, and the editorial board of the Denver Post helps explain why:

Hancock hasn't been a flashy mayor during his first term, but he's been a steady one who has attended to the nuts and bolts of governance, pushing for efficiencies while paying special attention to neglected neighborhoods such as those along the Interstate 70 corridor.

And no doubt partly because of this record, no one has voiced an intention to challenge him next spring…

We'd be surprised if the mayor announced any major initiatives in Monday's speech, but that isn't necessary. Good governance primarily depends on other things, such as a focus on the city's neighborhoods, connectivity and safety. Nothing flashy, just essential.

What say you, Polsters? What do you think of Mayor Hancock's time in office thus far?

Ferrandino Will be New Denver Schools CFO

From the Denver Post:

Denver Public Schools has hired a high-profile politician to be the district's next chief financial officer.

Outgoing House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, will join the school district July 21. Ferrandino, who was term-limited and could not seek re-election, will serve the rest of his term, which ends in January.

"I was starting to look at what options and opportunities were out there, and this opportunity came in front of me," Ferrandino said. "When I look at the big things that I'm passionate about, education is one them."

Pretty Thin Primary Ballot for Denver Democrats

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

Alec Garnett (left) and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

Denver Democrats are used to Primary Election evenings that are about as suspenseful as waiting to hear the name of the Broncos' starting quarterback, but this year is even quieter than most. The only real Primary race in Denver is in HD-2, where Alec Garnett and Owen Perkins are running to succeed the term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

Most Denver races are decided in a Primary because of the overwhelming voter advantage for Democrats, and once someone gets elected for the first time, they tend to go unchallenged as long as they don't make any unusual mistakes. Since a Republican has virtually no chance to pull a General Election upset, any aspiring candidates in Denver must bide their time until term limits re-open the field. In cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs (the latter being overwhelmingly Republican), it has become something of a paradox that it often takes more time and effort to win a Primary even though you are courting a significantly smaller number of likely voters. For example, candidates have been actively campaigningin HD-2  for more than a year; this is quite a contrast to a more competitive House District such as Lakewood's HD-23, where Republicans have only had a candidate in place for a few weeks. This happens, of course, because more candidates are realizing that consolidating support early can leave your opponent few places to turn once the ballots finally start to drop. Call it the Perception Primary — the campaign inside the campaign.

There is a great example of this happening in HD-2, where Garnett has run an exceptional race thus far. Garnett faces Perkins in a two-person race that narrowed when Aaron Silverstein failed to make the ballot threshold requirement through the caucus process. To date, Garnett has been the most proficient fundraiser of any State House candidate in Colorado, and he has deftly maneuvered to pick up critical endorsements at key points in the race (including Rep. Ferrandino's endorsement in February). Last week, Garnett announced the support of former Gov. Bill Ritter and current State Rep. Daniel Kagan, two excellent endorsements to add to your list just before ballots begin to go in the mail. 

Weird things can, and do, happen in Primary Elections, so there's no guarantee that Garnett's efforts will be rewarded when ballots are counted. But if you were a betting man (or woman), you'd have trouble finding a candidate with stronger odds next month.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb In Hospital

As the Denver Post reports, we wish former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb a speedy recovery:

[Denver Health] Medical center staff would not immediately say what Webb was being treated for, but he was likely to spend the night as a precautionary measure, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Webb was having lunch at a downtown restaurant Thursday before going to the hospital, an associate said.

Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher Pushes Back on I-70 Expansion

As the Denver Post reports:

A proposal to expand Interstate 70 to five lanes in each direction through northeast Denver is attracting the ire of Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher, who feels the idea doesn't make sense for neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

Widening the highway to 10 lanes when people are driving less is a waste of the $1.8 billion the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to spend between Brighton Boulevard and Tower Road, Gallagher said.

"It makes no sense to me and is not good public policy to build a 10-lane freeway when it likely will never be needed, may in point of fact be obsolete sooner than later, is destructive to neighborhoods, and a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars," he said.

This is an interesting battle highlighting differences between CDOT and local governments. The Denver City Council is expected to weigh in on with a proclamation on Monday, and though the City Council can't directly stop the project, they can certainly pressure CDOT to look in a different direction. Gallagher supports a different plan which would reroute I-70 along I-270.

Hancock Tops Among Several Denver Politicos on 5280 Power List

As the Denver Post's Jon Murray notes in "The Spot":

5280 magazine’s upcoming rankings of the most powerful people in Denver features plenty of big players in state politics, but metro Denver’s public officials are well represented.

Starting, of course, with Denver Mayor , now in his third year in office. He comes in at No. 3 out of 50, the same position as in the magazine’s last ranking in 2011.

This time, though, he earns more than grudging respect from 5280. The magazine says the big-personality mayor is hitting his stride, citing Hancock’s passion for redevelopment of the Brighton Boulevard corridor, and is emerging from ’s shadow. (Gov. Hick clocks in at No. 2 on the list, natch.) “If you want something done, Hancock is the person you call, not his team,” 5280 says. “It’s his name you remember.”

That's high praise for Mayor Hancock, though it's also a bit of a mixed message if there is less power on his staff. Other prominent Denverites on the list include Denver International Airport chief Kim Day; Denver City Council president Mary Beth Susman; Denver Police Chief Robert White; and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

Alec Garnett Over 50% After Caucus

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

Alec Garnett is 20% taller than Mark Ferrandino and is backed by 54% of caucus-goers.

According to an email sent out today by HD-2 candidate Alec Garnett:

Last Tuesday night was caucus night in Colorado.  Neighbors and friends came together from across the district and we captured more than 50% of the delegates elected. This means at county assembly we should be well above the 30% threshold to make the ballot.  I cannot tell you how deeply humbled I am by the support I’ve earned.  

Garnett is one of three Democrats running to replace term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino in a Denver seat that will be effectively decided by a Primary. The other two Democrats running in HD-2 are Owen Perkins and Aaron Silverstein.

 

We don't really have anything else to say, but this sentence will help balance out the picture on the right.

Act Now and YOU Could Name a Building

This sounds like a fun idea. From a press release via the City of Denver:

Denver Department of General Services is Now Accepting Naming Proposals for the Building Located at 2855 Tremont St.

 

DENVER –   The Denver Department of General Services is currently accepting proposals to name the building located at 2855 Tremont St., Denver, CO 80205. The building was formerly known as the Five Points Community Center in the Historic Five Points Neighborhood.  The building now houses the Office of City Councilman Albus Brooks and an office of the Denver Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

In accordance with D.R.M.C. Sec. 2-275, the building shall only be named for outstanding persons who have been influential in the cultural, political, economical or social life of the community, or in recognition of an individual or corporation that has contributed substantial funding for the construction of the public building.  Anyone who would like to propose a name for this building is encouraged to submit a proposal. Proposals must include the sponsor’s contact information, the proposed name, and a petition with at least 100 names of residents or business owners in the area, users of the structure, or persons interested or involved in the use of the structure.

 

All proposals will be submitted to Denver City Council for consideration.  The Council shall notify the contact person for each proposal of the date, time and location of the Council Committee meeting at which time the naming of the public building shall be considered.

 

Proposed names may be submitted on or before April 2, 2014 to:

 

Denver Department of General Services

Attn: Facilities Management Division – Naming Proposals

201 West Colfax, Department 904

Denver, CO  80202

For further information, please contact Stephen Sholler, Denver Department of General Services, at 720-865-4045 or e-mail Stephen.Sholler@denvergov.org.

We propose naming the building, "Frank," but that's probably unlikely.

Colorado Caucus Locations for March 4, 2014

UPDATE: For information on the Republican Party Caucuses, click here.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter sent out a helpful email reminder about the March 4 Democratic Party Caucus that sums things up better than we could. Some of the information below is specific to Jefferson County and Adams County, but if you need help finding your caucus location, the same general process applies:

Precinct caucuses are next Tuesday, March 4, at 7:00 p.m. Caucus is the first step in the candidate nomination process for Colorado’s major political parties, and I hope all of you who are eligible attend!


At caucus, voters from each precinct across Colorado gather to elect delegates to attend the various county assemblies and represent their precinct. To participate in the Democratic Party’s precinct caucuses, you must have registered as a Democrat no later than January 4, 2014, and you must have registered in your current precinct no later than February 4, 2014.

Verify Your Precinct Number
You may have received a voter information card from your county clerk, but if not, you can visit the Secretary of State’s website to look up your precinct number. The 10-digit precinct number includes your congressional district, state senate district, state house district, county code, and your three-digit precinct number. For example, precinct 7222330225 is in CD7, SD22, HD23, County 30, and Precinct 225.

Find Your Precinct Caucus Location
Visit the webpages for the Adams County Democrats or the Jefferson County Democrats to find the location of your precinct caucus. If you live elsewhere in the state, please contact your local Democratic party for information. Visit the Colorado Democratic Party website for contact info for the various county parties.

What Happens at Caucus?
The exact process varies from county to county, but the following steps are always part of each precinct caucus:

Elect delegates to the county assembly. Delegate numbers and allocation formulas vary between counties. If you intend to run to be a delegate, please make sure you are available for the county assembly. The Adams County Assembly is on Saturday, March 15 and the Jefferson County Assembly is on Saturday, March 29.

At both county assemblies, delegates are elected to the Congressional District 7 Assembly. (In Adams County, some CD7 delegates are also elected directly from each precinct caucus).

The CD7 Assembly will be on Friday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m. We certainly hope you plan to attend that one so you can cast your vote for Ed and also re-nominate Jane Goff for State Board of Education and Irene Griego for CU regent!

Election of two precinct committee persons (PCPs) who will serve two-year terms as the primary “community organizers” within their precincts. PCPs are responsible for recruiting and organizing Democratic volunteers to support all of the Democratic candidates running in their area. PCPs are also members of the county party central committees and will be invited to participate in a few meetings each year to vote on the business of the party.

Discussion and adoption of resolutions. These resolutions are expressions of Democratic Party values on a wide range of policy issues. Resolutions adopted by a certain number of precincts may be considered for addition to the county party platform.

Well-Known Denver Activist Dennis Dougherty Dies

DennisDougherty

Dennis Dougherty

Dennis Dougherty, a longtime fixture in Denver and Colorado politics, died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. Dougherty was a significant player in fighting for LGBT rights both in Colorado and nationally.

Here's the obituary from the Denver Post:

Dougherty, 70, died after 9 p.m. Friday at Aurora Medical Center of complications from liver cancer, said [Leslie] Herod, a former senior policy adviser in the Ritter administration.

Dougherty was a "super-connector" who moved easily in a variety of circles, whether rubbing elbows with the political elite and business executives or helping homeless youth and training disabled skiers.

He was generous with both his time and money and not the type to take no for an answer, said those who knew him. Although he supported a variety of causes, Dougherty was best known for his work on LGBT issues.

Mark Ferrandino Backs Alec Garnett in HD-2

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

One of the most expensive legislative Primary races in Colorado is in HD-2 (Denver), where three Democrats are running to succeed term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino. The frontrunner in HD-2 is Alec Garnett, the former Executive Director of the Colorado Democratic Party and the son of Boulder District Attorney (and 2010 Attorney General candidate) Stan Garnett, whose $48,000 war chest is more than any State House candidate in Colorado thus far.

Alec Garnett holds a sizable fundraising lead over fellow Democrats Aaron Silverstein and Owen Perkins, each of whom has raised a shade under $12,000, and he has also secured the endorsement of Denver Reps. Dan Pabon, Angela Williams, Beth McCann, Paul Rosenthal, and Sen. Pat Steadman. Today Garnett cemented his frontrunner status with the most important endorsement of the race: Speaker Ferrandino himself. Here's what Ferrandino had to say in an email announcement:

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At Least You Didn’t Pay for this Poll

We've received the results of a new poll from Quinnipiac University, and to put it bluntly (pun intended), we learned very little. Quinnipiac is one of our favorite polling outfits in general, but this poll about Colorado Super Bowl parties and marijuana is, well, not particularly informative:

Thinking about their Super Bowl buzz, 6 percent of Colorado adults who plan to watch the game say they will enjoy it with a mix of beer and marijuana while 36 percent plan to stick with tradition and just drink beer, according to a Quinnipiac University poll completed last night and released today.  Another 2 percent plan to go with marijuana only and 56 percent say they will take neither beer nor marijuana. 

Among adults 18 to 49 years old, 3 percent plan to toke up while 43 percent plan to drink beer and 8 percent plan to do both, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.  Among adults 50 to 64 years old 4 percent plan to enjoy both beer and marijuana while 32 percent plan to only drink beer.  Among adults 65 and older, 1 percent plan to try beer and marijuana while 18 percent are keeping it to beer only.

No kidding, huh? You mean most people aren't confessing that they are going to have a big smoke-in for the Super Bowl? Did you ask what percentage are planning on a bring-your-own-heroin party?

But there are some polling results that we found especially interesting — though they have nothing to do with politics:

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