With the limelight of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August, it’s not so easy for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to dodge bad publicity surrounding city preparations for the event, a recent Denver Post column shows.
On Sunday, Post columnist Susan Greene published a piece harshly criticizing the mayor and the city’s broken promises regarding how close activists would be to the Pepsi Center, the site of the convention:
For the record, it was Hickenlooper who on Feb. 28 signed a declaration committing to a parade route for protesters "terminating within sight and sound of the convention site," the Pepsi Center.
Yet his city four months later announced a route that ends about four blocks away.
It was Hickenlooper’s staff who agreed in May that the city "will provide a public demonstration zone on the Pepsi Center grounds that will be within sight and sound of the delegates on the Pepsi Center grounds."
Yet the city disclosed a month later the location of a fenced-in pen that protesters say is too far from the arena for delegates to see or hear them.
"We can’t elaborate, but we’ve met our commitments and will have a public viewing area in sight and sound of the delegates," says mayoral spokeswoman Sue Cobb.
Greene also brought up the city’s refusal to disclose what Denver is buying with $50 million in federal funds in preparation for the event, specifically calling out the mayor:
It is Hickenlooper — himself a longtime contributor to the [American Civil Liberties Union] — who time and again has touted his record as a civil-rights advocate and champion of government transparency.
Yet his city won’t say what it’s buying with $50 million in convention security money. And it wouldn’t, until sued, release information as basic as the policies of its jail.
Hickenlooper has been labeled a “Teflon” mayor by members of the press, including at least one other columnist at the Post, for his supposed ability to deflect bad publicity on a consistent basis.
But with bad press coming out of the Democratic convention — specifically in relation to civil liberties and government transparency — criticisms may end up sticking to Hickenlooper, the figurehead of the city that will be hosting a major political and historic event.
Greene’s writing not only gives the mayor complete responsibility for convention problems, but it also brings forth the question of just how exactly Hickenlooper’s mayoral legacy and political future will be defined by the convention.