Last But Not Yeast

The DPD's binge-and-purge problem continues.

Silverstein learned of the new find through a reporter's late-night call. But he'd already suspected there might be more material: The computerized database "has references to paper files," he explains. "But we don't know what they've found now -- whether they're purged files or new paper files." He can ask when depositions in the ACLU's lawsuit start this week.

In the meantime, the city has eased the rules for people interested in viewing their files -- if the DPD can find them. Rather than require that they show up in person -- perhaps for a second or even a third time, as new files are discovered, uncovered, recovered -- the department will respond to written requests. The DPD will also start contacting individuals and organizations, particularly those located out of state, that have files slated for purging. And that translates to "shred, delete or destroy," says Whitman.

"I'm going to get this done once and for all," he adds. "We're touching every piece of paper we can find."

They might start by looking under all those stale doughnut boxes.

Chop, Chop

Public Safety accounts for the largest portion of the city's budget, and although other areas are being cut back, the Denver Police Department "will have the same authorized strength as in 2002," Mayor Wellington Webb announced Monday, when he released his proposed $769 million budget for 2003 -- the last budget he'll submit "as Mayor of this great City."

And if the intelligence bureau finally gets its spy-file mess sorted out, that could free up a few more officers to actually do police work.

Certainly the city is going to need every extra body it can find. Although Webb promised that the budget was not "doom and gloom," it wasn't sweetness and light, either, not after two years in which sales-tax collections were "flat and less than flat."

At last count (and that count was recent enough to require a hasty addition to the printed budget proposal), 110 city jobs were empty, and now they might stay that way indefinitely. (The position of parking czar John Oglesby is not among the empty slots -- not officially, at least. Almost three months after his thirty days' paid leave was scheduled to end, Oglesby is still on the public dole -- and still out of the office, awaiting the completion of an independent audit of the parking division. If Webb's looking for a fast hundred thou, might we suggest giving Oglesby the boot?)

Although "basic trash collection, snow removal and street sweeping are maintained," Webb pronounced, recreation centers will be closed on Sundays, and "new tree planting is halted until the drought is over."

This last stipulation has a particular, peculiar resonance after the Grand Prix -- one of those "economic development" projects that becomes even more important (to a city budget, at least) in tough times. In preparation for the Grand Prix, twenty trees were removed from around the race area and replanted in Benedict Park last spring.

But over Labor Day weekend, the city hastily chopped down another 32 trees -- half of them conveniently dead, reportedly -- to clear the sightlines for race-goers. In exchange, the Grand Prix promised to replace the trees (the live trees, that is) in a three-to-one ratio, at a cost of up to $15,000. And in fact, the Grand Prix has already paid the city for the trees, which is holding the money in escrow.

"The plan is to reassess the city's drought situation next spring," explains mayoral spokesman Andrew Hudson. At that point, some of the trees will be planted along Speer Boulevard and the rest along the Auraria Parkway -- if the budget and the environment look liquid enough.

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