Squishy Federico Peña Hamstrings GOP Debate Protest

Federico Peña.

Federico Peña.

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Charlie Brennan and Sarah Kuta recap the action outside yesterday’s Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder–in particular, one detail that didn’t come together quite the way the coverage leading up to yesterday’s events had us all expecting:

Boulder played an improbable starring role at the center of the Republican universe Wednesday as a constellation of protests and related sideshows threatened to steal the spotlight from the GOP’s third presidential debate – but ultimately made little impact…

While the debate unfolded within the events center, roughly 300 people gathered at Farrand Field as part of a protest against some of the comments made over the course of the campaign by the GOP candidates.

…The My Country, My Vote gathering encouraged Latinos and others to register to vote and speak out against “anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric.”

When it was announced earlier this month, “Our Future, Our Choice” organizers expressed hopes it would draw 10,000 people to the streets to present a vision of the future they hope to see.

It only attracted 250…

Although the protests in the “Free Speech Zone” outside the Coors Events Center were by all accounts lively, the failure to produce the very large numbers of protesters originally forecast is being universally blamed on a pitiful turnout to the My Country, My Vote rally at Farrand Field yesterday evening. The story that we’ve heard from multiple sources is that preparations for this rally broke down after the “headliner” of the event, former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, demanded major changes to the rally’s message.

Originally intended as a much more aggressive rally demanding that Republican presidential candidates on the CU campus back away from their offensive rhetoric and show respect for an Hispanic electorate increasingly playing a decisive role in American elections, Peña and/or his “people” reportedly demanded a neutering of that message into a much more generic call for immigration reform–in the words of one disgruntled organizer, a meek appeal to “whichever white person becomes President.” It has even been suggested to us that Pena made a deal with CU’s Republican President Bruce Benson to ensure this much-feared protest action would not “antagonize” Republicans gathering on Benson’s campus for the debate.

If that is anything close to what actually occurred, obviously, it’s a huge blow to former mayor Peña’s credibility. Especially after organizers made such sweeping boasts about the expected crowd the protest would turn out, this story of ole-boy-network meddling–with the net effect of severely curtailing the success of the event–makes it hard to imagine that he’ll be ever asked to do something like this again.

Unless Benson asks him to, we guess.

Mayor Hancock Releases 2016 Budget

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled his 2016 Budget proposal today. Jon Murray of the Denver Post breaks it down for the rest of us:

The cost of reforming the troubled Denver sheriff’s department again is a dominant theme in the proposed city budget, with $24 million set aside next year for more deputies, training, technology upgrades and other needs.

Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled his 2016 budget proposal Monday morning. The operating budget calls for the city to spend $1.8 billion, a 5.2 percent increase over this year. The largest part, the $1.3 billion general fund that covers basic city operations, would increase 3.5 percent.

Hancock called the plan a balanced budget that addresses key needs such as jail reform measures and $8 million for affordable housing subsidies — more than double this year’s funding — while keeping reserves flush for a rainy day.


Click here for the complete budget proposal from the Mayor’s office.

Ken Salazar Backs Jeff Bridges in HD-3

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is endorsing Jeff Bridges in HD-3.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is endorsing Jeff Bridges in HD-3.

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar certainly isn’t shying away from getting involved in Colorado political races. Long-rumored to be preparing for a run for Governor in 2018, Salazar has nevertheless taken sides in a handful of high-profile Democratic Primary races in 2016.

The latest Democrat to earn Salazar’s support is Jeff Bridges, one of two candidates running for the open seat in HD-3 (South Denver).

Here’s what Salazar had to say about Bridges in a press release from the campaign:

I am proud today to endorse my good friend Jeff Bridges for the Colorado State House of Representatives. In his work for me in the United States Senate, he showed time and again his ability to work across party lines for the benefit of all Coloradans. Jeff is like family to me, and I know he will bring his deep Colorado values with him into the state legislature.

While Jeff was working for me in the U.S. Senate, I received a letter from an Army Specialist from Colorado serving in Iraq. The letter read:

“Two days ago a good friend of mine was killed in action when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated next to his Humvee. He was sitting in the gunner seat and pulling rear security. I have seen automated guns that can go on the top of these same Humvees. These guns are controlled from inside the vehicle. Why are these guns not on every Humvee?… If the answer is money, then I would really like to know how much my friend’s life was worth.”

Since Jeff worked as my aide on military issues, I gave the letter to Jeff and on my behalf he looked into the situation. The commanders Jeff spoke with in Iraq raved about the program. Congress, however, was in the process of eliminating it. Jeff organized a successful, bipartisan effort to save the program that included the top Democrat and Republican on the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee from both sides of the aisle.

When we first received that letter from a Coloradan serving in Iraq, only a few of these systems were operational. Jeff’s work secured full funding for 1,000 more, and today there are thousands of these systems saving the lives of our soldiers overseas.

This is just one of many stories I could tell about the great work Jeff did on my behalf in the U.S. Senate. I know he will make the best representative for the community he grew up in, and will work for our shared Colorado values in the State House.

Colorado Republicans cancel 2016 presidential caucus vote

Move makes Colorado only state to date to opt out of early nomination process

Colorado will not pick a Republican candidate for president in its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that is likely to diminish the swing state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.

The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins.

The move makes Colorado the only state so far to forfeit a role in the early nomination process, according to experts, but other states are still considering what to do.

“It takes Colorado completely off the map” in the nomination process, said Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman.

More at http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_28700919/

Wonder why… Are they 1) broke? 2) Afraid of Trump or 3) or still infighting in the Colorado Republican Party to care about their own caucus?

10,000 Rounds Ain’t Enough, Says RMGO’s Dudley Brown

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

A shrilly-worded action alert from the hard right pro-gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners warns of yet another sneaky plot by ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his crafty cabal of leftist gun-grabbers to cheat honest law-abiding Americans out of their sacred right to spray unlimited quantities of lead at whatever they like:

It’s no secret that billionaire playboy Michael Bloomberg is anti-gun.

But his latest attempt to restrict your gun rights is coming from somewhere you’d never expect.

Bloomberg and his crony Colorado mayors have turned to government bureaucrats to push their gun-grabbing agenda.

That’s why I need your help!

RMGO has obtained documents showing the Denver Fire Department is planning to ban the storage of more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition in any residential occupancy. [Pols emphasis]

I know it sounds outrageous, but the gun-grabbers will stop at nothing to limit your ability to protect yourself and your family…

ammo_CutAwayNow first of all, we don’t know anything about this proposal one way or the other–we’ve seen no news reports about it, and there’s nothing we can find even in media outlets in other cities discussing the possibility of limiting storage of ammunition in a residential structure to 10,000 rounds.

But just for argument’s sake, let’s ask the question: how many rounds of ammunition does someone need to defend themselves? A study of National Rifle Association reports on self-defense situations says most defenders fire only two shots, and almost never have to (or are usually unable to) reload. We don’t want to be presumptuous about what would obviously be a stressful situation, but that’s about 9,998 shots fewer than Brown seems to think you’ll need to “protect yourself and your family.”

Setting that argument aside for a moment, there’s just no question that storing huge amounts of live ammunition in a residential building is kind of a sketchy practice. We get that there are gun-lovers who for whatever reason don’t think so, but we guarantee that their non gun-loving neighbors would be uncomfortable to know that enough ammunition to blow up/burn down a building was being stored next door. A building, or maybe the whole block?

Seriously, what other types of high explosives are you allowed to stockpile in your home?

On second thought, maybe some kind of reasonable limit, say 10,000 rounds or so, is okay after all–especially in residences in an urban environment like Denver. We’re thinking if you put that to a vote in Denver, it would pass handily. And if you don’t like it, maybe find a house in the country to convert into your own private ammo dump?

Again, this could simply be a fundraising scare tactic to keep RMGO’s war chest filled. But if it’s not…well, that’s fine too.

Not Well Played, Sean Bradley

Do not take campaign advice from this man.

This is Sean Bradley. Do not take campaign advice from this man.

Sean Bradley is one of two candidates in the District 11 runoff for Denver City Council, which concludes next Tuesday (June 2). Should Bradley defeat Stacie Gilmore in the runoff, he will treat the City Council Seat like a full-time job. This is notable, because the Denver City Council is a full-time job, and until recently, Bradley was refusing to say whether he would quit his current job if elected.

As Jon Murray reports for the Denver Post, Bradley finally tried to stick a band-aid on that gaping campaign wound that he caused for himself:

Denver City Council candidate Sean Bradley said Friday that if he wins a June 2 runoff, he will leave his job as president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver.

Bradley’s comments to The Denver Post, after declining to answer the question definitively earlier this week, put to rest speculation that he might try to work both jobs.

He started at the Urban League in January. He said Friday that he would not step down immediately, instead making arrangements to help the organization transition to a new leader. He likely would leave the Urban League by the time new council members take the oath in mid-July, Bradley said.

“The reality of it all is, if and when we win this race, there was no way I was going to be able to do two of these jobs,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Uh, you think?

Thus ends one of the more inexplicable self-inflicted political wounds we’ve seen in quite awhile. By refusing to say if he would quit his current job if elected to the Denver City Council, Bradley gave his opponents plenty of time to question his commitment to the job he is seeking, and he made himself look ridiculous in the process.

Did Bradley not know that City Council is a full-time job? Did his bosses at the Urban League not know he was running? Both questions seem absurd, but why else would he refuse to even acknowledge that he would need to quit his current job if elected?

City Council Candidate Still Not Explaining GOP Support

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

City Council candidate Wayne New, who changed his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated in March, acknowledged in a Denver Post interview last week that he’s spotlighting progressive ideas to try to prove to voters that he’s not as conservative as you might think from his record of donations to Republican candidates like Cory Gardner and others.

But Wayne New still hasn’t said why he donated to Gardner, just last August.

Wayne New told The Post he supports progressive ideas, like a plastic-bag fee, and he doesn’t want to get into partisan scrapping. Fair enough. But it’s not a partisan attack to want to know why Wayne New donated to Cory Gardner. It’s a substantive question. What issues did he agree with Gardner on? (Somehow, I don’t see Gardner supporting the bag fee.) What did he like about Gardner? About Mitt Romney? About John McCain? About the Republican National Committee?


Conservative Running for Denver City Council Has Some Explaining To Do

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver City Council races are supposed to be all sweet and nonpartisany, and part of me really wishes they could be that way. But if you want to get a full pictures of a candidate, you’d be stupid to ignore their partisan history. Here’s a case in point.

District 10 candidate Wayne New, who changed his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated in March, is distributing an ad spotlighting a “woman’s right to choose” among his top priorities. The mailer reads (See below.):

 The City Council Campaign has focused on the critical issues of over-development, traffic, parking, and the voice of the people in key City decisions. Just as important is sharing with you what I believe. I believe in:

…A woman’s right to choose, ensuring that women have access to all reproductive healthcare services.

The advertisement doesn’t tell you that New contributed $250 to Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner in August of last year.

Of course New’s mailer is silent about this. Anyone who’s politically conscious knows that 1) donating money to Cory Gardner and 2) having a woman’s right to choose as one of your top priorities are 3) mutually exclusive.

Cory Gardner, now our U.S. Senator, made anti-choice legislation a centerpiece of his rise to political power, earning high praise for years from hard-line anti-choice groups, which helped him win over Republicans.

Once Gardner won his Republican primary, and began courting moderate voters across the state, he promptly abandoned his longstanding support for  Colorado’s personhood amendment, which would have banned all abortion, even for rape and incest, as well as some forms of birth control.


Michael Carrigan Breaks Fundraising Record in Bid for Denver DA

Michael Carrigan, candidate for Denver District AttorneyDenver’s 2015 Municipal elections are just a few weeks away, but because District Attorney is technically considered a “state” election, it won’t be on the ballot until 2016. That doesn’t mean that candidates are biding their time until the June 2016 Democratic Primary, however.

Democrat Michael Carrigan announced today that his campaign for Denver District Attorney set a new statewide fundraising record in the first quarter of 2015. To many Denver Democrats, it may seem like Carrigan has been running for D.A. for years, as the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels jokes in “The Spot” blog, but the first quarter of 2015 is Carrigan’s first official fundraising period as a registered candidate (Q1 was also the first fundraising period for Democratic Rep. Beth McCann, who is seeking the DA post again after an unsuccessful campaign in 2004; McCann has not yet announced her Q1 fundraising numbers).

In the first three months of 2015, Carrigan raised more than $120,000 from 430 different donors, which appears to mark a new statewide record for campaigns subject to $400 contribution limits. According to a press release (full release after the jump):

Carrigan’s first fundraising quarter is more than double the previous record for a first quarter candidate subject to $400 contribution limits; Gail Schwartz raised $53,000 in her first fundraising quarter as a candidate for State Senate in 2006. Coincidentally, Sen. Schwartz has endorsed Carrigan’s campaign for District Attorney.

Carrigan’s first fundraising quarter is particularly impressive given that he is trying to raise money at the same time as 50 other Denver candidates running in May’s Municipal election. Carrigan will publicly kick-off his 2016 campaign on Thursday evening at La Casita in Denver.

The office of Denver District Attorney is the Halley’s Comet of Colorado politics: The seat doesn’t open up very often, but when it does, everybody seems to pay it close attention. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is term-limited in 2016, and he is only the second District Attorney elected in Denver this century (former Gov. Bill Ritter completed his final term as D.A. in 2004). Because Denver is such a Democratic stronghold, the race for D.A. will almost certainly be decided in the June 2016 Primary Election.


Lawsuit: Susan Shepherd Misled Public on Zoning Change for A Campaign Contributor

The last place a struggling political candidate wants to be is in court, on the wrong end of a lawsuit from voters. But that’s exactly where Susan Shepherd, the rookie City Council representative for Northwest Denver’s District 1, has landed.

Susan Shepherd

Source: 9news

Shepherd was singled out in a lawsuit that three local homeowners and the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association filed March 16 in Denver District Court against the entire City Council. The suit seeks to overturn the Council’s controversial vote to allow significantly larger-than-originally-promised buildings in one portion of the St. Anthony redevelopment project by Sloan’s Lake, in Shepherd’s district. Shepherd has received campaign donations from at least nine developers involved in projects at St. Anthony or on nearby West Colfax Ave., including NAVA Real Estate Development, which benefits directly from the upzoning at the heart of the lawsuit.

The crux of the lawsuit is that the City Council improperly considered and voted on the upzoning, ignoring an earlier city-sanctioned development plan and violating in various ways the legal requirement that Council must function as an impartial, quasi-judicial body in considering such requests. The complaint specifically cites Shepherd’s actions during the Council’s Feb. 17 hearing and vote on the matter as a key piece of evidence for its claim:  

“At said hearing, Councilwoman Shepherd made the claim that the proposed rezoning conformed to the West Colfax Plan, and read aloud a relevant portion of the Guiding Principles–which were incorporated into such plan—to make her point. Such principles require the tallest buildings to be “toward West Colfax”. When Shepherd read from the Guiding Principles, she omitted the words “toward West Colfax” from her recital. Furthermore, at said hearing, the Community Planning and Development (CPD) staff made no reference whatever to the significant words “toward West Colfax.” [author’s emphasis]

This is a big deal because while the St. Anthony redevelopment is widely popular, hundreds of residents have rebelled against an ongoing push by its developers to allow huge buildings closer to Sloan’s Lake than originally planned. There, the 12-story buildings that developers want — instead of the five-story structures the zoning previously allowed — would block views and cast shadows on the popular park. Residents want them further south of the lake, nearer to West Colfax Ave., as they say the area redevelopment plan specifically intended. Shepherd voted in favor of the upzoning that would allow those high-rises to cluster by the lakefront, despite the request of 500 nearby residents that she vote “no.”

The suit also alleges that instead of approaching the zoning hearing in the impartial, “quasi-judicial” manner city law requires Council to take for such hearings, Shepherd had determined in advance how she planned to vote:

“Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, within whose District lies the subject property, immediately after the quasi-judicial hearing, read from a prepared statement approving the rezoning. In her statement, which was purportedly read from the Urban Form, Guiding Principle of the St. Anthony Task Force Report and Recommendation regarding building height and density, but specifically omitted the operative language, and two most important words, “towards Colfax”. Upon information and belief, Plaintiffs believe Shepherd failed to conduct herself as a neutral quasi-judicial decision-maker, having already spoken in favor of the zoning change at the November 12, 2014 Planning Board hearing on the C-MX-12 zoning map amendment, and having engaged in extensive ex parte contacts with the property owner and its representatives while the rezoning application was pending, and having already decided to vote in favor of the rezoning before the February 17, 2015 City Council hearing.” [author’s emphasis]

It gets worse: The zoning change in question primarily benefits one of Shepherd’s campaign funders, NAVA Real Estate Development. Shepherd  was in hot water already with District 1 voters over her ties with developers with whom she has sided in numerous cases vs. aggrieved constituents. Now, her growing opposition can point to another in a series of occasions in which Susan Shepherd appeared to favor a campaign donor over local residents.

Denver Municipal Races: Fundraising Update

Back in January we sifted through the various races for the May 5th Denver Municipal election. As we said at time time, some of the Denver races were still just beginning to shake out; with new fundraising number available, it’s time again to take a look at the very large field of candidates.

The fundraising numbers below were compiled through publicly-available reports that can be accessed via the website of the Denver Clerk and Recorder. While anyone can access campaign finance data and make their own spreadsheet — heck, we do it all the time for state races — we did not actually pull all of these reports on our own. Most of the work was done by Denver political consultant Matt Derrington (Derrington Consulting), who compiled this data on his own and kindly shared it with Denver Pols to re-purpose here. For more on the latest Denver fundraising numbers, check out Jon Murray at the Denver Post.

Okay, let’s get to it. We’ll take you through the numbers, race-by-race, after the jump…


Susan Shepherd’s Re-Election Problem: It’s Worse Than You Thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


A Feb. 24 fundraising email from Susan Shepherd, the embattled rookie City Council member for Denver’s District 1, blames widespread opposition to her re-election on “disgruntled folks in our community who don’t believe in smart development and growing our communities.”


Talk to District 1 voters though and they paint a starkly different picture: Opposition to Shepherd has galvanized because of her outsized advocacy for property developers who have clashed at times with local residents, compounded by what many see as an unseemly Shepherd grab for campaign dollars from those same developers.

In what rapidly is becoming the most closely watched 2015 Council race, residents of the Northwest Denver district point out how developer interests in District 1 projects dovetail with their spending on Shepherd. Opponents also describe Shepherd’s open opposition to local residents — through Council votes and in numerous public statements — on occasions when they have faced off against her developer benefactors over sometimes contentious property ventures in neighborhoods such as Sloan’s Lake, West Highland and Berkeley.

To be fair, a District 1 Council member must work closely with property-related businesses. The Northwest Denver district is home to booming redevelopment on West Colfax Ave. and at the old St. Anthony hospital site by Sloan’s Lake. It’s a hotbed of residential scrapeoffs. And not suprisingly Shepherd’s strongest opponent, Jefferson Park architect Rafael Espinoza, has worked directly with developers both professionally and as a community advocate. As a result he likely will attract some of their campaign support.

But what typically stuns residents who review Shepherd’s campaign finance reports of the past two years (here, here and here) is the magnitude of developer largesse. More than a third — nearly $15,000 — of Shepherd’s TOTAL campaign donations from 2013 to January 2015 came from businesses and people whose current or planned District 1 projects she has advocated in Council votes, public statements and meetings with residents. And that was even before her planned Feb. 26 kickoff event where envelopes were ready again to be stuffed with checks and cash.

Payments through January included: A $500 payment from a construction company CEO in Houston, Texas, who is building a large apartment building at 38th Ave. and Lowell Blvd. in West Highland. Another $1,000 came from the Austin, Texas-based restaurant chain that Shepherd helped to get tax increment financing for a project on West Colfax. There was $1,000 from EnviroFinance, the lead redeveloper at St. Anthony; more than $2,000 from a property manager with restaurants speckling District 1; and more than $2,500 from entities related to Red Peak Properties, which in 2014 lost a heated battle vs. West Highland residents to plop three five-story apartment blocks next to the 100-year-old Victorian houses near 32nd Ave. and Lowell Blvd. A more detailed donations list is here.

To paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen: $2,000 here, $2,000 there…pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Compounding the ill will that the appearance of a major conflict of interest has created: Shepherd’s typically prickly demeanor when engaging large, organized groups of local residents that have sought her help in mitigating traffic problems and other impacts from various local projects. Some 500 residents petitioned against an upzoning to increase the allowable building size on some blocks in the St. Anthony project to 12 stories from the 5 stories originally promised. Shepherd voted "yes" on the upzoning, as requested by NAVA Real Estate Development. NAVA co-owner Brian Levitt is a Shepherd campaign funder.

Residents also cite Shepherd’s behavior during the multiyear battle with Red Peak, which among other things saw her promote as “compromises” design elements the developer already had in its original plans predating the rise of community opposition. More recently, residents reported that Shepherd glowered from the sidelines at a Feb. 17 community meeting staged by Houston-based Trammell Crow Residential — whose CEO Kenneth Valach gave Shepherd $500 — to promote a planned apartment project for Shepherd donor Gene Lucero.

In contrast with her smiling photo ops such as marching in the Martin Luther King Day Marade, many District 1 residents characterize Shepherd’s personal interactions with them as “disdainful” or “unhelpful,” and point to her lack of any significant initiatives on CIty Council. During this month’s near-record snowfall in Denver, Shepherd showed astonishing tone deafness when she posted a Facebook entry admonishing residents — in a district with numerous elderly residents — to clear their sidewalks because “the snow won’t remove itself.”

Clearly the rookie councilwoman faces an uphill battle to retain the seat she won by just a 5% margin in a 2011 runoff election.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

Get More Smarter

BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Denver Police Union Calls For Chief White’s Resignation

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

In a development sure to have political ramifications, 9NEWS reports on a fresh war of words between the Denver Police Protective Association and DPD chief Robert White after a vandalism incident during a large anti-police brutality protest march Saturday:

The head of Denver's police union wants Chief Robert White gone.

He says officers were told not to take immediate action when protesters defaced a memorial for fallen officers.

"We will no longer follow him as we move forward," said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association. "He is not our chief."

Saturday, demonstrators aiming to protest what they perceive as police brutality threw red paint on the memorial, which sits outside of Denver Police headquarters. Rogers says DPD brass told officers not to take immediate action.

As 9NEWS reports, Denver Police under Chief White have followed a less-confrontational policy when dealing with protest marches, identifying individual lawbreakers for later arrest as opposed to charging into crowds to break up illegal activities on sight. Our understanding is that in a life-threatening situation, police would still wade into a protest to restore order, but not for (as in this case) preventing petty vandalism committed by a small number of protesters. Two suspects have already been arrested over Saturday's incident.

We get up early to beat the crowds.

“We get up early to beat the crowds.”

Such a policy becomes more important to strictly adhere to, though we'd say it always should be important, when police respond to a protest against police brutality. In addition to the nationwide headlines in recent months over the issue of police killings and beatings of unarmed citizens, DPD itself has a long and unsettling record of police brutality–and a culture of mutual silence and protection among police officers accused of misconduct that has made cracking down on the problem very difficult. Repeated, well-publicized instances of obvious misconduct by Denver police, both in the commission and concealment of violence against undeserving citizens, have severely eroded the trust of the community they serve. Accountability for Denver police accused of misconduct remains slow, uneven, and too often dependent on the media forcing the hand of officials.

Bottom line: everything we have heard about Chief White suggests that he is genuinely committed to reforming both the public image and internal culture of the DPD, and this reflects creditably on Mayor Michael Hancock for appointing him. However emotional police officers may be about this memorial to fallen officers–and we don't want to disparage that legtimate sentiment–it would absolutely have been the wrong decision to break from established policy and violently charge into this crowd over what amounts to petty vandalism.

Chief White told rank and file that he found the vandalism "abhorrent" but said "I believe the decision we made was appropriate."

Rogers says the actions send a different message.

"The message I got was you, as a police officer, are not as important as our image," Rogers says.

In early December, several Denver Police officers were injured, one critically, in an unrelated car accident that followed a large walk-out of students from East High School protesting against police brutality. The same Denver police union at that time circulated rumors that students had jeered the injured officers, which was not corroborated by any of the numerous media outlets on scene or witnesses other than Denver police. The story made for good mythmaking on FOX News, but locally, it wasn't good for the police union's credibility. In this case, calling for the chief of police to resign for following his established policy, and not giving in to emotion where it could make his job harder in the long run, makes Chief White look like a hero.

As for the Denver Police Protective Association? Maybe it's time they reflect on who they're really supposed to be protecting. Because whether they realize it or not, this is not the "image" they want.