Construction Watch

Sign of the Times: "Your Presence Is Not Valued" in Developing Denver

Before we get to the picture above, which was sent to me by a local attorney with an eye for such things, let me first explain that the administration of Mayor Michael Hancock is very, very sensitive, a mite touchy — one might even say thin-skinned — about how we drudges in the media choose to describe all the grandiose projects, snarled traffic, rapid gentrification, new construction and general upheaval that seems to have arrived in this toddlin' town coeval with his election. 

This was brought to my attention last month by an emissary of the Mayor's Office after I wrote a piece about the city's controversial Platte to Park Hill stormwater project, a $300 million venture that has various neighborhood groups stirred up over the impacts the project will have on City Park Golf Course (which would lose hundreds of trees and public access for more than a year while being recontoured as a stormwater detention facility) and the Cole neighborhood (site of a proposed fifteen-block open channel). My article noted that "those groups are now comparing notes, consulting lawyers, filing open-records requests and gearing up for what may be the most significant challenge to Mayor Michael Hancock's giddy-up, breakneck pro-growth policies since he took office nearly five years ago. "

The emissary e-mailed me shortly after the piece was published, requesting a "correction." My "editorializing" had gotten "a little over the top," the emissary complained, and she asked that the words "giddy-up, breakneck pro-growth policies" be removed forthwith. 

I responded that since this was not a factual error but a matter of characterization, I didn't see any need for a correction. Or to substitute fresh adjectives that the Mayor's Office would find more acceptable. I was fully prepared to make the case that "giddy-up" and "breakneck" are entirely reasonable and perhaps even understated descriptors for the billions slated to be spent on new infrastructure and massive new developments in northeast Denver, along what Hizzoner has dubbed the city's "corridor of opportunity." But the emissary didn't bother to press her case. 

All of which makes the satiric "Public Notice" now showing up randomly on Denver streets, denouncing gentrification and the "pro-development policies" of Mayor Hancock, seem particularly timely. 

Clearly, somebody should be demanding a correction. 
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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast