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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 18, 20183min253

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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Floyd CiruliFloyd CiruliApril 4, 20184min248

Michael Hancock may weather this latest storm, but managing the sex-related controversy, given the present climate surrounding the issue, is proving to be difficult. Key questions are: Will the controversy cost him votes in a third-term run? Could he lose because of it? Will he run? Will the controversy grow sufficiently to cause him to resign? Today, only the first question appears a yes.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 2, 20183min398

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.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMarch 26, 20182min310

A business improvement district, or BID, can mean a big economic boost for a commercial area.

Over three decades, the Cherry Creek North BID has allowed the area to “compete nationally and internationally, to advocate for its constituents, to finance and build its own streetscape improvements,” Cherry Creek North BID President and CEO Julie Underdahl said in a press release touting a new joint initiative with City Hall.

Denver wants to help bolster emerging city business improvement districts with a new fund aimed at providing the last bit of money organizations need to launch a district. So, Mayor Michael Hancock and local business leaders announced the $200,000 Denver BID Revolving Loan Fund late last week.

“BIDs have a transformative impact on their communities, which is why I’m creating this new funding opportunity to provide the financial assistance that emerging BIDs need to get across the finish line and begin making improvements that better serve their customers and communities,” Hancock said in the news release.

A BID is a collective of business owners in an area or neighborhood who agree to an additional tax or fee to aid in development and promotion of the commercial area.

The new program will focus on organizations that have an initial financial investment and are ready to create a BID in the near future, but need help with funds for creation efforts. Organizations will have to have matching funds to be eligible for a city loan.