With the news that failed Denver District 8 candidate Wil Alston was hired as the Communications Director for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a personnel trend is beginning to develop. Rather than dance with the team that brung him to office, Hancock is instead hiring hacks and hangers-on for his administration.
In addition to Alston, Hancock recently hired perennial political hanger-on Janice Sinden as his Chief of Staff. She has been vying for political jobs for years, first with Scott Tipton, then Cory Gardner, then Bill Ritter. Sinden is, according to our sources, broadly disliked among Republican legislators in the Capitol as an angler, an opportunist and someone who just really wants a promotion in government.
Maybe he thought hiring a Republican would endear him to the right. Instead, it has annoyed Democrats and made Republicans think less of him. Contrast that reaction with the reaction to Governor Hickenlooper hiring Henry Sobanet as his budget chief. Hick won real life kudos from the GOP, while many of the same Republicans snicker at the appointment of Sinden.
Hancock has struggled to hire good staff since announcing his run for Mayor. His Campaign Manager, Evan Dreyer, had an entire dead-wood edition article written by Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post about his failure to properly deal with the prostitution scandal. She even included direct jabs at Dreyer from other Dems:
"What might ultimately be the biggest crime here is bad media relations," said Andrew Hudson, former spokesman for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who left office in 2003.
Surely, Dreyer was aiming to become Chief of Staff, or at least land in the Communications Director slot. Instead, it appears he was passed over for a former subordinate, as Wil Alston was the Deputy Communications Director in the Ritter administration under Dreyer.
The fact that Dreyer doesn't have a job with the Hancock administration means Greg Kolomitz is smiling somewhere. And so is Peter Boyles.
His staff during the transition have been an unmitigated disaster. Just witness how they responded to a request for a comment by Hancock on Denver potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars of business through the Stock Show moving:
"Hancock for more than a week had been unavailable for comment about the proposed stock show move to Aurora as part of a billion-dollar project with Gaylord Entertainment. Hancock’s communications team at the time said he was on vacation and could not be bothered."(Peak emphasis)
Hancock couldn't even hold onto his transition chief, John Huggins, who up and quit in the middle of the transition only a few days ago. Huggins also stepped down as head of the effort to find a way to have Denver move the Stock Show from its current location. The Stock Show looks like it's making its way to Aurora now.
Without an experienced team behind him, Hancock begins his new administration with back benchers. Not a good sign.