Denver Direct: July 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I’ve heard that recently the streets crossing Colfax have become the new drug supermarket. Dealers drive, bike and walk to their locations at say, 16th and Vine, having been forced away from say, 13th and Pearl.
The following by way of The Unsinkables, Inc., who walk the ‘hood once a month with cameras and cops.
We are happy to announce that the CrackStreet.com forum is back online. Its been a very long time since we turned off the forum, the last post was in 2005. The reason it was turned off is we where actually hacked by someone located in Turkey. This was a random attack but we lost the data for all the posts.
Well through a stroke of luck we have now been able to recover a backup of all the previous posts and patched the security problem. We would love to get the forum active again and hear what people in the community have to say, its been a couple years so some things have changed and some have stayed the same. So lets hear it, what is going on with CrackStreet/Colfax/Capitol Hill.
at 3:39 PM
As a result, our prices for natural gas may (read will) double next year.
Why did we let them do that?
at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I love the Denver Fire Department. I’ve had two occasions to call them for fires and they responded faster than fast, put out the fires, and cleaned up the mess. Fantastic.
In addition to fighting fires, the DFD also provided yearly inspections to commercial buildings free of charge. This was a great idea and I’m sure it saved money (and lives?) in the long run.
However, some years back, Mayor Webb decided to turn this into a profit center. I don’t recall how it was done (City Council edict?), but suddenly DFD was charging for these inspections. The fee for my building was $46.00 per year, based on square footage. No big deal, I thought, if it helps the Fire Department, I’d be happy to pay (even though my building was already being inspected once a year by the City Boiler Inspectors).
Even though the DFD was coming around with a fire truck and a fireperson in uniform to do the yearly inspections, and the bill was from the DFD, the money did NOT go to DFD, but instead into the City’s General Fund. I knew that the fire truck at my local station was a 1985 model and needed to be replaced, so each year I asked the fireperson doing the inspection if that had changed, and the answer was no, the Fire Department did not get the money. They seemed unhappy that they had been turned into bill collectors for the City.
In order to continue the story, I’m going to have to digress into some boring details. If you’ve got something better to do, you may want to go do it now.
The building I bought in 1971 is at 1629 York Street. It’s for sale right now and you can visit it here. As you can see, it’s a big (5000 s/f), turn-of-the-century brick building on what was called Banker’s Row back then. Mr. Gaffy built it in 1906, and so I call it the Gaffy Manse (little mansion).
When I bought the building from Mrs. Magers, she asked me if I was going to be doing business in Denver. When I said yes, she said “They will nickel and dime you to death.” Oh Mrs. Magers, how right you were.
Now, back to the story. Because of the size of the building, I’ve both lived in it and run various commercial enterprises from it over the years. Maybe someday I’ll tell you all about those enterprises.
You may know that there are two rates of real property taxation in Denver: Residential and Commercial. The rates bump around a little from year to year, but they are now about 9% and 29% respectively. Whoa, what a difference!
Looks like the Commercial guys are paying the lion’s share. But, as they say, the customer pays in the end, so theoretically the commercial share is passed along to the customer anyway, so Denver’s residents pay all of the real property tax.
Well, back in 1971 I bought the building as a residence, and lived there with my wife and two children. With 7 bedrooms, we had an entire 3rd floor which was going unused, so we decided to rent rooms to boarders to help make up the $256 monthly payment.
We ran ads in Westword, and soon had some nice renters. Within a matter of months, the City taxman came around and told us that we were commercial. I pointed out that it was our residence, but the argument was that if any of it was used for commercial purposes it was all taxed as commercial. You see, mixed-use hadn’t been acknowledged by the brilliant minds at Zoning and City Council.
And so it was that for many years, I paid 29% of the assessed value times the mill levy in real property taxes every year. Back in those days this neighborhood was thought to be a slum and the assessed values were quite low.
In about 1990, the local recession was over, real estate prices and taxes started to go up, and I realized that mixed use had now been acknowledged by the Assessor, and I could probably save some money by pointing out that I was both living in and doing business in the building. They sent out an inspector (named Mrs. Coke) who merrily went through all the rooms, including the basement apartment where I lived then, my children (and wife) having grown up and moved out, and agreed that it was now mixed use.
However, when I got my new assessment, I noted that the basement was now included as taxable square footage whereas it had not been before, and even though I now had mixed use, my taxes actually went up that year, due to the added square footage.
Since I sold my last business in 2000, I stopped using the first floor as commercial space and converted in to home office. I appealed again, they re-inspected, and jacked the assessed value of the land from $125,000 to $250,000, so once again my taxes went up.
If you are still with me here, congratulations. You must not have much to do.
The land value is apportioned between the Commercial and Residential categories, and although the Assessor’s office stopped sending out those details (to save money, and keep you guessing) some years ago, you can still find out if you call them and ask them to fax you the complete data sheet.
This data sheet will provide you with hours of fun. For example I just noticed that my building has been classified as Class A for 36 years, but Class A is for new buildings, and mine's over 100 years old.
The next year, the apportionment of the land value to either Commercial or Residential changed drastically, and most of the land value was squeezed up into the 2nd and 3rd floor (Commercial) so it could be taxed at the higher rate. I called “foul”, but they told me they don’t count the basement in that determination (even though they tax me on it now). Holy fucking shit! This game is rigged!
Okay, calm down here. We want to get through this story. So it’s the year 2000 and I’m still renting out offices on the 2nd and 3rd floor, using the 1st floor as my home office for the piddling around that I still do in the business world, and living in the basement.
But as the REAL ESTATE FRENZY of the late ‘90s really kicked into gear in 2000, many of the renters of my small offices decide to buy homes of their own and they themselves now have home offices and don’t need to rent from me. In short, all of my renters disappeared.
Aside: Have you noticed that every time you turn around, you are reading a story about how the average Denver home owner’s tax (or cost) will “only go up about $46 dollars”? The City is going to be issuing a new bond for improvements to something or other, and your taxes will be going up “only $46” to pay for that. Jeeze Louise.
Well, those “onlys” add up, and, now that I’m old and on the proverbial “fixed income”, the taxes on my building doubled last year to $6600. This is over $500 per month for the privilege of living in Denver. I can’t afford it, and so my beloved Gaffy Manse is now for sale.
But, I digress.
Getting back to the DFD inspection story – When the DFD came around this year, I told them that I no longer had any Commercial use, was entirely Residential, and therefore needed no inspection. The fireman was somewhat inquisitive, so I asked if he wanted to make a complete inspection to verify what I was saying, but he declined, made a note on the form, and left to get back in the Fire Engine. It’s sort of cool (but expensive), they actually have the Fire Engine running in front of your house.
About three weeks later, a firewoman came to the door, and questioned the status of the building. I explained the situation, invited her in, and asked if she wanted to conduct an inspection of my home to verify there was no longer any Commercial use. She declined, as her cell phone had just rung, and she had to leave.
On May 23, this year, I received a bill from DFD for $46 for the inspection. The bill was a SECOND NOTICE, even though I had not received a First Notice. Soooo, I called the number on the invoice, received a recording telling me to call a different number, and then talked to a nice lady at the DFD.
She looked up the invoice, checked with her supervisor, and told me that they had changed the records, all was well, and I could “just tear up the bill”.
“Hahaha!” I laughed, “may I take down your name so that when they call me the next time I can tell them what you said?”
“Yes” she said, “my name is Desiree.”
This morning while I was lounging in the bathtub reading the paper, the phone rang and a Lt. Marty Sandagonie(sp?) left a message saying that the Fire Department “had some issues” regarding the inspection of my house. I have tried 17 times to return the call to the number he said to call, but it is always busy. I guess he’s calling all those deadbeats who haven’t paid for those inspections. And I’m guessing that he’s pissed off, that as a trained and respected fireman, he’s forced into being a bill collector.
That makes 5 contacts by the Fire Department to collect an improperly assessed $46 dollar invoice.
I’ll keep you informed as this exciting story unfolds.
Update: After letting the phone ring more than 30 times, I finally got through. Lt. Gonzales took down the information and said he thought that should take care of it. I hope he's right.
at 1:35 PM
Monday, July 23, 2007
An Open Conversation with Reddy Kilowatt:
Hey Reddy, can you hear me? Are you back in the storage area under a bunch of broken stuff? Come on in here!
Ah, there you are. Hey listen Reddy, I know you've been bought and sold and morphed, but please tell me your spirit lives on ... Ok? Great, glad to hear it.
Now Reddy, while you were back in the storage shed hibernating, one of your distributors, Xcel Energy in Colorado, was trying to make things better by upgrading some of those transmission towers over there just west of the Platte. You remember? Ok, Well, part of that route goes through Ruby Hill Park, you know, that old Indian lookout?
Well, some of the folks who live there kinda wanted you to improve the situation while you were at it, and, you know, put the lines underground? Expensive you say? Hey come on Reddy, give us a break here. You know that eventually that the way its gonna be...huh? At least until we get "the free energy from the vacuum*" thing figured out.
So come on Reddy, do the right thing here. That's it, shake the cobwebs out of your noggin and get that smile goin' again. Make a big deal out of it, you know how to do it! It's either 5 million for a positive campaign or 2 million to fight it and get 3 million worth of negative, you know, with women and kids blocking bulldozers and all. Reddy - I'm tellin' ya - discharge that negative now!
Thanks Reddy, I knew you had it in ya.
From Wikipedia - Reddy Kilowatt is drawn as a stick figure whose body and limbs are made of "lightning-bolt" symbols and whose bulbous head has a light bulb for a nose and sockets for ears, Reddy was created at the Alabama Power Company by Ashton B. Collins Sr. and debuted March 11, 1926. He was subsequently licensed by some 200 electrical companies looking to sell homes on using the relatively new technology. He was featured in a 1947 comic book produced by the studio of Walter Lantz . Reddy Kilowatt was a frequent presence in publicity material until energy conservation replaced energy production as a national goal with the growth of the environmental movement and the OPEC oil embargo. He is now rarely seen. In 1998, Reddy was bought by Northern States Power Company, which created an entire subsidiary, Reddy Kilowatt Corp., to manage the cartoon. That company later created Reddy Flame, a character promoting natural gas.
at 8:13 PM
Monday, July 16, 2007
So there's this group called Recreate '68 planning to be in Denver for the Democratic Convention (2008). Maybe you heard about their attempt to get a resolution passed by our City Council.
I went to a meeting in Chicago to help plan the demonstration there in 1968. After that meeting, I decided not to go to the convention. It seemed to me that they were planning on a violent confrontation (which they got) and I didn't want to get my head cracked open.
I wish I were able to attend tonight's meeting to videotape - but my back is killing me right now and I don't think I could handle it. Anyone up for independent video coverage?
at 12:59 PM
Saturday, July 14, 2007
at 9:14 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Denver City Council voted (July 9) to postpone (until July 30) the vote on allowing Xcel to "pierce" the Ruby Hill Park View Plane with new poles. This will allow the three new Council members to weigh in on the issue. Madison (District 8) has already accepted at least $500 from CRL, Xcel's lobbying firm. (BTW, where are those campaign finance reports from April and May?)
I still contend that Xcel should let Reddy Kilowatt be the hero he wants to be, and "underground" the lines.
at 11:29 AM
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Of course it was hot in Denver but that didn't stop the Vets and friends from doing an all-too-realistic job of transforming the streets of Denver into the streets of Baghdad.
You can see the training these Vets received emerge as they conducted Operation First Casualty, a simulated arrest and detention mission. Their shouts of "Don't make me have to shoot you - in front of your children!" were chillingly realistic.
The action was followed by short speeches from three participants. These men have received letters threatening them with "less than honorable" discharge from the military, yet they soldier on. Listen closely to what they are telling us, from the heart. Do what you can - this War must stop.
at 12:12 PM
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