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Reader: Shame on Westword for Publishing the Michael Hancock Q&A

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In early March, with no strong competitors emerging, Michael Hancock looked like a shoo-in for re-election as Denver's mayor on May 5. No strong competitors also means few, if any debates during this short campaign season — so writer Alan Prendergast asked to sit down with Hancock to ask some of the questions that might have come up in a campaign. He wound up with just twenty minutes with the once-and-future mayor in mid-March; you can read the resulting  Q&A here. While a half-dozen readers posted comments after that piece, a few more responded with more formal letters to the editor printed in this week's edition of Westword.

Writes Mark Boyko:

Mayor Michael Hancock’s responses to Westword’s interview were largely an exercise in the use of hyperbole. Shame, shame on Denver that there is only one candidate for mayor.

And Westword should share in some of that shame, says A. Englebrecht:

I understand that Alan Prendergast was only allotted twenty minutes to interview Mayor Hancock...leaving no time for follow-up questions (convenient for our loquacious mayor). What I can’t understand is why Westword decided to publish the interview in the first place. All it contained were generic, campaign-style statements (certainly not answers) that you can hear any time the mayor opens his mouth. Agreeing to a twenty-minute limit virtually guaranteed an interview full of half-truths and non-answers.

There are so many misleading words to pick from, but the mayor’s claim to have “built the second-largest park in the city’s inventory” is particularly galling. He doesn’t name the park (specifics continue to elude this administration), but it appears he is referring to Westerly Creek Park in Stapleton. He may indeed have happened to be the councilman in the early days of Stapleton redevelopment, and he may have put lipstick on the pig and convinced everybody to call it a park, but he certainly didn’t build it. The city simply had no choice; the “park” is in reality an urban flood-control project, with its centerpiece being a garbage-strewn ditch full of filthy, untreated water that has run directly off the streets of Aurora and Denver — a lovely East Colfax vintage. The amount of garbage is amazing and should embarrass everybody in the parks department...and also alarm parents who allow their children to play in the ditch.

Calling it a park and claiming to build it is deceptive (shame on the mayor), and agreeing to print half-truths and non-answers without challenging them is disappointing (shame on the supposedly independent voice of Westword).

For the record, Westword had asked for more time with the mayor — but we decided to take the twenty minutes in order to get Hancock on the record regarding numerous issues facing this city. Do you think we should have passed on the offer? And if you'd been there, what questions would you have asked? Post them in the comments section.

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