If his first few months are any indication, Mayor Michael Hancock is the most tone deaf politician in the free world. After getting slapped for meting out huge pay bumps to his patronage staff, now the Mayor is in the news for blowing loads of cash on a swanky weekend getaway in Beaver Creek.
Imagine the disgust of the average Denver resident when they read this morning's Denver Post:
Officials offered more details Monday about the outing at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, for 10 senior staff members and six of their spouses.
The gathering was meant as a time to set priorities, vision and a mission for the new mayor's office and to build teamwork, said Amber Miller, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Hancock.
Lodging, meals and other incidentals during the retreat cost about $3,000, Miller said.
Alchemy, a private business that led the seminar, charged $5,400 for its services — which will be paid for out of the city's general fund.
Sessions of the retreat were held at the $5.6 million Beaver Creek home of one of Hancock's top campaign supporters, Pat Hamill, chairman and chief executive of Oakwood Homes.
This latest revelation is the most recent in a series of very bad early missteps by Hancock.
He spent his first few weeks as Mayor-elect fending off accusations about prostitution.
Then he told reporters they couldn't record his press briefings, drawing a sharp rebuke from The Denver Post editorial board.
Then it was discovered that before he had even finished appointing all of his political hacks, he was already paying his patronage staff a cool million dollars more than Hickenlooper did as a first year Mayor.
And now this — another example of Hancock's inability to understand, or even care, how his actions come across. In a time of budget cuts and furlough days, Hancock brings his political entourage up to the mountains for a few days at the Ritz in Beaver Creek.
One key dot not connected in the Post story this morning involves the name Pat Hamill.
Hamill is closely connected to Mayor Hancock, both as a major donor and overall political benefactor, including helping Hancock sketch out his fundraising operation in anticipation of his Mayoral run according to a campaign memo from 2010.
From the Cherry Creek News:
Mayoral candidate Michael Hancock long has been linked to developer Pat Hamill and Oakwood Homes, the developer of Green Valley Ranch. But the ties that bind have never been as strong as during the race to become Denver Mayor. At least six entities linked to Hamill have made large campaign contributions to Hancock and two other contributions have come from "ghost" companies that no longer exist in Colorado.
The Hancock campaign also received over $18,000 in campaign contributions from Hamill and associated companies and a lobbyists. Roger Sherman, who works for a firm, CRL Associates, that represents Oakwood Homes, gave Hancock $750 in January, while CRL president Maria Garcia-Berry contributed $2,000 to Hancock's council campaign, money that was rolled into his mayoral coffers. In June of last year, while still raising money for his council campaign, Hancock took $4,000 in additional money for Hamill's company's. The bundled corporate contributions make for the largest single source of Hancock's campaign financing.
Hancock lives in an Oakwood Homes built home, in Green Valley Ranch, a home he purchased in 2004. He accepted a free membership to Hamill's Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in 2006, according to a 2007 financial disclosure. Among other efforts, as a councilman, Hancock supported buying the site of a Denver library from Oakwood at a cost of $650,000. Hancock took meals from Hamilll's lobbyists, and accepted Bronco's tickets directly from Oakwood. [Peak emphasis]
Hamill is a well-known political benefactor of Janice Sinden according to numerous sources. Sinden became close to Hamill during her tenure as Executive Director of Colorado Concern, where Hamill is on the Board of Directors. Hamill is a primary reason that Sinden jumped numerous other more senior operatives for the job of Mayor's Chief of Staff, we are told.
As political consultant Katy Atkinson told the Post:
"In politics, perception is the truth. I can understand why people may be raising an eyebrow and saying, 'Why couldn't they get together in Denver?' "
This does more than raise eyebrows. It is part of a trend for the Denver Mayor.
Hancock is bringing shady, Chicago-style politics to the City and County Building in Denver…and to the Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek.