As you may know, Mayor Hickenlooper has required city employees (non-safety personnel) to take several unpaid “furlough” days, in response to the lousy economy. As you may also know, the fiscal health of the city’s General Fund depends primarily on sales tax revenues, an acknowledged regressive tax that ebbs when economic times are tough.
I’ve read that each unpaid “furlough” day city employees have been and will be required to take, saves the city about $4 million.
Sales and use tax totals for February of this year brought in about $28 million, about $4 million less than the same month in 2008. March figures came in at about $26 million, again about $4 million less than the same month in 2008. Obviously, unpaid “furlough” days are utilized to make-up for the slump in sales and use tax revenues.
There is, of course, appreciation for the sacrifices made by city employees.
But now comes the specter of Mayor Hickenlooper’s outrageous (yes, I’ll use that overused word) snub of all those city employees who have made the above-noted sacrifices, by hiring a new communications director, Eric Brown, at a yearly salary of $99,929. Mister Brown is the former city editor of the now defunct Rocky Mountain News.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, but a communications director is to the mayor what a press secretary is to the president. A mouthpiece. A wordsmith. A spinner of reality whose job it is to present the mayor in the best light possible.
I’ve got to observe that Mister Brown’s bona fides are not that impressive. Prior to becoming city editor for the failing Rocky, he was a copy editor and reporter for the Greeley Tribune, as well as being a reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Abilene Reporter-News. Yes, he found a niche in Texas. Academically, Mister Brown holds a B.A. in journalism from CSU.
Now, the Hick had a communications director named Sue Cobb. Did she go away? Did she get her pink slip? Nah. Miss Cobb has now been moved–a kind of musical chairs thing–to the position of senior advisor to the Hick, who will–according to a Denver Post article by Christopher Osher–“…manage special projects including coordination of communications and outreach relating to progress of the city’s bond improvement campaign…”
Let me understand this. Although Hick has hired Mister Brown to be communications director, Sue Cobb will still coordinate communications. What does that mean? A little overlap here? Or, does the Hick feel some comfort in having two mayoral appointees protecting his ass, spinning his agenda, and, again, placing him on that pedestal–iconic figure and all that–he has so fervently established for himself?
Let me understand something else. Since Miss Cobb will be outreaching with regard to the “… progress of the city’s bond improvement campaign…,” does that mean Miss Cobb’s salary, in whole or in part, will become another burden on the administrative costs buried within the $550 million in bond projects approved by voters in November, 2007? I don’t know the answer to this. But, what I do know is if the recent broken promises with regard to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are any indication of what’s in store for us all, Miss Cobb’s charge from the Hick is surely in anticipation of, um–excuse me in advance–the shit hitting the fan with regard to bond projects in general. Suffice it to say, the worth of a dollar in November, 2007, ain’t anywhere near the worth of a dollar today. And, the Hick being the Hick certainly needs all the help he can get to spin the bond project saga to his advantage.
Again, we should thank city employees for their sacrifice in these hard times. Again, we should take a look at the Hick as an egoistical presence in city hall who will unabashedly squat on city employees, while assuring his butt is covered, wiped and kissed by not only his “communications” sycophants, but by those who–and I don’t understand this at all–still believe this skinny dork is the saving grace for Denver.
Think about it.