Friday, August 14, 2009

INC Parks & Rec Proposal Poo Pooed

From Larry Ambrose:
Outcome of PRAB Meeting: "Bill Boards in the Parks"

The City put forth Bill Airy's plan last night at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting, with one exception. Parks Department Manager, Kevin Patterson introduced the Poo Free plan and proudly announced that now it is possible for us, neighborhood groups and non-profits, to actually buy advertising just like the commercial folks! And our logo's will be just below and bigger than the Poo Free Parks logo! Really!

Not good news folks. In an abysmal display of dereliction of public stewardship and accommodation to the most popular Mayor in Denver history, the PRAB voted overwhelming to approve the P and R Departments sweetheart deal with Poo Free Parks. Policies? Not to worry, said Chantel Unfug, the Mayor's $100,000 per year + liaison to the Mayor's appointee, Manager Patterson, (and elected representative to the Denver School Board from NE Denver).

Unfug said (and I paraphrase here), "We are working to change the policies by 2010 so that they are consistent with what we want to do now."

Poo Free advertising a slippery slope?

Advisory Board member representing Peggy Lehman, attorney, Richard Ott, admonished the Parks Department staff not to let any more advertising into the parks. Strong stuff, aye? But Chris Nevitt's representative, Ed Done came up with the winning solution. It's not the advertising that's the problem. The signs are just too big! But there was a motion on the floor put forth by Carla Madison's guy, Keith Pryor, who insisted that the Board approve Poo Free Parks proposal precisely as Bill Airy's contract was presented. The vote was taken and low and behold, they voted NOT to approve the deal 8 to 4.

But then architect Noel Copeland, (Rick Garcia) put forth the face saving compromise. What if we approve IF he makes the signs smaller than 12 x 18? How much smaller? No discussion about this "small" point. It was getting too late. I'm not sure of the vote count but I believe it was 10 to 2 (Elizabeth Kester and Flo Navarro against). So, now Mr. Airy can make his "Bill Boards" 11.75 x 17.75. Brilliant.

On positive notes, there were many thoughtful and civic minded people from around the city who presented wonderful and cogent testimony. Kathleen Rust was brilliant in describing everything in the parks eventually bedizened with ads. We must rally these folks and follow through with strategies to keep this scheme from being implemented. And, there's always the likelihood that Mr. Airy will not be able to sell advertising to cost and public image conscious companies anyway. After all, do they want at least half the people in the city resenting them for intruding the commercials into their parks? Perhaps we can help "make this known" to these companies.

In a related matter, Mr. Airy didn't even wait for the Advisory Board hearing to start advertising in the parks. He was seen putting these signs up throughout Sloan's Lake Park and on public right-of-ways on Tuesday. Oh, yes he did use his Poo Free hybrid fuel efficient Prius with the City logo on it to put them up. And, he was even able to do it without any help from the homeless! See also here, and here.


  1. The signs Airy-fairy posted in Sloan's Lake violate rules against solicitation within 300 feet of a park and against posting signs on public right-of-ways. Is anyone going to enforce those prohibitons, hyrbid vehicle or not? I doubt it.

    This city is extremely fortunate to have Larry Ambrose representing the neighborhoods, and to have DenverDirect and DearDenver as alternative media outlets. As I've said, it would be fitting to use Denver Post bags for dog waste. Poop comes in the bag, poop goes out in the bag!

  2. Anonymous7:02 PM

    I'm sorry to hear about Keith Pryor's vote. I know that doesn't represent the views of people in the neighborhood he lives in. I would be shocked if that represents Councilwoman Carla Madison's views -- I strongly suspect it does not.

    "Advisory Boards" are not representatives of an area or an elected official. They represent themselves as individuals alone, and are selected for having a diversity of views from a diversity of locations throughout the city, and for having a passion for the subject.

    Unfortunately, when "votes" are reported like this it makes it sound like -- and more horrifyingly the City may be treating it as -- some sort of representative expression of the will of the People. It absolutely is not and should be be treated as such.

    Shame on those wanting to sell our park space for advertising in any way.

  3. This whole affair was mishandled from the start on the part of both parties. First with the City of Denver, City Atty and Parks and Rec Dept for their incompetence and misreading of the city charter. Further, Kevin Patterson’s notion that he can simply authorize a free business give-away and the City of Denver not receive any monetary share in return is ridiculous. There was never going be any revenue share from PFP’s ad sales in our parks, nor was PFP going to have to pay any vendor fees, license fees, or leasing fees to city for the privilege to run his business in our parks. PFP’s stood to make $375k in it’s first year alone while Denver got zilch, during a $120m fiscal deficit crisis. And as for whatever cost saving this would have had for Denver; there was never a pro-forma statement issued by Parks & Rec either nor proper calling of bids. For Mr. Airy’s foibles, whatever costs he’s invested are his and his alone as well as his losses. Nice idea for entrepreneurship, but the deal breaker went further than just ads in the park and the fiscal inequity to Denver. Mr. Airy’s exhibited profound CHUTZPAH in his promotion, branding his car(s) and signage with the City of Denver and Parks and Recreation logos without permission, as if to indicate this was already a program of and sanctioned by the City and County of Denver. It was not a done deal. In his ramp-up, he constantly violated city ordinance by placing his lawn signs IN THE PARKS, without permission and along right-of-ways. His over-ambition got the best of him which turned people off. The whole notion of poo in the parks and responsible owners cleaning up after themselves is subjective. PFP would not change behavior of the irresponsible dog owner. And it goes well beyond our parks. Dog owners should always have bags with them from the moment they step off their porch, on their way to and from the park to begin with. walk Sloans Lake frequently with my dog, and frankly, dog waste is hardly apparant. What is noticeable is the duck and goose droppings throughout the park...which is normal, and expected at parks with bodies of water, yet hardly cleaned up. So all this stuff about blaming the dogs is neglegent. It's about responsibility and ettiquette. This was nothing more than a bright eyed businessman trying to turn a buck using our parks as his profit center without sharing a dime with the parks/people of Denver.