Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thank You to the People of Denver

Picture from Friends of the Electric Fountain

I bought a house near City Park 36 years ago because of City Park itself. My wife and I had traveled that summer to Colorado, California and Oregon, in search of a wonderful place to live, where we would find jobs, rather than letting jobs dictate where we lived. We came back to Denver, picnicked in City Park, and made the decision – a city with a park that wonderful, in its then-neglected way, was for us.

Over the years monies have been spent (remember SaBelle’s, struggling with the sprinkler systems?) but it seemed to be running down faster than upkeep was keeping up. But then, as I recall, in a voter-approved bond, we agreed to borrow money to finance a whole bunch of stuff, including fixing up City Park.

This Thursday we got to see how some of that borrowed money was spent. As Mayor Hickenlooper et al gathered to celebrate the occasion, I spent a little time driving (roofcam) and then talking with Gary Coffey, the knowledgeable Superintendent from Concrete Works of Colorado, Inc.

I was overjoyed to see the thoughtful, well designed improvements. Actual sidewalks, real curbs; all-in-all it now looks like we care about our parks and ourselves.

There was a whole lot of congratulation going on, between individuals, departments, companies and agencies for a job well done (well, not exactly done yet) and ahead of schedule. I say bravo to them all, but a special thank you to the people of Denver, who agreed to take on the obligation to finance all this for our current enjoyment.

Now look at the next big pop, this Infrastructure thing. Can we afford to go into more debt to finance a total rehab of everything at once? Personally, I say let's go for it.

The US dollar is shrinking so fast that the ones we pay back will be much smaller than the ones we borrow now.

Whatever interest rate we agree to pay will look good when rates go way up after a few years of 12% inflation (current, actual).

Plus, I’m old and on my way out as crunch time approaches. Hehe. Enjoy!

City Park Celebration (7:23)

Elevated From the Comments

I've decided to reprint these comments from the "Reality Check" post to draw attention to the strong opinions on this issue.

Anonymous said...
Reality Check -- Satellite photos and topographical schematics??? Looks like that crazy bully Brown and his CRL/Xcel Buddies are hard at work to portray Denver's most courageous City Council member as a loon. Have you ever seen Brown's facial expressions and loony eyes -- now that is someone to be worried about not to mention what he does.

Ruby Hill Park could be a Gem -- that is the point about which Diane Carmann writes so eloquently -- if those awful towers were taken down and buried.
Yes -- when you live at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, view planes are important unless you have an "economic" relationship with CRL, Xcel's lobbyist.
3:30 PM

Anonymous said...
I find it curious that anyone in a neighborhood would go to great lengths with sophisticated photos and diagrams to subvert a legitimate effort to enhance Ruby Hill Park in which Xcel's lines would be taken down. Believe the author of this "Reality Check" is just another Xcel pawn, much like Brown.

The reality check is that Xcel which has just settled with the IRS for tens of millions of dollars in a tax cheating scandal is not doing the right thing in a community from which it derives a substantil portion of its revenues.

MacKenzie shows courage by standing up to Xcel, whereas Brown is the real loon along with other council members who may join him.
4:09 AM

First let me thank the commenters for their comments, but I must ask - why anonymous? Why not stand up for what you are saying - with which, I must add, I mostly agree.

I was first "attracted" to this issue by the over-the-top rhetoric of Councilwoman MacKenzie. I love "over-the-top". The purpose of this blog being to report and investigate local issues, I decided to try to uncover the "reality" on the ground by gathering factual information. Little did I know that such information would be so contentious. "Sophisticated" photographs? - well thanks I guess - just my little digital camera - "Satellite photos"? - welcome to Google Earth, and "topographical schematics"? - just a copy of the viewplane map from the City of Denver website. I always go for the visual, and I thought these items might help the uninformed, which included me.

But why must it be assumed that anyone with a view different from yours is working for the enemy? I've been accused of working for the Watson campaign, and now being an Xcel "Buddy" and a pawn. No, none of the above. Mine is just another individual opinion. Now if anyone is looking for a paid shill, be sure to call me (just kidding).

More Information Please

Has anyone actually seen the agreement between Xcel and the City in which Xcel deeded the land to the City but retained an easement with the right to "maintain and improve"? I haven't, but if it exists, I would like to read (and publish) it.

And does anyone have any information of the "real" history of the Ruby Hill "high-point"? It's been called an Indian "mound" and that term is often used with "burial". Is there any information about the Indian's use of this land? Please comment if you know of any. (And yes, I use the term "Indian" rather than "Native American" advisedly.)

Aside from the facts, my own opinion is that:

1. If Xcel had any brains, they would quickly agree to "underground" the ugly suckers, and win the PR battle with consumers. $5 million? Why do they care - just pass it along to the consumer. Imagine the headlines - "Xcel Agrees With Neighbors - Will Beautify Ruby Hill Park". But opponents citing the outrageous CEO salary and IRS payments has nothing to do with this issue. Even if Xcel is right about the facts that they say give them the right to put in the new poles, they will lose the PR battle because no one cares about the facts when they are staring at a giant ugly pole.

2. I live near City Park and have prayed for 35 years that something would be done to improve its sorry state. (Personal aside: Due to the City's negligence, my partner tripped on a large piece of asphalt in the path and did a face plant, got a concussion and required a trip to the emergency room and subsequent medical care. In court we learned that in order for the City to be found liable, you must first put them "on notice" of their negligence. Harhar!) But now we are spending millions on City Park, and it's looking great (see next post). I see that monies are being slated for Ruby Hill Park improvements, and I applaud that, as it could surely use it.

3. Regarding the various birds on City Council, voters apparently prefer their representatives to be weird ducks, as they often reject experienced, educated individuals with real credentials and proven leadership to go for the, shall we say, unusual. I guess it's more fun that way.

4. I love Denver's beautiful views, but I hate viewplane ordinances. I'll have more to say on this topic as I don't like invisible things overhead that curtail individual property rights without individual approval, and that, as you know if you've read my earlier post on "Overlay Railroad", includes zoning overlays.

So let's keep discussing the issue, keep the ad hominem attacks to a minimum, present as much factual information as we can find, and continue to be the best City that we can be. You know, we all love Denver.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Denver is Totally Kewl

Except at the end of this YouTube video (which I found via ) of the "World Naked Bike Ride". Now just combine this with Critical Mass and we'd really have something.

Reality Check at Ruby Hill Park

When I watched the Channel 8 tape of the City Council Zoning meeting of June 13, 2007, I couldn't believe the BS coming from the mouth of Kathleen MacKenzie, current lame duck City Council Representative for District 7. Is this woman loony? Xcel "forcing transmission lines down the throats of the Council"? "Let them eat chemotherapy?" "Penetrating our Sacred View Planes". WTF? Did I miss something here? Is Xcel really trying to destroy Ruby Hill Park with ugly giant poles? Has she gone off the deep end? Let's take a deep breath and do a reality check there, Ms. MacKenzie.

So my partner and I went to Ruby Hill Park on Saturday, June 23, at midday. Here's what we found:

1. Ruby Hill Park is no gem. The concrete barricades (cruising prevention?), open construction pits, standing water, and general lack of care have rendered it shabby. We saw only two groups of two people in the park the hour that we were there - two at the swimming pool and two at the pavilion.

2. Before we start I should reveal my own bias. I think all electric lines should be underground (in a perfect world) and I think that View Planes are a silly idea - especially Sacred View Planes (more on that later).

Just south of Pecos and Mexico at the west edge of park.

What's on the ground now. Note the edge of the park in the background, and the very tall radio tower.

You can't drive to the reference point (from which the view is to be viewed) because of the barriers, but you can still walk there.

The actual View Plane reference point (not as nice as those with a brass marker).

Part of the actual view (composite of two photographs, unretouched).

Closer view showing the two towers at the northwest corner of the park, "penetrating" the Sacred View Plane.

OK, now we know what's there. We can probably all agree the electric transmission lines are ugly, especially in a park, unless you consider their function and like your electricity. But that's what has been allowed.

What's being proposed. These towers are just to the south of the park, but provide a striking comparison of the old and new. Note the new one appears a bit taller than the old. Xcel wants to replace 5 of the old with the new in the park.

Massive Sacred View Plane (blue) and small Ruby Hill Park (approximate, in purple)

Google Earth view of approximately the same area.

To Be Continued...

Monday, June 25, 2007

We're 37th!

Michael Moore discusses the state of healthcare in the U.S. and the opening of his new movie "SiCKO". Part 1. War on Iraq. Part 2

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Michael Moore Shrugs Off Wacko at SiCKO Promo

In town to promote his new documentary “SiCKO”, on the state of healthcare, Michael Moore handled a sticky situation with amazing ease on the West steps of the Denver Capitol today.

(Note: I slowed down to a freeze frame on the guys face. If you know him, you might think about getting him some help, or tell him to put down the pipe.)

More of Moore’s electrifying speech will follow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

State Rep. Rosemary Marshall at Denver Dems

Colorado State Representative Rosemary Marshall gives a status report at the Denver Democrats meeting on June 16, 2007. Topics include Amendment 41 – ID and driver license – home ownership protection – mortgage fraud – low-cost prescription drugs – increased benefits - homestead tax exemption (7:04)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Association Baton Proves Sticky

Having used the City Park Neighborhood Association presidency as a stepping stone to City Council, Madison now needs to pass the baton to someone else. Finding a new president for the Association is proving to be difficult.

email from Carla:

Hello Neighbors!
For those of you who may not have heard - let me announce that I have won the City Council District 8 seat!
Good news, bad news - that also means that I will be resigning as City Park West neighborhood president. We are going to have a meeting this coming Wednesday night, 6/13, and the meeting will center around the next steps for the association. Dave Webster who is our vice-president is also the Chair of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperative so his plate is pretty full. We need others to step up, co-chairs are a possibility, and we are going to entertain the possibility of changing nights if that makes it easier for some others to attend. If that is the case, and you can't come on Wednesday, please email me back!

At the monthly meeting on June 13, not enough people showed up to establish a quorum. Apparently (I was not there) no one stepped forward to assume the mantel of leadership. Webster, who shows up only when a vote is needed, has a full plate.

With the Association books in such disarray, who would want the job? Madison agreed with me (during our “parking lot” interview) that an audit of the books “would be a good idea”, but who would perform such an audit?

Not the City Auditor. (Gallagher’s pre-election slogan: “Audit the hell out of ‘em").

From: Gerald Trumbule
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:11 AM
To: Wibbens, Richard L - Auditor's Office
Subject: City Park West Neighborhood Association Audit

Dear Sir:

Can the Auditor's Office do an audit of a Denver Neighborhood Association?

Ever since the resignation of the Financial Chair of the City Park West Neighborhood Association last August, some members have been asking for an audit of the financial records. The current President of the Association, Carla Madison, has agreed that it would be a good idea to have an audit, but the Association does not have funds to pay for an audit.

Can your Office instigate such an audit?

Thanks for your assistance in this matter.

Gerald Trumbule

From: Wibbens, Richard L - Auditor's Office
To: Gerald Trumbule
Cc: Sulley, Dawn - Auditor's Office, Berckefeldt, Denis - Auditor's Office


Thank you for your inquiry noted below about whether we could perform an audit of your neighborhood association. Although the City as a whole certainly has interest in neighborhood associations for the value they add to our City, we have no direct financial oversight responsibility for these organizations. This is demonstrated by the fact neighborhood associations are not included within the City's financial statements.

Accordingly, based on the City's lack of oversight responsibility for neighborhood associations we are unable to grant your request for an audit. Please feel free to call me if you have any other questions.

Dick Wibbens
Audit Manager
Office of the Auditor
Phone: 720-913-5028
Fax: 720-913-5026

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sen. Chris Romer at Denver Democrats

I'm impressed that our local politicians come out to tell us what they've been up to lately. Too bad so few citizens come out to listen and question. Thanks to the Denver Dems for providing this occasion. Chris Romer, Colorado State Senator from District 32 Part 1 Romer talks about school accountability – teaching English – status quo failure – fear of testing – “you sat in the seat” high school diploma and more. (5:32) Part 2 Geothermal – solar – wind – Colorado to be Silicon Valley of Solar – thanks – renewable energy – solar without subsidy – concentrated solar – jobs created – Diana DeGette – Colorado has best combination of wind and solar – will be goldmine for Colorado (5:24)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Street Level at Colfax and York

Have you checked out the new feature at Google Earth? You can get down to street level in certain cities, and Denver is one of the chosen (although incomplete at this time). It looks like many of the photos were taken on a dark and cloudy day. Below is a screen capture of Colfax and York.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

DeGette Apparently Unaware of Bush's Martial Law Plan

In October 2006, Bush signed into law the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Quietly slipped into the law at the last minute, at the request of the Bush administration, were sections changing important legal principles, dating back 200 years, which limit the U.S. government's ability to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs. These changes would allow Bush, whenever he thinks it necessary, to institute martial law--under which the military takes direct control over civilian administration more.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

DeGette at Mercury Cafe - June 9, 2007

U.S. Representative Diana DeGette spoke at a sponsored "Open House" at 10:00 Saturday morning at the Mercury Cafe, moderated by Patricia Calhoun of Westword. Presented here are DeGette's remarks about the current status of issues of importance. Part 1 - Overview - 8:13 Part 2 - War in Iraq - 6:16 Part 3 - Civil Liberties - 2:56 Part 4 - The Environment - 4:08 Part 5 - Health Care - 6:23

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

As of 7:07pm tonight ...

UPDATE: 7:32 pm MADISON LEAD HOLDS!! COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 8 Votes/Total Votes % Votes NP - Carla Madison 2573/ 4,951 51.97% NP - Sharon Bailey 2378/ 4,951 48.03% Amazing Upset! Congratulations to the Madison Team! ___________________________________________________________ As of 7:07 pm MADISON WINS! Contests COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 3 COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 7 COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 8 Total Active Registration 41,903 Contest Results COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 3 Votes/Total Votes % Votes NP - JoAnn Phillips 1020/ 2,627 38.83% NP - Paul D. López 1607/ 2,627 61.17% COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 7 Votes/Total Votes % Votes NP - Shelly Watters 1778/ 4,782 37.18% NP - Chris Nevitt 3004/ 4,782 62.82% COUNCILMEMBER DISTRICT 8 Votes/Total Votes % Votes NP - Carla Madison 2233/ 4,296 51.98% NP - Sharon Bailey 2063/ 4,296 48.02%

Making a List, and Checking it Twice

Have you been a bad voter? Not yet voted in the District 8 run-off? Paul Weiss, Madison's campaign manager, just sent out an email with a searchable list of all of the District 8 voters who have not yet voted. I didn't know you could do that. I guess there is no privacy for non-voters. Wellington and Wilma, why haven't you voted yet? Update: The link was pulled by 4:30 pm today. Now you have to call Paul.

"Call me at 720-205-6506 or email me at and I will give you an updated link."

Monday, June 4, 2007

Denver Mother Talks About the Surge

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a and video project. I videotaped Pamela Osborne talking about her son Danny being shipped to Baghdad without proper training as part of the "surge". Our video was viewed over 15,000 times.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Chimera in the Home Stretch

I wasn't really planning on using these photographs of Madison's (home and campaign headquarters) front yard until I read this morning's posting at Colorado Pols. Read it for yourself here. But I like to go for the visual - so here they are. (Aside: gargoyles are associated with rain spouts - these are more properly called chimera. Second aside: Is this a "sign" on an R2 property and do you need a permit to have one?)

And as for the reports of husband John Bailey's wacky phone calls - I'd pit Carla's husband (and campaign manager) Paul Weiss against John any day on the "over the top" scale. Either way we get a "special" spouse. This may prove to be a lot of fun for the next four years.

Update: I hadn't read the attributed Rocky Mountain News article when I posted this. Interestingly, the Colorado Pols post left out John Bailey's comment that his phone is in his wife's (Sharon Bailey) name so his name couldn't have shown up on Madison's phone ID. Hmmm.

Other questions that come to mind: Is fire-breathing yard art a code violation? And did either run-off candidate get a (required) city permit to run their campaigns from their homes?