|End of Year Council Wrap-up|
|No need to re-hash #2020. Enjoy a few final tidbits from recent Council actions and let’s get ready for 2021!|
|Happy Holidays from the Fishers|
From our family to yours, we hope this finds you safely wrapping up a tumultuous 2020 with eyes to the future. I go into 2021 with feelings of sadness and gratitude, missing time with loved ones, grateful to live in a community with people of good heart and character, and the healthy outdoors at every turn.I am hopeful that scientific and fact-based solutions will see us past this stage of the global pandemic.
Vaccine options are arriving even as I type this: May we have renewed energy to be as safe as possible until widespread immunity is achieved we’ve tamped down the fires of the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus, a.k.a. COVID-19.
In the meantime: Masks, physical distancing, staying safer at home…
Vaccines will be safe, vetted and approved by the FDA. They will be securely managed, and vaccines will be FREE for everyone.
Please, please, please remain safe through the Holidays… and through Winter and Spring. As a hospice nurse seeing patients with COVID-19, I know we remain in the thick of it, with significant mortality rates for fellow residents who remain impacted by this horrific pandemic.
Looking back, I am thankful for the tremendous work accomplished under difficult conditions by our City Staff, Boards & Commissions Volunteers, Residents, fellow Councilors & Mayor and Community Partners (BGoldN, Golden Civic Foundation, Foothills Art Center, our food banks and so many more…).
We addressed issues of a global pandemic, racial equity and an economic crisis – while remaining focused on more traditionally local issues that matter to Golden residents such as parking, historic preservation, zoning and character, safety and more.
And this is why I’m optimistic about Golden’s Future. Let’s enjoy this season to reflect and bid adieu safely to 2020 and get ready for 2021!
Thank you for continuing to engage and keep Golden the community we share and love.A Happy and Safe Holidays to you and your family,
Ward 4 City Councilor
|While our last Council meeting of the year was held this past Thursday, we are gaining traction on many issues going into the new year. . .|
(Note: speaking of City Council meetings, starting January 12th, 2021, Council will begin holding meetings on Tuesdays instead of Thursday evenings.)Holidays Reimagined
|Golden’s Holiday activities and Olde Golden Christmas have been reimagined, and I’m impressed by the creativity and wonderful events to keep our holiday season alive. |
Visit Golden has information on the myriad activities available, starting with Candlelight Nights: FAC Holiday Art Market, Ice sculpture, History Park Holiday Stroll and Lights, Miners Alley Playhouse virtual offerings and more…
|School of Mines & Golden IGAInterGovernmental AgreementAfter years of negotiating, Council has authorized release of a draft IGA for public neighborhood review. |
Mayor Pro-Tem Casey Brown and I will host a virtual public review of the IGA with the City Manager’s office next Thursday, December 17th at 6:30pm. Primary impacted neighbors will receive postcard reminders, and anyone is welcome to join.
|View Draft IGA & FAQ|
|Pro Tip: Normally I don’t recommend reading legal memos, however the November 10, 2020 Attorney’s Memo release by Council is a winner.|
For those interested in joining this meeting, I’ll publish a link to the Virtual Meeting on my website.
|Activating the Astor HouseAstor House negotiations with the Foothills Art Center are successfully coming to a close! I expect Council to approve the agreements at our first meeting in January, thus fulfilling our community’s commitment to preservation and letting this next phase move forward. |
Thanks to so many residents who provided thoughtful input and the energy that will make the Astor House a key part of our Historic Downtown for decades to come.
|Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI)City Council formed the JEDI subcommittee to help guide ongoing actions by our City Government. Our conversations with the Community and Golden Police Department continue to build trust with the men and women of our Police department, and to understand our nation’s legacy and the need to be proactive and anti-racist. |
This past week, with a firm commitment towards justice, the GPD requested and City Council committed nearly a million dollars to accelerate body worn cameras for our police department (who was ahead of the game and investigated this option a few years ago). To stay involved, visit Guiding Golden or consider community organizations such as the Golden Anti-Racist Collective.
Our Golden Fire Department, led by Chief Alicia Welch, has also been working hard on issues of diversity and inclusion:
”Last year the Golden Fire Department entered into a partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs as part of a diversity and inclusion grant program. Five other fire departments in addition to GFD engaged in this process, and the result of the project is the Guide for Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Department.”
|View the Full Guide|
|As Chief Welch noted recently to Council, “I am proud of the work we did here, and to have the GFD highlighted as a fire department who is doing the right things to make our profession inclusive and distinct.”|
|#2021 on TapComing into the New Year we have many initiatives focusing on health and safety of Golden. For example, we expect to re-visit the impact of flavored nicotine and vaping products on our children. If you have an interest in getting involved in this discussion, please let me know!|
Look for more information on sustainability initiatives. At this week’s meeting Council approved measures put forth by CSAB (Community Sustainability Advisory Board) to study increased renewable energy usage in Golden and took the GoEV pledge to electrify our transportation system.
The Heart of Golden remains on track for additional action next year, as does the Zoning Code rewrite task force efforts to align construction and growth in Golden with our Vision 2030 and neighborhood plans. This is how we, as a community, help direct and manage change and reflect positive growth in Golden.
Beyond these, sound and air pollution mitigation remain topics for discussion and action due to the presence of the Coors power plant and wastewater treatment plants, as well as multiple highways criss-crossing our valley.
Open Space continues front of mind, supporting local businesses as well as our many schools continues to be a priority… I look forward to joining you in moving the needle on these and so much more in 2021.
|Feedback?Email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.WilliamFisher.com for regular updates and to communicate your thoughts, ideas and concerns.|
Astor House news, Branch drop-off, Racial Equity Listening Session, Safe Halloween practices, and more!
|Newsletter formatted best for your web browser here.|
|October Weekend Updates: Astor House, Police listening session & moreRegister Here|
At 6pm on Thursday, Oct 29th, Golden Police Chief Bill Kilpatrick and Golden City Manager Jason Slowinski will be participating in a virtual listening session focused on the topic of racial equity.
The primary goal of the session is to listen to questions, suggestions, feedback, and stories from the community to create better understanding between the City and community members, particularly community members of color. This event is one of the first steps in the process to make Golden a more welcoming place.
You may also call to join the conference by phone at +1-408-418-9388.
The next step will be to host a virtual Community Town Hall to take a deeper dive into the topics brought up during the listening session. More details to come. City Council and Staff are taking to heart a focus to improve racial equity and justice, and advocating for more equal opportunity.
Interested in joining this discussion? Keep an eye on Guiding Golden to learn more and get involved.
Golden 2021-2022 Operating Budget
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and even prior to the financial crisis, City Manager Slowinski and City Council (even prior to my election) responded swiftly and appropriately with financial controls and spending and hiring freezes and reductions.
We are the beneficiaries. While revenues (primarily sales taxes) are likely to be down about 8% this year, spending is down more. Our critical reserves, projected to end at a healthy 22%, will likely end the year even higher at 27%. I’ll say that again: our financial cushion will improve during 2020.
So, the City is in good financial shape. This could have been very different!
City Council, during our study session last night, encouraged maintaining a conservative spending outlook. I and other councilors are encouraging our team to find ways to support health and safety needs of our residents and employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and financial crisis.
The City’s Finance Director, Jeff Hansen, expects continued cuts, wage freezes and belt tightening, with 2019 revenues rebounding hopefully by about 2023.
Much of our budget depends on sales taxes, which direct how we focus our energies and limits how we think about spending.
Amendment B directly affects the City of Golden’s flexibility in spending and management of our budget. I encourage everyone to take a strong look at this bipartisan measure. It provides greater flexibility to local communities such as Golden in how we manage budgets, revenues, and expenses, and reduces the need to focus on sales taxes. And FYI – it does not raise taxes.
I can see the headlines now 🙂 Astor House to be Preserved and Enhanced!
Activating an important area of downtown! City Council agrees with residents’ desire to preserve Golden’s History!Literally almost 50 years in the making!
Well, okay, the most recent process has been at least several years in the making, including the Astor House Alliance, West Downtown neighborhoods, involved residents, members of Friends of the Astor House, the Golden Civic Foundation, Golden History Museums, City Council and Staff and more…
The Astor House Moves Forward
City Council voted last week to direct City Staff to move forward with negotiations with the Foothills Arts Center to improve, restore, preserve, and operate Golden’s Astor House and Astor House Park. The City will retain ownership and Council added a Local Landmark status for the Astor House earlier this summer. Visit Guiding Golden for links to the FAC proposal – it’s a fairly large document.
City News You Can Use
Heart of Golden refining process
With a bold relaunch, the Heart of Golden is in full swing. Be a part of the future of Golden’s Clear Creek corridor through Downtown, and make history by providing your input!
I especially like the chance to be a visionary: “Design your own corridor.” Click the button below to get started at the Heart of Golden
City of Golden Special Events policy
Quick review: When I was on Council a decade ago (oh, geez, I promised myself I’d never say that… ;-), we took what was then considered a controversial step: we acknowledged that the City has a role to play with special events (and not just the groups that put them on).
In 2015-2016 the City went further to identify changes and create our current Special Events policy, and ask for event holders to share in the burden of expenses from the event (trash, setup, location fees, etc.).
Fast forward to 2020: During my campaign (and really the last year and more), it’s become clear from almost every resident of Golden that we need to re-evaluate and extend our Special Events policies and process.
Everyone has an event they love, and usually one they don’t love so much. Too commercial? Not Local enough? Too crowded? Too many lane closures downtown? Etc…
I’ve pushed for a more considered conversation, and Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz has been working this year with Special Events Coordinator Diane Tiberi to address events. Last night Council discussed Special Events at our study session. It’s worth a watch if you have time (I mean, it’s no Ted Lasso, but it’s local). Read the City Council meeting packet here.
Spooky Halloween Reminders
Tips on staying safe from the State of Colorado and Golden:
As we enter the holiday season, Jefferson County Public Health and the CDC are sharing that COVID-19 cases are increasing dramatically. As we gather for small personal events, please remain safe. Gatherings should be no more than 10 people, use physical distancing, and try to be outside when possible. Wear masks. Wash your hands.
October Golden Resident Branch Drop-Off (Today and tomorrow!)
The City of Golden will host a special event for the community to drop off branches broken from the recent storm to assist residents with their yard clean-up on October 16 and 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Read details here.
Reminder: Make a plan to vote this year!
Your vote matters. Talk to your college-aged children. Sit down with your high-school seniors turning 18. Have “the talk” with your parents 😉
You can vote in person, by mail, or dropping your ballot off at a local collection drop box. JeffCo Voting Locations
Visit: Jefferson County Voter information
Find: 24-hour secure drop box locations
Last Minute Voting & Registration: In Colorado, you can both Register to vote and Vote in person through 7pm on Election Day!
Golden has four drop-off locations this year! Lots of opportunity to be safe and vote as early as possible to ensure your ballot gets counted. I wouldn’t mail in your ballot after about October 26th to ensure it arrives in time.Pro Tip: Voting early slows the stream of phone calls and political mailers. Have additional thoughts? Continue sharing them via Feedback and Social Media links below.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 City Councilor
“…Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
For more than a decade I have provided a yearly roundup of issues on the ballot at the request of friends and residents subscribed to the Golden Ward 4 Email Newsletter. Recommendations are focused on how I perceive issues as they relate to Golden.
I also suggest the excellent descriptions and analysis in the Colorado Blue Book mailed to all voters and available online. Unfortunately, this year it weighs in at an amazing 176 grams (more than 6 ounces) and over 100 pages. The front has a decent quick reference guide at only 6 pages in length.
Overview: “Amendment” vs “Proposition”
- Amendment with Letter: impacts state constitution, added to ballot by CO Legislature
- Amendment with Number: impacts state constitution, added by citizen signature gathering
- Proposition with Double Letter: impacts statutes and/or taxes, added by CO Legislature
- Proposition with Number: impacts statutes and/or taxes, added by citizen signature gathering
Without further ado, this year’s recommendations…
Amendment B: Repeals Gallagher Amendment
Recommendation: Vote Yes
With bipartisan legislative support, this benefits local communities and reduces further cuts to education funding and money for first responders such as EMS, doctors and nurses. It will reduce the focus on sales taxes to fund city operations.
Deeply complicated and embedded in Colorado’s continued property tax and education woes (principally related to TABOR), this would freezes some state property tax rates – which might otherwise go down in part because of the pandemic. It also critically supports businesses who have shouldered the property tax burden in the state of Colorado.
Again, this does not directly address the deeper issue of TABOR, however it begins to add local flexibility (e.g. by the residents of Golden) rather than using a statewide formula for taxes.
Amendment C: Bingo raffles
Recommendation: Vote Neutral
As people know, I do not generally recommend voting in favor of additional gambling or expansion of vices. This feels a bit different, in that it allows non-profits and religious organizations to raise funds through bingo games earlier than they would otherwise (no 5-year waiting period). Golden has organizations that would benefit from this, however this will likely expand an industry around the business of bingo.
Amendment 76: Reinforces existing requirement that only Citizens can vote
Recommendation: Vote No
Sorry, no two ways about this, it’s pure political theater, propaganda driven by out-of-state interests, and inappropriate manipulation of our amendment process (and affects the state Constitution!).
Only citizens can vote now. This Amendment implies otherwise, but changes nothing, and is embedded in the State Constitution. The real impact is to keep 17-year olds from voting in a primary if they would turn 18 by the time of the general election. Locally this reduces Goldenites control of who gets to vote.
Amendment 77: Gaming control of betting limits
Recommendation: Vote No
Casinos are a statewide concern. This gives tiny, mostly casino-controlled towns the ability to change gaming limits for all Coloradans (including Goldenites). As noted above, I do not endorse changes that significantly expand gaming or other vices in exchange for money.
Proposition EE: Vaping & Nicotine taxes
Recommendation: Vote Hell Yeah!
We are in the middle of a pandemic that causes significant respiratory disease. Colorado teenagers already use nicotine and vape products at TWICE the national average. Sadly, Golden’s children mirror this trend of elevated vape use and addiction.
We know that increasing taxes is the number one proven way to reduce teen use.
It’s shocking to realize that even as Big Vape uses COVID-19 to expand their customer base (not kidding), we have NO TAXES on vape and some other nicotine products(e.g as we do on cigarettes currently). We know price is a significant factor in nicotine use.
Prop EE adds taxes to vaping products and also raises taxes on other nicotine products. The money raised will support pre-schools and K-12 education, as much as $275 Million.
Proposition 113: National Vote
Recommendation: Vote Yes
For Presidential elections, this would grant Colorado’s current Electoral College Votes to whichever candidate wins the popular national election (if enough States agree). This may seem peripheral to Golden, however it impacts the power of each of our votes. There is analysis which suggests voters in Colorado have reduced impact nationally because of the Electoral College. If, as I do, you think the person who receives the most votes should win, then vote yes.
Proposition 114: Gray wolf reintroduction and management
I will vote yes on this, however there’s no clear nexus to the City of Golden to provide a recommendation. More generally, I believe we need to responsibly manage endangered species, and this effort provides an opportunity for Coloradans to do this, while continuing to protect ranchers’ rights and property in the state.
Proposition 115: Prohibiting Abortion
Recommendation: Vote No
This is a vote of conscience and I appreciate folks will disagree. This particular proposition is even opposed by many religious organizations such as the InterFaith Alliance, and has significant negative impacts on low-income women and communities of color. It creates criminal repercussions for health care workers, and does nothing to address the root causes related to this concern.
Proposition 116: State Income Tax Rate Reduction
Recommendation: Vote No
This heavily favors the wealthy, and reduces money for education among other important needs. Colorado and Golden schools are already stretched financially. This doesn’t help – which is the point for those who want to further strangle our limited financial resources. Paradoxically, it will create even more “Fees” from the government for everything we do… Fees that disproportionately hurt lower-income people and communities of color.
Proposition 117: (Sibling to 116), requires voter approval for certain state enterprises
Recommendation: Vote No
TABOR already significantly restricts how Colorado and local governments operate. This doubles down on TABOR and reduces flexibility to manage our state. Here’s an example: the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund is an existing enterprise that places a fee on large polluters to help pay for cleanup of petroleum contaminated sites in Colorado. If Prop 117 passes, any similar needs in the future would have to be funded by money from the state (e.g. residents of Golden) rather than charging fees to the group causing the problem. Seems unfair because it is unfair.
Proposition 118: Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance
Recommendation: Vote Yes
COVID-19 has exposed gaps in our safety net for many residents (including Goldenites), with even greater impacts for those who are lower-income producing and in communities of color.
Traditionally FMLA has benefited higher income and white-collar workers. This Insurance Pool will help more of our fellow Goldenites take care of an ailing parent or newborn, and supports small businesses while their employee is on leave. Win Win. This isn’t experimental, and is modeled on the many states already providing this benefit.
If you made it through all 11 amendments and propositions, you’re a trooper! One final step: Make a plan to vote. Your vote matters. Talk to your college-aged children. Sit down with your high-school seniors turning 18. Have “the talk” with your parents ;-)You can vote in person, by mail, or dropping your ballot off at a local collection drop box.JeffCo Voting LocationsVisit:Jefferson County Voter information
Find:24-hour secure drop box locations
Last Minute Voting & Registration: In Colorado, you can both Register to vote and Vote in person through 7pm on Election Day!
Golden has four drop-off locations this year! Lots of opportunity to be safe and vote as early as possible to ensure your ballot gets counted. I wouldn’t mail in your ballot after about October 26th to ensure it arrives in time.Pro Tip: Voting early slows the stream of phone calls and political mailers. There are many strong feelings, opinions, and beliefs about who we are as a community, and how we navigate what has turned out to be a game-changing year.
I commit to listening and learning, and engaging with you and the Golden community.
Have additional thoughts? Continue sharing them via Feedback and Social Media links below.
Enjoy the rest of this beautiful Fall weekend!
Bill Fisher, RN
Golden, ColoradoFeedbackEmail email@example.com and visit www.WilliamFisher.com for regular updates and to communicate your thoughts, ideas and concerns.Copyright © 2020 Bill Fisher for Golden Ward 4, All rights reserved.
Labor Day Weekend Update: Racial equity, Clear Creek Crowding, Masks & Heart of Golden
|“…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”–Martin Luther King, Jr. |
I am writing this during a week where we remember MLK’s “I have a dream” speech delivered nearly 60 years ago, and the Golden City Council continues taking up matters of a person’s worth. How far have we come? And where should we go from here?
I would propose a simple and time-honored philosophy: A rising tide lifts all boats.
Lifting up all lives means recognizing specific groups of lives (e.g. Women, LGBTQ, Black people, Latinx) – and does not tear down the lives of others (Men, Police, etc.).
City Council lifted up Black residents and visitors this week. We find this necessary against a national backdrop of violence towards people of color, and a local history of systemic racism that goes well beyond the evil KKK presence to include ongoing racist attacks against Black residents and visitors right here in Golden.
We supported a request for Golden to make a public statement:
Golden Stands with Black Lives.
And Council committed to the long horizon of work to improve racial equity and ensure Black lives don’t just matter, they matter equally.
Over these past months I personally have had to face a realization: Believing I am not racist has been a safe, comfortable, and easy position. But it’s not enough.
Among the scores of comments Council received on the issue of racial equity, especially related to Black Lives, even those people who questioned the worth of a public display of support (such as a banner) voiced a desire for greater equality in Golden.
I am challenging myself to listen, learn, and act towards racial equality and be actively anti-racist. And I challenge each of us to find your own unique way to ensure a rising tide lifts all boats.
This past week’s actions are in conjunction with efforts undertaken throughout the summer: read my blog from June for details, and view Golden Key Dates and timelines including a special Study Session with Golden Police Chief Bill Kilpatrick on July 16th.
Changing the subject, there are additional matters on the minds of Goldenites. And speaking of rising tides, Golden remains committed to stopping another wave of COVID-19 infections: Let’s ensure schools can stay in session so our kids can learn!
To that end we’ve continued to support a mask and face coverings ordinance (along with Jefferson County and the State), which we review monthly and as needed. We’ve also adjusted Clear Creek closures to improve safety.
I realize that requiring masks and closing Clear Creek is far from ideal – it won’t magically make COVID-19 disappear. And we all love nature and know its therapeutic and healthy properties on mind and soul, especially now.
Thus, I look forward to working with Council and City Staff to find ways to manage crowding and safety during #COVIDtimes, with very clear direction to implement a new strategy for Summer 2021. Let’s start planning now for a safe, prosperous, and healthy summer season next year for visitors – and for us residents!
If you are interested in joining an Ad Hoc committee to prepare for and manage the Creek Corridor, please shoot me an email with your interest.
The Heart of Golden is one part of this process, and it’s getting started again… cleverly entitled “The Heart of Golden: Still Beating.” See https://www.guidinggolden.com/heart-of-golden-refining for more ways to get involved.
Finally, a quick note on the financial crisis.
The City of Golden is feeling the hit with reduced revenues this spring and summer. Year-to-date sales tax revenues are down about 8%. Despite this, we remain financially sound through a legacy of conservative investment, a diverse business community, thoughtful leadership, and aggressive action at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
Sadly, cities and towns across Colorado and the U.S. are not faring nearly as well. I hope Federal authorities recognize that local communities are the backbone of this country and critical to the success of America – and take action. We are not out of the weeds yet.
We know that a strong municipal foundation supports our residents, and will continue to focus on tight financial controls along with looking for more opportunities to support our community members. I believe all Councilors and City Mgmt stand ready to take strong action to protect our city.
A couple of examples:
The City recently agreed to extend additional support to BGoldN (formerly the Golden Backpack Program), the non-profit organization providing free food options for Goldenites while simultaneously supporting local restaurants.
We are supporting housing and rental relief opportunities, and last week City Council agreed to hire a Homeless Navigator (a partnership with Wheat Ridge and Edgewater) to support those facing homelessness – many for the first time in their lives.
Interested in helping our community locally?
There are many strong feelings, opinions, and beliefs about who we are as a community, and how we navigate what has turned out to be a game-changing year.
I commit to listening and learning, and engaging with you and the Golden community.
Have additional thoughts? Continue sharing them via Feedback and Social Media links below.
Have a safe and relaxing Labor Day Weekend here in Golden!
Check out these JeffCo Public Health Tips for Celebrating and limiting the spread of COVID-19.Learn more about Racial Equity in Golden & Get Involved
Celebrate Safely in small batches 😉
Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 Councilor
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.WilliamFisher.com for regular updates and to communicate your thoughts, ideas and concerns.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Emergency Ordinance Expands Mask Requirements in Golden
Golden, Colo. — July 10, 2020 — Golden City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance during their meeting last night, which expands current mask requirements to include indoor and outdoor areas of the city. This goes into effect today. Council made this decision in an effort to protect the community against COVID-19 and keep businesses open.
Ordinance 2140 requires face coverings for anyone working or visiting a building that’s open to the public. The order also requires masks in public areas outside, unless you can maintain six feet of separation from others. This includes streets, sidewalks, parks, trails, etc.
Exemptions to the mask order include:
In Golden, follow the Golden Rule and wear a mask to protect others!
This Ordinance expires on Aug. 14 unless City Council votes to extend it. They will re-visit the mask ordinance monthly and make adjustments as necessary based on current health guidelines and pandemic concerns.
Additionally, Council directed staff to look for ways to re-open Clear Creek for limited recreation. Until safe solutions can be identified and implemented, access to the creek will remain closed.
Link to full ordinance
# # #
What’s the deal with masks? Learn more about masks here…
Legislative and administrative actions to reduce Clear Creek crowding, encourage masks, and improve safety and comfort in Golden.
Golden City Council discusses Clear Creek access and additional mask and face covering requirements at emergency meeting.
View full City Council meeting video (3+ hrs long). The Mayor & City Manager’s Coronavirus Community Update the next day is easier to digest at around 1/2 hour.
We believe the various legislative and administrative requirements around the Creek and face covering requirements will combine with enforcement and education, education, education to result in the improvement in compliance culture around masks and social distancing that will increase safety, reduce risk of super-spreader events, and allow residents and guests more comfort in enjoying the outdoors.Bill Fisher, Ward 4 City Councilor
- Clear Creek access closed. To be reviewed by City Council July 9th. Paths and trails remain open. Farmer’s Market remains open.
- City Manager requires face coverings in public areas when unable to maintain physical distance.
- City Council agrees to consider comprehensive mask/face covering Emergency Ordinance (1st reading July 8th, 2nd reading July 9th).
- City Council requests emergency authority from Governor Polis to manage Clear Creek water use during pandemic. If granted, this would allow for potential on-creek usage regulation and allowances.
Below are my prepared remarks for the June 30th meeting
I want to acknowledge a concern being voiced by some: Why did we lock down and sacrifice our mental, physical, and economic health to now see the virus again start to rampage through our communities?
The answer – “Safe at home” gave us something we desperately needed: Time.
It truly made us safer and DID save thousands of lives, and allowed us to stock up for a battle that’s poorly understood, get better at the fight and learn new tricks, and prepare ourselves and our families for the 21st Century version of trench warfare.
In Colorado, for example, we have learned that if one of our residents went to the hospital in March with COVID, as opposed to right now, she or he was 50% more likely to die in the hospital then vs now. That’s real. That’s progress.
At every turn during the first few months of the pandemic, officials were behind the curve by weeks or months. In some ways (PPE, testing, and contact tracing), we still are.
In other ways, we are finally catching up here in Colorado – and it is again time to look ahead and make smart, tough choices. We must lead with urgency.
Out of the woods?
- The World Health Organization Director General warns we are not out of the woods. All countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimizing the social and economic damage.
- “It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both.”
- The United States’ top infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci agrees, stating: “Right now, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges…”, noting that if we don’t turn things around, “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 (Illnesses) a day.”
- CDC Deputy Director Dr. Schuchat says, “This is just the beginning of America’s New Coronavirus Surge.”
We are seeing it… Similar to Denver, Adams, Arapahoe… Jefferson County has had the highest number of weekly positive tests since late May.
Many communities across the US also recognize this risk. For example, cities and counties from LA to Miami are closing beaches or starting to require masks to stop repeat problems and reduce transmission, and leadership across the political spectrum is urging masks.
Finally – The Governor of Colorado just announced a return to closures of bars, etc.
So, do we go “backwards” as people are saying into a complete lock down? Or during the past several months have we learned there may be ways to avoid sacrificing our economic and social health while staying safe enough to have a functioning society?
Every person and every community has a role to play. Golden is no different – we are a popular destination and place to live and certainly have a role to play keeping our community and guests safe and on track.
If we found a drug that reduced your chance of getting COVID-19 disease by 5x, everyone would be clamoring to take it. Well, we do. It’s called the “6 Foot Social Distancing Mask” drug. And right now, it’s the only thing we think works while we figure out testing and tracing and develop a vaccine.
It’s time to use it, and in the same way vaccinations help us and our neighbors, it’s a public health issue where it’s time to stand up, and be neighborly, and ensure we can have the opportunity to keep our economic engine humming and keep safe everyone we care about: our families, our elders, people with immune or other disease issues at greater risk, and our community.
Managing crowds on the Creek will be challenging – and require changes. Unfortunately we have to consider the maximum damage from large crowds initially – and then carve out spaces for reduced risk activities. One person emailed that a person sitting on a park bench reading a book isn’t a danger. Probably not. But that image is not consistent with what we are discussing, and honestly if it was me I would sit somewhere else for now.
I’m in for making changes, and I’m in for the long haul to keep adjusting this program to maximize effectiveness and keep a close eye on fairness and equity. I don’t care how many meetings we have to have to do this, I care that we save lives and do the right thing including leadership with urgency.
Let’s keep our economy afloat. Let’s acknowledge real and present concerns of our fellow Golden residents for COVID and general Creek “busyness,” and let’s do so in a way that references the reality of persistent racial injustice, misogyny and financial discrimination so we can be as equitable as this terrible virus allows.
Even as we invite guests, we must also acknowledge the rights of our residents to have a say in access and use of the Creek through our town – crowding is what, in part, we were already focused on with the Heart of Golden Project!
In an abundance of caution, reviewing Creek access is the right move to keep from creating a super-spreader situation while we get the opportunity to creatively make exceptions and open. Unfortunately as a solution it’s more of a hammer than a scalpel… that must be refined with the appropriate openings, exceptions, etc.
Black Lives Matter
Many of us have been rocked by the overwhelming reality of systemic racism and inequality demonstrated so clearly and obviously the last several weeks. The death of George Floyd and others have focused our country on these longstanding issues.
Mayor Weinberg & Golden City Councilors have provided a strong initial response and appear committed to listening, learning and -most importantly- action.
WilliamFisher.com has details and links to responses by the Mayor, City Councilors and Police Department, and ways to get involved.
Key points (see blog for details)
o June 4: City Council responds to George Floyd & many black citizens’ deaths during Regular Meeting
o June 7: Mayor & Council attend Golden United Vigil & March in Golden. Almost all attendees wearing masks!
o June 11: Mayor & City Council unanimously approve Resolution 2736 declaring Racism A Public Health Crisis. Proclamation read for Pride Month (GLBTQ).
o JULY 16: Committed to action – Golden City Council Study Session with Police Department on next steps… stay tuned!
City Finances & COVID-19
Golden Pandemic Financial Crisis Review
The short answer: Revenues are down, but not as much as we predicted. Sales Tax revenues are down about 5.5%, we anticipated 7-8%. Restaurants, retail and lodging has suffered. Groceries, Home Depot, and online sales are up (Amazon, Wayfair, etc.).
As a former City Councilor I faced the 2008-2009 Great Recession with Golden, and we actually improved financial reserves during that time. We worked closely with Golden’s Finance Director Jeff Hansen and his team.
Fortunately, Jeff remains at the helm for Golden. I trust his thoughtful guidance and deep thinking about how to protect and maintain Golden, weather the current storm, and maybe even come out ahead.
City Manager Jason Slowinski has taken a conservative line on spending since March – City Council has approved the following efforts:
- Hold non-critical expenditures (travel, training, upgrades, fireworks, etc.)
- Freeze on employee travel
- Soft hiring freeze (e.g Park Rangers hired for COVID-19 safety)
- The City has identified over $2.6 Million in cuts/holds through the end of the year, which should more than match expected losses. There is a 2nd level of deeper cuts identified if necessary.
- Asphalt/street/sidewalk replacement for this year will be limited, with the ability to make further cuts.
- It’s also (already) time to start planning the 2021-2022 bi-annual budget, and City Council will be reviewing priorities to share with Staff.
- Golden is receiving $1.6 Million from Jefferson County for COVID-19 related expenses. The City Manager and Council discussed plans to ensure it is spent appropriately to benefit our community!
- Listen and watch the June 11th City Council Financial report and discussion.
The City is hoping to partially open the Splash water park. Golden Community Center opening details are still pending. Summer camps for kids are opening.
Want the latest on what’s open or closed in the City? (e.g. parks & rec, Fossil Trace golf course, City buildings and Court, Clear Creak, tubing, etc.). Visit the new Status of City Services webpage.
Jefferson County received a variance from Safer-At-Home orders affecting gatherings, graduations, gyms and other G words, review all variance updates.
Mayor Weinberg & City Manager Slowinski continue video updates: Latest update June 10th with Special Guest Councilor Jim Dale.
The BGoldN program continues serving those in need of food assistance as well as our community businesses.
(NOTE Updated Link) Volunteer Golden website now online.
NEW! Questions, concerns or thoughts on the City’s COVID-19 response and temporary road and parking closures Downtown? Email Recovery@cityofgolden.net
Back in March it was not clear face coverings mattered.
More and More evidence supports the value of Masks and
Face Coverings to reduce COVID-19 transmission!
Education on use of masks is a team effort. Residents, Businesses and the City all have roles to keep us safe and open.
The City of Golden just received a shipment of 5,000 masks! 2,500 have already been distributed to help businesses provide education and masks for visitors.
Along with staying safer at home and social distancing, masks and even homemade face coverings are proving valuable in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
The more we keep this under control, the more we can open our businesses and get back to life enjoying Golden – and it keeps more people alive. Period.
I’ve been clear that Golden is not some desperate City needing to sell off our heritage. This certainly includes the Astor House!
At the June 11th City Council meeting, City Council reviewed Staff recommendations on a thoughtful process to accept offers from long-standing Golden non-profit and other organizations interested in partnering with the City. We authorized Staff and a subcommittee of Councilors to work with community members to make progress and ensure the Astor House doesn’t end up sitting abandoned and decaying.
Our Community Goals include the City retaining ownership and partnering for the greatest public benefit and access (read the memo for details). This dovetails well with the citizen-led recommendations of the Astor House Alliance (Aha!). Read the AHA surveys and suggestions here.
I’ve encouraged Staff to take a deeper dive this Fall into what we as a community want for Events. They’ve agreed. (To be led by Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz).
Staff report we will have Movies in the Parking Lot (drive-in) in August and September!
Golden Farmer’s Market had a good start last week with new guidelines and safety measures.
Most event holders through summer have chosen to cancel – notably Buffalo Bill Days and Golden Fine Arts Festival
July 4th – The Lions are going virtual all day on the 4th, check out their Facebook Page for details.
Thanks for everyone who has provided comments on Black Lives Matter, the Astor House, events, the budget, wearing masks and more – keep them coming, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 Councilor
Many of us have been rocked by the overwhelming reality of systemic racism and inequality demonstrated so clearly and obviously the last couple of weeks. The death of George Floyd and others have focused our country on these longstanding issues.
Golden City Council Responds
Golden City Councilors and Mayor Weinberg provided a strong response and comments at last Thursday’s City Council meeting (June 4th video at GCo.TV). Statements and moment of silence at the beginning, additional discussion about next steps and committing to action around 2hrs 36min.
(JUNE 12: Mayor Weinberg posts a thoughtful Newsletter Update)
Golden Vigil & March June 7th – Almost all members of City Council, led by Mayor Weinberg and Councilor Trout, joined as many as 1,000 people (almost universally wearing masks) for the Vigil and March in Parfet Park in Downtown Golden, CO in support of Black Lives Matter and in support of action to address inequality and racism. (See Transcript Article).
They coordinated with Golden United in regards to the protest. Golden United has also planned extensive outreach and action regarding the systemic inequities faced by Black Americans. View speeches and video here.
I am sobered by Golden’s history as a home a century ago for Ku Klux Klan members and rallies. I echo Mayor Weinberg’s thoughts:
“It is an ugly part of our past and it does not reflect the Golden of today.”
“However, we would be naive to think that racism doesn’t exist here. It does and now is the time to actively commit to our Golden values — to be a community where everyone is safe, welcome and treated with respect and dignity.”Mayor Laura Weinberg, June 7, 2020 Vigil & March, Parfet Park, Golden CO
Civic engagement group Golden United held a Community Conversation on Fighting Racism Thursday, June 11th.
Update: During our June 11 City Council meeting, City Council discussed and unanimously adopted Resolution 2736 to Declare Racism A Public Health Crisis.
During the June 4th City Council meeting I strongly urged City Manager Slowinski and the Golden Police Department to provide a detailed and transparent response regarding Use of Force policies and protocols pertinent to Citizens of Golden and related to potential upcoming protests and marches.
Golden Police Respond
To provide transparency and information to City Council and all Goldenites, Golden Police Chief Bill Kilpatrick and his team provided the following review of pertinent policies, procedures, and training undertaken by officers of the Golden Police Department.
The Department response includes details regarding: Body-worn cameras, Diversity training, Procedural Justice, Crisis intervention training, Homeless navigation, Use of Force, De-escalation, and more.
(UPDATE: The Police response represents where the Department has been – not where they are going. City Staff and the Golden Police Department will hold an extensive public review with City Council at our Study Session on July 16th)
If you haven’t, please consider reading Police Chief Kilpatrick’s letter to the community published at the end of May.
Thank you for the many varied, thoughtful, and significant thoughts, expressions, and suggestions received by fellow residents of Golden. Let’s continue this conversation – and commit to action.
My prepared comments for the June 4th Golden City Council meeting:
This is not just another general conversation about equality. It is about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and others who died from racial violence and injustice. Their lives mattered. Black lives matter.
All living Presidents have weighed in, a sign that I find promising, and I am moved and guided by their words:
Former President Barack Obama states protest is how our country was founded “And we should all be thankful for folks who are willing, in a peaceful, disciplined way, to be out there making a difference.”
Former President George Bush wrote that he and his wife over the past week actively “resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen.” … But “we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system.”
Former President Jimmy Carter shared this remarkable and sobering thought: “We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”
If we want a diverse community, we must create a welcoming community atmosphere for all people in Golden.
Thank you for supporting and trusting my candidacy during this Special Election. I am honored by the many folks who believe in my vision, values, and plan for Golden. During my tenure I will work to earn the trust of all residents
Zoning Code Audit and Rewrite. As I committed to during the campaign, we are conducting a robust review and rewrite of Golden’s building codes to ensure we maintain our small-town historic character and natural environment.
- Phase 1 was the Audit with Community input. This produced the Diagnostic Report (large file, good read, download here).
- Phase 2 – The Rewrite. Based on the Audit, Council authorized a round of re-writing portions of the Code through the summer, combined with additional points of community input (which may look odd/virtual due to COVID-19). Speaking of Community Input: Check out the City’s new “Golden Building Blocks” initiative for us residents to help visually define Golden’s character for City Planners.
The Diagnostic Report is comprehensive, and clearly outlines the significant concerns expressed by residents across Golden. It does not say whether these concerns can be appropriately managed. The rewrite hopefully will propose effective changes to address our concerns (pop-up’s and scrapes, high-density in the wrong areas, ADUs, parking and traffic flow issues, etc.)
COVID-19 & City Finances
Finances: Council’s June 11th meeting will provide a community update and discussion on the City’s financial outlook. This is not “business as usual.” I want the community to hear and hold that discussion before the City proposes any additional major expenditures.
This is why I voted against approving the non-essential $1 Million sidewalk repair bid, which came in over 10% above last year’s pricing (Note: Council awarded the contract anyway. We will have a chance later to decide whether to initiate any work).
COVID-19: There are SO many updates that I’ll keep it brief.
- What is open or closed in the City? (e.g. parks, recreation, Fossil Trace golf course, City buildings and Court, Clear Creak, tubing, etc.). Visit the new Status of City Services webpage.
- Mayor Weinberg & City Manager Slowinski continue video updates on COVID-19 changes/response
- The BGoldN program continues serving those in need of food assistance as well as our community businesses.
- A new Volunteer Golden website resource is coming online soon!
- Questions, concerns or thoughts on updates or changes in the City? Email COVID19@cityofgolden.net
Street & Parking Changes Support Public Health and Local Businesses
Street lane changes and parking reductions improve social distancing and support local businesses
City Council has acted quickly to continue progress protecting public health and supporting our local businesses. We have authorized the City Manager to make changes in real time to address safety needs. Changes are happening fast: Thank you for your patience and understanding of the need during COVID-19 to be responsive – I appreciate the frustrations this can cause, especially for our West Downtown neighbors and businesses. We have asked the City to communicate through all available channels any updates to road/parking closures.
As restaurants and other businesses re-open, the City will be working with residents to make adjustments based on changing conditions. Council has generally given guidance for Staff to consider Downtown road/parking lane changes and closures, which may look different Monday through Thursday vs Friday/Saturday/Sunday to accommodate safety with increased visitors.
See the detailed City of Golden map of expected closures.
Quick update – Council was briefed on cancelations and updates (watch May 28th meeting video at GCO.TV), and has generally directed staff to avoid events wishing to use Washington Avenue downtown. I have suggested Staff considers not only State & County guidance, but also local Golden needs – for example not pushing more event pressure into our 8th-10th Street and West Downtown historic neighborhoods.
- Staff is looking at options for a “drive-in” version of Movies in the Park in August
- Most event holders through June, July & August have chosen to cancel (e.g. Buffalo Bill Days)
- The Golden Farmer’s Market starts June 6 (with new guidelines and safety measures)
- Not strictly an event… During the May 28th Council Meeting, City Manager Slowinski provided guidance on Clear Creek management for the summer
- I’ve asked and Council and Staff have agreed to take a deeper dive late Summer or Fall into what we as a community want for Events.
- Masks & Face coverings – Lots of community responses on this issue! Council is protecting our businesses by allowing them to require use of face coverings. We’ll have additional discussion at our next Council meeting (June 4th)
Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions we’ve already received! If you have additional thoughts, suggestions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 Councilor
Ward 4 Feedback
by Richard Gardner (local historian) (edited for clarity/length)
I send greetings to Golden City Council and its newest member upon this most unique occasion! For the first time in 138 years Golden is inaugurating a new City Councilor by remote location, which was last done for the first and only other time way back in 1882.
Since Golden first began municipal government 160 years ago, this was just the 7th special election for our City officials. However, it’s hard to shake some feeling of deja vu here – like we’ve done this and I’ve given Mr. Fisher this greeting before. Why yes, this is no coincidence, for I welcomed him for the first time in a special election in 2008, and again in 2009. Mr. Fisher must either really like my speeches or he is one big glutton for punishment!
Indeed, Mr. Fisher, you were and are the 14th person voted to office here in a special election. Sorry, we don’t do like the Presidents here, you don’t count twice. If we did that we’d end up having Mayors cloned 6 times over by now! You are, however, the first person voted into office in two special elections, and you now hold all our special election records, so congratulations!
I’ve told of your esteemed special elected predecessors and they’re well worth sharing today. They include our 2nd Mayor, Daniel McCleery, who built the Golden Gate Canyon Road, and Mayor Robert Millikin, the future county commissioner who helped carve the woodwork at Calvary Episcopal Church. Others include George West, founder of the Transcript; Isaac Hardy, our first postmaster whose post office just turned 160 last month; William Sapp who had the resort at Sapp’s Grove, later known as Big Tree; State Representative, Jeffco Sheriff and Astor House owner John Albert Hoagland; downtown businessman James Thomas; Julius Schultz, founder of the Goosetown Tavern which a future Governor Hickenlooper moved to Denver; and in modern times Arthur Chen, Mayor Jacob Smith and Joe Behm.
On a somber note, you are not Golden’s first replacement Councilor to take his seat amidst a pandemic. During the great flu epidemic of 1918 City Council lost a Golden hero, Oscar Nolin, who died trying to save his brother’s life. It was the second time he’d put his life on the line trying to save others. In 1905 Nolin saved Golden High School from exploding and with it the lives of over 100 students and teachers. Because of the bans of that pandemic Councilor Nolin never received a hero’s farewell, but his graveside was attended by the members of City Council. Councilor Nolin is remembered with honor today. Taking his place was a worthy successor, Frederick B. Robinson, a prominent downtown bookstore merchant, who in 1918 and 75 years ago this September fired his mini cannon on Washington Avenue in joyful celebration of the ends of both World Wars!
It is remarkably pleasing for me to note today that the one Councilor Fisher takes the place of during a pandemic is alive and well and for a much more joyful occasion, she has been promoted to Mayor by the voters. Our Mayor during the pandemic of 1918 was Dr. Dennis Garvin, and now today we have another medical professional joining Council. Mayor Garvin helped save hundreds of lives and I hope his inspiring story serves all of you well today!
Folks might think today is the first time ever a Golden City Councilor has been inaugurated to office outside the halls of our government, yet believe it or not this is not true. You now have something uniquely in common with your first special elected predecessor, Andrew Holmes, for he was Golden’s first and until now only to be inaugurated remotely as well! Way back on July 25, 1882, Holmes was elected to City Council, but he did not show up in person to take his seat. He submitted his oath of office in writing. So yes, when you do this remotely you do very much count! Why Councilor Holmes did not show up to do so in person remains a mystery to this day, and Councilor Fisher, you have now accomplished a feat that’s not been done in 138 years!
What were things like here the last time this happened? First of all I’ll show you a special gift, this illustration of Golden as it appeared in 1882. If you look closely you can see landmarks still with us today, along with mines, mills, smelters, railroads, and our river as it appeared then.
Down below is a key telling what several of our key landmarks are. In the foreground you see what Goosetown looked like, including the Roundhouse which still has a foundation wall along the north side of the railroad tracks, if you know where to look for it. Among the buildings on the lands the City just acquired there is the home of Councilor Holmes himself, on Archer Street just back of today’s Masonic Temple. So now our newest Councilor can decide what should stand upon the place of his esteemed predecessor. Now the rest of Council better listen to what Councilor Fisher has to say; most of your land is after all within Bush & Fisher’s Addition.
In 1882 Golden did not have electricity, let alone computers like you’re using to meet today. But Councilors could talk by telephone. If it had wanted to Council could even conference call from multiple locations and the public could listen in. It was called a party line! Though if you’re the audience you better keep your own party quiet because everyone else on the line can hear every word you have said. Back in 1882 you could celebrate your election by buying drinks at the Buffalo Rose, er, Orchestrion Hall. You could buy hardware at Meyers, er, Sarell Hardware. If you’ve been locked up and your hair’s gotten way too long you can just go to the Metropolitan but ask for Dick the Barber. If you’d like to go to the post office you’d need to go in at the Golden Diner’s corner, but the very same door of Calvary Church would greet you all the same. City Hall was just a rental then, though the City was planning to build a nice new one next to the Astor House. You could eat dinner right next door there, if you can get in the door to the dining room guarded by Seth Lake. He’s got to; his new cook’s popular and people have overrun him to get in there!
You are the 55th of now 56 Councilors of Ward 4, a political division of our city that has existed for 144 years. You return to represent the legacy of those who have served before you. The first to specifically serve your Ward was also special elected, George H. Kimball, a prominent builder in the city of Golden. You can see his work on the Rock Flour Mill Warehouse at 8th and Cheyenne today.
Yes you can go home again; you are our first Councilor to return after absence in 9 years, since Marcie Miller, and our first to return to the same office in 37 years since our longtime barber Frank Leek in 1983. And Ward 4 is a home to return to; you’re the 7th Councilor to come back here! Your predecessors include Swedish immigrant businessman Nels Seaver, who returned twice and whose beautiful home you can see at the southeast corner of 9th and Arapahoe; Samuel Eldridge, a skilled carpenter whose work you can see in the 12th Street Historic District and was Captain of the USS Cactus; businessman Alfred Olson, who returned 3 times; businessman John H. Cooper; bookstore owner Fred Richards; businessman Charles Matthews, and now William Fisher.
It’s been a little while since your ward showed sequels, however; 81 years, since 1939. It was a challenging economic time then during the Great Depression, and a challenging time now, but Councilor Matthews and the others overcame theirs, and you will too. Who knows what else the premiere of Fisher Returns will bring? It’s time to find out!