This year's ballot can seem overwhelming. But be sure to look closely at Denver Measures 2E and 2G. They're likely to cause problems, rather than solve them.
During my 14 years on Denver City Council, I learned that effective government in the Mile High City depends on good faith and committed public servants.
Measures 2E and 2G would undo the collaborative and efficient government that has served Denver, its neighborhoods and its residents well for decades.
The Denver approach to governing is seen as a model across the country for our economic strength and that is, in large part, due to our discipline and management structure. Complex problems need complex solutions, but these simplistic ballot measures do nothing to address the very real and very tough challenges we are facing now and will face in the future, and they can easily be described as a power grab that could present future mayors and councils with very serious problems.
Vote NO on 2E
Denver Ballot Measure 2E would require council approval of many key positions in the mayor’s cabinet. The mayor currently is informed by a 12-person citizen committee for recommendations to the cabinet. And council members are already able to discuss with the mayor their recommendations or concerns.
This measure is the type of impulsive approach to governing that would undermine citizen input, the credibility of our leaders and the public trust in our city government. Finding the best people for public service jobs, when they are most likely putting their careers on hold to do so, can be difficult under the best of circumstances.
A mayor’s nominee or nominees for these positions could also be rejected again and again, leaving critical functions of city government leaderless and directionless purely for political reasons. The antics that some on this council have demonstrated in the last year would not give any nominee confidence that their candidacy would be vetted with any degree of professionalism.
Vote NO on 2G
Denver Ballot Measure 2G threatens the financial stability of the City budget – and if there was ever a time to think twice about experimenting with the city’s finances it is now. The city’s AAA bond rating with all three rating agencies – the only city or county to currently have that and a sign of our strong financial and management practices – is the result, in large part, to our ability to make spending decisions and remain nimble, including during dire situations like the current pandemic.
The strong bond ratings for Denver affect our ability to fund road repair and mobility improvements, the maintenance of parks, and even public safety.
The mayor and budget director customarily collaborate with council to allocate new funding – such as CARES Act funding – to address priorities. This is a common practice, and requires their vote to approve in many circumstances.
Furthermore, there is already an extensive budget hearing process mandated by charter for members of the city council to discuss budget matters prior to budget implementation. It lasts days and includes discussions about each section of the budget.
If just seven council members can intercept the city budget twice a year, that AAA Rating is not only at risk, but our ability to meet basic needs of our residents is also at risk.
My service on Denver City Council has led me to the firm conclusion that Measures 2E and 2G are solutions in search of problems -- and measures that will likely cause more problems than they solve. I urge you to vote NO on 2E and 2G.
Charlie Brown is a former Denver City Council Member and represented District 6 for 14+ years, 2001-2015.
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