Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Denver founded on a Claim Jump?

Jane Lorimer of Inter Neighborhood Cooperation recently asked what three towns made up the founding of early Denver? Here is what I answered,. Other historians might say something different. Other historians will retort that whatever I say is incorrect. Here is why some folks say Denver was found on a claim jump. I believe it would be more accurate to identify the names of the original founding towns as four: 1. Denver City, 2. Auraria City 3. briefly St Charles; and 4. Highland. Denver City was set up by General William Larimer. Larimer arrived at confluence of Cherry Creek and Platte on November 16, 1858. Larimer squinted across Cherry Creek and got worried when saw another town, Auraria City. So he lusted for more developable land elsewhere. Charles Nichols hailed from St. Charles, Missouri and put four logs together to set up the town of St. Charles. I can't find the Denver town referred to as St. Charles City, just St. Charles. As backup to his own east Platte diggings, Larimer walked across the ice across to the Northwest side of the river and set up the town of Highland on December 11, 1858 or sometime in 1859. Then the story goes that in spring of 1859 Larimer and his cronies bullied Nichols by telling him that he should simply give up his four log claim to St. Charles or face the end of a rope. In exchange for such urban cooperation, Larimer said he would gave him some choice lots in Denver. Nichols accepted the deal rather than a hanging. So Larimer claim jumped St. Charles. This is long before memoranda of understandings and long before Aurora and Denver started fighting over the Gaylord project. Did Nichols give up his town for a barrel of whiskey? Tom Noel, Denver's pre-eminent historian, thinks the whiskey story that Nichols sold out his town for a barrel of whiskey, is probably apocryphal. But I think we can promote the whiskey story as more prophetic since there is still lots of whiskey being drunk in lodo. Many historians say the bully rope threat story is more accurate. Nichols then sold his lots and left such unfriendly territory. This was before multiple use zoning rules. No setbacks. No dispute resolution office. Was Montana City one of the founding cities? Remember, Montana City was a bit further down south from the confluence area located at Florida Avenue and the Platte. So I would leave Montana City out of the list of 4 names considered above. So I suggest that there were 4 cities involved in Denver's founding: Auraria City; Denver City which claim jumped and absorbed the short-lived St. Charles; and then Larimer's backup town, Highland, later to become the town of Highlands in 1870's. Just imagine what those founding folks could have done with some creative tax increment financing. And some say the early Denver founders may have lusted in their corporate hearts to gobble up the town of Glendale, but it was thought to be too far out in the country to bother.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bracero exhibit at Regis

The word bracero is derived from the Spanish word brazos meaning 'arms.' Braceros worked with thier arms, their strong arms harvesting the fields of America's west from 1942-1964. The Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University, in partnership with the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, hosts this fascinating exhibit of this part of US/Mexican history from August 18---October 28. The braceros also worked for railroads and maintained tracks. The library is open until 12 midnight now for the semester since the students are flocking back to campus for another exciting year. So there is no excuse that you could not find time to come to the library. The Regis exhibit commemorates the 70th anniversary of the start of the Bracero Program in Colorado. The exhibit is entitled "Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964," and traces the history of the program which engaged nearly 5 million Mexican workers to come to the US and work in agriculture. Pictures on the Smithsonian traveling panels offer a wide range of memories of this almost now forgotten part of American history. Workers look out from the pictures with strength and pride and love of hard work. The US unilaterally ended the program because many felt that these workers took jobs away from American workers. Professor Ramon Del castillo wrote a poem for the exhibit and read it with passion. Dr. Nikki Gonzales, Regis professor and daughter of Chief Joe Gonzales of the Denver Fire Department, headed up the Regis side of the exhibit. Fr. John P. FitzGibbons, S. J., the new president of Regis, reminded the crowd that Regis was proud to host this exhibit. He then quoted from the psalms about helping those most in need and respecting the foreigners in our midst. Fr. FitzGibbons's words showed us how the exhibit speaks out to us today. Dr. Charles Collins, University of Northern Colorado, mused at the opening of the exhibit aboutf his experiences with braceros who worked on his family's farm in Greeley. Interested folks will have another chance to hear Dr. Collins talk further on Thursday, August 30th at Casa Mayan House, 1020 9th Street Historic Park on Auraria Campus. 12:30-1:30 PM. Regis is sponsoring several other speakers and panels throughout the semester. You can check it out at www.regis.edu/exhibit. I hope you will embrace the Bracero Exhibit at Regis. While you are in the library, visit the Santo Chapel on the 3rd floor holding some of the finest religious Santo art in the country. Tell all your amigos.

Monday, August 20, 2012

St Rocco's

Jane Jacob's in her axial work on what makes America's cities special, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, talks about the importance of church neighborhood events for building community, an understanding of diversity, looking to civic renewal a bright future, turning things from darkness into light. While Jane probably never attended St. Rocco's Festival in North Denver, the yearly summer processions sponsored by Italian fraternal organizations at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church fit like a Venetian velvet glove within her theory. Church festivals and processions through the neighborhood build diversity for residents. They bring a spirit of renewal, gene unity, a yearly spiritual cleaning after all the sorrows, the family fights, the crime, any harms which beset a neighborhood during the year. I really look forward to the processions at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on 36th and Navajo. I smile so much my face muscles begin to hurt. I see lots of friends from high school and students from Regis. My cousin, Captain Brian Gallagher, DPD, always volunteers to do traffic control for the procession. Grazzie mile, Brian. Let me share with you why this festival engenders such great fun and an amazing uplift to our spirits. I believe Marie Dispense invited me to my first St. Rocco's festival when I was a freshman in high school with her beautiful daughter, Mary Carole. I wanted to be there, if Mary Carol with her bobby socks rolled was going to be there. I didn't want to be square. I wanted to be "cool." When I was in high school, being Italian equaled "cool squared." The Potenza Lodge takes charge of the St. Rocco procession. The saint's statue with his sporty Tyrolean hiking cap gets gently hoisted on a portable platform and placed at the entrance of the church surrounded by kids, flowers, and flags. A small dog is carved into the St. Rocco statue because of the oral legend passed down for centuries now for mother to daughter and fathers to sons in Potenza, Italy. St. Rocco injured his leg and a dog came to him and tended unto him. St. Rocco's finger points to his wounded leg healing with the assistance of his dog. I am surprised the groups seeking protection for animals have not picked up on St. Rocco. Before the procession the faithful can pin money to an scarf placed around St. Rocco's neck, like a bride's dress at a traditional Italian wedding. The belief holds that the money becomes a petition for healing, for forgiveness, for help with a marriage, for the kid to get a job, for the economy, as divine providence healed St. Rocco. The money becomes a prayer. St. Rocco, deliver us. Remember the band in The Godfather when Michael gets married in Sicily? I swear that band flew in for the St. Rocco procession. The hearty band's music really livens the whole festival up. The band builds tension and increases the take for the church allowing bidders time to collaborate how much they want to give this year. St. Rocco, spare us from the recession. The band plays and the bidding begins. Who gets to carry the statue? Families begin bidding for the privilege of carrying the saint's statue through the neighborhood. Tension builds, the band plays again, families confer and pool their resources. Families bid again, the tension builds more. This is an election year, competition is good. Families can also bid on who gets to carry the flags, the American flag always gets the highest bid followed by the Potenza Lodge procession banner. Finally, to me the most touching part of the whole festival and procession, can be found in youngsters from the church giving flowers to women along the procession route. You just don't get this pastiche in Cherry Hills Village and other gated communities. So thanks to Potenza Lodge and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church for blessing Denver such ethnic old world diversity. And St. Rocco, send us some rain, por favore.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Tomorrow at Denver’s historic 4 Mile House Park, Professor Tom Noel and I will be leading folks in our annual reading of the full Declaration of Independence. The reading will start about 1pm, but fun for all the family can be had if you get there early. We thank Congresswoman Diana DeGette for giving us copies of the Declaration and the Constitution from her office supply. They serve a good hamburger and brat lunch with potato salad and baked beans at the park. The park also celebrates our independence with hay rides, and a stage coach rides. You just line up for those events. And Daniel Knifechief from North Denver, a Native American friend, shows kids what living in a teepee is like. The civil war soldiers always set off a few canon shots just in case the British might be thinking about reclaiming their former colony. Visitors can see many early American crafts: quilt making and sewing; horse shoe clanging on hot anvils; and the gift show is open. The Denver Concert Band always lifts the spirits of all with their rousing patriotic marches and melodies. And during the Declaration’s reading, we try to get the crowd roaring “Down with King George.” Last year the crowd picked up the refrain like a bunch of Tea Partiers at a make up your mind rally. I will have voter registration sign-up sheets available for anyone who wishes to register. I took the course at a neighborhood meeting on how to help sign up residents to vote. I am a veritable walking voter registration site. And feel free to join in on the reading of your favorite grievance old King George III. The park is at 715 S. Forrest Street, in Denver, not quite Glendale. There is a charge for admission, but it’s well worth it. Up the Republic.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Patent Office the past; and a President

A U.S. Patent Office satellite location is coming to Denver. Good news for our city and our state. This is a significant economic shot in the arm for Denver and Colorado in more ways than one and will pay dividends for many years to come. It will pay major economic dividends "for basically zero taxpayer money." It was a truly collaborative effort that included bipartisan support in government, the business community, academia, and from local leaders across the state. (As I am fond of noting, when I served in the Legislature, the spirit of cooperation was usually there and many of us worked across the aisle on efforts that were good for the state.) Denver's relatively low costs for commercial real estate leases and other expenses were a key reason the city got picked. Having a patent office here will likely spur patents locally, as well as investment and the relocation of tech companies here. Officials estimate a $439 million economic impact on Colorado in the first five years a patent office is open -- and with little or no taxpayer money, since operations are funded by patent fees. Historically, the issuance of patents was one of the earliest endeavors of the federal government. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution states, "Congress shall have the Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Congress passed several patent acts during the first half century following the ratification of the Constitution. These acts include the Patent Act of 1790, the Patent Act of 1793, and the Patent Act of 1836. It is important to examine the provisions outlined by these acts, and analyze the impact of each upon American scientists of the time. The provisions outlined by this series of Congressional legislation are the foundation upon which the modern-day Patent Office is based. The modern concept of the patent had its origins in 15th century England and the original Thirteen Colonies had some form of patent law, however it was Thomas Jefferson (among others) that influenced the development of a national patent system in 1790. Though he influenced the development of the system and was an innovator and inventor in his own right, Jefferson never obtained a patent. Only one U.S. President has ever obtained a patent. Who you ask? On May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln received Patent No. 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals, an invention which was never manufactured. The great emancipator, savior of the Union and magnificent word-smith later said: “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fixing the City's Budget 'fix'

Mayor Michael Hancock, hopefully with the support of council, will ask the citizens of Denver to de-Bruce our city on the November ballot as part of the strategy to meet the city's budget deficit. I predict City Council will support the Mayor in putting the ballot measure to de-Bruce before the voters. And the voters, if they vote to de-Bruce, would allow the city to keep monies(about $67 million)currently being returned to voters in the form of credits under TABOR. To de-Bruce,a proper noun turned into a verb, requires a vote of the people. While our budget shortfall is about $90 million this year, the Mayor believes that allowing the city to retain this money in the city coffers would do much to alleviate the shortfall for Denver's city libraries(allowing service levels to be returned to earlier levels)and other needed city services. I suspect lots of voters don't even realize they get these credits. I am starting a survey. I agree with the Mayor and I look forward to talking with as many voters as possible to encourage them to support this move. But a possible glitch to the strategy to fix Denver's budget shortfall surfaces. Denver Public Schools is looking at putting $500 million on the ballot at the same time the city tries to de-Bruce. Nevertheless, I look forward to talking with you about these budget changes. Sounds like someone has to start working on the 'strategy' here on these issues.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 17

I recently attended the Elder Abuse Awareness Day sponsored by Denver DA Mitch Morrissey at the Pavilion at City Park. Attendance was up from last year and while I was not on the official program, Mitch invited me to regale the crowd of 70 folks with a song. Instead of my usual Colorado Song, I asked, "Why is June 17, 1972 an important date in American history?" Only one older gentleman from Arapahoe County answered back to me, "Watergate." I gave his an auditor's round pin as a reward for remembering history. Yes, the Watergate scandal started on June 17. The headline in Washington Post of June 18 read: "5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats' Office." I re-read it, and it was a long story. The Democrats' office was located in the fancy Watergate Apartment complex in Washington.On his rounds through the building, Guard Frank Wills saw the tape which one of the White House burglars placed over the lock of the office door. He called Washington police and they arrested the five burglars. What ever happened to Frank? In 1974 after Nixon resigned the presidency, Regis University invited Senator Sam Ervin, Democrat of North Carolina who chaired the committee to investigate the White House break ins to speak on campus. The day of the senator's speech, I was honored to host Senator Ervin for lunch at the old Bratskellar located in Larimer Square. Courtlandt Doyle, a long time Democratic activist from North Denver went with us. He thanked Senator Ervin for saving our Republic. Everybody in the place came up to thank him for what he did for the country. Courtlandt paid for the lunch. Senator Ervin who endeared himself to the nation during the Watergate hearings by whimsically referring to himself as "just a country lawyer," shared with us that he worked closely with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two reporters from the Washington Post who worked on the story which brought down Nixon, our modern day Macbeth.

Bloomsday in Denver

Since 1982, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, Denver aficionados of the works of James Joyce have been reading this prolific author. We met in the back room of Sullivan's on Court Place. Gone, alas like our youth too soon. That's when the Joyce readers founded the James Joyce Reading Society of Greater Metropolitan Denver. Eileen Niehouse played her guitar and regaled us with songs mentioned in Joyce's works. We all unanimously elected Ned Burke as President for Life. The readers elected me as Vice Chair and our secretary-treasurer was Robert Ross whose dad was born in Scotland. Joyce would have liked that. So for these past thirty years the faithful have gathered every 1st Tuesday at 7:30 pm in member's homes to read from the works of Joyce. We are plowing though the labyrinthine lines of Ulysses this year, I believe the 7th time we've read it. Ulysses contains a Denver and Colorado reference which I never noticed until Ned Burke and I were reading from this great book in the morning of June 16, now called "Bloomsday." In Leopold Bloom's visit to Night town, the red light district of Dublin in 1904, Bloom meets a sailor to tells about seeing Buffalo Bill in Stockholm. The sailor recites a two line verse: "Buffalo Bill shoots to kill. Never missed nor he never will." The sailor adds that our Buffalo Bill toured the wide world with Hengler's Royal Circus. Pity Sullivan's isn't still standing, a parking lot now. We could put a brass plaque to commemorate this remarkable founding. If you are interested in reading along with us, contact me and I will get you the schedule. Joyce would like that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Performance Audits

At neighborhood meetings people often ask what good are performance audits? I try to explain to them that the auditing profession has changed dramatically over the years, certainly since my serving on the State Legislative Audit Committee over 49 years ago. I remind them that an old fashioned green eyeshade audit would report how much an agency was owed or how much it misspent. Important information, but more important is how to fix the problem auditors encounter in an agency. What steps and how long will it take for the agency to correct the faults? It’s sort of like holistic medicine, we want to know how the whole body is working. Is everything working together as it was intended. Lots of younger people probably don’t even remember the green eye shades accountants used to wear in black and white movies. Some auditor and accountants have a hard time getting away from the narrow focus of the green eyeshade mentality. Let me give you an example of a May performance audit of The Colorado Division of Wildlife which shows value to the taxpayers and the department audited. Auditors found that $32 million went unrecorded; checks were written and not deducted from the accounts involved; Wildlife Commissioners received confusing and mistaken fund amounts as to what was available to the agency. Because of the accounting bloopers commissioners delayed some and eliminated other programs based on faulty accounting information. No one caught the mistakes until the state auditors came in to review what was going on with the communication procedures and accounting practices. I recall the old joke accounting students at Regis University could spout after taking Fr. Joe Ryan’s accounting class. “Debits on the left, credits on the right. Debits by the windows, credits by the door.” Fray Luca Passioli, a Franciscan monk, in Florence, Italy come up with single page left/right double entry accounting in the mid-14th century. State auditors recommended the Wildlife department go back to basics in following Fray Luca’s principles. The auditors recommended better and accurate communication with commissioners to make sure they have the right figures in the many accounts under their watch. Congratulations to state auditors for an excellent performance audit. And the department agreed with the recommendations. After reading the audit, I am puzzled, however, as to why the negotiated deadline for implementing the corrections is pushed out to September 2013, 14 months away. Surely under Governor John Hickenlooper’s prodding, and with all the assistant directors helping and CFO’s chiming in like a chorus, and all those bright CPA’s marching behind, the agency folks should be able to implement the recommendations before then. Legislators on the state audit committee are skeptical if the corrections will be made. Cast a cold eye on this one. Horseman, pass by.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sister Martha Ann Koch

The Sisters of Loretto who taught for many years at Holy Family School in North Denver at 43rd and Utica Street, where Arupe Jesuit School is now, celebrate their 200th birthday this year. I want to help them celebrate. We lost a venerable member of the Loretto order, Sr. Martha Ann Koch, S. L., died peacefully at the mother house in Nerinkx, Kentucky. Sister Martha Ann taught me in seventh grade at Holy Family. Let me share two memories. We went to mass on Friday mornings and I remember in late May filing into the church. A May morning mist covered what small bits of grass covered the parking and those gray moths we have here were on the wing. In the first pew, two rows ahead of me, knelt a glimmering Grace Kelly who was rehearsing for a play at Elitch summer stock. I recall an dappled apple colored scarf encircled her golden locks like a newly minted halo. My fellow students told me I did not hear Sr. Martha click her cricket clacker which all the nuns concealed some where in the dark folds of their habits. One click meant to kneel. I confess, I did not hear the click. Every one else knelt in unison, but I stayed standing transfixed as though I was beholding a heavenly vision in Miss Kelly. Sr. Martha Ann came up the right aisle and nudged me saying, "Dennis Gallagher, you can kneel down now and concentrate on the mass please." Miss Kelly looked back at me. Her eyes flashed blue, the sacre bleu, like the blue in Mary's garment in the side altar. Miss Kelly left right after communion, probably off to rehearsal. And before she disappeared out the right side door, she turned back and smiled and winked at me and I swear she whispered, "Thank you, Dennis." She must have heard Sr. Martha's instructions about kneeling. I was always thankful to Sr. Martha for introducing me to Grace Kelly when I was in the seventh grade. Remember a few years back when I promised the people of Denver I would report on the city debt? So I relied on the CPA's who worked at the Auditor's Office to get me the figure. I thought the figure they brought to me was low, but I had been told, "you always listen to your CPA's?" I reported the debt and the figure was only off by about 10 billion dollars. You remember the papers had a field day. Headlines roared about the auditor's lost decimal point. Mine enemies chapped their lips. I walked in the valley of the shadows of those shunned. But raising my spirits from out of the depths, as in the psalm, "De profundis, clamavi ad te, Domine." Sr. Martha wrote me and said she remembered I always had trouble with those "pesky decimal points." And she added with her great humor: "but Dennis, with a 10 billion dollar mistake, shouldn't you be working for the federal government?" But not to worry she closed. Sr. Martha reminded me she "was praying for me. You will make it through this stronger than before." I hope we will celebrate Sr. Martha Ann's wonderful life of service and accomplishment on Tuesday, June 19th at the Loretto Center Chapel, 4500 South Wadsworth, 7 pm. Now Sr. Martha is praying for us all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Elder Abuse - Do ask, Do tell

Did you know that Colorado Adult Protective Services receives 11,000 reports every year concerning seniors who are at risk for safety and well-being? Many more incidents of abuse go unreported. This issue was brought home to me when I served in our state senate a few years back. I always remember when campaigning for the house and senate when I was younger. Walking door to door in North Denver with a high percentage of older folks, each house had talk radio playing. One older constituent told me that "talk radio took away the loneliness since her husband died." Those who would abuse the older people in our city know that many older people are lonely and are vulnerable to folks who show an interest in them. Everyone can be an auditor on this issue of elder abuse. Don't be afraid to ask and don't be afraid to tell if you suspect a case of elder abuse. I am so glad that our city is sponsoring an event to raise consciousness about Elder Abuse. I hope you will join us on Friday, June 15, 2012, from 9-12 noon at beautiful City Park Pavilion. The event is entitled: "Elder Abuse Awareness Day." This will be a great chance to connect to aging services and learn how you can help with this often unnoticed issue facing older people in our city and state. Please tell your friends and neighbors about this important event. Invite the young, being old is not catching. There will be music and entertainment and I promise not to sing the Colorado song. At most that would be trying the patience of the elderly and everybody else in attendance. For more information, visit: www.Denvergov.org/ElderAbuse. And I want to thank Dr. Sharon Bailey of the Auditor's Office for suggesting this meeting for my calendar..

Monday, June 4, 2012

What goes around, comes around

"What goes around, comes around," an old favorite slogan of my father, certainly proved true in the flurry of publicity about Douglas Bruce's recent release from prison. Remember the first time Bruce went to jail? That was because Bruce, the reticent landlord, did not repair the basic safety and health violations raised by Denver housing code inspectors on some of his many rental units in our fair city. In the Denver Post, "Bruce complained that the jail's plumbing and heating were defective and would generate multiple code violations if the building was inspected." Mr. Bruce also railed against the prison cuisine and the picture in the papers after his release showed a crisper and leaner tax protester. Bruce's comments reminded me of an incident I encountered a few years back. An Irish Senator from County Wicklow in Ireland phoned me. He was concerned that two of his young Irish lads got caught in America with expired visas. They were immediately arrested by INS and they spent two weeks in the federal immigration jail over in East Denver. They were in jail longer than Pat Sullivan. The Irish papers had picked up the story and folks were planning demonstrations to demand "America release the Wicklow Two." He asked me to look in on them. I went to visit them, and and asked how they were doing, both responded, "we've lost almost 20 pounds." Soon to be released, I asked them if they needed anything. "Councilman Gallagher, do you know any nice American girls we could take to dinner before we get flown home?" I will not be surprised if some entrepreneur develops the "Prison Diet Plan, guaranteed to shed pounds every day." And Denver building inspectors should check out Douglas Bruce's complaints about the prison building's plumbing and heating. What's good for the goose is good for the Bruce.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Asphalt Warrior

Gary Reilly grew up in North Denver and always wanted to be a writer. He was in my brother Tim's class at Holy Family. Unfortunately Gary died last year but he left for us 11 novels, the first of which has been published by Running Meter Press. In his first novel, Asphalt Warrior, Gary tells the story of Murph the cab driver Reilly captures the vicissitudes, the rough and tumble life of cabbies here in Denver. Readers will appreciate and identify with the many experiences and folks Murph encounters while driving his cab. Former news reporter, Mark Stevens, and editorial cartoonist, Mike Keefe, have teamed up to publish Gary's book. Murph is a great character who brings his daily wages home to his apartment on Capitol Hill. He hides his hard earned money in a copy of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. I like Murph. Murph sarcastically quips that nobody would ever steal "sunny Jim's" labyrinthine novel off the shelf of his crowded library. And the cabbies in this story do not swear. I must check that out, not sure I've ever heard a cab driver swear. Murph's girlfriend is named Mary Margaret Flaherty, and I have a cousin by that name. My brother mentioned he never told Reilly about my mom's maiden name, Flaherty. Maybe I did. Hope we'll meet Mary Margaret in the next novel. And I am sure Tattered Cover Bookstore had no idea why Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 would be a propitious night to read selections from Gary's book. But I know Gary had something to do with this. No use in being Irish, if you are not a little superstitious. Early that very evening from 4:30 to 7, from all of eternity, Venus will transit or pass in front of the sun. So after you watch Venus seductively and gracefully waltz in front of the garish sun, join us at Tattered Cover, 16th and Wynkoop to get to know Gary Reilly's Asphalt Warrior. Program starts at 7:30, please tell your friends. Be sure not to look directly at the sun, you know why.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I think what I will miss most about Paul Sandoval is that you could disagree with him and still be friends. That is very rare today in Denver politics. He took to heart the words of Shakespeare’s second line from Sonnet 116, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” We could disagree on candidates, issues and ideas, but after the dust of an election settled, we were still friends. After the hurly burly was done, after the battle lost or won, you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and went on to the next battle as friends. We all know how precious and rare this attribute is: to be civil and pick up the pieces and fight for the common good as comrades in arms. In our long term relationship over many years, we were elected to the State Senate together. And many a time Paul trounced me in races and a few times I bested him. But ultimately politics is about relationships, sometimes strained and frayed, through rough and tumble, funny and sad. I told Paula I would send postcards for her in her recent council race and Paul told a friend of mine told me that he reported customers from North Denver coming to the tamale shop announcing: “Got Gallagher’s postcard for Paula, we’re voting for Paula.” Relationships. Today far too many in politics have developed what I call Irish Alzheimer’s, they forget everything but their grudges. I know too many people who play at politics because they become your enemy for life, if you dare to disagree with them once. “You did not support my son-in-law for House, we are now lifetime enemies. I will work against you even when we agree.” Irrational, immature and illogical. They don’t realize politics is about true relationships. And Paul knew politics was the only game in town for adults. We will not be able to replace Paul, and we cannot call in a substitute. Dietrich Bonheoffer, the courageous Lutheran theologian, martyred by the Nazis in World War II, said something which applies here and I think we too often forget it. “Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love, and it world be wrong to try to find a substitute; we must simply hold out and see it through.” Bonheoffer goes on to say that his words may sound harsh, but “at the same time it is a great consolation, for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us.” He goes on to say that God does not fill the gap but “on the contrary keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain.” That’s how it will be with Paul. We will all miss Paul Sandoval and his old fashioned grass roots tamale parlor political style. We’ll miss being able to drop by and talk eye-to-eye about strategy, patterns, candidates, friends, family and trends. We’ll miss his smile and laughter, his enthusiasm and insights, and especially, his napkin race percentage predictions. We can’t replace any of that. It will be painful, but we must simply hold out and see it through.