Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Michael Bennet DPS deal hits the New York Times

If you thought Michael Bennet's Regal Cinema deal for Philip Anschutz was complicated, just try to wrap your brain around the Denver Public Schools financing deal he arranged in 2008. The New York Times did, and just published "Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt."

Here's the start of the story:

In the spring of 2008, the Denver public school system needed to plug a $400 million hole in its pension fund. Bankers at JPMorgan Chase offered what seemed to be a perfect solution.

The bankers said that the school system could raise $750 million in an exotic transaction that would eliminate the pension gap and save tens of millions of dollars annually in debt costs -- money that could be plowed back into Denver's classrooms, starved in recent years for funds.

To members of the Denver Board of Education, it sounded ideal. It was complex, involving several different financial institutions and transactions. But Michael F. Bennet, now a United States senator from Colorado who was superintendent of the school system at the time, and Thomas Boasberg, then the system's chief operating officer, persuaded the seven-person board of the deal's advantages, according to interviews with its members.

And how do those boardmembers feel about the deal today? Jeannie Kaplan, a source for the story, will be on David Sirota's show on 760 AM at 7 a.m. this morning talking about the deal.

UPDATE: DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg joined the discussion on the Sirota show, and it got heated. Listen to it here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun