Ignoble (Goofy?) Moments – Denver’s Politicians

Meandering through the hoggish womb of the City and County of Denver for more years than I’d like to remember, conclusions with regard to politicians–principally mayors and city councilpersons–were, like writing on a wall, obvious.

There was the councilwoman who advocated for a homeless hotel to top out the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building. It was in the early stages of planning for the titanic-shaped edifice that now sits at 201 W. Colfax, when the otherwise sensible, dedicated community activist proposed there was an opportunity for Denver’s commitment to the homeless to be irrevocably demonstrated by high-rising them in the proposed consolidation of city offices in the building principally to be constructed to celebrate the ego (tangentially, to save payments for leased space), of Wellington Webb. Suffice it to say, that bird didn’t fly.

Much earlier, I recall a Monday night council meeting that included a resolution acknowledging the contribution to the city by a Director of Street Maintenance who died, quite tragically, on an airplane with his partner at his side. Yes, the Director was gay, and I believe the trip he and his partner embarked on was in celebration of their commitment to one another; a kind of honeymoon, if you will. Flying back to Denver, the Director, whose physical malady provided opportunistic bugs to ravage his body, died in his partner’s arms at thirty-thousand feet.

Resolutions from city council honoring a specific person for one thing or another always saw that person’s family, friends, professional colleagues in attendance. The deceased young man’s parents and other family members were present, as well as those who had served with him in a professional capacity. He was well-liked and the resolution from council was well-deserved.

Resolutions of this nature always brought comments from councilpersons detailing the the specific contributions the honoree had made to the city. The honoree, typically, was lauded by councilpersons. And, that Monday night, the comments were, if not eloquent, at least respectful of the tragic loss the family and colleagues were experiencing.

Then, it was Ted Hackworth’s turn. By that time, Hackworth had served on council–representing Southwest Denver–for many, many years. He was the token conservative on council. (Indeed, Hackworth had earned his right-wing credentials–along with another politico, Bob Crider–as an advocate against busing Denver’s children–late ’60s, early ’70s–to achieve court-ordered desegregation.) So, Hackworth leaned into the microphone, that night, from that august dais in council chambers and, looking directly at the family of the deceased honoree, told them that he didn’t like the guy, he’d never liked the guy and the guy hadn’t run the Street Maintenance division of Public Works in a responsible manner. Pin drop time. And, no, there was no brave voice on council who took him to task for his inappropriate remarks. When Hackworth finished his acerbic tirade, I looked at the honoree’s family and that moment is frozen in my memory. They sat on that hard bench, stoic, teared, unbelieving what they had just heard. I, too, could not believe it. It was a shameful moment for the Denver city council.

Ah… Then, just this month, comes another gem from Kathleen “Mack-the-Knife” MacKenzie, outgoing (bye, bye!) city councilperson who is the primary sponsor of a proclamation that would restrict Denver police officers in the performance of their duties during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Quoting from a Rocky Mountain News editorial, (June 6, 2007): “…[the] proclamation calls for common-sense public policy, such as ensuring that the ‘use of force, including the use of horses, pepper spray or other aggressive means to police public demonstrations is restricted except to the minimal extent required by legitimate law-enforcement purposes.'”

Ms. MacKenzie’s proclamation (District 1 Councilman Rick Garcia was a co-sponsor), begs the inevitable question: What the hell does “…restrict[ing]…” the Denver Police Department’s duties and responsibilities “…except to the minimal extent required by legitimate law-enforcement purposes,” mean? Is there an assumption here that the Denver Police Department would conduct operations during the Dems assemblage in a manner best described as illegitimate and in opposition to “…common sense public policy?” Are we going to rely upon the City Attorney to promulgate definitions for “…common sense public policy…” and “…minimal extent required by legitimate law-enforcement purposes?” Will Denver cops necessarily be required to check a “cheat sheet” of definitions before they determine there is a “…legitimate law-enforcement purpose…” to push the button on their can of pepper spray?

Methinks Ms. MacKenzie should bow out of the public sector gracefully, rather than with the inchoate perambulations of a lame duck dunce who never did really figure out the essential requisites of “…common sense public policy.” Shuddup, yee wee lass. We’ve had quite enough of your nonsense.

Finally, of course, there’s Hickenlooper’s global warming initiative that–yeah, here we go again–Missy MacKenzie endorses and, indeed, admires the mayor for proposing.

Do you understand the implications of Hick’s initiative? Quoting from the Rocky Mountain News (June 11, 2007–Stuart Steers): “The plan includes several controversial ideas, including making residents who use large amounts of electricity and natural gas pay higher utility fees, boosting insurance rates for people who drive long distances and mandating that homes be energy efficient before they can be sold.”

GAWD! Let’s just screw the taxpayer royally. Okay.

Looking at only one of these absurd proposals–“…mandating that homes be energy efficient before they can be sold…” wreaks not only of a new urbanistic bias, but raises the specter of Big Brother to new heights.

Living for twenty-one years in an 1893 Victorian treasure in West Highlands and, over the past decade, having spent untold thousands of dollars maintaining the integrity of this old house–new roof, new windows, landscaping, painting, remodeling the entire interior, new furnace and air conditioning, etc., etc.,–I surely have the right to wonder what the Hick and his minions and the admiring Kathleen MacKenzie would have me do if I ever decide to sell my painted lady. Don’t I? I mean, we’re talking about a house that is 114 years old. What, pray tell, would be required of me to bring this old house up to new urbanist standards? Perhaps, after I’d spent another untold thousands of dollars to bring the house up to his new standards in order to be able to sell it, he’d desperately hope that the old gal be leveled and replaced by an “energy efficient” four-unit, unsightly, high-density edifice that, yes, would surely tickle the cockles of the Hick’s constituency’s hearts–developers.

Enough already!

Ignoble is a good word. Denver’s politicians deserve all the good words they can get.

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3 Responses to Ignoble (Goofy?) Moments – Denver’s Politicians

  1. DearDenver says:

    Sigh. Some councilmembers are bullies, some are bullied and some are somewhere between.

    “Mack” (as you call her) was in rare form yesterday in opposition to the Xcel towers in Ruby Hill Park. I agree with her (in this one instance) and enjoyed the theatrics — at one point she says, “let them eat chemotherapy.”

    You have to watch it, George. She kills:

  2. georgeindenver says:

    Wonderful political theater. While Charlie Brown smoked a deal in a back room, the wee lass slings the cutlery in public.

    What better ogre for a MacAttack than Xcel.

    Would that the passion for the “view plane” be extended to the Highlands, as well.

  3. DearDenver says:

    George, I hope you will consider creating an account over at http://www.deardenver.com . It’s just getting started — I hope to create a lively little online community for people who are passionate about local government.

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