Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Denver's Department of Finance Outsourced to Dallas?

(Click scanned image to enlarge)

While writing checks to the City and County of Denver to pay the nuisance tax ($12 per quarter for the privilege of running a business in Denver), my astute partner Pat noticed the address on the provided envelope. Did Denver outsource its Department of Revenue to Dallas? What's up with that?

The Pot is Out of the Bag (continued)

File photo from the web

Readers have been clamoring (well, one reader – thanks D.M.) for a follow up to my previous post about registering with the State of Colorado for use of medical marijuana (mmj).

I purchased 1/4oz of Durban Poison (indica) said to be good for sleep, and 1/4oz of Summit County Sweet Skunk (sativa) said to be good for pain (also said to have the highest THC content of the various kinds). Each was $100 and the total was $269.18, the difference being taxes. (I didn’t get an itemized bill so I can’t say for sure.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Barnum Park an Off-Leash Example

Denver's Barnum Park at 5th and Knox Court

By Larry Ambrose

As Denver Parks and Recreation DPR) deliberates on off-leash unfenced dog run areas at City Park, Barnum Park is a good example of what is likely to happen.

Barnum, at 5th and Knox Court, is a good area for off leash because there are no paths or pedestrian traffic. It is isolated on a hillside overlooking the 6th Avenue Freeway and I-25. The only problem there is that unsavory characters congregate in the parking area, engaging in dubious activities.

Barnum has about four or five 10-foot split rail fences that only serve to demarcate the area where dogs are supposed to run free. There is nothing to stop the dogs from going beyond that area. In fact, I had to stop taking my dogs there as a group of three because the pack mentality takes over and "voice control" becomes non-existent. The three of them would go down to the lake and run around for hours barking, running, swimming in the nasty water and chasing geese, all the while ignoring their "Master's Voice." After some time I was lucky enough to capture one of them and that would break up the pack. Now, I can take the alpha leader dog by herself and the other two without her and I have control.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rocky Flats Not Cleaned Up

Despite claims that the former plutonium nuclear trigger production plant, Rocky Flats, is now a "pristine" area suitable for a Wildlife Refuge, Dr. Harvey Nichols, who has collected and studied the data himself for years, declares that the area is still not safe for humans.

To my knowledge, the Wildlife Refuge is still not open, due to shortage of funds, it is said.

The Little Lady Who Won't Shut Up

Videotaping around Denver as I do, I often have the good fortune of meeting and getting to know individuals who are inspirational in their efforts to inform us and who are far more knowledgeable than our current City Council members. One such shining example is Cathy Donohue, the little lady who won't shut up. Maybe that's because she knows what she is talking about.

Note to City Council: Better pay attention here or you'll be inviting a whole lot of trouble later.

From former Denver City Councilwoman and indefatigable protector of our parks, Cathy Donohue:

December 9, 2009

Mr. David Fine, City Attorney
Mr. David Broadwell, Assistant City Attorney
Third Floor
City and County Building
Denver, Colorado 80218


Since the current city Charter has been in effect there has never been a re-zoning of land in the City and County of Denver that did not require a separate ordinance and a separate vote of the Council to change the zoning classification of a parcel of Denver land.

In order to clarify this statement, the Charter sections that govern these legal actions are as follows:

Section 3.2.9 (D) Method of procedure. The Council shall provide for the manner in which such regulations and restrictions and the boundaries of such districts shall be determined, established and enforced, and from time to time amended, supplemented or changed. However, no such regulation, restriction or boundary shall become effective until after a public hearing in relation thereto, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least fifteen days notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in an official publication of the City and County of Denver.

Section 3.2.9 (E) Changes. Such regulations, restrictions and boundaries may from time to time be amended, supplemented, changed, modified or repealed. In case, however, of a protest against such change, signed by the owners of twenty per cent or more, either of the area of the lot included in such proposed change or of the area to a distance of two hundred feet from the perimeter of the area proposed for change, such amendment shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of ten of the members of the Council of the City and County of Denver. The provisions of the previous Section relative to public hearings and official notice shall apply to all changes or amendments.

Additionally, in Section 3.3.5 Ordinances and Resolutions. The follow Charter provisions are required:
Section 3.3.5 Ordinances and Resolutions.

(A) When required. The Council shall act only by ordinance in matters of legislation or appropriations, or when action by ordinance is otherwise required by this charter, by ordinance, or by general law; and may act by ordinance or resolution in other matters.

(B) Single subject. All ordinances or resolutions, except ordinances making appropriations, shall be confined to one subject, which shall be embraced in any ordinance which shall not be expressed in the title. If any subject shall be embraced in any ordinance which shall not be expressed in the title, such ordinance shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed. Ordinances making appropriations shall be confined to the subject of appropriations.

Given that this Charter language has not been amended or changed by a vote of the people, the following questions need to be answered in regard to Charter regulations.

1. Will each parcel of park land and private land that is going to be rezoned have it own public hearing and notification?

2. In case of a legal protest of property owners adjacent to any public park, will a super-majority of Council be required to change current park zoning to the new OS zone?

3. Will the property owners be receiving the Charter mandated hearings and separate votes of Council for all zone map changes?

The most troubling and shocking aspect of the City Administration's complete disregard of the Charter regarding the zoning of all land in the City is that no one in the City Attorney's office has taken the duties of the legal work of the City to be a matter of supreme importance. For an entire body of work (the New Zoning Code) to be labored upon by hundreds of people, both elected officials and private citizens, without proper advice by a City Attorney is unbelievable. The emperor truly has no clothes.

I listened to hours of pleas by private citizens about the faults of the code as written. I have attended workshops, both in my neighborhood and with 40 neighborhood groups throughout the city. Never has any person in any official capacity informed the citizens of the Charter requirements that currently exist.

How can we have come this far with such a glaring vacuum in the educational process?

I await your answers to the questions I have posed. Surely, if they are not clarified and answered, many citizens could wish to avail themselves of the rights that have been given to them in our Charter by demanding public hearings and separate votes on each zone change in the new code.

Yours truly,

Cathy Donohue
Former City Councilmember

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Pot is Out of the Bag

Over the past few days, I’ve spent 8 hours watching Denver City Council meetings on Channel 8 on how to deal with the “wild west” of medical marijuana sales in Denver. It’s a real hoot watching these yahoos laugh and giggle their way nervously toward a new law governing a weed about which they apparently know nothing. Councilman Brown wants to make sure you can’t see “the product” from the street. Councilman Lopez wants to make sure his grandmother doesn’t have to see marijuana leaf signs clustered in a row on Federal Boulevard. Councilman Nevitt repeatedly expresses concern that Council is trying to micromanage a booming business (and get their share in taxes), but is consistently dismissed as Council plunges forward anyway, about to create a nightmare of unenforceable micromanagement.

Wanting to give the reader a first hand look from the street level, I decide to take my chronically pain-ridden body to a pot shop to secure some medication.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Soul (La Alma) of a Community

Amoung many other contentious issues currently swirling around Denver Parks and Rec is the idea that we need to close down or "transition" four recreation centers in order to save money. This is being done while $6,000,000 is being paid out (of Bond money) to purchase land for a new Rec Center at 16th and Josephine. The Centers being considered for transitioning are:

Johnson Recreation Center, 4809 Race St
La Alma Recreation Center 1325 W 11th Ave
Globeville Recreation Center 4496 Grant St
College View Recreation Center 2525 S Decatur St

At a public hearing at La Alma Recreation Center to discuss Admission Based Events Policy and Civic Engagement Policy, the Parks and Rec Advisory Board (PRAB), Chairman Darrell Watson allowed presentations by concerned citizens to speak about the La Alma Center. I can't resist citizens speaking from the heart at public hearings, and so, courtesy of Channel 8 - Denver TV, I provide you with clips from that meeting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Proposed Policy for Parks Profit

I wasn’t able to attend the Denver Parks and Recreation’s Advisory Board (PRAB) Hearings on Dec. 10 at the La Alma Recreation Center due to previous commitments, but fortunately for us, Channel 8 was there in full force to videotape the proceedings. (Let’s make sure that Channel 8 doesn’t suffer any more budget cuts. They provide us with an essential and easily accessible link to government transparency. So hats off to the hard working Channel 8 staff, and thank you very much.)

You can watch the entire proceeding from Channel 8 here. Of course, if you have Comcast, you could have watched it live. But I have satellite TV, and it is, lamentably, not available.

What I’ve done here is cut the 2 hours into bite-size chunks of various speakers. I’ve eliminated most of the work of PRAB chairperson Darrell Watson, who did a masterful job of keeping the hearings on track, without unnecessarily squelching the angry La Alma crowd, which was there to protest what they perceive as the closing of their Center. Although the City says it is looking for non-profit partners to “transition” to (and as far as I can find out, none has stepped forward), their intent seems to be to save money by closing at least 3 recreation centers.

Although the hearing was called to discuss two issues, the Admission-Based Event Policy (ABEP), and the Civic Engagement Policy, Watson, seeing the large contingent of La Alma protesters, wisely allowed 15 minutes for their statements. In this post, I’m only including one, Dean Sanchez.

After the La Alma conversation was closed, the ABEP hearing was opened by Cathy Donohue, who, as always, makes the issue very clear. The proposed Policy would be in violation of the City Charter.

Next up, speaking against the Policy, is Dave Felice, (a contributor to this blog) and proprietor of

Larry Ambrose represents INC, a coalition of over 60 neighborhood groups, speaking against.

Speaking in favor of the Policy proposal, is Councilman Chris Nevitt, who fears Denver may be "leaving some money on the table".

I've got to put up Steve Lang's comments, because he says the hearings and listening sessions are "fake".

If you still haven't had enough, there are 5 more clips in a playlist on YouTube.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Proposed New Rec Center Shows Government Deception

Proposed site for new recreation center at 16th and Josephine

Commentary by Phil Goodstein

Plans for a new recreation center at Colfax and Josephine raise questions about the location and funding of the facility to serve “central Denver.”

Charles Woolley II has been a longtime business partner and backer of Mayor John Hickenlooper. Wooley has been among those administering a supposedly “blind” trust of the mayor’s restaurant holdings. Seeing no conflict of interest, the city awarded a subsidy to Woolley’s St. Charles Town Company to redevelop the old Bonfils Theatre on East Colfax into the Tattered Cover bookstore. The owner of Tattered Cover is another close Hickenlooper business associate.

Though the Tattered Cover project has not performed as expected – a cinema as part of the effort quickly closed and another promised business never opened – St. Charles subsequently announced a massive project across the street on the 1500 block of Josephine. That’s where a revivalist church targeting Jews, the Church in the City, occupied a former Safeway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Note From Ken Gordon (Updated 12-6-09)

Ken Gordon, former Colorado State Senator, sent out an interesting email today:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Andrew Romanoff, a candidate for the United States Senate, has decided not to accept corporate interest money in his campaign.

Look at these links:

I make no editorial comment…
but I would like to know what you think. 

Please forward this to your list.  It is information for potential voters.
I hope you are well.  Please write back with comments or questions. 
Ken Gordon

Updated 12-6-09

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

In my last email I told you that Andrew Romanoff, who I support for the US Senate, will refuse contributions from corporate interests. I provided links to the Federal Election Commission political action committee (PAC) records of the other major candidates for the seat.

(Links to contribute, or volunteer to the Romanoff campaign)

Most responses to the email recognized that financing campaigns from groups who were intensely interested in having legislation favor them, and were making contributions to buy favorable treatment, creates a conflict for legislators. It makes for--at least--the appearance of impropriety, and increases the cynicism of Americans. (You can see the individual contributions, for Andrew as well, at the FEC website. Click on the state of Colorado.)

A significant minority of the responses, though, felt that a candidate, in order to win, needed to take any money available, regardless of the identity or motives of the contributor.

It is to those people that I am writing now.

Money in politics is not a minor distraction. Whether it is the oil industry writing energy policy with Vice President Cheney, the health insurance companies blocking a robust public option, or the banks stopping financial regulation, money buys influence and outcome.

As long as we finance campaigns from interests that have a financial agenda, the loyalty and actions of Congress will always be--at best--divided between citizens and big contributors.

No one thinks that having special interest groups finance campaigns is “good.” The dispute is between those who think it is unconscionable and must be stopped, and those who think it is unfortunate, but extremely difficult to change, and, in any case, not their job.

It is difficult to change. But it is necessary. Whatever issue is important to you depends on this change-- our health, our jobs and the economy, the preservation of the only environment that we are ever going to have, and whether we sacrifice young soldier’s lives in wars for oil.

Some people wrote back to me in a cynical manner. “You can’t change this,” they said. Well, that is true.

I can’t… but we can.

Let’s get back to Andrew for a second. He is an extremely qualified candidate for Senate. As the House Minority Leader he led the Democrats to their first majority in 30 years. As Speaker he led the effort to pass Referendum C.

Not only is he a highly qualified candidate, but he has made the decision to address the crucial issue--the unconscionable influence of money in politics.

It is up to us whether this works or not. With the quality of Andrew as a candidate we have no excuse to not take the right position on the money issue. I have seen large numbers of idealistic people contribute to and help successful candidates (Barak Obama, for instance) who did not take special interest money.

They weren’t cynical… They were outraged. Outrage can lead to positive change. Cynicism is weak.

This is the response to those who think that a candidate should take every dollar.


It is wrong. We must fix this broken system.

Support for Andrew is a big step towards a solution. Make a contribution, sign up to be a volunteer, or do both.

This is what matters. This is what needs to be addressed. This can work. Andrew’s success will send a message to the whole country. It is a good fight.

It will be a victory for idealism over cynicism.

There are no other adults watching out for us who are going to fix this.

There is just you.

Thanks for your help. Please forward. And if you get this forwarded to you please forward again.


Ken Gordon

P.S. Representative Lois Court and I have agreed to make a contribution to Andrew’s campaign of ten dollars for every contribution he gets before midnight on Monday. So now would be an especially good time to contribute. Please send something now.