If Initiative 300 passes on May 7, it could create plenty of confusion, as reported in Chris Walker's recent story on the Right to Survive. If Denver voters approve I-300, will people be able to sleep on the sidewalks? Camp out at Red Rocks?
The confusion isn’t waiting until after the election to create problems, either. Together Colorado, which bills itself as “a non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization that unlocks the power of people to transform their communities through community organizing” and comprises 220 congregations, schools and clergy and faith leaders across the state, late last week suddenly found itself confused with Together Denver, the organization leading the “No on 300” campaign, in ads in two monthly publications.
And that’s sticky. As Mike Kromrey, Together Colorado’s executive director points out, “Since our members do not currently organize around issues dealing with homelessness, we have not taken a position on Initiative 300.”
As its foundation, though, the group has taken the position that it wants to “place human dignity at the center of public life in Colorado.” Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of undignified behavior surrounding the current I-300 campaign. Proponents of the measure accuse opponents of wanting to “criminalize homelessness”; businesses that oppose the repeal of Denver’s urban camping ban have been threatened with boycotts. And those that appear to subsidize anti-300 ads? They get more phone calls than a small organization wants to handle.
Despite the fact that Together Denver has a war chest more than ten times the size of the Right to Survive, apparently it can't be stretched to cover a proofreader. In early April, the anti-300 campaign put together an advertorial featuring former mayor Wellington Webb, who opposes the initiative, for the Washington Park Profile and Life on Capitol Hill. “In the rush of designing the ads,” explains Roger Sherman, the CRL Associates managing partner who's running the campaign for Together Denver, “we put ‘paid for by Together.’” That mistake discovered, the campaign asked the publishing group to add “Denver”...but it somehow became “paid for by Together Colorado” instead.
“We didn’t catch it when we approved the proof,” Sherman says. “We’re responsible for it.”
When the second mistake was caught, after the publications were printed, Together Denver added a question to its FAQ on togetherdenver.com noting that Together Denver and Together Colorado are not connected. It will run quarter-page corrections in the May editions of the publications, Sherman says. And the “No on 300” crew quickly “’fessed up” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Because Initiative 300 is confusing enough.