Archive for October, 2006

Election Guide

October 22, 2006

If you are having trouble keeping track of all the initiatives and referenda on the ballot, the Denver Regional Council of Governments prepared a solid and even-handed guide to all of the initiatives and referenda on the ballot that you might find helpful.

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Denver Post: Amendment 41 is a blueprint for ethics

October 20, 2006

In case you didn’t see it, the Denver Post today editorialized in favor of Amendment 41, the Ethics in Government amendment.

When Colorado’s 100 state lawmakers gather each year under the Capitol’s gold dome, more than 1,000 paid lobbyists are there to bend their ears. Lobbyists lavish officials with gifts – about $1.6 million a year, ranging from Broncos tickets to golf outings to overseas trips, according to their filings with the secretary of state’s office . . .

The measure would ban lobbyists from giving gifts or meals worth more than $50 to state and local officials and employees or members of their immediate families.The measure also would close the “revolving door” that allows just-retired lawmakers to lobby former colleagues by requiring a two-year cooling-off period . . .

We urge voters to approve 41 . . . 

Opponents have raised some theatrical concerns – that the ban could prohibit school scholarships for children of janitors and other non-policymaking employees, for one example, or criminalize an auto dealer’s recreation league sponsorships, for another. We’re confident no one will interpret the amendment in that way, and even if they did, 41 creates an ethics commission that would surely reject such frivolous claims.

DRCOG and Air Quality

October 18, 2006

At tonight’s Denver Regional Council of Governments board meeting we discussed the board’s position on some proposed changes to the state’s air quality standards. Oil and gas drilling releases volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides into the air, which are harmful to human health in their own right but also lead to the formation of ozone, which is also pretty bad for humans. Golden has some of the worst ozone pollution in the state, largely because of sources outside Golden, including oil and gas drilling in Weld County and elsewhere and transportation-related pollution throughout the Denver Metro area. Ozone is a serious problem for the entire region because our ability to access federal transportation dollars depends in large part on our ability to control ozone pollution, and this past summer we did a pretty lousy job. Ozone pollution is also directly linked to respiratory diseases and other serious health impacts, especially to children and the elderly.

The Air Quality Control Commission is considering a proposal to improve standards for oil and gas drilling operations both in the Denver region and statewide. DRCOG was planning to weigh in by asking the Commission not to do anything that might harm our federal ozone pollution status, but I felt that we should more clearly express our support for the proposed rule change. My motition at tonight’s board meeting to do just this passed unanimously.

The Commission won’t make a decision for several months but I believe that DRCOG’s clear support for the proposed rule will help secure its passage.

City Council Rejects Accountability Plan

October 15, 2006

I am disappointed to report that City Council on Thursday did not adopt the Board Governance Manual we’ve been working on since February. We crafted the resolution so that an expression of support for the idea would only require a majority but that actual adoption of the explicit performance expectations would require five votes (out of concern that adopting it with only a thin majority might cause even more problems).

On a 4-3 vote (Timpeiro, Weaver, and Baroch opposed), we passed the resolution expressing support for the idea of adopting clear performance expectations for the city manager, city attorney, and municipal judge, but we did not adopt the actual performance expectations because we didn’t have a fifth vote of support.

I wrote at some length about this back in September (“City Council Retreat Update”), and there isn’t much new to say. To my mind, the issue is pretty simple. When I asked the city manager, “do you have a clear understanding of what we expect of you, and do you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish in order to get a good job performance review,” his answer was unequivocal: “no.” We had on the table in front of us a document that clearly spelled out performance expectations. The city manager would have known exactly what we expected of him, and everyone in the community would have had an extremely clear system with which to judge his performance. Instead we did nothing.

I remain mystified that three members of Council opposed this. Mayor Baroch didn’t explain his vote on Thursday, although comments he’s made in the past lead me to believe he voted no because he thinks our current system works. I think our current system is ok but that it could and should be much better.

Councilors Timpeiro and Weaver for the most part made arguments that I couldn’t make sense of.

I’ve run for and been elected twice to serve Golden on our City Council. On both occasions I emphasized how important it is that our city government be as transparent and accountable as possible, and in the 18 months I’ve served I am pleased about how much we’ve accomplished: City Council packets are now online, City Council agendas are now written in plain English, we broadcast and archive City Council meetings, and I regularly post to this blog, attend community meetings, and write my email update. Last week we rejected an opportunity to do even better.

As I wrote in September, if we don’t clearly define the role and performance expectations of the city manager, we don’t have any reasonable way to evaluate his performance. It’s pretty much that simple. But last Thursday – because of the opposition of three members of Council – we passed up an opportunity to do this.

Openings on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and on the Local Liquor Licensing Authority

October 3, 2006

We’ve got openings on both of these boards.  Both provide good opportunities to serve the community.  The Local Licensing Authority is a good place for folks that don’t have much time, since they only meet once a month.  Their key roles are to consider new liquor license applications and liquor license ownership transfers and to evaluate liquor license violation charges.  The Parks and Recreation Board advises the Planning Commission and City Council on the development, expansion, and growth of parks and recreational facilities in Golden.  The application deadline for both is 5 p.m. on October 25.

Douglas County Wins Key Lawsuit Strengthening Local Government Rights on Highway Projects

October 2, 2006

Douglas County won a very important lawsuit last week clearly affirming that the county has the right to regulate Colorado Department of Transportation highway projects within its boundaries.  State law allows local governments to adopt what are known as “1041 regulations” to govern state projects under certain circumstances.  CDOT argued, however, that they should be exempt from such regulations.  In short, the court found that CDOT does not have exclusive control over all aspects of state highway construction and that Douglas County’s 1041 regulations were legitimate.

What does this mean for Golden?  While the decision specifically addressed Douglas County, we believe that it is likely to apply in Jefferson County as well.  It means that CDOT will probably be required to abide by our regulations pertaining to the site selection of major highways within our community so long as our regulations are reasonable and consistent with the authority granted to us by the state legislature.  This is yet another blow to CDOT and their obsessive insistence that they should get to build whatever they want, wherever they want, and without any regard for the needs of the local affected communities.