Denver Direct: Pollution in Denver Parks

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pollution in Denver Parks

Selling drugs (malts, vinous and spirituous liquors) in City Park to raise money
(photographed in City Park 8-16-09)

In his 2005 novel, Pattern Recognition, William Gibson describes “Cayce Pollard, a “coolhunter” with an uncanny knack for understanding logos and identifying trends before the public at large recognizes them. In an ironic twist typical of Gibson’s sardonic humor, she herself is acutely allergic to brand names, harboring a violent reaction to the doughy Michelin Man, among other random trademarks.” In a TV interview Gibson mentioned that this character is based on his own daughter, who does, in fact, suffer from this allergy.

I am also allergic to brand names and advertising in general. I “time-shift” all of the TV shows I want to watch solely to be able to fast-forward over the more than 20 thirty-second ads jammed into each half-hour. I won’t watch TV if I can’t skip the ads.

When viewing web pages with ads, I’ve learned to block them out and never-ever click on them. When ads first started appearing online in Prodigy (how old are you anyway?) I taped a piece of paper over the bottom of the screen where they always appeared. I’ve tried putting ads on my own websites, but took them down because I couldn’t stand them.

Now we have a scheme approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to put advertising pollution in our parks in the form of dog-poo bag dispenser signs. What a bunch of crap! Responsible dog owners carry their own bags, being slightly more aware than their animals in their ability to predict the probable results of a good constitutional.

From “Poo Free Parks” promotional material:

Top Ten Reasons to Brand Your Company with Us
1. Association with the “Go Green” theme
2. Opportunity to be the frst (sic) to brand your company in a place that has never before allowed it
3. Exclusivity: No one else is allowed to brand themselves anywhere near these dispensers
4. Great Reach: “18 X 12” signage display reaches commuters, dog owners, and general park visitors
5. Great Frequency: people regularly walk their dogs and drive their cars along the same pathway viewing your message each time
6. Provides a public service at no cost to the public, making you a friend of the taxpayer
7. Increases brand awareness in a location where people tend to let their “guard” down
8. New and unique medium that will undoubtedly generate media exposure and general public interest
9. People love their pets and are more accepting of brands who are associated with them
10. Involvment (sic) in community based projects positions your company as a resposible (sic) citizen


These Poo-Free signs had better be made of something indestructible mounted on something un-removable, or they will be taken down immediately in self-defense by park lovers sickened by exposure to advertising. Or perhaps they will be enhanced with artistic graffiti provided by “gangstas” seeking to mark their turf. Mind you, I’m not suggesting anything here …

This just in:

Letter to Denver Citizens August 17, 2009
From: Cathy Donohue
1023 Lafayette Street
Denver, Colorado 80218

Many already have heard that the Board of Parks, under the direction of the Parks Manager, Kevin Patterson, voted on Thursday, Aug 13, to rubber stamp a plan promoted by the Manager allowing 200 new signs to be placed throughout our parks. These signs, for the first time in the history of our city will bear an advertising logo of a for-profit corporation.

The City Attorney and Kevin Patterson told the Parks Board that the City Charter permitted advertising. The words of the Charter reads:
2.4.5 Sale and leasing of parks
Without the approval of a majority of those registered electors voting in an election held by the City and County of Denver, no park or portion of any park belonging to the city as of December 31, 1955, shall be sold or leased at any time…provided however, the property in parks may be leased for park purposes to concessionaires, to charitable or NON-PROFIT organizations, or to governmental jurisdictions. All such leases shall require the APPROVAL OF COUNCIL, as provided for in Article III of this Charter…

No concessionaire is selling a product, no voters have been asked to approve a contract with a for-profit corporation and no Council voted upon this action. How could the Parks Board, the Manager of Parks and the Council allow this to happen? I believe the City Attorney will make a serious mistake if he approves this contract. Our elected and appointed caretakers of the parks were not wise enough to use their own common sense and read what the Charter says.

I can never remember a time when I silently took advice of any attorney, without also reading the law as written. Having served for 19 years as an elected representative and 9 years as an appointee of Mayor Webb, I listened to whatever advice was given; but when I made a final decision I included my own intelligence into the process. In the Parks Advisory Board, we have a group of citizens who have been appointed to be the stewards of our parks. Those who voted to allow this advertising scheme failed in their duty to protect the parks on behalf of present and future generations. Along with the Mayor, they are the first to violate Mayor Speer’s parks legacy.

Moments before final vote of the Board, a mayoral appointee, the liaison from the Mayor’s office to the Parks Manager, uttered the following words, with crossed fingers held high: “We are working to change the policies by 2010 so that they are consistent with what we want to do now.” In addition, just days ago the Mayor’s office announced that he had approved a policy that would allow private promoters to chain off sections of Civic Center, City Park, Sloan’s Lake and a number of other newly named “festival parks” to permit private ticket holders to attend concerts and other exclusive events. These parks will no longer be free and open to all citizens, as they have always been.

Following these two actions, the Mayor is planning to permit commercial purveyors to sell liquor by the glass in the “festival” parks. Where does it end? Mr. Hickenlooper has his own plans for our parks. We will have “festival parks”, advertising logos, more drunks and empty plastic cups wherever our leadership wishes. The Mayor’s liaison, with an air of absolute authority, told one citizen who questioned whether the Charter should be reviewed; “We don’t need anybody’s permission to do this.” There was no investigation to find out if “festival parks” would be successful or desirable, or if there were under-utilized days in already built facilities. The City produced no economic forecasts, no market research; nor did they seek any input from the neighborhoods near the new “festival” parks. Our leaders decided that chains around our green spaces would be desirable.

The race has been the historical one between the tortoise and the hare. Who has won the race? The hare, of course. Our mayor is a very fast fellow and everyone loves a winner, especially when he has the wind at his back. The cleverest players stacked the deck—at least this time.

Our landscapes will change—with hundreds of advertising signs, chained-off green spaces and more trash. I would have wished all of the people had asked to speak by voting. We have indeed been denied our rights as granted in the Charter. No matter what the “winners” bring us tomorrow, we must continue with a steady and unrelenting pace, paying little attention to those who sense no importance in history, beauty or respite. Expediency is not the answer to those who compromise our values. We must fight back for the sake of our parks, whether the battle is political or legal. We have to move on to the next battleground.

Also upcoming: