Don’t It Just Feel So Good – The Hickenlooper Coronation

goat-smile.jpgOver at Denver Politics, there’s a review of the obvious ho-hum interest in the upcoming all-mail May election where sixteen elected offices will be filled, including the position of Mayor, Auditor, Clerk and Recorder, and City Council seats.

The piece quoted at Denver Politics was written by Susan Barnes-Gelt, a politically savvy pundit for the Denver Post, whose contributions to the City and County of Denver have been enormous, both as a civic activist and city councilperson. Ms. Barnes-Gelt ends her thoughts by noting, “Honestly, I don’t know what to make of a citywide election for 16 important positions and little controversy. Are we so absorbed in national and international affairs and the doings at the state legislature that we simply don’t care about the direction of our city, its condition and its future?”

She continues, “Maybe I’m tone deaf, but the absence of a spirited civic dialogue that should accompany municipal elections is not music to my ears.”

Ahem… I’ve taken Ms. Barnes-Gelt to task (with a little praise, also), on several issues over at the old blog, (a series of rants that name Barnes-Gelt), but it is instructive to note, that almost a year ago (May, 2006), she wrote a piece for the Post entitled, “Hick rolling to another term.” I noted in a rant in response to that piece that “…Barnes-Gelt…consistently plugs, in a fairly sickening syrupy manner, the administration of Denver’s mayor John Hickenlooper. Her latest column, ‘Hick rolling to another term?’ takes the proverbial cake.” She included in the piece the observation, “Word is John Hickenlooper will stroll to re-election. …Nobody is itching to run against him, no scandal lurks, no interest group whines and his approval ratings approach triple digits. …Four more years! It’s beginning to feel like a campaign.”

Remember, that was a year ago. Sound a little feel good to you?

(Note: I am a fan of Barnes-Gelt and certainly her son, Ben, who had the cojones to confront the chubby lady up north, Marilyn Musgrave, prior to the last election.)

One cannot escape the feel-good mantra promulgated by John Hickenlooper and his minions. The homeless initiative, including refurbished parking meters to capture your feel-good change; blind eye to illegal immigration; $42Million subsidy to Denver Health from the city’s General Fund (to provide care for anyone, from anywhere); a pre-school initiative that raised Denver’s sales tax so the little tykes could head off to Bubba’s Baptist Lernin’ Center in Thornton; a slick deal with the Del Norte Neighborhood Development Association–(Hello, Debbie Ortega! What a gal! Debbie serves as both the president of Del Norte’s board AND the Hick’s executive director of the Mayor’s Commission to End Homelessness. No conflict there.)–to build (infill) twenty $250,000 condos for homeless folks–about $5Million lent from the City–right next door to the Ashland Recreation Center and within walking distance of three schools; public-private initiatives to showcase “New Urbanism,” in our neighborhoods regardless of what the people who live in those neighborhoods desire.

Yup, this feel-good administration revels in its ability to charm the elite (read: monied), and the downtrodden who’ve yet to find their bootstraps, unless the same are handed to them on the backs of middle class taxpayers, as freebie entitlements.

A short litany of deferred issues which, of course, necessarily aren’t really that feel-good, aren’t really that pressing as, oh, say the feel-good tickle one experiences while pumping quarters for the homeless into a cutely adorned “retired” parking meter:

Gangs in Denver
Graffiti from Gangs in Denver
(and, thanks to a piece in the 2/3/07 Denver Post from Susan Barnes-Gelt)
23 libraries
34 recreation, senior and community centers
75,000 trees in parks and parkways
4,000 acres of parks
33 swimming pools
31 fire stations, 5 police stations, 2 training stations
140 playgrounds
18,000 miles of streets
750 bridges
(and more, not from Susan)
Snow removal
Pot hole repairs
Funding for Park Master Plans
Utilizing Enterprise funds (from agencies that support themselves without General Fund assistance)–so I’m told–for essential city services that are in-arguably General Fund responsibilities

And, many, many more essential city services that–unless the sun don’t set in the west–will not be showcased by this feel-good administration because, well, um, see there just isn’t enough money to go around folks. And, if the sun still rises in the east, I’ll bet ya’ll are going to see a very, very concerted effort–after the Hick’s second coronation in July–to sell a property tax increase to take care of those incidental, tiresome essential city services that this mayor, the Hick, just seems to find tangentially significant; just the pain-in-the-ass part of his job. We all know about those. They’re the things you just put off and put off until they can’t be put off any longer and you just gotta do some damn thing with them, even though they don’t engender happy faces, and feel-good giddiness ’cause they’re not serving Hizzoner’s constituency but, rather, are part of that damnable infrastructure debacle, the fix-up of which is estimated by some to amount to nearly $1Billion.

Yes, Hick’s assemblages of task forces, committees, advisory groups and others–including a city council that seems to revel in the Hick’s shadow, wagging its collective tail every time the Hick comes up with some new feel-good initiative–make for the stuff of ho-hum amongst the electorate. What’s the damned point in really caring about essential city services–or lack, thereof–when the snake-oil salve flows so abundantly from the City and County Building; a kind of mesmerizing feel-good departure from the tiresome, troublesome nuts and bolts responsibilities that should, but aren’t, being undertaken by our city mamas and papas?

No, Susan, it’s not a preoccupation with national and state affairs that zaps the civic responsibility of the electorate to understand and be involved in the machinations of city government. Nope, not this time. Rather, it’s a kind of woo-hoo abrogation of those responsibilities because the folks just feel so damned good about God being in His heaven and all that is right (read: feel good) with our little piece of heaven here in the Queen City. Denver is, after all, incontrovertibly the fearless enclave of enlightened liberalism. And, part of me feels pretty good about that. The other part of me–that damned independent streak–doesn’t feel so good about that.

But, hey… Who am I to question the lackadaisical interest of the electorate in the May election? After all, Susan, as you said almost a year ago, “Four more years! It’s beginning to feel like a campaign.”

This entry was posted in Hickenlooper, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Don’t It Just Feel So Good – The Hickenlooper Coronation

  1. DaMomster says:

    In November the Election was a mess. In May will it be the Election that never was? A little bit of fairy dust and feel good programs have obtunded the masses. The Emperor (Hick) is wearing a beautiful new suit and riding a majestic steed. His supporters are smug in their righteousness, “We really do know what is best”. All the while the middle and lower economic citizens of Denver are struggling to pay for THEIR city services. Our ELECTED officials are gladhanding and pandering to special interests. Looking toward the next public trough. We will have a new CFO who will integrate (read eliminate) city services and agencies. The City that Was, will be run like a business – bottom line and profitability.

  2. Jay says:

    I see (or not) Hick as Denver’s invisible mayor. While I didn’t always agree with Webb or Pena, they were out there…they were seen…and they left a legacy behind.

  3. michael says:

    wow. we are a troubled ship. everyone is pulling together and on rations to make this thing work

    and we have our leaders sneaking in to the cargo hold to steal food?

    I say we throw them overboard. susan-barnes gelt you support pay raises for elected officials in the city of denver. you have brought national shame to denver and you have proven that you cannot make the most simple of decisions

    susan barnes-gelt has no concept of reality and should not be trusted

    susan barnes-gelt has made a fool of herself, her family and more importantly the city of denver. susan barnes-gelt get out of politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s