After getting away with voting for pay raises for Denver's politicians, including himself, Denver Mayor Michael Han(d)cock apparently believes the normal rules of politics and common sense don't apply to him. Just in the last two days, Hancock has shown himself to be one of the more politically tone-deaf politicians in a very long time.
First, he announced that in the spirit of transparency he was going to ban all recording devices from press briefings. This earned him a snarky smackdown from the Denver Post editorial page. A few choice lines:
"Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday nearly set back the high-tech industry by years. He wasn't doing any favors for open government, either.
Hancock's press conference office told City Hall reporters that they could meet with the mayor today in a "pen-and-paper," although we presume pencils would be OK.
That's a wise step in the wake of a misstep.
…Hancock had already made one major media misstep when his advisers announced they were looking to have a national media strategy. We are glad to see that Hancock is, awkwardly, figuring out how to deal with reporters here in Denver who use instruments more advanced than quill and scroll."
The fast and furious pushback from the media saw Hancock sheepishly reverse his ill-conceived plan, but the damage was done nonetheless. As the Post editorial makes clear, reporters are not going to give Hancock the free reign that Hickenlooper has had.
Who in their right mind thought that banning recording devices from press briefings would be a good idea? For a Mayor who has had a rocky relationship with the press since before even taking office, and in regards to transparency to boot, the idea that he could limit the ability of the press to literally get him on the record is beyond stupid. But with a genius like Evan Dreyer advising him, maybe it's not so inconceivable.
Now The Denver Post reports that in a time of furloughs and budget cuts, Mayor Hancock is paying his political appointees a cool million dollars more than Mayor Hickenlooper did when he took office.
Nobody ever praised Hancock as a second coming of Hickenlooper, but no one thought he'd be this stupid either.
One of the more ironic revelations from the Denver Post story about Hancock's over-paid and over-staffed roster is that he currently has four paid staffers in his communications office. It's amazing that four staffers have found a way to screw up so badly, while Hickenlooper had only two communication staffers and managed to be one of the most popular mayors in the country.
You can almost hear the ghost of Thoreau: that government is best that governs least.
Or maybe the Colorado Democrat who doesn't hire Evan Dreyer, governs best.
Even worse for political optics, Hancock is paying his scheduler $105,000 compared to Hickenlooper's scheduler who made $45,000.
Many folks on Facebook have seen the new popular cut-and-paste status update displaying the salaries of Congressman and the President compared to soldiers, saying they think they know where to cut the fat.
Don't be surprised to see a Denver-centric version in the near future with Mayor Hancock and his political hacks salaries compared to police officers and teachers. Hancock may have gotten away with voting for city council pay raises, but we think this new pay scandal is likely to take a far larger toll on Hancock's political fortunes.
For the Republicans who worried about Hancock using the Mayor's office as a springboard to statewide office like Hickenlooper can rest easy. Hancock has already ensured no power brokers will be approaching him anytime soon to run for another office.