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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 19, 20183min572

Government proceedings can typically be filed away in the mundane or tedious category, that is unless you’re attending a Denver City Council budget planning retreat.

Denverite’s Andrew Kenney detailed the “exciting” proceedings earlier this week — which he said included free coffee and at least one handstand — as the council hashed out its budgetary wish list for 2019.

Topping the list, was housing, development and transportation improvements, but council members are also interested in bolstering the city’s recycling program and rebuilding the Denver Police Department training academy.

In 2019, officials say they want to ask more of the Regional Transportation District. As Kenny notes:

“We are the largest city in the district … but we are not taking positions,” said Councilwoman At large Robin Kniech. “It’s good to be respectful … I would like us to be more assertive.”

Others agreed. “They just elected new leadership of their board, and some of them are people who don’t even advocate for transit, for mobility. They’re more ‘anti’ people than they are ‘pro,’” said Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega. “We need to gather and be really vocal and obnoxious.”

And on housing, the council members wants to explore more funding for affordable housing.

The advocacy group All In Denver wants the city to issue new debt — and potentially raise taxes — in order to raise tens or hundreds of millions more dollars to pay for affordable housing, potentially doubling the city’s current affordable housing plan.

(Council President Albus) Brooks said that he wanted to figure out some potential “internal” funding sources for housing, but he acknowledged that the city “may have to go out and ask the voters for something,” such as new bonds.

(Councilmember Paul) Kashmann said the city has “to be more aggressive in providing permanent supportive housing for our community,” adding that the council “is missing an opportunity and a responsibility.”

Read Kenney’s full report here.



Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 2, 20183min2293

Proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would threaten on-going environmental protection efforts in Denver — particularly Superfund site cleanup and maintenance — two Denver city councilwomen say.

The two council members, Robin Kniech and Debbie Ortega, penned a post last week on the city’s website detailing their concerns about the cuts to the EPA’s 2018 budget and the critical work the agency does in the city.

“Even when local and state governments address clean air and water, waste disposal and hazardous substances, citizens and local officials count on EPA to watch over and ensure the right things are done in compliance with laws and proper standards,” the two wrote. “When other agencies do Environmental Impact Statements, such as for the I-70/Central project, EPA has critical consulting roles so we know environmental laws are being followed.”

The White House has proposed slashing the EPA’s 2018 budget by 31 percent, making good on President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to dramatically scale-back the EPA, leaving “little tidbits” in place, the New York Times reports.

The steep proposed budget trimming would threaten cleanup and maintenance of several hazardous waste Superfund sites in Denver, the councilwomen said.

“Broderick Wood Products, Chemical Sales Co., Lowry Landfill, Denver Radium Sites, one part of Vasquez Boulevard/I-70 (residential properties) and Rocky Mountain Arsenal have all been remediated or at least brought under control,” Kniech and Ortega wrote. “EPA’s mission continues at all these sites, in the form of overseeing operations and maintenance of the remedies that were done.”

“Conducting, overseeing and monitoring Superfund cleanups is EPA’s job by act of Congress – give them the funds to do it,” they said.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 7, 20174min261
Denver City Hall in happier times — before the advent of the Trump presidency. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)

 

… But of course, that comes as no surprise. Sure, the depth and breadth of the cuts in federal funding proposed by the White House have sweeping implications for urban centers like the Mile High City. Then again, it’s not like Denver’s Democratically inclined political establishment has had many kind words for The Republican Donald since his unexpected elevation to the presidency last November. There’s immigration policy; LGBTQ issues; the Paris Accord and all things green; the list goes on.

So, the latest round of outrage at Denver City Hall was probably inevitable. Denverite’s Erica Meltzer captures the mood per a resolution the City Council passed this week calling for Colorado’s Washington delegation to oppose the administration’s draft budget:

“You have seen the news media about these proposed cuts. If Congress moves to approve it, the implications to Denver residents will be devastating, particularly if you happen to be one of the people who rely on any of these services,” Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega said after reading the resolution into the record Monday. “We in this country don’t throw people aside and expect them to just fend for themselves. … It’s important to send a message to our congressional delegation.”

The resolution denounces the budget over a range of policy areas, including health care, social service spending,  job training and housing. Though the cuts are hardly Denver-specific — they stand to affect all population centers nationwide — Denver’s leadership is taking it personally. Here is the council’s Paul Lopez:

“I cannot begin to imagine what a budget like this would do to our city … It would destroy us and especially the weakest among us. We cannot let that happen.”


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinApril 14, 20177min371

A year after a Denver auditor's report found a nonprofit provider of services to the mentally and developmentally disabled residents of the City and County of Denver had mismanaged city funds, the picture is much better, City Council members were recently told. Rocky Mountain Human Services, formerly called Denver Options, serves over 6,000 Colorado residents through case management and direct service programs.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinApril 11, 20179min397

Instead of a sought-after additional five hours of business, Denver's recreational marijuana dispensaries seem likely to be allowed three extra hours, and city coffers could see between $664,000 to $1.3 million in extra revenue if all those dispensaries decided to take advantage of the extra hours that may soon be allowed under a City and County of Denver policy change. But the idea is not unanimously supported on Denver City Council or by the body's constituents. Currently, Denver’s hours of operation for both medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. State regulations allow all marijuana dispensaries to be open from 8 a.m. to midnight, subject to local regulation. Many other Colorado municipalities allow dispensaries to stay open until either 10 p.m. or midnight, including Aurora, Boulder, Commerce City, Edgewater and Glendale.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinMarch 28, 20175min302

Heads up, Pueblo County drivers. Or better yet, buckle up, and anyone in a truck statewide might want to heed that advice, as the Colorado State Patrol and Department of Transportation began one of those "Click It Or Ticket" enforcement campaigns. As the Gazette reported, drivers in Pueblo County had the highest non-compliance rate in the state last year, and motorists and passengers in pickups had the lowest usage rate of any type of vehicle. But it's good advice for anyone, anywhere, no matter what type of vehicle.