Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle
Founded 1996 P. O. Box 460429, Glendale, CO 80246 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 303-312-1808 Production Facility: 2110 S. Ash St., Suite 22, Denver, CO 80222
Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle
“So the people may know” Publisher: Charles C. Bonniwell
Editor in Chief: Ed Thomas Executive Editor: Glen Richardson Content Editor/Feature Reporter: Laura Lieff Neighborhood Reporters: Rebecca Allen, James Bowie and Courtni Vecchiarelli Staff Photographer: Debbie Ford Production: Southeast Denver Graphics Tami Accardi and Pam Shepard Advertising Sales: John Edwards, Phil Kummer, Steve Mast and Lynda Allyne Watkins Owner: Cherokee Trail, L.L.C.
DPS Superintendent Boasberg — Losing Public Support One Neighborhood At A Time
This editorial page has been a fervent supporter of the four-person majority on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education who are reforming the public schools by providing educational opportunity for all of Denver’s kids. The majority has done this work notwithstanding the, at times, adamant opposition of the teachers’ union (Denver Classroom Teachers Association). We have provided editorial space for Board President Nate Easley to explain the necessity for the reforms. The publisher of this paper had Mr. Easley on his radio program to explain why the public should support what the majority of members of the Board of Education are trying to accomplish. We also printed an editorial that strongly supported DPS’s request of the voters for a large increase in the mill levy in the last election which passed overwhelmingly despite the opposition of the teachers’ union. It is therefore extremely painful to have to note that what we view the administration of DPS, under Superintendent Tom Boasberg, to be acting increasing unethically with respect to neighborhoods across the City and County of Denver. Boasberg’s lack of a moral compass is perhaps a result of being involved too long in the take-no-prisoners trench warfare with the Denver teachers’ union on virtually every reform undertaken. Union Superintendent Tom Boasberg representatives regularly seek media contacts to point out what they believe is unethical conduct by the DPS administration and some in the union believe that criminal investigations may now be warranted. Unfortunately, citizens in various neighborhoods in the Cherry Creek Valley have begun to believe that the teachers’ union may have a point after all, at least regarding Boasberg and his underlings. As reported last month in the Chronicle, the residents of the Lynwood neighborhood woke up one morning to find a massive industrial solar farm being constructed by DPS on the open space next to Place Bridge Academy. Apparently DPS felt it could simply ignore zoning and public notice requirements in order to avoid any possible neighborhood opposition. While DPS’s COO David Suppes grudgingly acknowledged the lack of notice and outreach, the residents found their concerns roundly ignored by DPS as the building of the solar farm went on unabated with just some minor window dressing and a ham-handed PR campaign. Channel 7, in a follow-up investigation on the solar farm scandal, reported that Boasberg had already signed a contract for the project with massive termination penalties two months prior to any effort to involve the public. According to the report an operating phrase for the Boasberg’s DPS administration is, “Act now, ask for forgiveness later,’’ a fact confirmed by Board of Education member Jeannie Kaplan. In mid-December Historic Denver caught Boasberg and DPS filing for a “Certificate of Non-Historic Status” for the hundred-year-old Emily Griffith Opportunity School in downtown Denver. The certificate would have given DPS a five-year window to simply tear down the historic school without further historical review. Historic Denver’s Executive Director Annie Levinsky also ferreted out that Boasberg had attempted, without Board permission, to get a permit to demolish the landmark school. Historic Denver accused Boasberg and DPS of once again demonstrating a “lack of transparency” as well as violating DPS’s preservation policy. Boasberg, caught red-handed, attempted to backtrack and promised to take back the certificate, but citizens, noting the solar farm fiasco, wondered whether this was once again simply window dressing to cover up questionable activities without any real intent of changing DPS’s intended action. Chronicle readers are also well aware of Boasberg and DPS’s disgraceful conduct regarding de-designating a significant part of Hentzell Park in order to develop the property. Mayor Hancock created a spot on the Denver Parks and Recreation Board filled by the dubious character, J.T. Allen, who heads DPS’s Bond Program and Construction Services. Boasberg’s first action was trying to seize Hentzell Park’s open space by demanding Dannemiller de-designate nine acres of the park as “natural habitat.” Few knew that the real purpose of putting a DPS representative on the Parks Board was apparently to seize open space for DPS. The entire Hentzell Park swap has a strong odor to it and few would be totally surprised at the end of the day if some of Mayor Hancock’s developer friends don’t end up the primary beneficiaries of all the complicated machinations. In many ways J.T. Allen has become the poster child for all that is wrong with the DPS administration under Boasberg. Notwithstanding an ethics complaint already being filed against him for attempting to influence a Board decision where he had an admitted conflict, Allen openly lobbied for the DPS swap at a public Parks Board meeting. His conduct was so egregious that a packed audience groaned and booed him and the Board chair demanded he cease his unethical conduct. Allen gives the impression, as a DPS representative, that he is above the normal ethical constraints of all other Parks Board members. It is noted that the citizens fighting DPS’s actions regarding the Emily Griffith Opportunity School have charged that Boasberg violated board policy regarding debt management by undertaking a half billion dollar bond sale without consulting with the audit and finance committees. We assume Allen, as Senior Director of DPS’s Bond Program, was also right in the middle of this debacle. Citizen advocates have noted the cavalier way that Allen seems to treat his ethical obligations as a Parks Board member. If mirrored in his role as Senior Director of the Bond Program, his behavior could have far more serious implications and some believe that a full investigation of Allen in his Bond Program role needs to be scrupulously undertaken. Nate Easley, the former president of the DPS Board, announced in early January that he had had enough fun sitting on the DPS Board and was resigning at the end of the month. Given the animosity between the remaining six Board members, who now split evenly between teacher union advocates and the reformers, no consensus replacement candidate is likely to arise. Under the applicable Colorado statute, if no replacement can be agreed upon within 60 days of the vacancy, the president of the Board (Mary Seawell, a reformer) would appoint the newest member. The first thing the new DPS Board member should do is lead the fight to fire Boasberg as superintendent as well as, most assuredly, J.T. Allen. The reform members of the DPS Board need to regain the public’s trust that Boasberg and his underlings have so promiscuously thrown away one neighborhood at a time. If they don’t the public may decide, in the next election, to side with the teacher union advocates on the premises that they will at least fire Boasberg and shake up the DPS administrative staff should they ever be given the chance. — Editorial Board
Close The Private Gun Sale Loophole
by Lois Court (D) House District 6 Representative in east-central Denver In 1999, after the massacre at Columbine High School left an indelible stain on Colorado’s history, voters in our state overwhelmingly approved a change in our laws closing a loophole in the state background check system for firearms purchases. The loophole had allowed people who bought guns at gun shows to avoid the required background check performed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. In 2013, after the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora seared another scar on our collective memory, it is time to close an even larger loophole in our background check system — the one that exempts gun buyers who make their purchases from private sellers, not licensed gun dealers. The United States Department of Justice estimates that 40 percent of all gun purchases fall into this category. My colleague, Rep. Rhonda Fields, will introduce a bill this session to close the private sellers’ loophole. I will be a co-sponsor of this legislation, which I believe will be one of the most effective things we can do to help Colorado turn the tide on gun violence. But closing this loophole comes with a price. Under current law, Colorado taxpayers foot the entire bill for the CBI “instacheck” system, which screens for convicted felons, domestic abusers and those with mental illnesses that make them a danger to themselves or others. The CBI says the cost for each background check is only about $10. But if we continue to subsidize gun buyers’ background checks, Rep. Fields’ bill will cost us $750,000 on top of the $1 million we taxpayers already pay for background checks for gun shop and gun show purchases. We taxpayers shouldn’t be in the business of paying for gun owners to pass background checks. That’s why the legislative Joint Budget Committee recently refused a request from the Department of Public Safety for an additional $500,000 to help eliminate a backlog of background check requests. I will sponsor a companion bill to Rep. Fields’ measure that would require gun purchasers to pick up the cost of undergoing a background check. The cost will cover the CBI’s actual “instacheck” expenses and will be less than the cost of obtaining a dri-
Lois Court ver’s license. And the bill specifies that the money we save by ending the taxpayer subsidy of background checks should go to fund our mental health programs. The overwhelming majority of firearms owners in Colorado are honest, law-abiding and well-balanced. I do not want them to feel stigmatized just because they are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights under the Second Amendment. But horrific episodes like Columbine and Aurora, and more recently the slaughter of children in Newtown, Connecticut, tend to arouse suspicions against all gun owners. It’s unfair to all the law-abiding gun owners, but with each new outrage that cloud of suspicion grows. National Rifle Association card-carrying residents of my legislative district have contacted me to ask what they can do to be part of the solution to the gun violence that has had such a deep impact on America and especially on Colorado. I have asked these constituents, and I ask all who read this editorial, to join me in supporting common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. I expect to see a variety of such bills introduced in the Colorado legislature this session. But at a minimum we should support closing loopholes that make it easier for felons, domestic abusers and those with dangerous mental illnesses to obtain weapons. And we should take the expense of background checks off the backs of all taxpayers and shift it to those who are purchasing the guns.
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