In a strange sense of deva vu, watching Mayor Bob’s last Council meeting was reminiscent of the 2090 S. Wright St. debacle two years ago. In recent weeks Mayor Bob negotiated a convoluted scheme to buy the northwest corner of the Denver Federal Center so he could build a utopian village. Whether Murphy is playing a real life game of SimsCity (where player get to create their own world), is angling for a job with a developer or is just a committed socialist who truly believes that government can run a business (in this case land developer) better than business people, is a good question.
At the beginning of the meeting, one of the citizens questioned Adam Paul’s campaign donations from the development community and raised questions about Murphy’s future plans. Bully Bob then went into a denial about how he works in the food business and has no interest in working in the development world. However, when the Council member from Ward 4, David Weichman, made a motion two weeks earlier to prohibit the mayor or any Council member from holding the new job of Director of the proposed Urban Renewal District, the mayor ruled the motion out of order and refused to allow a vote. At that same meeting in mid-October, Weichman also moved to table consideration of the purchase scheme until after the new mayor and Council are seated. This effort was soundly defeated by the Mayor’s group in an 8-3 vote (Weichman was joined by Ramey Johnson and Pete Roybal).
In the ensuring two weeks, a grass roots campaign sprang up to run a referendum if the Murphy/Paul faction (Mayor Bob and four of the Council members are term-limited and will be out of office in November) pushed through their purchase scheme. When the Council convened for its final meeting enough citizens had heard about the purchase plan that the Council chamber were packed with one of the largest crowds in Lakewood political history. With the sentiment running 20 to 1 against the attempt to rush through the purchase plan without sufficient vetting the Mayor could not help but read the writing on the wall. While he could still ram it through Council with his solid block of 8 minions he realized there would be a citizen referendum, which then would force the matter to a vote of the people. If it had gone to a vote, the plan would have been defeated and once again his arrogant overreaching would have wasted tens of thousands of tax dollars on yet another ill-conceived and doomed scheme.
So in a cynical move, Murphy reversed gears and endorsed the idea of postponing a vote until March 2016 to allow the new mayor and Council to review the details. This time the three minority Council members were joined by Murphy and his allies and the tabling motion was approved unanimously. In the process of reversing gears, Murphy surprised his Federal Government partners and allies who had to sulk out the meeting in disgrace. It will be interesting to see how the Feds feel about working with the City after being thrown under the bus.
Murphy made the political calculation that in the long run it is more important to salvage the failing mayoral campaign of his loyal servant, Adam Paul. In recent weeks a tide of popular sentiment against the scheme was translating into a voter backlash against the mayor’s boy. By sacrificing the Feds and the city staff who had worked so hard on the scheme Murphy hopes that Paul can still save himself by claiming he “listens” to the people and reversed direction in response to the will of the people. While this might work with some voters it is just as likely the voters will see through this scam and still vote against Paul for being such a willing tool in this political theatre.