December 8, 2019

Jacob’s Golden Update: All-Ward Town Hall Meeting on May 5

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 4, 2009

1. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
2. North Neighborhoods Plan Adopted
3. Two Historic Preservation Projects Moving Forward
4. Golden Hills and Golden Heights Neighborhoods Receive Xcel Grant for Energy Efficiency
5. Golden’s First Community Accountability Report
6. NREL Scores Big
7. Golden Visitors Center Wins Prestigious Volunteerism Award
8. City of Golden First Quarter Financial Report
9. City Council Eliminates Ethics Code and Campaign Finance Loopholes
10. Blog Round Up
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 7

[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: All-Ward Town Hall Meeting on May 5

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 4, 2009

1. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
2. North Neighborhoods Plan Adopted
3. Two Historic Preservation Projects Moving Forward
4. Golden Hills and Golden Heights Neighborhoods Receive Xcel Grant for Energy Efficiency
5. Golden’s First Community Accountability Report
6. NREL Scores Big
7. Golden Visitors Center Wins Prestigious Volunteerism Award
8. City of Golden First Quarter Financial Report
9. City Council Eliminates Ethics Code and Campaign Finance Loopholes
10. Blog Round Up
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 7

[Read more…]

Jacob’s Golden Update: Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole

Jacob’s Golden Update: April 22, 2009
Happy Earth Day!

1. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole
2. Eliminating the Campaign Finance Loophole
3. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
4. Redeveloping the Area Across From the High School
5. Free Horizon Montessori Recognized as a High Performing School
6. Council Approves Golden Community Garden
7. Parks and Recreation Board Opening: Deadline April 30
8. Improving Disabled Access in Golden
9. Council Selects Plan for Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford
10. Creating a “Moderate Housing Pool” Under the City’s Growth Limit
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, April 23

[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole

Jacob’s Golden Update: April 22, 2009
Happy Earth Day!

1. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole
2. Eliminating the Campaign Finance Loophole
3. All-Ward Town Hall Meeting: May 5
4. Redeveloping the Area Across From the High School
5. Free Horizon Montessori Recognized as a High Performing School
6. Council Approves Golden Community Garden
7. Parks and Recreation Board Opening: Deadline April 30
8. Improving Disabled Access in Golden
9. Council Selects Plan for Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford
10. Creating a “Moderate Housing Pool” Under the City’s Growth Limit
11. Other Upcoming Events
12. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, April 23

[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff and Other News

1. Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff: Wednesday, March 11
2. Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford
3. Golden Community Garden in the Works
4. City Using Solar Energy to Heat Community Pool
5. Council Moves Forward with Jackson Street Corridor Bike and Pedestrian Improvements
6. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole
7. City Council Adopts Height Limits and Architectural Guidelines for Downtown Golden
8. Beltway Update: Transportation Funding Bill Includes Strong Local Protections
9. Road Closures: W. 44th and Johnson Road
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, March 12

**********

1. Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff: March 11

Does your vision for Golden include protecting our small town and historic character?  Does it include improved pedestrian and bicycle connections between neighborhoods?  Does it include a thriving downtown and other business districts?  Good transit connections to Denver and other parts of Colorado?  A continued commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency?  Have we protected enough open space in and around Golden or do we want to protect more?

If it includes any of these things, or if you have any other ideas for the future of Golden, I hope you’ll consider attending the Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff Event this Wednesday evening at Golden High School.  Golden Vision will give us a chance to clearly define what we want the future of our community to look like and ensure that we move in the right direction.  Everyone in the community is invited to participate on Wednesday and throughout the process, contributing your thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

I also hope you’ll take a minute to visit the Community Almanac web site and share your stories and photographs of Golden.  The site just went up, so there aren’t many stories up yet . . . please visit and add anything you like.

2. Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford

Ensuring that all of our kids can walk or bike to their neighborhood school is the highest priority of our walkability and bikeability efforts.  Both Kimball Avenue and Crawford Street are scheduled to be repaved this summer, and we are taking advantage of this project to widen the sidewalks, slow down traffic, and in other ways make it easier and safer to walk or bike to Shelton.  The basic tradeoff: the wider the sidewalks, the narrower the street.  We hear quite a bit about cars traveling too fast near the school, and narrowing the street will slow down traffic, but also requires drivers to be more alert.  We’ve got a range of options – we’ve got sketches of what the streets could look like under each – and we welcome your feedback.  Please visit the site and post your comments online, send me an email, or visit the Open House at Shelton Elementary tomorrow evening (Tuesday, March 10, drop by anytime between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.).

3. Golden Community Garden in the Works

Although we still have some logistical hurdles to overcome, a Golden Community Garden is starting to look a lot more realistic.  The Sustainability Board has been promoting the idea and a growing group of community residents are working hard with the city to make it all come together.  They’ve got two planning meetings on the schedule, and if you are interested in helping to pull this off please consider attending one or both.  One is tonight at 8 p.m. at the Community Center in the Beaver Brook room (8 p.m. – 8:55 p.m.).  The second is Friday morning, March 13 at Windy Saddle Cafe (1110 Washington Ave.) from 7 a.m. to 7:25 a.m.

You can learn more or get involved by sending the group an email.

4. City Using Solar Energy to Heat Community Pool

Great news on the renewable energy front: the City of Golden is now using a new solar hot water system to heat our indoor pool at the Community Center indoor pool.  Installation of a solar water heating system was one recommendation of the city’s energy audit last year and is part of the City of Golden’s effort to improve energy efficiency across city buildings and programs.  The new solar water heating system cost $315,000, more than half of which was paid for with grants.  The grant came out of the city’s partnership with the Governor’s Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.  By using solar energy to heat our pool water, we expect to save more than $22,000 every year.

5. Council Moves Forward with Jackson Street Corridor Bike and Pedestrian Improvements

The Walkability Task Force’s highest priority recommendation last year was improvements on the Jackson Street Corridor.  Jackson is a key pedestrian and bike route to Golden High School and a major connection between the north and south parts of town but it is poorly designed for either people on foot or on bike.

We will reconfigure that entire stretch of Jackson with a “Complete Streets” design, dropping the street down to two lanes (it’s now three lanes wide) and adding bike lanes, some landscaping, and much-improved sidewalks.  Two lanes is more than enough to handle the vehicle traffic (and in fact it is two lanes both north and south of this stretch).  We’ve seen widespread community support for the project, and City Council gave staff the go-ahead to do the design work and get ready to go to bid.  Although the project isn’t budgeted until 2010, given the dramatic drop in construction prices over the past several months we are going to look at accelerating the work if it makes sense.

6. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole

Although the City Council set extremely high standards last year for accountability and transparency, we’ve promised to set the bar even higher in 2009.  One important step: eliminate the big loophole in our ethics code.  Our code is already quite stringent (as it should be), but a quirk of the language could allow a member of the City Council to accept a gift of unlimited value so long as they accept the gift in their “personal capacity.”  To my mind, members of the City Council should not accept gifts from people that live, own property, or otherwise have interests in Golden (with some limited exceptions, like gifts from family members).  This principle seems very straightforward to me, yet our current code potentially allows anyone – say a developer who periodically asks Council for rezonings or variances – to give large gifts to members of City Council so long as they are “personal” gifts.  I want to fix this.

The concern, of course, is that if members of City Council accept gifts from community members they may give those folks special treatment.  This is exactly the issue that came up in the ethics complaint filed against Councilor Mary Weaver a couple of years ago.  Councilor Weaver accepted a gift (a loan from Marian Olson that she is not necessarily obligated to pay back) to fund her lawsuit against the city.  This seems to violate the ethics code prohibiting City Councilors from accepting gifts (including loans), but Councilor Weaver is arguing that it’s acceptable because she accepted the gift in her “personal capacity.”

This loophole is even more problematic, however, because Councilor Weaver then participated in a City Council decision in which Marian Olson – to whom she is now deeply indebted – had a direct financial interest.  Because of the potential loophole in our ethics code, I don’t know if Councilor Weaver actually violated our code or not, but I want to clarify this language so that there is no confusion moving forward.

We are scheduled to discuss this issue at our City Council meeting this Thursday night.

7. City Council Adopts Height Limits and Architectural Guidelines for Downtown Golden

When I ran for mayor I pledged to get a handle on growth in Golden.  We are doing just that, and our latest effort focused on protecting the historic and small-town character of our downtown.  After a thorough two-year process with considerable community input, City Council two weeks ago adopted architectural guidelines and height limits for downtown Golden.  These “Downtown Design Guidelines” establish the strictest height limits – three floors with an average setback of eight feet on the third floor – for Washington Avenue from about Clear Creek to about 14th St.  Taller buildings are permitted in other areas of downtown, especially to the east of Washington Avenue (between Washington Ave. and Ford St./Coors).  City Council can always issue a PUD allowing for taller buildings, but these new guidelines should mean that additional tall buildings downtown are the exception.

8. Beltway Update: Transportation Funding Bill Includes Strong Local Protections

One of the very first bills introduced in the state legislature this year was Governor Ritter’s package of transportation funding proposals.  The element of greatest concern to Golden was the tolling piece.  In its original form, it would have allowed tolling of existing lanes – like Highway 93 – right up to our boundaries, but despite the impacts we would have had no say in whether it happened or what sorts of mitigation would have to occur.  Through our hard work with the Governor’s office, legislators, and many other folks in the Denver region, we were able to eliminate the harmful part of the bill and replace it with a strong local protection provision that gives every affected community the right to veto any such proposal.  I give a lot of credit to Governor Ritter’s office, the sponsors of the bill, and my colleague mayors around the region for their willingness to negotiate in good faith and come up with a solution that protects local communities like Golden.  I also give a lot of credit to our state legislators, Representative Gwyn Green and Senator Moe Keller.  They both worked extremely hard to make sure that Golden would be protected and their efforts made a huge difference.

9. Road Closures: W. 44th and Johnson Road

Johnson Road will be closed between 10th Avenue and 6th Avenue most evenings and weekends until April 3 for utility line relocation work.  Traffic will be detoured through the Jefferson County complex.  This is an early step in the construction of the new light rail station at the Jefferson County Building.

In addition, CDOT is scheduled to close West 44th Ave between Vasquez and Easley from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. through March 11.  For eastbound traffic they recommend taking Ford St to 13thSt/W. 32nd Ave. to McIntyre.  For westbound traffic they recommend taking McIntyre to W. 32nd/13th St.  The closure is for work on the Hwy 58 overpass over W. 44th.

10. Other Upcoming Events

  • Golden Community Garden Planning Meeting, March 9 (TONIGHT).  This is a planning meeting for a new community garden at the Community Center from 8 -9 p.m.
  • Kimball/Crawford Pedestrian Improvements Open House, March 10.  This is an opportunity to review the range of options for making pedestrian improvements near Shelton Elementary.  Drop by Shelton anytime between 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff, March 11.  The Golden Vision 2030 “Heart & Soul of Golden” process kicks off at Golden High School.
  • Golden Community Garden Planning Meeting, March 13.  This is another planning meeting for a new community garden at Windy Saddle Cafe (1110 Washington Ave.) from 7 to 7:30 a.m.
  • “State of the City Address,” March 19.  The Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Three Tomatoes at Fossil Trace features City Manager Mike Bestor’s “State of the City” address.  You can RSVP with the Chamber at 303-279-3113.
  • Town Hall Meeting with State Senator Moe Keller and State Representative Gwyn Green, Golden City Hall, Saturday March 21.  This is a great chance to hear what’s going on the state legislature and to ask your state representative and state senator questions.  It runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • First Friday, Historic Downtown Golden, April 3.  Many of the downtown shops, stores, and restaurants stay open late, often with treats and specials.  You’ll also find entertainment and free horse drawn carriage rides (weather permitting).

11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, March 12

Our next city council meeting is a regular business meeting on March 12.  You can download that and review minutes and videos of previous City Council meetings on the city’s web site.

The agenda includes the following issues:

  • Discussion of an update to our Ethics Code to eliminate a potential loophole.
  • Discussion of a potential update to the city’s campaign finance rules to eliminate a loophole that could allow a candidate to avoid campaign contribution limits.
  • Consideration of a potential alley vacation on the Colorado School of Mines campus.  The alley is on the block bounded by 17th Street, 18th Street, Illinois Street and Maple Street.
  • Consideration of a request for setback variances for a residential addition at 2135 Illinois.

**********

Jacob Smith, Mayor
jsmith@cityofgolden.net
(303) 216-168
www.SmithforGolden.org

Jacob’s Golden Update: Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff and Other News

1. Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff: Wednesday, March 11
2. Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford
3. Golden Community Garden in the Works
4. City Using Solar Energy to Heat Community Pool
5. Council Moves Forward with Jackson Street Corridor Bike and Pedestrian Improvements
6. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole
7. City Council Adopts Height Limits and Architectural Guidelines for Downtown Golden
8. Beltway Update: Transportation Funding Bill Includes Strong Local Protections
9. Road Closures: W. 44th and Johnson Road
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, March 12

**********

1. Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff: March 11

Does your vision for Golden include protecting our small town and historic character?  Does it include improved pedestrian and bicycle connections between neighborhoods?  Does it include a thriving downtown and other business districts?  Good transit connections to Denver and other parts of Colorado?  A continued commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency?  Have we protected enough open space in and around Golden or do we want to protect more?

If it includes any of these things, or if you have any other ideas for the future of Golden, I hope you’ll consider attending the Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff Event this Wednesday evening at Golden High School.  Golden Vision will give us a chance to clearly define what we want the future of our community to look like and ensure that we move in the right direction.  Everyone in the community is invited to participate on Wednesday and throughout the process, contributing your thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

I also hope you’ll take a minute to visit the Community Almanac web site and share your stories and photographs of Golden.  The site just went up, so there aren’t many stories up yet . . . please visit and add anything you like.

2. Pedestrian Improvements on Kimball and Crawford

Ensuring that all of our kids can walk or bike to their neighborhood school is the highest priority of our walkability and bikeability efforts.  Both Kimball Avenue and Crawford Street are scheduled to be repaved this summer, and we are taking advantage of this project to widen the sidewalks, slow down traffic, and in other ways make it easier and safer to walk or bike to Shelton.  The basic tradeoff: the wider the sidewalks, the narrower the street.  We hear quite a bit about cars traveling too fast near the school, and narrowing the street will slow down traffic, but also requires drivers to be more alert.  We’ve got a range of options – we’ve got sketches of what the streets could look like under each – and we welcome your feedback.  Please visit the site and post your comments online, send me an email, or visit the Open House at Shelton Elementary tomorrow evening (Tuesday, March 10, drop by anytime between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.).

3. Golden Community Garden in the Works

Although we still have some logistical hurdles to overcome, a Golden Community Garden is starting to look a lot more realistic.  The Sustainability Board has been promoting the idea and a growing group of community residents are working hard with the city to make it all come together.  They’ve got two planning meetings on the schedule, and if you are interested in helping to pull this off please consider attending one or both.  One is tonight at 8 p.m. at the Community Center in the Beaver Brook room (8 p.m. – 8:55 p.m.).  The second is Friday morning, March 13 at Windy Saddle Cafe (1110 Washington Ave.) from 7 a.m. to 7:25 a.m.

You can learn more or get involved by sending the group an email.

4. City Using Solar Energy to Heat Community Pool

Great news on the renewable energy front: the City of Golden is now using a new solar hot water system to heat our indoor pool at the Community Center indoor pool.  Installation of a solar water heating system was one recommendation of the city’s energy audit last year and is part of the City of Golden’s effort to improve energy efficiency across city buildings and programs.  The new solar water heating system cost $315,000, more than half of which was paid for with grants.  The grant came out of the city’s partnership with the Governor’s Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.  By using solar energy to heat our pool water, we expect to save more than $22,000 every year.

5. Council Moves Forward with Jackson Street Corridor Bike and Pedestrian Improvements

The Walkability Task Force’s highest priority recommendation last year was improvements on the Jackson Street Corridor.  Jackson is a key pedestrian and bike route to Golden High School and a major connection between the north and south parts of town but it is poorly designed for either people on foot or on bike.

We will reconfigure that entire stretch of Jackson with a “Complete Streets” design, dropping the street down to two lanes (it’s now three lanes wide) and adding bike lanes, some landscaping, and much-improved sidewalks.  Two lanes is more than enough to handle the vehicle traffic (and in fact it is two lanes both north and south of this stretch).  We’ve seen widespread community support for the project, and City Council gave staff the go-ahead to do the design work and get ready to go to bid.  Although the project isn’t budgeted until 2010, given the dramatic drop in construction prices over the past several months we are going to look at accelerating the work if it makes sense.

6. Fixing the Ethics Code Loophole

Although the City Council set extremely high standards last year for accountability and transparency, we’ve promised to set the bar even higher in 2009.  One important step: eliminate the big loophole in our ethics code.  Our code is already quite stringent (as it should be), but a quirk of the language could allow a member of the City Council to accept a gift of unlimited value so long as they accept the gift in their “personal capacity.”  To my mind, members of the City Council should not accept gifts from people that live, own property, or otherwise have interests in Golden (with some limited exceptions, like gifts from family members).  This principle seems very straightforward to me, yet our current code potentially allows anyone – say a developer who periodically asks Council for rezonings or variances – to give large gifts to members of City Council so long as they are “personal” gifts.  I want to fix this.

The concern, of course, is that if members of City Council accept gifts from community members they may give those folks special treatment.  This is exactly the issue that came up in the ethics complaint filed against Councilor Mary Weaver a couple of years ago.  Councilor Weaver accepted a gift (a loan from Marian Olson that she is not necessarily obligated to pay back) to fund her lawsuit against the city.  This seems to violate the ethics code prohibiting City Councilors from accepting gifts (including loans), but Councilor Weaver is arguing that it’s acceptable because she accepted the gift in her “personal capacity.”

This loophole is even more problematic, however, because Councilor Weaver then participated in a City Council decision in which Marian Olson – to whom she is now deeply indebted – had a direct financial interest.  Because of the potential loophole in our ethics code, I don’t know if Councilor Weaver actually violated our code or not, but I want to clarify this language so that there is no confusion moving forward.

We are scheduled to discuss this issue at our City Council meeting this Thursday night.

7. City Council Adopts Height Limits and Architectural Guidelines for Downtown Golden

When I ran for mayor I pledged to get a handle on growth in Golden.  We are doing just that, and our latest effort focused on protecting the historic and small-town character of our downtown.  After a thorough two-year process with considerable community input, City Council two weeks ago adopted architectural guidelines and height limits for downtown Golden.  These “Downtown Design Guidelines” establish the strictest height limits – three floors with an average setback of eight feet on the third floor – for Washington Avenue from about Clear Creek to about 14th St.  Taller buildings are permitted in other areas of downtown, especially to the east of Washington Avenue (between Washington Ave. and Ford St./Coors).  City Council can always issue a PUD allowing for taller buildings, but these new guidelines should mean that additional tall buildings downtown are the exception.

8. Beltway Update: Transportation Funding Bill Includes Strong Local Protections

One of the very first bills introduced in the state legislature this year was Governor Ritter’s package of transportation funding proposals.  The element of greatest concern to Golden was the tolling piece.  In its original form, it would have allowed tolling of existing lanes – like Highway 93 – right up to our boundaries, but despite the impacts we would have had no say in whether it happened or what sorts of mitigation would have to occur.  Through our hard work with the Governor’s office, legislators, and many other folks in the Denver region, we were able to eliminate the harmful part of the bill and replace it with a strong local protection provision that gives every affected community the right to veto any such proposal.  I give a lot of credit to Governor Ritter’s office, the sponsors of the bill, and my colleague mayors around the region for their willingness to negotiate in good faith and come up with a solution that protects local communities like Golden.  I also give a lot of credit to our state legislators, Representative Gwyn Green and Senator Moe Keller.  They both worked extremely hard to make sure that Golden would be protected and their efforts made a huge difference.

9. Road Closures: W. 44th and Johnson Road

Johnson Road will be closed between 10th Avenue and 6th Avenue most evenings and weekends until April 3 for utility line relocation work.  Traffic will be detoured through the Jefferson County complex.  This is an early step in the construction of the new light rail station at the Jefferson County Building.

In addition, CDOT is scheduled to close West 44th Ave between Vasquez and Easley from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. through March 11.  For eastbound traffic they recommend taking Ford St to 13thSt/W. 32nd Ave. to McIntyre.  For westbound traffic they recommend taking McIntyre to W. 32nd/13th St.  The closure is for work on the Hwy 58 overpass over W. 44th.

10. Other Upcoming Events

  • Golden Community Garden Planning Meeting, March 9 (TONIGHT).  This is a planning meeting for a new community garden at the Community Center from 8 -9 p.m.
  • Kimball/Crawford Pedestrian Improvements Open House, March 10.  This is an opportunity to review the range of options for making pedestrian improvements near Shelton Elementary.  Drop by Shelton anytime between 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Golden Vision 2030 Kickoff, March 11.  The Golden Vision 2030 “Heart & Soul of Golden” process kicks off at Golden High School.
  • Golden Community Garden Planning Meeting, March 13.  This is another planning meeting for a new community garden at Windy Saddle Cafe (1110 Washington Ave.) from 7 to 7:30 a.m.
  • “State of the City Address,” March 19.  The Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Three Tomatoes at Fossil Trace features City Manager Mike Bestor’s “State of the City” address.  You can RSVP with the Chamber at 303-279-3113.
  • Town Hall Meeting with State Senator Moe Keller and State Representative Gwyn Green, Golden City Hall, Saturday March 21.  This is a great chance to hear what’s going on the state legislature and to ask your state representative and state senator questions.  It runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • First Friday, Historic Downtown Golden, April 3.  Many of the downtown shops, stores, and restaurants stay open late, often with treats and specials.  You’ll also find entertainment and free horse drawn carriage rides (weather permitting).

11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, March 12

Our next city council meeting is a regular business meeting on March 12.  You can download that and review minutes and videos of previous City Council meetings on the city’s web site.

The agenda includes the following issues:

  • Discussion of an update to our Ethics Code to eliminate a potential loophole.
  • Discussion of a potential update to the city’s campaign finance rules to eliminate a loophole that could allow a candidate to avoid campaign contribution limits.
  • Consideration of a potential alley vacation on the Colorado School of Mines campus.  The alley is on the block bounded by 17th Street, 18th Street, Illinois Street and Maple Street.
  • Consideration of a request for setback variances for a residential addition at 2135 Illinois.

**********

Jacob Smith, Mayor
jsmith@cityofgolden.net
(303) 216-168
www.SmithforGolden.org

Denver Post: Amendment 41 is a blueprint for ethics

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.

Colorado Municipal League Annual Meeting and Conference

I took three days off of work and headed up to Breckenridge for the annual meeting and conference of the Colorado Municipal League. If you don’t know, CML provides resources to local communities like ours and advocates for the interests of local governments at the state legislature and elsewhere. I find the annual meetings valuable (I went last year and now this year) in part because of the speakers and panels. I am very interested in learning and improving on the skills required to be effective as an elected representative and CML is a good opportunity to do that.

The issues covered in sessions I attended sessions included:

• ethics and ethics standards for elected representatives.
• open meeting laws and rules
• economic development in small towns
• quasi-judicial processes
• municipal budgeting and financial management
• climate change and municipal climate change action plans

I already wrote a bit about the climate change panel, and I wrote a bit about the Ethics in Government Initiative, one of the subjects discussed during the panel on ethics.

One of the lunch speakers was Jim Hunt, a City Councilor from Clarksburg, West Virginia and the president of the National League of Cities (the national version of the Colorado Municipal League). He focused on building inclusive communities, and speaks from the experience of serving a community with a long history of deep racial divisions. He is encouraging local communities to commit to becoming more inclusive, with a particular focus on two themes:

  • Promoting equal opportunity and fairness.
  • Promoting citizen participation and engagement.

The City Councils in Brighton, Lafayette, and Lakewood at least one other city – I think Lakewood but don’t remember for sure – have all adopted resolutions commiting to improving the inclusiveness of their communities. I strongly support these goals and look forward to exploring ways we can forward both of them.

The other reason I attend CML is for the opportunity to continue building relationships with elected representatives from other communities across Colorado, especially our neighbors in the Denver Metro area. As I’ve written and said many times before, some of our most important challenges in Golden are regional challenges, and we can’t hope to succeed without good relationships with other communities in the region. We have almost no chance of improving Golden’s air quality unless we work closely with the neighboring communities where so much of the air pollution is generated. The same is true if we hope to continue improving on the region’s transit system. Of course the fight over the superhighway fits into the same category: to defeat the proposed Billion Dollar Boondoggle and instead make real improvements that actually benefit Golden and the region we have to work closely with our neighbors across the region.

Ethics Initiative

It's been a little while, friends. I'm writing now from Breckenridge, where I and most of City Council is attending the Colorado Municipal League’s annual meeting and conference. Today I attended a useful session on economic development and another on ethics in government.

One of the speakers at the ethics panel described a statewide initiative aimed at cleaning up some of the biggest problems at the state legislature. Colorado Common Cause is leading the initiative effort, known as the Ethics in Government Initiative, which would have three major components:

1) The initiative bans gifts from lobbyists to state legislators. Right now there are no limits on such gifts, and in 2005 lobbyists and others gave over $300,000 worth of meals, sports tickets, tickets to cultural events, and other gifts to legislators.

2) The initiative requires that state legislators wait at least two years after finishing their service as elected representatives before becoming a lobbyist. Right now there are no such restrictions, and in fact state legislators can apply for and negotiate lucrative lobbying jobs while still holding public office and making decisions that affect their potential new clients.

3) The initiative would create an independent ethics commission for the state legislature to prevent the inherent conflict that occurs when some state legislators are forced to evaluate ethics complaints against other state legislators.

I am supporting the initiative.

Ethics Complaint Update

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

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