Today my husband and I attended Mayor Hancock’s Cabinet in the Community Breakfast in Councilwoman Susan Shepherd’s District 1. There was a sizable crowd; a few familiar politicos like Police Chief Robert White, Rep. Dan Pabon and Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, but no one else from the cannabis community. They served coffee, bagels and fruit to all. Typical.
There were folks outside and in with signs, protesting the plans for I-70, wanting them to route it through Adams County and Commerce City, just as long as it’s “not in my backyard.” They weren’t disruptive.
The first hour was comprised of a welcome and introduction from Susan Shepherd, then a list of accomplishments from the mayor, and presentations by various members of the mayor’s “cabinet” like the fire department and the guy in charge of DIA.
After the dog and pony show, they all went off to tables that had been set up where attendees could go to meet with the person or department associated with whatever their interest was. Some went outside with their equipment, like the new fire truck or the SWAT armored vehicle. I grabbed another cup of coffee and drifted back to the crowd of tables.
Now I find events like this rather interesting because the panelists are going into the community under the auspices that they want to hear your opinion. But only if that opinion is one they agree with. They really want you to go and cheer them on and tell them what a great job they’re doing. That’s what they’re hoping will happen. So they’re not always fond of people coming in and stirring up controversy, much less a real debate on a hot-button issue in a public forum. They’ll talk with you, because you’re their constituent, but they really hope you’ll just agree with them, say what a great job they’re doing, and give them a big ole pat on the back.
The room was pretty crowded. My husband asked if I was going to say anything to the mayor. I said, “Nah, probably not,” as I looked up and saw a line of people waiting to catch his eye. I started looking at the literature on the table I was at, then glanced up at the mayor again. Ah ha! Two people talking to him and no one waiting. Now is my chance.
A few minutes later my husband was surprised to look up and see me and Michael Hancock nearly nose to nose debating public consumption in Denver. Time and time again, he said that he didn’t want anyone to be “offended” by being around marijuana smoke. Imagine that… a black mayor worrying about someone being “offended.” Like people were “offended” by having to sit in the same part of the bus as a black woman. Like people were “offended” by seeing two men holding hands or, God forbid, kissing. I’m sorry, Mayor Hancock, but protecting people from being “offended” is taking this whole thing way too far. And simply “agreeing to disagree” on this issue, as you suggested, isn’t good enough.
Eventually, one of his staffers directed me away repeating the mantra, “you’ll just have to agree to disagree.” I explained to her that I DO NOT have to agree to disagree because I am a constituent, a voter. He works for me. So no, I do not have to agree to anything he says or wants.
Then I spoke with a woman who is heading up a task force on what to put on the web site to educate the public. They hope to have it ready by December. Gee. Who knew? It’s only taken a year for them to do anything. They blamed that on the City Council. How convenient.
Much to our surprise, the most open to our ideas was Denver Police Chief White. We actually talked with him and his Deputy Chief for quite awhile.
Before we left, I had another frustrating conversation with one of the staffers. I asked him where is all the mayhem and carnage on the streets after a marijuana event like you see after an alcohol event? He brought up the 2013 Denver 4:20 Rally where a guy pulled out a gun and started shooting. I said that it had nothing to do with marijuana. He said that the guy was there because they were all smoking marijuana. So I asked him about the Jazz Festival in 2012 where a DPD Officer was shot and killed. I’m sure he went them for the jazz. That must have been what made him crazy. So he pulled out a gun and shot the nice lady cop. At that moment I saw the lightbulb go on as he realized the absurdity of his position. I finished by saying, “Marijuana had no more to do with the shooting at the 420 Rally than jazz had to do with the shooting at the Jazz Festival.”
Couldn’t resist snapping a quick shot of my husband in front of the DPD SWAT Tank. Then we headed home satisfied that we said our piece.