Can’t Fight City Hall – David vs. Goliath

Everyone knows the old expression “you can’t fight city hall” means the establishment in Lakewood.  The recent controversy around the citizens’ growth initiative has stirred up all the special interests who run Lakewood.  In addition to the developers and financial interests, the opposition to the citizens’ initiative has brought out the usual groups who seek government support (advocates for affordable housing and bicycles, business associations, and nonprofits).  In addition to the liberals seeking more government spending, the opposition also includes Tea Party no-government types.

 

Denver’s Fox31 and Channel 2 news did a story looking into accusations Mayor Paul was involved in the recent legal efforts to prevent the citizens’ initiative from reaching the ballot box.  Citizens did an information request from the City that turned up an  email from Mayor Paul to all the city’s special interests asking for support in opposing the citizens’ initiative.  One of the offers of support came from conservative attorney Dennis Polk.  It is alleged Polk offered to find a client who would file a legal protest to the City Clerk’s decision that the initiative was sufficient to go to the ballot box.

 

He did find a client in the form of Steve Dorman, who is well-known in Tea Party circles.  Whether the legal effort is successful or not in eliminating the initiative it has already delayed it beyond the November ballot.  Even if it goes to the ballot in a special election, the protest has created a chilling effect that may eliminate any other citizens’ initiatives in the future.

 

As expected the special interests banded together, raised a ton of money and Paul’s former campaign manager formed a group called Lakewood United for Responsible Growth which hired a PR/lobbyist consultant to run a professional campaign against the citizens initiative.  The group has flooded Lakewood homes with mailings and robocalls while the proponents are doing nothing to promote the initiative because what little money they can raise is used to fight the legal battles.

 

Finally, there is the question of whether your tax dollars are being used to fight the citizens’ initiative.  The open records request revealed city staff time was used to help the mayor devise his “commentary”, etc.  At the recent state legislators’ town hall, the Metro West Housing group made a presentation against the initiative.  Readers may recall Metro West Housing is the name given to Lakewood’s old Housing Division.  The government agency got in trouble years ago for giving campaign contributions to the establishment effort to get a sales tax increase passed. After the political fallout from that inappropriate use of public funds, the agency changed its name and tried to establish its “independence” from the City.  However, the agency’s Board of Directors are still appointed by the Lakewood mayor (without any City Council concurrence).

5 comments

  1. I’m A Pauled that the mayor is using taxpayer money to fight his citizens and continue his agenda of gagging the citizens’ voices. I think it’s time to Recall A. Paul.

  2. I appreciate the citizens right to bring issues to the voters of our community. I also respect the right of opponents to question the validity of signatures submitted to the City. I do wish that all sides, including the views of Lakewood Pols, could be toned down a bit. Labeling individuals as “establishment” or “reformers” does nothing except polarize the community. I honestly believe that most everyone serving on Council, including our Mayor, are doing their best to serve our citizens. You can disagree with Mayor Paul on the issues and I respect that. But when folks make it personal, it only impedes our ability to help our City progress. As for the growth initiative, I’d support an effort to try and build a consensus around growth rather than tying the hands of our community with a one size fits all approach. We can do better by working together!

    1. Steve, welcome to the conversation. It’s great to have leaders of the Lakewood United for Responsible Growth involved in our debate. We hope more of your group will join us now. Just out of curiosity, are you speaking as a private citizen or in your capacity as Director of Government Relations at JE Dunn Construction?

      1. Thanks for asking! As a private citizen only and, I will confess, someone who has lived in this GREAT City for only four summers. I am jealous of those of you that have been here longer! I am sincere in saying my biggest desire is to have a more civil discourse, regardless of the issue. I consider Councilman Charley Able a friend and he’s been great to me since moving here. Same with Mayor Paul. Again, thanks!

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