EXCLUSIVE REPORT AND EDITORIAL:
2009 CALENDAR SHOWS NO MEETINGS BETWEEN HICKENLOOPER AND THE MANAGER OF SAFETY

COMPLETECOLORADO.COM   Share

Oct. 26, 2010

In 2009, Mayor John Hickenlooper kept regular appointments with City Council President Jeanne Robb. Forty-three meetings in all. The Mayor met with Denver International Airport Aviation Manager Kim Day no less than 24 times.

The calendar includes items of minutia. Six haircuts. Six mentions of Teddy's (the Mayor's son) soccer games.

The same calendar indicates that the Mayor never conducted a planned, one-on-one meeting with his Manager of Safety (MOS), Al LaCabe.*

We understand if the Mayor never slated a one-on-one meeting with the head of parks and recreation. No offense, that's just parks and recreation, not the Manager of Denver's police and fire departments.

The findings should raise questions about how the mayor views public safety as a priority, because in 2009 Denver was faced with no less than two significant public safety events: the series of beatings and attacks in LoDo, and the videotaped beating of Michael DeHerrera. The latter event made national news in 2010 when the video of DeHerrera's beating was released.

CompleteColorado.com asked the Mayor's office, "2009 included the LoDo beatings, as well as the Michael DeHerrera incident. Did neither of those events warrant a scheduled phone or face-to-face meeting?"

Eric Brown, spokesman for the Mayor, said, "Phone calls or meetings don't have to be scheduled to happen. The Mayor and his Chief of Staff are in regular contact with the Manager of Safety and heads of all three safety agencies." Mr. Brown knows we're in the unfortunate position of attempting to prove a negative. The only problem is, out of 365 days of calendar, he ought to be able to demolish our theory, and he can't. And if the LoDo beatings can be handled with a phone call or two, then it seems everything in Denver government could be handled with a phone call or two. (Below is the full email exchange between CompleteColorado.com and Mr. Brown.)

While Brown's response may be technically true, calendar meetings show forethought and prioritization. Calendar meetings show that resources are being set aside to deal with difficult problems, not just through hasty, ad-hoc, off-the-cuff phone calls. Difficult problems like when a HALO camera catches what appears to be excessive force by the police department, and you know the video will be public at some point. The Mayor also could have had 24 off-the-cuff phone calls with DIA manager Kim Day, but he didn't. He met with Kim Day in person.

And as CompleteColorado.com has reported previously, late in 2009 the Mayor did take the time to set aside resources, making a calendar entry for an appointment with Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman. That meeting was to prep Mayor Hickenlooper for an appointment on the Caplis and Silverman Show, in which it was certain the mayor would be queried about his handling of the LoDo beatings. Appointments for media prep, but not for the actual crisis response?

The Mayor's office also indicated that Manager of Safety LaCabe participated in weekly staff meetings. While this is entirely appropriate, it still doesn't address the concern of having routine, planned, one-on-one meetings between the Mayor and the MOS. One-on-one meetings would ensure the kind of confidentiality the MOS would need in order to be able to address the most serious concerns before the mayor. It's difficult to imagine the MOS laying out potentially confidential, embarrassing information about the police or fire departments in a cabinet meeting that also includes the managers of public works, parks and planning, and the office for education and children. In fact, given the ongoing nature of any investigation(s) the MOS and the Mayor should be discussing at any time, it's likely they might be prevented by law from discussing such things in front of these other cabinet members.

To illustrate that very point further, one would expect the Denver Auditor's Office to need more time with the Mayor than could be provided at a general "staff meeting," and that some of the information discussed would be confidential. The 2009 calendar shows nine scheduled appointments between the Mayor and Auditor Dennis Gallagher. All of these appointments are scheduled in the same day "range," between the 10th and 13th of each month, hinting the meetings are regularly planned. This seems to be wholly appropriate. Shouldn't the city's Manager of Safety have just as much priority and confidentiality with the Mayor, on such a regular basis? We think the answer is yes.

And without a doubt, should the Mayor receive a promotion from the voters of Colorado to the Governor's office, we hope he would make meetings with the Director of the state's Department of Safety at least a monthly meeting, if not a meeting with even more frequency.


THE FOLLOWING ARE RESULTS FOR THE 2009 CALENDAR APPOINTMENTS FOR MAYOR HICKENLOOPER:

"Daily Meeting with Eric/Sabrina" (communications officers) - no fewer than 200 calendar entries
"Independent Study" - no fewer than 84 calendar entries
R.D. Sewald, Director of Legislative Services -no fewer than 85 entries
City Council President Jeanne Robb - 43 entries
"Agency Heads" - no fewer than 26 entries
DIA Aviation Manager Kim Day - no fewer than 24 entries
Auditor Dennis Gallagher - 9 entries
haircuts - 6 entries
son's soccer games - 6 entries

(*The Mayor did have LaCabe in his office three times to interview candidates for the position of fire chief. But as for regularly scheduled meetings to discuss the general business of the department of safety, those meetings apparently never happened.)

All months of the Mayor's calendar from 2008 and 2009 can be viewed starting at this link.

What follows below is the full email exchange between CompleteColorado.com and Eric Brown, spokesman for the Mayor.

1) What is the Mayor's top priority as Mayor of Denver?

City operations have been organized since 2003 around five primary goals: enhanced quality of life, economic vitality and opportunity, customer service, workplace morale and fiscal responsibility.

2) If the answer to question number 1 is public safety, how can that answer be possible if the Mayor does not regularly meet with his manager of safety?

The Mayor meets regularly (such as weekly Cabinet meetings) with the Manager of Safety and other top officials throughout the City. Just because a meeting isn't marked on the calendar, doesn't mean the Mayor hasn't talked to or met with someone.

3) 2009 included the LoDo beatings, as well as the Michael DeHerrera beating. Did neither of those events warrant a scheduled phone or face-to-face appointment with Mr. LaCabe?

Phone calls or meetings don't have to be scheduled to happen. The Mayor and his Chief of Staff are in regular contact with the Manager of Safety and heads of all three safety agencies.

4) I anticipate that you might say that just because there are no instances of Mr. LaCabe appearing on the calendar, doesn't mean that he never met with Mr. LaCabe. But what seemingly cannot be denied by the calendar results is that the Mayor does not hold regularly scheduled meetings with his manager of safety, but does with several other offices/positions within city government (including 200 calendar entries of media meetings with Eric/Sabrina). Why not? Why no regularly scheduled meeting?

The Mayor does have regular meetings (such as weekly Cabinet meetings) with the Manager of Safety, as well as other top officials throughout the City. Just because a meeting isn't marked on the calendar, doesn't mean the Mayor hasn't talked to or met with someone. The Mayor and his Chief of Staff are in regular contact with the Manager of Safety. Not every Agency head requires a scheduled meeting time, as some (including Safety) freely and regularly communicate without setting aside time on the calendar. As for scheduled meetings with Sabrina and me, these are not strictly "media" meetings. The issues we deal with every day are much broader than just media.

5) Anything you'd like to add that I didn't ask........

You are welcome to talk to Al LaCabe. Let me know if you'd like his contact information.

***END OF REPORT***