Denver Direct: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013


Commentary by Dave Felice

Dave Felice

Coloradans who get their news from local media won’t know much about the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a so-called international trade agreement. Only Denver Direct is carrying news and comment about the TPP.

Daily newspapers ignore or dismiss news coverage. The story is too profound for broadcast media. Community newspapers have not yet realized how a treaty with Pacific nations can devastate local government and the local economy.

For example, most Coloradans don’t know that members of the state’s Congressional delegation declined to join 194 House members, Democrats and Republicans, in signing joint letters against the treaty.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette made a weak statement about opposing the “Fast Track” approval process. Rep. Ed Perlmutter said the bipartisan letters had “too many adjectives,” and composed a tepid letter on his own. Congressman Jared Polis issued an unpublished statement about “transparency and balance” in the negotiations. The Republicans from Colorado stayed silent.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership could destroy a just-launched state program to boost Colorado exports, especially agricultural products.

In another instance, Colorado residents who care about how and where food is produced would be shocked to learn that TPP promotes importation of products from Vietnam, a totalitarian nation with substandard health requirements and no limits on child labor. TPP also eliminates “country of origin” labeling.

Because the Fourth Estate has betrayed the public by ignoring the story, I have set up two online petitions:


These petitions are similar. One is a “short” version and the other is slightly longer. Anyone can sign both petitions. Both petitions demand better news and commentary about TPP.

Sign one or both petitions. It’s one way to make your voice heard in opposition to the unbalanced secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Some 600 corporate “advisers” have online access to the TPP text, while members of Congress must sit in a locked room somewhere in the Capitol building to read it, with a

guard stationed outside. And because the text is classified “secret,” it is kept completely from the American people. The public is considered a “trade barrier” by the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman. Media that once scrupulously guarded the public trust by publishing The Pentagon Papers and reporting almost non-stop about Watergate are not only negligent, but complicit in keeping the story away from the public. Some newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, add insult to injury by giving valuable space to commentary from Secretary of State John Kerry, whose “insights” about trade amount to nothing more than love letters to the TPP. At the same time, the paper slices well-crafted rebuttals from TPP opponents, such as Sierra Club’s Michael Brune, down to a few paltry lines. The daily publication in Denver, however, can’t even manage to do that much. The Denver Post has rejected independent commentary which included links to substantiating data. Daily newspapers all over the country and other mainstream media – with few exceptions – have done a terrible job of covering this story. The public has a right and a need to know that TPP has very little to do with trade. It’s simply a convenient end-run around pesky regulations – “barriers to trade” in corporate parlance – that keep multi-national corporations in check. TPP would encourage sending more “middle class” American jobs overseas and undermine nearly every regulation protecting workers, consumers, public health, and the environment. TPP would further deregulate banks on a global level, help drug companies extend patents indefinitely, and turn our Internet service providers into the thought police. In short, it’s a terrible deal for everyone except a few heads of state and the collection of multinational corporations who stand to profit, and handsomely, if it passes. And sadly, the whole nasty scheme is supported by President Barack Obama, a Democrat elected as a champion of populism.

Join the campaign to demand that news media do their job and cover the TPP story. Sign the petitions now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


From the INC President, Larry Ambrose

Larry Ambrose, INC President

For better or worse, I came to INC after years of involvement with many neighborhood zoning and open space skirmishes. In recent years, however, it seems that the public has become used to -- even numbed to -- Mayors and City Councils who seem to have become uncompromising cheerleaders for powerful development interests. If you are fortunate enough to live in a stable neighborhood not overrun by the stampede toward density, you probably don't live in the inner city.

There seem to be a number of reasons why people now perceive development interests to have carte blanche in Denver. Most obvious is the tradition of “courtesy zoning” about which I have written before. Despite Council's quasi-judicial responsibility, this is the very real, but unwritten rule, that a large majority of Council members will support and vote on site-specific zoning matters according to the wishes of the Council member whose District is effected. As a result, developers have learned that it takes only one vote to get a zoning change in Denver. Perhaps the most notorious example of Council's allegiance to courtesy zoning was the Lowry Vista rezoning in 2009. Despite the fact that the subject of the rezoning was an unmitigated, toxic waste dump, and that opponents stayed until 2 a.m. to voice objections to it being developed, the Council overwhelmingly (12-1) followed then Councilwoman Marcia Johnson's lead to approve a massive 400,000 sq. ft. commercial mixed-use development.