Your Guide to Community, Politics, Ar ts and Culture in Nor th Denver DenverNor thStar.com
Volume 2, Issue 7
April 15, 2021 - May 14, 2021
It’s Not Your Ears. Gunshots in North Denver Have Increased DPD ShotSpotter Alerts Rose in More Than 470% in 2020 Compared to 2017
COMMUNITY Salsa and Murals PAGE 6
COMMUNITY Commissary Kitchens PAGE 7
PHOTO BY ERIC HEINZ
A car passes by a Denver Police Department road sign near 50th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. The full message on the sign stated “Help Prevent Crime. Do Not Leave Firearms In Your Vehicle.” By Eric Heinz
T ARTS & CULTURE Smiley Library Renovations PAGE 12
POLITICS Legislative Updates PAGE 14
POLITICS City Mulls Ethics Changes PAGE 15
POLITICS Elected Official Update PAGE 17
POLITICS Zoning Overlays PAGE 18
o the untrained ear, hearing the difference between the sounds of a car backfiring, fireworks going off, and gunshots can be nearly impossible. Tracking the number of gunshots in a neighborhood can be difficult, even for the most sophisticated technology police departments currently use. But since at least 2017, North Denver residents’ ears have not been deceiving them. Gunshots in this part of the city have been on the uptick. The Denver Police Department uses a technology called ShotSpotter that tracks where and when a gunshot goes off. It covers about 2 square miles in North Denver, designated as District 1, and about 14 square miles of the entire city is covered by the technology. SpotShotter alerts officers within the coverage area to respond within 90 seconds. “I’m assuming all over the city, but really in District 1, we have people leaving firearms in their vehicles and a lot of them are leaving their cars unlocked,” DPD District 1 Commander Layla DeStaffany said. “This is residents or people who stay in hotels and motels. They come from somewhere that they don’t have to lock their car doors, and we’ve seen a lot of guns stolen.” DPD will not release the locations of the ShotSpotter technology because it could compromise the system. According to SpotShotter data in District 1, there were 74 gunshot alerts in 2017 and 356 in 2020—a 470% increase. SpotShotter was installed in 2016, and that year 47 shots were tallied while the technology came online. Although ShotSpotter has helped DPD make more arrests and take more guns off the streets, DeStaffany acknowledged it is not always completely accurate. Sometimes echoes from shots fired in adjacent Lakewood can get picked up by the ShotSpotter, she said. “It’s not a perfect system. It’s a great system, but it’s not perfect,” DeStaffany said.
The coverage area of the ShotSpotter technology has not changed since it was installed in 2016. From April to August of that year, ShotSpotter’s coverage increased as it was finalized. Homicides in District 1, from West Colfax to Globeville and west of I-25, however, have been relatively flat for the last few years. The data provided by DPD did not disclose which homicides were from gunshots, but in the 10 neighborhoods that comprise The Denver North Stars coverage area, 21 murders were reported between the start of 2015 and 2020, with an average of four per year. There has been one homicide recorded this year in District 1. ‘THERE ARE JUST MORE GUNS OUT THERE’ According to DPD, from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020, there were 327 guns that were reported stolen in the city, and the department stated these were primarily during burglaries and thefts from vehicles. That represented a 26.7% increase in gun thefts compared to the three-year average, DPD officials stated. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations InstaCheck report showed statewide there were about 487,000 requests for firearm background checks in 2020 that were approved compared to about 335,000 in 2019.
See GUNSHOTS, Page 17
Spring: Set Out
to Enjoy the Birds
By Kathryn White
t’s a good time of year to go outside. Sit in your yard, listen. You’ll start to learn their songs and calls,” says Megan Miller, master birder and volunteer with Denver Field Ornithologists. She’s happy to ease newcomers into a world of birds that has held her attention since she was ten years old. Perhaps you’ve been enjoying birds for the first time at the new feeder you put out during recent stay-at-home orders. Backcapped or Mountain Chickadees, a Northern Flicker or two, finches, sparrows, and bushtits. “Winter brings seed eaters,” Miller reports, “Now you’ll start to see insect eaters and migrating birds.” You might spot the bright gold, orange, and black Western Tanager, or the blue head- and tail-feathered male Lazuli Bunting, or a Yellow Warbler. Be on the lookout for peak migration, which Miller says typically falls around the second week of May in Denver. Adding native plant species and a water source (a simple shallow plate will do fine) to your garden will increase your odds of attracting birds. Robert Dean, president of the Colorado Urban Wildlife Photo Club, appreciates the spectacular breeding plumage that comes with this time of year. And he points out that birds are active with nest building, which is fun to catch glimpses of and comes with a host of considerations for city dwellers. Dean urges fellow urban bird lovers to keep feeders away from shrubs where cats can hide. “An estimated 1 to 4 billion birds are killed by outdoor cats in the U.S. every year. It’s better to keep cats indoors, but you can find a brightly colored birdsafe collar through the National Audubon Society. Bells don’t really work.” If you’re new to the bird world, you’re in good company. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports significant increases in new birders and their observations, as recorded by its popular eBird app. According to Cornell Lab, more people are eBirding than ever before. By February 2021, an all-time record for the greatest number of eBirders in a single month was set at 140,000. Using eBird, you can “start a checklist” and enter the species and numbers of birds you see in the location you’re recording from. When you
See BIRDING, Page 14
PHOTO BY ROBERT DEAN
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720-248-7327 P.O. Box 11584, Denver CO 80211 DenverNorthStar.com PUBLISHER AND EDITOR: David Sabados ART DIRECTOR: Melissa Levad Feeney AD SALES MANAGER: Jill Carstens BUSINESS MANAGER: Nathalie Jautz-Bickel DISTRIBUTION: The paper is printed and distributed on the 15th of each month with doorto-door delivery to 33,000 homes and businesses in North Denver. NEWS INQUIRIES: For news inquiries, email News@DenverNorthStar.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: For advertising inquiries, email Ads@DenverNorthStar.com. GET INVOLVED! You can become a supporting member, sign up to receive email updates and submit events for our community calendar at DenverNorthStar.com. LET’S BE SOCIAL
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C O M M UN I T Y CALEN DAR The Denver North Star community calendar is back! With more events starting, we hope to begin printing a community calendar in each issue again. We also maintain a continually updated online calendar. To submit an event, visit us online at www.DenverNorthStar.com or call 720-248-7327. Please provide as much notice as possible, especially to appear in the print edition. More details for many events are available on our website. SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 11 AM TO 2 PM North Side Market at Monkey Barrel Bar North Side Market is a Latino market, helping small businesses regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, etc. At Northside Market you will listen to Latino music, eat Latin food, but find diversity within its vendors. Everyone is welcomed, even your fur babies! So spread the word and have some fun while you support local businesses. SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 7 PM Cabaret Karaoke: Cooped Up Edition Taking a stab at the past year in a fun, whimsical, and virtual way, Rocky Mountain Arts Association presents Cabaret Karaoke: Cooped Up Edition. The annual fundraiser featuring singers from the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus (DGMC) and Denver Women’s Chorus (DWC) will highlight a silent auction and “cooped up” musical selections, karaoke-style, complete with lyrics for the at-home audience. Tickets start at $20. Various viewing options are available. Register here: secure.qgiv.com/event/cabaretkaraoke/ TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 11AM Walking Tour of West Colfax with Phil Goodstein Meet in front of Cheltenham School, 1580 Julian Street Explore the area around the east of Sloan Lake. Learn about the history of West Colfax. Find out about how the area was once a major Jewish enclave. Discover where there was once a huge, national asthma treatment center. Visit the house where the Barbie Doll was essentially born. Add to this engaging stories and you will get a new perspective on this part of greater North Denver. Call 303-333-1095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. $20/person.
week. Visit www.projectangelheart.org or call 303.830.0202 for more information about how to participate. In-person and virtual participation is welcome. SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 3 TO 4 PM National Cohousing Day: Aria Virtual Open House In celebration of National Cohousing Day on Saturday, April 24, the Aria Cohousing Community in NW Denver will host a virtual Open House. Cohousing appeals to people who want to have their own home while knowing and caring for their neighbors and the surrounding neighborhood. They want to participate in the management and care of their community. Aria is a multi-generational, diverse, liberal community in a renovated former convent that has 28 family units and community spaces within the larger Aria/Denver location. The Virtual Open House will provide views of the building and its surroundings, a description of Aria values and operations, and a chance to meet some members. It will be followed by a Q&A for all participants. If you are interested, contact them through their website at www.AriaCohousing.org. SATURDAY, MAY 1, 9 AM TO 2 PM Return of the Pelicans Plant and Yard Sale
at 303.517.4230. SLNA’s Pet Committee is planning a Sloan’s Lake Dog Event in late summer 2021. Those interested in planning or participating should contact Phil Borden by email at email@example.com or reach him by phone at 920.213.7514. SATURDAY, MAY 1, 9 AM House District 4 Democrats Monthly Meeting* House District 4 Democrats meet via Zoom at 9 am on the first Saturday of each month. Email HD4@denverdemocrats.org for a link. Anyone interested in becoming more involved with the local Democratic party and hearing from local Democratic elected officials is welcome. *The Denver North Star accepts community-facing non-fundraising events from local political organizations. We welcome events from all parties and encourage other organizations to send events. TUESDAY, MAY 4, 7-8 PM West Highland Neighborhood Association Monthly Meeting Live in the West Highland Neighborhood and want to get involved with your neighborhood organization? WHNA meets the first Tuesday of the month from 7-8 pm. Visit http://www.westhighlandneighborhood.org/ for a zoom link and more details TUESDAY, MAY 4, 6:30 PM Chaffee Park Neighborhood Association Monthly Meeting Live in the Chaffee Park neighborhood and want to connect with your neighborhood organization? Chaffee Park Neighborhood Association meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm Check out www.chaffeepark.org/ for more information!
TUESDAY, MAY 11, 6 TO 7 PM West Colfax Association of TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 6:30 TO 8 PM Neighbors Monthly Meeting TUESDAY, MAY 18, 6:30 TO 8 PM Live in the West Colfax neighborBerkeley Regis United hood and want to get more involved? Neighbors Monthly Meeting WeCAn, the West Colfax Association BRUN meets the 3rd Tuesday of each of Neighbors meets the 2nd Tuesday of month at 6:30 pm! Monthly meetings each month at 6pm! Visit www.wecanare open to the public, with an open denver.org/ for more information and mic to hear neighbors’ concerns. Berkevirtual meeting instructions. ley Regis United Neighbors (BRUN), is a Denver Registered Neighborhood THURSDAY, MAY 13, Organization made up of residents 6:30 TO 8 PM and property owners working togethSunnyside United Neighbors er, both internally and with other city Planning and Community coalitions, to KEEP our neighborhood Development Monthly Meeting great by advocating for the commuLive in the Sunnyside Neighbornity’s best interests and organizing PHOTO COURTESY OF RICO JONES hood? Want to get more involved with events. JOIN US! Concert saxophonist, Rico Jones will be playing Meetings are currently held virtuSaturday, May 2 at the Pelicans Plant and Yard Sale. planning, zoning, and development issues? Sunnyside United Neighbors ally. Sponsored by the Sloan’s Lake Neighbor- Planning and Community Development Visit berkeleyregisneighbors.org/ for more hood Association (SLNA) the Return of the Meetings are the second Thursday of each information. Pelicans Plant and Yard Sale will take place month from 6:30-8 pm. at near Lake Midd le School at 18th Avenue Currently meeting virtually, email TUES, APRIL 20, 6:30 PM between Meade street and Lowell Boulevard SUNIPCD@gmail.com for a zoom link. TUES, MAY 18, 6:30 PM on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The May Day event, Highland United Neighbors from 9 am to 2 pm will feature plants, seeds, ALL OF APRIL: Monthly Meeting Do you live in the Highland neighborhood herbs, flowers, ornamental plants, and vegeta- ‘Hug Your Dog’ Hygiene Drive Looking for ways to contribute to a more and want to engage with your neighborhood bles as well as vendors and neighbors selling just and equitable Denver? Donate hygiene organization? HUNI board meetings are the 3rd used and new goods. Food vendors will be present along items to our “Hug Your Dog” drive, and get Tuesday of every month! with music by Sloan’s Lake’s own sum- the warm fuzzy dog-hug feeling of helping the zoom.us/j/2146972577 mer concert saxophonist, Rico Jones! bigger picture. Learn more at www.denverhighland.org/ Families, friends, and furry friends are YellowDog and Twiggs & Co. will be colall welcome! lecting hygiene items for Growing Home. You FRIDAY APRIL 23 - MONDAY MAY 3 Pick up a few plants, check out other ven- can drop off hygiene items at YellowDog on Project Angel Heart 27th dors or sell your own stuff– used or new! Monday-Friday during our regular business Annual Dining Out For Life Project Angel Heart improves health and SLNA members will receive 33% off their pur- hours (9am-5pm). For every three hygiene items you donate, well-being for people with life-threatening chase of plants. Space is available for vendors on an avail- you can choose between a 10"x10" Hug Your illnesses by preparing and delivering medically tailored meals and promoting the pow- able basis. Five foot booths are $10 and ten Dog art print and a 11"x17" Mile High City er of food as medicine. This annual event foot booths are $20. A limited number of metallic art deco poster. Please donate the requested hygiene items collects contributions from diners to fund street spaces will be available for food vendors the preparation and delivery of medically that meet Denver Health Department require- in full size. More details at yellowdogdenver.com/hugtailored meals. This year, the organization is ments. Contact JoAnne Ibarra by email at partnering with Visit Denver’s Restaurant JoAnneibarra1@gmail.com or give her a call your-dog-hygiene-drive/
The Denver North Star
NEWS SHO RTS
P O LI T I C S
Odell Brewing Opens Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse
Denver Ends Bison Sales, Donates Animals to Tribal Nations By David Sabados
By North Star Staff
very week for the past few months, the Denver City Council has begun their Monday night meetings with a land acknowledgement, recognizing that the land Denver resides on is “is the traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Peoples” and stating they “honor Elders past, present, and future, and those who have stewarded this land throughout generations.” Councilwoman Jamie Torres (District 3 - West Denver) and the city’s park department want to make sure there’s action to go along with those words, gifting 13 adult bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and one to the Tall Bull Memorial Council. Denver Parks and Recreation maintains two conservation bison herds in the city’s mountain parks. Those herds are the descendants of some of the last wild bison in North America and were kept at the Denver zoo until 1914, when they were moved into mountain parks. North American bison, often called buffalo, were nearly wiped out by the turn of the 20th cent ury.
For Counc i l woma n To r r e s ,
Bison from Denver will help genetically diversify herds across North America
dell Brewing, which started in Fort Collins and grew to be one of the largest independent breweries in Colorado, opened their Sloan’s Lake location at 1625 Perry Street earlier this month. The taproom features a full menu of appetizers, salads, and pizzas with a focus on local sourcing and ingredients that are made in-house, from scratch. The brewhouse is in the Kuhlman Building, which served as a convent, nursing school, dormitory, and administrative offices for the St. Anthony's Hospital before the site was redeveloped.
PHOTOS BY DAVID SABADOS
Councilwoman Jamie Torres (center), city and tribal leaders discuss the importance of conservation and honoring. “this is what action on a land acknowledgement actually looks like.” The city had traditionally held auctions of younger bison, which yielded a meager $30,000 - $45,000. The auctions were not about money according to city officials, but simply a way to reduce the city’s bison population and the funds helped cover costs. Torres sponsored legislation to allow the donations and the city is planning on continuing donations in future years. Councilwoman Torres, Mayor Michael Hancock, and Parks and Recreation ED Happy Haynes along with Deputy Scott Gilmore all joined tribal leaders in Genesee Park to see the animals off. After traditional ceremonial blessings and more contemporary political speeches from all parties, the animals were rounded up for their journey to tribal lands. The gift is not just about relations between Denver and indigenous tribes though. All
14 bison are female and half of them are currently pregnant; Denver’s herds are genetically unique and the goal is to infuse other herds with genes from Denver’s, diversifying stock and increasing the health of North American bison populations. “This donation is the result and culmination of a very long, storied history and relationship with the State of Colorado,” said Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana. “The Tribes plan to use the donated bison as a cultural, conservation and educational resource, with the goal of locating the bison on our own tribal natural plains habitat.” For Councilwoman Torres, it’s a meaningful action and one that she hopes will help “dismantle legacies of oppression,” serving both diplomatic and conservation purposes. It’s “small action after small action.”
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C OM M UN I T Y
Game On… COVID Victory Gardens By Katherine Cornwell
ostalgic victory gardens are the new black in this era of modern plague. We gardened our way through two World Wars and the Spanish Flu out of necessity to address food shortages and boost morale. Gardens are our secret weapon as we learn to live with COVID and other viruses. Our gardens are a source of anti-inflammatory foods like dark green leafy vegetables. Exposure to soil microbes provides mood-boosting effects. Sunshine catalyzes vitamin D production which protects our bones and stimulates our immune systems. Plus, there’s no better or safer place to socialize in these peculiar times than outdoors, where many hands make light work in a garden. Gardens are also the great unifier; it is one topic with universal appeal no matter one’s political party affiliation. Liberal, chicken-naming, Portlandia metrosexuals and conservative doomsday preppers can all find common ground in a garden. So, how can you up your COVID victory garden game this year? The general rule of thumb is to plant your garden in May, right around Mother’s Day. Our altitude and climate present a number of gardening challenges. Here are some tips to help you grow a COVID Victory Garden that will keep you busy and nourished while we near the end of the pandemic: 1. Lasagna mulch. The most important step you can take is to prepare your soil. Whether you have a garden plot or grow in containers, be sure to amend your soil with mature compost and keep it moist, think: the consistency of chocolate cake. Slowing evaporation is the key to efficient watering and healthy gardens in our dry climate. “Lasagna mulching” your garden beds is the easiest way to achieve chocolate cake soil, it breaks up our clay soils, attracts earthworms, suppresses weeds, and holds moisture. A Google search of “lasagna mulch” will turn up all manner of recipes. Great choices for spring are mature compost or llama beans (llamas with their five stomachs are Nature’s composting machines, as their “beans” or poop comes out fully com-
Do you have a graduating High School or College Senior you want to recognize? The Denver North Star is offering graduation ads in our May issue to help you commemorate and celebrate your graduate's achievements! An ad in the paper is the perfect addition to a scrapbook, photo album, or wall hanging with a diploma and photos. We're happy to offer an 1/8 page announcement (a little larger than the size of this ad) for a discounted price of only $250 and provide your family with up to 10 additional copies of the paper. You provide the photo(s) and language, we'll take care of the rest! For more information, or to reserve a spot, email us at ads@DenverNorthStar.com or call (720) 248-7327. Please reserve your ad by Monday, May 3rd.
Page 4 | April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021
posted) as a base layer covered by moistened cardboard and straw. 2. Harden off and reduce transplant shock. Plants are like people, they loathe change. Before planting your seedlings, be sure they are hardened-off or in other words gradually exposed to the major stressors: sun, wind, and drought. As with people, a little stress results in stronger plants. You will know the plants are sufficiently hardened off when the leaves go from the tender, spring green to a more leathery dark green appearance. When transplanting young seedlings, limit how much you disturb the roots (just enough to tease apart any root binding that may have occurred from constriction in the seedling pot). Be sure to plant toward the end of the day, ideally before a forecast of cloudy days, and give your plants a dose of Liquid Karma by Botanicare to help alleviate transplant shock. Consider using a temporary shade structure if the seedlings will be exposed to full sun (6+ hours per day) immediately, and gradually build up exposure time over a couple of days. 3. Plan now, share later. Coordinate your garden planning with your friends and neighbors. Select plant varieties according to a theme such as a French Potager (think potimarron squash, French breakfast radish, Tavera green beans, and Noire des Carmes melons) or a Northside heritage garden that reflects our indigenous and immigrant Mexican and Italian roots (think speckled roman tomatoes, cilantro, oregano, basil, hot peppers, Marconi Red peppers, listada di gandia eggplant, and Aunt Mollies ground cherries which are like a pineapple and a tomato had a baby and called it a tomatillo). Even apartment dwellers can get in on the action with a container garden planted with determinate (bush variety that sets all of its fruit around the same time) tomato varieties, as well as zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, greens, and root veggies like carrots and radish. Sharing garden bounty with friends and neighbors is a fun and easy way to increase access to a greater variety of
PHOTO FROM ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
produce when garden space is at a premium. 4. Extend the season. Local realtor, Heidi Newhart, who ordinarily hosted the wildly popular and much missed Sloan’s Lake Plant Exchange (which I hate to report is on hold again this year), installed hoop houses over her raised beds and cold frames to extend our short growing season. The insulating properties of these structures allow gardeners to get a head start in the spring and enjoy fresh veggies well into the fall and even early winter. Check out James Prigioni’s The Gardening Channel tutorial “How to Build a Hinged Hoophouse for a Raised Garden Bed” on YouTube for easy to follow instructions. 5. Buy local seedlings. The end of April/ beginning of May is seedling sale time in Denver. Urban farmers across the city have been coaxing new plants out of their seeds since at least St. Patrick's Day. Ordinarily I sell seedlings through Sunnyside Urban Farm, but COVID has my farmette under
construction with a new greenhouse. I’ll rely on my fellow urban farmers to supply heirloom, organic seedlings for my garden this year. Check out some of my favorites: Heirloom Tomato Farms (in RiNo), Sparrow Farm (in Alamo Placita), Floppy Hat Farm (in Englewood), and my neighbor Sunnyside Farms (in Sunnyside at the corner of 45th & Vallejo). Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association is also hosting a plant sale on May 1st. For more information, check out the community calendar on page 2. 6. Connect & learn. Local gardening clubs and organizations offer seed exchanges, seedling/plant sales, and classes in all things related to organic gardening. For more information on events and classes check out Denver Urban Gardens, Front Range Organic Gardeners, Denver Permaculture Guild, and Denver Botanic Gardens. Use this time to get your Covid Victory Garden game on. Happy gardening!
S T UD E N T VOI CES
AAPI Community Needs Proactive Community to Stop Hate From the The Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance: ear North community, Following the recent attack on several spas in Georgia that resulted in the AIDAN REIDY deaths of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, it is necessary to address and condemn this kind of hate. Although the government and media do not want to label this a hate crime, it is hard to believe that it wasn’t racially motivated when the perpetrator traveled to 3 different spas (which tend to be Asian owned) and killed mostly Asian women. As an AAPI community, we are grieving and processing these murders and our thoughts and love go out to the families who have been affected by this horrendous attack. Sadly, this anti-Asian violence is nothing new. In the past year, there has been a 150% increase in anti-Asian violence nationwide. While many of these attacks aren’t classified as hate crimes, we don’t see it as a coincidence that COVID-19 has been repeatedly referred to as “china virus” or the “kung flu” by high ranking government officials. This rhetoric has heavily influenced the anti-Asian sentiment in this country causing a large spike in violence against the Asian American community. The attack in Georgia and other anti-Asian attacks are fueled by white supremacy and carried out by white supremacists. As a community and society, we need to acknowledge this in order to condemn this violent behavior. As a community, we can take actions to heal the wounds created by these violent incidents, that are maintained by oppressive structures.
While this is not a simple task, actions like checking in on your AAPI friends and family go a long way. Speaking out against these violent attacks goes a long way. Undoing the anti-Asian sentiment this country has manifested into American culture goes a long way in creating a safer country and society for us all. We appreciate everyone’s support during this time. To our fellow AAPI, we are grieving with you. Your pain is valid and understandable, no matter your relationship with your API identity. Feelings arising and continuing to linger are important to feel. We know that in our communities it is hard to process these emotions but we are here for you. North students and staff, APISA is a safespace for everyone. If you are struggling with processing recent events or just want to feel a sense of community, please reach out to us. We meet every Friday during block C (google meet: northapisa). If you are interested in learning more about what you can do for the AAPI community, visit coasian.carrd.co From Aidan Reidy, President of APISA: My heart hurts. For the past year, every time I’ve seen a new hate crime against the AAPI community, specifically our elders, I’ve felt a deep pain in my chest and swelling in my throat. I have to remind myself that this anti-Asian rhetoric is nothing new to America. Xenophobia is ingrained into this country like every other form of oppression. We are living on land that was stolen and exploited, living in a society built on the backs of enslaved Africans, and benefiting from the hard work of the Latinx community everyday. The past month has been especially hard to process
because it took a terrorist attack and massacre of working class Asian American women to gain widespread support for our community. While this support is truly beautiful, there is still a lingering pain knowing that so many of us had to be killed or injured for this issue to be confronted. I’m emotionally exhausted, and I know that this feeling will not be going away anytime soon. While it is easy to feel stuck in this pain, we need to shift to proactive thinking so this pain is no longer normalized. I have recently been reminded of the power of intersectionality and the strength that solidarity carries. The fight for liberation for any group in this country cannot be done alone. Allyship and solidarity are the keys to dismantling the oppressive systems we all live under. This will not happen overnight, but I am hopeful that with each day of fighting against these oppressive structures, we are one step closer to liberation and farther from the heartache. I appreciate the support the AAPI community has received recently; it truly is touching and means so much. I want to continue seeing this support, not only for the AAPI community but any marginalized group, even after our pain is no longer trending. Hi! I’m Aidan Reidy. I’m a senior at North High School and plan to attend Colorado College in the fall. I am the founder and President of North’s Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance and have been involved with student leadership since my freshman year. I helped create North’s APISA to give API students a safe space where we can explore our API identities in the context of attending North.
The Denver North Star
S T UDEN T VO I CES
E DU CATI O N
Two Legislative Bills Affecting A Guide to Colorado Flowers Denver Public Schools By Olivia Fulle
By David Sabados
wo state bills working their way through the legislature could have important, albeit very different, effects on DPS this fall. One allows school board members to be paid and the other relates to how much public disclosure is needed regarding superintendent searches. As of publication, neither bill had yet passed both chambers, but both appear to have broad enough support to reach the governor’s desk.
is considered a part time job, paying $40,242/year plus a per diem when in session (per diem varies based on distance a legislator lives from the capitol). Both Gonzales-Gutierrez and Valdez have other jobs in addition to their roles in the legislature.
BALANCING PRIVACY AND PUBLIC INTEREST CONCERNS Currently, when a public body, such as a PAYING SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS school district, is choosing a new superinCurrently, all school board members tendent or other executive, they’re required in Colorado serve in a volunteer capacity, to release the names of finalists for that posiwhich House Bill 21-1055 could change. The tion. The idea behind the current law is that bill, sponsored by East Denver Representa- the public has a right to know who was not tive Steven Woodrow and Jefferson County chosen for key positions and that transpar- Bluebells Senator Brittany Pettersen, removes the re- ency can help ensure qualified candidates striction on paying board members and lets are not ignored in favor of less qualified Editor’s Note: This month, we exlocal boards decide whether to pay members politically-connected candidates or other pand our DPS voices column to include and how much. Proponents argue that the discriminatory decisions. younger students. We hope you enjoy this decision is best made locally and that many The opposing argument is that the cur- piece from a 6th grade GALS student. HOTO.COMboards aren’t representative of their student rent law discourages candidates who have e are reaching the end of winter and populations. Opponents questioned wheth- concerns about their applications being er paying board members is the best use of released publicly. If, for example, a person the beginning of spring! Between funds in Colorado’s in a number two or this time the snow is melting and beautiful often underfunded three position in a f lowers are starting to bloom. Take a look “Public service is supposed school districts. neighboring school at what Colorado f lowers have to offer; North Denver’s district is applying it’s incredible! to be for anybody and house members, Don’t let these pansies fool you, they for a superintendent everybody. A system that representatives Serposition but doesn’t look weak and delicate on the outside, but doesn’t pay, or underpays, ena Gonzales-Gutiget the job, they could pansies are very strong. They are labeled errez and Alex Valbe risking reprisal at a f lower for all seasons and can even stay limits those who can do the dez, agreed with their current employ- alive in winter. If you are searching for job to the independently the proponents and er when they learn some, I would recommend going to Coloare supportive of that person is trying rado Springs. You may see pansies of some wealthy and retired.” Valdez the bill. “I've always of the boldest colors, but in spring you may to leave. added that elected titles been shocked there's Several districts, see more pinks, purples, and whites. don’t pay rent or put food no kind of compenThese Bluebells are exactly as the name including DPS, have sation,” Gonzaimplies. They are blue and shaped like received criticism in on the table and he believes les-Gutierrez told past years for only bells. In my opinion, they are some of the option to pay members The Denver North releasing one final- the nicest wildf lowers in Colorado. They Star, adding that unist, stating they were are also protected under the Wildlife and can result in better boards paid positions “limcomplying with the Countryside Act (1981). This means you focused on kids. its who can run.” law because they only can’t pick bluebells in the countryside and Working class parhad one finalist. HB- it also means landowners are prohibited ents who may be interested often don’t have 1051 may make that argument a moot point, from removing bluebells from their land to the time to serve on a volunteer board and as it changes the criteria so public bodies like sell. There is no specific place you can find she believes compensation can allow more school districts and higher education institu- them, but they bloom a little later in spring. diverse voices not just in DPS, but across the tions only have to list one finalist. Proponents They are also known for blooming state, noting that Garfield County, a West argue it protects applicants. Opponents argue in mountain areas. So you may find Slope county with a relatively high Latinx it restricts the public’s access to information. them while you’re on a hike! d massacrepopulation, only elected their first Latina Also known as “prairie Both of North Denver’s house members women toschool board member in the last election. supported this bill as well, though both told rocket,” the sand-dune ommunity. Valdez echoed the same sentiment. “Pub- The Denver North Star the decision was a wallf lower ranges in ul, there islic service is supposed to be for anybody and difficult one due to competing interests. color from a light yellow o many ofeverybody. A system that doesn’t pay, or un- Gonzales-Gutierrez said she was “thinking to deep orange and prehis issue toderpays, limits those who can do the job to about the applicants themselves,” and that fers to grow in the dryer, usted, andthe independently wealthy and retired.” Val- they have a right to privacy. For Valdez, “it hotter parts of the state. While it going awaydez added that elected titles don’t pay rent was a hard bill,” adding that he was “right does grow in Colorado it is also or put food on the table and he believes the down the middle.” In addition to the privacy an endangered f lower in Califoris pain, weoption to pay members can result in better concerns, he found the bipartisan support nia. This f lower blooms mostly o this painboards focused on kids. from the committee compelling when the in late spring and early summer ently been Notably, the state legislature itself bill went to the floor for a full vote. but it still is a breathtaking beauty. onality and The fight for try cannot ity are the systems we S O M E O F O U R P A S T S A L E S T E L L T H E S T O R Y : overnight, of fighting 4321 Tennyson St Unit# 4 4624 Clay Street 3424 Wyandot Street 3144 W 26th Avenue 3921 Raleigh Street we are one 4555 Osceola Street 3125 W 45th Avenue 3337 Shoshone Street 2945 Yates Street 2904 W 40th Avenue r from the 2247 W 34th Avenue 4223 Osceola Street 3820 Newton Street 3705 Raleigh Street 4329 Quitman Street the AAPI 3140 Umatilla Street 2615 W 40th Avenue 3231 Julian Street 3351 Newton 4211 Alcott Street 3615 Bryant Street 2435 Decatur Street 4201 Quivas Street 3223 Meade Street it truly is 3922 Alcott Street 4511 Federal Boulevard 2632 Utica Street 3705 Lowell Boulevard 3520 Newton Street to contin- 3631 Julian Street 2425 Decatur Street 3546 Stuart Street 2201 Newton Street 4200 Julian Street 4161 Julian Street the AAPI 2750 W 40th Avenue 3706 Newton Street 3003 Stuart Street 4520 Julian Street roup, even 4154 Xavier Street
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Take a trip to the incredible Great Sand Dunes National Park to catch a glimpse of this splendor. Normally in Denver, the daffodil isn’t too hard to find. It’s a beautiful f lower though. A lot of the time daffodils are sunshine yellow and can grow in many different regions. The one thing about daffodils, though, is that they HAVE to be in a sunny spot, preferably one that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day but if planted in partial shade, the plants will still produce green leaves, but they won't bloom. “Hi I'm Olivia Fulle, I'm 12 years old and here are a few things about me. I dance in a company at Cherry Creek Dance and have classes there 3 days a week for 8 hours, I was born in Los Angeles, CA. My dad is from Chicago and my mom is from Milan, Italy. Which means I am bilingual (I speak Italian and English) I love to bake and make everything from Confetti Cupcakes to Vegan Lemon Bars. I am a huge book nerd and probably own over 100 books myself. I also love writing and I am writing my own book at the moment. I attend GALS middle school and have made many friends there.”
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C OM M UN I T Y
Teamwork Makes the Dream Sunnyside Salsa Maker Talks Met Work at Denver Dream Center Chilis, North Denver Murals Wh By David Sabados
By David Sabados
ign twirlers attract passerbys while volunteers in “hope dealer” masks prepare boxes of necessities to give to families in need. It’s another Saturday for the Denver Dream Center. The Denver Dream Center is a Christian faith-based organization in North Denver, currently housed at the Senior Assistance Center on 44th Ave in Sunnyside. Before the pandemic, one of their biggest programs was their adopt-a-block outreach where they threw block parties as a way to connect with neighbors and distribute hope boxes. Like everyone else the past year, they’ve pivoted, and now go door-to-door. “If you’re in need then you qualify,” explained Megan Barelli, who serves as Production Director and Volunteer Coordinator for the organization. Barelli
Barelli said the organization gives away around 100 hope boxes at each adopt-a-block event but also serves families throughout the week on a more individual basis. said the organization gives away around 100 hope boxes at each adopt-a-block event but also serves families throughout the week on a more individual basis. In 2020, she said they distributed 2.5 million pounds of food and consistently serve around 2,000 families. They aren’t a traditional food bank, though they often receive donations of food which they distribute along with hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and similar items. Barelli ex-
PHOTO BY DAVID SABADOS
Denver Dream Center delivers hygiene products, food, and other donated items to families in need. plained they try not to turn anything down and can usually find a good home for most useful donated items. One month it was finding mattresses for families in need for example. In addition to their charitable distributions, they run a number of other community-centric programs such as THRIVE, which is a “multi-faceted, urban ministry focused on supporting and encouraging individuals with a history or current status of gang activity, substance abuse and/or transitioning from various levels of incarceration.” They also run a scholarship program for students in need, working with over 200 students in Denver. Like most nonprofits, the organization is looking for community support, namely time and money. They are asking for more volunteers to help with their adopt-a-block program and are hoping to acquire a bigger space. Anyone interested in learning more about the organization or getting involved should visit denverdreamcenter.org or call (720) 510-9113.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NICK SANDOVAL
Nick Sandoval believes salsa is more than a condiment -- it's community. After years of making it at home for friends and family, you can now buy Sunnyside Salsa online or at Locavore.
Heated patios, delicious food and friendly service!
or Nick Sandoval, his salsa is about “flavor, balance, and heritage.” Sandoval grew up near 49th and Clay, where his mother still lives. His wife grew up across the street from La Raza Park. “I’m a northsider born and raised.” After Columbian Elementary, Skinner Middle School, and North High School (class of ‘98), he had the opportunity any Broncos fan would love: working at Mile High Stadium (when it was just called Mile High Stadium), which included getting to watch the team play from the sidelines. “We get one life to live,” said Sandoval and he’s out to try everything.
of a truly hot salsa. He mixes up the standard recipe and uses scorpion chilis which can reach 2,000,000 scovilles. To put that in perspective, most jalapeños range from 2,500 to 8,000; cayenne range from 30,000 - 50,000. In other words, most people will love the original and the daring will love the fire. The current label is designed to make people think of a standard North Denver pitched roof home (salsa is synonymous with home, he explained), but it’s going to be changing soon. They’re using their jars to highlight some of North Denver’s amazing
OPEN FOR DINNER Tuesday-Sunday 5PM 5560 West 29th Ave. (at Depew St.), Wheat Ridge
west29th.com | (303) 233-3377 Sunnyside Salsa labels will soon feature North Denver muralists from local artists like Jerry and Jay Jaramillo Sandoval explained he’s a “jack of all trades.” He’s worked for the grounds crews for several of Denver’s sports teams, sound for Denver concert venues, he’s a graphic designer...and of course he makes salsa. Growing up, Sandoval said salsa was more than a condiment -- it was community. “People share stories talking over salsa... my mom made really good salsa. I have a few cousins who make really good salsa. I thought ‘let me compete with them.’” He didn’t set out to sell his creations; he just made it at home and brought it to work and parties, but people quickly started asking for more. He started canning it in jars and selling it, unlabeled, to his friends, family, colleagues, their friends, family, colleagues, and the side gig grew. To make the jump to a commercial product he started cooking it, which changed the flavor profile, and he’s been tweaking the recipes to get it just right. Now Sunnyside Salsa has two products: the original recipe and “Fuego,” which he warns is for lovers
Page 6 | April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021
muralists. From classic Northside murals that still adorn the neighborhood to reviving painted over murals, his new partnership is a way for Sandoval to highlight others in the community. Two of the first artists Sandoval is working with are Jerry Jaramillo and his son Jay Jaramillo. Together they created “Mother Earth” which adorns the outside of Cherry Bean coffee. Jerry Jaramillo also created “Primavera,” a mural that has been removed but is given new life through the partnership. Labels have QR codes so buyers can learn more about the artists and the murals. The new jars should be available in the next few weeks but the salsas can be bought now. Sunnyside Salsa can either be purchased on his website www.sunnysidesalsa.com or at Leevers Locavore on 38th Ave. He’s currently in discussions with a few local restaurants about using Sunnyside Salsa at the tables and in recipes. You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram @SunnySideSalsa.
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C O M M UN I T Y
Visit W. 38th Ave.
Metro Area’s Commissary Kitchens: Where Chefs Cook Up Community
for food, drinks & fun!
By Kathryn White
narrow commercial kitchen efficiently lined with tables and shelves opens into a fork in the road. To its left, three more small kitchens feed into an open area containing a row of cooking surfaces. Veering to the right, a narrow hallway flanked by sinks leads you past three more kitchens and an alcove that is filled—at the moment—with shoulder-high racks of freshly cooked bacon. People in masks, hats, and aprons slide past one another, some stopping to chat, others nodding a silent hello. Each is on a mission. In the maze of kitchens-for-rent, food is a landmark. And people. “That guy, his pies are really good. Here, let’s see if he has a minute,” suggests Rocky Mountain Commissary owner Scott Sucaet as he steers us out of traffic and into a kitchen. We find John Hinman, who drops an interesting fact: the pie business picks up dramatically after Tax Day. He looks back over the last year and mentions his role with CHOW (Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness). It becomes clear that not only have people in the food industry worked hard through the pandemic, they’ve worked hard taking care of one another. Commissary operations like this are an interesting mix of small start-ups that add up to a bustling community of give-and-take. Food trucks, caterers, meal delivery companies. And businesses like Hinman Pie or MOR Kombucha, whose products can be ordered online or found at places in the neighborhood like Leevers Locavore, Vital Root, SANDOVAL or Huckleberry Coffee. Members—also called clients or tenants— rent commercial kitchen space by the day or hour and have access to specialty equipment that would otherwise be difficult to purchase: the $6,000 kettle, for example. They can rent space on shelves and in refrigerators and freezers. And then there’s the large roomsized canning apparatus that MOR Kombucha only needs for a few days. A large door at their end of the commissary opens up for the machine to roll in, do its work for MOR, then head back to a rental company. For Laura Madrid, co-founder at Lala’s Bakery, the large commercial mixer came as a relief when they moved their start-up operation to the commissary in November. Larger batches have allowed them to grow, supplying the next generation of Denverites with steady access to the deliciously fruittopped Spring Fling cake. Many worried the confection would go away when longtime owners of the Market on Larimer Square announced the permanent closure of their café last April. Madrid and co-founder Vivian Villagrana were bakers at the Market and felt the full weight of the longstanding Denver institution shutting its doors. “We were heartbroken,” Madrid recalls. But knowing al artists they play a role in families continuing a decades-long tradition—paired with a recent record-breaking weekend--makes all the work worth it. What one day looked like a pipe dream now inspires young women to pursue their own goals. Sucaet points into another kitchen, “Right there: Cibo Meals. Healthy vegetarian entrees served in Mason jars. Environmental-
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Cibo Meals founder Emily Green, with kitchen assistant Jessica Himebaugh. ly-friendly.” Emily Green, Cibo founder, has running, and some caterers.” North Denver worked out of Rocky Mountain Commissary knows several businesses that lean on Denfor over three years. She might be one of ver Commissary: Crock Spot, Crescent City their longest-term clients. “People are pretty Connection, Meatball, and the latest: Cupheads-down here but will always take a min- bop Korean BBQ. ute to taste something or lend a hand.” If she For these and other small businesses, the needs one more can of tomatoes or a little year required an unparalleled intensity: creapple cider vinegar, she knows someone will ative marketing and continual adjustments pitch in. And in Green’s business, to all aspects of their business. For she can include a treat from Barrett & Pratt Provisions, one of the other businesswhose little teal food es—a pierogi, an emtruck hit the roads panada or a piece in February 2020, of baklava—along the effort has paid with her freshoff. “We opened to-jar Mason 3 weeks bejar meals. fore lockdown We’re on the last year and move again, have powered past Hinman through evPie, Lala’s Bakery curveball ery and Cibo COVID has Meals, headed thrown our way,” to the far end of says Kelley Barrett, the building. Suowner operator. Barcaet pauses, pointing, rett met fellow owner “That’s a school lunch prooperator Robert Dominy gram.” Around the next while they worked as The Spring Fling (and its corner, “Over here, vegan chefs in an Irish pub. Of cupcake babies) by Lala’s Bakery. meal delivery.” Three staff the commissary scene, from YA·YE (You Are What You Eat) chime Barrett recalls, “When we first moved in, we hello as they chop their way through mounds were adopted by a few of the senior trucks and of brussels sprouts and mushrooms. YA·YE is now we are able to do the same for ne comers.” one of many businesses within these walls From the outside, Rocky Mountain Comthat shifted gears as the pandemic hit. They missary’s sprawling one-story building had opened a brick and mortar location in blends into similarly unremarkable busiRiNo’s Zeppelin Station but are nesses along a pot-holed road through one now serving up their plant- of Arvada’s light industrial areas. On the inbased meals by home delivery. side, though, as you wind your way through Across town, Denver Com- its maze of kitchens, there’s an aroma like missary owner-operator none other. It smells like dreams churning Brad Feely shines a light their way into reality. It sounds like ideas on what the last year has growing into plans. And it feels like a commeant for the commissary munity. “You’re never alone here,” says Lala’s food world. He lost all of his Laura Madrid. catering clients and about We’ve made our way back to where we a third of his food trucks. started. Sucaet opens one last door. He The number of meal deliv- peeks in and waves to a group of womery companies grew, but his en assembled around large steaming pots. overall business dropped by He waxes briefly about the hard-work70%. What’s the pulse these ing team at Pierogis Factory, then closes days? “Hesitant, but optimistic. A few the door and smiles, “We’re all just small more food trucks are getting back up and businesses grinding.”
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No We By David
1329 W 38th Avenue Denver (38th and Lipan)
North Denverite Works to Ensure We Don’t Waste Food
Pick-up & delivery only
By David Sabados
orth Denver resident Arlan Preblud was an attorney in solo practice back in 2009. Preblud and his wife struck up conversations with restaurateurs and caterers about what happened to extra food guests didn’t eat. After learning most of it ended up in a landfill and seeing the impact the recession had on the community, he decided to change focus and find a way to help those in need. He started off by folding down the seats of his Volvo station wagon, tossing down a tarp in case things spilled. He went to caterers and picked up food that was never served (caterers often make extra to ensure they don’t run out). Seeing his passion, his family encouraged him to turn his part time volunteerism into full time philanthropy. Fast forward 12 years and Preblud is now the Executive Director of We Don’t Waste, headquartered just above the Denver border. “We’re the largest unaffiliated food recoverer in the state,” explained. With 14 full time human staff and 1 part time furry chief of security, We Don’t Waste now operates a 11,500 square foot facility, 4 refrigerated trucks, and is still growing. We Don’t Waste focuses mostly on fresh foods that would otherwise...well...go to waste. In addition to surplus from catering, large venues, restaurants, and the like, they have forged relationships with food wholesalers and markets. Once, a local distributor refused to accept delivery of a pallet with 1,400 pounds of organic chicken because one box had been damaged by a forklift. We Don’t Waste picked it up. They estimate they’ve diverted 25 mil-
lion pounds of food away from landfills and onto people’s dinner plates. They’re also linked to the ugly food movement, which seeks to educate people that food doesn’t have to be perfectly shaped to be delicious and healthy. Many stores reject oddly shaped produce because it doesn’t sell as well. Customers, in turn, came to expect all produce to look identical and the cyPHOTO COURTESY OF WE DON'T WASTE cle continued. Preblud ex- We Don't Waste works with caterers, food distributors, and plains that “produce that’s others to divert food away from landfills to those in need. not artistically perfect” too often ends up in landfills. Bell peppers are one Even as the pandemic begins to subside and of the most common he said: yellow peppers more people become economically stable, Prewith a bit of green, three chamber bell peppers blud believes their organization will continue instead of the common four, or just peppers to grow, though he wishes the need wasn’t that don’t have a perfectly symmetrical shape there and they could close. “All those jobs will can all end up in landfills. not be available when the pandemic is over... For the past year, they’ve changed their people will still be needing help,” adding that methods to adapt to the pandemic. Not un- they routinely see people who never expected like curbside pickup at a grocery store, they to be in a position to accept help from others. started doing a contactless handoff to peoPreblud said their organization is successple’s cars when they started a drive through. ful because of three tenants: reliability, credNow receiving food from 160 food donors, ibility, and visibility. In order to grow, they’re they directly and indirectly distribute to looking for more community support: food over 200 agencies, organizations, and food donors, financial donors, and volunteers. banks in addition to their markets in North More information about donations they can and West Denver. They don’t charge for any and cannot accept is available on their webfood they give away and rely on grants, foun- site. If you are seeking help or want to donate dations, corporate giving, and, of course, time or funds, visit wedontwaste.org or call individual donations. 720-443-6113.
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Dear COVID 19, Thank you for… T rying to constantly reclaim, recreate, and “go back to the way things were” can have serious wellness ramifications. This isn’t to say we shouldn't treasure our ERIKA TAYLOR memories, honor sacrifices made, and mourn losses. We must! And if we practice, we can also learn to cherish the impermeant preciousness that comes with being human. In an effort to do just this, starting around Thanksgiving, I asked my clients to help write a thank you letter to COVID-19. With their permission, here are some excerpts from our note. Dear COVID-19, Thank you for reminding me that I am in charge of my schedule. I decide how much en-
ergy I spend on things. I may never dash out for that 5:30 yoga class. I’ll take one online when it works for me. I am awfully grateful for the opportunity to celebrate emergency responders, health care workers, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers… I’m going to keep doing this! Thanks to you I've learned to use technology!. I’ve taken virtual classes, campaigned for political candidates, made calls encouraging people to complete the census and helped raise money for causes I care about. I’ve loved all the Zooms: “Unmute yourself!”, “You’re frozen”, and “Whose dog is making all that racket??” Plus, my dance classes have gone online and now I get to dance with people from all over the world! Over this year I have had such an appreciation of the creative minds out there that figured out how to do full orchestral and
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choir concerts from remote artists. I hope that this kind of collaborative art will just get better and better. Thank you for introducing me to an octopus teacher, some british bakers and the denizens of Schitt’s Creek. I sure appreciate having a great view from work now. I don’t have to be in an office to get things done. Although I’ve got to say how grateful I am for teachers!!! If my kids had to be homeschooled they would certainly have to repeat every single grade and I’d get no work done at all! Because I was home, I have done a lot of DEEP cleaning. I even cleaned out my spice cabinet. These are things I am going to keep on my regular agenda. Because of you, I love
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f you’ve spent the last year wondering what you really want in your life and in your career, you are not alone. Nearly two thirds of Americans are on the hunt for a JAMES DAVISMASSEY new job or would consider changing jobs if approached with an opportunity, according to a recent study by Ceridian, a human resources software and services firm. The number is higher among those 30 years old or younger. And here in Colorado, the past year has brought on immense professional change. The unemployment rate here reached nearly 12 percent during the pandemic, and demand for gig workers in Denver increased by 25 percent after COVID-19-related restrictions set in. As we emerge from the pandemic, workplaces will look different. Translation: A lot of people’s lives are in flux, but there are many ways to chart a path forward in Denver. A year ago, we were inundated with articles and social media posts telling us precisely how to chart that path forward: Exercise more. Eat better. Learn a new skill. Make sourdough. But the pandemic carried on and we became weary. We helped our kids learn remotely, we balanced jobs, we mastered remote work and found ways to preserve human connection. Yet still, we lost jobs and were told that our professional lives would change. Some of us simply realized we were unhappy in our careers. Though daunting, this new era has brought the opportunity for Coloradans to walk away from the job that we think we should have, and follow the path that will lead us to a career we want. As a leadership development coach, I have worked with a myriad of Mile High City clients on the precipice of making major career changes, all of whom I have answer the following questions: What is really important to you? If money, time and failure did not exist, what would you do with your life? When was a time in life you were happiest, and what were you doing at that time? These questions might seem straightforward, but many people don’t take the time to truly consider what they want. According to a recent article by Gallup, meaningful careers
center on who you are, what your strengths are, and finding work that gives you energy (2). So how do you find it? How do you leave behind the should and find the want to? Align What Is Important To You With Your Actions: List out what is most important to you. Is it family? Adventure? Money? Making a difference in the world? Identify which of your values are being fulfilled and see if there are any that are incompatible. People who use their strengths are more engaged in their jobs and are three times more likely to report a high quality of life than those who do not according to Gallup (3). Find Your Authenticity: Is who you are on the inside how you present on the outside? A role that allows you to be genuine will let you showcase your strengths. Be Present: Find the time to be alone with yourself, go for a hike in the mountains or a walk in your neighborhood. Listen to the thoughts that come into your mind, if you can align with your values, find authenticity and be present, you can move from surviving to thriving in your life and career. The pandemic has offered us a chance to rebuild and reimagine. As Colorado shifts to start thinking about life after the pandemic, and as the city reopens, I am beginning to help Denver companies strategize on bringing employees back to the office. Many local leaders now understand the need for regular communication with employees and companies in Denver are embracing a hybrid work-from-home model and more flexible hours to retain talent. I have a deep hope for a new beginning for Coloradans, an era of oneness and belonging, where people can connect on a human-level, where we listen with empathy and spend quality time with our families. A new beginning where we take a look at our inner-selves and begin to uncover our true desires as well as take a look at the impact of our biases and privileges. A new beginning where we see our individual role in our communities, where we discard what we’ve been told we should do, and have the courage to pursue what we want to do.
James Davis-Massey is a northwest Denver resident and the founder and CEO of The Human Blueprint, a leadership development, executive and team coaching firm in Denver. www.thehumanblueprint.com
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and meal s the temperatures warm up, paving proj- streets based on the condition of the road. getting fr ects for roads and sidewalks by the DenResidents can expect DOTI crews to come the home ver Department of Transportation and Infra- to the respective streets twice. One crew will be around: A structure (DOTI) have begun. removing the old asphalt over the course of a The 2018 Major resurfacing projects this year include day, known as milling. And shortly thereafter vey for Ol all of the residential streets in the Inspiration weather permitting, the second crew will ar- 25% recei provide i Point neighborhood, 32nd Ave from Federal rive to spend a day paving the street. DOTI spokesperson Heather Burke indi- In the to Pecos, 44th Ave from Federal to Tejon, Zuni St. from 48th Ave to 52nd Ave, Platte St. from cated that residents will receive a heads up ian neigh REI to 20th St., and Lipan St. from 38th Ave about paving. “Door hangers are placed a few from her days in advance to notify residents about the staying a f to 46th Ave. According to DOTI, residential streets are work. Temporary no parking signs will then be “Love you typically repaved about once every 15 years, placed on streets to be paved at least 24 hours as they ge in advance of crews in their 7 and the busier arterial arriving.” he passed and collector streets Residents can expect Any cars left on the took over are repaved about street on the day of supported once every seven to DOTI crews to come to the ten years. paving will be towed, and volun All of the streets respective streets twice. One typically only a few on her ow except Lipan will be crew will be removing the old blocks away. The Caregiv mill/overlay, a process owner of the car will tion and asphalt over the course of a where the top couple face a reduced fine role. I can day, known as milling. inches of the street this year of $50 for Aunt Jean parking in a no park- her 80’s, w are removed, and then ing zone, as the city ily history paved over with new asphalt. Lipan will get the Hot In Place Recy- is waiving the typical additional $100 fine for sorbed im cle Treatment, where the top inch of the road towing due to the economic hardships so many as it come surface is heated then mixed with new asphalt. are experiencing right now. Owners who have tended be were week It’s a more environmentally friendly and affordable process that DOTI uses on certain See PAVING, Page 12 overwhelm
The Denver North Star
C O M M UN I T Y SHAPING OUR FUTURE BY REMEMBERING OUR PAST
Two Shining Stars in the Denver Public School System. Let Us Rejoice!
ou have heard me rightfully complaining of the poor management of our Denver Public School Board and the way the school board and DENNIS GALLAGHER administration have been mismanaging the system. Well I think the goddess Athena herself, complete with her omnipresent all-knowing owl, may have landed in two places in the system. Those two shining lights are North High School and Denver Centers for International Studies. For years, the school board treated old Northside High school like an unwanted child. Every year for 5 years the district assigned a new principal to the beleaguered school. Attendance dropped and so did morale among faculty, staff, and students. But good things are happening at North, much to the delight of neighborhood students, parents, and the school district. North teachers now host classes in Mandarin, Lakota, and Spanish, with Arabic likely coming next year. Reports note that French is holding on by a thread but is still triumphant. Principal and faculty and staff report less turnover and parents seem pleased at the improvements. There is an abundance of students and even a waiting list. The proof is in the matzoh ball soup as the old Irish slogan says. Of special interest is the $1.4 million set up by the North High Alumni Association which enables the association to award over $70,000 in scholarships to North High graduates yearly. And North just had its first student accepted to Harvard recently. No
other high school in the system has such a munificent scholarship fund, not even the East Side Angels. The Denver Center for International Studies, part of the public school system, is the other beacon of light which offers hope for the future. The school and travel programs help create citizens of the world
The DCIS Foundation, the remarkable brain child of Melanie Grant, native Denverite and educator, set up the DCIS foundation in 1997 to help students take trips to foreign countries. I’m proud to serve on the board. Since then, thanks to Melanie's foresight, the foundation has awarded $500,000 in scholarships to over 5200 students. Students have visited over 45 countries, studied 7 languages capping off their studies in world affairs and cultures. These travel projects afford students the ability to round off their academic careers with travel experiences. These students appreciate and learn to respect other cultures, forging on the smithy of their souls the consciousness of citizens for a world with an uncertain future. And you can help with these students by at-
tending the DCIS Spring Gala, Saturday April 24th. Tickets for dinner delivered to your home are $130.00 or $25.00 virtual attendance at Colorado History Center, 12th and Broadway. Tickets include a chance at the Grand Giveaway Prize. Linda and Jimmy Yip of the Nathan Yip Foundation are this year’s awardees. There are over 50 auction items on which to bid to help the traveling students. I donated a USA made cotton blanket of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, 2 bottles of Irish whiskey, a model Yankee Clipper ship for your fireplace, and honey jars from Durango, Colorado. A trip to Ireland is included in the auction items. Bid on the Lakota pottery cookie jar from South Dakota. You can find out about the DCIS Spring Gala by consulting https://events. handbid.com/auctions/2021-gala. Like Rick Steves on Channel 6, help save the world one trip at a time. And you can donate to the North High Alumni Fund, c/o Joe De Rose, Alumni Center, North High school, 2960 Speer Blvd. Denver 80211. All tax deductible. Tell your friends and neighbors. And you can join the North Alumni association only $7.00 a year. They let me join and I went to Holy Family High which used to be at West 43rd and Utica Street, where Arrupe High is now. Another great school, but another story for another time.
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The Honorable Dennis Gallagher is a former city auditor, city councilman, state senator and state representative. He’ll be sharing thoughts and stories from North Denver’s past and future in his reoccuring column in The Denver North Star.
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CO M M U N I TY THE GRAY ZONE: STORIES CONNECTED TO NORTH DENVER’S OLDER ADULTS
More Likely to Give Care than to Receive It
in 5 Coloradans 60 and older provide day-to-day support to a loved one. They spend an average of 9-12 hours per week in duties rangKATHRYN WHITE ing from transportation and meals to personal hygiene or help getting from one place to another within the home. An official term gets thrown around: ADL’s (activities of daily living). The 2018 Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults (CASOA) sums it up: 25% receive assistance from someone, 44% provide it. In the afternoons I see my nonagenarian neighbor’s family coming and going from her house, delivering packages, each staying a few minutes. I hear them call out, “Love you, mom!” “Love you, grandma!” as they get into their cars. Her children are in their 70’s. One son lived with her until he passed away in December. A neighbor took over shoveling her snow. She’s now supported by a loving patchwork of family and volunteers, added to what she can do on her own. Caregivers report a sense of contribution and personal worth in playing this role. I can relate: in hours spent with my Aunt Jeanette, who moved to Colorado in her 80’s, we became close. I learned family history; I witnessed resilience and absorbed important lessons about facing life as it comes. Jeanette’s caregiving circle extended beyond me and my family, yet there were weeks and months when we were all overwhelmed. A quarter of caregivers in
The Denver North Star
Colorado report feeling strained by the duties, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. The 2018 CASOA reports delves into how older adults in 16 regions across Colorado are faring. And when it comes to supporting caregivers, there is more that communities can do. I recently spoke with Alejandra Lerma, Case Manager for Latino Senior Community and Refugees at the Area Agency on Aging. Lerma works with 20 seniors at a time, visiting them in their homes and connecting them with services to help them stay there. It’s a challenging process, especially when it comes to matching legal permanent residents with services. Of the seniors Lerma currently works with, 18 live with a spouse or adult child. An 85-year-old gentleman’s health has declined dramatically, and he doesn’t qualify for public benefits. His 72-year-old wife takes very good care of him, around the clock, but at the expense of tending to her own health needs. Lerma is as worried for her and she is for him. In an era when extended families are separated by distance, and neighbors can be kept apart by distrust or prejudice or ambivalence, what might have been a wide caregiving circle is often whittled down to one or two overwhelmed individuals. And sometimes it’s the intimate or technical nature of a task that causes stress. The caregiver undertakes duties that in any other setting would come with training, special equipment, or another set of hands.
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See CARE, Page 13 April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021 | Page 11
K IDS & E DU CATI O N LETTERS FROM MISS JILL
Michelangelo Was Rich
any of us always as- dents’ other remote classes. Often, students sumed even great art- were expected to mute themselves and only lisists like Michelangelo lived a ten during class. This observation inspired her frugal, typical existence of the to become innovative with her online curricucliche starving artist. If the real lum, encouraging students to stand up during JILL CARSTENS story of Michelangelo had been class, clap, sing, and play out. She spoke about common knowledge, solid funding for the arts “magical moments” offered when playing inmight be more of a real budget line item for struments together, even over Zoom, and that school districts. working on a common goal provided a sense While prevalent in pop culture now, the of community. “Engaging in music involves starving artist of the past is a myth. many senses and gets us up out of our chairs Michelangelo, painter of the Sistine Chap- at a time when we really need it,” she offered. el among so many other artworks, thrived Making arts education a priority became financially. Although not easy to find this part of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, information, it was discovered in 1995 when but because funding trickles from federal professor Rab Hatfield of Syracuse University sources often to needy local levels, actual imin Florence found his bank records. The fa- plementation of arts programs doesn’t always mous painter had amassed a fortune equal to happen. Access to the arts has become like a millions in today’s dollars. lot of things, dependent on demographic area. If this had been our model for the life of Children in higher income neighborhoods ofan artist just think of how attitudes towards ten have parents who will pay for music eduarts education might cation outside of school. be different. Katie Taft, Education We have known Manager at the Center for decades that arts for Visual Art at Metroeducation enhancpolitan State University es critical thinking in Denver runs a paid skills and provides art internship program opportunities for stufor high schoolers that dents to initiate and defies those stereotypes. then follow through Students who are interwith their own ideas. ested in the program apThis, in turn, can ply by writing an essay. boost confidence and Participants come from PHOTO FROM ARTS EDUCATION IN COLORADO: self-esteem. When GUIDEBOOK & RESOURCES all over the metro area, employed during the representing diverse study of other subjects, art can help broad- backgrounds. Katie shared that the students’ en perspectives of content. In collaborative involvement this year, even remotely, was critclasses like band, students grow in coopera- ical in providing avenues to develop resiliention and communication skills and develop cy and “therapy-like” communication skills prosocial behaviors. through art. The program also offers an opDespite all of this, and the hopeful evolution portunity for much needed socialization. The of the term “creative class,” support for arts ed- internship is an example of a grant-based arts ucation continues to struggle. I have followed program offered in Colorado. For information this struggle throughout my years as a teacher about more such programs see: https://www. and, in preparation for writing this article, dug cde.state.co.us/coarts/artsguidebook-2nd-ed. into my own files of articles that justified inIn education circles, we call it “fighting the cluding the arts as a regular subject of curricu- good fight.” Standing up for and supporting lum in our schools. Sadly, the articles I collect- the methods we believe help kids the best. Arts ed from the 1990’s lamented the same message in education is definitely part of that fight and as today: little support and no budget. the best thing we can do is inquire about it and Arts education is on an even more precar- take action for our own children, whether that ious trajectory during the uncertain times be researching funds for your own school or of the pandemic. But the benefits have never going outside of the district to find affordable been so clear with many students being se- programs for your student. It is frustrating questered remotely and showing signs of de- for it to be such a challenge, but it is worth pression. Involvement in art and music classes the benefits! has provided positive ways for kids to process tough emotions. Jill Carstens is a proud Denver During a recent episode of NPR’s “1A”, I native, a passionate mom and a heard some teachers and students share how teacher her entire adult life! She has run being involved in their music classes was help- Milestones Preschool here since 2011. If you ing them stay connected during the pandemic. have ideas for an article or further quesSamantha Reid, a middle school band teacher tions for Miss Jill, you can email her at from Nashville, Tennessee, sat in on her stu- Jill@DenverNorthStar.com
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Page 12 | April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021
ARTS & CU LTU R E
Smiley Branch Library Welcomes Back Customers after Renovation By Hannah Evans
Smiley’s iconic fireplace and new seating
fter over a year of being closed to the public, Denver Public Library’s Smiley Branch Library looks forward to opening its doors again in late April. While access will initially be in a limited capacity due to COVID-19 safety measures, Smiley will become publicly accessible soon, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Curbside pickup will continue and be available Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. In person programming remains suspended until further notice. Smiley’s exact opening date wasn’t set by the time this issue went to print due to a few more minor construction-related projects, but library officials are optimistic about opening by the end of the month. Keep an eye on denverlibrary.org for the latest information and an opening date as soon as it is available. Smiley closed in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the library remained closed throughout the remainder of the year as work began on the historic building’s much anticipated renovation. While a number of finishing touches were still going on both inside and outside of the building, Smiley’s staff came back in January of 2021 to start offering curbside pickup to library customers. A great deal of work went into Smiley’s renovation with careful attention paid to updating the space while maintaining the 102 year old building’s charm. Smiley’s longtime customers will be glad to see the built-in wood shelving upstairs has been carefully refinished, the large, curved ceiling has been repaired and freshly painted, and the fireplace has new comfortable and cozy seating nearby. A custom service desk that matches the library’s existing woodwork welcomes visitors as they walk in, rather than the previous desk that faced away from the entrance. The shelving and
Continued from Page 10 trouble finding their car after the tow can call the city’s non-emergency line at 720.913.2000 for help locating the vehicle. In addition to the street repaving, DOTI will also be taking advantage of repaving work to add new bike lanes on North Harlan and Gray St, a popular connection route that sees hundreds of people on bikes per day that use the Clear Creek Trail. They are expanding the bike lane network on West 46th Ave from Federal to Lipan, and Zuni from 46th Ave to 52nd Ave. West Regis will see a bike lane refresh with new striping. These projects are to help further Denver’s goal of enabling 30% of trips to be by bike, walking, or mass transit by the year 2030 to help mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution. Details on the bike lane improvements can be found at: https://www.
PHOTO BY HANNAH EVANS
computing areas have been reconfigured, but the same amount of books, movies, and other materials remain in Smiley’s heavily circulating collection. Downstairs, customers will notice the biggest changes to Smiley’s interior. The community room, where programs and storytime are hosted, had a major facelift new paint, carpeting, lighting, and storage accommodate visitors as well as staff needs. A new projector and audio visual system will make hosting meetings and events simple, while a community sink offers more flexibility for crafts, cooking classes, and other programs. The public restrooms have been completely updated, and are now significantly cleaner, safer, and more accessible. Perhaps best of all, a new small study room gives customers a space to work quietly while the larger community room is occupied. On the outside of Smiley, the beautiful brickwork and front facade has been tended to and repaired. The front lawn and path to the building’s ADA ramp has been updated, making it more obvious and safer to use. An internal book drop located on the side of the library allows customers to drop off returns any time of day, and a fun new public art piece by local artist Maureen Hearty “ welcomes visitors from both the parking lot as well as 46th Avenue. Smiley will offer public access initially to the building’s upstairs as well as the restrooms, allowing customers to access the collection and computers. Furniture will be reconfigured to adhere to social distancing guidelines, masks will be required, and there will be an occupancy limit in place. For more information on visiting Smiley Branch Library and other Denver Public Library locations in person, please visit www. denverlibrary.org/COVID-19, and for more information on Smiley, please visit www.denverlibrary.org/content/smiley-branch-library. denvergov.org/Government/Departments/ Department-of-Transportation-and-Infrastructure/Programs-Services/Bicycles/Coordinated-Projects As part of the program to build out the sidewalk network for people who walk or roll in wheelchairs, Burke says DOTI also hopes to begin construction this year on sidewalks around most of Rocky Mountain Lake Park, 49th Ave from Sheridan to Eaton, 52nd Ave from Zuni to Vallejo, and 47th Ave from Federal to Grove. The city also will be doing work on concrete gutters and curbs, as well as improving older pedestrian ramps to bring them up to compliance for people with disabilities as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The schedule for this year’s improvements have not been released yet, but it will be posted along with weekly updates on the schedule of which streets will be paved at denvergov.org/ denverpaving
The Denver North Star
A RTS & CU LTU R E CHECKING OUT
Checking Out: Cuyahoga
n the early hours of New Year’s Day 1837, Pete Beatty’s “Cuyahoga” (Scribner, 2020) introduces Big Son, a pioneering American spirit HANNAH EVANS among the likes of Johnny Appleseed and Daniel Boone. Big Son, his “shoulders wide as ox yokes” and his “muscles curlicued like rich man’s furniture,” carries a woman, child, and house cat out of a roaring fire, saving them as one of his frequently performed feats around Ohio City. This folk hero appears larger than life, which he is – after being kicked in the head by a horse and momentarily dying, Big comes back from NAH EVANSthe dead with abilities to perform superhuman tasks regonfigured,ularly throughout his Midovies, andwestern town. y’s heavily Big Son’s tall tales are narrated by his brother Medium notice theSon, also known as Meed, whose distinct erior. Thestyle is as entertaining as it is unreliable. rams andMeed explains: “Big Son has rastled rivers r facelift -and lakes and rescued women in woe. Met nd storagethe devil twice and whipped him three times. taff needs.Ate panther fricassee for breakfast and tiger ual systemsteaks at supper. Taught wolves how to wail nd eventsand put a face on the moon with a rusty musnk offersket. Big Son has done more feats than you ng classes,have brains to hold etc.” restrooms While Big Son’s tales are great and many, and are and more new small ce to work nity room
Continued from Page 11
beautiful een tendedLAWMAKERS LOOK TO SUPPORT nd path toTHE NEARLY HALF OF OLDER n updated,COLORADANS WHO ARE er to use.CAREGIVERS n the side Lawmakers at the state and national o drop offlevel are considering ways to support carenew pub-givers. They’re looking at a wide range of en Heartyissues including job protection, training, “ parking lotsupportive, and respite services. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, half of s initiallyolder caregivers in the U.S. are providing as the re-support to someone living with Alzheiaccess themer’s or dementia. Duties in these cases iture willcan be extraordinarily complex. al distanc- On the federal level, Coral Cosway, Seuired, andnior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy n place. for the Alzheimer's Association, Colorado ng SmileyChapter, reports that they support The ver PublicAlzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (S. 56 / visit www.H.R. 1474). “This bill would provide grants for moreto state and local entities to support family www.den-caregivers. The authorizing legislation is h-library. moving through Congress this year, but if it passes, it will also need dollars appropriated (i.e. allocated) to it before grants can artments/become available.” nd-Infra- At the state capitol, Cosway continues, cles/Coor-“There are no dementia-specific caregiver bills pending right now, but there are bills ld out thethat would impact unpaid, family caregivwalk or rollers more generally. For example: also hopes• SB21-118 would allow county Adult Prosidewalkstective Services staff to respond to low-risk Lake Park,cases of mistreatment of an at-risk adult by 52nd Avefocusing more on the supportive services Ave fromand education needed by the family than a "finding of fault" in the situation. k on con-• HB21-1172 would specify that patients/ improvingresidents of hospitals, assisted living reshem up toidences and nursing homes may have at ties as partleast one visitor during their stay/resiAct. Thedency. The bill prevents these facilities/ ments haveresidences from adopting policies or probe postedcedures that stops visitation entirely, even chedule ofduring a pandemic. The bill allows them vergov.org/to limit visitation, just not stop it entirely. • SB21-075 would create a "supportive de-
The Denver North Star
his woes pile just as high. Big helped to settle Ohio City, located just on the other side of the Cuyahoga River from Cleveland, by clearing a forest of trees in two days’ time, then he wrestled Lake Erie into submission. Performing feats day in and day out for nothing more than a pat on the back, Big’s troubles began when the woman he wants to marry rejects him. In an attempt to impress her, Big Son begins looking for ways to make money, but feat-performing spirits are not really the type to make a regular living. As tensions rise between Ohio City and Cleveland, the townsfolk appreciate Big’s status as the resident spirit less and less. Beatty’s debut novel magnificently calls back the larger-than-life folklore tales heard regularly when growing up in the United States, while also telling a unique and original story. The narrative voice of Meed is hilarious, devious, and completely unforgettable – this short novel is highly engrossing, while forcing you to slow down and take in each and every carefully crafted word. Check out “Cuyahoga” at your closest Denver Public Library location or as an ebook or through denverlibrary.com. Hannah Evans is the senior librarian at the Smiley Branch of the Denver Public Library.
ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION EVENT COVID-19 and Caregiving Monday, April 26 10 to 11 a.m. www.alz.org/co Caring for someone living with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic adds unique challenges for caregivers. This online program provides simple tips caregivers can put in place whether the person living with dementia lives at home, in a residential facility, or care providers are coming into the home.
cision-making agreement" entered into voluntarily by a person with a disability and someone in that person's life. This agreement would outline the decisions that the person with the disability would make vs. the supporting person. It allows for something less than full guardianship for someone who can make some decisions but needs help to make others. Lerma and others in her field encourage us to take a step back and take in the big picture of access and community resources and systems as we strive to better meet the needs of caregivers in our community – and act as better caregivers in the circles we’re a part of. Kathryn has lived in North Denver since around the time the Mount Carmel High School building was razed and its lot at 3600 Zuni became Anna Marie Sandoval Elementary. She’s raised two children in the neighborhood, worked at several nonprofits, and facilitates a Caregiver Support Group for the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter. Do you have story ideas for The Gray Zone? Email: email@example.com.
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April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021 | Page 13
P OL I T I C S
North Denver House Reps Talk Session By David Sabados
orth Denver’s state representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D - House District 4) and Alex Valdez (D - House District 5) are both serving their 2nd term in the legislature and sat down with The Denver North Star to give an update on the bills they are sponsoring this year. Both highlighted a mix of bills: some from ideas constituents had and others ideas they originated.
les-Gutierrez is sponsoring several bills. HB1201 is one that came from a constituent she explained; it could increase family and loved ones’ ability to talk with someone who is incarcerated. A constituent was frequently disconnected when calling an incarcerated family member but still charged for the calls. When they did have a connection, the quality was often poor. The bill requires telecommunications providers to keep records related to the calls REPRESENTATIVE quality and costs and submit them for review. SERENA GONZALES-GUITERREZ If passed, the public utilities commission will Representative Gonzales-Guiteralso set a maximum rate cost. rez’s bills this session largely foHB-1250 clarifies a previous crimcus on criminal justice reform inal justice reform bill by making and affordable housing, both body camera usage policies issues she’s talked about more uniform across different frequently and draw on her law enforcement agencies. HBbackground. The highest 1209 potentially allows people profile is probably HB-1117, who committed a felony when which concerns a municithey were 18-24 to be released palities’ ability to promote the after 15 years of incarceration and development of affordable serving 50% of their term. PHOTO COURTESY OF housing. Rep. Susan Lotine The department of correcSERENA GONZALES-GUTIERREZ from SW Denver and two tions does, at times, treat Representative Denver Senators, Julie Gonyounger offenders differently zales and Robert Rodriguez, Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez than older ones. Rep. Gonzaare also sponsoring the bill. HB-1117 does not les-Gutierrez explained “there’s a lot of checkcreate rent control, she explained; that question points” before anyone is released early and comes up from time to time. Instead, it clarifies that the bill is about 2nd chances for younger a city’s ability to promote new affordable de- offenders, noting that while 18 is the age of mavelopments. After the Telluride court decision jority, scientific studies increasingly show that that prohibited rent control, other municipal the frontal lobe of the brain doesn’t close until efforts were put into question. “It’s about local someone is 25, which is medically one indicacontrol,” she explained. “It gives our local gov- tor of true adulthood. ernment a tool they can utilize for what their One education related bill, HB-1010, is close community needs are around affordable hous- to home for her. It creates a study on diversity ing.” The bill has earned praise from municipal in education, including why the population officials, including Councilwoman At-Large of teachers is usually significantly more white Robin Kniech who referenced the bill in her than the population as a whole and the stuMarch column in The Denver North Star. dents they serve. Gonzales-Gutierrez, who On the criminal justice reform side, Gonza- grew up in North Denver, explained she didn’t
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have a teacher of color until the 6th grade at Skinner and it wasn’t until 8th grade that she had her first Latina teacher. She wants to see “what’s impeding [people of color] from taking the next step” to becoming teachers and whether more can be done to overcome impediments like unpaid student teaching roles, which are often required.
card worth of plastic a week,” he explained. If you’ve ever talked about a product you want with your phone on, see ads for it later that day, and wonder if your phone is listening to you, Valdez thinks HB-1244 is a bill you’ll support. “It’s gotten creepy,” according to Valdez. There’s two elements: when private sector companies collect data like fingerprints and faceprints, they are often selling that data to the public sector, especially law enforcement. REPRESENTATIVE ALEX VALDEZ Representative Alex Valdez’s bills this ses- Valdez said we “don’t want to create a minorision range from environmental to personal ty report system,” referencing the 2002 Tom Cruise Film (or 1956 short story by data privacy. Possibly the most notaPhilip K. Dick, depending on your ble, especially for residents who media preferences). It’s not that live near the Suncor facility, is he doesn’t think law enforceHB-1189. The bill expands ment should be able to access detection of toxins in the air biometric data, but he said near facilities like Suncor, he wants to ensure a judge requiring more monitoring, is still involved in the proincluding fenceline monitorcess. The second part relates ing to see what toxins are reto users being able to opt out leased into the community and of their data being shared at what levels. Information about dangerous toxins will PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEX VALDEZ or sold, noting that signing Representative Alex Valdez away data is common on also have to be released to the community in the two most commonly consent forms. “It’s not a huge ask, but it's critused languages in the area around a site. Val- ical.” Valdez said the issue was one of the top dez serves as chair of the Energy and Environ- ones constituents raised recently, especially ment committee and has worked extensively younger constituents. HB-1048 is a bill that came from a constitin solar. He described the bill as “not popular with industry,” adding “I didn’t run to repre- uent in the pandemic, requiring most retail sent industry.” While the bill doesn’t single businesses to accept cash. Valdez talked to out Suncor, the additional sponsorship by constituents who do not bank, only operate North Denver and Southern Adams County in cash, and were turned away from their Legislators Julie Gonzales, Dominick More- local stores. Valdez is sponsoring the meano, and Adrienne Benavidez, all of whom rep- sure as both an economic justice and a data resent areas around Suncor, is a clear signal of privacy measure. While this session hasn’t been marked by the intent to have more monitoring on the site. Valdez said the legislation will likely affect a as much bipartisan cooperation as others, Valdez did highlight one other bill carried by handful of facilities across the state. Another bill getting attention is HB-1162, him, Adams County Democrat Faith Winter, which aims to phase out single use plastic and two Douglas County Republicans: Senapackaging at restaurants over the next two tor Jim Smallwood and Representative Kevyears. It creates an interim period where in Van Winkle. Valdez explained HB-1222 restaurants can use existing supplies and lifts what sponsors consider to be onerous creates a small fee system for using recycling requirements on home child care, benefiting paper bags, with the majority of the fees go- providers and families. It passed on a unaning to the local municipality. Valdez cites the imous vote. “That’s so rare in this building,” prevalence of microplastics in nearly every noted Valdez. Senator Julie Gonzales, who represents ecosystem as the reason to make big changes. Microplastics are miniscule pieces of plastic North Denver in the state senate, did not re-- often only a millimeter or two -- that find spond to multiple requests to be interviewed for their way into the food chain. “We eat a credit this month’s issue.
Continued from Page 1 5626 W 110th Cir. Westminster SOLD $550,00
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submit your checklist, it is added to your personal lists and also gets entered into a global database used for research and conservation. When you’re ready to nerd-out on all manner of local, regional and world-wide bird data, or participate in bird-related citizen science, visit Cornell Lab’s www.allaboutbirds.org. Miller recommends new birders start low tech with that small bird book that may already be sitting on a nearby shelf. Or another popular Cornell Lab tool: the Merlin Bird ID app. It’s perfect for learning bird species. Merlin prompts you for location, date, size, and color of bird, then radio buttons for “in a tree,” “on the ground,” “on a feeder,” etc. Your answers result in a list of bird names and photos for you to scroll through, learn about, and select from. But how does the novice birder even find birds out there on the trail? Miller offers, “Look for movement. Scan treetops and along outer branches.” Focus first on the tallest trees, the overstory, perhaps a mature cottonwood. Listen for scratching on leaves, drumming or tapping. Then check out the understory, bushes and shrubs that are just above human height but not quite trees: sumac, scrub oak, chokecherry. “Don’t feel overwhelmed,” Miller reassures, “it takes time to learn.” She says it’s easy to connect with a birding Facebook group or sign up for a bird hike or online event. Denver Audubon and Denver Field Ornithologists are great places to start.
And where to go? Miller says North Denver has some of the best places to observe birds. Step out into a nearby park or trail, or venture further into the foothills or to Bluff Lake Nature Center. Denver is home to rivers and trails that cut across the city—the High Line Canal and the Colorado Front Range Trail—creating wonderful bird habitat and enjoyable urban outings. Some might say that when you’ve moved from observing birds from the comfort of your living room to setting out into natural habitats with the express purpose of looking for birds, you’ve transformed from a bird watcher into a bona fide birder. When that’s you, you’ll find great ideas about where to go and what species to look for by checking out let’s go birding, a YouTube channel created a year ago by Miller, her partner Jordan Spalding, and their friend Satoshi Machihara. Their videos are beautifully crafted and feel like a guided hike. They blend useful bird information and tips with jovial banter and philosophical riffs about habitat and conservation. And if you listen carefully enough to that spring 2020 video about birding along 88th & Platte, you might even learn which species of duck Spalding sees as the “Goth” of mallards. You don’t need a checklist of all 290 Denver County bird species or an expensive pair of binoculars to enjoy your next birding adventure. Dust off that old pair in the closet, toss a hat, some snacks and a water bottle into your backpack, and set out to find your place where human and bird worlds intersect. Miller remembers back to her first birding hike 15 years ago, “Once you’re in, it’s easy to stay hooked.”
The Denver North Star
P O LI T I C S
Denver City Council Mulls Giving Anonymous Ethics Complaints a Voice Director Would Also Have Authority to Initiate Board Investigations By Eric Heinz
eople wanting to file ethics complaints against Denver city employees and elected officials have always had to provide their name. But City Council members said a recent survey of about 3,000 city employees found that two-thirds of them would not file an ethics complaint because they would be afraid of possible retaliation from a superior or colleague, as they would have to sign it. On April 6 Denver City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee moved forward a proposal to allow people to file anonymous ethics complaints with the city’s Board of Ethics. The proposals would also give the ethics director the authority to initiate investigations based on their relevance to the ethics code. According to Councilmember Kevin Flynn (District 2, Southwest Denver), who is a sponsor of the bill, the proposed changes are based on a performance audit that was published in February 2020. Flynn said some of the findings of the report addressed concerns of ethics while others would be addressed by other government agencies. “The auditor’s findings were really stunning to me, that two-thirds of our employees would just not report something they saw for fear of retaliation,” Flynn told the Finance and Governance Committee. Another proposed change is that the Board of Ethics would not be required to process or respond to an anonymous complaint that “appears frivolous on its face or submitted within 45 days of a municipal election,” according to the bill. “The cause for concern was if there are ethical violations in the workplace and we allow anonymous complaints … that anonymous complaint could be used for harassment and so forth,” during an election, Flynn told The Denver North Star. “But I think we have a very good screening process, a very good director in place.” Amendments to the ethics code also being considered include allowing the board eight weeks to render a decision on complaints instead of six, seven days instead of five to notify people involved in the matter and 35 days for the board to screen complaints instead of 31. The bill with the proposed changes to the rth Denverethics code is slated to be considered by the full erve birds.City Council at a later date. or venture ff Lake Na-ENFORCEMENT s and trails To make any of these changes matter, there Line Canalmust be some kind of enforcement procedure —creatingin the event an ethics violation is found to be able urbanlegitimate by the board. hen you’ve The proposed changes would give the Board he comfortof Ethics authority to request reports back on into natu-what the presiding department of a city emse of look-ployee or elected official regarding disciplinary rom a bird
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steps that have been taken, but not the authority to render those decisions. Flynn said what stands in the way of the board’s independent enforcement authority is that city employees are already subject to disciplinary action by the Denver Career Services Authority, and “subjecting them to a second track of discipline is not something that we thought was beneficial.” “I ran it by our employment law section in the City Attorney’s office, and the board of ethics shall be informed of the outcome of the final disciplinary action, and they couldn’t do that before,” Flynn said of the proposed changes. Ethics Board member Jane T. Feldman told the Finance and Governance Committee she would still push for the board’s independent enforcement authority. Feldman referenced a decision by the board last year that deemed the city’s former chief building official improperly used his position to benefit his home construction business. Last year, ethics officials said they wanted to know what kind of discipline had been taken, as personnel matters between the city and its employees are typically kept confidential. “I’ve followed the code of ethics now for over a decade, and to my knowledge, it was the only case where the Board of Ethics has found someone in violation of the code,” Feldman said. Councilmember Deborah Ortega said many of the complainants who want to remain anonymous try to reach out to the City Council for guidance, rather than the Board of Ethics, because of the current policies. “I think it really is important that, when we get anonymous complaints that have very detailed and specific information, that we protect that individual until we can confirm whether they're willing to disclose who they are,” Ortega said. “Oftentimes, it’s employees within our city agencies that see … questionable practices that happen.” ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS FIND A WAY Without the ability to file anonymous complaints, people often turn to the media to look into questions and concerns, Ortega said. The Denver North Star was recently contacted by a city employee who wanted to file an ethics complaint regarding District 1 Councilmember Amanda Sandoval related to a social media post and financial expenditures at a North Denver business which they believed was a conflict of interest. The city employee told The Denver North Star that they did not file an official complaint with the ethics board in part because they have professional reasons to interact with Sandoval's office and feared retaliation.
La Casita, a well-known restaurant in North Denver, was owned by Sandoval's father, Paul Sandoval, until his passing and is now owned by his second wife, Paula Sandoval. Under most definitions, that relationship would make Paula Sandoval Amanda Sandoval's step-mother, a relationship which is defined as "immediate family" by the city's ethics handbook when assessing conflicts of interest. Councilwoman Sandoval shared a post on her official council Facebook page promoting the business. The original post was a write-up from 5280 magazine. According to open records requests filed by The Denver North Star, Sandoval has spent $1,808 from her office's account at the restaurant since being elected in 2019. Additional records show then city employee Sandoval spending office funds at the restaurant while working for Councilman Rafael Espinoza, her predecessor. Sandoval said the decision of restaurants was up to the councilman at the time, not her. Section 2-67 of the city's ethics handbook states: "No officer, official or employee shall use his or her public office or position or disclose or use confidential information in order to obtain private gain for himself or herself, for his or her immediate family, for any business entity with which he or she is affiliated or for any person or entity with whom the officer, official or employee is negotiating or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment." (emphasis added). The question of immediate family is more complicated though, as Sandoval said she does not consider Paula her step-mother but rather the "wife of my father." “I think it’s important that the distinction be made clear, since my father died (in 2012), I have had nothing to do with La Casita,” Councilwoman Sandoval told The Denver North Star. “I do not gain financially from there nor I do not have ownership of it.” Of the total her office spent at La Casita since 2019, $470 was used to buy food for COVID-19 vaccine volunteers, records show. The majority was to cater her office opening. Councilwoman Sandoval said she would have spent money at other businesses for meetings and other events, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit Colorado within three months of her time in office. Without an official complaint and due to the board’s inability to opine on the matter in question, this and similar issues could be left to the catacombs of social media and the question of whether it’s a violation won’t formally be brought up. Eric Heinz is a freelance journalist based in Denver, who most recently covered Los Angeles City Hall for City News Service.
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The Denver North Star
ED U CATI O N
DPS Board Hires Investigation Firm After Director Anderson is Accused of Sexual Assault By David Sabados
n late March, Black Lives Matter 5280 released a statement with an unnamed woman coming forward alleging that Tay Anderson, a director at-large on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education, was “the perpetrator of her sexual assault.” The statement said the woman was seeking a public apology and that Anderson “seek help from a licensed professional.” Anderson has denied any wrongdoing. He’s said he is a strong believer in restorative justice but he doesn’t believe he’s committed any acts of sexual misconduct and can’t apologize for actions he didn’t commit. “I welcome any and all fair investigations into the anonymous claims which have been made against me. I have done nothing which would substantiate claims of sexual assault or unlawful behaviors,” said Anderson in a recent public statement. Shortly after the initial allegations, several members of Never Again Colorado came forward with additional claims of misconduct. Never Again Colorado was a gun reform organization that’s no longer active. The group's former vice president told The Denver Post that Anderson “used his position as president to pressure women who were on the board or wanted to become involved into sleeping with him.” Anderson refuted the allegations. Director Anderson has repeatedly said he welcomes an investigation, and on April 6, the DPS Board of Education announced they hired Investigations Law Group to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations: STATEMENT FROM DPS BOARD: In response to allegations made public against Denver Public Schools Board Director Tay Anderson, and in fairness to all parties involved, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education is authorizing a thorough and independent fact-finding investigation. The Board has secured an agreement with Investigations Law Group. In our role as a Board, our first commitment is to serving the students, employees and community of Denver Public Schools. We want to create space for all members of our community to be heard, while we also ensure a fair process for everyone involved. Director Anderson has been informed about this investigation and supports a fair and thorough process. The Board looks forward to an independent view of the facts while we continue to serve the DPS community and focus on the important work of identifying a new superintendent and supporting our schools and students as we continue to reinvent education in the midst of a pandemic. Until the investigation is complete, the board will not make any additional statement. Should you wish to contribute to the fact-finding process, please contact Investigations Law Group at interviews@ ilgdenver.com. All communication will remain confidential. Note: This is a rapidly evolving story and while all facts are up-to-date as of Monday, April 12 when The Denver North Star went to press, additional information may be available when you read this in print. We felt it was in the public interest to print the contact information for Investigations Law Group for any North Denver residents who wish to contribute to the factfinding process.
April 15, 2021-May 14, 2021 | Page 15
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E L E CTE D O FFI C I AL UP DAT E
An Update From Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez
proudly serve as the third elected Clerk and Recorder for the City and County of Denver. Unprecedented media focus on the 2020 General Election brought national, PAUL LOPEZ and even international, media attention to our office’s election processes. But what many may not realize are the other ways in which the Office of the Clerk and Recorder serves Denver residents, and how we innovated and expanded our services in 2020 to meet the needs of Denverites. The challenges met by my agency in the midst of a global health pandemic have forged a resilient, nimble office that I’m proud to lead into the next phase of service for our residents. OUR OFFICE’S VISION: INNOVATION, SERVICE, AND INTEGRITY My focus since coming into the office has been to ensure that Denverites have access to the critical records we are entrusted to keep; to provide information for residents facing foreclosure; to ensure all Denver residents can vote safely and securely (we’ll focus on this topic in a later op-ed); and to build a common and shared agency identity which connects with our residents. RECORDS MANAGEMENT AND RECORDING TOUCHES ALL DENVERITES Our office keeps a broad range of records, from city records like contracts and city council documents to historical archives from Denver’s earliest days. We also record documents for individuals, including land records and marriage licenses. These records document our residents’ lives. My elected predecessors improved our records practices, removing records from damp
basement corners of the City and County Building, indexing those records, and implementing technological improvements like a queuing system and enhanced online records lookup. In 2019, my office made more than 11 million records available online with real estate records now searchable back to 1950 and marriage records searchable back to 1903. When I took office, I identified records management as an area for improvement. We proactively invited Auditor O’Brien’s office to give us an unbiased, third-party review of the procedures I inherited. Additionally, we proposed a partnership with the auditor to report about current practices and how to improve them. One of the gaps this partnership revealed was a long-standing vacancy in our City Clerk position. We organized and strengthened the City Clerk team, hired a new City Clerk with a background in recordkeeping and added a team member dedicated to campaign finance. Through an increase in eRecording and the installation of our dedicated drop box, our office recorded more than 215,000 documents in 2020. We processed nearly 59,000 releases of deeds of trust- the most in any year since 2004. Despite increased volume during the pandemic, our office experienced no backlogs in recording services. Early in the pandemic, we developed a mail and dropbox marriage license process and appointment-based system to continue to meet the needs of our residents. We later piloted a virtual marriage licensing process. We issued more than 5,500 marriage licenses in 2020. Before the pandemic, we dropped our wait and transaction times by instituting a variety of efficiencies. We continued to be nimble as we moved from our usual in-person business practices to an online service delivery model
for our customers. We’re now open for scheduled in-person appointments and I am proud that we were able to provide continuity of service to our residents, while generating $2.3 million dollars in revenue for the city coffers during this economic downturn. That’s up 26% from 2019. RESOURCES AND ENGAGEMENT FOR RESIDENTS FACING POSSIBLE FORECLOSURE The Office of the Denver Clerk and Recorder is unique; while we don’t handle motor vehicle responsibilities like other Clerks across the state, we are the only Clerk’s office that serves as the Public Trustee. As Public Trustee, we administer foreclosures for the City of Denver, in compliance with State Law. In my 12 years as a Councilmember representing Denver’s westside neighborhoods, I saw first-hand the devastation and displacement that foreclosure can bring. That’s why I wanted to ensure that our residents had the resources and information they need to make sound decisions about what is often their biggest asset: their homes. We partnered with the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection and Denver Housing Authority to offer a series of virtual townhalls, with the goal of informing Denver homeowners of their rights and ensuring access to resources in case we see a spike in foreclosures after the moratoria on federally-backed mortgages expires. We have a new team in place dedicated to community engagement, ensuring that Denver’s residents have awareness of, and access to, our services, regardless of zip code, education or language spoken. The Office of the Clerk and Recorder is here for you.
Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Org Leader Receives INC Award By North Star Staff
when he and his wife, Jane, started one of Denver's first RNO's, Northwest Neighbors. In the early 1980's he was a co-founder of Sunnyside Highland Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association. In 2004, he and Jane became founding members of Sloan's Lake Neighborhood Association, where he serves today as Vice President. Larry co-chaired a citywide building height control initiative that was on the ballot in
1985. He was a leader in saving historic buildings in the Highlands and getting power lines buried in Highland Square business district. He was also instrumental in creating the Viking Park entryway into NW Denver and establishing Denver's system of dog parks. Larry was a co-founder of INC Parks Committee and also served on the INC board for nine years to include offices of Secretary, Vice President, and President.
pace to double in 2020 compared to 2019. “In an effort to stop these concerning upward trends in gun-related violent crime, the Denver Police Department … Continued from Page 1 is increasing its outreach efforts to the About 14,000 background checks in 2020 neighborhoods directly affected by this for requesting to purchase a firearm were deviolence and is launching a social media nied. campaign promoting safe firearm storage,” DPD stated. Between January and February of this year, Several videos and other gun safety inforthe most recent available data, there were just mation is listed on the Lock Out Crime webover 83,000 requests for background checks site, which includes materials on gun locks, that were approved for purchasing firearms, gun safes/lock boxes and information on fireand about 1,700 were denied. arm thefts, accidental shootings and the use Data was not immediately available for of firearms in the commission of crimes. specific parts of the state or Denver. “It’s hard to tell what we’ve prevented,” De“There are just more guns out there,” DeStaffany said. “Last year was weird. A lot of Staffany said. “Definitely, gun crime has gone folks here are not spending time in jail right up in the city. It’s gone up in District 1. Our now (due to COVID-19 occuviolent crimes numbers are pancy reductions). So they’re down, but gun crime has DISTRICT 1 SHOTSPOTTER REQUEST: getting out pretty quickly. gone up. That’s something ALERTS, ARREST, RECOVERED FIREARMS 2016-2020 There’s some, I expect, that we’re addressing.” 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 a good deal of (gunshots) are A police messaging probably repeat folks that are ShotSpotter Alerts..............................46............ 74......... 92..........254..........351 board seen on March 27 at engaging in that same behav- Total Number of Arrests...................... 5.............. 4........... 5............15............17 50th Avenue and Federal ior.” Boulevard echoed the comShotSpotter Firearms Recovered........ 6.............. 3........... 4.............. 6............11 mander’s statements, sayPREVENTING GUNSHOTS ing “Help Prevent Crime. In early March, the Denver Do Not Leave Firearms Inside Your Vehicle.” City Council voted to spend another $835,000 the system. for the SpotShotter program, making the toLast summer, DPD launched a social media tal contract more than $4.5 million since it campaign within its “Lock Out Crime” webEric Heinz is a freelance journalist based in was implemented. Councilmember Candi site in response to, at the time, statistics that Denver, who most recently covered Los Angeles CdeBaca was the only member who dissent- showed the city’s gun homicide rate was on City Hall for City News Service.
The Denver North Star
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Your Guide to You r Guide toComm Politic s, Ar ts and Comunity, Culture munity, Poli tics, Arts and in Nor th Denve r Denv erNor m | Volume Culture in Nor 2, Issue thSta r.com | Volum e 6 | March 15, 2021 -April 14, 2021 | ALWAYS th Denver 1, Issue 6 FREE! | Feb. 15 - March 14, Your Gui"Alm 2020 | Feel de to ost s ALWAYS FREE Norm Com al" Property munity, Pol Crime in ! Live Music is Back itics Denv erNo , Arter in North s and CulNW Denve Denv r thSta r.com r Rose ture inBee | Volu me r Ma Nor th kes 1, Issue 6 Significantly Den ver | Feb.
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Accord by 2023. media ns Co2 tank and ing to the a nd signa website, the ge) recove Earthly Labs’ Co2 roadway design ry equipm , See TRAF ent that will later FIC, Page be used 12 in The Clinic’ DAVID SABADO
N E W S SH ORTS
nter-Neighborhood Cooperation, the overarching organization for neighborhood groups, honored Sloan’s Lake resident Larry Ambrose with a lifetime achievement award for “his longtime work in the interests preserving and enhancing the quality of life in Denver’s neighborhoods.” Larry, a Colorado native, has been involved in the formation and advocacy of Denver neighborhood groups since 1973,
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ed. She said tracking the sounds does not help find the shooters, other pieces of evidence do. DPD Chief Paul Panzen told the council that SpotShotter has indeed helped officers respond to situations. “Shot Spotter itself has saved at least two lives,” Panzen said. “We’ve responded to situations that someone was actually hit with gunfire and there was not a corresponding 911 call.” Panzen said the technology has helped the police department “clear” or solve 64% of recent nonfatal shooting cases, which he said is one of the highest rates in the nation. The funding the city council approved March 8 does not increase the coverage areas for SpotShotter. The money will be used to continue the program and likely calibrate
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P OL I T I C S
Councilwoman Sandoval Passes Two Zoning Overlays By David Sabados
wo recently approved zoning overlays will guide development and usage in the Berkeley neighborhood, and likely beyond. The Active Centers and Corridors design overlay and the Bungalow conservation overlay both passed city council unanimously earlier this month. Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval (District 1 - North Denver) sponsored both overlays; council approved their creation and application to specific areas in the same night. Now that the overlays are created, they can be applied to other communities as well. Zoning overlays do not directly change the zoning of an area in that they don’t change an overall usage (residential, commercial, etc), but can best be explained as adding additional requirements: changing how a building’s uses can be configured, requiring or banning specific design elements, creating specific setbacks, or otherwise putting more specific requirements on new development. Overlays do not force owners to change existing buildings from their current configuration but can impact changes during renovations and redevelopments. ACTIVE CENTERS AND CORRIDORS “This has been a long time coming,” said former councilman Rafael Espinoza during the public hearing. Espinoza represented District 1 from 2015 - 2019 and explained he worked on the resident-initiated concept during his tenure on council. Councilwoman Sandoval served as an aide to Espinoza for part of his term, took and expanded the project, and is seeing it through to completion. “When working for Councilman Espinoza, the community came together with a lot of concerns... while we desperately need new housing, we also need places to work, shop…” explained Sandoval.
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The overlay, as the name implies, strives to activate streets and commercial centers by reducing the amount of street level residential uses and increasing the amount of street level commercial uses. It’s first application includes several commercial areas in the Berkeley neighborhood, including Tennyson St between 38th and 46th Avenues. The overlay prohibits most street to sky apartment buildings that have no commercial elements. While an all residential use is possible, they have to meet additional requirements more often found in townhomes or single family homes, such as porches and setbacks. More likely uses under the overlay will be ground floor commercial, especially retail, with apartments or condos on the floors above. Proponents argued that the overlay will both increase walkability and the appeal of these areas while creating additional commercial spaces, driving down commercial rent in highly desirable areas and creating more opportunities for small businesses. Critics of the plan noted Denver’s relatively high vacant commercial space rates and questioned whether it will drive up development and therefore rental costs because of the additional requirements. One person trying to sell their property on Tennyson St was hoping they could be excluded because of a sale in the works. Several councilmembers expressed interest in using the overlay in other areas of the city. For more information on how the new overlay will work, including specific examples and commentary from city officials, check out “Proposed Design Overlay Aims to Create ‘Active Centers and Corridors’” in the January 2021 issue of The Denver North Star available online.
IMAGE COURTESY OF COUNCILWOMAN SANDOVAL’S OFFICE
The Active Centers and Corridors Overlay goes into effect immediately for Tennyson Street and other highlighted areas. BUNGALOWS The Harkness Heights community in the Berkeley neighborhood is known for it’s classic North Denver bungalow homes. While part of the Berkeley neighborhood, Harkness Heights has their own registered neighborhood organization, has seen fewer scrapes than the rest of the neighborhood, and generally has their own style. A new conservation overlay will restrict how far new development can stray from that style. The new Bungalow Conservation Overlay, like the active streets one above, was also formalized and applied at the same time. While it can be used elsewhere, it’s currently only applied to the Harkness Heights neighborhood. The overlay affects approximately 73 acres of land containing 353 properties East of Lowell, West of Federal from 41st to 44th Avenues. The overlay contains several design elements: front porches of at least 120 square feet, homes cannot be at ground level but instead have a raised entrance 12 to 36 inches, and a maximum size dependent on the size of the property (starting at 3000 square feet). The overlay also sets a new maximum height and bans taller roof decks above the 2nd story. Rooftop decks have become a common element of new homes built in North Denver, especially with the new modern home styles frequently built when an older home is removed. The proposal originally banned any deck above the first level but was revised. Public comment skewed heavily in favor of the proposal; the city received 25 letters of support and 4 opposed. Proponents arguments can be summed up in this line from a Julian Street resident who sent a letter: “I do not want to see Harkness Heights become another neighborhood in northwest Denver with 3‐story rectangular houses or other styles that do not fit in with architectural history of our existing homes.” Other letters and statements of support echoed concerns about scrapes and the character of the neighborhood, often including notes of how long people have lived in the area: 20, 30, or more years. Concerns and opposition to the overlay came from several angles. One letter in opposition from a resident of the neighborhood referred to it as “a gross overreach of government control,” and described his own 1906
Sears catalogue kit home as “Hardly the architectural gem that these types of overlays seek to preserve.” He also noted that scrapes are rare in the neighborhood because home prices are higher than other areas and existing zoning is sufficient. One speaker argued the overlay promotes an expensive style of home while restricting others. That argument highlighted an issue that comes up frequently: whether or not an overlay of this type impacts displacement and affordability. Harkness Heights has fewer renters and lower income families, a more educated population, and higher home prices than other areas in North Denver. The fact that the neighborhood’s relatively high cost makes it less accessible to renters and lower income buyers also makes it rate lower on vulnerability to displacement in the city’s analysis. A spokesperson for the office of Community Planning and Development told The Denver North Star that making scrapes less appealing could benefit affordability by preserving the lower priced homes in the area. Questions regarding one design element most of the population may not consider were raised by Councilman Chris Hinds (District 10 - Central Denver). Hinds, who uses a wheelchair, noted that the raised porch and entryway requirements can make accessing a home extremely difficult. “We struggle with this one a little bit,” acknowledged Brad Johnson, Senior City Planner. Former Councilman Espinoza, who also worked on this resident-initiated concept during his time and spoke during the meeting, replied that private homes built with private dollars do not need to meet ADA requirements and the homes are accessible from the rear. City staff and Councilwoman Sandoval both noted that ramps can be built on the front entrance in many cases and that residents seeking accommodations for accessibility can petition the board of adjustment. Hinds commented that he prefers design concepts that allow everyone to use the same entrance and Espinoza admitted that homes are “not without obstacles when entered from the rear.” Hinds said he appreciated the conversation; the final vote was unanimous in favor of creating the overlay and implementing it. Both overlays go into effect immediately.
The Denver North Star
P OL I T I C S
Want to Vote for More Than One Person? Denver Could Make that Happen Approval, Ranked-Choice Elections Could Be on November Ballot By Eric Heinz
everal options to change Denver’s elections process could be decided by voters in November—to increase the time between the municipal election and a runoff or do away with runoffs altogether. In 2019, elections officials in Denver were close to violating state law and the city charter as it was difficult to distribute ballots to military members overseas, and there was little time between the municipal election and the runoff. In North Denver’s District 1, there were only two candidates in 2015 and therefore no runoff. But in 2019, seven candidates ran with no one obtaining the majority vote in the municipal election, forcing a runoff that current Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval won against Michael Somma. To avoid these possible disasters, the City Clerk’s Office and Denver’s Charter Review Committee have hosted meetings and discussed ways to change the election process since August. The next coordinated election for state and federal offices is Nov. 2, when a ballot initiative could be decided. There are three methods of voting to be considered by the Denver City Clerk’s office, which is slated to make recommendations to the City Council by the end of April. The City Council has until the end of August to finalize a ballot measure.
RANKED-CHOICE VOTING Rather than choose just one candidate, voters would rank each of the candidates by order of preference. If there were five candidates in an election, voters could rank each of them 1 through 5, and if no single candidate gets more than 50% of the first preferences, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. People who picked the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their votes count for their next choice. This process continues until there is a majority winner. Emma Donahue, the political director for Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado, said the method of voting her organization advocates makes elections “more civil” because candidates must focus on obtaining broad support from voters rather than their bases. Additionally, changing to the ranked-
Thank you Continued from Page 9
my home again! From now on I will be more thoughtful about what I bring into it. Spending my money on things that I truly need or that bring me joy feels important now. Thank you for reminding me how much I love to go to the movies. And concerts. And birthday parties. And all the places... Thank you for making me slow down enough to get lagging parts of my body working a little better. You showed me that I need to take care of me first. I have walked 2 miles or more nearly every day for this whole year! I never thought I had that in me. I want to continue eating healthier. I feel better when I do! I have never cooked so many meals and am enjoying trying out new recipes. I am looking forward to going out again but don’t think I will ever feel the need to eat out as often as we used to. I desperately miss seeing people, especially my grandkids. I get teary eyed just thinking about it. And while this makes me sad - it makes me so grateful to have them to love. I never want to take that for granted again! This year I have called neighbors and friends and try to reach out to someone every day. I have
The Denver North Star
choice method would not cost the city much compared to the overall cost of elections. “A lot of the value we see for ranked-choice voting is it eliminates the runoff, which in Denver it costs $1 million and it would eliminate that cost right there,” Donahue said. “Also, runoff elections generally have a lower turnout.” The last primary election was held May 7, 2019, and the runoff election was held June 4, 2019, giving the city less than a month to issue the run-off ballots. According to surveys Ranked-Choice Voting for Colorado conducted, “people are generally satisfied with the outcome,” Donahue said. Alaska recently adopted ranked-choice voting and will use it in the next state and federal primary elections. Several other states have adopted using RCV for primary elections, and the towns of Telluride and Basalt already use it to elect their mayor. “I think there’s always a chance of people not getting the candidate they want, but RCV prevents a lot of that spoiler effect,” Donahue said. “I think RCV can even this out so that people are happier with the outcome.” PLURALITY VOTING This is the most common method of elections—one person, one vote. Rather than change the way in which Denver votes for elected officials, the City Clerk’s Office could recommend just changing the municipal election to November, which would fall in line with federal and statewide voting periods. The clerk’s office said moving the city’s election to November could save $2 million by combining the costs of the elections, but a method of voting could also be decided with that decision because the plurality option currently doesn’t provide more time for a run-off. The city could also just increase the time between the primary election and a runoff, in an increment of no more than 30 additional days between elections. Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who is part of the city’s Charter Review Committee, has advocated for keeping plurality voting in exchange for a longer timeline to distribute ballots. “I think we have an ideal system; it’s just also started sending out hand written notecards. This is a great habit and I am going to keep it. I’m at heart a planner. This year has taught me that I am capable of going with the flow.. It has been a challenge but I have risen to it. Grudgingly. You have given me so much more patience and I will continue to practice it daily. I pick up my groceries at curbside now. I may never go back inside a grocery store! Thank you for reminding me to use my senses. To see the sun rise, hear the birds singing, smell the flowers, taste my tea and BREATHE!!! I am reminded that while in one moment I may feel grateful to have a comfortable roof over my head, running water, a loving family and a great job, it’s also okay later that same day when something just as trivial as discovering I’m out of coffee filters drives me sobbing to the floor. Even in the face of losing people and traditions, we can find joy. In fact, it is precisely the knowing we WILL lose them that deepens the joy of having them. I think when this is over, we will all be more grateful for things we took for granted. Thank you for reminding me how quickly life can change. I won’t forget it. Yours in Gratitude, Residents of Planet Earth April 2020 April 2021
the federal requirement, since we adopted The Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, that’s what created the conflict,” Flynn told The Denver North Star. Flynn has criticized ranked-choice voting by likening it to the Academy Awards selection for best picture (mostly irked by Birdman’s 2014 win). He said when the first choice is so fractured among a large field of candidates, it can lead to voters ending up with a person who was not approved by the majority. Flynn also noted the city once used a form of rank-choice voting and rejected it, though Bucklin voting, the ranked-choice system Denver used in the early 20th century, is different from the version of rank choice voting being advocated for today. He’s not a fan of approval voting, either. “Approval voting is so very new, and it strikes me … as the person with most likes on Facebook gets to be mayor, and that’s not how I want to pick leadership,” Flynn said. APPROVAL VOTING Approval voting is different from both plurality and ranked-choice in that voters could select all the candidates they see fit for office and not select the ones they don’t. Instead of ranking candidates, the person who gets the most votes of confidence would be the winner. This version could also eliminate the need for a runoff, but a runoff may still be needed in some instances. Blake Huber, the president of the Approval Voting Party of Colorado, said the method his
party advocates takes out the complexity of ranked-choice and provides a better representation of voters’ interests. “When you approve candidates, you’re looking at your ballot saying ‘I don’t like these people’ or ‘I like these,’ and then you don’t have to worry about ranking one of your candidates second,” Huber said. “There’s just too much complication in (ranked-choice voting). I’m a simple guy.” Huber said he’s not opposed to ranked-choice voting in that it eliminates the runoff, but he’s more in favor of approval voting. Huber referenced an election in St. Louis in which there were three Black candidates and one white candidate in an area that is dominated by Black voters. Huber said the plurality voting system that was used divided votes among the Black caucus in the area, which led to the white candidate winning the primary election. Additionally, if approval voting is not part of the recommendations, advocates for the voting method have already met with Denver city officials to initiate their own competing measure for the 2021 election. Note: In the interest of transparency, Emma Donahue, political director for Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado, who is quoted in this article, is the fiancé of David Sabados, the owner of The Denver North Star. Mr. Sabados was not involved in any interviews or content creation for this article. Eric Heinz is a freelance journalist who wrote this article independently.
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Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.
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The Denver North Star