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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Scott Martinez Named Denver City Attorney

From a press release late last week out of the Denver Mayor's office:

Mayor Michael B. Hancock today appointed Scott Martinez as City Attorney for the City and County of Denver, a key position responsible for advising and representing the city on a broad range of legal and policy matters. The Mayor also announced the departure of Doug Friednash, Denver’s City Attorney since 2011…

In his capacity as City Attorney, Martinez will provide legal representation to all city officials, agencies, departments, boards and commissions, as well as 200 attorneys and staff.

“I am committed to bring cutting-edge solutions to our evolving legal landscape and honored to assume such an important role,” Martinez said.  “It’s a dream come true to serve as Mayor Hancock’s counsel, and I will defend the city and its people with all that I have.”

Friednash is leaving the City Attorney's office tol join Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a shareholder in its Government Relations Group.

Merida Casts Final Votes of Train-Wreck of a Term

Andrea Merida finally takes her leave from DPS

Andrea Merida finally takes her leave from DPS with the same final meeting that she once denied her predecessor.

From Ed News Colorado:

Thursday was the last regular board meeting for board president Mary Seawell, Jeannie Kaplan and Andrea Merida. Kaplan and Merida make up two-thirds of the camp that some call the last stand for traditional comprehensive neighborhood schools. Seawell, more often than not, has supported the district’s accountability-based reform efforts and charter schools.

But on Thursday, the three came together to form what Kaplan called a “weird” bloc of votes when the board considered renewing a contract with the Escuela Tlatelolco, a school founded by Denver civic rights leader Corky Gonzales.

The northwest Denver charter school, which serves students K-12, has ranked as one of the worst schools in the district for three years. According to the Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s own memo: “Escuela’s TCAP growth has consistently fallen short of District expectations by a wide margin. In addition, the School’s performance is below that of its similar school cluster across subjects.”

Merida was the most the vocal and most upset. She said it was a disservice to the Latino community to allow the school to remain open.

The final board meeting for Seawell, Kaplan and Merida was certainly more subdued than Merida's 2009 inauguration, when she kicked off a controversial, and brief, career on the Denver School Board with a strange move; Merida got a court order to allow to her be sworn-in as a new Board member before the traditional end of the final board meeting of her predecessor. Merida's only term on the School Board featured a series of bizarre stories, from grossly over-spending on her district-supplied credit card to publicly criticizing former DPS Chief (and then-U.S. Senator) Michael Bennet without disclosing that she was being paid by the campaign of Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff.

Merida had been running for re-election in 2013 until she (at last) saw the writing on the wall in September and wisely exited the race. Both union organizer Rosario C. de Baca and former City Council President Rosemary Rodriguez had the political experience and fundraising ability to crush Merida (Rodriguez ultimately won the seat).

Whether or not Merida ultimately decides to try a return to politics as a candidate herself is probably a moot point. It would be hard to find another public official in recent memory who made so many high-profile enemies, and demonstrated such inexplicably bad judgment, over such a short period of time. Maybe her name ID is strong enough that she could come back and run for something else in the future, but shaking off the skeletons she stuffed in her closet will likely prevent her from winning another race. And that's probably not a bad thing.

GOP 2016 Denver? Come On Down!

denver2016gop

As the Denver Post's Allison Sherry was first to report:

The Colorado GOP is preparing to make a bid for Denver to host the 2016 Republican National Convention — potentially delivering the state a repeat of the economic boost it received when it hosted the Democratic National Convention five years ago…

In addition to Denver's already proven record at hosting the massive four-day international event that draws roughly 50,000 visitors, a 2016 GOP convention in Denver would be apropos, [Colorado GOP chairman Ryan] Call said, because it will be "bookends of eight years of an Obama regime."

"A Republican convention in Denver will not feature Greek columns at Mile High Stadium," Call said, referring to the stage built in 2008 for President Barack Obama's acceptance speech. "But it will showcase the issues important to the West and to America."

CBS4's Shaun Boyd:

The GOP leaders believe Denver has a good shot at landing the convention since the cityhas experience with such an event. Denver hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention where then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama received the party nomination.

Most Denver residents have fond memories of the 2008 Democratic National Convention held at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, despite the inevitable inconvenience of hosting such a major event in the middle of a functioning metropolis. A report not long after the 2008 convention showed an economic benefit to the Denver metro area of some $266 million from the Democratic convention, and there's every reason to believe Republicans coming to town in 2016 would be similarly great for the local economy.

Whatever your choice of party may be, at a certain level, a party is a party.

Weirdest Voicemail You’ve Ever Heard in a Denver School Board Race

POLS UPDATE: Sources close to the school board candidates "supported" by the robocall described below insist that this recording did not originate with their campaigns, or anyone linked to them. Several sources indicate that, despite the call's ostensible targeting of "fellow Republicans," it was widely sent to Democratic voters in Denver. If correct, that would seem to indicate this robocall was a "false flag" attack, seeking to undermine support for these candidates by "outing" them as closet conservatives. We'll update as this unusual story develops.

—–

This year's Denver School Board candidates apparently tripped, fell, and landed in Douglas County while the rest of us weren't looking, if this bizarre voicemail to "fellow Republicans" (yes, all six of you who live in Denver!) is any indication:

According to the cheery, robotic disembodied voice, Landri Taylor and Barbara O'Brien "share our conservative values" and will help parents send their kids to schools "free of the liberal agenda." Christian schools and vouchers are specifically mentioned, in connection with one another, just in case you needed the point driven home with a sledgehammer.

Maybe Scott Gessler should have suspended his campaign to work on Denver races, instead? DougCo seems to be doing a good job of electing far-right School Board members without the Honey Badger's help. Here in Denver, it looks like he'd have an opportunity to help send even more tax dollars to Christian schools, and right under Diana DeGette's nose, too. Now that's a Honey Badger move.

(End note: I absolutely hate Denver School Board races, and if this weren't so utterly bizarre, I wouldn't have posted it. And frankly, I like Landri Taylor. But seriously, what the heck? Is this Opposites Year? Multiple DSB candidates selling a pro-voucher stance?)

Hancock Submits 2014 Budget to City Council

Full letter from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock after the jump. Some of the highlights from the 2014 budget:

  • Establishing a $3 million housing fund to build new and much-needed workforce housing, as well as additional funding for homeless services and the medically indigent.
  • Hiring up to 80 new police officers, 15 firefighters and additional sheriff’s deputies during peak times to keep Denver safe while maintaining a focus on crime-prevention.
  • Investing $2 million to advance transformational change in long-overlooked neighborhoods adjacent to Interstate 70.
  • Eliminating “convenience fees” charged to consumers who pay their city fees, bills and fines with a credit card, saving citizens $2 million a year and encouraging more Denver residents to make payments online.
  • Phasing out the city’s sales and use tax on aviation parts, which will keep us competitive with other cities around the country and help attract new aviation maintenance jobs to the metro area.
  • Dedicating $500,000 to the implementation of Denver Moves, the city’s multi-modal transit infrastructure plan, to make our streets safer for walking, biking and riding.

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Merida Exits Denver School Board Race

Updating the ever-contentious Denver School Board races, via Great Ed Colorado:

Andrea Merida, who represents District 2 on the Denver Public Schools board, announced Thursday that she is ending her re-election bid, citing her displeasure with the influence of national campaign contributions to board races and the increased role of federal policies in district-level decision-making…

…Merida’s withdrawal leaves union organizer Rosario C. de Baca battling former City Council President Rosemary Rodriguez for the southwest Denver board seat. In June, de Baca won the endorsement of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association over Merida, whom the union had endorsed in her initial run. Rodriguez is a well-known Denver figure who is currently the state director for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the former DPS superintendent who launched a slate of reforms now championed by Boasberg.

Whatever Merida's stated intent for leaving the DPS race, it was clear that she had little chance of winning re-election in November. Merida could not have been elected in 2009 without the financial support of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, and losing that endorsement (as well as failing to get other notable endorsements) meant that she was going to have a difficult time finding the resources to run a competitive race this fall. The combative Merida has made an inordinate number of political enemies in a short time, and leaving what would seem to be an unwinnable race probably saves her from more attacks surrounding her infamous DPS credit card "overages."