February 2014 Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle
Former Councilwoman Thrown Out of Key-Park Meeting
City Boards Cleansed of Pro Park Members
By Keith Thompson
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been bedeviled by citizens who are protesting his administration’s commercialization and giveaway of Denver Parks and open space, including protesters who have shown up at public appearances of the mayor and members of his cabinet. Moreover, there has been increasing media coverage of his actions regarding parks and open space to his administrations ire. Westwords front page story for its December 31 edition was Titled “Parks and Wreck – In Mayor Hancock/s world-class city, everyone matters – except park lovers,” written by Allen Pendergast. The story blasts Hancocks commercialization of the city’s parks and the giving away for development of a portion of Hentzell Park.
Former Mayor Contributes
Park advocates are also gaining important allies in their fight against the powerful Denver mayor. Wellington Webb, the popular former mayor of Denver, and his wife Wilma recently joined Friends of Denver parks, the group that is fighting for Hentzell Park, and is the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City. Reportedly the couple also made a generous financial contribution to the no-profit group. Webb wrote to the group, “I believe in the protection of Denver parks within the city and in the mountains. I do not support the use of park space for development.” He added, “I believe we should maintain what we have and acquire additional park space for future generations.” the fact that Webb, who was Denver’s first African American mayor, supports Hancock’s opponents in the Hentzell Park fight was a serious blow to Hancock’s pride and his standing in the African American community, according to insiders.
Hancock Publicity Campaign
In response Hancock has gone on a public relations campaign to bolster his deteriorating public image while privately retaliating against any and all parks advocates that hold positions on boards and commissions within the City and County of Denver. In December the mayor’s office announced that Hancock was forming a new group to be titled “Mayors for Parks” with Fort Worth’s Mayor Betsey Price to purportedly advocate for more federal funding for municipal parks. He wrote in an article in the Denver Business Journal: “Preserving and expanding our green, open spaces in Denver is not only smart, it is critical to the future success of our city.” Parks advocates in Denver found the mayor’s transparent public relations attempt to be somewhat disingenuous if not dishonest. Jamie Johnson ruefully noted, “He is nothing more than a world class hypocrite. While forming groups for concepts he apparently doesn’t believe in, why doesn’t he get together with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and start ‘Mayors for Marital Fidelity.’ It is not what you say in public it is what you do behind closed doors that counts. ” Parks advocate Dave Felice was equally blunt, “Frankly, I think this mayor is intent on destroying the parks.”
Hardball Or Dirty Politics?
While the mayor is publicly trying to soften his anti-park public image, his administration is purging all boards and commission of any and all parks advocates according to insiders. Continue reading