Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Big Blue Bear - Hick and Rick Fumble - Don't Get Grease on my Street!

The Big Blue Bear and the Dying Grass Saga

There was an article in one of the Denver dailies (can't remember which one and can't find it online) that reported the big blue bear sculpture ("I See What You Mean") that stands peeking into the glass face of the Colorado Convention Center (that's David standing at the base of the wonderful piece) has attracked so many folks to want stand next to it for picture-taking purposes that the grass is dying from the trampling. The media story reported that the folks at Denver's Theaters and Arenas Division just didn't anticipate that such a thing would happen; didn't realize so many folks would want to have their picture taken next to the bear. So, they--the Hickies (Mayor Hickenlooper troops)--are going to resod the area around the big blue bear.

I had a silly thought that the dying grass at the feet of the big blue bear might be caused by something else; bears do need to wee wee occasionally. But, that's silly. It's not a real bear, for heaven's sake.

But, Theaters and Arenas brilliant resolution to handle the dying grass issue is interesting, isn't it. The sod is dying because so many people want to stand on the sod, next to the big blue bear, to have their pictures taken. So, will replacing the sod preclude the folks from standing on it to have their pictures taken, which thus, yes, will, once again, slowly kill the new sod? I don't think so. DUH!

But, such are the Hickies. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

Anyway, I love the big blue bear.

Hick Fumbles

The Rocky Mountain News has been quite responsible (unusually so, given their sick infatuation with Mayor Hickenlooper) in reporting quite a number of serious lapses in Hick's administration. For example, there was the loss of a file cabinet by Denver's Election Commission that contained voter registration data, including social security numbers, on about 150,000 Denver residents. A Hickenlooper appointee, Clerk and Recorder Wayne Vaden, is a member of the Election Commission and directs the day to day operation of that agency.

Contradicting the Election Commission's claim that they became aware of the loss of records just recently was this story indicating the City Attorney advised the Election Commission of the lost records months ago.

Then, there's a post (included verbatim, below) from the website, ColoradoPols, that questions Hick's City Attorney's diligence in this whole mess:

FYI. Apparently Councilwoman Marcia Johnson's aide learned of the situation. According to press reports, Johnson sent an email to the City Attorney expressing concern. This was the first of April. That is where the story gets interesting. The only thing that seems consistent is that Finnegan acknowledges getting the email. But then the accounts constantly change.

First it was reported that Finnegan says that he emailed Vaden on April 7. Vaden and other Commissioners and senior staff, claim they never got an email. Later it was reported that actually Finnegan had not sent the email. He says he thought someone else in the City Attorney's office sent it. Now, apparently he is saying that he thinks he spoke to Vaden about it.

Whatever actually happened, the Commission eithedidn'tdn't know or were lying because they continued to deny that any records were missing until early June. As I stated earlier, the real issue here is that frankly even if Finnegan had actually sent an email (which apparently he did not) that was not enough. This is potentially a serious enough issue that a much more aggressive action was warranted, certainly a much more aggressive action with regard to ensuring that the Commission was indeed aware of the missing records.

The blog, "Heartbroken Tiger," provides some inside information on Hick's Election Commission fumble.

Then, lordy, there's this in this morning's News with regard to highly placed officials at Denver International Airport ripping off the system by taking unauthorized leave and trips to Hawaii on the City's dime. Yes, Denver International Airport is an agency of the City and County of Denver. It's management is appointed by the Mayor. But, then, as Hick has announced on other matters, he really doesn't think the "buck" stops on his desk.

Oh, what a tangled webb we weave.

Rick Garcia Fumbles

The City Councilperson who represents the district in which David and I live is Rick Garcia. The following is an email I sent to Councilman Garcia on March 7th, 2005:

Councilman: As a constant supporter of the proposed improvements to Berkeley Park via the excellent Master Plan recently completed, how is funding for even the most modest of improvements going to be gained, when the Mayor is reluctant to place anything on the ballot except bond funding for the "justice center?"

Also, a stop light or four-way stop at the intersection of Julian and 32nd Avenue would be very, very helpful for pedestrians. I'm amazed that someone has not been killed at the intersection, given the amount of traffic, both cars and people who utilize that particular intersection at all times of the day.

Thank you for your consideration of these issues.

Garcia's response came on March the 7th, 2005:

George, great questions. First, I will begin pushing for a parks and recreation bond issue to fund the bigger items suggested in the Berkeley Master Plan. These issues usually come about once every 7 to 10 years. We are scheduled for a capital improvements bond probably in the 2007 range. The smaller and less complicated items in the plan will be advanced as Capital Improvement Project items in the annual parks process. Regarding the Justice Center bond issue, I was adamant that the bond capacity proposed to fund this project would not lock up all GO funding for other projects in the city. The Justice Center financing program does leave a fair amount of GO funding available without increasing current property tax rates. Of course, the Mayor and Council could also requests a tax increase to fund additional projects like parks improvements, but that would require a vote of the people as well.

The 32nd and Julian site has been problematic with high volume and fast traffic for some time. The request for a 4-way stop-sign as been made in the past to Public Works. For whatever reason, PW has not seen the need. I will however, request another review and attempt to see this through myself. I will follow up with you. Thanks, Councilman Rick Garcia

Great response. I was hopeful that my councilman would, as he promised, follow up with me. However, the next communication between us came more than a year later (June 9th, 2006), as follows:

Councilman: Since it's been over a year since the below exchange in which you noted, "I will follow up with you," suffice it to say, I'm still waiting. Another issue: Is fifty or more percent of the Highland Park grass deliberately being allowed to die by Parks? Yes, some sprinklers are operable but, apparently, most aren't and it appears no irrigation system maintenance is being done. Other parks are, of course, showplaces, adorned with flowerbeds and gorgeous lawns. Highland Park seems to be Park's neglected stepchild. Yes, yes, I know about the Highland Park Master Plan. But, as we both know, that plan encompasses--at this time--a veritable dream. Can you also advise (as you noted in your prior communication) what efforts are being made to put a bond issue to the voters that would include most, if not all, of the improvements contained in the Berkeley Master Plan?

Thank you

To date, I have not heard back from Councilman Rick Garcia. Should I be a little irritated with that? I think so. Yes, I think I will be irritated.

Don't Be Gettin' My Street Greasy

In a prior post I recounted David's and my trek to Denver's La Plazza dell'Arte festival in downtown Denver this past Sunday.

The owner of one of our favorite restaurants was one of three food vendors at that event. As he was grilling up his fare, a young man from Denver's Wastewater Management Division (why Wastewater and not Street Maintenance, I have no idea!)--with clipboard in hand--approached him and said, "You're going to get grease on my street. You need to cover the street so you don't get grease on my street."

Now, I was an insufferable bureaucrat for twenty-three years myself and I know the bureaucratic temptation to view public facilities with a possessive eye. But, I never did. I understood that public facilities belonged not to me--as a public official--but to the people, the citizens, the taxpayers. Indeed, the city is the people.

Our restaurateur friend pacified the bumbling, officious, self-important bureaucrat by throwing towels on the street within his little twelve foot square vending space. And, no, I don't care if there was a condition of the permit allowing our friend to vend food upon a city street that required "protection" for the surface of the street from food oil spills (Jesus, man... How many oil-leaking clunkers pass over that street in a day anyway). No, I don't really care. What I care about is that the lame-ass, officious little son-of-a-you-know-what bureaucrat understands that the damned street ain't his. It's mine and yours and yours and yours and yours and... Well, it's the people's street, Goddamnit!

Question though: Why is that one block of Larimer Street (Dana Crawford's crown jewel) paved in concrete, when most every other street in Lodo is paved with asphalt??? Legitimate question that, I believe, probably has a legitimate answer.

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