Posted: April 01, 2011

Rundles wrap-up: Creepy

Jeff Rundles

Rundles_apr11.jpg

Everyone's got to do some marketing, I guess, but with all the troubles in the world - Libya revolts, bombings, Wisconsin politics, massive flooding in the East, gas prices going through the roof, Charlie Sheen - what's been popping up lately on my Internet browser, my spam, in my junk mail, in the newspaper and on the radio is marketing for cremation.

Here's my favorite: "Free Pre-Paid Cremation!" What does that even mean?

Normally, I would have a burning desire to figure out how they could employ such a preposterous statement, but the whole thing is just too creepy. This company even apologized "if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family." I don't understand that either, because if there were a serious illness or a death in my family, then it wouldn't be creepy. They should beg my forgiveness for reaching out to me when it's the furthest thing from my mind. What kind of mailing list do you have to be on to get this kind of stuff?

So anyway, I'm creeped out. Everything I come across lately strikes me as inappropriate.

For instance, what's up with the mayor's race? First, it is just a few weeks away to election, and we have heard very little from the myriad of competitors. The word is they are going to start their television ads in April, the same week the mail-in ballots are sent out, so we are going to be deciding on a new mayor with scant information and very little time.

This is the weakest candidate field in my nearly 40 years of experience in Denver elections, and the absolute worst campaign season ever. We're going to end up with Romer, Chris Romer, nearly by default, God help us, so prepare yourself for leadership by wet finger. Romer will check the wind direction each morning and make decisions accordingly, south one day and north the next, with the famous family penchant for seeing no contradiction in telling 10 people 10 different things.

Then there's the "business policy blueprint" prepared by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce for the Denver mayoral candidates. The chamber likes to think of itself as "the business community," but a look inside the blueprint has me wondering if it wasn't prepared by the left.

The group is recommending an amorphous "regional approach to metro-area issues," which is fine as long as each locale shares the same vision, but the chamber also wants support for FasTracks, permanent reauthorization for the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, a new (seventh) runway at DIA, beefed up support for schools from pre-school through higher education, and "redevelopment" of the city, whatever that means.

First of all, does the chamber have any idea of the scope, or the limits, of the mayor's job? And secondly, if this isn't a tax-and-spend agenda, I don't know what is. Coming from "the business community" at a time of a severe budget crises in the city, this strikes me as odd. Plus, like most things from the chamber, the "blueprint" is more like blueberry pancake mix: mush.

And, of course, there is FasTracks, the famously over-budget regional transportation transformation from the famously overspending crowd at the Regional Transportation District. You know what? I love light rail, and I favor its expansion all over the metro area, but I am also a realist. RTD has never stayed within a budget, ever, and while I could be wrong, there is simply no way in the world that the electorate is going to approve a doubling of the district tax this year or anytime soon.

Times are tough, particularly for governments and the average everyday person, sometimes called the taxpayer. Vision is great, but it doesn't constitute the hard choices that the next mayor is going to have to make. Some things just can't be done, and others are just going to have to wait until a more appropriate time. I guess what we need right now is Free Pre-Paid City Planning.

If we fail now to make the right choices, cremation may be the only alternative.
Creepy.
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Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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Readers Respond

Contrary to some urban legends, each of the light rail lines RTD has built have been completed on time and within budget. The most recent, the Southeast Line or T-REX project, came in $7 million under budget. The fixed price, design-build contract for the East Line to DIA was awarded last summer and came in $305 million under the staff budget. We have our challenges with securing funding to compelete the entire FasTracks program, but building the individual lines, once funding is secured and a budget is finalized, has not been an issue. By Scott Reed, Assistant General Manager, Communicati on 2011 04 11

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