By Charles C. Bonniwell, The Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle June 2014
For over two years Denver park advocates who formed the entity Friends of Denver Parks have attempted to assert the rights of citizens of Denver as guaranteed by the Denver City Charter and the Colorado State Constitution to vote on matters critical to them and in particular on whether Mayor Michael Hancock could simply trade away 11 acres of open space land for development at Hentzell Park for a rundown office building in downtown Denver.
The city, led by Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell, has blocked all efforts for citizens to have that say. First he claimed that Denver City Charter Sec. 2.4.5., that requires “approval of a majority of registered voters” for the sale or lease of any park or any portion of any park, does not apply since it had not officially been designated a park not withstanding all appearances to the contrary, and even prior statements by the Mayor of Denver in 1979 that the property was “dedicated park land.”
When parks advocates sufficiently gathered signatures under their right of referendum and initiative as seemingly guaranteed by of the City Charter Sec. 8.3.1 and the State Constitution, Broadwell instructed the City Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson to reject the petitions. He claimed that the swap was an administrative not a legislative action and that vitiated any right of the citizens on the matter.
Municipal law experts noted that the City Clerk and Recorder position was deliberately made by the City Charter as a separately elected officer so not to be under the control of the Mayor of Denver directly or indirectly through the City Attorney. Nonetheless, Johnson took the instructions from Broadwell and rejected the petitions.