Even though other candidates had filed paperwork declaring their intentions to run, it was Lorena Garcia who garnered headlines dubbing her Sen. Cory Gardner’s first challenger.
She said announcing early gave her time to start campaigning with transparency. As a first-time candidate, it probably helped her start covering some ground. Now, she’s working her way to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with more established candidates hoping to be the Democratic Party’s candidate.
Like other first-time candidates, however, she’s not new to the political scene. Her background is in community organizing, with an emphasis on social justice.
“For me, my entire career as an organizer working in the social justice movement has been about dignity,” Garcia said. “Making sure that we as human beings have our dignity and that no policy or rule can violate that.”
Garcia, 36, said her ideas “absolutely fall in line” with being a Democratic Socialist. There are people who have associated her with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she does agree with some of Bernie Sanders’ ideas.
“Clearly, our policies are the same,” Garcia said. “The reality is, I’m my own person. I’m my own candidate. I have my own experience that is getting me to this place where I am qualified to run for this seat.”
The Denver resident comes from a long line of Coloradans (seven generations on her dad’s side, to be exact), including those who were active organizers. She remembers rallying against the controversial Amendment 2 in 1992. The law targeted the LGBTQ community and led to Colorado earning the nickname the “hate state.” It was later deemed unconstitutional.
“I think people are ready for something different,” Garcia said. “People are ready for a different kind of leadership. Somebody who is not in it just for the power. And that’s why I think my candidacy has a really good shot. Underdog or not.”
Garcia’s plans call for economic opportunities created by pushing for several progressive ideas.
It’s not just about jobs. She said it’s about making sure that people have health care: “If you’re not healthy, how can you work, how can you be productive?”
She’s supportive of a single-payer system, which she said can open the doors to more health care related jobs.
It also calls for an accessible education system. She’s a supporter of tuition-free college, adding that since people have been investing in government, it’s time for the government to invest in the people.
Does she worry about how these ideas will resonate in other parts of the state, like those outside the Front Range?
“The reality is, a message about economic opportunity, and making sure that we establish opportunities for everybody to thrive economically, that is what’s going to resonate,” Garcia said. “Because in rural Colorado, where you have one-industry towns, those towns are so susceptible to bust and boom that if we don’t work specifically to help diversify industries … we’re not supporting them economically.”
One idea she’s floated is pushing for a value-added tax (which the U.S. doesn’t currently have) on corporations. The Wall Street Journal points out most of the industrialized world uses a VAT, which it describes as a tax on “what people consume rather than how much they earn.”
Garcia believes that a VAT could ensure corporations are paying “their fair share” as employees are eliminated due to automation. She’s also calling for returning the corporate income tax rate to 35 percent after it was reduced to 21 percent under President Donald Trump’s tax plan.
“None of these programs are free,” Garcia said. “We all have to pay for it. But if we can all pay for them collectively, it’s cheaper for all of us.”
Garcia said she’s dedicated her life to helping people through nonprofit work.
She currently works as executive director of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, which is a nonpartisan group focused on helping Latino families navigate the education system. She used to work with Latino students at Denver West High School, where she worked in a conflict and anger management class for students on the verge of expulsion.
The experience led to an epiphany that led her to her next jobs, where she focused on crafting policy. She worked on statewide bills addressing sex education and a bill banning the shackling of pregnant inmates in Colorado.
“I can do this individual, direct service work, but what I’m passionate about is the system, attacking the system,” Garcia said. “How can we address the systems that are putting our kids and are putting people in these situations?”
History is on the line for Garcia.
She would be Colorado’s first woman senator, and the first Latina and first lesbian to represent Colorado in Congress. She’s not really focusing on that right now, though she did call it “outrageous” that Colorado is among several states to never elect a woman senator or governor.
“That’s not why I’m doing this,” Garcias said. “Those are important steps, those are important things that we need to do.”
Garcia is one of two women currently running for the Senate. The other is scientist Trish Zornio.
Here are the Democrats running against Gardner so far.
They’re looking ahead, but artists Santiago Jaramillo and Erick Garcia are also a bit nostalgic about a battered warehouse at 3738 Morrison Road that is about to undergo a transformation.
“Remember?” Jaramillo said to Garcia. He laughed, then went on to describe an exhibition of metal sculpture in the warehouse in the Westwood neighborhood where he was born and raised. A storm descended during the show. The roof leaked. As a result, Garcia said, one of his sculptures later rusted.
Thursday, the space was filled not with art and puddles of rain, but with neighbors holding plates of tostados and listening to Jaramillo, Garcia and other community leaders talk about their plans for the future. They envision that in a few years, the campus at 3738 Morrison will include a full-service grocery store owned by the Westwood Food Cooperative. A new building will be erected for the store on the large lot. The warehouse will be renovated as a home for a watertight gallery, a commissary kitchen that local entrepreneurs can use to get food businesses off the ground, and a chocolate confectionery and café. The construction fence is up and Thursday’s gathering was the last in the warehouse before it closed for remodeling.
The former auto body shop and junkyard at 3738 Morrison is owned by Re:Vision. The food-oriented nonprofit with offices down the road is undergoing a transformation itself as it responds to what Westwood residents say they need.
Friends Eric Kornacki and Joseph Teipel were together on a service learning project in Nicaragua as students at the University of Denver. They graduated knowing they wanted to work in community development and be led and informed by the communities that wanted to develop. Kornacki and Teipel founded the group that would become Westwood Unidos had already identified such priorities as a lack of sidewalks, traffic safety and other challenges linked to the neighborhood’s man-made geography; finding jobs; and accessing healthy food.
“These are the top three challenges that the community was raising up,” Teipel said.
Re:Vision, founded in 2007, created a backyard farming project in 2009 with seven Westwood families. Since then the program has spread to a dozen southwest Denver neighborhoods and helped plant 2,000 gardens. Gardeners were trained by promotoras, or navigators, hired from the community. The promotoras have built skills and now in addition to offering gardening advice they work as community organizers who can connect their neighbors to resources on immigration, health and other issues.
Re:Vision also has an urban farm at the 3738 Morrison Road site that includes a hydroponic garden created from shipping containers. Half the produce is sold to farm-to-table restaurants and half donated or sold at low-cost to help the needy or distributed to the community through the Westwood Food Cooperative, which is independent but a close partner of Re:Vision.
Re:Vision’s farm manager David de Santiago has lived in Westwood since he came to the United States 18 years ago. He first encountered Re:Vision when his wife planted a garden with the nonprofit’s support seven years ago. As he puts it, de Santiago “was born in the fields” of his hometown of Fresnillo, Zacatecas, in northern Mexico. He worked as a mechanic when he first came to the United States. Re:Vision gave him a chance to get back to his roots.
“Plants are my life,” he said. “When I got this opportunity (at Re:Vision) I gave it my entire life.”
De Santiago said his four sons have grown up volunteering for Re:Vision and watching him work on the farm in the city, giving them a link to family and Mexican traditions.
“Now we’re not losing our culture,” said de Santiago, who was wearing a dark jacket and cap brightened by Re:Vision’s leaf-green logo.
“When you think about urban blight, this is the property,” Teipel recalled.
Citing the lack of access to grocery stores of Westwood’s more than 6,000 residents and their high rates of obesity and other diet-related disease, OED said the loan won’t have to be repaid if Re:Vision ensures the site supports community food access for at least 20 years.
The loan “sort of inadvertently … put us in the role of property developer,” Teipel said. So far, $4.3 million has been raised for the development project known as RISE, for resilient, inclusive, sustainable economy.
The Westwood Food Cooperatives grocery store will be 10,000 square feet. At that small size it would be swamped by the debt required to build and outfit it, Teipel said. Hence the other uses on the site that is already a community hub.
The food co-op has been running a farmers market at 3738 Morrison that will move to Re:Vision’s offices at 3800 Morrison during the renovation. In addition, 3738 Morrison has been one of the venues for the Westwood Chile Fest, a celebration of food and music; and an annual exhibition of art work inspired by Frida Kahlo. Both the chile and Kahlo events are sponsored by the BuCu West Development Association. BuCu West — the name of the neighborhood development association is derived from business and culture — will manage the planned gallery. Its board president is Jaramillo, the artist.
Pastry chef Damaris Ronkanen was at Thursday’s gathering offering samples of her Cultura Craft Chocolate wares to follow the tostados. Ronkanen, who now works out of a maker space in northeast Denver, will be making chocolates from cacao and serving her candies as well as drinks and snacks in the renovated warehouse.
Jaramillo, a third-generation Westwood resident, has already painted several bold murals at 3738 Morrison. He plans an Aztec-themed mural and three sculptures to complete the renovation.
Like e-scooters, when cars came onto the scene, a lot of people hated them.
The streets were slower-paced social places where kids played and adults bantered. That changed when cars began killing people. Now that cars own the roads, e-scooters are a shock to the system, and Denver is figuring out how to make them work.
A big piece of the puzzle comes from data provided by the scooter-share companies. Denver Public Works released those goods earlier this month, along with the initial results of a survey of more than 2,000 people. We are now clued in to the behaviors of the much-maligned scooter rider.
According to the (unscientific) survey, 42 percent of respondents either “don’t like” or “hate” scooters and 55 percent “love” or “like” them.
Surprise — if you haven’t ridden a scooter, you’re less likely to have warm feelings toward them, said Cindy Patton, an advisor in DPW’s policy office. If you do scoot, you’re more likely to root for the scoot.
People are opting to scoot instead of walking, triggering jokes about a “Wall-E” future.
By next year, Denver is aiming for 15 percent of city trips to be by foot and by bike. That won’t happen. The combined “mode share” for those options was about 7 percent in 2017.
Scooters may not help those stats. Of the people surveyed, 43 percent opted to scoot instead of walk. Denver’s foremost walking expert, Jill Locantore of WalkDenver, is conflicted.
“I don’t know if I know how to feel about it,” Locantore said.
On the one hand, walking is so important because of its health benefits, she said. On the other, scooters get cars off the road to an extent, which is good for pedestrians — 32 percent of respondents said they would’ve taken a car if not for the scooter.
E-scooters also hog less space and pollute less than cars. Locantore said scooters aren’t the problem. The lack of walking infrastructure and amenities, like safe crosswalks, sidewalks and shade trees are.
“My inclination would not be to focus on scooters and crack down but instead focus on all the things we need to do to make walking not just possible but delightful,” Locantore said.
DPW’s Patton said she and her staff have joked about the movie “Wall-E” coming to life on Denver’s streets — everyone with their little personal transport pods decidedly not moving their legs. (Not unlike, you know, driving cars.)
Patton says it’s too early to draw finite conclusions, though. We don’t know, for example, if people are always replacing their walking trips with scooters or just using them in a pinch.
“I think it’s a matter of what’s the tipping point for an unhealthy lifestyle,” Patton said. “I don’t think that, based on the price point and the limitations to how far they can reasonably go with battery life, I don’t see them replacing everything.”
Commuters are scooting to work but aren’t mingling much with buses and trains.
That’s according to ridership data from the scooter companies, which show rides spiking during the morning commute, at lunchtime and during the afternoon rush hour.
Though DPW and scooter companies pitch scooters as the coveted “first-and-last-mile connection” during transit trips, only 9 percent of riders said they scoot often in conjunction with buses and trains.
Denver’s scooter experiment technically ends in June, at which point the streets department will decide whether to create a permanent “dockless mobility” program or not. No one statistic will dictate the scooters’ future, according to Nicholas Williams, deputy chief of staff for the streets department.
“We don’t anticipate a silver bullet point of data that will affect that,” Williams said.
When Colorado expanded a school lunch subsidy to middle school students, the number of sixth- through eighth-graders eating lunch at school went up in districts across the state.
Twenty-sixth percent more middle school students ate lunch at school in the Greeley-Evans district, where a majority of students live in poverty, but even in the more affluent Littleton district in Denver’s south suburbs, 11 percent more middle school students ate lunch.
For school nutritionists and children’s advocates, these kinds of results make the case for extending this same lunch subsidy to high school students.
“We know the co-pay is a barrier because of the large uptick in participation when it goes away,” said Erin Miller, vice president of health initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
The “co-pay” is the 40 cents per meal that families who qualify for reduced-price lunch — but who make too much money to qualify for free lunch — are responsible for. The federal government picks up most of the cost for these lunches, and since 2008, Colorado has covered the 40 cents for the youngest students, rendering those lunches free to their families. This program has gradually expanded, reaching middle school students in legislation passed last year.
A bill that passed out of the House Education Committee Thursday would cover the 40-cent cost difference for high school students, a longtime goal of advocates.
“The state of Colorado has been trying to ensure that kids in poverty have access to food for a decade,” said Danielle Bock, nutrition services director for the Greeley-Evans district and a public policy and legislative consultant with the Colorado School Nutrition Association. “This is the final step.”
Miller said hunger affects children in school not just academically but also emotionally, with hunger even associated with higher suicide rates. Advocates have pushed to expand the state subsidy because participation in school lunch goes down as children get older, even as their caloric needs go up.
Currently, households that earn less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,630 for a family of four, qualify for free lunch through the federal program. Families who earn between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty limit, or up to $46,435 for a family of four, qualify for a reduced-price lunch. It’s children from that second category families who will benefit if this bill becomes law.
Bock said the vast majority of school food service agencies in Colorado have unpaid lunch debt that, under federal law, they can’t just write off. School districts either pick up the costs out of their general fund or try to collect from parents, which sometimes leads to the controversial practice of “lunch shaming,” in which schools serve less nutritious and appealing alternative lunches to students whose parents owe money.
Lawmakers started out wanting to ban lunch-shaming, but school nutritionists convinced them it would be better to have the state cover some of the extra lunch cost for families who are struggling to make ends meet.
When Denver ended the practice of serving “alternative” meals to families who hadn’t paid for lunch, the amount of lunch debt skyrocketed, with a large portion of it coming from families who had not signed up for subsidized lunches and might have the means to pay.
According to a fiscal analysis, Colorado plans to spend $2.2 million on lunch subsidies this school year. Expanding the program to high school students would cost an additional $464,000 next year, with that money going into school food service budgets.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
Colorado Democrats launched another campaign Thursday to pass a “red flag” gun law — an effort backed by many top law enforcement officials to allow weapons to be seized from people who are determined by a court to pose significant risk.
Florida passed its own “red flag” law after the February 2017 Parkland school massacre, and 12 other states have done so. Colorado Republicans defeated a similar bill last year, insisting it infringed on citizens’ Second Amendment rights. But Democrats won both statehouse chambers in November, and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis called for a “red flag” law while campaigning last year.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines late Thursday to send this year’s bill to the chamber’s appropriations committee. The vote came after more than eight hours of testimony for and against the bill.
The legislation would allow family or law enforcement to seek a court order to have guns seized if they believe the owner is a threat. If approved, a subsequent court hearing would be held to determine whether to extend the seizure, up to 364 days.
The bill also would leave it up to the person whose guns were seized to prove at any point that he or she no longer poses a risk. That person would be entitled to legal counsel.
“This is the first step to move forward on a solution that is geared at trying to help people in crisis and confront the epidemic of gun violence that’s had a significant impact on the state of Colorado,” said House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, a co-sponsor along with first-term Rep. Tom Sullivan.
Sullivan’s son, Alex, was killed while celebrating his 27th birthday in the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.
“Watching your child’s body drop into the ground is as bad as it gets,” Sullivan told a news conference last week. “And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that none of you have to do that.”
A number of law enforcement officials supported the effort, including Tony Spurlock, sheriff of suburban Douglas County, who lost a deputy in a New Year’s Eve 2017 shooting by a suspect who was exhibiting increasingly erratic behavior. The bill is named after the deputy, Zachari Parrish.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle also supported the bill. His son was wounded in the shooting that killed Parrish.
“This is an issue that comes up constantly. We know who these folks are,” Pelle testified. “We absolutely know when and how the time is right to use the courts to help us relieve the situation and make our communities — and our officers — safer.”
John Walsh, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado, insisted the legislation protects the rights of gun owners to due process and that courts in other states have upheld similar laws.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a survivor of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, says the bill would discourage citizens from seeking help because of the “stigma” associated with mental illness.
“No one should feel they have to choose between their guns and getting the help they need,” Neville said in a statement.
“I’m saddened that our beautiful state is moving away from due process,” said John Anderson, a retired commander of the Castle Rock Police Department and 20-year veteran of SWAT teams. The bill, he said, presumes that “the accused is guilty until proven innocent” and will create dangerous situations when officers try to confiscate firearms.
“You have now singled out one class of citizens in Colorado, and that is gun owners. And you will be challenged in court,” said Dudley Brown, executive director of the advocacy group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
The bill is backed by numerous gun control groups, including one founded by former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting, and survivors of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Gun rights are a perennial issue at Colorado’s Capitol. Lawmakers approved a ban on high-capacity magazines and added background checks for firearm transfers in 2013 following the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. Gun rights groups pushed successful recalls against two Democratic state senators who voted for the bills.
Mike Johnston can’t quit. The former state senator spent more than a year and a half running for governor and will now spend more than a year and a half running for the U.S. Senate.
Of course, he will hope for a different result this time around. But he clearly doesn’t have regrets about his last run, which landed his name on TVs and yard signs all over the state.
“For me, the question is not what you want to be, the question is what do you want to change and what role you need to be in to make that change,” Johnston, 44, said.
As he turns his focus on Washington, the way Johnston talks about President Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is almost like they’re the same person (it’ll be a common refrain among Democrats). He believes the two are “running away” from the challenges the country faces.
“They’ve been running away from the hardest problems and they’ve actually been creating new ones,” Johnston said, mentioning the emergency proclamation over the border wall and healthcare policies. “I feel like I’ve spent my entire life running towards the hardest problems.”
His platform will focus on healthcare, climate change and immigration (he’s planning on releasing a policy plan for immigration soon). Johnston will look to continue the always red-hot issue of gun reform, a discussion the state legislature is currently having as it considers the red flag bill (a proposal Johnston supports).
Johnston likes to mention his fight against the NRA in Colorado. It will be a much more well-funded battle at the national level.
Johnston touts his involvement in helping pass gun reform laws in 2013. The laws were infamous for other reasons, as they ended up costing two Democratic legislators their seats during a recall.
Now, the NRA is a big lobbying organization. To fully illustrate this very obvious statement, here’s what they did over the past two years: They spent nearly $10 million lobbying federal lawmakers, according to Bloomberg News. They spent $55 million to support President Trump and other Republicans during the 2016 election.
By comparison, in Colorado, state records show the NRA’s PAC, the Political Victory Fund, currently has about $6,000 in the bank as of November.
So the money spent to lobby during the upcoming senate campaign cycle will probably be very different. The 2014 Senate race, the one that saw Gardner unseat an incumbent, cost more than $92 million. Much of that money came from outside groups.
Johnston calls gun safety a national issue. He’s been a gun owner since he was about 10.
“It’s the same fight in different places,” Johnston said. “I think we lived through what was the most contentious period of politics in recent memory in Colorado. What you found was that if you have the courage to stand up for people who need it most, you can still get things done.”
Johnston said a lot of responsible gun owners want to see universal background checks, a policy supported by a majority of Americans. He would push for such a bill in Congress (such a measure has been introduced this session), as well as banning high-capacity firearm magazines and pushing for a similar red-flag law at the national level.
“I think that there is a silent majority of Americans who want this,” Johnston said. “I do feel like no one’s willing to step up. That’s a battle I’m willing to take to the NRA.”
Johnston released his own Green New Deal earlier this month.
The federal one, which is led by celebrity Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a set of proposals aimed at addressing climate change. Similarly, Johnston’s version pushed for 100 percent renewable energy in Colorado by 2040.
His plans include building new infrastructure, training for jobs in clean energy, increasing investment in research to improve renewable energy options and pushing for the U.S. to re-join the Paris Agreement. He said science is making it clear that if people don’t take “aggressive action” in addressing climate change, it could be too late to protect some of the things Coloradans enjoy on a regular basis.
“I’m all in on the ambitious plan to convert the economy,” Johnston said. “I think we can do while creating jobs and protecting the environment at the same time.”
So what happens if Trump is reelected in 2020, but Democrats flip the Senate?
Johnston’s optimistic he won’t get reelected. He’s got a pretty clear Plan B just in case he ends up joining the president in Washington.
“If he is, I will fight him on all the things that are going to impact Coloradans, our people, our water, our land, our air,” Johnston said. “If there are things he wants to support that are good for the people of Colorado, I would support them.”
Here are the Democrats running against Gardner so far.
Democrat-controlled Legislature approved a bill Thursday calling for the state to join others in casting their presidential electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.
Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat, has said he will sign the measure. Currently, the state’s electoral votes are cast for whoever wins in Colorado.
Under the bill, Colorado would join 11 other states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would take effect after states with a collective 270 electoral votes — the number needed to win the presidency — agree to join.
Compact members, including California (55 electoral votes) and New York (29), currently have 172 electors. Colorado, with nine, would give it 181. The only other state presently considering similar legislation is New Mexico, which has five electors.
Other compact members are Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The National Popular Vote campaign was launched after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush when electoral votes were tallied.
Colorado Democrats introduced their bill after Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won 3 million more votes nationally than Trump.
The state House voted 34-29 Thursday to approve the bill that previously cleared the Senate.
Opponents say the initiative subverts an electoral college that was designed to ensure, in part, that smaller states aren’t trampled when it comes to choosing a president. They also insisted the matter should go to voters.
Two Colorado Republicans, Monument Mayor Don Wilson and Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, said Thursday they’re seeking a 2020 state ballot measure on the issue.
“Our founders feared the tyranny of the majority. In our electoral college, our smaller states still have a say,” GOP Rep. Lori Saine warned before Thursday’s vote. “This is an exercise of the tyranny of the majority.”
“I hear time and again that my vote doesn’t count,” Democratic Rep. Emily Sirota, a bill co-sponsor, said of her constituents. “That’s the intention of this bill — to help people believe their vote matters.”
Currently, voters choose presidential electors from the political parties. The Electoral College has 538 electors, corresponding to the number of seats held by states in the U.S. Senate and House, plus three votes for the District of Columbia.
Electors from states that have joined the compact would pool their votes for the national popular vote winner — whether or not that candidate won in those states.
Republican state lawmakers argued the compact would induce candidates to bypass smaller, rural, often Republican-leaning states during their campaigns. They say Colorado, which voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the 2018 midterm elections, would be added to that “flyover” territory.
Advocates said it would force the candidates to fight for votes in more states, including solidly red states like Texas and solidly blue states like California.
Ray Haynes, a former California Republican state lawmaker and ex-national chair of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which represents state lawmakers, lobbied on behalf of the Colorado bill, noting it had bipartisan support well before the Trump election.
But he said he got a relatively cold response from Colorado Republicans.
“Conservative legislators around the country understand the basic concept of the bill, and as legislators they think that every vote in every state in every election matters,” Haynes said.
“The visceral response is, ‘Oh my God, this would have given us Clinton as president.’ And that’s not true,” he said.
“There’s some clumping. And some gaps,” said Wilken, whose nonprofit’s goals include persuading state legislators to create a fund to support the building and preservation of more affordable housing across the state.
Wilken’s background is in transit — before coming to Housing Colorado, she was executive director of the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies. Some of the clumping that drew her eye was along RTD’s W Line, which in 2013 became the first light rail service to open as part of the FasTracks plan voters approved in 2004 to expand transit across metro Denver.
The 12-mile W Line connects Denver’s Union Station to the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. Along it have sprung up complexes like Lamar Station Crossing, built by the nonprofit Metro West Housing Solutions, formerly the Lakewood Housing Authority. Lamar Station has 87 apartments reserved for families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. (AMI is determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.)
Lamar and Arroyo are among hundreds of little green dots on a state map that is a visualization of a key source of funding for rental housing within reach of low- and moderate-income families. The map shows projects that the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority has awarded federal tax credits since 1986, when Congress created the program to encourage the private sector to invest in affordable housing. CHFA, pronounced “cha-fah,” supports projects for households earning no more than 60 percent AMI and generally considers the cost affordable if a household is spending no more than 30 percent of its annual gross income on housing.
Under CHFA rent restrictions, a Denver family of four earning 50 percent of AMI — $44,950 a year — could get a two-bedroom apartment for $1,012 a month. CHFA cites research showing that a Colorado household must earn $52,680 to afford the statewide median rent of $1,317 without spending more than that 30 percent of income.
In policy and development circles, “affordable” is a technical term, usually for housing that is kept below market rates by subsidies perhaps provided by a faith group; government loans; strategies like trusts that take the cost of land out of the equation; or programs like the low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) administered by CHFA. Sometimes several methods, including renting some units in a complex at market rates as housing or businesses, have to be employed at once to get a housing project built.
To get a sense of the importance of LIHTC, the CHFA-administered program that is usually pronounced as “lie-tec,” just try to reach an affordable housing developer around the time an application deadline is approaching. Every state has its own agency distributing the tax credits supplied by the federal government in a competitive process that takes into account need and other criteria.
Here’s how it works: Developers who are awarded credits sell them to investors for cash they can use to build, allowing them to borrow less and, because those costs are lighter, charge less in rent. CHFA also distributes state tax credits under a state affordable housing program. Some projects get state and federal credits. Under the program affordability is protected for decades. Lamar Station for example, built with tax credits awarded in 2012, must keep rents affordable for 40 years. Longevity and affordability have been in the news lately because the clock was ticking on about 2,000 city-subsidized apartments in Denver. Last fall Denver City Council voted to extend the minimum that city-subsidized housing had to stay affordable from 20 to 60 years.
Some developers will try year after year to get tax credits from CHFA, without which projects often cannot go ahead. CHFA takes into account such issues as the developer’s experience, the need for the proposed project and whether it’s close to public transportation, financially viable and allowed by local zoning.
Where does affordable housing go — and where does it not go?
“There’s no area that’s off-limits,” said Jerilynn Martinez, CHFA’s director of marketing and community relations.
LIHTC is restricted to areas with lower incomes, but other forms of below-market housing aren’t.
Still, none of the green dots denoting a low-income housing tax project appear in, say, Cherry Hills Village or Cherry Creek. Or Hilltop or Crestmoor Park, identified as no places for affordable housing by one resident speaking to the Planning Board earlier this year during a spat over a zoning exception. The resident went on to advise that “you can go one block south into Glendale and there you have affordable housing.”
Actually, the CHFA map shows Kentucky Circle Village, affordable housing for seniors, in a corner of Denver surrounded by Glendale, which has no green dots of its own. A user interested in metro Denver can click on the CHFA map to zero in on metro Denver projects.
Developers pick their battles.
“The most important thing I think is finding neighbors or cities or communities that recognize they have a need for affordable housing. If you can get that as a base, it’s easier to get sites,” said Dick Taft, whose private nonprofit Rocky Mountain Communities has been building and preserving affordable housing in the Denver area and elsewhere since 1992.
Taft added rising land costs have made the task of finding sites even harder. He’s taken to redeveloping sites already in his company’s hands, as was the case with Arroyo Village. There, he razed not only an aging Rocky Mountain Communities development but partnered with his neighbor, the Delores Project, to take down an old shelter for people experiencing homelessness. By pooling their property the two nonprofits were able to build a new shelter plus a 35-unit supportive apartment complex that Delores will manage for people who have been homeless and earn less than 30 percent of AMI and 95 apartments that Taft’s company will manage for people earning no more than 50 percent of AMI.
The thing about dining options in the Golden Triangle is that there are very few.
There are several coffee shops, a bunch of places to get sandwiches, soups or salads, and Torchy’s Tacos. Anyone who works in the area (that’s me) and is averse to packing a lunch (that’s also me) will tell you that’s not enough variety.
And so such a person (me) is probably not qualified to calmly and objectively tell you about Broadway Market, which opens Friday in the old Tony’s Market space at 950 Broadway, just across the Golden Triangle border in Capitol Hill. Such as person (again, me) could try, though. Here is a passion-free list of things inside Broadway Market:
Biju’s Little Curry Shop
Miette et Chocolat
Misaki on Broadway
Listed another way:
Sandwiches*, salads, soups, cheese and charcuterie boards
Ottoman-inspired street food
Burgers and chicken sandwiches*
*I suppose you can’t not have sandwiches.
Broadway Market also has a bar with strong cocktail menu, as well as a self-serve beer wall.
If some of those names look familiar, it’s because you’ve seen many of them around Denver before. Maria Empanada, of course, is slowly taking over the entire city. Biju’s has become a Five Points favorite and also has an outpost on Tennyson Street. Mondo Market, Miette et Chocolat and Misaki can both be found at Stanley Marketplace. Pizzeria Coperta is a spinoff of Coperta in Uptown.
Royal Rooster is a new concept, but the man behind it is familiar. The sandwich shop is headed up by chef Justin Brunson, who’s also responsible for Old Major, Masterpiece Delicatessen and Culture Meat & Cheese. Wonder is something of the outside, coming from Boulder.
Broadway Market is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. (just for juice) to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Take a look around:
Earlier this month, Randall Borne cooked up a feast of his signature cajun fare for friends and supporters who usually would have gotten their fill at his restaurant on Welton Street. But, last August, Randall’s New Climax Lounge closed its doors when the building was sold to a new owner. This time, Borne’s patrons were eating and dancing to support his relocation to a new address off York Street, his fourth restaurant since 2007.
Borne has been cooking in the city’s historically black neighborhoods since the mid ’90s, and his journey from kitchen to kitchen tells a tale of greater displacement that’s been happening around Denver. And because his business was a recipient of relocation support from the city, which is poised to expand this year under the 2019 budget, his path forward might also be a sign of more to changes to come.
Brother Jeff Fard, a long-time community advocate and documentarian based in Five Points, attended Borne’s fundraiser, which was organized by City Councilman Albus Brooks.
“When you follow the trajectory of Randall and where he is at today,” Fard said, “that story will basically unfold into the larger story of displacement, gentrification and the scattering of the community.”
Borne began with a food truck and catering business in 1995 that served customers at 48th Avenue and Dahlia Street. Then, in 2007, he took over Marion’s Lounge at 40th and York. By 2009, A Line construction had come through and wiped Marion’s off the map. So, he relocated to Pierre’s Supper Club, a major establishment in Five Points that once sat at 22nd Avenue and Downing Street, and renamed it Randall’s at Pierre’s. But, in 2014, that also closed after a developer bought the building to raze it for townhomes. So Borne moved again, this time to his most recent location on Welton.
“I made a complete loop,” he said, now that he’s heading back to York. He has “no doubt” it’s “the growth and gentrification” that’s sent him on his way again.
The loss of Pierre’s, specifically, stood as a sign that Five Points was moving into a new era.
“It was social hub, but it was also a political hub,” Fard said. It was an institution even before Borne took over its kitchen.
Wellington Webb and his staff could often be found there when he was mayor. It was a place black Denverites could go “if you wanted to see how city politics was working or you wanted access to politicians that looked like you,” Fard said.
Walter Wilder, a longtime friend of Borne’s who showed up early for the fundraiser, said Pierre’s closure really hurt him: “It meant a lot to me.”
Borne said he used to be upset by all the changes taking hold of the neighborhood, but these days he just focuses on his next move.
“It’s crazy how much it’s changed,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I was tired about being upset about it.”
Now, Fard said, shiny new apartment complexes along Welton Street are the most omens of change, especially the big block of them across from Borne’s old bar.
Edward “Too Tall” Walker, who’s long played softball on a team that Borne has sponsored and has known his family for years, said it’s just the way it goes.
“Downtown is moving east, and we got swallowed up,” he said. “Rent is getting expensive.”
Wilder said Borne’s displacement is more an issue of small business clashing with corporate power.
But Fard said the forces that have marginalized Denver’s black and brown communities are one in the same with the corporate struggle Wilder described. There are economic “apparatuses” in place that have long been slanted against mom and pop store owners on a street like Welton.
“If it is about big business, it’s because the city has opened the door to big business, to the demise of culture,” Fard said. In that case, he added, Borne’s relocation over the years is actually “more of a symbol of black resilience” to changing tides.
Kathy Stephenson, who sat across from Wilder at the fundraiser, said Borne’s business will continue to thrive when he’s back on his feet.
“Wherever he goes, he will have a crowd,” she said, everyone’s just waiting for him to open up again.
But moving isn’t easy, and Borne needed help.
Some of that came from loyal customers getting him into the next location, a move he said will cost about $90,000. But the city has also stepped in.
Borne is receiving some funds from the city’s Office of Economic Development (OED) through a pilot “Retail Incentive Fund” program established in 2014. As that program winds down, OED is preparing to take on an additional $400,000 as part of the city’s 2019 budget that’s specifically meant to help small business owners who are facing displacement or who have limited access to money to start up or expand.
Derek Woodbury, spokesperson for OED, told Denverite his office has been working with Borne since he left Pierres’, providing funding in the form of reimbursements for moving expenses.
“Our goal was to help the business get to a long-term lease, which has now happened,” he said, although he added that it’s unusual for OED to work with a business that’s been displaced twice in such short a time span. Borne’s was one of three businesses that benefited from the retail pilot fund.
The $400,000 fund is still being set up for distribution, and it might be a sign of the times.
“We have increasingly seen, in some neighborhoods, small businesses are facing displacement,” he said, one reason the money was made available.
In 2016, OED released a gentrification study that recommends providing business services, like those being offered to Borne, to help “mitigate commercial displacement.”
Woodbury said it’s important that the impacts of growth to small enterprises in Denver’s most changing neighborhoods is crucial.
“Authentic, unique businesses,” he said, “really make our neighborhoods come alive.”
Councilman Brooks told Denverite that it doesn’t take having an inside connection for other business to access this kind of funding. Woodbury said a lot of the people who come into the office do come through referrals from council representatives or partnering organizations, but anyone who’s curious about accessing supportive money for small businesses can contact the office or attend their open hours at The Commons on Champa (walk-ins welcome, appointments preferred).
Fard said he’s happy that the community and the city stepped up to help Borne find his way to a new kitchen, but he wishes it never would have come this far in the first place.
“I would like city policy in place [so that] that relocation costs aren’t necessary,” he said. “What about the perspective of: you don’t have to move?”
For his part, Borne said he’s confident he’ll be on his feet in no time, even though the move has been stressful and it’s “killing” him financially.
“Everything’s coming together,” he said. “We’ll get by. We’ll survive.”
And that softball team he’s sponsored year after year? Yep, they’ll still be called The Randalls.
Littleton-based Carboy Winery officially announced this week that it will be taking over the former home of Govnr’s Park Tavern, and owner Eric Hyatt confirmed for Denverite that he’ll also be opening a breakfast restaurant inside the old Lala’s Wine Bar + Pizzeria.
The breakfast restaurant will be called Ivy on 7th and has a target opening date of April 3. The team hopes to open Carboy Winery and an accompanying restaurant and retail shop this summer.
Denver chef Rebecca Weitzman — back from more than a decade in New York — is returning to head up the breakfast kitchen as well as the Carboy kitchen.
“Rebecca really does like working with vegetables and focuses on healthful eating and preparation, so a lot of that is going to be going into her menu,” Hyatt said. “But it’s also going to satisfy someone like myself who — I don’t really care about eating healthy when I eat breakfast, I just want something good.”
Nearly everything will be made from scratch, much of it locally sourced. They’ll be smoking local fish in-house, making sausage and bacon from local pork in-house. Baked goods will all be made from scratch in-house.
At first, the menu will be pretty standard breakfast fare — bagels, scones, bread and the like. Eventually they’ll ramp up to full breakfast service with an emphasis on weekend brunch. Ivy on 7th will be divided into a full-service restaurant and a coffee shop-like area seating 30-40 people, where customers can order from the counter and hang out. Jason Snopkoski, former bar manager at Avanti, is in charge of the beverage program.
“They’re going for a Montréal café kind of vibe as far as the menu goes,” Hyatt said.
Over at the Carboy kitchen, the plan is for a variety of Mediterranean food.
Carboy first opened in 2016 and has since expanded to Breckenridge. They’ll continue to produce wine at the Littleton location (6885 S. Santa Fe Drive) as they add some production at the Capitol Hill location (672 Logan St.). Kevin Webber, director of operations for Carboy, said he’s long had the goal of setting up shop in Denver. They’ll bring the Carboy wine club to the new location, and use the large space to host private events.
The patios will stay, but Govnr’s Park’s beloved 90-year-old palm tree had to go, to protect it from construction. Hyatt put the tree on Craigslist, free to a good home. He ended up finding a taker in restaurateur Kevin Delk, who’d been looking for a tree for his Caribbean-flavored Capitol Hill spot Bang Up to the Elephant, 9news reported.
Hyatt first brought his plans to the Capitol Hill United Neighbors at a December meeting Angelo’s Taverna, which Hyatt also owns, to garner support. At the time, neither project was a certainty.
Hyatt told CHUN members then that he’s committed to preserving the character of Govnr’s Park, just as he did when Carboy opened its second location in the former Gold Pan Saloon on Breckenridge’s Main Street.
“We understand the heritage of Govnr’s Park and what that means to us, living in this neighborhood, and what that means to all of you living in this area,” he said. “We’re going to try to pay homage to that in the best way we can.”
He also acknowledged the ways in which Mike Plancarte and John Ott, former owners of Govnr’s Park and Lala’s, were supportive of the neighborhood and CHUN.
“We are prepared to take that baton and run with it as well,” he said.
Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff spent four years in the General Assembly calling U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a colleague when Gardner served in House District 63.
“He was a very pleasant guy, very affable,” Romanoff said. “I got nothing against him personally. I just happen to disagree with him on every major issue that faces the country.”
Romanoff, 52, is making his second run at the Senate after gunning for a seat in 2010. His latest run is motivated by seeing families “struggle and suffer” from what he sees as fixable issues. He doesn’t see a sense of urgency from the U.S. Senate. And despite his experience, he’s not expecting the nomination to be handed to him.
“People have lost faith in the whole political system because they don’t see members of Congress taking on the fights that are affecting their lives,” Romanoff said. “That’s not acceptable to me.”
He spent the last four years as CEO and President of Mental Health Colorado. It was a role he took following the death of a family member, who died by suicide. He’s met people across the state he said have been “equally devastated” by mental health illnesses, including addiction.
Mental health figures to be one of the issues he focuses on.
Healthcare, climate change, immigration reform and improving economic prosperity for all Coloradans are a few of the things he wants to address. But it’s figuring out how to provide access to mental health services that could set him apart from other candidates.
Romanoff estimates that about 500,000 people in Colorado don’t have access to healthcare services they may need. The estimate is based on figures from the 2017 Colorado Health Access Survey, which reported one in 13 Coloradans did not get needed mental health services.
Some of the reasons include insurance that doesn’t cover it, stigma keeping them from seeking it or simply not having insurance in the first place. He has a plan for how to provide more high-quality healthcare to residents.
“To me, the answer’s got — at least the answer that I learned from working on this issue for 20 years — is a system of Medicare for all,” Romanoff said. “Where you lower the age of Medicare eligibility to zero … making sure everyone is in the same pool is one way to hold down costs.”
Mental Health Colorado helped put successful ballot measures in place to increase funding for mental health services in five counties. It included Denver, where voters approved Caring 4 Denver.
“I think people recognize increasingly that it’s cheaper to prevent or treat mental illness than to ignore it or criminalize it,” Romanoff said.
There’s progress in Colorado’s legislature to pass legislation improving access throughout the state. At the national level, Gardner joined U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet last year in co-sponsoring a bill providing rural communities with mental health resources.
Romanoff said there are laws already in the books to address these concerns at the federal level. He thinks the issue is lack of enforcement. There are mandates within the Affordable Care Act calling for the expansion of mental health and substance use treatment that he believes aren’t being enforced.
Romanoff said these services fall under “essential benefits” under the ACA, but don’t seem to actually be working this way. He added that people are still ending up going out of network, which can include higher costs and lengthy traveling, to ensure they get their care.
Romanoff cites the passing of Referendum C as among his proudest accomplishments in his eight years in the legislature.
The bill essentially gave Colorado a 5-year break from TABOR. It was forwarded on the ballot by the legislature, where Romanoff then served as Speaker in the lower chamber. He teamed up with Republican Gov. Bill Owens for the proposal, which Romanoff said enabled the state to “shore up” funding for things like schools and colleges.
“We built the largest coalition, I think, in Colorado history to pass that measure,” Romanoff said. “We got 1,000 organizations around the state to sign on and it was a bipartisan proposal that succeeded.”
He also teamed up with State Treasurer Cary Kennedy in 2008 to establish the BEST Grant Program, which helped provide funding to repair and rebuilt in schools, and legislation that helped domestic violence survivors.
Here are the democrats running against Gardner so far.
These are the people who have announced and/or have filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission:
Denver, spring is just around the corner (probably).
It’s time for us all to shuffle out of hibernation like so many bald bears. It’s time to consume culture with abandon and without our large coats. It’s time for season openings and world tours and outdoor art.
Now through Aug. 18
Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Cost: $24-28 for non-members, $12-14 for members, $5 for youth ages 6-18, free for children 5 and younger
There probably isn’t a more appropriate title for this homecoming show from Jordan Casteel. The Denver-born-and-raised artist, now living and working in Harlem, has a talent for capturing expressions in oils, and she used it along with her personal relationship with each of her subjects to paint portraits that both invite and challenge your gaze.
“Returning the Gaze” features 30 paintings Casteel made from 2014 to 2018 — two of which were purchased by the Denver Art Museum for its permanent collection.
Now through May 26
Museum of Contemporary Art, 1485 Delgany St.
Hours: Noon-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Cost: $8 for adults (or $5 after 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday); $5 for seniors, military and college students; free for members and youth 18 and younger
You know those tattoos that look like watercolor brush strokes? Amanda Wachob pioneered that style. She’s made such a strong career of it that her wait list for a consultation is several months long.
A few of those on the list to get inked got to be part of the exhibit at MCA and, depending on when you’re reading this, you can watch her in action. She’s tattooing at the museum through Feb. 21.
And in addition tattooing human bodies, Wachob works on canvas, leather, silk, paper and fruit.
Yes, fruit. This exhibit features a room full of tattooed lemons. Tattooed lemons!
Now through May 26
Museum of Contemporary Art, 1485 Delgany St.
Hours: Noon-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Cost: $8 for adults (or $5 after 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday); $5 for seniors, military and college students; free for members and youth 18 and younger
“Aftereffect” doesn’t pay homage to O’Keefe’s style. You’ll find a variety of work by a dozen artists throughout the exhibit that, according to museum materials, “explore a set of formal qualities pioneered by O’Keeffe and modernists of her circle.” And, yes, you’ll find a few O’Keefe pieces in there as well.
Now through May 26
Museum of Contemporary Art, 1485 Delgany St.
Hours: Noon-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Cost: $8 for adults (or $5 after 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday); $5 for seniors, military and college students; free for members and youth 18 and younger
Andrew Jensdotter creates the kind of art that — more than the usual — makes you wonder about the process. You can see it the way you see geological history in the rock walls of Red Rocks.
The basic description is this: he builds up layers, then carves into them.
The Utah-born CU Boulder MFA graduate, now living and working in Denver and Edwards, is getting his first solo museum exhibition with “Flak.”
March 1 to 8 RiNo Art District Hours: After dark Cost: Free
For the second year running, some exterior walls of the RiNo Art District will light up with cinematic art every night for a week. “Side Stories” this year will feature the work of eight artists, projected on and around Brighton Boulevard.
The event website did not provide details at the time of publishing, but we’ve got a map and a little about the installations in our preview.
Month of Photography
March and April Multiple locations
The Month of Photography Denver — which is more than one month long, but whatever — is a biennial celebration of fine art photography. There are too many exhibits, events and collaborations to list here. The good news is you can find them listed here.
Friday, March 1 at 9 p.m.
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway $15-20
Hot off the heels of “Stuffed & Ready,” the Los Angeles trio’s third full-length, Cherry Glazerr hasn’t lost energy. If you’re feeling angry at the world lately, frontwoman Clementine Creevy is your girl and this is your show.
And it’s not just the headliner that makes this one worth your money. Openers Palehound and The Corner Girls are worth the ticket price alone.
Monday, March 18 at 8 p.m.
Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave. $30-35
If you haven’t seen him for yourself yet, maybe you’ve heard the live reviews of Vince Staples. It’s been a mixed bag. But the strength of his catalog and his personality make him always worth the shot.
Monday, March 25 at 8 p.m. Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer St.
If you haven’t heard of him yet, now’s a good time to check out Chicago rapper Ric Wilson. And if the description “nouveau disco rap superstar, Geneva-visiting activist and community goofball” doesn’t sell you (it really should though), try this:
Friday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 31 at 1 p.m. Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th St.
OK, this one is a tougher sell if you’re not a Symphony Person. (If you are, you don’t need my help anyway.) But trust me that it’s a very lovely suite of pieces composed to capture a tour of an exhibition by artist, architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann.
This one is already sold out, but if you’re willing to brave the resale market, tickets can still be yours. It’s probably worth it if you’re invested in how much Earl has grown as an artist since we were demanding his freedom.
Monday, April 15 at 8 pm.
Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.
It’s somehow been more than four years since Ex Hex released the excellent “Rips,” but they’ve got a new release in the holster (“It’s Real,” out March 22) and are probably just as powerful a force on stage now as they were then.
Wednesday, April 17 at 8 p.m. Lost Lake, 3602 E. Colfax Ave.
Sasami is everywhere, probably without you realizing it — playing keys, bass, and guitar in Dirt Dress and Cherry Glazerr, contributing vocals/string/horn arrangements to studio albums of Vagabon, Curtis Harding, Wild Nothing and Habits Hands. She’s also played French horn in orchestras.
Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman St.
Just some super galvanizing symphonic music, for cheap. The program includes: Camille Saint-Saëns, “Marche héroïque;” Zoltán Kodály “Háry János” Suite; Ludwig van Beethoven, “Wellington’s Victory;” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “1812 Overture.”
Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m.
Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Curtis St. $30-120
This tag-team effort from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the Colorado Ballet and Wonderbound sounds like it’s going to live up to its title.
Per the Colorado Ballet: “The program opens with a new work ‘The MOVE/ment’ choreographed by Cleo Parker Robinson to jazz and soul music, followed by Colorado Ballet performing Amy Seiwert’s ‘Traveling Alone,’ and close with a new work choreographed by Wonderbound Artistic Director Garrett Ammon to Beethoven’s ‘Creatures of Prometheus.'”
March 9 to April 14
Curious Theatre Co., 1080 Acoma St. $20-44
Award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (“Detroit ’64”) will have another play staged at Curious Theatre. “Skeleton Crew” tells the story of Faye, Dez, and Shanita, “a make-shift family of auto workers” in Detroit trying to make it through the Great Recession.
A collaboration between Denver Immersive Opera, Whitney Waugh Dance, Chris Bagley and Understudy — this production of the Bartók opera puts the audience in the middle of everything as a man’s new wife discovers his dark secrets.
March 14 to April 6
Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St. $10-20
Well, this sounds bonkers: “‘Everything was Stolen’ is a piece created from a variety of stolen and original (but mostly stolen) texts, songs, videos, images and ephemera in an evocation of America (which was also stolen – hey!), inspired in part by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, and in part by something American composer John Cage once said: ‘And so it is out of this chaos, this accumulation of history and novelty, that we begin building.'”
Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12 at 2 p.m.
Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Curtis St.
Also a classic. This is something of a rom-com of operas, except instead of a couple meeting-cute and falling in love despite all obstacles, they’re already betrothed and under siege from a man trying to seduce the women.
(Performed in Italian, with English and Spanish subtitles at every seat.)
You’re most likely to know him as TSA agent Rod Williams in “Get Out,” but Lil Rel has been around longer than that. You don’t get to be the comedic relief in a Jordan Peele horror film without being very good at what you do.
The Denver City Council gave more authority to the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor, which is responsible for checking the power of Denver’s police and sheriff departments, during its legislative meeting Tuesday.
Denver’s new ordinance cements the office’s power to sanction two of the city’s top law enforcement posts — chief of police and sheriff — instead of just their subordinates. The OIM’s new powers come partially in response to Mayor Michael Hancock cutting the watchdog out of an investigation into political appointee Robert White, the former chief of police.
“I think what we come up with is an excellent bill that solidifies the authority of the Office of the Independent Monitor to oversee the actions of not just the rank and file of the officers on the street, but the chief of police and sheriff as well,” said City Councilman Paul Kashmann.
The new setup will dilute the power of the mayor’s office. Denver’s executive previously appointed members to the Citizen Oversight Board, the resident-run group that assesses the independent monitor. Now the city council and the mayor will get four appointments each, and share one.
Some other changes: Retaliation for anyone who cooperates with the independent monitor is expressly banned, and the oversight agency would gain the power to comment on the disciplinary process.
Denver’s independent monitor has held essentially the same powers since it was created 2004, and advocates have wanted stronger oversight for just as long. The deaths of Michael Marshall and Marvin Booker while in city custody helped push the reforms to the fore.
The police union sided against the changes.
The Denver Police Protective Association was okay with most of the changes, union president Nick Rogers told city council members last month.
But Rogers was especially concerned about letting Nick Mitchell, the independent monitor, comment on how officers and deputies is disciplined. It’s a “slippery slope” that could end up with civilians disciplining officers, he told Denverite.
On Tuesday, City Councilwoman Robin Kniech, the law’s sponsor, said the changes were about trust.
“I don’t think that the system we had was broken, but I do think it was outdated a.nd there were pieces that weren’t working as well as intended,” Kniech said. “And there was confusion about it.”
The council passed the bill unanimously, with City Council members Chris Herndon, Kevin Flynn and Mary Beth Susman absent.
The old Adams County Child and Family Services Center will be home to young people leaving foster care under plans approved by county commissioners Tuesday.
The commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning, preliminary development plan and preliminary plat for a 116-unit housing development at the site in unincorporated Adams County at 7401 Broadway. Twelve of the units will be for young people who were once in the foster system, according to a statement from the county.
Unison Housing Partners, the county’s housing authority, is to create a final development plan and plat for the commissioners to review later this year.
The housing units will be created within the old headquarters of the child and family services department, which moved to the new Adams County Human Services Center in Westminster in 2017. Four new buildings also will go up. Raised garden beds, two playgrounds, a basketball court, a barbecue area and rooftop are among the planned amenities.
A former federal prosecutor will review the sexual abuse files of Colorado’s Roman Catholic dioceses and the church has agreed to pay an unlimited amount of reparations to victims under a voluntary joint effort under taken with the help of the state attorney general.
The collaborative process announced Tuesday by Attorney General Phil Weiser and Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila is partly the result of the limits of the Colorado’s attorney general’s power and the local church’s confidence that it has been pro-active in dealing with accusations of abuse since the clergy sex abuse crisis exploded in Boston nearly 20 years ago.
Aquila said the church and the state had the same mission — to seek justice and healing for victims of abuse and provide accountability and transparency, including letting more people know about the steps the church has taken since 2002.
“We are confident in the steps we have taken to address this matter and that there are no priests currently in active ministry under investigation,” he said at a joint news conference.
The Colorado attorney general does not have the power to convene a grand jury to investigate the church as the Pennsylvania attorney general did. But the names of all priests with credible accusations of sexual abuse in the dioceses of Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs from 1950 to the present will be published in a report by former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer expected by the fall, Weiser said.
Weiser, a Democrat who took office last month, said any failures of the church to cooperate in the review would be noted in the report, as would any allegations of sexual abuse that have not been previously reported to law enforcement. Troyer will also have the power to conduct interviews as part of the review.
In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury alleged that more than 300 priests abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades there. Since then, dioceses in more two dozen states around the country have released the names of priests accused of abuse.
The Colorado review will not be paid for with tax dollars. Half the cost will be covered by the church and half by anonymous donors who were solicited by former state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who started working with the Colorado church on how to respond to the revelations in Pennsylvania before leaving office last month.
Coffman, a Republican, said the church did not want a review paid for with state dollars because that could lead to personal information, like psychological reviews of victims, becoming public records, a concern she shared. The donors were people willing to give money and walk away, leaving the review to run its course, she said.
The compensation process will be led by Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw victims’ compensation for the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and the Sept. 11 attacks, and overseen by a board chaired by former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown.
Under the plan, there is no set pool of money set aside in advance. The amount paid out will be determined by Feinberg’s team, and the church cannot appeal those decisions. However, victims can decide whether or not to accept the award. Victims who accepted an award would give up their right to sue the church.
Although the church does not believe there has been any significant cases of abuse since 2002, Coffman said it would surprising if that is what the review found.
“That would be great. But we would be different from any other state if that was the outcome,” she said.
Denver’s criminal justice arm will ease up on people arrested for “low-level” drug and prostitution crimes, city officials announced Tuesday. But only some will benefit from the new policy.
The approach aims to divert people from jail and into healthcare services, job training, housing and mental health services so they can get back on their feet and break the cycle of recidivism.
People arrested for certain drug possession crimes — without intent to distribute — will qualify. People who engage in prostitution, shoplifting, trespassing, breaking curfew and disturbing the peace (no domestic violence) can also get leniency.
“With this program, we can prevent people from getting caught in the endless cycle of incarceration, saving taxpayer money,” said Kevin Kelly with the Denver Office of Behavioral Health Strategies. “And we can empower people to live better who are typically facing extraordinary barriers to accessing the services they need.”
But there’s a but: Only officers trained on the new model can divert arrestees to social services, and the program applies only to the police districts that cover the north half of Denver (excluding Stapleton, east). That’s where data show the program will benefit the most.
Yet demand for services is “far bigger than we can handle at our current size,” Kelly wrote email. In other words, many people will fall through the cracks, but not as many as before. Kelly said he hopes to prove success and expand the program over time to meet the needs of the entire city.
Officials call the approach the “Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion” program. It’s modeled after an initiative started in Seattle that has gone national, including to Longmont, Pueblo and Alamosa.
Experts say social services give residents on the edge some stability, while the war-on-drugs approach of incarceration destabilizes them.
Low-level criminals diverted with LEAD are about 60 percent less likely to get arrested again, according to a 2015 report.
The thinking goes like this: Once arrestees get the treatment they need, their productivity and employability rise and the risk of getting jailed — or hospitalized for drug and alcohol abuse — falls.
“We have looked a lot over the years at drug sentencing,” said Terry Hurst, policy coordinator with the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. “I do know that there is a need for this. We’re pretty excited and we’re really encouraged by seeing it here in Denver given the rate of drug felony filings.”
Drug felonies accounted for 41 percent of all felonies in Denver County last year, according to a report from the advocacy group. That’s compared with 29 percent in 2012. Most of those charges were for possession, Hurst said.
Coloradans caught with “schedule I” or “schedule II” drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroine, even if its small amounts detected paraphernalia, can receive a felony conviction and go to jail, the report states.
“By implementing the LEAD program, we’re giving people a first chance before a second chance is needed,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement.
The LEAD initiative is not permanent — it’s a pilot funded through June 2020 with a $561,000 grant from the state. Part of that money will fund a contract with the University of Colorado’s Addiction Research and Treatment Services, which will help arrestees get back on their feet.
The grant will also fund supportive housing and workforce training, as well as a part-time coordinator with the city attorney’s office.
Though the transportation company ended its brief service between Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill and downtown, the DU loop remains intact, the school’s sustainability coordinator, Chad King, told Denverite via email.
Only 110 people rode the shuttle’s Cherry Creek line in two-and-a-half months. But Chariot serves 900 people at DU, said Stuart Anderson, executive director of Transportation Solutions, which manages the program.
The college looks to replace the service by March 1 “to avoid gaps since some students didn’t bring a car to campus for the semester.”
Chariot is still technically alive until the end of February, he said.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined more than 100 demonstrators outside the State Capitol on Monday to call out President Trump’s national emergency declaration to provide funding for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
He then received a roar of approval after he publicly announced his office would be joining a California-led lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the president’s decision, which the president announced last Friday.
“In Colorado, we will be on the side of the rule of law,” Weiser said.
Trump’s declaration on Friday sought to allocate roughly $8 million for construction for the wall, The Hill reported. The decision came after he signed a spending bill last week approved by Congress that didn’t include funding for the wall, which was a key campaign promise.
Weiser, a Democrat, said Monday that the president’s effort to spend money differently than what Congress provides “would undermine the checks and balance at the core of our Constitution.” He said the state would be “hurt” by the president’s decision because it would lose out on funds that are supposed to be spent here.
Gov. Jared Polis in a statement last Friday criticizing the President’s decision, calling it “an astonishing abuse of power.” He joined Weiser in a new, joint statement on Monday announcing the state would join the lawsuit after concluding Colorado “could lose tens of millions in military construction dollars that would be diverted to build the wall.”
“Our military bases play a critical role in our nation’s readiness and are economic drivers in several communities,” the joint statement said. “In this action, we are fighting for Colorado’s interests and defending the rule of law.”
Other states joining the lawsuit include neighboring New Mexico, as well as Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon, CBS News reported.
The lawsuit will challenge Trump’s use of emergency powers under a bill passed in 1976.
This law, called the National Emergencies Act, was passed in 1976 by Congress. So the lawsuit filed by states isn’t necessarily challenging the constitutionality of Trump’s decision, according to University of Colorado Law School professor Richard B. Collins.
“There are constitutional issues working in the background, but essentially they’re just saying he has no legal right to do this,” Collins said.
He added that the law was passed to give the president special authority during emergencies, though Collins said it’s not likely Congress had anything like this in mind when they passed the bill. He said past presidents including President George W. Bush and his father George H. W. Bush used the powers granted by the bill during their tenure.
Collins believes the president has a 60-40 chance of “winning” the lawsuit partially because the bill’s language is broad and the Supreme Court is stacked in his favor.
Weiser, just two months into his new role, made it clear even before he came to office that he would work to confront certain Trump policies in his role. He mentioned Trump’s election as one of the reasons he decided to run.
Quoting George Washington, Weiser said the constitution is “sacredly obligatory upon all,” and must be followed by everyone, including the President.
“We cannot be complacent about our constitutional democracy,” Weiser said. “There are lots of governments around the world with great constitutions that exist on paper. What makes our constitution real is engaged citizens and that’s all of you.”
President Trump expected to be sued over his decision.
He predicted it. He spoke about how the situation would play out after his declaration, delivering a stream-of-consciousness breakdown last Friday.
“So the order is signed and I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office and we will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit (appeals court) even though it shouldn’t be there and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court just like the (travel) ban,” Trump said on Friday.
Trump’s controversial travel ban, also referred to as the Muslim ban, barred people from predominantly Muslim nations from temporarily entering the country. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of upholding the ban in June 2018, with the majority citing national security concerns for their ruling.
A City Council vote has been postponed indefinitely on a proposal to move a cluster of tiny homes to a municipal plot in Globeville.
City Councilman Albus Brooks, whose district includes the neighborhood and who has said he is supportive of the move to 4400 North Pearl St., said he is still seeking clarity. The overwhelming sentiment expressed at two neighborhood meetings so far has been unwelcoming.
“What part of ‘no” doesn’t the city understand?” Bernadette Garcia said after a meeting Friday at which neighbors repeatedly told Brooks they rejected the proposal and wanted to know what the next step would be given their stance. Garcia’s Globeville KARES community group has worked to ensure neighbors know about the proposal and have a chance to express their views on it.
Brooks said a third meeting would be held Feb. 22. Garcia and others said they would attend, if only to underline their opposition. Cole Chandler, whose Colorado Village Collaborative sponsors the Beloved Community Village of 11 small structures that are home to 12 people experiencing homelessness, said he also would attend. Colorado Village Collaborative needs to find a new home for the village by March 14 because the plot near the 38th and Blake light-rail station where it has sat for more than a year is slated for the development of affordable housing.
At the Globeville rec center on Friday, participants refused even to formally consider a document outlining a possible good neighbor agreement, fearing city officials would see that as an opening for Beloved Community Village. Crystal Trujillo said the points for discussion listed in the proposed agreement — such as whether sex offenders and drug users would be banned from the village — reflected not what she and her neighbors wanted to negotiate but instead why they did not want the village nearby. Trujillo’s backyard abuts 4400 North Pearl.
“I don’t want it. Period,” Trujillo said. “We clearly don’t want it. We don’t want it. So, now what?”
Brooks tried to assure her that village residents, most of whom are working and all of whom are receiving social and other support, would not add disruption to the neighborhood.
He added he has received emails and phone calls from Globeville residents who at least want to discuss a good neighbor agreement. But few spoke up for that position on Friday.
“It’s a tough environment,” Brooks said.
Friday’s meeting was shorter, less well attended and only slightly less angry than a two-hour meeting at the rec center on Feb. 7.
Last month the city offered 4400 North Pearl to the Colorado Village Collaborative. The nonprofit had been scrambling for a new site after Denver’s public works department said in November that a plot at the Taxi development where Beloved Community Village had hoped to move was inappropriate, citing flood concerns.
Denver City Council must approve the proposal to lease the city-owned plot at 4400 North Pearl to Colorado Village Collaborative for about $10 a year. The council’s Finance and Governance Committee has given preliminary approval. The full council was to have vote on the lease on Feb. 19.
“There was a lot of push-back from the community,” Brooks acknowledged as Friday’s meeting began. “The response from the council … was to postpone the vote.”
He said no new vote date has been set.
The Urban Land Conservancy that owns the plot near 38th and Blake had originally set a March 1 deadline for the village to move. After the Feb. 7 meeting, which a ULC representative attended, the nonprofit gave the village more time. Chandler said Friday that the new deadline of March 14 was firm.
Globeville residents say they feel the city and Colorado Village Collaborative are pressuring them to solve a problem they did not create and complain that bringing in people experiencing homelessness won’t help a long-neglected neighborhood struggling with poverty and displacement.
Denver is changing, and the resulting instability that has rippled through its neighborhoods played a role in teacher strikes that grabbed Denver’s attention and national headlines this week. Unlike the statewide walkout last April, this strike focused specifically on Denver’s teachers and how they were paid.
Tensions have simmered since the ProComp pay system was implemented in 2015.
Teachers have said those bonuses — the bonuses for working at a school with higher need and the bonuses for working at a school where kids are performing particularly well — were unreliable partly because of larger changes playing out as a result of growth and rising rents.
Now that the union has won higher base wages and a more transparent system around them, teachers and union reps have said that instability has been neutralized.
During the strike, teachers around the district repeatedly raised a specific concern with the system: If neighborhoods surrounding poorer schools gentrify and more affluent kids are enrolled, some bonuses associated with lower incomes might have disappeared. On the other hand, teachers who receive bonuses for high achievement in their classrooms feared that students’ grades could drop if their families are displaced due to rising living costs, which could threaten good-grade incentives.
Here’s what just changed because of the strike.
In the old pay system, there were multiple bonuses tied to at-risk students, but we’ll focus on these two:
Hard-To-Serve, which granted teachers an annual $2,738 bonus under the old pay regime. Elementary schools got this designation if more than 92 percent of students qualify for FRL. For middle schools, the threshold was 85 percent. For high schools it was 75 percent.
Title I, a federal designation that granted teachers an annual $1,540 bonus under the old system. A school still gets this designation if more than 60 percent of students qualify for free reduced lunch (FRL). If that percentage of students drops for more than two years in a row, the school loses that status.
Hard-To-Serve no longer exists. A spokesperson for the district said that was done to simplify things, so funding could go instead to two “poverty incentives,” Title I and “Highest Priority.”
Teachers at Title I schools now get annual $2,000 bonuses. It’s an increase even though poverty initiative funding dropped $1.8 million district wide as a result of the deal.
Before the strike, teachers relied more heavily on these two bonuses, and both were dependent on who enrolled in their schools. Now that base pay was bolstered and Hard-To-Serve status will no longer be offered, as a result of the new agreement, the bonuses play a less critical role in teachers’ overall compensation.
Title I is still in there, though, and it’s still responsible for some degree of volatility, but teachers say it now behaves more like a bonus should.
But before a deal was struck, rising rent and resulting displacement intensified how these incentives rocked teachers’ livelihoods.
Since the 2016-2017 school year, six schools that are still open and were previously designated as Title I have lost that designation. Since the 2014-2015 school year, 11 schools that are still open and were previously designated as Hard-To-Serve lost that designation.
Next year, a spokesperson for Denver Public Schools said, North High School would have been lowered from Hard-To-Serve to Title I. South High School will lose its Title I status.
Not all of these schools owe these changes to gentrification – at least one redrew its boundaries in recent years, which shifted its demographics and tipped the scale. But if you look at a map of these schools on top of a recent Blueprint Denver map, you’ll see many are located in neighborhoods projected to see greater displacement.
For many striking teachers, this was an obvious trend.
Henry Roman, president of Denver’s teachers union and a teacher at Teller Elementary, once worked at Columbian Elementary, which lost its Hard-To-Serve status in 2015. He told Denverite it was definitely the result of changing economic tides in around the Sunnyside school, which he said have been shifting for decades.
“Housing and especially rent has become really expensive,” he said, and that played into Columbian’s changing demographics and loss of its Hard-To-Serve demographic.
Southwest, northwest and northeast Denver are seeing the most of these changes, he added.
Elise Lucero-Frederick, an English teacher at Lincoln High School in southwest Harvey Park, lives near her school and said her neighborhood is undoubtedly changing. One sign: her home picked up about $100,000 in value since she bought it, despite the fact that “we haven’t done anything to it.”
Lincoln was listed as Hard-To-Serve. Even though that designation will no longer be used, it’s still listed as “Highest Priority,” which is a status decided by a board of district and union leaders and is limited to 30 schools.
Lucero-Frederick said most of her new neighbors’ kids are still pretty young, if they have kids at all, so demographic change at Lincoln is likely to be some years off.
“It would be a couple years,” she said. “It’s not like it will happen overnight, as the neighborhood continues to gentrify.”
But for Godsman Elementary, not far from Lincoln in Ruby Hill, change is already taking root. Godsman was also designated Hard-To-Serve, and will now just be listed as Title I.
“We’re getting young, hipster couples who don’t have children, they have dogs, and so our percentage is falling,” 5th grade teacher Rachel Sandoval said. The newcomers who do have kids are not likely to qualify for free lunch and, she continued, “We’re going to lose part of that unpredictable bonus.” They would have, anyway, before the strike.
School populations overall were projected to fall this year as a result of gentrification. Sandoval estimated Godsman lost about 50 kids annually over the last few years.
Heather Abreu was the only teacher at Colfax Elementary who did not strike. She said she couldn’t afford to miss a paycheck, although she agreed with her colleagues’ mission. Around Sloan’s Lake, she said, a lot of students and families have moved as rents have risen. Colfax was also a Hard-To-Serve school.
“As far as the demographics of our students, it’s greatly changing,” she said. “I’ve noticed a lot in the last year I’ve had to say goodbye to students because they can’t afford to live in the area.”
As the picket line dissolved on Tuesday outside of South High School, Moira Casados Cassidy, who teaches English and English Learners, told Denverite that federal politics are also coming into play for her school. South has a special program for refugee students, and the number of those students have dropped since the Trump administration drastically cut refugee admittances. She estimated the school’s newcomer class dropped from 20 to six. Her colleague, English teacher Kurt Scheumann, added that South’s freshman class was “as white” as he’s “ever seen.”
Casados Cassidy said the changing proportion of actual low-income students might not be that large, but it was still enough to flip the ratio. The percentage of kids eligible for free or reduced lunch at South hovered above 60 percent between 2014 and 2016, but dropped to 59 in the 2017-2018 school year and dropped further to 52 percent this year.
Since South is projected to lose its Title I status, she and Scheumann are poised to lose the $2,000 bonus that would have been tacked onto their paychecks over the next year.
“We may lose the bonus, but it’s not meaningfully changing our population,” she said. “That’s the thing that’s frustrating about it. We still have a lot of students living in poverty and who have experienced trauma, et cetera, although the population might have changed by a small percent.”
Because these bonuses were tied to economic status, many of the teachers we spoke to said their paychecks were tied to the diversity of their classrooms.
“We’re really proud that we have a socio-economically, racially, ethnically integrated school. We’re punished under the ProComp system for having an integrated school,” Casados Cassidy said of South. The old system, she continued, “Rewards schools that are very segregated economically and racially.”
So it was good news when she heard the union won concessions over higher, more predictable base pay. While she declined to say how much her salary will increase as a result, she said it more than covers the soon-dissolving Title I bonus: “It’s a game-changing, lifestyle-changing raise.”
Since rising housing costs affects teachers, too, Roman said the union’s win with the district has put a lot of his colleagues at ease.
“They have one less thing to worry about,” he said.
There’s another side to this, too, that was less affected by the strike: Displaced students might have a harder time making the grade.
Lynette Hall-Jones, a teacher evaluator and former instructor who has worked at Whittier ECE-8 School for 22 years, said many of her students drive in from all over the city to go to school there. Many of their parents once lived in the neighborhood and attended Whittier themselves. There’s still a desire to be a part of the school’s community. Since a lot of newcomers to the neighborhood place their kids in other schools, and she feels like Whittier’s demographics have stayed relatively stable.
“We have lost a lot of our families,” she said, “but we do have families who have always choiced in. They come back. They drive in every day.”
Even so, she has noticed small changes in her school’s demographics. Whittier is one of those schools that recently lost Hard-To-Serve status.
Students who still live nearby, Hall-Jones said, face “uncertainties” as the neighborhood becomes harder to stay in. Dealing with change can affect kids’ ability to focus and score high marks.
Whittier is a “green” school, which means it ranks among the district’s best-performing, and there’s a separate teacher bonus for that. Hall-Jones said displacement among students could whittle away at their distinguished designation, although she added she and her colleagues work hard to make sure their kids continue to do well.
But this kind of instability is not something the union could address in their negotiations.
“Those are things that are not necessarily within our control,” Roman said.
Manasseh Oso, a social studies teacher at Manual High School, said he agrees that the district’s bonus system rewarded segregated schools. Manual, like Whittier, is also not on the brink of a gentrified student body.
While many of his students families have been forced to move out of nearby neighborhoods as a result of rising rents, Oso said many kids choose to attend Manual and drive in anyway.
“When I think of destabilization, I think of the fact that gentrification has pushed these kids out of these neighborhoods,” he said. “Gentrification is this fist that scatters and then destabilizes the school culture.”
Many teachers at Manual were not out striking. The school could face state intervention or even closure if its students don’t test well this year, so many of Oso’s colleagues remained in their classrooms to keep their kids learning. In addition to changing demographics outside the school, a strike might have played its own role in destabilizing its students.
“The impact of a strike is not the same at Manual as it is at East or South,” he said. “We’re in a pretty precarious situation.”
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