Columnists, Denver, Jon Caldara, Uncategorized

Caldara: Independence Institute break-in showcases Denver’s decline

I run the Independence Institute. Our mission is to return Colorado to the state synonymous with liberty.

We work to bring back the Colorado Culture in which individuals crave the freedom to make their own decisions. That’s very different from the current, oh let’s call it California Coercion, in which others make decisions for us.

To help us with that mission we purchased a building just blocks from the State Capitol in Denver. We call it the Freedom Embassy because it isn’t just for us. It also serves the full, and frequently dysfunctional, coalition of center-right groups in Colorado.

Scores of freedom-minded groups use our meeting spaces for fundraisers, trainings, strategy sessions, board meetings, and much more. Our three separate video studios create the right’s media center.

And most importantly, because of all this activity (and through our coalition efforts), the often-warring factions of Colorado’s conservative/libertarian movement are now somewhat more connected. They communicate face-to-face at the Freedom Embassy, so they stop doing the left’s work for them by sabotaging each other’s work.

This humble building has proven to be the most profitable investment ever made to create a permanent freedom infrastructure in Colorado political history. I don’t make that claim lightly.

Now, this building is under attack.

Our Independence Institute offices were broken into over the weekend. A great deal of equipment was stolen, a fair amount of damage done.

My coworkers and I feel violated. And we all, I especially, feel we didn’t do enough to protect our hub of the center-right movement in Colorado.

Of course, the fault is not ours. It is odd how victims of crime blame themselves. The fault is certainly that of the perpetrators.

But really the fault is with those in leadership of our city and state who have let this once beautiful Denver turn to crap and let criminals run amok.

The swelling of sidewalk encampments, transients, filth, and political rioters are spilling into everyone’s daily lives and safety in Denver. Now it has reached inside this magnificent, beloved building.

Two weekends ago one of our partner organizations was holding a training in our event space. Our cameras captured footage of one of the army of transients that infests our streets, waiting for the right moment to come through the door. He then hid for six hours until everyone was gone and went on a trashing and stealing spree.

Some 15 years ago then-Mayor John Hicklenlooper glibly declared his plan to permanently end homelessness in Denver in 10 years.

His “Denver’s Road Home,” like one of Stalin’s famed 10-year plans, has only made problems worse. It proved the economic truth that what you subsidize you get more of.

According to a city auditor’s review in 2014, Denver increased spending on The Road Home from $568,000 to $6,600,128 in those 10 years, nearly a twelve-fold increase. And oh, the success! The problem has increased by at least a hundred-fold.

Hicklenlooper should be held accountable for the creation of the trash that is invading Denver, just as current Mayor Michael Hancock should be held accountable for not cleaning it up.

After all, in 2015 when asked about his failed Road Home program Hick said, “We always knew that we weren’t going to end homelessness.”

Since purchasing our building, we have had to fight a battle of encroaching filth, litter and trespassers.

More and more we have had to clean up bottles, syringes, condoms, urine, vomit and feces at our own cost because the government won’t fulfill its core function of public safety and clean up our streets.

Hick and Hancock don’t pay to fix the damage they caused to our private building. We do. More precisely, our generous supporters do, leaving fewer resources to fulfill our mission. Could this be their goal?

We have paid to change landscaping and build physical barriers to keep people from trespassing, sleeping on, and trashing our property. We have paid for new camera systems. We even pay for private security to come by and move trespassers along.

Mayor Hancock won’t even arrest those who vandalized our State Capitol Building. He has little time for passed out drunks on our property in a city of passed out drunks.

Thank you John Hickenlooper and Michael Hancock. We are reaping what you have sown.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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