Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn figured his bill was dead before it hit the floor Monday night. He was right.
Flynn had suggested suspending a payment to Denver’s Fair Elections Fund to raise cash for changes council wanted to make to Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed 2021 budget. Those tweaks include police reform, inclusionary and housing programs and park improvements.
Suspending the Fair Elections Fund would have raised about $2.1 million. But aside from Flynn, only council members Kendra Black, Jolon Clark, Chris Herndon and Debbie Ortega supported the move.
The remaining council members questioned whether that fund was the best place from which to draw. The group had suggested several other sources when it passed its recommended budget changes to Hancock.
Another source had been the Denver Police Department, which is where many members of the public urged the group to find the extra cash.
“Are we going to have fair elections or are we going to have more police brutality?” commenter Lani Rush said during a public comment session before the council’s regular meeting.
Now council must find the money elsewhere. And if it is to use the police budget, at least nine members must be on board to overcome any possible — or likely — mayoral veto.
Some questioned why the onus of finding the extra cash fell to council. The group had already suggested several funding sources, but Hancock’s response tied most to the Fair Elections Fund instead.
Council President Stacie Gilmore and Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca called relying on that fund, rather than police and other sources, tone deaf, considering public outcry for police reform this year.
Council President Pro Tem Jamie Torres said the council should consider those options moving forward.
But time is running out, and if council cannot reach a consensus soon it must adopt Hancock’s proposed budget by default.
It’s work that must be done, said Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who noted that she is unwilling to forego any of the budget changes recommended by council.
To amend the budget, only seven council members are needed, a simple majority. But to ensure an amendment passes in the face of Hancock’s veto, nine members must agree.
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