On the eve of John Hickenlooper’s inauguration as Colorado’s next governor, former Republican Governor Bill Owens is using the occasion to throw down a gauntlet, particularly when it comes to education. While Owens tells the incoming Democrat—in an open letter published by The Denver Post—that he is proud of past educational reforms, he also says those successes shouldn’t mask that “we are a long way from the goal of providing every child in the state with access to a world-class education.”
But Hick will probably have to wait until after this whirlwind week to fully consider Owens’ words. Hickenlooper will officially resign as Denver’s mayor tomorrow at 8 a.m. at the Denver City and County Building, where Bill Vidal, who spent part of his youth in a Pueblo orphanage, will subsequently be sworn in, notes the Chieftain. Then at 10 a.m., Hick, along with his lieutenant governor, Joe Garcia, will head across Civic Center Park to the Capitol to take his oath as the state’s next guv. After, Hick will attend a luncheon with the students who won the “My Colorado” contest before an early evening barbecue and dance at the Fillmore Auditorium. At 9 p.m., the night will be capped with a concert at the Ogden Theatre by Denver band OneRepublic and an unannounced guest.
And on Wednesday, the latest round of state lawmakers will be officially sworn in, while back at the city and county building, a formal celebration for Vidal will begin at 11 a.m. On Thursday, the new governor will deliver his first State of the State address, and on Friday, Hickenlooper and Garcia hit the road for a four-day economic-development tour. The Denver Post points out that three charities will benefit from the sale of tickets for Tuesday’s dinner and concert: the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund, the Latin American Education Foundation, and Food Bank of the Rockies. Despite all the festivities, the celebratory mood will likely fade fast, as lawmakers contend with a deficit of at least $1 billion. Still, their tone, given the gravity of the budget problem, remains mostly bipartisan, the Post reports in a separate article.