Archive for March, 2006

Open Space, Ref. C, and Bus Terminals

March 31, 2006

Late last week I attended a briefing, hosted by the Transit Alliance, on the Union Station project in downtown Denver. I will tell you I think it's an amazingly cool project which will integrate local city buses, regional buses, light rail, Amtrack, Greyhound and other bus services, and every other kind of transit you can think of under one roof. Although I will be sad to see all the open space of the South Platte Valley (near LoDo in downtown Denver) vanish, if they pull this off it will be urban infill done right, and the entire Denver region will benefit from the incredible transit center that Union Station becomes. They just released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in case you want to dig into the details, but if you are more interested in the quick overview of what it will all look like I suggest RTD's power point presentation.Union Station has a lengthy history, and as best I can tell the project will do a good job of preserving its historic character and the large, open plaza despite the substantial expansion of the building and the complex.

This week I attended the TransitWest meeting and learned more about efforts on the I-70 corridor to push CDOT to consider something other than their typical "maximum asphalt" solution to congestion.

I also attended a briefing sponsored by the Bell Policy Center and a large bipartisan group of state legislators. They offered the clearest explanation of the state budget process I've ever heard, and made very clear that they are honoring their promises during the Ref. C campaign regarding how the legislature would spend Ref. C funds. The take-home message was pretty clear: Ref. C is allowing the state to tread water with respect to many critical programs like community colleges and other higher education funding needs, services for the mentally ill and the poor, transportation projects, K-12 education, and health care. I asked the distinguished panel (which included Senate Majority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald, our own State Senator Moe Keller, and our own State House Representative Gwyn Green) where in this process they would establish reasonable sideboards on their transportation funding to ensure that CDOT appropriately prioritizes funding for transit and appropriately considers the needs of local communities before ramming careless, ineffective, and expensive projects down their throats. No one had a particularly satisfying answer ("this is just the appropriations process and those are policy questions"), although to Representative Green's credit she did politely point out the way in which many in the state legislature defer to CDOT's arm twisting. I think decisions about appropriations are policy decisions, and the legislature has a responsibility to ensure that CDOT and all other state agencies spend the taxpayers money appropriately.

Finally, this evening I attended Plan Jeffco's annual banquet, which was in part a celebration of the protection of the Ralston property and some adjacent land owned by the Mt. Vernon Country Club. Lots of folks deserve credit for pulling off the deal, including the Northwoodside Foundation, Clear Creek Land Conservancy, Jefferson County Open Space, Mt. Vernon Country Club, and of course Plan Jeffco. I like celebrations, and celebrating the protection of important open space is particularly satisfying.

Final Candidate List for Golden’s Special Election in April

March 28, 2006

This just in from the City Clerk's office . . . the final list of candidates for the April 25, 2006 Special Election:

Joe Behm
Brian Bookmyer
Karla Conner

I imagine this will be a colorful campaign. Be sure to attend the candidate forum, which I believe is scheduled for April 10. I'll confirm and provides details when I get them.

Owens Signs Statewide Smoking Bill

March 27, 2006

I just got an email update reporting that Governor Owens signed the smoking bill (HB 1175), which makes it official. The bill, which goes into effect July 1, bans smoking in most bars and restaurants across the state. I wrote about this bill once before, and you can more information about the bill-signing from the 9News web site.

Five Days Left to Apply for the Historic Preservation Board

March 27, 2006

We’ve still got one opening on the Historic Preservation Board, so if you are interested be sure to get your application in by March 31. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for the evening of Thursday April 20 at City Hall. The only hard and fast requirement is that you are a resident of the City of Golden. Otherwise, the main requirement is that you care about preserving Golden’s historic character and are willing to put some time into Historic Preservation Board’s efforts to do just that. I served on the Historic Preservation Board before being elected to the City Council and have a high regard for their mission and their efforts.

You should direct any questions to Steve Glueck, the city’s planning director (303-384-8097).

CINQ Goes on the Air

March 22, 2006

CINQ’s Rob Medina goes on the air this Friday, March 24 at 8:00am – AM 760 – to talk about the Billion Dollar Boondoggle with Jay Marvin. CINQ’s email alert says:

“This radio show is just the latest effort by CINQ to educate the public about this boondoggle. CINQ continues to meet with many civic organizations throughout Denver to broaden awareness of this issue, and the tide is turning against bad transportation policy in the Northwest Quadrant.”

I encourage everyone to listen in if you are anywhere near a radio. Even better, if you can, call in to the studio during the show and express your opposition to the superhighway and your support for Rob and CINQ. To learn more about CINQ (Citizens Involved in the Northwest Quadrant) and their campaign visit their web site. I also encourage you to consider making a financial contribution to their efforts, which you can also do from their web site.

City Council Packets Now Online

March 21, 2006

In both of my City Council campaigns and during my year on Council I’ve pushed for and supported efforts to make city government more transparent and more accessible to people in the community. The latest step is the posting of the complete City Council meeting packets online on the city’s web site. The packets include all of the proposed resolutions and ordinances plus all the background material that City Councilors get every week. They are frequently lengthy, often 5 to 6 MB (meaning long download times unless you have a very fast connection). Packets are scheduled to be posted the Friday evening before the following City Council meeting.

Also, in April we begin a trial program of taping and broadcasting City Council meetings. I have no idea what that will be like but it’s something that I and others on Council have long supported and I look forward to the experiment. Both study sessions and regular City Council meetings will air live on Comcast channel 8, and web casts will be available on the Saturday following the meeting at www.cityofgolden.net.

If you have any questions or suggestions about improving citizen access to City documents, you can each call the City Clerk’s office (303) 384-8015 or let me know.

Owens Will Sign Statewide Smoking Bill

March 19, 2006

After a long and convoluted legislative battle, Governor Owens said on Friday he would sign the smoking ban bill just passed by the state legislature. According to the Denver Post story, the bill bans smoking in public places with exceptions for casinos, small businesses, the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport, smoke shops, family farms, and cigar bars. ColoradoPols cites the Rocky Mountain News story and has some boisterous discussion for good measure (more than 100 comments posted so far).

I’ve been supportive of a smoking ban designed to protect restaurant and bar workers from the effects of secondhand smoke but believed a statewide solution made the most sense. A statewide bill like the one the Governor is planning to sign ensures that the rules are consistent everywhere and that restaurants and bars in different towns will still all have a level playing field. I’m pleased the legislature pulled it off. Hats off to Republican House Minority Leader Mike May and Democratic Senator Dan Grossman for their tenacity and legislative acumen.

Ethics Complaint Update

March 17, 2006

As you may know, Marion Olson filed another round of ethics complaints against sitting City Councilors, former City Councilors, the City Attorney, and the City Manager. I’m not among those Ms. Olson alleges to have violated the city’s ethics code but the situation is made more complicated because so many folks are. The long and short of it is this: our code is really unclear regarding the process we are supposed to follow when a citizen claims that someone on Council or with the city staff violated the ethics code. Given that, it seemed prudent to first take a step back and figure out, as best we can, exactly what process we should follow. To that end, last week I proposed that City Council hire a credible, independent special counsel to review our code, the minutes of the City Council meetings where that code was discussed and adopted, and any other relevant documents in order to make a recommendation about what process we should follow. After some discussion at our meeting last week, City Council voted 4-0 (the other three had recused themselves) to adopt my proposed resolution. The next step will be a proposal to Council for selecting an independent special counsel. I’ll write more on this as the process unfolds.

I haven’t figured out how to upload my memo to City Council or the resolution to the blog we adopted but am happy to email those documents to anyone who wants them.

CSM Lobbies for Fastest Supercomputer

March 17, 2006

Colorado School of Mines is competing with at least two other Colorado schools to locate a new $75 million National Center for Atmospheric Research supercomputer on the Golden CSM campus. Read the CBS4 news story. According the news story, it would run at a petaflop, or 1,000 trillion computations per second, which is three times faster than the fastest supercomputer (located at Livermore National Laboratory in California).

Community Development Block Grants: More Info

March 14, 2006

Here is a National League of Cities news release I found on the issue I wrote about yesterday – the Bush Administration’s proposed one billion dollar cut to the Community Development Block Grant program. The release has some other info about the conference as well.