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February 11, 2011 04:28 PM UTC

Mayoral Candidate Forum

  • by: Colorado Pols

Last night at St. Cajetan’s church on the Auraria Campus, all of the leading candidates (and some of the lesser-known ones) met to discuss policy, their visions for the city, and their stances on the issues at a Mayoral candidate forum sponsored by the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. The event was moderated by CBS4 News anchor Gloria Neal.

In attendance were Councilman Michael Hancock, zany madcap comic relief candidate Eric Zinn, Councilwoman Carol Boigon, dark horse candidate Theresa Spahn, James Mejia, and Councilman Doug Linkhart (who showed up about 40 minutes late.) Mysteriously absent was former State Senator Chris Romer, who, according to a source, told the organizers he couldn’t be there because of a previous engagement involving his young daughter, but was actually attending a pajama party fundraiser for Denver’s Road Home.

The candidates were all given very short one minute speaking times, and they were kept on a short leash by Neal and the brothers of Alpha Kappa Psi who were tasked with timing the responses. The questions fielded by the candidates included topics like:

  • Medical marijuana: Linkhart was the only candidate who unequivocally stated he supports full legalization, while Hancock made it very clear that he is against Marijuana legalization and sees it as a “gateway drug”. The other candidates all said they support medical marijuana, but were reticent to support full legalization.
  • Police brutality: Hancock said “the scales of justice swing both ways” but that cops deserve their day in court to give their say. Boigon condemned the death of Marvin Booker, and said that the interim safety manager (who replaced Ron Perea after the scandal that erupted surrounding a video of Michael DeHerrera being brutally beaten by Denver police in 2009) deserved praise for helping to restore some of the trust that was lost in the wake of the release of tapes showing officers using excessive force.

  • FasTracks: This was one area where all the candidates agreed–every candidate at the forum said they would support the proposed 0.4% sales tax increase that RTD has proposed.

Many times during the evening, Neal was far more engaging and entertaining than any of the candidates–except, unintentionally of course, for Eric Zinn, who brought with him several props; including a copy of the Wall St. Journal to illustrate some of his more, shall we say, entertaining points. Zinn repeated his call for Denver to lose “1,000,000 pounds in 180 days” and called for Denver to cheer on valedictorians and other successful DPS students in a parade.


12 thoughts on “Mayoral Candidate Forum

  1. Anybody know if there are any televised debates? Didn’t Adam Shrager usually do the big debates or Aaron Harber?  

    Thanks for the writeup of this one. Doesn’t sound like anything groundbreaking was said or any big winners or losers. I went to the one yesterday at the barnum rec cntr and it was pretty painful to sit through with so many people there. I thought Hancock did well and so did Mejia. Boigon showed some city knowledge but I just couldn’t picture her as mayor. Linkhart knew what he was talking about and seemed to have some typical party base support. Span just kept reading off a page of notes. Most energetic was some guy with a shaved head and then there was a banker named Wolf I think who just kept saying how everybody else running isn’t as smart as him.

    Just like the one you wrote about Chris Romer was nowhere to be found. So when a black fraternity hosts a debate Romer has a pajama party to go to and when there is one put on by a bunch of neighborhood groups in a heavily hispanic neighborhood Chris Romer can’t make that either. Is he only going to things that involve investment bankers, people who know his dad so might feel obligated to him and rich white people?

  2. OK “AnybodyButRomer,” I know you’re upset that Chris doesn’t think marijuana should be sold out of every corner-store in Denver, but let’s at least act like adults here (also, I cant believe DenverPols lets you get aways with that screen name).

    I don’t know for sure, but I’d assume Chris missed the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity forum b/c it was on the same day as his daughter’s 8th grade play (If you checkout the school’s website it has a production listed for that night).

    Also, Denver’s Road Home is a national model for addressing urban homelessness. Do you really want to criticize a candidate who’s supported this organization since its inception, and will continue to support it as mayor?

    Lastly, Romer was name legislator of the year in 2010 by the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And one of the charter schools he helped open (KIPP) serve almost entirely hispanic kids! Can you really say with a straight face that Chris doesn’t care about the hispanic community?

    If you don’t support a candidate, that’s fine. But please ensure criticism is ground in fact and not petty grudges.  

  3. The Boseberg PR machine deserves considerable credit for how they have presented this deal to the public and convinced folks like you that this was a good idea.

    In reality Boseberg/Romer/et. al. are only hoping to kick the proverbial can down the road and crossing their fingers they are long gone before the reality of this deal comes to pass.

    There’s ample coverage on the topic, but here’s one that presents the disaster that Chris Romer’s advice (and swelling pocket book) will lead to.

    Even more important to Denver’s voters should be a williness on Chris Romer’s part to tell DPS it was a good idea and then make millions underwriting the deal.    

    Conflict of interest to say the least.  Self-serving, ethically challenged investment banker is closer to the truth.

    More troubling still is your assertion that Chris “voluntarily” testified in the pay to play scandal.  Sure, he volunteered right after his attorney negotiated a deal for immunity from prosecution.  Again, what does he need immunity from?

    Convicted or not, Chris Romer actions demonstrate a troubling pattern of self-interested, black box dealings that will harm our great city and generations to come while making his Wall Street buddies that much richer.

    The voters of Denver will make their own choices, but I am firmly in the Anybody But Romer Camp.

    Chris Romer is a pariah, and has proven it time again.

    1. Once again, DUDE!

      Did you really just site a blog post by Christopher Scott as evidence to your dippy argument? Please tell me why this losing school board candidate and founding member of DEfense Denver (a questionable organization in its own right) should be a source of unbiased news and opinion?

      Personally I prefer to gather facts from established sources.  And in this case, all credible sources argue that this deal (while complicated) has netted tens of millions of additional dollars for our classrooms – and no these aren’t simply DPS talking points, they’re independent evaluations. See for yourself:

      Finally, there’s no way Romer “made millions” off the pension deal. For starters, JPMorgan would have never allowed him anywhere near this deal, and even if they did (for all you conspiracy theorists out there) the Denver Post has access to all of Romer’s financial records (as they do for all the mayoral candidates), so if this was true it would have already made a splash.

      It’s interesting that you continue to spout this “anybody but Romer” talking point? Every argument you’ve made thus far has been propagated in baseless claims. I’m beginning to think you’re one of those MMJ weirdos – it kinda makes me want to vote for Chris.  

        1. He has ties to excellent denver schools, and a legislative track record that shows a commitment to improving education through more funding and more accountability.

          I am interested to see what the specifics of his education plan are. The mayor doesn’t run the schools, so I’m interested to see what he plans on doing as mayor to make them better.

          Don’t know enough about the other issues, but as long as Chris’ plans are comparable, education will probably be my paramount issue.  

  4. Good deal?  Kind of like the “good deal” you got when you were max’ing out your credit card buying the George Michael Platinum Collection, but didn’t think you’d be stuck paying minimum payments for 25 years ‘good deal’?

    More to the point, did you even READ the articles you trolled from Chris?

    DBJ – “In 2008/09 the deal cost $25M more than expected”

    DP – “In the event total interest costs again go above management’s assumptions, this would result in significantly constrained financial flexibility”

    … and the DP article you cite simply covers agency debt ratings, nothing about the deal itself.

    Both articles support my point, the deal is – in fact – so complicated that “management assumptions” have been wrong more often than they’ve been right and the cost of the deal in terms of underwriting fees to JP Morgan and interest off-set is at least 3x what a more ‘vanilla’ deal would have cost the district.

    The only basis for a “good deal” is that this exotic is better than if they had done nothing.  Okay, fair enough.

    The bottom line is still the same.  Based on Chris Romer’s advice, DPS got intself into a complex deal that is 3-5x more expensive than alternatives and is faced with tens of millions in penalties if it tries to unwind the deal.  Guess where those penalties go? JP Morgan and their underwriting partners.

    Yes, thanks to Chris Romer and his former (current?) employer JP Morgan is making millions of extraordinary profits for decades to come on the back of DPS.  

    How self-interested is Chris Romer in his use of political influence?  Denver has more bond underwritings with JP Morgan than all other banks COMBINED.  Rumor has it that Claude Pumilia (city’s CFO) is quietly working to move some of the transactions to other banks because he and his buddy Chris are so worried people will begin to connect the dots.

    And the BIGGER deal is still the pattern of deceit Chris has shown his whole career.  Perhaps you’ll actually read these:

    Note, “guidance on interest rate swaps” shows up predominantly with direct ties to Romer and JPM.


    The pattern is clear, and the answer remains: ANYBODY BUT ROMER.      

    1. The deal cost more than expected (maybe even more than they budgeted for), and if interest rates skyrocket DPS management will be f**cked.

      In 2008/2009 the district broke even (when you compare what they were spending on pension financing before and what they spent that year). But I seem to remember something atypical happened in 2008/2009 — o ya, we had a global economic meltdown! Unfortunately DPS finances weren’t immune, and like families across the globe, they suffered – they had to spend 25M more than they originally planned for. You’re right, that sucks!

      You’re also right that DPS could have taken a more “vanilla” approach. But if the board hadn’t voted to approve this deal than I, and hundreds of other DPS teachers, might have been joining our metro-area counterparts on the unemployment rolls. Overall the deal has saved money, allowed the district to increase per/pupil spending, and saved my job. If you have an idea for how they can save even more money, please present it to the school board.

      You clearly know a lot more about pension finance than I do – I teach basic secondary mathematics and (like the majority of the school board) don’t pretend to understand all of the intricacies of this deal. But I trust the experts of the DP, the DBJ, and EdNews to do that for me – and they all agree that while intricate this has saved the district money.

      O, and one last thing: Let’s not forget that Romer played no role in this deal. If he had, the mainstream media would be all over it. And in reference to that other thing, neither Richardson nor Romer were ever charged with any wrongdoing.

  5. You can find them in the sidebar on the right, or click here. We deleted a few comments that made direct accusations without including supporting links or other information as evidence.

    Colorado Pols and Denver Pols do not permit comments or diaries that make potentially damaging accusations without supporting evidence. You can write about virtually whatever you want — just make sure you can back it up. That’s all we ask.

  6. From today’s Post:

    As I, and many others have said, this deal stunk form the begniing and now DPS has to unwind it since part of the swap cannot be renewed in current credit markets.

    Who loses?  The taxpayers, DPS and Denver children

    Who wins? JP Morgan, Chris Romer, Wall Street

    How much? $29M in the first year, $15M in the second year, and $24M in termination fees AND $9.5M in additional DPS cuts next year.


    All while lining the pockets of those same contributors who are trying to buy him the Mayor’s seat!

    Agreed , Romer did stay out of jail. Perhaps his slogan should be, “As your next mayor, I’m so slick I will stay out of jail”

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