Mayor Michael Hancock Archives - Colorado Politics

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 13, 20182min5150

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.”


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyFebruary 7, 20182min2700

A former police chief from Indianapolis will take over at the helm at Denver’s Department of Public Safety. Mayor Michael Hancock announced the appointment of Troy Riggs on Monday.

As the executive director of public safety, Riggs will oversee Police, Fire and Sheriff’s Departments, Denver 911, Community Corrections, Safety Youth Programs and gang reduction initiatives. Riggs joined the department last year as deputy director.

“Sharing the Mayor’s commitment to public safety and meeting the needs of residents, I am excited to serve the people of Denver and to lead this great city into the future,” Riggs said, in part, in a statement.

The timing of the appointment could be characterized as awkward, as Colorado Public Radio notes, with an ongoing independent investigation examining whether Denver Police Chief Robert White and his no. 2, Matt Murray, violated rules relating to open records in a sexual assault case.

The new appointment means Stephanie O’Malley is out as the current department executive director, where she served four years.

Hancock said, O’Malley, who has also served as Denver’s clerk and recorder, will now transition into a new role as special assistant to the mayor to “strengthen the city’s work with minority- and women-owned businesses and better connect Denver residents and communities to jobs, skills training and other economic opportunities.”

“Stephanie is a valued and trusted leader who has risen time and again to take on some of the toughest challenges facing Denver,” Hancock said.

Riggs recently moved to Denver from Indianapolis where he served as the police chief of a department with some 1,600 officers and 200 civilian personnel. Before that, he was executive director of public safety for Indianapolis for three years.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 16, 20183min20760

Despite reforms, the Denver Sheriff’s Department’s management of the city jail system remains a “quagmire,” an activist group says. That’s why Denver County taxpayers should have the power to elect their sheriff.

Denver is one of only two Colorado counties that doesn’t elect its sheriff; the mayor makes the pick.

Over the weekend, the Colorado Latino Forum launched a May 2019 municipal election ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official. It says it has the support of business leaders, jail reform advocates, neighborhood organizers, faith leaders and others.

“The Denver Sheriff Department, the largest jailing system in the region, is a quagmire of rising assaults, inadequate inmate services, low staff morale and failed leadership,” campaign Co-Chair Lisa Calderon said in a statement. “Despite a three-year reform effort and tens of millions of dollars paid out for consultants, settlements, and skyrocketing overtime pay, Denver taxpayers have had enough of local politicians using the general fund as a blank check without a return on investment.”

The sheriff’s department has been dogged by controversies in recent years. In the fall of 2015, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Patrick Firman to the helm at the Denver Sheriff’s Department to reform the city’s jail. The appointment came on the heels of a consultant’s review of the department that found deep excessive force and mismanagement problems. Most recently, critics have pointed to news that overtime spending has cost the department millions, signaling continued struggles. The department has completed about 70 percent of the recommendations from the consultant review.

The Colorado Latino Forum said an elected sheriff would be more accountable, operating independently of political influence, much like the city auditor and clerk and recorder. The group argues as a political appointee, the sheriff is only accountable to the mayor, operating without transparency.

Voters “deserve real reform by electing an independent leader with the power to make sweeping changes to improve public safety, reduce costs, expand inmate services, increase staff morale and build public trust,” Calderon said.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyDecember 21, 20173min3750

The former organizer of Denver’s 420 rally is taking his grievances against the city to court, alleging officials mounted a public relations campaign to remove him as host of the event.

The city banned Miguel Lopez from organizing the marijuana event after Denver’s Civic Center Park was left littered with trash following an April rally. Denver said Lopez violated “city requirements,” including noise complaints, untimely trash removal, limited security staff, unlicensed food vendors and street closures at the spring event, the Cannabist reported. Lopez was fined more than $12,000, as a result.

But Lopez, who has been organizing the event since 2008, is now pushing back in a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver, Denver7 reports.

He alleges officials have had a long-simmering hatred of him and attempted to ruin his reputation with misleading images of trash in the park following the rally. Lopez maintains trash was bagged up after the rally, but perhaps someone tore the bags open overnight.

Lopez even argued Mayor Michael Hancock is waging a war on marijuana and targeting him in the process. The lawsuit also claims the media was directed by the city to capture pictures of trash during the clean-up effort, according to Denver7. Lopez’s attorney, Rob Corry, claimed they have obtained emails to journalists through open record requests, Westword reports.

Corry labeled Denver’s reaction after the rally “improper” and said the city manipulated the reaction and created the negative publicity.

The lawsuit is the next step in eventually getting the event permit back, Lopez told Denver7.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyDecember 18, 20173min3650

Is Denver Mayor Michael Hancock too cozy with the development community? A Denver councilman questioned the mayor’s philosophy toward developers following a recent news story on the topic.

In an interview earlier this month, the Denver Post asked Mayor Michael Hancock what he thought of the perception that he is too friendly with developers. Hancock defended himself, arguing in reality he would never falter in his integrity to the office — and his family and he’s not even part of the the city’s permitting process.

“…If people understood the process, they would realize that the mayor does not decide where development goes and does not engage in the permitting process,” Hancock told the Post, in part. “Someone may bring a design to me and I may offer an idea to them, but this is their project, and we stay out of that.”

But it was one statement in particular that Denver Councilman Rafael Espinoza leaped on in a Facebook post over the weekend.

“What’s wrong with these two statements in the same response,” Espinoza asks, quoting Hancock’s response in the Denver Post article in the following paragraph:

“Because what that (debrucing) [debrucing referring to reducing the restrictions associated with Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights authored by Douglas Bruce] did was that it showed the people who would develop that we were willing to invest in the infrastructure and were willing to invest in our city to get it moving again…So it is off-base — and actually, it lacks academic sense — to say the mayor is influencing this development or is too development-friendly, when in reality it’s the market that’s driving the development,” Espinoza wrote.

“I’m not sure what ‘academic sense’ is, but I know that ‘common sense’ makes these two statements incompatible, even in context of the full response,” Espinoza said.

The Post noted the criticism centering on Hancock’s relationship with the development community could factor into the mayor’s probable re-election bid in 2019.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyDecember 7, 20173min3100

About one year ago, Denver fire officials shut down two popular art spaces for code violations after 36 people died in a devastating fire at the Ghost Ship DIY art space in Oakland, CA.

A new $300,000 fund — announced earlier this week by Denver Arts & Venues — will offer financial support for artists to bring their “creative spaces” up to city code and ensure they’re safe.

Ginger White, deputy director of Arts & Venues, said in a statement the program will grant conditional occupancy in these “creative spaces” while they’re brought up to code and offer financial support for tenants and owners to offset the cost associated with improvements or repairs to become code-compliant.

The fund is an extension of the city’s Safe Occupancy Program, which allows tenants to continue to live in buildings with non-life threatening building code violations if they work with the city and Denver Fire Department on improvements.

“We are committed to cultivating, sustaining and promoting our diverse artistic and creative industry, including ensuring that our artists have a safe, affordable space where they can live and work,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “The Safe Occupancy Program and the Safe Creative Spaces Fund are designed to support our creative professionals with resources to get these live/work spaces up to code, keep them affordable and avoid further displacements.”

The city is partnering with RedLine, a nonprofit contemporary art center, to administer the fund. RedLine will also help with support between artists and art business. The city said artists can contact the nonprofit for confidential guidance before enrolling in the program. Fund eligibility details can be found here.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 17, 20173min3730

With lots on Denver’s public infrastructure plate, the new executive director of Department of Public Works, appointed this week by Mayor Michael Hancock, will likely prove to be a key member of city government.

Eulois Cleckley will take the helm Dec. 11, overseeing a robust city department which manages services involving public infrastructure and facilities.

He’ll also aid the city in launching dozens of public infrastructure projects associated with $937 million in recently-approved general obligation bonds and facilitating the reorganization of his new department to spur the creation of a city department of transportation and mobility.

“Many of the services that Denver residents count on during their day are delivered by our Public Works team, and in Eulois we found a leader who will bring a renewed vision and energy to support our residents as they go about their daily lives,” Hancock said in a statement.

Cleckley will join Denver by way of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, where he oversaw the Metropolitan Planning Organization as deputy director. He’s previously served as chief of statewide and regional planning, and later acting chief of the Field Operations Division, for Washington, D.C.’s District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

“Denver is a growing city, and I am committed to ensure the department delivers projects and services in an efficient manner that addresses the needs of communities across Denver,” Cleckley said in a statement.

Denver plans to use the voter-approved GO bonds to fund 69 projects ranging from $13 million in upgrades to the 16th Street Mall to $35.5 million for Denver Art Museum improvements and Denver Central Library renovations totaling $38 million. Find a full list here.

Denver voters overwhelmingly supported the GO bond measures, with support ranging from 67 to 75 percent on the seven bond packages on the ballot.

The city wants to split the Department of Public Works into two cabinet-level divisions focusing on mobility and infrastructure.