In Alexandre Dumas’ beloved historical novel The Three Musketeers, a young man named d’Artagnan travels to the capitol and joins the Three Musketeers of the Guard (Athos, Porthos and Aramis). Together they fight off the minions of Cardinal Richelieu, the evil minister to the weak King Louis XIII.
Today in Denver a modern parallel may be occurring. A young man, Jolon Clark, was elected to Denver City Council in 2015. Joining him on the Council were the Three Musketeers of the People — Wayne New, Paul Kashmann and Rafael Espinoza. The Three Musketeers were the only City Councilmembers elected without developer money and thus free to fight the good fight against the developers’ powerful corruption of Denver.
Slowly Clark began to learn of the perfidy of many of the other nine members and their lack of ethics or honesty. The “beefy, bloated and ethically challenged” director of the Orwellian named “Denver Community Planning Development Director” Brad Buchanan makes a perfect evil Cardinal Richelieu to the weak head of state, Mayor Michael Hancock.
The first real battle that Jolon Clark and the Three Musketeers have fought together was against the small lot exemption being used by Buchanan for his real estate developer friends to build micro-housing cells free from any parking requirements. This would have made finding on-street parking in some neighborhoods difficult, if not impossible, during certain times.
The residents fighting this proposal had gone to duplicitous Council President (and mayor-in-waiting) Albus Brooks who pretended to be their friend but intended to destroy their cause with a phony moratorium. In Dumas’ novel Albus Brooks would be the treacherous Richelieu spy Milady de Winter. Brooks had set up a crooked developer controlled “Task Force” whose basic purpose was to basically give developers everything they wanted and the neighborhoods nothing.
Our heroes led by Clark took up the citizens’ cause in the nick of time. Incredibly the city staff headed by Buchanan and the phony Task Force of Brooks called for no parking restrictions on the 3,000 plus small lots across the city. If the City had adopted the same, it would have made on-street parking in neighborhood after neighborhood throughout Denver a nightmare.
This is not by accident. Buchanan and his Planning Department literally want to make parking a nightmare so that all Denver residents, other than the very wealthy, are forced to walk, ride bikes or take public transportation in Denver with a rare Uber trip allowed. The old, the infirm, the crippled are to be sacrificed on the altar of the young and healthy millennials and of course the high density real estate developers who are the true enemy of Denver neighborhoods.
With rapiers drawn, Clark, New, Kashmann and Espinoza went to work. They convinced three other councilmembers to support a compromise whereby the parking requirement exemption would only apply for housing or offices in the first story, or the first two floors if within a quarter mile of a frequent bus line or within one-half mile of a light rail station. Apparently well-connected developers can still go to the City Council for full exemptions provided notice is given to the affected neighborhoods before a vote.
The vote was 7-6 in favor of the Musketeers and Denver neighborhood on-street parking was at least partially saved. With other amendments added, the final vote was 9-2, an abject humiliation for Albus Brooks, his Task Force and Planning Director Brad Buchanan. Only Brooks and developer owned Mary Beth Susman voted against the final version. If neighborhood groups are looking for a test recall case, Brooks and Susman would certainly be the names on the top of the list.
Of course, Denver and its neighborhoods are in continued danger. It can only be hoped that the alliance formed among d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers continues strong to beat back the endless efforts of Buchanan, the weak Mayor, and the corrupt members of the Denver Council to destroy what makes Denver a great city, its neighborhoods.
As Dumas’s Musketeers would shout: “Un pour tous, tous pour un.!” — “All for one, and one for all!”
— Editorial Board