Friday, December 31, 2010

I always knew I would be great...

Happy New Year Zeke!

..I just didn't know that it would happen as a result of my granddaughter Kim's giving birth to a son - Zeke Thorne. Now I'm a great-grandpa.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pinon Canyon "Covenant"

Covenant is example of Department of the Army following their scripted design to takeover southeast Colorado


KIM, Colorado (December 29, 2010)

The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC), is opposed to the 'Community Covenant' agreement scheduled to be signed on February 8th, 2011, in Trinidad. This 'Covenant' is offered by a military contractor through the Department of the Army. PCEOC maintains that the first step towards improving relations with SE Colorado communities is not signing a covenant, but rescinding the waiver on expansion by the DoD.

Lon Robertson, PCEOC President stated, "First of all, we recognize the positive motives of those who are planning to sign the covenant. We agree with their intention to express support for the troops. But we have grave concerns about the appropriateness of this particular expression of that support."

The PCEOC Board of Directors has further determined it will not to be a signatory to the Army-initiated and funded covenant and has instead passed a resolution (attached) in support of the young men and women who are making extreme sacrifices and suffering unimaginable hardships during and after their military service.

A covenant is a unique and ancient document; it is a solemn promise with Biblical origins. Fort Carson Commanding General, Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins has called the covenant a "sacred document ... built upon faith." PCEOC holds that a resolution of support would be a more appropriate form for a secular body to use.

The 'Community Covenant' is being initiated by the Army yet wording of the document has been penned by a private military contracting firm, Whelden Associates, Florida.

The Army is also following the script for takeover of southeast Colorado as stated in one of the documents another opposition group acquired last year through the Freedom Of Information Act. One of the 'Strategic Decisive Points' made in the Army 'Pinon Vision' document designed to guide the takeover of southeast Colorado states: "County and Municipal Government.... the vital intermediate level of government must be won over in support of our expansion plan. Carefully prepared briefing teams must be ready to visit these officials to generate support....."

"If they are serious about improving relations they need to remove the waiver (the DoD gave the Army in 2006 to go forward with expansion plans). Otherwise it's just more lies," said RC Patterson, PCEOC Director.

Army officials seemed to link the signing of the covenant with potential financial rewards to the Trinidad Community. Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin identified a specific dollar amount saying that each Army maneuver can generate as much as $90,000 into the area economy. But we know that 'local benefit' promise is as empty now as it was in the 80's.

The PCEOC Board of Directors encourages other organizations and government agencies that want to show support of our troops to refrain from simply signing on to the Army's "covenant", and to pass their own resolutions instead.

"Our hearts go out to the men and women who serve in the military and their families, and we find it completely inappropriate that their service should ever be used as an instrument of economic development," said Robertson.

PCEOC is a non-partisan organization united in its opposition to any expansion of PCMS. No funding, no expansion.

For more information, please see www.pinoncanyon.com.

Mercury Cafe - New Year's Eve

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas



Denver foreclosure filings are up, foreclosure sales are down

The data from here:
- Comparing year-over-year from 2009 to 2010, foreclosure filings in November increased 4.8 percent with totals rising from 2,802 to 2,932.
- November 2010 foreclosure sales (completed foreclosures) were down compared to November 2009 with a decrease of 21 percent from 1,512 to 1,195.

Although some reports put a positive spin on this data (see FORECLOSURES CONTINUE TO FALL), an associate of mine who actually attends the foreclosure auctions tells a different story (to date he has bought 25 houses at auction). Very few buyers are showing up to buy the houses offered at auction. At the last auction, he was one of two buyers. He bought one house for the asking price of $25,000. Another sold for $1 over the asking price. A two-bedroom house with an asking price of $15,000 went unsold with no bids.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Filing for Denver's Musical Chairs


Filings for Denver municipal office in the May 3, 2011 Municipal Election

Filings for Mayor

 Carol Boigon
 Paul Noel Fiorino
 Michael Keith Forrester
 Michael B. Hancock
 Dwight Eisen Henson
 Doug Linkhart
 Danny F. Lopez
 James Mejia
 Chris Romer
 Kenneth R. Simpson
 Theresa Spahn
 Thomas Andrew Wolf
 Eric Jon Zinn

Filings for City Council

At Large:
 Josh Davies
 James Doherty
 Richard L. Gonzales
 Robin Kniech
 Tiffany Lee Rice

District 1:
 Paula E. Sandoval

District 5:
 Michele Fry
 MaryBeth Susman
 Leslie Holben Twarogowski

District 10:
 Timothy F. Karre II

District 11:
 Christopher J. Herndon
 Steven C. Lawrence
 Christopher Martinez

Filings for Clerk and Recorder
 Jacob Werther

Monday, December 20, 2010

Return to Fair Play


Apparently there is nothing like a reversal by an appeals court to get a judge’s attention. Colorado Judicial District 11’s Judge Stephen Groome presided over yet another Contempt of Court hearing against Vern Wagner in Fairplay, Colorado on November 23, 2010. Having been reversed on a previous Contempt of Court hearing which put Wagner in jail for 5 days without a proper hearing, Groome was now a changed man. He had even stated earlier that now he was going to run his courtroom “by the book”.

Having spent 4 days in Fairplay last May, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go back and watch the fate of rancher Vern Wagner being kicked around in the court room of Park County Judge Stephen Groome. The local Fairplay newspaper, The Flume, has done a great job reporting the details, here and here. For earlier Denver Direct coverage, go here and here.

Expanded Media Coverage

At that previous hearing, Denver Direct had filed for permission to videotape inside the hearing room. Judge Groome dismissed the request because it wasn’t properly filed at least 24 hours before as required, and when we re-filed 24 hours before the next day's hearing, he rejected it because the decision had already been made for the whole hearing.

This time we filed by email 4 days before the hearing. Two days later we were told we could set up our video equipment in the court room but not turn it on until given permission. So that is what we did. Arriving at 9:00 am, we were ready to roll at 9:30.

Sitting to the right of the court room were many of the same government crew that had gathered at the previous hearing. This included the irrepressible Park County Animal Control Sergeant Bobbi Priestly, in uniform with flak jacket, who had previously demonstrated her profound lack of knowledge in evidence gathering practice. Also in attendance was the government veterinarian who hadn't known the gestation period for cows, and the chief for the Bureau of Animal Protection, Scot Dutcher, (recently reprimanded because of the revelation of his more than 4,000 tweets on Twitter as Skinnyhorse) who had earlier explained his failure to roll a dead cow over to see its brand by saying he had a weak stomach.

On the left sat Wagner’s family and friends, including his bright young grandkids. We were excited and pleased to be cracking the video firewall surrounding what had been a travesty of justice at the previous hearing. This time, we hoped, videotape would reveal the incompetence, ignorance and arrogance of the State in its prolonged harassment of Vern Wagner.

We were all squirming on the hard bench pews by 10:00 am, and around 10:30 a clerk came in to tell us that all the parties were still in conference. At around 11:30 the conferees filled the front of the courtroom, and Judge Groome, after checking with the attorneys for both parties, and commenting on our patience, gave us the go ahead to videotape.

Unfortunately, what followed was essentially a report on the “backroom” deal that had just been struck. In private, the State backed down. Under the terms of this new agreement, Animal Control has to give Wagner 72 hours notice of an on-site visit and Wagner gets to have an equal number of individuals inspecting the cattle. Wagner has to report on the status of the cows once a month, and report if he chooses to move them to pastures other than the ones specified. The current Contempt of Court charge is dropped. As Groome himself said, the State gets what it wanted and the “status quo is preserved.”

It wasn’t until Judge Groome had been castigated by the Appeals Court and been nearly removed from the bench in the recent November election (lost in Park County but won overall in the District) that we have seen a return to Fair Play. Let’s hope it lasts in Fairplay, at least until Vern Wagner truly gets his day in court.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Denver Artist K. A. Collins


As an antidote to our usual coverage of pollution and politics, we are pleased to present local artist K. A. Collins and some of her recent work. She has small canvases for the beginning collector, and does commissioned portraits of homes and individuals. Lovely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Musical Chair Filled


The Democratic vacancy committee for Senate District 32 (chaired by Edgar Neel, see process here) voted last night, Dec. 13, 2010, at South High, and on the third round, elected Irene Aguilar over Rep Beth McCann to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Chris Romer who is running for the Denver Mayor’s seat which will be vacated by John Hickenlooper after he ran for (and won) the Colorado Governor’s position. Now McCann will stay in her House seat, which she won by the largest majority in the State. More "music", more chairs to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Water Magic - How Lowry effluent becomes Waters of the State and gets into our lakes unannounced


I've always wondered why we don't see any of these signs around Ferril Lake, Duck Lake, or Grasmere Lake where "recycled water" is currently in use. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Reg. 84 - Reclaimed Water Control Regulation, requires signs to be posted and care to be taken in the use of recycled water. 


Thanks to Doug Woods, Director of Park Operations, I now know. In response to my recent email, he says: 
"Some factors to consider in why the City Ditch water is not classified as recycled water are:
-The City Ditch is classified as Waters of the State and there are specific water quality criteria associated with the permit to allow supply of water to the ditch.  Denver Water operates a dechlorination facility at the start of City Ditch. 
-Once water enters the City Ditch, Denver Water no longer has any control over the quality of water since there are numerous external influences, such as storm sewer inlets. 
-The compliance point for the permit that Denver Water must satisfy is at the start of the City Ditch once the water leaves the dechlorination facility.  Denver Water has never violated this permit."
The Denver (City) Ditch to which he refers used to be an open irrigation ditch (read the history here). The Ditch was terminated at I-25 during the T-REX rebuild. Claiming that putting the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site effluent ("recycled water") into the Ditch changes its nature is pure magic - a useful fiction that conceals the fact that this toxic effluent is flushed into these lakes. So that's why there are no signs around these park and lakes to warn the public as required by Colorado Reg. 84. I'm guessing that this clever magic also relieves Denver Water from any liability coming from citizen exposure to this toxic mix.





Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Park give-away?

Formerly known as Triangle Park, at 23rd and Broadway,  renamed Eddie Maestas Park in 2006. Photo from Google Earth.
Stamped "Confidential", these internal documents reveal Denver Parks and Recreation negotiations to give this park to the Denver Rescue Mission under a "stewardship agreement". Recall that we recently spent $275,000 to rebuild this park in order to make it less hospitable to the homeless. For more go here.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


Pet people - here's your survey

via email:

Denver Animal Care and Control (ACC) is dedicated to protecting human and animal health and safety. As part of this effort, ACC is gathering public input on how to increase pet license compliance rates. This input will help ACC identify ways to get more lost animals back to their owners, enhance customer service, and guide our outreach efforts. Please take a minute to complete our short online survey on pet licensing. The survey can be found here. Hard copies are also available at the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter or can be obtained by calling (720) 865-5387. The survey will be open until January 7, 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Naysayer Editorial - by Phil Goodstein

The Triumph of the Republicans

Historian Phil Goodstein
     Seventeenth Street Republicans swept the Colorado elections. This is the branch of the GOP also known as the Democrats. Led by the likes of Roy Romer, John Hickenlooper, and Michael Bennet, it has made it plain that advancing the corporate agenda is the primary duty of elected officials. Precisely because the Democrats have assured that its officeholders will carry out the business line, the Republicans have been able to run and elect ever more extreme candidates.
     In some ways, the polling results were quite positive. Regardless of who won the contests for governor and the Senate, obnoxiously bad candidates lost. What is more, getting Hickenlooper out of city hall is an accomplishment. Since gaining the mayor’s post in 2003, he has primarily relied on public relations to cloak his agenda of turning over public business to private interests. His efforts to destroy the integrity of the parks as free gathering spots is simply the tip of his effort to assure that Federico Pena’s beloved “public/private partnership” is the complete control of public life by private entities. Even so, Hickenlooper leaves as mayor before he has been able to make this goal a complete reality. In particular, US OpenAir, an out-of-state contractor whom he allowed to fence off the Civic Center to show movies at $15 a pop, not only failed to do so in 2010, but it recently walked away from its efforts to transform City Park into a private venue for 2011.

Flyover Plan Draws Flak

From the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Air Force thinks the rough-hewn peaks of southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico make excellent surrogates for the treacherous mountain ranges in global hotspots such as Afghanistan. Some local residents beg to differ.
In a bid to provide Special Operations pilots more realistic simulations of wartime missions, the Air Force has proposed a vast new tactical training zone that stretches across 94,000 square miles of rugged terrain. Starting next year, commanders want to send C-130 transport planes and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft skimming across the region after dark at altitudes as low as 200 feet and speeds of up to 288 miles per hour. They envision three sorties a night. Read more...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

OSHA Investigates Duck Lake Excavation


The ongoing excavation of the sediment at the bottom of Duck Lake has reportedly been stopped by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) due to concerns for worker safety. The sediment may contain the pollutants and radionuclides from the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site that have been included in the "reclaimed" water coming from Denver sewers. Kiewit, one of the largest construction companies in North America, the contractor for this job, is being required to do soil analysis and testing before work can proceed.
Denver's City Park Duck Lake as of Nov. 18, 2010

Apparently Denver and Aurora are unique among American cities in allowing Superfund Site effluvia to be pumped into their sewers (since 2000). When Metro Wastewater started recycling the sewer water in 2004 through a system of purple pipes (now appearing in Cheesman Park), it also used this water to fill Ferril and Duck Lakes in City Park, as well as Grasmere Lake in Washington Park. Although the sewer water is partially treated to reduce some contaminants, no special treatment is used to remove the potent pollutants coming from Lowry Landfill.

The recent "Duck Mortality" study suggested that chemicals in this water were stripping the oil off of the ducks' feathers and causing them to sink and drown. Could the same chemicals cause health problems for the workers who were "down in the hole" without adequate protective gear?

Channel 31's Heidi Hemmat wraps it all up in her report of Nov. 23, 2010.
 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Circulation and Use Plan for Denver's City Park

From Denver Parks and Rec's Angela Casias, Community Relations and Marketing Specialist:

The City Park Circulation Plan is complete and implementation will begin with the rerouting of the road south of the museum. This is currently in the design phase and construction is expected to start in Summer 2011.
We will also begin replacing gates with bollards and posting traffic and way finding signage throughout the park.
Funding is being sought to implement other recommendations of the circulation plan. We expect that the entirety of the plan will be implemented within the next five years.
Any other questions you may contact Britta Herwig at 720-913-0614.
For the entire plan (pdf) go here.
Click to enlarge

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

US OPENAIR CANCELS DENVER 2011 EVENT

via Press Release

DENVER— Outdoor cinema producer US OpenAir, announced today they will be terminating the remainder of their Parks Use Agreement with the City of Denver, and will not be proceeding with the scheduled Denver event in City Park, July 2011.

After much discussion, event organizers will cease future event plans in Denver, CO, sighting difficulties in securing title sponsorship.

“There was a great amount of interest in bringing this unique event to Denver, as OpenAir’s US premiere event. It would have been one of the cornerstones of summer activities and serve to highlight Denver as a progressive and cultural city,” said Julie Frahm, Managing Director of US OpenAir.

“As a Denver native, I had a vision of US OpenAir launching in City Park with the iconic Denver view greeting every guest,” said Frahm. “In the current economic climate we have been unable to find a corporate partner to be the title sponsor of this new event.”

Frahm continued, “I cannot even begin to express the respect we have for City Council members, City of Denver staff and the community groups that worked with us to develop plans and ideas for the Denver launch. The approach was community driven and the insight we gathered will help us immensely as we evaluate other markets in North America.”

Frahm went on to mention this was the second attempt by US OpenAir to secure a title sponsorship in Denver without success. “We have gained a lot of support, but without the title sponsor the financial risk to the company is too great,” Frahm said.

“Thank you to everyone who supported us and even those that objected but heard us out.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Neighborhood Representation

(For other assembly meeting times and places go here.)

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Food Price Inflation

From here – read it and weep.

The National Inflation Association today announced projections for future U.S. food prices based after this week’s announced $600 billion in quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve announced this week that it will be expanding its balance sheet by $75 billion per month until the end of June 2011, for total quantitative easing of $600 billion. Quantitative easing is nothing more than inflation and when the Federal Reserve creates inflation, it steals from the purchasing power of the incomes and savings of all Americans.
From $1.25 per ear, the average price of a ear of corn in your grocery store will likely rise to around $11.43.
From $1.69, the average price for a 24 oz loaf of the cheapest store brand of wheat bread in your grocery store will likely rise to around $23.05.
From $2.19, the average price for a 32 oz package of Domino Granulated Sugar in your grocery store will likely rise to around $62.21.
From $2.99, the average price for a 64 fl oz container of Minute Maid 100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice in your grocery store will likely rise to around $45.71.
From $0.69, the average price for a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate 1.55 oz candy bar in your grocery store will likely rise to around $15.50.
From $3.99, the average price for a 11.30 oz container of Folgers Ground Classic Roast Coffee in your grocery store will likely rise to around $77.71.
From $5, the average price for a plain white men’s cotton t-shirt at Wal-Mart will likely rise to around $55.57.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Councilman Doug Linkhart for Mayor


In lieu of having a responsive City Councilperson for my area, I have often called upon Councilman-at-Large Linkhart to respond to various issues that concerned me. He has always followed up on my concerns, and responded promptly. But that’s not why I’m endorsing him now, before the stampede of candidates has even started.

I believe that Linkhart will be the leader that Denver will need in the troubling times on the horizon. Because of events effecting our entire country, many of which have not yet taken their toll on Denver, we will face stressful times ahead. Denver will not be immune. The systematic gutting of our monetary system by the banksters is going to result in a world-wide depression which we will not be able to avoid. I don’t think I need to list the results, as we are already seeing them.

What we will need for these times is a peace-maker, a calm and reasonable person who can truly bring people together to make the hard decisions we will face. In my estimation, Linkhart is that person.

He is a true public servant, and has devoted his life to it, as his long track record reveals. He doesn’t seem to be ego driven. He seems to genuinely have the greater good in mind – not some agenda for his own aggrandizement.

I know of at least 6 more people who I expect to announce their intention to run for Mayor. There is none better than Doug Linkhart.

For more analysis, go here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dog Park Parking


I guess I'm fixated on the Woolley Dog Park at 16th and Josephine because it is just a block from my office and I can't avoid seeing it every time I go out for a walk. And I continue to be amazed that Mr. Woolley, friend and investor in now Governor-elect Hickenlooper, made a cool $5 million profit from its sale, and no one seemed to notice or care.

Yesterday, I discovered that it seems to be a convenient parking place for cars. Although there were no dogs or people in the park itself, there were 19 cars parked there. It seems to be functioning as an overflow lot for the East High students and teachers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prop. 19 Loss in California Means Colorado Could Be First State to Legalize Marijuana

DENVER -- The state's two largest marijuana policy reform organizations are not deterred by the results of Proposition 19 in California and will move forward with a similar 2012 statewide ballot initiative in Colorado. Prop. 19 was trailing 56-44 at the time of this release.

Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) and Sensible Colorado are working to place a measure on the 2012 ballot that would remove penalties for adult marijuana use and establish a system of regulation for marijuana similar to that of alcohol.

According to a 9 News/Denver Post poll released last week, 46 percent of likely 2010 voters would support such a measure, while just 43 percent would oppose it. The poll echoes previous and recent internal polls showing support for regulating marijuana around 50 percent among 2010 likely voters. The 2012 electorate should be even more favorably inclined toward supporting such a measure.

"California started the race toward legalization but Colorado is going to finish it," said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER, which coordinated the successful citywide marijuana initiatives in Denver in 2005 and 2007, and the statewide marijuana initiative in 2006. "Coloradans are ready to move forward and bring about a safer, more sensible approach to marijuana.

"For too long our government and the Arrest and Prosecution Industry have been playing a game to keep marijuana illegal for adults," Tvert said. "That game will soon be over -- we're playing to win in 2012."

SAFER and its close ally, Sensible Colorado, have been working on plans for a 2012 initiative while closely following the fight over Prop. 19 in California this year.

"Over the past five years we have built a large coalition of organizations, elected officials, and citizens across the state," said Sensible Colorado Executive Director Brian Vicente. "Now that the 2010 election is over we are moving full-steam ahead with a plan to organize, mobilize, and energize our coalition and potential voters throughout Colorado.

"The campaign for legalization in Colorado begins today and will not end until we become the first -- or one of the first -- in the nation to establish a legal marijuana market for all adults."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day - at Last

We agreed to provide the Huffington Post with a report from our local polling place. Things were calm and lines were non-existent around noon at the Franklin Residences at Denver's Franklin Park, polling place for precincts 826 and 823. According to Sally Reno, assistant supervisor, "It looks like a pretty good turn-out for a mid-term election".

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Walkabout - Friday Oct. 29, 2010

 Once in awhile I get out to walk around my neighborhood, and of course, take a few pictures.

 The Fox, well-known graffiti artist, seems to be back with her stencils. Pleasant change.

 Water catchment area in the northwest corner of the Woolley Dog Park at 16th and Josephine - a few days earlier.
After it was finished,
the East High teachers apparently didn't know what it was, and because their parking lot to the east was closed for repairs, they parked on top of it.
 Solitary dog enjoying the the Woolley off-leash dog park. To date, there are no rules about who can use the park.

Corner of Colfax and Josephine, where the new 7-11 is being built - across Colfax from the old 7-11, which lost its lease. Thirty years ago there was a filling station on that corner. I think they dug up the old underground tanks, but I never actually saw them being removed. The building in the back ground is the completely remodeled Floyd's Barbershop, which originally served as a pinball parlor.
When John Hand bought the Park View Hotel (below) and the pinball parlor, he put them to use as part of the Denver Free University.
I think a new sushi restaurant is going in on the corner, replacing the old sushi restaurant.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bob Ragland - Non-Starving Artist


I've known who Bob Ragland is for the last 30 years or so, but I got to know a lot more about him and his art when I invited him over to make a YouTube clip. I love his attitude and his art. Bob's philosophy has carried him through thick and thin. He keep his oil paintings within a reasonable price range ($65 - $100) and his subject matter mostly from the neighborhood.
If you are going to have an event or party, consider inviting Bob (303 839-5259) over for a "shoe-box" show. It's an especially good time of year to pick up a meaningful, one-of-a-kind gift for yourself or a friend. I have to admit, I couldn't resist - and I bought two. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Park County Judge Groome, reversed by Colorado Appeals Court, will now play by the rules.


After receiving a reversal of a Contempt of Court case against Vern Wagner, Judge Groome, facing a vote on retention on Nov. 2, will now run his courtroom “by the book”. Yet another Contempt of Court hearing for Wagner, scheduled for October 26, will instead be only to “read Wagner his rights”. The actual hearing is now scheduled for Nov. 23.

Groome was reversed and reprimanded in the earlier case because: Wagner was not "(1) afforded a hearing; (2) not afforded the opportunity to plead either guilty or not guilty to the charges; (3) not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) not afforded an opportunity to offer testimony and to call witnesses in his behalf; (5) not afforded an opportunity to cross-examine adverse witnesses; (6) not afforded an opportunity to have subpoenas issued to compel attendance of witnesses at trial; (7) not afforded the right to remain silent; (8) not afforded an opportunity to testify at a trial; and (9) not afforded an opportunity to make a statement in mitigation."

Judge Groome needs to stop acting like an arm of the Park County Sherriff’s Animal Control Department and more like an impartial judge. Having sat through 4 ½ days of an earlier hearing, in which the Department of Agriculture, run by John Stulp, was allowed to confiscate 379 of Wagner’s cattle, sell them, and then put the money in escrow where Wagner can not use it, I saw first hand the bias against Wagner. The “evidence” presented by Animal Control officer Bobbi Priestly was a joke, but Groome allowed it anyway. The arrogant testimony of Scott Dutcher, now infamous for his incessant tweeting as “Skinnyhorse”, should be stricken. The entire proceeding, in my opinion, was a sham, and should also be reversed.

The continued harassment of Vern Wagner must cease. The man is 77 years old and has until now had a successful life as a rancher. The proceedings thus far have made it almost impossible for him to continue in the ranching business.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amazing what $7 million will buy

Woolley Dog Park opening tomorrow, Saturday, October 23rd from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. 

from Jill McGranahan
Director of Marketing and Communications
Parks and Recreation 
City and County of Denver
After several community input meetings, the site at Josephine between Colfax and 16th Avenue, was purchased in March 2010 as the future home of the downtown area recreation center.  In March and May, two community meetings were hosted by Council members Robb and Madison where a dog park and a community garden were chosen as interim uses until funding for the actual building could be identified.
Capital Hill residents are excited to welcome a dog park and urban garden; both needed amenities to the downtown core.   
Although voters approved up to $11 million in bond funding for land purchases, planning and design of a new recreation center in central Denver, the City was able to purchase the land and complete the land remediation, demolition of the existing building and other design and planning for less than $7 million.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Denver Rock and Roll Marathon



When the story appears on your street, it's hard to pass up. I'm told 15,000 signed up. This clip was shot at around 9:00 am on mile 9 at 17th and York. Great first-person account here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Best Explanation of the Current Financial Crisis

(Ed. Note: Although I spend 2-3 hours a day reading financial newsletters, I rarely write about it on this blog because I don't want to influence readers to make fiscal decisions that they may latter regret. You've got to do your own research and make your own decisions.)


However, the following newsletter, The Subprime Debacle: Act 2 - John Mauldin's Weekly E-Letter, was so incisive that I couldn't resist passing it on. It's a free signup if you want to keep receiving it.)

There's trouble, my friends, and it is does indeed involve pool(s), but not in the pool hall. The real monster is hidden in those pools of subprime debt that have not gone away. When I first began writing and speaking about the coming subprime disaster, it was in late 2007 and early 2008. The subject was being dismissed in most polite circles. "The subprime problem," testified Ben Bernanke, "will be contained."

My early take? It would be a disaster for investors. I admit I did not see in January that it would bring down Lehman and trigger the worst banking crisis in 80 years, less than 18 months later. But it was clear that it would not be "contained." We had no idea.

I also said that it was going to create a monster legal battle down the road that would take years to develop. Well, in the fullness of time, those years have come nigh upon us. Today we briefly look at the housing market, then the mortgage foreclosure debacle, and then we go into the real problem lurking in the background. It is The Subprime Debacle, Act 2. It is NOT the mortgage foreclosure issue, as serious as that is. I seriously doubt it will be contained, as well. Could the confluence of a bank credit crisis in the US and a sovereign debt banking crisis in Europe lead to another full-blown world banking crisis? The potential is there. This situation wants some serious attention.

This letter is going to print a little longer. But I think it is important that you get a handle on this issue.

Where is the Housing Recovery?
We are going to quickly review a few charts from Gary Shilling's latest letter, where he review the housing market in depth. Bottom line, the housing market has not yet begun to recover, and it is not only going to take longer but the decline in prices may be greater than many have forecast. I wrote three years ago that it could be well into 2011 before we get to a "bottom." That may have been optimistic, given what we will cover in this letter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Free Car Wash


The students from Denver Christian conducted a free car wash at The Church in the City. I couldn't resist. Thanks for creating a bright spot in my day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

$6 Million "Woolley" Dog Park to Open Oct. 23, 2010

Woolley Dog Park at 16th and Josephine, photographed on Oct 13, 2010

Since Charles H. Woolley II, long-time Hickenlooper friend and associate, was able to sell this property to the City for $5 million more than the City's most recent appraisal of record, I propose that we name the dog park, which was supposed to be a Recreation Center, after him: Woolley Dog Park. Kind of has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

I sure am glad that we were able to get this done with Bond money, so we can continue to pay for it for the next 30 years, with interest, which will add at least another $5 million to the cost by the time it's paid for. I hope our dogs appreciate it, as it will probably rank as the world's most expensive dog park of all time.

Oh, and about that recreation center? When politicians say it will be 5 to 10 years for something to happen, they really mean never, because they will be gone by then. Unfortunately, the citizens of Denver will still be here paying for it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rock and Roll Marathon, This Sunday, Oct 17th

Marijuana Advocates to Blast Former Booze-Dealing Gubernatorial Candidate Hickenlooper Over Hypocritical Opposition to Marijuana Reform

Thumbs down on Hick, thumbs up on Garnett and several state legislative candidates

DENVER -- Colorado's largest marijuana advocacy organization will hold a news conference in front of the Denver City-County Building on Wednesday, October 13, at 11 a.m., to discuss the results of the first-ever marijuana-specific Colorado voter guide. The event, which will occur just as voters begin receiving their mail-in ballots, is being coordinated by the SAFER Voter Education Fund (SVEF), the social welfare lobbying arm of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER).

** Voter guides available on-line here.

At the news conference, advocates will blast gubernatorial frontrunner and former alcohol dealer John Hickenlooper for continuing to oppose the legalization and regulation of a far safer substance -- marijuana. The group will also praise attorney general Stan Garnett, as well as several other state lawmakers, for supporting a system of marijuana regulation similar to that of alcohol.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wes McKinley and Vern Wagner



Vern Wagner, long-time Hartsel rancher, who recently suffered the legalized theft of over $250,000 of his cattle by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and in particular by the arrogant Scot Dutcher, now in the news because of his incessant "tweeting", gets the respect he deserves from Rep. Wes McKinley and friends on a recent trailride. (Thanks to Keith Wells for this excellent video.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update on Duck Lake


The small Duck Lake in City Park is sure getting its share of attention. New walls and curbs are being installed now, but excavation of the (toxic?) bottom has not yet begun. Apparently it's going to cost another $200,000, for a total of $1,627,000, to do that properly. I wonder where the excavated material will go?


BILL/ RESOLUTION REQUEST (h/t to Adrienne Anderson)
1. Title: Approves an ordinance request to appropriate an additional $200,000 of Capital Improvement Funds for Duck Lake restoration in City Park.
2. Requesting Agency: Department of Finance
3. Contact Person with actual knowledge of proposed ordinance Name: Gordon Robertson
Phone: 720-913-0615 Email: gordon.robertson@denvergov.org
4. Contact Person with actual knowledge of proposed ordinance who will present the item at Mayor Council and who will be available for first and second reading, if necessary
Name: Gretchen Hollrah Phone: 720-913-5516 Email: gretchen.hollrah@denvergov.org
5. Describe the proposed ordinance, including what the proposed ordinance is intended to accomplish, who’s involved
a. Scope of Work - This ordinance request will appropriate $200,000 of Capital Improvement Funds (CIF) to supplement renovations to Duck Lake in City Park. This supplemental will allow deeper dredging of the lake bottom and additional sediment removal, which are key factors in improving the lake’s water quality. The total project cost will be $1,627,000, which includes edge restoration, island renovation and improved water exchange. Other sources of funding for the project include $607,000 from the Denver Zoo; $550,000 of Better Denver Bond funding; a $200,000 GOCO grant awarded to the City; and $70,000 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The balance of the CIF 2010 contingency after this $200,000 appropriation will be approximately $1.1M.
Appropriate: 7011102 RK030 Duck Lake Restoration 32105 $200,000.00
b. Duration - Through 2011
c. Location - City Park
d. Affected Council District - District 8
e. Benefits- Improved park asset; addresses environmental hazard.
f. Costs - $200,000 supplemental to $1.427M project.
6. Is there any controversy surrounding this ordinance, groups or individuals who may have concerns about it? Please explain: No.
Bill Request Number: BR10-0815 Date: 9/13/2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Sky One World Kite Fly for Peace, This Sunday



Dreamworks Studios “How to Train Your Dragon” to Sponsor
25th Anniversary One Sky One World Kite Fly for Peace in Denver

For 25 years, Denver resident Jane Parker-Ambrose has been promoting world peace and respect for the environment through the One Sky, One World Kite Fly; an event that happens around the globe on the second Sunday in October. But this year a few dragons will be crashing the party. In celebration of the October 15th DVD and Blu-ray release of “How To Train Your Dragon”, Dreamworks Studios has announced it will be a major Sponsor of the 25th Anniversary One Sky One World. The movie, has been a smash hit since it it was released in the spring of 2010 and tells the story of a Viking boy who befriends his village's traditional enemy, a “Night Fury” dragon. “I like the message of peace and cooperation that the movie supports,” says Parker-Ambrose. “Instead of killing the dragons, the people learn to work with them. It’s just the kind of ideals our event supports. There are no boundaries when it comes to promoting world frendship and respect for life on earth.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Here's something you can do about the Purple Pipewater

(Please refer to index for background info.)

Ok. You've heard about this Lowry stuff being distributed to our parks and lakes and you are kinda wondering if there is some way to get this changed. Dang it! You walk your dog in that park and you want this purposeful pollution stopped.

Decentralized Information Distribution (DID)

Print a flyer for 5 of your park-friends. Go here http://www.scribd.com/doc/38864119 and download or print from there. It's designed to be a front and back of one sheet of paper so you may have to finagle that.

Next time you take the pooch out for a walk - take the flyers. Talk it over with your friends. Take action.

Since 2004 its been pumping at a rate of 25 gallons per minute, night and day. I'll do the math: 25 gallons per minute * 60 mins = 1500 gal/hr * 24 = 36000 gal/day * 365 = 13,140,000 gal/yr * 7 yrs = 91,980,000 gals (152 Olympic-sized swimming pools) since they started, and they estimate that they will need to continue pumping for the next 50 years.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"I See By Your Outfit That You are a Cowboy" - from The Streets of Laredo

(Ed. note: I made my first professional movie in 1970 (Winter’s Isle – sold to CBC) while I was an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. I taught a course entitled “Control of Human Behavior”. On the first day of class, I showed a movie called “King Video”. It was a documentary examination of video advertising using then-current TV ads. Unfortunately, this film has not endured, as I cannot even find it on IMDB.

Since that time, I have been an observer of trends in TV advertising, most recently concentrating on political ads. It is thus that I reflect on the ads of John Hickenlooper, now Denver mayor and candidate for governor.)

I pay a lot of attention to the ad's produced by political candidates. Senator Bennet's first ads, for example, were so bad that they actually hurt the candidate. It was hard to imagine who thought those ads were good.

Hickenlooper, from the beginning of his political career, has gone for the cute approach in his ads - motor scootering, jumping out of airplanes, dancing with giant red letters, etc. He has avoided any statement of policy, relying instead on "the cute" to carry the day. In this election cycle, his quick-change-artist-in-the-shower ad continued that tradition. But what is the intent of the latest ad - "Rodeo"?

I understand that Hickenlooper has majority support in Denver and Colorado Springs, but is about even in the rest of this vast state where the real cattle ranching takes place. Is this ad aimed at the ranchers and farmers? If so, I should relate the reaction of one such rancher - "phoney, not real, could not climb a fence, sickening". Surely this is not the desired reaction.

Here is the ad, followed by actual footage of Hickenlooper on horseback.



Friday, October 1, 2010

Huerfano World Journal endorses Wes McKinley

(Ed. note: This local newspaper, formerly owned by candidate Kellogg, has now endorsed Rep. McKinley.)

30 - September - 2010
by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- It has been the policy of the Huerfano World Journal, for as long as Gretchen and I have been publishing it, to try and present unbiased reporting in our newspaper--the exception being our stance against the expansion of the Piñon Canon Maneuver Site, which we came out against in our first issue.

We have never endorsed a political candidate before, preferring to let the candidates state their opinions and let people decide for themselves.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Finance

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Government

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Water

Representative McKinley in Trinidad


Representative Wes McKinley from HD64 spoke at the invitation of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Trinidad on September 22, 2010. Although his opponent, California attorney Lisa Kellogg (aka the Malibu Cowgirl) had asked to speak to the group, she cancelled 4 hours before the meeting due to a "conflict".

After his talk, (see above)  McKinley introduced Republican candidate Mack Louden, running for County Commissioner in Las Animas County. Mack gave Democrat McKinley a rousing endorsement heard often in HD64 - "He's one of us".

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vote for r3


In 2005, big money convinced us (by way of Referendum C TV ads) that Colorado Government needed our TABOR refunds more than we did. Amazingly, we agree to give up an unknown amount (because the returned refunds were for the next 5 years and were as yet undetermined), which was estimated to be about $3.5 billion. As the years went by, the amount we gave back turned out to more like $7 billion. My, how generous we were then at giving the government our money.

Things are different today.

Today we are all by necessity more frugal. We need to keep our own money more than ever. Do I need to list the reasons why? Unemployment, 42 million US citizens on food stamps, rampant foreclosures in the housing market (1 in 4 mortgage holders underwater), dollar devaluation, asset deflation and price inflation. For the same reason that giving money to the homeless guy on the street doesn't decrease homelessness, giving the government our refunds of $7 billion didn't improve government frugality, in fact, they spent even more.

Now, once again, with 60, 61, and 101 on the ballot, we face an onslaught of TV ads (see campaign sponsors here) warning us against voting for keeping more of our own money. The government needs it more than we do, we are told, and if we vote FOR the "Ugly 3" (as opponents have framed it) all hell will break loose. Firefighters and teachers will be laid off - our homes will burn and our children remain uneducated.

A detailed analysis shows that the "3 Amigos" (as proponents have tried to frame it. I hereby frame it as Our Three or r3) will save Colorado taxpayers about $5 billion over the next 10 years, a more gentle reduction in government revenue than Ref C was an increase. Remember, this would be $5 billion over 10 years from a budget at $49 billion today. That's about a 10% reduction if you let them pack it all into one year, but only .5% per year over 10 years.

A poll, published today, shows that, in general, Colorado folks are looking for a reduction in government spending at all levels.

Will TV ads win out over common sense? Will the people's need to keep their own money be beaten by a TV fear campaign? That's what usually happens. I remember having to explain to my then 3 year-old son that TV ads are mostly lies. He was amazed, but then he was only 3.

Rob McNealy, a Libertarian Congressional candidate in CD6, is in favor of r3.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep more of your own money. Help the government go on a diet. Vote in your own self-interest for a change.

Referendum C took our rebates for 5 years and totaled $7 billion. Now we want the money back.
Westword reports here.
Pro here.
You'll be hammered by $7 million in TV ads, so I won't bother posting the con link.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

When is Enough Enough?

The imposition of a registration fee to pay Denver's Occupational Privilege Tax is, in my opinion, a tax increase disguised as a fee. As a director of a Corporation I am now told that in order to pay the $48 annual OPT I must also pay a $50 registration fee. This tax increase was not done with the approval of the voters as required by TABOR, and is therefore illegal.

It is also interesting to note that there are no fines or penalties for not paying this fee. At some point, we have to stand up and refuse to pay illegal fees. For me, that point came yesterday when I sent this letter back to the Manager of Finance.


Date: 9/15/2010
From: Gerald Trumbule
To: Manager of Finance, Denver
Re: Denver Occupational Privilege Tax Fee                       
Dear Sir:
I have your notice dated 8/3/10 requesting that I send you $50 to register a business that is already registered. I note that this “fee” is payable every other year. In other words, it is not a fee but a tax. All tax increases must be approved by the voters. This was not. Therefore it is an illegal tax and I respectfully decline to pay it.
I also note that there are no fines for non-payment or late payment. I was informed that you would “turn it over to collections” if it is not paid.  
 Gerald Trumbule
What does "turn it over to collections" mean? Stay tuned to find out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

California Hype Not Playing Well in Trinidad

Kellogg in her booth space
Representative Wes McKinley, (D) Walsh, is running for re-election to his 4th, term-limited stint. As usual, he visits local fairs and celebrations to talk to his constituents.  His Republican opponent this time is Lisa Kellogg, a California lawyer who visited Colorado as a child, and now claims an address in Walsenburg. It's hard to figure out what the heck she is doing in HD64.

At the recent TRINIDAD ROUND-UP ASSOCIATION 100TH ANNUAL LABOR DAY WEEKEND FESTIVITIES we stopped by to see if we could interview Ms. Kellogg.

"No thank you and please get out of my booth space" was her reply. "I've been to your website and it's a bit slanted." Although she had no booth, she, and her sidekick Ermal Williamson, dressed up like John Wayne, were standing in booth space number 14, so I backed out a few feet to the public fairway.
Kellogg declines interview

"Don't you want to at least talk to my viewers" I said. "You could get some free face-time."

"I'm getting plenty of face-time" she replied.

"Not according to Google Alerts. I've got an Alert on your name and nothing much ever comes up."

"I guess I'm not a popular girl" was her response. The following donation record (from the Colorado Secretary of State's office) seems to verify that.

Candidate9/108/107/10
McKinley$6105$2125$1800
Kellog$400$600$0

Kellogg's latest reported donation of $400 came from her parents. An earlier newspaper report touted Kellogg's lead over McKinley in fund-raising, but that tally included her $52,100 loans to her own campaign. McKinley has loaned his campaign $700.

Ersatz Cowboy

 Ermal did a good job of blocking camera
Kellogg, who had earlier categorized McKinley as an "entertainer" and a "character", apparently has decided that she needed an entertainer of her own. Her campaign spent $1000 to hire actor Ermal Williamson to travel from his home in Branson, Missouri to Trinidad to campaign on her behalf. Despite not really looking like "the Duke", Ermal did his best to imitate John Wayne's style and walk. His comments to McKinley were really over the top, as when he confronted McKinley face-to-face, when leaving the rodeo earlier, about his "court date" for being "found guilty of sexual harassment." When I talked to Ermal, he denied making those comments, and didn't even know what House District Kellogg was running in. He also claimed that Kellogg had "25,000 horses on her ranch." Later, while we were having dinner at a local restaurant with McKinley, Ermal approached our table, with their campaign photographer in position, and extended his hand to McKinley. McKinley declined, and told Ermal to "get away from us." Ermal quickly sidled away.

Watch where you point that thing!
Kellogg's entry into HD64 politics reportedly has some local Republicans scared. Some have contacted McKinley with offers to help defeat her with funding and advertising. The citizens of HD64, who elected McKinley in 2008 with 76% of the vote, are apparently not falling for the California hype. Some think it's funny, but others are incensed, calling it degrading.


One 12-year old noticed Ermal's lack of gun-handling skills. "He doesn't seem to know what he is doing." Well put.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New City Council President Nevitt on Parks "Experiment"


September 13, 2010

To: Denver Citizens
From: Cathy Donohue, Former Member, Denver City Council

Following is an e-mail sent by Council President Chris Nevitt to Chantal Unfug of the Parks Department, all Councilmembers and a host of other city officials:

"Thank you, Chantal. I'm looking forward to the update. And lastly, let me say that I am very happy - and I know a substantial number of my colleagues are as well - that we are finally taking this measured, limited, and common-sense step forward to experiment with a broader set of activities in our parks. Reasonability, compromise, and broad public interests have prevailed against hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests. I admire and appreciate the patience and persistence of Kevin and the Parks and Rec team through this long and difficult process, and I want to offer equally deep thanks and admiration to our volunteer appointees on the DPRAB - you have worked harder and endured more, and made a greater contribution, in the interests of good public policy, than we could reasonably have asked for". -CN-

A few days ago I received a copy of the above message that expressed the thoughts and opinions of the current Council President, Chris Nevitt, regarding the testimony of Denver citizens who spoke before the Board of Parks and Recreation on the subject of Admission Based Events in the city parks of Denver.

He described their beliefs in the following way: "hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests". The testimony, both spoken and written, about turning our parks into private, open-air venues was not supportive of his views or the final decision of the Parks Board (which, incidentally, was fairly evenly split).

As a former member of the Denver City Council and a three-time president of that organization, I have never witnessed such hostile and demeaning comments made by any public official about the citizens of Denver. His words can only be described as contemptuous.

When did it become acceptable for an elected official to scorn the honest and heart-felt statements made by Denver citizens regarding change in an historic city custom?

The people who wrote and spoke about the issue of Admission Based Events in our formerly free public parks were overwhelmingly against the measure. Mr. Nevitt is a shining example of why the citizens of our country are thoroughly disgusted with elected officials at every level of government. His opinions are more important than the electorate. He has become a dictator of political change, not a representative of the people's interests.

One citizen, a Holocaust survivor who lives by Sloan's Lake cried out in anger after the final vote. She had just heard 90% of the people who testified at the hearing declare their objections to charging admission to enter events in public parks; yet the Board, ignoring the purported democratic process, followed the Mayor's new dictate to begin having such events in our parks. Could her solitary protest be the reason for his derisive comments?

There was a time when testimony given at public hearings at City Hall was accepted as valid. Reading his declarations that the voters are "hysteric, extreme, narrow-minded and parochial", is insulting to the electorate. He has clearly displayed his contempt for the democratic process. Many who took the time to let their wishes be known now realize what a hopeless task it is to try to influence their city government, especially when the President of the Denver City Council speaks so negatively about their values.

I have participated in Denver City government since the late 60's. Council sometimes voted against the wishes of their constituents; but never before has any elected official publicly expressed themselves as harshly as Mr. Nevitt did.

I hope this instance of appalling behavior will cause citizens to work to change our city government. I, for one, am ready to work to elect people who respect the electorate.
Additional comments by Dave Felice:
Councilman Nevitt:
You use the phrase "hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests" to describe widespread opposition to a policy to allow closing parts of public parks for admissions based events.
These terms are highly inappropriate and derogatory for a person in your position to use in reference to sincere, honest, dedicated, and respectful neighborhood representatives and community leaders.  In fact, use of these terms shows your callous disregard and disdain for valid public opinion.
I would find it almost impossible to apply these demeaning comments to people such as Carolyn Etter, Joe Halpern, Cindy Johnstone, Larry Ambrose, and hundreds other Denver residents who are committed to the principle of keeping parks free and open to the public.
You also insult the seven members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board who voted against admissions based events, and the members of the community who voluntarily gave their time, energy, and resources to participate on the Admissions Based Special Events Policy (ABSEP)Task Force.
By your comments, you have done a great disservice to the citizenry and the democratic process.
It is particularly distressing that you would use such terminology, given your background as both a leader in the organized labor movement and as a member of the Democratic Party.
To call a large number of community leaders narrow-minded and parochial because they disagree you about this issue is to say that you have a more enlightened and worldly perspective. It is clear, but sad, that hubris rather than wisdom is coloring your view.
By addressing you by your first name instead of title on occasion, I may have appeared disrespectful. I would not, however, use such insulting words to describe you, either in public or private.
Thanks for your attention. You can still call me "Dave," not "mister."
Dave Felice

Friday, September 10, 2010

Controversy won’t stop policy, says parks chief

By Dave Felice
Exclusive to Denver Direct

In spite of community opposition, Denver Parks and Recreation Manager Kevin Patterson is forging ahead with implementation of a controversial policy to allow exclusive commercial events in public parks.

Patterson says his department will start accepting applications in November from operators who want to close parts of parks and stage events open only to those who pay an admission fee. “Although the Policy lists eight specific parks where admissions based events can be held, I have instructed my staff to only accept applications for Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central parks for the 2011 season as well as all event facilities and special occasion sites for Confluence, Skyline and Centennial,” Patterson writes in a letter to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Commenting on the controversial proposal to close parts of public parks, Patterson says: “While there has been a great deal of conversation about sale or leasing of park land, I want to be clear that this is neither of those instruments. This is a permit. It grants exclusive authority to an entity to use the space for a period of time, to make sure there are no added conflicts for the use of the space.”

Numerous neighborhood organizations and individuals have complained that granting exclusive authority for a closed commercial event, no matter how long, is a violation of the City Charter and the principle that taxpayer funded parks should be free and open to the public. Opponents have formed the online community known as parksareforpeople.org to continue to express resistance.

The Advisory Board accepted the policy recommendation last month, following a public hearing during which many people criticized the policy. There are ongoing concerns about preventing the public from full use of park land, severe disruption to neighborhoods. The Board voted 10-7 to endorse the policy with a review after the first year.

Patterson has acknowledged that revenue to the city is not a motivating factor to allow admissions based events, and the Parks and Recreation Department has been unable to document any significant demand for such events.

While the original policy covers those parks where the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverage is currently allowed, parksareforpeople.org points out that the Parks Manager is not prevented from expanding the policy to ANY park at any time. In addition, suggested fees for park leases are well below market rates, creating an unfair competitive advantage for event operators over existing businesses.

Patterson says the Parks Department needs to work on a fee structure and determine how fees can be used. “We have to have an ordinance that allows us to collect fees and use the fees specifically for parks,” Patterson told the Advisory Board. City Council also will have to approve a change if money from the seat tax is to be returned to parks. Right now, that money goes into the general fund.

Opponents vow to continue to protest the policy in any way legally possible, including refusal to support events and event sponsors. The controversial policy could be issue in the mayoral and city council elections next May. The Parks Manager is an appointee of the mayor.

The full text of Patterson’s letter follows:

September 9, 2010

Dear Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board members:

First and foremost, I wanted to thank you for your work, diligence and thoughtfulness on the Admission Based Events Policy. Although some of you have been involved in this discussion for almost four years and some of you were new to the conversation, I truly believe you were insightful and deliberate in your voting.

I have taken your comments and suggestions from this past year, as well as your recommendations from your recent board meeting to develop a reasonable, rational, and equitable implementation plan.

Let me clarify some points that have been raised during the discussion and development of the revised policy. We began this process with a land area restriction of 20% of a park or 20 acres within a park, whichever was smaller. This was in direct response to the concerns about limiting the size of the events. We have further restricted the maximum size to 5 contiguous acres in a park, and we have also limited the number to 8 parks (City, Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Sloan’s Lake, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central Park), 4 special occasion sites already within the 8 parks (City Park Meadow and Flower Garden, Confluence, and Skyline), 1 additional special occasion site (Centennial), and 4 event facilities (Molkery, Chief Hosa, Stapleton Central Park, and Washington Park Boat House). The original policy had a limit of 10,000 patrons, and we have restricted that down to 7,500.

We also heard from the community about the concerns with the frequency and duration of the permitted events. The original policy stated that 80% of events had to be free and open to the public. It also limited the number of events to four in a month. In the new policy, we have the admission based events as the lowest priority after all of the other permitting categories have picked their dates and times in the November permitting timeframe.

While there has been a great deal of conversation about sale or leasing of park land, I want to be clear that this is neither of those instruments. This is a permit. It grants exclusive authority to an entity to use the space for a period of time, like a picnic site. A permit is simply to make sure there are no added conflicts for the use of the space from other people or entities who may want to schedule an event, whether it is a family reunion, wedding, or an admission based event.

Let me outline my thoughts on how this new permitting process will move forward for the 2011 season:

DESIGNATED PARKS
Although the Policy lists eight specific parks where admissions based events can be held, I have instructed my staff to only accept applications for Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central parks for the 2011 season as well as all event facilities and special occasion sites for Confluence, Skyline and Centennial. There are three basic reasons for this decision. First, we have to look at the impact of construction at our parks and consider how much of our system has been inaccessible from Better Denver Bond and Capital Improvement projects. Second, we will give first priority to events that are either contained within a larger free event, or within one of our special occasion sites or event facilities. Third, we are focusing these events where the infrastructure exists or is being built to hold them within our system. I believe this will have the least impact on the parks, the surrounding neighborhoods, and will allow these events to fit within walls or an already accepted boundary that park patrons understand.

FEES
The Department will be finalizing a fee and revenue structure and will submit those for ordinance to City Council this fall. We are also working with the Budget Management Office, the Treasury Department, Theaters and Arenas and our own permitting office to develop sound procedures and mechanics for collecting fees and revenues.

It is essential that we implement this new permitting procedure in a deliberate way to ensure the department can accurately and effectively support the events and our community.

FIRST YEAR REVIEW
I am recommending that we return to you, the Advisory Board, in October 2011 to provide a report on the number of admission based events, revenues, strengths, areas of improvement and other general information in order to facilitate further process improvements for 2012 and beyond. We will ask a small subgroup of the Advisory Board to assist us in determining the indicators of success, so that we may better gather data over the next year.

Please let me know if you have any other questions at this time and again, thank you for helping to ensure a strong and effective policy for our parks.

Sincerely,

(Signature)
Kevin N. Patterson
Manager