Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Denver, the Daniels Mansion, the Mayor's Wife, and a Fire Pole

"Denver Aims to Sell Home Too Odd to Be the Mayor's"
U.S., The New York Times (June 12, 2010)

"The mauve mansion on Shangri-La Drive is decidedly more James Bond than John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver.

"But the Cableland home, once the bachelor pad of the eccentric television magnate Bill Daniels, has served as the official mayoral residence here since Mr. Daniels gave it to the city in 1998.

"No mayor has actually chosen to live at Cableland: the 12-foot fire pole in the master bedroom, the 88 television sets and the retro tanning bed may have been deal-breakers...."

Mayor Hickenlooper (I am not making that name up) wants Denver to sell the house and give the money to "poor Denver public school graduates." So far, I have no problem with the idea. Then came these paragraphs:

"...'I used to joke that he was a man for whom money was no object and pleasure was the only object,' said Mr. Hickenlooper, whose wife vowed that she would sooner live in the county jail after staying a weekend at the Cableland mansion with their young son.

"Mr. Daniels, a former Navy pilot who made a fortune as a cable television pioneer and once partly owned the Los Angeles Lakers, was renowned not only for his business acumen and ardent philanthropy, but also for savoring his bachelordom...."

"Savoring his bachelordom" went far beyond that fire pole in the bedroom. Mr. Daniels seems to have led a moderately wild life. And now he's dead.

Don't jump to conclusions about that. Back to the article:

"...Mr. Daniels died in 2000 at 79, leaving a $4 million endowment to keep up the property, which includes an 1,102-square-foot swimming pool and mini-condominiums for squirrels., leaving a $4 million endowment to keep up the property, which includes an 1,102-square-foot swimming pool and mini-condominiums for squirrels...."

The house is worth millions of dollars, and even these days there might be someone who is interested - and is wealthy enough.

Last excerpt from that article:

"...One former business associate of Mr. Daniels, Robert Russo, says he would not have wanted the city to unload such a colorful place.

" 'He wanted to do something special for Denver by providing his home as a physical asset the city could use for generations,' Mr. Russo wrote to the City Council...."

Oh, Dear: Mr. Daniels Simply Wasn't Proper

I'll grant that a mayoral mansion probably shouldn't have a fire pole in the master bedroom: image, you know. The squirrel condominiums? That might be seen as an uncomfortable metaphor for a public official to have on the city inventory: particularly one whose wife doesn't like one of Denver's buildings, and apparently wants her husband to get rid of it.

I think I can see her point. The Daniels mansion might not be the best place to raise a boy - particularly if those "barely clad women in the bathroom" couldn't be removed. (Couldn't be removed?? Why?!) On the other hand - the place isn't, as far as I could tell, the Hickenlooper's personal property - even if Mr. Hickenlooper is mayor.

Is it really that improper for Denver to own a mansion with a fire pole in the master bedroom?

I'm a practicing Catholic, and might not have made the same lifestyle choices as Mr. Daniels. But unloading a colorful property like that - apparently out of moral revulsion at, among other things, a fire pole? In the 21st century? In Denver?

Get a grip folks: If Denver needs the money, sell the place. If Denver's looking at selling the Daniels mansion because the mayor's wife doesn't like the fire pole: Denver residents might want to consider getting a new mayor.

But that's their call, not mine.

Me? I think the house looks cool, has a colorful history, and is an more of an asset to Denver being what it is, than a few million dollars would be.

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