“The Road Goes on Forever” – Robert Earl Keen (Best rendition: The Highwaymen – Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Willy Nelson)
If it wasn’t enough to provide an involuntary rolling of your eyes and the passing thought, “Here we go again!” when Hizzoner Hickenlooper invoked the mantra of Federico Pena–“Imagine a Great City”–in opening the campaign for the Tax/Bond November ballot questions. No, then, surely, the specter of five–count ’em FIVE–high-profile lobbyist/consultants climbing on the happy-crappy bandwagon had to of sent a little tingle up your spine; the kind of involuntary response to a WTF (What the Fuck!) moment we all experience every now and then.
Of course, to add respectability to the hoopla, the Hick enlisted the peripatetic nominally Conservative (but his heart is in the right place!), Bruce Benson to the mix. Suffice it to say, Benson’s involvement here brings to mind a quote from Peter Blake who, in 1994 was a political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News–the year, 1994, significant because Benson ran against Roy Romer for the Governorship of Colorado that year–“The word from Washington is that Benson has been sounding out possible high-profile consultants. He’ll end up having to fight them off. When a Big Spender goes there with his wallet open, he draws consultants like blood draws sharks.” Benson, certainly a “Big Spender,” certainly a multi-millionaire, provided, in 1994, the unarguable logic that he could win the governorship because, “I have the money to beat Roy Romer.” He didn’t.
So, here we have the following premiere, high-profile, well-healed, blood-sucking (Read: Big Bucks!) sharks of the Denver lobbying/consulting milieu giddily climbing aboard Hickenlooper’s “Now we have to be a great city,” blarney bus: David Kenney, Eric Sondermann, Maria Garcia-Berry, Floyd Ciruli and Tyler Chafee.
Now, in my experience, there never was and never will be a lobbyist/consultant who does something for nothing. That ain’t the nature of these bottom feeders, who press their client’s agendas, many times at the expense and in the face of you and me: the taxpayers, the citizens of Denver. So, why this incestuous commingle of these otherwise competitors in support of the Tax/Bond questions? Ah, you probably guessed it before I said it: MONEY! Plain and simple, the prospect of a whole lot of future contracts with those firms who, if the bond/tax questions pass, will, no doubt, need the influence, the inside political savvy of these surly slinkers (they always sit in the back row of the City Council Chambers), when that piece of the $550 Million pie for which those firms will be foaming at the mouth to gobble up comes before council for review.
Incidentally, I remember, years ago, when I was probably six or seven years old, standing atop Ruby Hill–which, at that time, was a city dump–and looking northeast toward downtown Denver and seeing what was then the tallest building in Denver, the First National Bank Building, and thinking, wow, what a great city. Denver’s always been a great city.
Well, suffice it to say I’m not opposed to several of the bond questions to be presented on the November ballot. But, please, I don’t need the slick, can’t-live-without-it-all mantra that the Hick’s well-healed bandwagon will be espousing through the coming months. I can only hope that Denver’s citizens will take a very close, critical look at each of the tax/bond questions and weigh the consequences of a yes or no vote on each of them. Hick’s bandwagon will sing the praises of viewing the issues as a “package” deal. I can only hope the citizens of Denver will be more critical in their evaluation of these issues in the light of:
1) The very likelihood we’re looking at a recession;
2) A state imposed raise in property taxes by Governor Ritter’s (and the State Legislature’s) machinations to freeze property tax rates in opposition to a 1982 amendment to the State Constitution that limited the tax burden on residential property owners; a formula whereby the mill levy on property would fall if property values rose;
3) The likelihood that Denver Water will raise rates.
Tax and spend. Tax and spend. Ah, the mantra continues. Ah, “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”