This is Not How to Do Police Reform

Candi CdeBaca

The Denver City Council will hold its regular weekly meeting tonight, where one City Council member hopes to force a vote on a massively-consequential proposal that she hasn’t even sketched out herself.

As Conrad Swanson reported last week for The Denver Post:

Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca wants to place a measure on the city’s November ballot asking voters to abolish the Denver Police Department and create a “peace force” in its place.

The actual language of the measure that CdeBaca wants to place on the ballot has not yet been published, but the councilwoman filed a placeholder to the City Council’s Monday agenda that bypassed the normal committee process. Her lack of a specific ballot question or communication with fellow council members may spell problems with getting the council support needed to put the measure before voters in November.

CdeBaca said while she wants the proposal to make it to the November ballot, she doesn’t realistically expect it to pass the council. Rather, the measure is a useful way to force her colleagues to vote publicly on the issue, she said.

She questioned whether the rest of council will kill the proposal before the public has a chance to comment and make their case for change. [Pols emphasis]

Whaaaa?

Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca wants the public to be able to comment on a proposal that nobody has seen — and to force a City Council vote on a completely undefined ballot measure less than 7 weeks before ballots arrive in mailboxes — on an issue as big and consequential as abolishing the entire Denver Police Department in favor of some sort of unexplained “peace force.” We understand that people are anxious for movement on efforts to reform police departments in Colorado and throughout the country, but this is absolutely not how to speed things up.

CdeBaca tells the Post that this sort of thing is “what people have been demanding and asking of us for the last few months.” We generally pay pretty close attention to the news, but perhaps we missed the rally where Denver residents chanted, We want something vague! When do we want it? Now!

We’ve been critical of Sen. Cory Gardner’s shameful attempts at pretending to support protections for people with pre-existing conditions by submitting a bill title with no bill text. CdeBaca’s demand isn’t quite as transparently disgusting as what Gardner is doing, but it is still deeply irresponsible. As Alayna Alvarez wrote on Friday for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

A handful of councilors told Colorado Politics they were caught completely off guard when they learned late Thursday, and some not until Friday, from the Denver City Council’s Monday agenda that CdeBaca had direct-filed three major proposals that would change the city’s charter and therefore require voters’ approval on the Nov. 3 ballot…

CdeBaca’s proposal has not yet been formalized into a bill. Instead, she direct filed the proposal by title, with a memo that outlines the forthcoming legislation — a tactic Councilman Kevin Flynn called “completely inappropriate and, frankly, insulting to the body.” [Pols emphasis]

Historically, he said, the council has had filings by title only as a rarity, “never for a charter amendment intended for a ballot that is only 80 days away on a fundamental structural change proposal that has had absolutely no outreach, engagement or transparency,” Flynn said in an email to Colorado Politics. “I don’t believe the concepts outlined in the memo can even be formed into an actual bill and ballot question by Monday.”

The deadline for placing a measure on the ballot via the direct file process is August 31, but because proposals of this nature need a full reading in two separate Council sessions, next Monday the 24th is effectively the last opportunity to propose something completely new. Even if CdeBaca were to present a fully-drafted idea to the City Council by tonight, we’re talking about a HUGE question to put before voters with very little time for open discussion before ballots arrive in mailboxes.

CdeBaca is pushing two other ballot proposals that have actual language included with a title: 1) Giving the Denver City Council appointment power over the Independent Monitor, and 2) Creating a nominating commission for the city attorney. Both items will be read for the first time at tonight’s Council meeting.

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An open letter to the people of Colorado: in defense of John Hickenlooper

I never once voted for John Hickenlooper.  In fact, I spent a considerable amount of my life opposing the former governor.  2020 has shown us that not only can circumstances change rapidly, so can our perspective. The twenty-first century was first dominated with overseas wars for oil and morphed into a public health crisis the likes of which have not been witnessed for over a century.  While I have never voted for John Hickenlooper before, I write an open letter to all Coloradans as to why they should vote for the former two term governor for the U.S. Senate

I love Colorado.  As the saying goes, I was not fortunate enough to be born here, but I got here as fast as I could!  In May of 2009, at the age of nineteen, I packed up my 1991 Jeep Cherokee with all of my earthly possessions and drove the 1,600 miles from Oakland, NJ to Aurora, CO.  I moved here like many of you, with my vehicle filled to the brim, as well as an overwhelming sense of hope that a better life awaited me in the Centennial State.

Shortly after I moved to Aurora, I was hired to work for Colorado State Representative Cindy Acree (R-40).  Not only was I the legislative aide to Representative Acree; I had the distinct honor to also work for state Representatives Timothy Dore (R-64), Clarice Navarro (R-47) and Polly Lawrence (R-39) from 2010-2014.  I was elected to two terms as the President of the Denver Metro Young Republicans (2013-2014).   Suffice it to say, not only was I a very committed Republican activist for many years.

Before we continue any further, in the spirit of full disclosure, in October 2012 then-Governor John Hickenlooper appointed me to serve on a Selective Service System local board, an office that I still occupy today (a fact I find remarkable because I was working for the National Republican Congressional Committee just months prior to my appointment).

Our federal government, led ostensibly by President Donald Trump and his administration, has made America the single worst nation on the planet for the spread and lack of containment of this once in a generation pandemic.  America appears to be the hot spot worldwide, as other nations like Sweden, Japan and South Korea seem to have a handle on the situation.

All elected federal office holders share the blame for the failures of our national government to competently deal with this crisis, especially the elected Republicans who continue to defend the president.  Here at home, I watch our 9 federal legislators we send to Washington, D.C. contribute to the dysfunction and discord that President Trump creates every day.  Never have I been so thoroughly disappointed in an elected official in my life than I have with our junior United States Senator Cory Gardner, a man I once voted for.

In 2014, after serving two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cory Gardner famously ran TV ads with a simple promise, to be “an independent voice for Colorado and call out my party when they do the wrong thing.”   After six years, one would find it difficult to point to areas where he has demonstrated his independence.  Colorado has a proud tradition of electing legislators on both sides of the aisle who deliver great things for Colorado.   Pat Schroeder and Joel Hefley couldn’t agree on a breakfast order but they were always working together for what was best for Colorado.

Marijuana is the number one area where Colorado has pioneered a different, tenth amendment compliant approach to the regulation and taxation of both hemp and cannabis.  Cory Gardner may claim he has been “working” on this issue but his “work” has gone nowhere.  He has failed in the fight to allow legal Colorado marijuana businesses access to credit unions or traditional banking resources they desperately need.

The recent impeachment trial of President Trump proves that Senator Gardner is now a lemming willing to say or do anything that Majority Leader McConnell and President Donald Trump wish. The senator surprisingly moved his seat from his assigned desk in the back row to a seat in the first row, so he could be seen by the news cameras.  Now, two possibilities exist, either this was an exercise in pure vanity or he wanted to publicly support the president.  In contrast, our senior Senator Michael Bennet sat in his normal seat at his assigned desk for the impeachment.

Rather than answer for any of the above, he refuses to give straight answers to reporters.  Probably most disappointing is his refusal to host public town hall meetings.   The last time the senator hosted a public forum was 2017.

His incompetence is nearly eclipsed by his impotence at delivering on his promises to the people of Colorado.   The senator from Yuma has traded his John Deere tractor for a golf cart and 18 holes at Mar-a-Lago.   Florida has two very competent senators, I don’t think they need a third (or a fourth if you count New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, but I digress….)

The Democratic Primary for US Senate this year was boisterous.   In spite of my earlier Republican bona fides, I am now a registered Democrat and an elected Precinct Committee Person for Precinct 604 in Denver County.  I collected signatures on behalf of Lorena Garcia (in January and February prior to the COVID-19 quarantine) and I voted for Andrew Romanoff in the June 30th primary election.

That being said, here we are, with John Hickenlooper.   A man I didn’t vote for three times.  He spent sixteen years in office (8 as mayor and 8 as governor) and not a single scandal in that time would make me question his fitness for office today.  Former House Speaker Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch, who recently filed a complaint with the Independent Ethics Commission against John Hickenlooper, will say, “But, Josh, he violated Amendment 41, he was fined $2,700 by the IEC so he must be a crook!”

Is John Hickenlooper unethical? The Independent Ethics Committee thoroughly looked at six incidents that McNulty claimed was evidence of corruption but ruled that just two of those six events were improper from his time as governor:

  • Trip to Italy:  The governor paid for his commercial flight to Italy for the Bilderberg Meetings in Turin, Italy ($1,500.00) but was found guilty of accepting “free meals and limo rides” to and from the festivities.
  • Colorado to Connecticut: The governor and at least one Republican state senator traveled to Connecticut for the dedication of the U.S.S. Colorado.   Larry Mizel, millionaire owner of MDC Holdings paid for the governor to fly in a private jet to the event.   The governor did reimburse Mr. Mizel for the flight but accepted food and ground travel while in Connecticut.

After sixteen years in public life, this is all they can dig up on the guy?  What a weak attempt by Republicans to slander a good man in order to save their puppet Cory Gardner.  You should expect more scurrilous attacks as we get closer to the election.  If the worst thing they can say about John Hickenlooper is that he had someone else pay for his expensive meals and few free rides in a stretch limo, then I simply laugh at how absurd their accusations of “corruption” are.

I ask you to judge John Hickenlooper and Cory Garder as the flawed men they are.  No one among us is perfectly innocent or genuinely evil.   I personally believe it is beyond dispute that both of the major party candidates for the United States Senate are decent human beings.  As I conclude this missive, I ask you to do serious research into both John Hickenlooper and Cory Gardner as we approach the November general election.   Colorado can once again be a beacon of enlightenment and compassion when we realize not only what is at stake but that the outcome is within our power to change.

Vox Populi Vox Dei,

Joshua S. Hursa

Mr. Joshua S. Hursa is a small business owner, Colorado notary public, medical marijuana patient/advocate, and political activist.  He resides in Denver, Colorado.  

Mr. Hursa has served as a local board member for the U.S. Selective Service System since 2012.  He also serves as the Education Director for the Aurora Historical Society.  

To find out more about The Hursa Family of Companies visit  www.joshuahursa.com

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Denver Shelter Order Updated: Exceptions for Liquor Stores, Dispensaries

UPDATE #2: From the City and County of Denver:

 

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UPDATE: STOP PANIC BUYING — CHANGES ARE COMING!!!

We’re hearing from sources in the City of Denver that this order is being revised and restrictions on liquor stores and dispensaries are being adjusted. From what we understand, the logic here was to start restrictions broadly and then make adjustments as necessary, which follows guidance that has been presented by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States.

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

An unexpected development this afternoon in the City and County of Denver this afternoon, as Mayor Michael Hancock imposes a citywide “shelter in place” order shutting down businesses deemed nonessential–and controversially including liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries in the order, when those businesses have been permitted to remain operating in other jurisdictions–as the Denver Post reports:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday ordered residents to stay in their homes and announced that non-essential businesses such as liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries would close across the city starting Tuesday…He told Denverites to stock up tonight on alcohol (and recreational marijuana) if they need to.

At Argonaut Wine & Liquor, 760 E. Colfax Ave., the mayor’s order created an instant rush Monday afternoon. Within 15 minutes of the press conference, a line about a block long formed outside the building, according to co-owner Josh Robinson. In order to adhere to public health guidelines around social distancing and keep people spaced out inside, staff acted like bouncers, allowing one shopper in for each person that left.

“It’s created a safety issue in the short term,” Robinson said. “The mayor said not to panic buy, but that is exactly what he encouraged people to do by shutting us down.” [Pols emphasis]

We’re hearing reports already of long lines forming outside Denver liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries. For public health officials trying to get the public to isolate and spatially distance themselves, this could be considered counterproductive.

This story will be updated.

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Most Denver school districts to close buildings, begin “remote learning” to slow coronavirus spread

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Coronavirus By CDC

Coronavirus, from the Center for Disease Control. Image Free to use or share

Most Denver area school districts will close buildings for “in-person” education, starting next week on Monday, March 16, in order  to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Jeffco, Aurora, and Cherry Creek public schools will effectively start spring break a week early, from March 16 until March 27, 2020. Denver Public Schools, which has at least two students diagnosed with coronavirus, will be closed March 16 to  April 6.

(more…)

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Rally Goers Decry #CoverUpCory Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“If we all vote, if we all engage in democracy, that guy is gone,” Denver City Councilman Chris Hinds told about 150 demonstrators at the Capitol this afternoon, gesturing toward a life-sized cut out of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) which stood just to the right of the microphone.

“Do you feel like you got transparent and accountable government last night?” Hinds asked the crowd.

“No,” they yelled back.

The event was billed by organizers as an emergency rally to call out Gardner for being part of the Trump cover-up effort by voting against hearing from witnesses, after saying for weeks he’d consider all the evidence.

Hinds spoke after a rousing speech from former Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar, who told the crowd he felt “sad” and “downtrodden” last night, after watching Republican Senators, including Gardner, vote nearly unanimously against hearing from any witnesses in the impeachment trial of Trump.

Salazar recalled telling a friend that the law is “being stripped away from us.”

But Salazar’s friend told him to buckle up and reminded him that she’d seen the same thing in her native Pakistan, and that Salazar had seen the same thing here in America before.

(more…)

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DeGette Nabs Notable Endorsement

Rep. Diana DeGette (left) and Crisanta Duran

Politics is often compared to chess, and for good reason. A successful political campaign requires sound strategy and foresight to cut off your opponent at the most opportune moments.

This analogy is particularly apt in light of a notable endorsement today in the Democratic Primary race for CO-1. Incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) picked up the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), one of the largest labor unions in Colorado. From a press release:

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 Union announced their endorsement of Congresswoman Diana DeGette as she seeks re-election in 2020. UFCW Local 7 President, Kim Cordova, announced the endorsement at their union hall alongside Congresswoman DeGette and Local 7 members.

“United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 is proud to announce our Endorsement of Diana DeGette, a proven workers champion for another term. Diana shares our core values through her advocacy for affordable and quality healthcare, gender equity, raising the minimum wage and workers’ rights. Colorado needs her continued strong leadership in Congress to fight for workers and to ensure Labor has a voice.” – UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova…

…UFCW Local 7 is Colorado’s largest labor union representing Supermarkets, Packing Houses, Food Processing Plants, Barbers and Cosmetologists and Healthcare facilities. Large employers in Congressional District One include Mission Tortillas, King Soopers, and Safeway.

The significance of this endorsement will be obvious to longtime political observers. It was nearly 10 years ago to the day that Ernie Duran, Jr. — UFCW’s longest-standing President — was voted out of office after charges of nepotism. As the Denver Post reported on September 22, 2009:

During the contentious battle over the “right to work” ballot measure last year, reports surfaced about nepotism within the union under Duran’s leadership.

In 2007, Crisanta Duran was paid $133,410 and Ernie Duran’s son, Ernie Duran III, was paid $134,378 as an executive staff member, according to Labor Department filings. The elder Duran earned $162,368 that year.

“The nepotism was a big issue with the workers — Ernie hiring his family and putting them into high-paid positions,” Cordova said.

Allegations surfaced this year about misspent union funds.

Duran’s daughter is Crisanta Duran, who picked up the job as UFCW’s staff attorney not long after she graduated from law school. Duran would later earn a seat in the State House of Representatives, where she served as the first Latina Speaker of the House in Colorado (2017-19). Earlier this year Duran announced that she was mounting a Primary challenge against DeGette, the longest-serving member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

Duran kicked off her CO-1 campaign with much fanfare but has failed to gain any momentum against DeGette; Duran has posted a couple of miserable fundraising quarters and lost out on the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which backed DeGette in July.

Given the controversy that surrounded the elder Duran’s departure from UFCW, it was probably unlikely that Crisanta Duran was ever going to earn the support of the grocery workers’ union — but it’s not insignificant that the UFCW decided to publicly back DeGette. In every political campaign, some endorsements mean more than others. For Denver politicos — the sort of voters that DeGette and Duran will be fighting over next spring — this is one of those endorsements.

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Bernice King Slams Denver GOP Chair Over Sick Sniper Crack

UPDATE: A statement from the Denver Republican Party chairwoman Kristina Cook acknowledges the clap back from Bernice King but blames the controversy on rascal Democrats on social media– while admitting both the photo and the comment are accurate if not originally meant to be, you know, viewed together:

On Tuesday, as happens too often in the current political climate, a comment made as part of an online conversation was photoshopped to appear connected with a photo taken 3 years ago. This action was taken in an effort to misrepresent the intent of my comment. I wish the thread was still available for people to judge for themselves, but in the interest of maintaining this ruse, the other party has deleted the thread.

Regardless of the context of the conversation, my comment about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. drew the attention of Dr. Bernice King. Her tweet helped me understand that while I wish that he’d had a protective detail on that day so that he’d still be with us, that would not have been her father’s wish. I have reached out privately to Dr. King to thank her for helping me understand her father’s perspective. I will also be issuing a public response to her tweet following an opportunity to speak with her further.

We could use Dr. Martin Luther King’s presence in this divided world. Doctored memes like the one being circulated of me only serve to increase the division, when in a case like this both sides share the same ultimate respect for Dr. King. The Denver County Republican Party will continue to reach a hand over that divide in the hopes that we can join others looking to find unity, peace and healing for our community.

We must have missed the “unity, peace, and healing” part, because we surer than hell never saw it here.

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We were forwarded a Facebook post attributed to Denver Republican Party chairwoman Kristina Cook from a couple of days ago that, whether it was intended as a throwaway line in an unrelated argument or whatever the purpose was, has now become a major embarrassment for Republicans nationally after being denounced last night by Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

So first of all–actually second after we note how gratuitously offensive this post is in any context–we’re curious whether this photo was taken in the City and County of Denver, which has had an assault weapon ban in place for many years. We’re not lawyers, but we do know that Denver’s assault weapons ban has withstood plenty of legal challenges–and it’s possible this photo was not a good idea for Denver GOP chairwoman Cook for very straightforward criminal liability reasons.

Setting that issue aside, the idea that Dr. King would have wanted a “a sniper on his side” on April 4th, 1968 when he was killed by a white man with a high-powered rifle is sufficiently ignorant of everything King stood for that we believe his daughter’s powerful rebuttal is absolutely sufficient. If Denver or other Colorado Republicans possess any residual shame, we expect to be hearing from them soon as well.

Regretfully.

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Another Brutal Fundraising Quarter for Duran in CO-1

Fundraising reports for the second quarter of 2019 are now available, so it’s time to take another look at the Democratic Primary in CO-1 (Denver) between Crisanta Duran and incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette.

The good news for Duran is that she had a better fundraising quarter than she did her first time around. The bad news is rough: Duran is still nowhere close to a six-figure fundraising quarter, and she’s spending almost as much money as she’s bringing in to her campaign.

DeGette’s $207k fundraising quarter is unimpressive, to say the least, but it is nevertheless $50k more than Duran has raised during her entire campaign. Here’s how we assessed Duran’s campaign in April after her miserable initial fundraising performance:

Momentum and money go hand-in-hand in politics. Duran has neither, and she’s now in a position where she’ll need a very strong Q2 just to remain somewhat viable heading into the dead summer of an off-year. If Duran doesn’t at least quadruple her Q1 numbers, what had looked to be an interesting race will be all but over a year before the Primary Election.

This fundraising disparity, combined with DeGette’s endorsement from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus earlier this month, will make it difficult for Duran to continue to mount a real challenge in CO-1. The only real mystery left here is to see how long Duran can even stay in the race.

It ain’t over until it’s over, as the saying goes…but this is about as close as it gets.

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The Wrath of the Maths: What Really Happened in Denver

Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis

This is a blog of words. Sure, we talk numbers now and then, mostly as it relates to polling or margins of victory (or The Big Line); but to the extent that we have any expertise, it is definitely more with words than numbers.

So it is with fair warning that we jump into a weird math problem that keeps showing up in analysis of the Denver Mayor’s race.

We started seeing this analysis more regularly after Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate endorsed Giellis in the runoff, forming what headline writers liked to call a “Unity Ticket.” This idea picked up steam heading into the final weekend of the runoff, as Joe St. George wrote for Fox 31 Denver last week:

At the very basic level, Hancock faces a math disadvantage going into Tuesday’s runoff.

60% of voters who participated in the May election voted for someone other than Hancock. Hancock received around 40%.

The recipients of most of that vote were Penfield Tate, Lisa Calderon and Jaime Giellis. Giellis finished second with 25%.

59,000 people voted for Tate and Calderon.

Both of those candidates have endorsed Giellis. Do the voters follow? Or does Hancock steal enough votes away?

This is all wrong, but more on that in a moment. There is a similar view in a post-election analysis of the race in today’s Denver Post:

 

(more…)

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Denver Runoff Election Night Open Thread

(Still) Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

UPDATE (9:41 pm): Jamie Giellis has conceded the race for Denver Mayor to incumbent Michael Hancock.

The race for Clerk and Recorder remains too close to call, while Candi CdeBaca (District 9) and Chris Hinds (District 10) appear to be pulling away.

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UPDATE (7:45 pm): Early returns show Denver Mayor Michael Hancock with a 55-44 lead over challenger Jamie Giellis. Unless Giellis captured most of the votes cast today (which are counted/reported last), Hancock probably survives.

The race for Clerk and Recorder is neck-and-neck, as are contests in District 9 (incumbent Albus Brooks and challenger Candi CdeBaca) and District 10 (incumbent Wayne New and challenger Chris Hinds).

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Let’s end this thing.

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Poll: Who Will Win The Denver Mayoral Runoff?

The endgame of the 2019 Denver municipal elections arrives next Tuesday. In addition to several runoffs in City Council races, incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock faces challenger Jamie Giellis in one of the nastiest, craziest, and sometimes downright silliest Denver mayoral showdowns in memory.

A poll follows: who will be the next Mayor of Denver? As with all of our totally unscientific pre-election reader surveys, please tell us what you actually think will happen, not simply your desired outcome. That steam is better blown off in the comments section.

Happy voting!

Who will win the Denver mayoral runoff?

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Of Camping and Campaign Bans

For Denver Mayoral candidate and occasional voter Jamie Giellis, the good news and the bad news are one in the same: The Denver runoff election finally concludes on Tuesday.

We’ve noted a few times in this space that Giellis is running what you could call a “nontraditional” campaign — which is a nice way of saying that she’s been a mess as a candidate. Both Giellis and incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock have ratcheted up the negative campaigning in recent weeks, though many of the wounds being suffered by the Giellis camp are self-inflicted. Take, for example, this mail piece that arrived in the mailboxes of Denver voters today:

 

First, let’s get to the unfortunate error: An extra ‘a’ and a few other misplaced consonants drastically change the meaning of this mail piece.

The irony of this copy-editing mistake is that it is a pretty good summation of Giellis’ all-over-the-place position on homelessness and the Urban Campaign Camping Ban. Ahead of the first round of balloting in Denver, Giellis was clear that she SUPPORTED ending the Urban Camping Ban but DID NOT SUPPORT Initiative 300 (which was commonly called “The Urban Camping Ban Initiative”). This was on April 28, 2019:

But as you can see in the mail piece above, Giellis now says that she DOES NOT support a repeal of the Urban Camping Ban, though she stands by her opposition on the now-deceased Initiative 300. Furthermore, Giellis claims that Hancock is lying when he says that she once DID support a repeal…even though she very clearly had no problem opposing it a month ago and several news outlets (including the Denver Post and 9News) have noted that she appears to have flip-flopped on the issue.

On the other hand, you could argue that the mail piece above contradicts itself at least once on Urban Camping Bans, so who can really say what her position actually entails?

On the other (other) hand, perhaps Giellis really means to propose an Urban CAMPAIGN Ban. After this election cycle, Denver voters might agree.

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Words Mean Things, Wayne New Edition

Denver City Councilman Wayne New.

Denverite reports on another race-related faceplant by another conservative figure in always-entertaining Denver politics, this time Councilman Wayne New’s self-proclaimed ignorance of things he…well, calls himself:

City Councilman Wayne New said he was once a Dixiecrat, aligning himself with a racist splinter group of the Democratic party that opposed integration, during a District 10 forum Thursday night.

After challenger Chris Hinds questioned New’s politics, the incumbent responded, “This is a nonpartisan race and politics don’t enter into it and I don’t know why you’re bringing it into it so strongly. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat, I’ve been a Dixiecrat, I’ve been an independent now for six or seven years.”

On Friday, New, who is from Georgia, apologized in a statement. He told Denverite that he would not have used the term had he known what it meant.

“I feel like an idiot,” he said in an interview. “The only thing I ever knew about Dixiecrats is what my parents told me — that a Dixiecrat is conservative fiscally and cared about social issues. [Pols emphasis] I always thought it was so positive.”

Okay so, that’s not what a “Dixiecrat” actually is–or was, we say hopefully while unfortunately aware that the term and type are not completely extinct in Wayne New’s native state of Georgia. But for those who weren’t paying attention during this part of 20th Century American history class, the “Dixiecrats” weren’t really concerned with fiscal policy at all. What motivated the Dixiecrats was the single “social issue” of preserving racial segregation, and the desire by Southern states to fend off federal intervention in the Jim Crow legal framework that systematically oppressed African Americans.

If you didn’t already know the history of the Dixiecrats and the peak of their segregationist movement in the 1948 presidential elections, click here and let Google do the educating! It should be noted that Wayne New has changed his political stripes over the years the way most people change socks, switching from Republican to independent just months before his 2015 City Council campaign. But that only reinforces the moral of the story, which is that you really, really need to know what these terms mean before you use them.

Especially to describe yourself.

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Jamie Giellis: A Streetcar Named Disaster

FRIDAY UPDATE: This headline in the Denver Post sums up an awful week for Giellis:

Elsewhere, this interview with Kyle Clark of 9News demonstrates that Giellis still has no idea how to deal with her own blunders:

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Giellis’ Mayoral campaign is a train wreck streetcar wreck.

This week started out pretty good for Denver Mayoral candidate, streetcar enthusiast, and occasional voter Jamie Giellis, who is campaigning ahead of a June 4 runoff election against incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock. On Monday, Giellis held a rally to announce the support of former Mayoral candidates Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate in a show of unity against Hancock.

After that, everything went off the rails.

On Tuesday, Giellis participated in a live interview on Brother Jeff Fard’s webcast focused on African-American issues in Denver. Giellis was asked about her knowledge of the “NAACP,” and she made it clear that she didn’t have the slightest idea what the acronym stood for. As the Denver Post reported:

Giellis offered that it could begin with the words “National African American,” laughing as she learned that was incorrect.

Jamie Giellis

GAH! This was indisputably bad for Giellis. Then she made it worse. As 9News reports:

Giellis apologized Wednesday for what she called a “momentary lapse” when she was unable to identify what the initialism NAACP stands for in an interview on the Brother Jeff Fard show.

Within hours, Giellis announced a tacos and lowriders fundraiser at a Mexican restaurant in Denver. 

A tweet announcing the tacos and lowriders campaign event was later deleted from Twitter Wednesday night. [Pols emphasis]

“Tacos and lowriders”? Double GAH!

Soon afterward, Giellis COMPLETELY DELETED her social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, but not before one particularly terrible Tweet was captured in a screenshot. The Tweet below came from the account of Jamie Licko, which is Giellis’ maiden name:

 

Triple GAH!

The Giellis campaign issued a statement this morning regarding the sudden purge of her social media accounts. It was also not good:

“Our campaign Facebook and Twitter pages remain active and we are working on restoring the campaign Instagram page. I turned off my personal accounts when I felt like personal statements were being taken out of context for the purpose of diverting the conversation from the issues that Denver is facing and voters care about.”

Scrubbing social media accounts for problematic posts is something that a smart campaign would have already done a long time ago. Nobody completely deletes their social media accounts — particularly a candidate who is just weeks out from Election Day — for any other reason than to hide embarrassing and or incriminating information. You can’t talk your way around something like this.

In less than a week, Giellis destroyed her chances of becoming Denver’s next Mayor and made political casualties out of prominent supporters like Calderon and Tate. The incumbent Hancock has been working hard on his final re-election campaign, but at this point, all he really needs to do is just get out of the way of Giellis’ runaway streetcar.

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Jamie Giellis, Walking Facepalm

Jamie Giellis points to her biggest problem in the Denver Mayoral runoff.

Denver’s June 4th runoff election is just around the corner. It can’t come soon enough for Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis, who is trying to oust incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock.

We noted in April that Giellis barely manages to vote at a 50% clip — she didn’t even vote in the 2018 Primary Election — which she explained by eloquently saying, “It’s my bad for not doing that [voting].” On Tuesday, Giellis managed to trip over her own feet once again.

As the Denver Post reports, this mistake is gonna sting:

Denver mayoral challenger Jamie Giellis failed to identify what the acronym “NAACP” stood for in a live interview on an African American-focused show Tuesday afternoon, renewing debate among minority voters about whether she’s a promising new ally or too far removed from communities of color.

Host Shay Johnson told Giellis on Brother Jeff Fard’s webcast Tuesday that the show had received several questions about her knowledge of the NAACP. Giellis offered that it could begin with the words “National African American,” laughing as she learned that was incorrect. [Pols emphasis]…

…“They do advocacy for the African American community, they talk about policy, they talk about issues, they stand up for civil rights, they do a number of things,” Giellis said.

Yes, really.

The acronym “NAACP” stands for “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”

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On to the Runoffs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: A newsworthy come from behind win for Denver’s Initiative 301, decriminalizing “magic mushrooms,” which is now ahead outside the recount margin:

Far out, man.

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Shrooms for you, Denver!

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: It’s runoffs galore in Denver as Westword’s Michael Roberts updates:

The results in Denver’s 2019 election will spur multiple runoffs just under a month from now. Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock must best former RiNo Art District president Jamie Giellis to keep his job on June 4, when five Denver City Council races will also be decided. Meanwhile, Ordinance 300, better known as Right to Survive, failed by a margin that left plenty of veteran political observers slack-jawed, while Ordinance 301, which called for the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, fared better and isn’t technically dead, but its chances have faded in a big way…

District 2’s Kevin Flynn, District 6’s Paul Kashmann and District 7’s Jolon Clark ran unopposed, while three other incumbents — District 4’s Kendra Black, District 8’s Chris Herndon and District 11’s Stacie Gilmore — tallied more than 50 percent to secure their re-election. Not so for District 5’s Mary Beth Susman, District 9’s Albus Brooks and District 10’s Wayne New, all of whom must immediately gear up for June 4. Their respective opponents will be Amanda Sawyer, Candi CdeBaca and Chris Hinds.

Runoffs will also be necessary in District 1, where Amanda Sandoval and Mike Somma are set to face off, and in District 3, where Jamie Torres and Veronica Barela are still standing. And while Timothy O’Brien had no opposition in his bid to remain Denver auditor, the sprint for clerk and recorder proved tight, tight, tight. Signs point to Paul López and Peg Perl winding up back in the ring next month.

In the at-large council race, incumbents Debbie Ortega and Robin Kniech held on to their seats over a large field of challengers. But from the mayoral race where the incumbent will face a runoff for the first time since 1995 down to a surprisingly hot clerk and recorder’s race where Peg Perl squeaked into a runoff against the better known Paul Lopez, the 2019 Denver municipal elections are only at halftime. Original post follows.

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As of 8:30pm it is looking increasingly likely that many of Denver’s races will be decided in runoffs on June 4th. With just over 100,000 ballots counted Mayor Hancock leads by just 39.7%, not enough to avoid facing one of his challengers next month.

Likewise Clerk and Recorder, District 1, District 3, District 5, and District 10 all are very likely to go to a run off at this hour. In District 9 Albus Brooks may yet get enough votes to pass the magic 50% mark, but as of right now he’s only at 48.07%. Incumbent Chris Herndon in District 8 is probably a bit happier with 51.15% of the vote. That could also go to a run off, but unlike in District 9 his closest challenger only has 22.26%. Still not a great result for an incumbent.

There is no doubt, however, that ordinance 300 has gone down to a wide defeat. Over 80% of the votes counted so far have been against it. After this bad showing in Denver it would be surprising to me if a similar bill gets out of committee in the legislature.

Edited to Add: The Denverite relays that there are only 139,412 ballots. This means that there are just short of 40,000 or 28% left to be counted. The next update for people staying up that late will be 10pm.

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Mayoral Candidate Ethics and Transparency…With Scott Gessler

Denver’s Municipal election takes place on Tuesday, May 7. Give low turnout numbers and a handful of candidates who are relatively unknown, the race for Mayor could take on plenty of weird twists before the final votes are counted.

But any twist that happens next would have to be one hell of a pretzel to compete with this mail/walk piece from Denver Mayoral candidate  Penfield Tate:

In the mailer/walk piece below, the final message text is this:

You deserve a mayor that is accessible, ethical and transparent and one who will get the job done RIGHT.

This is all well and good…

…and then Tate’s campaign lists the endorsement of former Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, quite possibly the most corrupt and ethically-challenged elected official Colorado has seen in decades.


This is not the first time we’ve pointed out that Scott Gessler is a terrible name to have on your list of endorsements, particularly at the top of said list and particularly when you are running for office in a solidly-Democratic city like Denver. In April 2011, we marveled at the stupidity of Tom Downey, a candidate for Denver Clerk and Recorder who emailed supporters to tout an endorsement from the very same Scott Gessler. We probably don’t need to remind you that Downey did not get elected that year.

Nor is it much of a stretch to predict that Penfield Tate won’t be winning an election on Tuesday.

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Denver Mayoral Candidate Jamie Giellis Didn’t Vote LAST YEAR

What, me vote?

It is, oddly, not unusual to see a story about a candidate for elected office who has apparently not bothered to regularly vote in prior elections. Just last year, a Republican candidate for Governor of Oklahoma struggled to explain why he himself hadn’t voted in a single Gubernatorial election since at least 1999.

As John Ensslin reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Denver Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis hasn’t been particularly interested in her civic duty in years past:

Giellis, a candidate for Denver mayor, has not voted in 10 of the 22 municipal elections that have occurred since she moved to the city in 2006, according to a Colorado Politics review of city election records.

Giellis, a former president of the River North Arts District, voted in 12 elections during that time but missed three runoff elections, three coordinated elections, two general elections, one municipal election and one primary election, according to her voting history.

By contrast, three others considered to be in the first tier of mayoral candidates have voted in all but a handful of elections during that same period.

“It’s my bad for not doing that.”

     —  Denver Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis on failing to vote in nearly half of Denver’s elections

Missing an election here or there is not unusual, but it’s a little weird for a candidate to barely manage to cast a ballot in half of all previous elections. Incredibly, Giellis apparently didn’t even vote in the 2018 Primary Election in Colorado, even as she was considering her own bid for elected office (Giellis formally launched her campaign in November 2018). Giellis thinks that she did vote last June, but she eventually admits to Ensslin that, well, she’s not actually sure about that:

“The 2018 primary election is concerning to me,” she wrote. “During that time my husband and I were traveling for our wedding and living with my parents as we finished a home renovation, but in the midst of that chaos I recall casting a ballot that appears to have not been received. It was my job to ensure my vote was counted, and I failed at that.” [Pols emphasis]

During a Mayoral candidate forum moderated by 9News reporters Marshall Zelinger and Kyle Clark on Wednesday, Giellis got another chance to explain her spotty voting record. She failed. Miserably.

ZELINGER: Since 2011, when Mr. Hancock was elected, voter records show that you have only voted in half of the elections. I know you lived out of the country for some of that time, but if you want to lead the City of Denver, why didn’t you care enough to vote absentee?

GIELLIS: I think it’s a great question, and, you know, I was traveling abroad, in Singapore and the U.K., for most of that time, a big chunk of that time. And it’s a big task to vote while you’re abroad. And it’s my bad for not doing that…

…I didn’t realize that there was a litmus test for being willing to step up and take a leadership role in the city. [Pols emphasis]

Denver voters are receiving their mail ballots for the municipal election this week. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise if many of them don’t bother to vote for Giellis.

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Let’s Go, Nuggets!

The Denver Nuggets take on the San Antonio Spurs tonight in the second game of their first round playoff series. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is throwing down:

San Antonio is known for its beer? Who knew?

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Crisanta Duran Fails to Clear Very Low Bar in Q1

Artist rendition of Crisanta Duran’s Congressional campaign.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) is the “dean” of the Colorado Congressional delegation, a title she has earned by consistently winning re-election in what has long been a safe Democratic seat in CO-1. First elected to her Denver district in 1996, DeGette has been in the House of Representatives 10 years longer than her nearest contemporaries; both Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) were first elected in 2006.

Despite that longevity — or perhaps because of it — DeGette is facing a potentially tough Democratic Primary in 2020 from former State House Speaker Crisanta Duran. Or, at least, that was the thinking before Q1 fundraising numbers were announced this week.

DeGette raised a piddling $138,000 in Q1, a shockingly-weak sum for someone looking at a third consecutive Primary challenge. Fortunately for her, Duran only managed to raise about half of that amount. As Denverite reports, Duran’s campaign is trying desperately to spin a $70,000 quarter as a positive outcome:

“This is a great start to our campaign for change,” Duran said in the release. “We received contributions from people of all walks of life and from an inclusive cross-section of leaders and grassroots supporters throughout our community.”

Duran isn’t accepting money from corporate political action committees, a fact her campaign is using to set her apart from DeGette, who is accepting money from these types of PACs. Duran campaign consultant Steve Welchert said in the release that they “don’t expect to keep up with DeGette’s corporate PAC machine, but today’s report shows we’ll build a strong, winning campaign.”

Um…no. You can’t shine a $70,000 turd.

Duran’s campaign is quick to point out that she didn’t have the benefit of a full fundraising quarter after announcing her campaign for CO-1 in late February. This is true, but also irrelevant; if Duran wasn’t confident that she could put up a good fundraising quarter, then she shouldn’t have announced her candidacy so early. This is pretty much the worst-case scenario for Duran’s campaign.

Momentum and money go hand-in-hand in politics. Duran has neither, and she’s now in a position where she’ll need a very strong Q2 just to remain somewhat viable heading into the dead summer of an off-year. If Duran doesn’t at least quadruple her Q1 numbers, what had looked to be an interesting race will be all but over a year before the Primary Election.

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Money Race For Denver Mayor Is Not Close

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports on the state of play in the Denver mayoral race with mail ballots set to go out next week–a contest high on rhetoric,

But when it comes to raising money, the contest to date is a runaway.

According to statistics through March 31 assembled by Denver-based CleanSlateNow Action, whose goal is to fight “the corrupting influence of big money in politics,” current Mayor Michael Hancock has raised around twice as many dollars as the other five hopefuls on the ballot combined, and more than triple the amount collected by his next closest fiscal competitor… [Pols emphasis]

Of course, having a fatter wallet than any of his challengers doesn’t guarantee Hancock a victory in anything other than yard signs and prime TV time — a point [opponent Lisa] Calderón underscores in a comment shared with Westword about Referred Measure 2E, which was approved by voters in 2018 but doesn’t go into effect until next year (and will impact the mayor’s face for the first time in 2023). The so-called “Democracy for the People” measure will limit mayoral-contest donations to $1,000, ban corporate donations, and enable a public-financing program.

It’s tough to get a read right now on the field of five candidates vying to oust Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, like which if any is consolidating enough support to prevent the most likely outcome: the fragmented “Anybody But Hancock” opposition splitting between the alternatives and handing Hancock another term. There’s a possibility of a runoff election if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, but historically incumbent Denver mayors win by a much greater majority–like John Hickenlooper’s 86% margin in 2007. For all of the discontent with Denver city government over infrastructure, housing costs, police misconduct, the treatment of the poor and homeless, and a laundry list of other issues, we haven’t seen anyone emerge in this race with a winning coalition–though we’re watching to be proven wrong.

With that in mind, nothing says fait accompli like doubling up the rest of the pack combined.

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Denver Council District 1, 2019

Northwest Denver, including Sunnyside, Berkley, Sloane’s Lake, Highlands, and part of West Colfax is in Denver Council District 1. Since it is an open seat in 2019 there are seven (!) candidates to replace the outgoing Councilman Rafael Espinoza.

Denverite has short introductions to all seven in a March 19th article. The really interesting part for the horse race of who’s getting support is the money raised by each.

Somma- $48,791.05, $1,000 self funded
Sandoval- $47,470.00
Durrah- $43,902.20
Kulkarni- $26,093.47 $4,900+ self funded
Sabados- $25,936.59 $1,000+ self funded
D’Agosta- $15,192.75 including a $2,635.75 loan
Aguilar- $6,221 $2,000 self funded

Purely on this basis it looks a lot like a three person race between Michael Somma, Amanda Sandoval, and Scott Alan Durrah and seems likely to go on to a run off. Denver city elections, even though they probably impact people’s lives more than statewide elections, are low turn out and low information votes.

Random chance has them on the ballot as:
1) Praj Kulkarni 2) Victoria R. Aguilar 3) Sabrina D’Agosta 4) David Sabados 5) Mike Somma 6) Amanda Sandoval 7) Scott Alan Durrah

Will this give a boost to Kulkarni? He’s not leading in fundraising, but he’s not totally out of the hunt either. Without the usual signals of party affiliation voters might break for him. Espinoza has endorsed Sandoval and the other two top fundraisers are white guys. Will that give her an edge? On the other hand Somma is a firefighter and lots of people have warm feelings towards that profession. As of the 22nd his election website is also the highest ranked in searches for “Denver Council District 1”.

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Worst-Named Campaign Event Ever. Ever.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to our attention that this event is not hosted by Michael Hancock’s re-election campaign, but rather the Mayor’s official capacity. The event’s name, however, has not changed.

Is that better? We’re agnostic.

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We’re just going to leave this here in the hope that someone on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s very talented communications team will see it and act immediately to change the extremely unfortunate name of this event.

That is all.

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Take Me to Your…Um, What’s the Word I’m Looking For?

The word of the day is…

Former State House Speaker Crisanta Duran kicked off her campaign for Congress in CO-1 (Denver) on Sunday with an exclusive interview with Denver7. Today, Duran rolled out a nice endorsement in former Denver Mayor Federico Peña.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, it’s not hard to figure out what message apparently polled the best in her pre-campaign research (all bold text is Colorado Pols’ emphasis):

Duran declined to point out policy differences with DeGette, who was first elected to the Denver-based 1st Congressional District seat in 1996, but said she wants to let voters in the heavily Democratic district decide if it’s time for a different style of leadership

…”I have appreciated the work Congresswoman DeGette has done,” Duran said. “I do think, though, in these time when we have Donald Trump in the White House, we must evaluate how we move this country forward and make sure we have the right leaders in the right place at the right time.”

She added: “These times in particular, we need to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to be able to lead. I have a new and different style of leadership that I could bring to Congressional District 1. At the end of the day, it’s up to the voters to decide who is the best leader moving forward.”

Her leadership style, Duran said, involves listening to constituents.

“Building community is very important to me and is a different leadership style, I think. I also think that during the time that I’ve served, I’ve never shied away from tough issues,” Duran said. “In this time we need leaders who do things not for political convenience, but for political courage. It’s not a time to be shy, it’s not a time to play it safe, it’s a time to be bold. And I think it should be up to the people of Congressional District 1 to be able to cast their vote (for) who is the best leader to move the district forward.”

In fairness to Duran, words like “conductor,” “skipper,” and “pacesetter” probably don’t pop as much with focus groups.

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Denver Teachers Win Big After Successful Strike

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell reports on the developing conclusion to the three-day strike by teachers of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, ending in victory for the teachers and heralding a new ascendancy for organized labor power in Colorado under Gov. Jared Polis:

Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union.

It also addresses the teachers’ biggest concern: the need to overhaul the merit-pay system, which relies heavily on annual bonuses that fluctuate from year to year. The new system will place more emphasis on education and training when considering promotions, while keeping some bonuses in place…

Teachers did make some concessions, but the deal represents a remarkable win for Denver’s teachers, who have been picketing and rallying in the streets for the past two days, while school administrators struggled to keep classes on schedule. It’s also a sign of the overwhelming momentum teachers have on their side from months of widespread teacher strikes across the country over school funding cuts and low teacher pay.

After the DCTA voted by 93% to walk out, the state Department of Labor and Employment under the direction of Gov. Polis could have ordered a so-called “cooling off period” of up to six months, which would have deprived teachers of their power to back up their negotiations with action. There was considerable worry that Polis would do just that, especially after the governor and his staff took an active role in attempting to mediate between the sides early on.

In the end, though, the decision by Gov. Polis not to curtail the teachers’ ability to strike made it clear who would have the upper hand. In addition Denver Public Schools management did very little to ingratiate themselves with the public, after a message to visa-holding noncitizen teachers wrongly threatening to report them to immigration officials and stories of school administrators trying to censor students documenting the dysfunction on campus.

The proposed new contract, which still needs to be ratified by the teachers, gives the teachers much more than they were offered before the strike–which is, of course, the most important measurement of success. And for Gov. Polis, his campaign promise to be an advocate for working people and organized labor in particular is looking well-kept as of now.

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