Denver Direct: Smoke and Fire at Parks and Rec

Friday, August 28, 2009

Smoke and Fire at Parks and Rec

What’s going on in Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department? At a meeting of the INC Parks and Rec committee, Larry Ambrose and Cathy Donohue discuss emails from Andrew Wallach regarding “malfeasance”, “fiscal irresponsibility” and “cronyism” to Manager Kevin Patterson.

This morning we have this from the Denver Post:

Denver parks official, budget adviser in e-mail tiff

A top official in Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department has received a temporary restraining order against the director of finance under former Mayor Wellington Webb, contending he poses a threat due to e-mails “with a threatening undertone.”

Among the e-mails Jude O’Connor filed in support of a restraining order against Andrew Wallach was one Wallach sent to City Council members urging them not to issue a proclamation on O’Connor’s behalf when she retires this year as head of the natural-resources division.

Wallach, a former finance director under Webb and former Mayor Federico Peña, said the parks department in the past five years hired 19 managers, a 76 percent increase, while cutting 108 front-line workers.

Wallach said he’s trying to protect the city from a department run amok, where he says management has become bloated while front-line workers take the brunt of budget cuts. He added that he has a First Amendment right to speak out.

Patterson, a recent appointee to the position of Manager of Parks and Rec with no parks experience, has been controversial from the beginning. The recent dust-up over the granting of a contract with Poo Free Parks, Inc. and the subsequent withdrawal of that contract is the latest in a series of unsettling events.

Changes to the rules and regulations which would drastically alter the nature of the parks are in the making. “Admission Based Events” at Festival Parks, and “Naming and Renaming Rights”, as well as the proposal to change the zoning of all parks to open space with the Manager making all of the decisions, have concerned citizens worried. See for complete details of these proposals.

And BTW, don’t get too pushy in your emails or the Department will refuse to work with you and/or get a restraining order against you.

The ruination of Washington Park and City Park lakes with Lowry Landfill toxins is already a done deal. Now we apparently need to sell the naming rights, charge admission to special events in the parks, and get people into those parks to generate income by selling them beer. Can you say “Coors City Park”?