Over 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)
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
18,000 miles of streets
(and more, not from Susan)
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.”