Thursday, July 31, 2008

Starlite Drummers

I went to the Denver Black Arts Festival on July 12 to video the parade. I had planned on taping the entire parade, to catch all of the action. But instead I was attracted to the energy and verve of the Colorado Starlite Drummers. There was something going on there: the cool moves of the leader, the communication that seemed to be going on among the players, the effort that was going into keeping their uniforms zipped up in the sweltering heat, they were working it. So I stuck with them all the way around the lake, recording 5 separate pieces they played. I hope you (and they) enjoy this one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Denver's Wildlife Ecologist

Denver’s Parks and Recreation seems to be undergoing major personnel changes these days. A new addition is Ashley DeLaup, as Wildlife Ecologist. She has identified herself as the point person within Parks and Rec for citizen concerns about the City’s wildlife, including those critters residing in our parks.

I emailed her a few of my concerns. She responded promptly. (For ease of reading, I’ve interleaved her answers with my questions.)

Q1. What were the results of the $20,000 study funded last fall to determine the cause of the duck deaths? Have they been made public?

A1: Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to get a hold of our DOW representative. The Department of Wildlife conducted the testing looking into the duck deaths and to the best of my knowledge that information has yet to be released. You can contact the DOW District Wildlife Manager for Denver at (303) 291-7137 for more information.

Q2. Metro Wastewater Reclamation District has issued a permit to Lowry Landfill Superfund Site to flush 13 million gallons yearly of sewage effluent containing 158 pollutants and 10 radionuclides into the intake of our recycling plant (the sewers) and thence onto our fields and lakes. Although an environmental impact study was requested at the time, none was done. Since the recycled water was started up in 2004, we have seen an overall decline in the environment at the Park. Are any metrics being systematically collected on the wildlife which would confirm or deny this decline? In other words, is there an environmental study currently underway? If so, is the data available to the public?

A2: In City Park Denver Environmental Health (DEH) department conducts annual monitoring of water quality, and all current testing has water quality looking good, but I do not have the numbers. No wildlife around the pond has been tested. I examined the area, in particular around Ferrill Lake, and actually found a great diversity of wildlife. The macro invertebrate numbers and variety were excellent. I saw a large number of fingerlings in the lake; I pulled a few and saw no problems in gross morphology. There were three species of wading birds, cormorants, and three species of ducks on the water. From a quick view of the wildlife in the area it seems to be a healthy habitat. I know there have been concerns with the algae, but algae is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens when conditions are right on any body of water. With the extremely diminished influx of freshwater due to low rainfall, and the increased nutrient content in the water this is not unusual and does not affect the wildlife at this point.

Q3. Is fishing still allowed in City Park Lake? Have the fish been tested for heavy metals and other named pollutants? Are any environmental tests for radionuclides being conducted? Should such testing be started?

A3: Fishing is allowed in City Park. Since the lake was drained and restocked all fish have been there less than a year and are not yet of a catchable size. Testing the fish will be more useful after two to three years at which time DEH will recommend that Ferrill Lake have fish tissue assessment done.

According to the DEH, radionuclides have not been tested for. Additional parameters to the routine sampling list are being considered for this years sampling round.

Q4. Are you currently testing for plague? or do we wait until an animal dies?
A4: Regarding plague, no animal has tested positive for plague since June of 2007. Animal Control vector specialist examines every animal turned in. If there is a possibility of plague the animal is tested. This year very few deaths have been suspicious and all animals tested have been negative.

Thanks to Ashley for this information.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Camping Previously Allowed in Denver Park

File photo - Not Denver - Get the right kind of tents.

Both Hardheaded Hickenlooper ("we might just turn on the sprinklers if they don't leave by 11:00pm. Hehe.") and Mealy-Mouthed Madison (call 311) have repeatedly used the tired argument “If we let you do it then we would have to let everyone do it” as a reason to not allow Tent State to camp in City Park during the DNC.

A little research shows that camping has been allowed in Civic Center Park as recently as 2006.

Protesters camp on eve of parade

American Indians and their supporters peacefully came from the four corners of the state Capitol and the city and county building to camp out at Veterans Park Friday on the eve of Denver's Columbus Day Parade.

And as if to give its blessing - for logistical reasons - the state's Division of Central Services decided on Thursday to extend the permit so that the organizers opposed to the Columbus Day parade could set up their giant teepees and tents in Civic Center and stay overnight.

The permits initially granted were only from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and Denver and state authorities had indicated they were going to enforce the permits' hours.

"We didn't ask for (the extension)," Glenn Morris, American Indian Movement of Colorado organizer, said. "They unilaterally gave it to us."

According to an e-mail sent to the organizers, the central services division decided to let the protestors camp overnight to avoid the hassles of having to pack up their tents and belongings on Friday night and return today."

So by their own argument they should allow Tent State to camp in City Park.

P.S. Turning on the sprinklers would be reckless endangerment since State Reg 84 prevents human contact with recycled water. Sounds like a lawsuit in the making.

Monday, July 28, 2008

When Leadership Counts ....

We get this. From the Rocky Mountain News.

"Madison, who lives across the street from the park, said one of her concerns is that an influx of people will descend on Denver to participate in a big sleepover.

"We could just get a lot of people just showing up to camp," she said. "People from out of state, if they found out that we were going to open up free camping in the park, would say, 'Hey, we can actually go to the DNC and stay for free. We don't have to pay $500 a night.' "

Madison said other protest groups could make similar requests if Tent State were given permission. "My concern is all the Re-Create '68 folks who've been wanting to sleep in Civic Center Park," she said, referring to the group that promised to make the bloody 1968 Democratic convention "look like a small get-together." "If we say yes in City Park, I'm not sure how we could say no in Civic Center Park," she said.

Madison also is worried about the precedent it could set. "Right now, we don't even let the Boy Scouts sleep in the parks. It isn't political. It doesn't have anything to do with any message or anybody. It's just that we don't do that," she said.

"Once you let one group do it, even though (the DNC) is an extraordinary circumstance and all that, I think that it opens up the door to a lot of people just thinking that they should be able to do it, and then if we say no, they can sue us for it," Madison added.

The downside, she said, is that no one knows where the protesters will go at 11 p.m. "Everybody is batting around ideas and trying to confirm and calling around and things like that," she said. "But there is nothing that's even close enough to a possibility that I would feel comfortable to say."

More here. Methinks the City and County of Denver will be paying for their overnight lodging, one way or another.

Dying Island

Have you noticed that the little island in Ferril Lake at City Park seems to be dying? What is causing this? It looks very dry. Could the new clay liner on the bottom be keeping it dry? Could 4 years of the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site toxic sewage effluent be taking its toll? Speaking of lake bottoms, were you surprised when Grasmere Lake in Washington Park suddenly got a new double rubber/plastic bottom last summer? Official reason, it was leaking. Lakes always leak. Why was this leakage so important to stop? Could it be that the new sewage effluent used to fill the lake could not be allowed to leak to the water table below? Most will be surprised when Ferril Lake in City Park gets its new rubber bottom. A Denver Water representative told me last year that this is in the works, but that they were going to hold off for a year or two because "people are tired of that lake being torn up". When the new bottom is installed there, the project of turning these two once beautiful lakes into tertiary-treatment evaporation ponds will be complete. Regulation 84 lists the State regulations concerning the use of recycled water. Denver seems to be in violation of many of its rules, but of particular concern is this reporting requirement:

84.9(B)(5) The fate of waste water streams from the commercial or industrial operation or process after use (e.g., discharge to sanitary sewer, lined evaporation/recovery pond, or other location.
Other rules of interest:
(C) All users shall include information in their User Plan to Comply that demonstrates compliance with the following: (2) Precautions shall be taken to ensure that reclaimed water will not be sprayed on any facility or area not designated for application such as occupied buildings, domestic drinking water facilities, or facilities where food is being prepared for human consumption. (3) Notification shall be provided to inform the public that reclaimed water is being used and is not safe for drinking. The notification shall include posting of signs of sufficient size to be clearly read in all use areas, around impoundments, and on tanks, tank trucks and other equipment used for storage or distribution of reclaimed water, with appropriate wording in the dominant language(s) expected to be spoken at the site. (6) Operation of the irrigation system, including valves, outlets, couplers, and sprinkler heads, and commercial or industrial facilities and equipment utilizing reclaimed water, shall be performed only by personnel authorized by the user and trained in accordance with subsection 84.9(C)(10). (10) Workers shall be informed of the potential health hazards involved with contact or ingestion of reclaimed water and shall be educated regarding proper hygienic procedures to protect themselves.
These rules aren't always clear, but Doug Woods of Parks and Rec said at the SCPNA public meeting on 7/16/08 that he would get back to me. Still waiting Doug ....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Down and Dirty

Ah, the good old days...back when going to City Park was fun. Here's Wendy Woo from 2002.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

National Night Out

National Night Out - 22nd and Humboldt - 2007

One National Night Out is being held at 22nd and Humboldt again this year, Tuesday, Aug. 5 (6:00 pm). Come on out and get some free food, meet your neighbors and maybe even a candidate or two who want your vote. It's always a lot of fun.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Zoo = Animal Prison

A zoo contains a variety of animals gathered in one place for the education and entertainment of the human visitors. From the animals point of view, it is a life-sentence in prison.

Although recent attempts have been made to make the prison more “homey”, it is still a prison. Animals with natural habitat measured in miles are confined to one measured in feet.

Most animals in prison soon become insane. Deprived of their natural surround, including contact with their families, they become psychotic: pacing, pulling out hair, repetitive motion and aggression are all evidence of their pitiful mental state.

Now, in a time when many zoos are realizing that elephants are highly intelligent creatures with long lives and complex family structure, and consequently reducing or eliminating their elephant inmates, one zoo wants to imprison more.

The Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo wants to spend $50 million to enlarge and enhance their elephant prison (next to the polluted Duck Lake). They want to add three more elephants to the two, Dolly, age 39, and Mimi, age 49, already held in life-time captivity. This insanity must be stopped.

"The Denver Zoo, like others in the United States, is under pressure to improve the living conditions of its elephants or move them elsewhere. Some critics, such as Marc Bekoff, a former biology professor at the University of Colorado, say even a roomier exhibition area that mimics the elephants' home turf is not adequate because of the complex social relationships they form in the wild.

"They're big, emotional, smart animals with phenomenal memories," Bekoff said. "You just can't plop an animal here and there and form a group. I hate to say it, but the Denver Zoo doing what major zoos have decided not to do makes absolutely no sense at all."

Craig Piper, the zoo's chief executive officer, argues that zoos can help preserve the species, both directly and by giving them public exposure that will lead to more support for conservation measures."

Call the Denver Zoo and tell them you don't want to imprison more of these intelligent animals. (303) 376-4800

P.S. And please don't think I'm an "animal rights" person. But imprisoning a sentient creature as smart (or smarter) than we are, as we do our own criminals, is itself criminal.

Meanwhile, Back in HD8

The race for House Representative in District 8 (around City Park) is in the final sprint. Because there is no Republican running in this Democratic District, the primary (August 12), will decide who gets the seat. As usual here, I have presented the vidies without editorial comment. These are from the last forum held on July 9. Candidates are responding to a question about this being the first time that a "non-African-American" will win the seat. If you want more, help yourself - there are a total of 24 vidies from this forum posted on YouTube. McCann Bergles Lowery

Denver Parks Overview

Dave Felice (on right) with Adam Jung

by Dave Felice

While the Denver Parks and Recreation administration forges ahead with plans for exclusive commercial park uses, more and more people are questioning park management, particularly maintenance.

Writing in the July edition of the South City Park Neighborhood Newsletter, Association Vice President Roger Lawson says “you’re probably disappointed, discouraged, frustrated, or even outraged at the conditions you encounter” walking through City Park.

Noted historian Phil Goodstein, quoted in The Denver Post on June 22, calls the state of disrepair at Cheesman Park Pavilion “a prime example of the city’s lack of pride in itself.” According to Goodstein, “it’s the (former parks chief) Kim Bailey legacy of more liquor, less Port-A-Potties.” Goodstein says Bailey “showed a thorough disdain for the parks.”

Bailey initiated the development of a policy to prohibit free and open public access to parks for commercial events such as music festivals. She formed the Admissions Based Special Events Policy (ABSEP) task force. The ABSEP subcommittees on issues such as policy, fees, and sites, continue to meet as Scott Robson serves as Acting Manager of Parks.

Denver resident Bob Smith writes in a Letter to the Editor of the Denver Post: “There’s lots of media attention being paid to the algae clogging City Park’s lake, and some to the other lakes likewise affected, but no one seems to pay any attention to the lack of leadership in Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, and how this might contribute to the problem.”

According to Smith, there are many “hard-working, dedicated people” in acting or interim positions, being asked to do two jobs, and the department is suffering.” Describing Bailey as “a disaster,” Smith says “Maybe if Mayor John Hickenlooper wasn’t so busy begging for the DNC, he could pay better attention to the problems of the city he was elected to govern.”

On June 27, Rocky Mountain News reporter Daniel Chacon wrote that the city administration “is blaming its antiquated irrigation systems and a stretch of hot, dry weather for the ugly brown patches on the grass throughout several city parks.”

District 10 Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, a parks advocate and member of the Public Amenities Committee counters by saying Parks and Recreation needs to “work harder at keeping the grass in the parks green, especially since the city is hosting the Democratic National Convention in two months,” according to Chacon.

Councilwoman Carla Madison of District Eight and resident of City Park West is also concerned. According to Chacon’s report, Madison says “I don't think I've ever seen City Park's irrigation look worse.” Madison is also a member of the Amenities Committee.

The massive algae bloom in City Park’s Ferril Lake is troubling many residents and park officials.

"It's disgusting. The lake looks like it has cancer," said Rinn Swoboda, a 28-year-old native who has Denver’s “303” Area Code tattooed on her calf, according to a July 7 story by Denver Post reporter Joey Bunch. He quotes Megan Moore as saying “It looks like a commode that hasn't been flushed,” as she looked across two rows of wire fence set up to keep people away from the lake.

Trumbule has written extensively on his research of the issues of water pollution, dead birds, and unsightly or sickly grasses, He comments: “Ferril Lake in City Park IS a commode. If area residents knew what was being piped there from the Lowry Landfill they would demand that it be stopped, NOW.”

Some members of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s staff have commented briefly on the park problems. But Hickenlooper himself has been conspicuously silent.

Acting Parks Manager Scott Robson has also not spoken about the issues, except to delay full implementation of Bailey’s proposal to expand the sale of alcoholic beverages in so-called “festival parks.”

Most of the public comment has come from Jill McGranahan. She is the director of marketing and communications for Parks. McGranahan formerly worked for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and was hired by Bailey.

“(The heavy growth of algae) is definitely something we're trying to get a handle on and something we're trying extraordinary measures to get rid of,” commented McGranahan is a story for The Denver Post.

According to the paper, park personnel have tried chemicals and rakes, and eventually resorted to sewer vacuums, from the Wastewater Management Division of Denver Public Works. The story also says park officials suspect a $28 million city project, aimed at improving drainage and beautifying one of the city's prettiest parks, of feeding this massive algae bloom.

Regarding the dead-looking grass in many locations, the Rocky Mountain News quotes McGranahan as saying “the effect of the dilapidated irrigation systems on the grass is only made worse by the hot, dry weather.

According to the paper, McGranahan says: “We understand (the parks are) not as attractive as we would all like to see them. But, we do not intend to go outside the Denver watering guidelines.”

Both McGranahan and Parks Landscape Supervisor Ruth Murayama say the grass is really not dead, but dormant because of the heat. According to Murayama, “bluegrass can go into dormancy for as long as 90 days without water and that is why it browns out.”

District Five Councilwoman Marcia Johnson, Vice Chair of the Public Amenities Committee, complains that Cranmer Park in Hilltop is in bad condition. “It's uniformly tan,” Councilwoman Marcia Johnson said in the News story

Murayama, however, says a project to improve the irrigation at Cranmer is on schedule and expected to be complete in September.

South City Park Vice President Roger Lawson issues a call to action, declaring: “Game On!”

Using the sports metaphor, Lawson says the game involves “the contest between citizens and park staff.” First, he says, problems cause an unsightly blight. Then park officials either do not solve the problem or try to ignore it.

Then, when citizens complain, Lawson says park administrators form action teams to “offer any number of reasons staff is incapable of solving the problem.” One tactic is for officials to say they didn’t “think anyone could have anticipated” situations such as algae on Ferril Lake.

“Citizens, now desperate for victory, go on offense by ‘going deep.’ We call our Councilwoman (Carla Madison),” says Lawson. “Unfortunately, the ‘Hail Mary play’ rarely works, as the Councilwoman responds with tried and true responses such as ‘call 3-1-1,’ ‘be patient,’ or my personal favorite, ‘maybe things will be better next year.’ ”

Lawson says the game ends at City Park when citizens give up and drive south to Washington Park, since that park is generally better maintained.

Lawson praises residents, such as Hank Wotli, who continue to challenge the city. According to Lawson, City Park Alliance needs to get involved, along with other neighborhood organizations.

The Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) association has formed a Parks Committee, co-chaired by Don Tressler of Corey-Merrill and Larry Ambrose of Sloan’s neighborhood. INC represents about half of Denver’s approximately 200 Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs). Karen Cuthbertson, of Athmar Park Neighborhood Association, is the current chair of INC.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tent State at City Park - Should I Stay or Should I Go

Adam Jung and Zoe Williams answer questions at a neigborhood meeting sponsored by South City Park Neighborhood Association on 7-16-08. Because the City of Denver has imposed an 11:00 pm curfew on its parks, campers will have to leave the park, and, as Adam says, they have no place to yet. And, oh yes, what about those radionuclides?

Stay tuned for more fun.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Denver's City Park as Radionuclide Dump

Damn, every time I go to City Park these days, it is much worse. We've got to organize to get this stopped. I've been invited to attend the next meeting of the South City Park Neighborhood Association to discuss this with them. Wednesday, July 16th, 7:00 -8:30 pm, at the Monteview Manor Penthouse, 1663 Steele St.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

District 8 Candidate Forum

Food, Fun, and Forum Wednesday, July 9 5:30pm - 8:00pm

  • Come meet your Democratic candidates for House District 8 - Matt Bergles, Cindy Lowery, and Beth McCann
  • Register to vote
  • Change your affiliation
  • Come together as united Democrats for victory in November

Smiley Middle School 2540 Holly St. (between 25th & 26th on Holly) Doors open at 5:30 pm Enjoy Food and Beverage provided by your District 8 Democrats

Note: Come and ask questions. I'll be there videotaping. Let's make it interesting by asking some hard questions.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How to Re-create 1968 in Denver

  1. Consider, but then reject, the idea of allowing camping in the parks during the DNC. The Mayor’s Extraordinary Event Powers could have included camping in the parks, but didn’t.
  2. Grant a permit, for “free speech” purposes, to a large group in City Park, since the City would be sued if it were denied.
  3. Attach 10 prerequisites, difficult if not impossible to comply with.
  4. The kids show up believing they have a permit, braving the park pollution, and having the right to speak freely. As “free speech” includes not saying anything, it may also include sleeping between bouts of speaking.
  5. The police/troops will attempt to enforce the arbitrary 11:00 pm curfew.
  6. They will use tear gas and other mass control weapons. (Brown Note?)
  7. Instant Chicago 1968.
  8. Follow with multiple lawsuits against the City. Injury, denial of rights, etc.
  9. City (that’s us folks) pays out millions for City transgressions.

Come on – folks, its only camping (and drinking and smoking dope and probably some singing and getting naked.) You don’t have to give them a permit, just don’t try to arrest them. Common sense must prevail.