LETTERS: Aurora’s Republican majority evading public input through procedure

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Editor: In just one year, Aurora’s authoritarian Republican majority has taken unprecedented steps to interfere with your ability to participate in your local government.

They’ve taken away the public’s ability to speak at the end of council meetings, created unreasonable registration deadlines making it harder for Aurorans arriving from work to address council, and arbitrarily capped the number of people who can speak at Public Invited to be Heard — while creating loopholes which allow them to selectively choose which members of the public get to be the lucky exception.

It shouldn’t be surprising that they are now comfortable silencing their opposition on council by abusing the motion to end debate, also known as “calling the question.” Time and time again, Republicans, typically led by Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky, vote to end debate when they can’t defend their positions after questioning by their colleagues, or sometimes before debate can even begin.

Just last night, this tactic was used to prevent meaningful debate on a massive budget cut proposed by Mayor Mike Coffman and Councilmember Jurinsky. Because the proposal was passed in a manner designed to suppress tough questions, Aurorans will now be forced to deal with a $6 million per year hole in Aurora’s budget in 2025, including cuts to major services which have yet to be specified. This tactic has also been used on many other proposals, including changes to the homelessness campus resolution to bring it more in line with evidence-based best practices, and efforts to restore the city’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as the Office of the Independent Monitor in our 2023 budget.

The trend is clear: Aurora’s Republican council doesn’t want to hear from you or anyone who might challenge them.

Aurorans deserve council members who can publicly defend their proposals and votes, and representatives who don’t run away from the people they represent.

— Juan Marcano, via [email protected] 

Juan Marcano is an Aurora City Council member. He represents Ward IV. 

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Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
24 days ago

Thank you, CM Marcano.

I fully agree that the $6 million revenue cut was reckless — particularly in the light of recent decision to incur $35 million in additional debt to cover simple road maintenance and the abject refusal of this council to even acknowledge the $30+ million hole in the sales tax bucket (Aurora’s retail tax base per capita lags the state average by 14% — a D-).

It’s absolutely clear, partisan ideology is the obstacle.

Aurora’s right religiously believe laissez faire is something absolute, regardless of the damages it’s clearly caused over the last 30 years. Particularly when you consider the sad state of our cultural venues and the fact that 91% of the cultural tax we pay goes to fuel other cities’ gluttony. It’s taken the Dems and GOP both to screw up Aurora so badly.

For the socialist left, a strategy to boost retail, dining and entertainment would be seen as pro-capitalism. Can’t do that!

For the non-socialist left, partisan fundraising collides with what’s best for Aurora— specifically when it comes to discussing Aurora’s exit from the sacred Denver SCFD. Ditto GOP fundraising.

Then there’s the folks who over the many years have grown emotionally attached to the SCFD tax district and it’s cute mascot— a tax district that won’t disclose city-level numbers for objective consideration (Is it ever okay for a tax district to even have a PR budget?).

I pray that there are pragmatic moderates ready to step up in November to tackle the city’s revenue problems. Strategically and financially, this city council is rudderless.

Juan Marcano
Juan Marcano
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Jeff,

I’m not sure where you’ve heard us come out against boosting retail, dining and entertainment. CMs Coombs, Murillo, and I have attended conferences over the last two years whose primary focus is to transform poor suburban planning into economically and culturally thriving neighborhood/city centers, typically centered around a performing arts/cultural arts complex. What Carmel, IN/Plessis-Robinson, FR have done should be replicated in Aurora ASAP. We have the space and the financing tools to do it, we just need private sector partners and the political will to make it happen.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
24 days ago
Reply to  Juan Marcano

No one explicitly came out against. But no one’s taking substantive action either. Case in point: The retail benchmark data is 7 years old.

I’ll brush off the resolution I previously submitted to kickoff an actual strategy. It includes exiting SCFD asap which will take a few years, unfortunately.

Council could put a ballot question before the voters this fall on a strategy to serve as a mandate for the legislative delegation to carry forward. Exiting SCFD will require support at the Capitol to redraw the map to exclude Aurora prior to the next re-authorization.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Like your thoughts on eliminating participation in SCFD and pragmatic moderates. Keep up the good work.

Blaze
Blaze
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

It is absolutely okay for a tax district to have a PR budget. Marketing drives engagement and admission tickets that drive revenue exponentially. Isn’t that what you want?

Last edited 23 days ago by Blaze
Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
22 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Are you also okay with Denver’s major venues funneling millions in box receipts to lobbying on SCFD policy? I’m rather fond of the first amendment but when non-profits abuse it like these five have, we need set some limits on their lobbying, clearly.

Blaze
Blaze
22 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Mr. Brown, I really don’t know the details of SCFD’s lobbying efforts and spending. I haven’t dug into the details as you claim to have. Perhaps it’s a bad deal. I am confident it’s not the no-brainer you suggest. And that the relationship is not as lopsided as you say, however, to advance your agenda. If the answer is so apparent, why has nobody thought of it? You seem very arrogant in your condemnations. Are you smarter than any Aurora citizen and/or council member in the city’s history?

My response was a direct answer to your question, “Is it ever okay for a tax district to even have a PR budget?” My answer is still “yes.” I stand by it.

Last edited 22 days ago by Blaze
jeff brown
jeff brown
22 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Should the IRS and the Colorado State Department of Revenue have a cute mascot, too? And since when is it this district’s job to promote attendance?

My point: The Denver SCFD conceals the basic financials while the big 5 market and lobbies using box office revenue. In Aurora, they succeeded in hiding the truth for 30 years until people like me started probing.

Finally, just consider the evolution of the Fox Theater together with the Denver Art Museum. The stark difference is a direct result of this over-lobbied Ponzi scheme delivered by Dems and GOP working together.

Blaze
Blaze
20 days ago
Reply to  jeff brown

Comparing a third-rate relic of the 50s in a dangerous neighborhood devoid of a downtown with the DAM in the heart of Denver is a bit of a red herring, don’t you think? Surely a real estate agent would know location, location, location.

And since forever it is the district’s job to promote attendance at its tier-one facilities. It creates revenue, duh.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
19 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Let’s consider some counterfactual historical analysis for a moment— Consider the scenario in which 91% of the cultural tax collected in Aurora over the last 30+ years, stayed in Aurora, and was divided judiciously between venue facilities and nonprofit content providers.

The withholding of this support over 30+ years directly contributed to Aurora’s decline, clearly. Both Colfax and Havana would look much different. had the cultural tax stayed in Aurora. The “third-rate relic” would have grown and evolved much differently. Unfortunately our elected officials convinced themselves that it was more important to feed Denver’s gluttony (?!?!). They’ve failed us straight up.

Or do you just believe Denverites are simply more deserving than Aurorans because they’re special and entitled? In many ways, Aurora’s suffered from Denver’s imperialism long enough.

Anyone who objects to an effort to significantly IMPROVE Aurora better have a stronger justification than yours, Blaze. Your thinking is what landed us here and offers no solution to our city government’s revenue challenges. Do you have a better solution, Blaze?

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
22 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

Are you also okay with SCFD having a PR budget and Denver’s big five funneling money for lobbyists ALL WHILE SCFD REFUSES TO RELEASE CITY-LEVEL FINANCIAL DATA ON TAX COLLECTED VS. GRANTS AWARDED IN AURORA.

City council relies on the controllers estimate because SCFD doesn’t want us to know the truth.

We must do better.

Blaze
Blaze
24 days ago

As we once again approach campaign season, you will hear a constant drumbeat from Marcano and his socialist comrades along the same line, “Aurora deserves council members who __________.” Translated, Marcano means council member puppets who will help us advance the rose-pinned agenda, like the empty suit Ruben Medina and no-show Crystal Murillo.

Jurinsky does seem a bit short-fused, but I can understand it. These leftists think it’s high art to just say the same things over and over until a body drops.

In the words of Karl Valentin, “Everything has already been said, but not yet by everyone.”

This is politics, folks, not an editorial.

Last edited 24 days ago by Blaze
sugar
sugar
24 days ago
Reply to  Blaze

I did notice last night when watching the Council meeting that Council Member Jurinsky, a number of
times, hurriedly “call for the question” which means
stop any and all conversations about issues.

The public certainly deserves to hear all sides of issues.

I’m sure many of us don’t appreciate these tricks to keep us in the dark.

We deserve better!

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
24 days ago

Thank you, CM Marcano.

I fully agree that the $6 million revenue cut was reckless — particularly in the light of recent decision to incur $35 million in additional debt to cover simple road maintenance and the abject refusal of this council to even acknowledge the $30+ million hole in the sales tax bucket (Aurora’s retail per capita lags the state average by 14% — a D-.)

It’s absolutely clear, partisan ideology is the obstacle.

Aurora’s right believes

I pray that there are pragmatic moderates ready to step up in November to tackle the city’s revenue problems.

Strategically and financially, this council is absolutely rudderless.

Publius
Publius
23 days ago

Add to the council rules that no member can call the question before every member of council has had at least one opportunity to be heard on a question. Also allow any member who has not been heard on a question to yield their turn to any other member they wish to designate as their turn to be heard. Finally, limit the ability to call the question so that no member may do so more frequently than once per meeting, excepting the mayor, and then only after first asking whether there is any fiurther debate.

All of that said, it is not an infrequent occurance to hear members preface a remark with “I would like to reiterate, once again”. If a member has iterated, then reiterated a stance they should learn to then restrain themselves from reiterating, once again. Debate does get stale and nonproductive and staff and citizens on other agenda items are waiting. Have your full say, but learn the value of brevity and conciseness as well.

Blaze
Blaze
23 days ago
Reply to  Publius

These are excellent suggestions to consider, save for a prerogative to yield your time to another–which would quickly become weaponized by either side.

We all know some council members are there primarily to occupy a seat and vote in lockstep for their side. Can you imagine listening to Murillo drone on and on (as she is wont to do) for all her comrades or yielding MORE time to Jurinsky?

Blaze
Blaze
23 days ago
Reply to  Publius

Even simpler, apply debate rules. Offer each member an opportunity to state their opinion with one rebuttal. Even limit their time (as they do for the public.)

No “echoing” what was already said. No filibustering and grandstanding. No passing time to others. Council members should be prepared with their positions and get the business done.

sugar
sugar
23 days ago
Reply to  Publius

Call for the question means Council will vote on an item. So when a Council Member “calls for the
question” the public won’t be able to learn about
the item in question – it goes to a vote.

I believe Council Member Curtis Gardner called for the question on his own resolution so no one on
Council could discuss his resolution.

My advice – when listening to Council meetings, see
who is calling for the question to actually close
discussion.

DICK MOORE
23 days ago

Juan Marcano is a DSA, (Democratic Socialists of America), card carrying socialist. The first sentence of DSA’s agenda is, “Democratic Socialists believe it is impossible to have democracy and social justice under capitalism.” America and the City of Aurora has always used the economic system of capitalism and the individualistic rights that comes with it.

Why would any citizen or this newspaper believe him to be honest about citizen needs, budgetary items or their leadership approach to the items discussed by City Council with his socialism in mind? Socialism believes that big government is best.

Every item he brings up, in this letter to the editor can be easily refuted. This is just the beginning of him using this Sentinel blog for free campaigning for the election later this year. I hope every non socialist reader replies to any and all his letters to let him know, Aurora is not socialistic.

The $6 million reduction in the budget is save $3 million to Aurora business, (capitalistic) and workers in Aurora a like amount in an attempt to have City Council find ways to make our local government smaller and more efficient.

As far as “calling the question”, please notice how the socialist’s on Council say the same thing over and over and over again. Saying the same thing over and over and over again is not adding anything new, is it?

Do not let the socialists on Council fool you. They want to change our way of living. Do not believe them and do not vote for them next November.

jeff brown
jeff brown
22 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

With respect to your statement “The $6 million reduction in the budget is save $3 million to Aurora business, (capitalistic) and workers in Aurora a like amount in an attempt to have City Council find ways to make our local government smaller and more efficient:”

As having spent 2 years on the budget advisory committee, I can say without a doubt, that the City is already headed for a financial cliff, having cut and “made do” over the last 30 years. The $35 million in new debt is direct evidence (note that the deferred maintenance accumulated while the economy was absolutely stellar).

With respect to which CMs to believe, I say none of them–until they take substantive action to leave the Denver SCFD Ponzi scheme.

Also, with respect to smaller government, the GOP in Colorado actually loves handing out new micro-oligarchies to its best donors. Didn’t the conservatives on council just hand out 10 shiny, new metro districts in Aurora? In the early years, these districts are cookie jars shaped like black boxes inside which the developers line their pockets with almost zero controls, accountability or oversight–civil or criminal. Council knows this and some depend on handing out the cookie jars!

Finally, your claim of smaller, more efficient government is absolutely laughable in light of the 1,000+ metro districts created in Colorado over the last decade. How much non-value administrative redundancy do you think this created when it was left to the developer-oligarchs and the metro district industry to decide? Where’s the conservative outrage?

We can do far better.