2020.07.10 – Weeks in Review
As y’all know, a lot has happened over the past several weeks. Here’s a rundown of a few things we’ve been working on.
Preparing for Evictions
I introduced an emergency resolution to temporarily increase the maximum number of unrelated occupants in a home from 4 to 6 earlier this week. The impetus for this resolution came from a recent executive order by Governor Polis who suggested that cities temporarily suspend or outright remove restrictions on unrelated people living in a household. Two of my colleagues took it upon themselves to intentionally misrepresent the content of the resolution as allowing up to six unrelated families to live in a home which produced over 300 comments, most of which were from Ward VI, most of which were operating under bad information. I laid out my rationale for the resolution and items that led to my decision to move this forward here, and you can listen to my response to the almost 6 hours of public testimony here (skip to about two hours in).
The resolution failed 6-5, with Mayor Coffman breaking the tie against. It is my hope that the Colorado Eviction Defense Project’s projections are wrong and we don’t see a huge wave of evictions in our city and across the state, but I felt this was the least we could do to provide some options for people at risk in the immediate future while buying us time to work on longer-term solutions.
Tri-County Health passed a mask mandate earlier this week that applies to Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties (for the time being). I am a strong supporter of a mask mandate as evidence shows that masking is very effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Not only that, the mandate empowers our businesses to require customers to extend the same courtesy to workers that workers have been extending to them since the pandemic began. I applaud Dr. Douglas and the board of health for making the call and I am disappointed that public health decisions have become so heavily politicized.
Campaign Finance Reform
After months of legal research, stakeholder input, and draft revisions our campaign finance reform ordinance is almost ready to be introduced. Some key highlights from the current draft include:
- Establishing individual contribution limits to $320 per year per natural person from unlimited.
- Establishing a mechanism for small donor committees through which natural persons can band together to contribute up to $50 each.
- Establishing a mechanism for public financing to encourage smaller contributions and incentivize candidates to get out in their communities and participate in public forums to meet the requirements for this match.
- Establishing a ban on businesses entities contributing directly to candidates.
- Establishing regular reporting requirements for campaign committees and independent expenditure committees (dark money).
- Establishes a requirement for all contributions to be itemized regardless of the amount.
These reforms, at the end of the day, will go a long way towards reducing the influence money has in our politics. The 2019 election cycle was by far the most expensive in our city’s history which reflects the same dangerous trend we’ve seen at the federal level over the past two decades. We have a chance to reverse that trend at the municipal level before it gets completely out of control and I am excited for the opportunity we have to do just that. You can read an outline of the reforms as they currently stand here.
COVID Budget Cuts
As you know the city’s general fund has taken a serious hit due to COVID-19. The graph below shows our monthly revenue over the past two years.
The good news is that there are no closures to libraries and recreation centers currently slated. The bad news is that we’re projecting some pretty serious budget shortfalls for the next five years. Over the weeks and months to come we’ll be setting budgetary priorities with city management, working with staff to come up with new revenue sources, and have some hard discussions about reforms and reallocation of funds with my colleagues. I am hopeful that we can come out of this crisis with a better use of existing funding and better outcomes for all of our residents when it’s all said and done.
Ward IV Town Hall
Join us at 6:30 PM on July 16th for our next town hall meeting! We will be having a presentation from Aurora Water on a proposed change in our residential water rate structure, a presentation from Aurora Sister Cities on what the program is and the benefits it brings to our community, and a presentation on the upcoming campaign finance reform ordinance that CM Johnston and I are co-sponsoring. As always, we’ll have time at the end of the meeting for open Q/A. You can register for the event here, and I look forward to speaking with you then!
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 720.634.6927. We are still experiencing a higher than usual email/call volume related to justice for Elijah McClain so please forgive me if my response to you is delayed while I sort through everything coming in. I hope you have a great weekend and I look forward to speaking with you at our next ward meeting!