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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 23, 20184min710

Last summer, we told you about Denver City Council President Albus Brooks celebrating one year cancer free.

He had won a battle with Chondrosarcoma, a rare form of cancer of the bone. He won a battle with a 15-pound malignant tumor in his back, after two surgeries lasting some 20 hours. And Brooks, who represents Denver’s District 9, had defied the odds, leaving the hospital several days early following surgery, returning to the helm at the Denver City Council after just four weeks of medical leave and even snowboarding after being told he would never be able to hit the slopes again.

Unfortunately, Brooks is preparing for another battle with cancer, announcing on social media earlier this week his cancer had returned. He’ll undergo surgery to remove a grape-size tumor the first week of May after doctors discovered it during a checkup, according to his post. Read Brooks’ full social media post below:

Nearly two years ago I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of skeletal cancer. One year later my family and I celebrated a full year being cancer free. Today, I write to share some difficult news.

During a recent check up this month, doctors found another small tumor. In 2016 the tumor in my body was the size of a cantaloupe; this one is the size of a grape. My surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for the first week of May, after which I will be recovering for two weeks at home.

I share this news with you the same week that I will be a guest speaker at CancerCon, a conference uniting young adult patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates. While this recent update certainly changes a few details in my life, it definitely does not change my message of hope and resilience.

My story is not defined by cancer, yet cancer has shown me the powerful beauty of human capacity.

Like the capacity of individual grit when forced to fight for your life. Cancer does not discriminate, and I’ve met countless people who have had to engage in this same capacity for resilience in their own fight. My strength comes from those that have suffered and survived, as well as those who have lost their lives.

More than anything else, I have witnessed the capacity my family has to love fully. Their capacity to bring me joy and peace knows no limits, and it is with them that I will find my greatest encouragement in coming months.

It is in that spirit that I ask for Denver to keep me in your prayers. But not just me – there are people in our community that are going through the same thing, but don’t have the public position or fancy title. Because of this, they are often more alone. Don’t forget about them.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 18, 20183min1170

A marijuana tax hike would help boost affordable housing efforts in Denver under a proposal released Monday by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The plan would double the city’s Affordable Housing Fund annually – from $15 million to $30 million – and generate an additional estimated $105 million in funding for affordable housing over the next five years. To finance the $105 million funding surge, the city and the Denver Housing Authority would issue bonds.

“This proposal will deploy more funding quicker to support our residents and families without increasing costs on the very households we are working to serve,” Hancock said in part in a statement.

The funding would aid the city in acquiring new land for affordable housing and subsidizing new low-income housing projects. Ultimately, Denver officials say the funding boost would double its creation and preservation of units — from 3,000 units to at least 6,400 units over five years.

“Each additional unit represents a new opportunity for a family in Denver, which is why we continually look for creative ways to increase funding for affordable housing,” Denver City Council President Albus Brooks said in a statement.

Created in fall 2016, Denver’s current affordable housing fund has promised an estimated $150 million be dedicated to affordable housing efforts, including development and preservation, over a decade. The fund currently operates on a mix of property tax revenue and a one-time fee on new development, according to the city.

Denver’s plan would in part pay for the plan through a proposed increase in the marijuana sales tax from 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent, which the city says would generate an estimated $8 million per year. The city would also allocate $7 million per year from the general fund.

The plan has won some early praise from housing advocates like Brad Segal with All In Denver, who told Denverite he was surprised by the city’s “ambition” with the proposal.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 9, 20182min253

Denver celebrated the groundbreaking of a new 180-unit affordable housing project going up in the city’s Stapleton neighborhood late last week.

All of the project’s units — being constructed at 2820 N. Moline St. and coined the Moline Apartments — will be income-restricted for a 40-year period, the city said in a statement. Additionally, tax credits and voucher programs will help designate 40 of the units for very low-income residents, including homeless veterans and those with disabilities.

The project is part of the city’s ongoing campaign to combat the high cost of housing, which is squeezing some out of Denver neighborhoods. A recent survey pointed to affordable housing as the top issue on Denverites’ minds.

City officials say the $36 million development is among the first to receive funding for Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund. Created in fall 2016, Denver’s fund has promised an estimated $150 million will be dedicated to affordable housing efforts, including development and preservation, over a decade. The fund operates on a mix of property tax revenue and a one-time fee on new development. The city is reportedly exploring dedicating more funding to its affordable housing fund. 

Construction will start this month and is expected to wrap up in May 2019.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 6, 20182min435

Denver is grappling with a crisis of sorts within its affordable-housing program — which could force some homeowners to sell — and the city is asking the state for help.

The city has recently discovered that nearly a quarter (300 of 1,302 homes) of its affordable housing stock is out of compliance with requirements under its program, the Denver Post reports. Those requirements include income limits on those who can purchase these homes, restrictions on annual appreciation and short-term rentals.

The affordable housing status of Denver homes are getting lost in the mix at the time of sale but the city is looking to the state for help in that department.

Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson went before the Colorado Real Estate Commission this week to ask for help including specific disclosure requirements in place related to any affordable housing covenant, the Post reports. The commission also discussed a change in real estate contracts which would move information about exclusions on the title into the deed, making the information more available to the public, the Denver Post reports.

Denver is working with affordable housing homeowners to bring into them compliance with the program. Green Valley Ranch resident Cynthia Lopez dodged a bullet when the city told her she met income requirements at time she bought her home, and wouldn’t be forced to sell, but others might not be as lucky. If Lopez decided to sell her home, she’d have to adhere to appreciation restrictions, which would put the home value far below market value.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 5, 20182min224

She’s a community activist and a loud critic of the Denver mayor and sheriff. And earlier this week, she became the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against city leaders.

Late last month, we told you about Lisa Calderón — leader of transitional services organization Community Re-entry Project (CRP) —  crying foul when the organization’s contract in Denver’s jail system was allowed to expire and city officials looked to award a pact to a new provider.

Calderón turned to the U.S. District Court in Denver to air the grievance, filing a suit against Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Sheriff Patrick Firman; Jess Vigil, the deputy director of the city’s Department of Safety; and Andrew Albo, the chief of staff at the Denver Sheriff Department, 9news reports.

The suit obtained by 9news claims those Denver officials denied Calderón “her rights under the First Amendment by failing to renew and/or award her City contract in retaliation for her speaking out about matters of public concern.”

Calderón co-chairs a ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official, as opposed to an official appointed by the mayor.

It was her comments on “discrimination against African Americans in the sheriff department and the reorganization of the agency to exclude African Americans and Latinos from executive leadership” that prompted officials to deny the contract as retaliation, Calderón claims.

The suit also alleges Albo solicited other bidders for the contract and spread a rumor about an affair between Calderón and a demoted chief at the Denver Sheriff Department.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 4, 20184min308

An advocacy group’s plans for a sprawling Lakewood facility to help house those experiencing homelessness took a blow late last week.

Details are sparse, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rejected the plans after reportedly finding issues with advocacy group Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ (CCH) financing proposal, Westword reports. The advocacy and homeless-services group does plan to appeal.

CCH recently released preliminary plans for the 59-acre site near the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, which could include a solar-powered campus with trailers, geodesic domes and tents as an initial build-out, eventually adding some 600 affordable and supportive housing units.

In a statement, CCH said it didn’t receive any guidance from HHS on a “reasonable plan to finance the approved program” so it submitted the best proposal it could craft.

“We are very disappointed by the HHS decision to reject the financing plan for the Federal Center Property, and believe HHS erred in its decision based on the law and the facts,” the group said in a statement. “We will immediately appeal to HHS and if we do not get a positive response, we will likely be going back to court to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness in Lakewood and Jefferson County.”

Conversely, Lakewood officials are thrilled at the news, the Lakewood Sentinel reports. Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul took to social media to share news of the denial he received from the U.S. General Services Administration, the government’s landlord. The GSA appears poised to launch a new auction for the land April 2, according to its website.

“Its [sic] important to note that the denial of the CCH’s proposal does not deny the fact that we have homeless in our community,” Paul wrote in a Facebook post. “Let’s use this experience to start the conversation of how we come together as neighbors, as a city, as a county to find meaningful solutions to help those in need.”

CCH’s plans for the Lakewood site have vexed Lakewood officials and some residents who argued the advocacy group needs to find a more appropriate setting for its proposed homeless campus, stretch city resources like police thin and that it could attract riff-raff to the city.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) declared the Lakewood land suitable for use by the homeless after CCH took the federal government to court and won last fall.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 3, 20182min382

Denver wants to preserve a piece of its strip of the eclectic and historic Colfax Avenue, only it’s not a timeworn theater or towering cathedral — but a strip club sign.

BusinessDen shared the news late last week about the city’s plans to ensure the sign, reading “nude dancing,” outside of an East Colfax strip club isn’t tossed. The news outlet said the site is targeted for redevelopment, but Denver Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman has asked the city Department of Finance’s real estate division to preserve the sign, which it agreed to.

Why save a strip club sign? BusinessDen’s Thomas Gounley explains its history on Colfax:

The sign, first installed 68 years ago, most recently advertised PT’s All Nude II, a strip club that closed in 2016. The city purchased the property and an adjacent parking lot in October for $1.3 million, using funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The city plans to ask developers later this year to submit proposals for the site; it will likely require an affordable housing component.

Susman said the neon signs along Colfax are a key part of the city’s history, and it’s undecided whether the sign will remain at the property or be relocated.

BusinessDen notes however the sign will likely be altered, to remove the word nude and restore it to its pre-strip club days.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 2, 20183min297

Will the Denver City Council launch an investigation into inappropriate text messages that Mayor Michael Hancock sent to a female police officer six years ago? We won’t have an answer until later this week at the earliest, Denver City Council President Albus Brooks says.

In late February, the two-term Denver mayor admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise when she was an officer serving on his security detail in 2012.

The Denver council met for three hours in closed session on Tuesday discussing the merits of an investigation, at the request of Branch-Wise.

Denver7’s Tony Kovaleski first broke the story last month, airing out the slew of text messages from Hancock to Branch-Wise, six years ago.

“You look sexy in all that black,” he texted after seeing Branch-Wise on TV at a Denver Nuggets game.

Hancock quickly responded in a written statement and video, writing in part “During Detective Branch-Wise’s time on the security team, we became friends, but my text messages in 2012 blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss.”

But what power does the City Council have related to an investigation? What would a probe look like? For one, only city voters can remove the mayor from office, or any elected official for that matter, under the city’s charter, according to a FAQ document included in Brooks’ statement Thursday.

“In Denver, like most cities and states, one branch of government does not have the power to remove or discipline an elected official serving in another branch of government,” the FAQ said.

The City Council does have the power “to investigate any Department of the City and County and the official acts and conduct of any officer thereof, and may compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and documents,” the document reads.

But what would an investigation actually probe and would it be independent?

If the council voted to investigate, it would likely request “the Executive Branch” of city government hire a third party to conduct the probe to ensure it is unbiased, the FAQ reads.

An investigator would then seek an answer to whether the alleged conduct occurred and not whether the conduct “rises to the level of sexual harassment which is a legal definition to be determined by a court of law.”

“This is why most sexual harassment investigations end with the conclusion that it is more likely than not that an action occurred,” the document said.