Mayor John Hickenlooper gave his most difficult annual State of the City address under blue skies at Civic Center Park yesterday, noting that Denver faces “a time of unprecedented challenge” amid the “worst economic crisis of our lifetime. …With overall revenues down 8 percent in 2009, we are making tough decisions every day to balance our budget” (via the Denver Business Journal). Hickenlooper did find reasons to be optimistic about Denver, pointing to the successes of last year’s Democratic National Convention (via the Denver Daily News). Still, there was no visionary talk by the mayor, who instead highlighted the past and hopes to expand rail—FasTracks—in the city despite ongoing economic hurdles: “It’s no secret that FasTracks has confronted financial problems, but we are determined to do what is necessary to ensure that this vision is completed as promised to voters–in its full breadth and its full scope” (via The Denver Post).
Political partisans are split on the rail issue, but as Fast Company points out in its July issue, “the Rocky Mountain region has the highest per-capita oil consumption in the U.S., thanks largely to long-distance commutes in the region.” No matter what Hick faces, at least he’ll always be a “strong” mayor in the sense that he has more power (and accountability) in city matters. Most Colorado municipalities have a “weak” mayor system, a distinction the Pueblo City Council is discussing as it considers a potential new governing structure for the city, writes The Pueblo Chieftain.