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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 13, 20182min3128

She made a name for herself these past four years as the No. 2 at the Denver City Attorney’s Office. Now, Cristal Torres DeHerrera is moving over to Denver International Airport (which the airport’s marketing mavens insist on calling “DEN”) to become its chief of staff.

She’ll run the high-profile airport’s external affairs business unit, which means, according to a news release from the DIA press office:

“…DeHerrera will lead development of the airport’s strategies, policies and plans related to legislative and regulatory activities at the local, state and federal levels. DeHerrera will also be working closely with the airport executive team on a number of priority initiatives, including the public-private partnership to renovate DEN’s Great Hall with the Great Hall Partners, a team of local and international companies led by Ferrovial S.A.”

The news release included high praise from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for DeHerrera’s tenure at the City Attorney’s Office:

“Cristal will be a phenomenal addition to the airport team … During her four years as deputy city attorney, she has grown to become a trusted advisor to my administration, a strong collaborator with our regional partners and a dedicated listener to our community, and she will remain a close and steadfast advisor. I am so pleased she will be staying with the city team and helping to lead the airport into its next great era.”

Her touted accomplishments as deputy city attorney have included leading the development of the governance structure for the National Western Center, for which she, “worked to ensure the governance structure fostered ongoing partnership, collaboration and engagement with the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods and that the National Western Center directly benefits the surrounding neighborhoods and residents for the foreseeable future.”


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 27, 20173min704

You’d be hard-pressed to find a public place that welcomes smokers nowadays in Denver. The city has even recently moved to ban smoking and vaping along the 16th Street Mall.

However, like a relic from another era, Denver International Airport still has a dedicated indoor space, the Smokin’ Bear Lodge Smoking Lounge on concourse C, where passengers can light up before their flight.

Three DIA smoking lounges have already closed, and the Smokin’ Bear space will shutter when its lease expires in 2018, according to the Denver Business Journal, but DIA still landed on a health list that some call the smoky list, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study looked at the smoking policy of the 50 busiest airports in the world, and Denver was one of just three in the U.S. (and 27 worldwide) without a smoke-free facility. McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were the other two U.S. airports to join DIA as smoking facilities.

To be considered a smoke-free airport, a facility must “completely prohibit smoking in all indoor areas,” the study said. Even though smokers are separated, in designated or ventilated smoking areas, from non-smokers, “studies have documented that secondhand smoke can transfer from designated smoking areas into nonsmoking areas in airports, where nonsmoking travelers and employees can be exposed,” the study read.

“In addition to subjecting nonsmoking travelers who pass through these areas to involuntary secondhand smoke exposure, designated or ventilated smoking areas can also result in involuntary exposure of airport employees who are required to enter these areas or work near them,” the study said.

“Smoke-free policies substantially improve indoor air quality and reduce secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers.”

DIA has plans to eventually become a smoke-free facility, the Denver Business Journal reports.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 30, 20173min697

Denver International Airport has outgrown its 107 gates, officials argue.

DIA set passenger traffic records last year – 58.3 million traveled through the airport’s gates last year. To bridge that surging traffic, airport officials have proposed a nearly $1.5 billion project to add 39 gates across DIA’s three concourses, the Denver Business Journal reports.

Denver’s Business, Arts, Workforce and Aeronautical Services Committee is slated to review four five-year contracts Wednesday afternoon. The contracts would cover design and construction of the new passenger gates. If OK’d in committee, the contracts could be considered by the full City Council by mid-November. Airport officials hope to have the gates completed by 2021.

DIA officials argue the airport must expand to meet climbing passenger traffic. Airport leaders had previously noted plans to add anywhere from 26 to 56 new gates, according to the Business Journal.

When the airport first opened more than two decades ago, it was designed to accommodate 50 million passengers a year. But DIA passenger traffic has perpetually swelled, exceeding airport capacity last year.

Denver officials recently approved the $1.8 billion Great Hall Project to overhaul security screening checkpoints and concessions and boost the Jeppesen terminal’s capacity to 80 million passengers a year. Through a 34-year, private-public partnership with Spanish transportation infrastructure behemoth Ferrovial, the project was controversial, in part, because of the City Council’s loss of oversight of new concessions.

On Wednesday, the Denver committee will consider a $700 million contract with joint venture Turner-Flatiron and a $655 million contract with joint venture Holder-FCI for pre-construction and construction management, and two $65 million design and engineering contracts with HNTB Corporation and Jacobs Engineering Group, according to city documents.

DIA’s concourses were initially designed to allow for growth and additional gates, according to the airport. In 2014, five new gates were completed on DIA’s C concourse in a $46 million expansion project.


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Kara MasonKara MasonAugust 1, 20173min2049

Eight German exchange students headed for Salida got a taste of increasing political tensions regarding immigration policy in the U.S. over the weekend.

Before being detained at Denver International Airport, immigration officials “insisted they (the students) were coming in and taking work away from U.S. citizens, which is illegal since they have no work visa,” Susan Masterson, who has coordinated the exchange program for six years, told the Salida Mountain Mail.

Masterson said she was at the airport when the students were detained.

The students that planned on spending three weeks in the southern Colorado mountain town ended up spending Friday night in a detention facility. Meanwhile Masterson said she was in contact with state Rep. Jim Wilson, the governor’s office, Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office and Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.

But none could prevent the students, all 18 years old, from being deported back to Germany. Immigration enforcement officials determined the students were attempting to enter the country on the wrong visa, a tourist visa.

Masterson said she was blown away by the outpouring of support from different agencies. The Mountain Mail reported that Masterson wrote in a letter to the German families Lamborn’s office did everything they could to help, but “nothing could be done.”

“We’ve never had a problem like this before,” Masterson told Colorado Politics, adding that she has connections to the German school the students were coming from and hasn’t had a visa problem any of the years since she began the program.

So, was the incident a result of the contentious political climate surrounding immigration?

“Oh I think so,” Masterson said. “Controls have definitely tightened.”

The students have returned to their families, Masterson said. But “they don’t have a very good impression of our country.”

Masterson said she’s hoping to get the community to send some sort of letter to the students, so they know they’re welcomed in Salida.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMay 24, 20175min490

Denver International Airport is onboarding a new advertising firm in what it has coined as the next step in the evolution of its advertising and marketing approach. The idea behind the maturing effort is to tackle advertising for the entire airport under an umbrella approach, coupling all services offered into one marketing campaign, said Stacey Stegman, senior vice president of communications for DIA. Moving to one agency, instead of multiple entities working in silos, will make for a more coordinated marketing effort.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanApril 7, 20175min542
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Colorado’s population in 1992 was 3.5 million. Census projections put the state’s population in 2017 at 5.5 million. In 1992, 812,308 citizens — 53.68 percent of voters — said yes to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and 700,906 citizens — 46.32 percent of voters — said no.

Not to make too fine a point, but the 1.5 million 1992 voters on TABOR would comprise 27 percent of today’s population. And many of those 1.5 million people are no longer living in Colorado. Yet here we are, 25 years later, juggling TABOR limitations at the Capitol.

As background, the state in 1992 was in a deep recession from the oil and real estate bust of the 1980s. Front Range citizens especially were in an economic pit.

Downtown Denver was a dump: no Coors Field, no Pepsi Center, no new Mile High Stadium, no new Auraria Campus, no lightrail, no fancy Union Station, no pedestrian bridge over to the Highlands, no condos in LoDo or RiNo, downtown shopping fleeing to the suburbs, and prominent Denver retail names gone bankrupt.

Colorado Springs was hit hard as its real estate expansion of the ’80s died. Banks were on the brink of going out of business across the state.

After the anti-tax 1992 TABOR vote, Denver metro citizens did a 180-degree reverse and voted to build Denver International Airport. Then citizens voted for Coors Field and Mile High Stadium. With help from Gov. Bill Owens, RTD got a tax for light rail.

These investments set the stage for Colorado’s current economic vibrancy. The investments occurred based on a good feature of TABOR — let the people decide what projects and programs merit their money. Yet TABOR’s bad features, still in place, are wreaking havoc on the state’s budget.

Senator Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, was among five legislators who voted against SB-254, the budget appropriations Long Bill. He’s asking people to take a long view back and forward: “It’s a vote to raise the TABOR issue once again. We’re not funding our schools, oil and gas inspectors, renewable energy, or filling in gaps from cuts from D.C.”

It’s esoteric for newcomers to know that Colorado’s current budget is based on the 2009-2010 recession years due to TABOR. “Unlike other states, because of TABOR’s ratchet down effect, Colorado doesn’t get to make up for downturns and come back,” says Kerr.

When the state gins up more tax revenues, as it has, the budget base doesn’t move up. Its budget level continues at the 2009-2010 recession point, forcing refunds of extra tax dollars.

The Hospital Provider Reimbursement Fee portrays the problem. The health care fees, considered a tax, push state revenues above TABOR limits. The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee put up SB17-256 to reduce provider fees by $264 million, which causes an additional $264 million loss in federal matching funds.

The provider fee reimburses hospitals for delivering care to people who can’t pay. Without the fee, some hospitals, particularly in rural counties, don’t have enough money to operate. When those hospitals close, uninsured and insured alike lose care.

Four Democratic Senators, Irene Aguilar, Kerry Donovan, Matt Jones and Andy Kerr, and Republican Sen. Owen Hill, voted against the budget Long Bill. Also affected by TABOR is the ongoing $880 million annual negative factor that lowers public K-12 education spending. House members get to vote next.

So the question is, when will today’s citizens get the chance to vote on tax policy for today?


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinMarch 1, 201710min503

Airport security nationwide can improve, if the major airports work cooperatively with private sector companies — and federal funding is made available — the CEO of Denver International Airport recently told U.S. Senate members. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., introduced Kim Day at a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing to consider how to improve the Transportation Security Administration and airport passenger security.