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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMarch 22, 20183min646

Denver is studying how to best implement its new voter-approved mandate on green roofs.

The city has formed a 24-member Green Roofs Review Task Force, 9news reports, which will convene for its fifth meeting on Wednesday. The panel is tasked with determining how to enact the rules of the ordinance and whether those rules needs to be adjusted.

The green roof initiative was approved by voters in November with nearly 55 percent of the vote. The ordinance mandates newly-built buildings larger than 25,000 square feet dedicate a portion (the portion will vary depending on building size) of their rooftops to vegetation or solar panels. The green roofs would help reduce Denver’s urban heat island effect. The city ranks third in the nation for urban heat island effect.

At least one city official bemoaned that the city would have to convene a committee to vet the implications and logistics of the Green Roof ordinance.

In an op-ed piece in January, Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black wrote the city would have to form a panel to do the homework the activists behind the Green Roof ordinance didn’t do before it was put before Denver voters for consideration.

Black wrote she had faith the panel would present “reasonable compromises” to City Council on the Green Roof ordinance. The Denver City Council can modify or repeal the green roof ordinance after six months but would require a two-thirds majority vote. The panel is expected to have eight meetings total and will provide its first briefing to the City Council on April 2.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 11, 201813min633

I'LL SEE YOUR BERNIE AND RAISE A JOYCE FOSTER ... The battle of the bold-faced names is on in the House District 9 Democratic primary, where three-term incumbent state Rep. Paul Rosenthal is facing two candidates seeking to dislodge him from the southeast Denver seat. Less than a week had passed since Bernie Sanders — yes, that Bernie Sanders — endorsed Rosenthal challenger Emily Sirota when Rosenthal rolled out a Bernie endorsement of his own from Bernie Steinberg — yes, that Bernie Steinberg — to counter it.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 8, 20184min1638

Rep. Paul Rosenthal has two primary challengers in his re-election bid in House District 9, but he doesn’t lack support from fellow Democrats close to home.

Rosenthal has key endorsements from former State Sen. Joyce Foster, Denver Councilwoman Kendra Black, Denver Public Schools board member Anne Rowe, and RTD board member Claudia Folska.

Rosenthal said his campaign slogan is “Building Coalitions, Getting Results.”

“Over the years, I’ve seen Paul lead in this community, especially on climate change, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ and affordable housing issues,” Foster, also a former Denver city councilwoman, said in a statement. “He’s a good man who works hard, cares deeply, and has helped so many people. What I really admire is how he connects with people at his innovative events and brings individuals and groups to the Capitol to meet legislators. We need responsive people like Paul in the legislature.”

Rosenthal is seeking is fourth and final two-year term in the House representing the southeast Denver district. He faces primary challenges from Emily Sirota and veteran Ashley Wheeland.

The race will be one to watch. Last year a Democratic campaign operative accused Rosenthal of touching him improperly at a party. The charge was dismissed after an House investigation, as the allegation pre-dated Rosenthal’s service in the legislature. He denies it ever happened.

Last week, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed Sirota, as did state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, former Denver Public Schools board members James Mejia and Jeannie Kaplan and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Rosenthal’s campaign joked that he was endorsed by Bernie, too — “long-time and well known HD9 Democratic activist also named Bernie, namely Bernie Steinberg.”

Rosenthal’s campaign noted in a statement his endorsements were “from progressive leaders and activists who live in — or have led — in the area of House District 9.”

“My friends, neighbors, and constituents in southeast Denver know me well,” Rosenthal stated. “They know how I’ve been devoted to helping people, especially students who deserve more recognition for their success, refugees, LGBTQ and those struggling families who need assistance to get ahead.”

His other endorsements from Democrats within the district include: Dr. Faye Rison, Ron and Bobbi Morrow, John Stoffel, Mike and Elizabeth Bono, Roger Armstrong, Ted and Deborhah Dreith-Calloway, Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Lee McDonnell, Kathy Steinberg, Larry and Cynthia Gallegos, David and Myra Rieger, Steve Bennett, Harry Bailis, Julie Friedemann, Kip Sleichter, Sam Valeriano, Ben and Selene Gochman, Gayle Stallings, Sarah Shirazi, Sandy Mandel, Londa Coddington, Dorie Furman, Peter Kandell and George Harding, Cecilia Mascarenas, AJ Shaikh and Eddie Valle, Scott Bates, Barry Cohen, Bert and Diane Hansen and Deborah Barnard among others, the campaign said.

He also has been endorsed by fellow legislative Democrats, including Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, Rep. James Coleman of Denver, Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver, Rep. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins, Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder and Rep. Donald Valdez of La Jara, as well as Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 15, 20179min380

According to a recent federal study, marijuana use among Colorado teenagers has fallen considerably in the past two years — to its lowest rate in nearly a decade. But high school principals in parts of Denver with high concentrations of pot businesses say the opposite is true, and an organization that works with homeless youth says marijuana use is up sharply in recent years.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 7, 20174min1549

Considering the obstacles environmental activists faced in their organized efforts to mandate green roofs in Denver, Initiative 300 appeared a long shot leading into election night.

Nonetheless, Denver’s green roof initiative appeared poised to succeed late Tuesday by a narrow margin. As of 10 p.m., the initiative had garnered 51 percent of the vote (43,599 votes to 41,341), according to Denver election results.

The activists behind the Denver Green Roof Initiative faced formidable opposition and a steep 12-1 disadvantage in campaign spending.

Several Denver City Council members came out against the ballot initiative — which would require newly-built, large buildings to dedicate roof space to vegetation and/or solar panels — arguing it carried unintended consequences. Even Mayor Michael Hancock said it went too far and provided no flexibility.

Developers rallied around the opposition with large campaign donations.

All told, the organized opposition, the Citizens for a Responsible Denver, significantly outraised the Denver Green Roof Initiative, $250,000 to $22,000, according to the Denver Post.

Under the green roof ordinance, newly-built buildings larger than 25,000 square feet would be required to dedicate a portion (the portion will vary depending on building size) of their rooftops to vegetation or solar panels.

Organizers say green roofs will help reduce the city’s urban heat island effect. Rooftops absorb warmth from the sun, raising the city’s temperature by nearly five degrees, the citizens group behind the initiative said. However with a green roof, vegetation or solar panels are instead absorbing the sun’s rays, keeping buildings cool through a process called evapotranspiration.

Denver ranks third in the nation for urban heat island, according to USA Today, behind Las Vegas and Albuquerque. A cooler Denver would help reduce energy consumption in the city, the group said.

City Council members Kendra Black, Kevin Flynn, Stacie Gilmore and Mary Beth Susman opposed the initiative, arguing a green roof mandate carried with it unintended consequences including further driving up the cost of living in Denver and stymying development.

“Denver is becoming less and less affordable for our hard-working families,” Black previously said. “Let’s not make it any more expensive with the ill-conceived mandate for green roofs.”

Hancock said, “It goes too far too fast and provides no flexibility or opportunity for ‘carrots’ instead of ‘sticks.’”

Developers and business organizations like the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce also opposed the initiative.

The Denver City Council could modify or repeal the green roof ordinance after six months but would require a two-thirds majority vote, according to Denverite.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 26, 20174min699

Denver could soon be budding trees, vegetable gardens and/or solar panels atop its roofs under a November ballot question, but the initiative has proven unpopular at least among city officials and developers.

Alongside school board races, GO Bond proposals and other initiatives, Denverites will be asked on the ballot to consider whether the city should require newly-built, larger buildings to have “green roofs.” Initiative 300, or the “green roof initiative,” would require new buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to dedicate a portion, about 20 percent, of their rooftops to vegetation or solar panels.

The environmentally-friendly idea behind green roofs is they would help reduce Denver’s urban heat island effect. Rooftops absorb warmth from the sun, raising the city’s temperature by nearly five degrees, the citizens group behind the initiative said. Denver ranks third in the nation for urban heat island, according to USA Today, behind Las Vegas and Albuquerque. The green roofs would help cool Denver, reducing energy consumption in the city.

It’s not the idea of green roofs but the ordinance itself that has garnered mounting opposition.

In a statement Tuesday with the Citizens for a Responsible Denver (the organized opposition to the initiative), City Council members Kendra Black, Kevin Flynn, Stacie Gilmore and Mary Beth Susman said while they support environmentally-friendly policies, it’s the lack of flexibility and unintended consequences associated with the ordinance they can’t get behind.

“Denver is becoming less and less affordable for our hardworking families,” Black said. “Let’s not make it any more expensive with the ill-conceived mandate for green roofs.”

Flynn noted he has vacant commercial buildings in his district, and he fears the initiative would serve as an obstacle to their re-use.

“This measure alone would likely put future re-use out of reach. Green Roofs and especially mandates, should require greater community input than a two-month campaign,” Flynn said.

And Mayor Michael Hancock has also come out against the initiative, arguing “Initiative 300 is not the right approach for Denver. It goes too far too fast and provides no flexibility or opportunity for ‘carrots’ instead of ‘sticks.’”

Developers have also joined the opposition, as Westword notes, with every donor to Citizens for a Responsible Denver, “either directly involved with or related to developing, including the Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Denver Commercial Association of Realtors and the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors.”

Citizens for a Responsible Denver have raised $41,500 in campaign donations — more than six times that of The Denver Green Roof Initiative, according to Westword.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 23, 20174min1232

Labeling it a “cruel practice,” Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black has authored a bill that would make declawing cats illegal.

The bill would make it unlawful to declaw cats unless it is deemed medically necessary, including to treat physical illness or injury or to correct a congenital abnormality. Then, only a licensed veterinarian could perform the procedure on a cat placed under anesthesia.

The bill is slated to be discussed in Denver’s Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee on Wednesday. If it wins approval, it would then move on to the full council.

In an interview with Denverite, Black said the procedure is often characterized and sold to pet owners as a simple one, but it’s awful and “like chopping off the last knuckle of your finger.” If the bill were to become law, a committee would begin discussion of enforcement and penalties, Black told Denverite.

Black received a slew of letters of support for the proposed bill, including from the mayors of Los Angeles and West Hollywood; the host of the Animal Planet show, “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy; the Colorado Voters for Animals, state Sen. Lois Court and local cat rescue organizations.

In his letter of support, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti argues that proponents of declawing will allege a ban will result in a “deluge of cats coming into public shelters system.”

“This emotional claim is not supported by hard statistics gathered by the Los Angeles Animal Services Department, which serves a city of 4 million people,” Garcetti’s letter reads. “There were 26,942 owner-surrendered cats that came into the Los Angeles shelter system in the five years before the Los Angeles ban went into effect, compared to 15,276 owner-surrendered cats in the five years afterward, a reduction of 43.3%.”

Galaxy, who in addition to hosting his popular Animal Planet show said he has worked in shelters for 25 years and serves as a cat behavior and wellness consultant, called declawing inhumane and barbaric.

“Claws are a physically, socially, and emotionally vital part of every cat,” Galaxy argued. “Scratching, for a cat, is not only a natural act, but a necessary one as well. It is an essential element of a cats’ [sic] ability to communicate, problem-solve, and stay healthy and secure.”

As Denverite notes, the the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association see declawing as a last resort to “destructive clawing” or when it threatens a cat’s health.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinMay 12, 20178min363

The first of Denver’s marijuana social consumption permit applications are expected this summer, after proposed rules and regulations called for under Denver’s Initiative 300 are adopted. Ashley Kilroy, executive director of the city’s Department of Excise & Licenses, discussed the main provisions of the ordinance establishing the four-year pilot program and the proposed timeline for implementation at a recent City Council Special Issues Committee meeting.