Two-fer: Joe Garcia could pay off for John Hickenlooper

When gubernatorial candidate (and, not incidentally, Denver mayor) John Hickenlooper unveiled his education platform on Monday, he touted the experience of his running mate, Colorado State University at Pueblo President Joe Garcia, who was previously the president of Pikes Peak Community College and is currently a co-chair of Governor Bill Ritter's P-20 Education Coordinating Council. That would make Garcia, who's already served as director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies under then-governor Roy Romer, a natural to head the Colorado Department of Education if Hickenlooper is elected and actually wants to have his lieutenant governor do something besides taking on the statutory tasks of supervising the Commission of Indian Affairs and covering when the governor is out of state.

And in the process, Garcia could collect more than the $68,500 salary assigned to the lite-gov post, which would be a major cut from his $200,000 plus paycheck in Pueblo.

But it's against Colorado law for a state officer to be paid two salaries, so even if Garcia were to take on two jobs, he'd be paid for just one — likely the cabinet job, since those posts pay better. "No decisions have been made," says George Merritt, communications director for the Hickenlooper campaign, "but John and Joe have talked about the possibility of Joe serving Colorado as both the lieutenant governor and as a department head if John is elected. Joe would receive only one salary, saving the state money and maximizing Joe's talent. That approach appears consistent with Colorado law, which requires the governor to restrict the number of employees in the executive branch to the lowest number required for its efficient operation. It's also smart government — but right now, it's just an idea."

It's an idea that Dan Maes, who's all about cutting back the size of state government, might want to look at, too. After all, his running mate, Tambor Williams, has also served as director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, under then-governor Bill Owens.

Key of Gee: The artist-outfitted pianos that the Downtown Denver Partnership placed on the 16th Street Mall last November were such a hit that ten of them returned this summer for a command performance. And while they were initially supposed to stay there just through June, the gig kept getting extended, and extended — first through the Biennial of the Americas, now through the Taste of Colorado. "It's been a learn-as-you go process for us," says Sarah Neumann, communications manager for the Partnership. "Our team is still trying to figure out when to pull the pianos off and if they should go back out during the holidays (the issue of snow keeps resurfacing)."

But you can count on the pianos being available for impromptu performances through September — and this week, YouTube phenom Merton of PianochatImprov is slated to tickle the ivories on the mall. Tune into our Show and Tell blog for all the details.

The pianos were not part of the mammoth 16th Street Plan Steering Committee study of mall options that ultimately leave things pretty much as they are. From a traffic-flow standpoint, at least. "There will still be plenty of changes," Neumann says, and those changes were outlined at a final public hearing on the project last week. "It was the wrap-up of an eighteen-month process," she notes. "It went really well."


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