26 October 2007

Wet Kisses For Denver

Denver is a fantastic place to live. Why? Here are a few reasons:

1. An abundance of good, independent coffee shops with free Wi-Fi.
2. Great choices in movies: Mainstream blockbusters when they come out and even preview runs, several competing chains offering foreign and independent films, several film series (including one at Starz in early November), brew and view, dinner movies, and a wealth of second run dollar theaters.
3. Short commutes.
4. Two sweater seasons a year.
5. Lots of exciting blizzards, but few boring months of dreary gray tundra.
6. Cheap summer cooling via swamp coolers.
7. In Denver proper, at least, no earthquakes, wild fires, floods, volcanoes, tornadoes or Hurricanes.
8. Two Superbowl years since I've arrived.
9. A World Series year since I've arrived.
10. A Stanley cup year since I've arrived.
11. A professional soccer team with its own field.
12. A dedicated rugby stadium.
13. A downtown where people actually live.
14. A world class opera house.
15. A first rate regional theater complex buttressed by a vibrant "off 14th Street" independent and community theater scene.
16. Lots of museums.
17. Public buildings and public works that are beautiful and thoughtfully made -- from big projects like the Denver Art Museum, to little ones like the series of pedestrian bridges that connect LoDo to Northwest Denver along 16th Street.
18. A growing public transit system that the community is committed to expanding.
19. Infill development -- neighborhoods are being improved, lot by lot, not stagnating; departing uses are promptly replaced by new ones that are also good.
20. The city's economy isn't dominated by one industry like Detroit's auto industry, New York's financial industry, old Denver's oil industry, Las Vegas's gambling industry, or Hollywood. We are both a state capitol, and the Rocky Mountain region's commercial, cultural and federal government hub.
21. Denverites care about the environment and the metro area has been remarkably resistant to the impulse to sprawl.
22. We have three major stadiums, a convention center, a major amusement park, that state capitol, several museums, one and a half major daily newspapers and several TV stations, to name just a few things, all crammed into downtown, rather than strewn about the metropolitan area.
23. Taxes are low enough that political leaders can safely ask for more funds for worthwhile purposes. (Property tax rates are roughly ten percent of what they were when I lived in Buffalo, the income tax is a little lower than in New York State, and the sales taxes are comparable.)
24. Colorado has the cheapest, most efficient and among the most private probate systems in the United States. In Denver this is buttressed by a specialized probate court that understands this area of law.
25. Colorado's judicial appointment system does an excellent job of not hiring ideologues and grossly incompetent judges, and Colorado's judicial discipline system does a good job of removing judges who, usually due to old age, are laboring under disabilities that makes them unfit to work. The system isn't perfect, as even mediocre judges are routinely retained if basically capable of carrying out their duties absent blatant scandal. But, the number of states that do a better job of filling their judicial branches is very, very small.
26. Public corruption in state government is very modest by national standards, even at the legislative level. At least 95% of the Democrats in the state legislature are genuinely concerned about nothing more than the public good. Even on the historically lobbyist craven Republican side, I'd venture that a solid minority, at least 40%, are equally public spirited and put the public good as they see it above private interest. The civil service system has largely been effective in insulating government employees from political pressure and special interest biases.
27. At the local government level in Colorado, the Democrats aren't quite so pure (or so numerous), although still overwhelmingly public minded, and the Republicans are much better than they are a the state level, a solid super majority of elected Republicans in local government in Colorado do an honest job of trying to do their jobs. (There are, of course, bad apples out there, such as the incumbent Arapahoe County DA, some Jefferson County Commissioners, and a few nut cases in El Paso County like Doug Bruce, as will as occasionally notorious officials in smaller local governments) Also, the recall power in Colorado is reasonably effective at removing maleficent local government officials. While not everyone agrees with me on this point, in my view Denver, which has a quite powerful Mayor, has been fortunate to have a succession of far better than the national average Mayors (Pena, Webb and Hickenlooper).
28. The mountains make it hard to get really lost.


Dave Barnes said...


The new rugby stadium is NOT in Denver. It is in Glendale.

"22. We have three major stadiums..."
As one who knows Latin, I am disappointed that you misspelled the plural of stadium, which is stadia as you well know.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

More than one stadium consitute stadia only in Latin. I write my posts in English.

I use ther term Denver in multiple senses, sometimes refering to the city proper, and sometimes to the metropolitan area, without clear distinction. Glendale is, of course, entirely surround by Denver and hence clearly within the metro area (indeed, Denver runs its fire department).

Dick's Field is also not in Denver proper, and hence, neither are the Colorado Rapids, but it is also within the metropolitan area.