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August 2017 News and Views

Letter from Debbie

Charlottesville and Denver

As I write this letter, the events of Charlottesville are weighing on my thoughts. Though Denver has not recently seen hate paraded through our streets, it is part of our past. The KKK was once a powerful political organization in Colorado, and Denver's Mayor from 1923 - 1931 was part of the klan. In the 1920's, crosses burning on Ruby Hill were visible for miles.

In recent years, people’s cars, places of worship, homes, and personal property have been vandalized with hateful words and images. When this happens in our city it threatens the best of who we are. We must face intolerance and speak out against it. I am proud of Denverites who took to the streets the day after Charlottesville in the name of love, tolerance and acceptance.  

DIA Update

This past Monday, after over three hours of public comment and City Council deliberation, I voted against the nearly $2 billion, 34-year contract to redesign, construct operate, and maintain the Great Hall at Denver International Airport.  My concerns were on the process, scale and complexity, contract timeframe, cost, removal of City Council’s role in approving future concession contracts, unresolved airline concerns about TSA traffic lanes, and extremely limited time (one week) to review prior to approval by our BIZ committee.  The complete contract including financials was written behind closed doors and never fully provided to City Council.  The financials could only be viewed on a laptop by the council member in the presence of DIA staff, Ferrovial staff and lobbyists.  My attempts to hire experts to assist with the review were thwarted.

I am also concerned that it is just bad deal for the City.  The airlines raised serious issues about the proposed redesign and the projections about how many passengers will flow through the new security lines in an hour.  While DIA answered that those issues could be resolved after the contract was approved; they were less vocal explaining that the City will bear the costs from the project contingency fund if this results in significant change to the overall design.  Our experience has been that projects at 30% design (as this one is) exceed initial estimates.  In fact, the cost has grown since it was first brought to Council months ago during the pre-development phase of the project.

By structuring the contract with Ferrovial as a long-term agreement, City Council oversight of the Great Hall concession program is removed for 34 years.  In the past Council has actively overseen the concession program to assure local businesses can be awarded concessions at the airport. 

In the future, I hope the administration will have a discussion with City Council prior to contract negotiations so that we may establish common goals and address concerns.

The vote is over, the project will move forward and I am committed to the success of this new venture.  I look forward to regular updates particularly to insure we have resolved the valid concerns of our airline partners.

 

Upcoming Events

Aug. 24 – Conversations in the Community with Rafael Espinoza & Debbie Ortega, Black Eye Coffee LOHI, 3408 Navajo St, from 3 - 5:00 p.m.

Aug. 26  – Cabinet in the Community at Johnson & Wales University (7150 Montview Blvd.) from 9 - 11:00 a.m. Free continental breakfast!

Sept. 12 – Public Comment at Land Use, Transportation, and Infrastructure Committee on proposed park renaming in honor of Sal Carpio and the Sanguinette family. 10:30 a.m.

Sept. 15 – Senior Resource Fair at Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York St, Denver) from 9 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

GO Bond Update

I want to thank everyone who contacted our office and came to speak at the public hearing on the proposed GO Bond projects.

The final $937 million package of citywide projects was approved by council this week and will be on the ballot in November for voter consideration. 

 

Back to School - How Teller Elementary PTA is Fighting Childhood Hunger

Colorado is the third fastest growing state for childhood hunger. That means many Denver Public Schools students are impacted by food insecurity at home and in the classroom. The Teller Elementary School PTA program, Teller Backpack Friends, provides food assistance to ensure that no Teller student goes hungry on weekends or over holidays. The program helps more than 80 students per week, and that number is growing.

This year Teller Backpack Friends has help from Food Bank of the Rockies, but needs community support to meet a growing need. The program accepts donations of food, grocery cards, money, and volunteer time.

Sign up for a volunteer shift here:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c094daca92da31-backpack

Call Sandy or Jim at 734-231-7532 for more information on how to assist with the program.

Remember to stay alert when driving near schools, playgrounds, sports fields, and in neighborhoods. 

Comal Restaurant - Social Enterprise in Denver, Food from Around the World

Looking for a new restaurant to try? Check out Comal! Comal is a unique establishment in RiNO that offers a diverse and changing menu while operating as a social enterprise.  

Comal is in the TAXI development and is run through Focus Points Family Resource Center, a nonprofit organization helping low-income families in northeast Denver. Many of Comal’s budding chefs and restaurateurs bring recipes from their native countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador and Syria.

The training program at Comal lasts eight months, during which time participants learn all aspects of operating a restaurant; including health codes, inventory management, staffing and menu planning. Comal also offers catering, cooking classes and cross-cultural programs.

Comal is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out Comal’s Facebook page, for more information. Visit Focus Points website to find out more about this innovative organization.

Schedule of Comal’s upcoming classes:

  • Aug. 23 –  A Taste of Southern Mexico: Tinga Tapa. 6 p.m.
  • Aug. 30  – A Taste of Southern Mexico: Mole Negro. 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 6 – A Taste of Southern Mexico: Chiles en Nogada. 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 14 – Cesar and Erin Teach Salsa Dancing. 6 p.m.

All classes are held at Comal Heritage Food Incubator in TAXI 3455 Ringsby Court #105

Lead Abatement in Low-Income Homes

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health was recently awarded $2.8 million to provide lead paint abatement assistance to 130 low- and moderate-income homes over the next three years.  Under the grant, qualifying homes will receive a full lead-risk assessment, an abatement plan and abatement services, which can average $8,500 per home. 

Find out if you qualify and learn more: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/environmental-health/about-us/news-room/2017/HUDgrant.html

Eviction Help & Informational Clinics

The following eviction clinics provide legal information in a group setting at no cost. Volunteer attorneys provide an overview of landlord tenant rights, notices, the eviction timeline, terminology, the judicial process, agreements and common court orders issued.

Clinics are at held from 4 – 5:00 p.m. at Denver County Court Civil Division, City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Room 159. Call 720-865-7840 for more information.

Clinics for Tenants

August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21

Clinics for Landlords

August 9, September 11, October 11, November 7, December 13

Need eviction help now? Call Tenant Rights & Homelessness Prevention HP HELP-Line: 303-996-0010

Woman and Minority Business Disparity Study

Denver is conducting a disparity study to help evaluate the effectiveness of its local Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises as well as federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs.

The study will examine the city’s procurement of services and products, the subcontracting participation of contractors/service providers who do business with the city, and anecdotal evidence collected from a cross section on of local business people.

We need your help and your voice! Please join us!

Oct. 3 Eisenhower Recreation Center, 4300 E. Dartmouth Ave., 11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Oct. 5 Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 Denver Police Station - District One, 1311 W. 46th Ave., 5:30 -7:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 Denver International Airport -City Conference Room, 9 -11 a.m.

If you cannot attend, please send comments to denverdisparitystudy@bbcresearch.com

Denveright Community Workshops

As a part of Denveright and the Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails master plan, the City and County of Denver invites you to attend a second round of public meetings to examine costs, funding options and policies needed to achieve the community’s vision for a walkable city with a world-class trail system.  

Meetings will be from 5:30 - 7 p.m. The same material and opportunities for input will be presented at each meeting.

  • Aug. 29 – Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia in central/NE Denver
  • Sept. 5 – Skinner Middle School, 3435 W. 40th Ave. in NW Denver
  • Sept. 7 – Maxwell Elem. School, 14390 Bolling Dr. in far NE Denver
  • Sept. 12 – Thomas Jefferson High School, 3950 S. Holly St. in SE Denver
  • Sept. 14 – Castro Elementary School, 845 S. Lowell Blvd. in SW Denver
  • Sept. 21 –  East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade in central Denver

A sign language interpreter will be provided upon request with a three business-day notice. Contact signlanguageservices@denvergov.org

Spanish language interpretation is provided at all public meetings. Se provee interpretación en español en todas las reuniones públicas.

Denveright Blueprint Workshops

These workshops are a chance to talk about creating new transit corridors, employment and residential hubs, and ensuring all residents have access to amenities, transportation, jobs, trail connections and quality open space.

Join your neighbors and city planners to help identify ways of managing our population growth that are inclusive, equitable and honor the things we love most about our city. All workshops are held at 5:30 p.m.

  • Sept. 13 –  Maxwell Elementary School, 14390 Bolling Dr. *This will be a special joint meeting with the Far Northeast Neighborhood planning process with a focus on the community’s vision for this area.
  • Sept. 14 –  University of Denver: Anderson Academic Commons, 2150 E. Evans Ave.
  • Sept. 19 –  Doull Elementary, 2520 S. Utica St.
  • Sept. 20 –  Scheitler Rec Center, 5031 W. 46th Ave.
  • Sept. 21 –  East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade

Food, childcare and Spanish interpretation will be provided. A sign language interpreter will be provided upon request with a three business-day notice. 

Head Start Policy Council Vacancies

Denver City Council is seeking qualified individuals to represent council on the city’s Head Start Policy Council. The purpose of the Head Start Policy Council is to oversee all aspects of Denver’s Head Start program, to be involved in the community, to promote understanding of the Head Start program, and to hear and resolve community conflicts concerning Head Start programs. The two open vacancies are appointments for one-or two-year terms.

If interested, please send your resume and cover letter to Debra Bartleson, Legislative Services, Denver City Council, 1437 Bannock Street, Room 451, Denver, CO, 80202 by Friday, September 1, 2017, or by email at Debra.Bartleson@denvergov.org

Learn more here: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-council-district-13/news/2017/head-start-policy-council-vacancies.html

Taxpayer Receipt Program

Thanks to a cool new online calculator, the Denver Taxpayer Receipt, you can see how the city uses taxpayers’ money. Residents can access the Denver Taxpayer Receipt on the Department of Finance’s website. After visitors enter general
information they can see by percentage and in real dollars where their tax money is spent on things like housing, capital improvements, public safety and more. The calculator is available in both English and Spanish.