Feature: Wonder Valley

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

by William Hillyard
photos by Preston Drake-Hillyard

You might have passed through here, maybe.  Out for a drive with time on your hands, you might have taken the long-cut to the casinos of Laughlin, Nevada from the soulless sprawl of Los Angeles.

You’d have driven way beyond the outer reaches of suburbia, beyond its neglected fringe of citrus groves, past the outlet malls and the Indian casino, past remote Joshua Tree National Park and the Twentynine Palms Desert Combat Center, past the Next Services 100 Miles sign and any reason anybody really drives out this way.  You’d have blown through here at 60 miles an hour, probably, along a forgotten remnant of the old Route 66, its potholed and corrugated tarmac the only asphalt for miles.  If you were messing with your radio, fiddling with your phone, you might not have even noticed the grid of washboard tracks scraped from the sparse hardscrabble of greasewood shrubs in this nowhere corner of the Mojave Desert.  

Read More

Art Feature: Connection/ You+Ross Evertson

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

by Ross Evertson

I spent most of my time in college arguing. I went to art school, and despite the fact that I am an artist and photographer, it didn’t seem to agree with me. It was my nature then—and it still is, somewhat—to be disagreeable. I’ve been called argumentative and told that I obviously like to argue purely for the sake of it. Really though, I tend to play the devil’s advocate because it is typically more interesting and useful than simply agreeing with someone.

This project is the result of one of these arguments/discussions. Someone was waxing romantic about the connection between the photographer and his subject. This sort of mystical assumption is exactly the kind of thing that gets me excited to argue, but instead of engaging them I realized instantly what I would do instead. Five years later, I am finally working on it.

Read More

Feature: Busker Hustlin’

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

by Dwayne Pride

Street performers bring 16th street mall to life for summer.

Noon-lunch; lots of people sitting around and he is just dancing in the midst, showing off what he does. People are laughing and talking. Smooth jazz rolls off a trumpet somewhere down the street. Then he disappears into the alley. All I could see was the handle of his silver umbrella. He returned from the alley with some kind of ‘roller-type’ stage set up. People keep trying to take his picture and he keeps hiding under his umbrella.

Then—what a surprise! He has music! It’s plugged in somewhere up the alley. It’s a little more than the average street performer. The way he carries himself, Leroy Midyette, who goes by “Jambot” on the mall, seems to be a mime. His bags are full of props. He starts putting on more make-up while “Thriller” plays from his boom-box. His face looks like a mask or statue.

Jambot entertains pedestrians on the 16th Street Mall, photo by Vinnie Vertigo.

Some lady is walking by and he trots along beside her as she keeps walking. He finally puts his bucket out for tips and gets up on the stage. Overcast skies have turned to sun. Out comes the sign, “Photo or Video $5. Money Make Me Move.”

Read More

News Briefs: Another Kind of Credit Crisis

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority saw another increase in the demand for tax credits this year. CHFA has a total of $11.1 million in tax credits to disperse among developers for low-income housing projects. During the first round alone, developers submitted 21 applications requesting $19.7 million.

Congress created the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in 1986. Its purpose is to encourage the construction and rehabilitation of low-income rental housing by providing a federal income tax credit as an incentive. Developers sell these tax credits to investors. When determining which applicants receive tax credits, CHFA gives preference to projects serving those with the lowest income and projects obligated to serve qualified tenants for the longest period of time.

Over the past three years, the tax credit market has seen a dramatic drop in prices. Due to the recession, fewer investors have federal tax liabilities they need to offset with tax credits. This causes the price of tax credits to drop, making it more difficult for developers to sell tax credits to investors. As pricing drops, more developers are seeking larger credits to make their projects work. Tax credit investments are an integral part of financing for many housing developments for the homeless under Denver’s Road Home.

Tax credits are currently getting between 65 and 72 cents on the dollar, compared to 80 to 90 cents on the dollar two years ago and between 90 cents and $1.00 per credit in fall of 2006.

—Sarah Harvey

Feature: Union Taxi- Fare Is Fair

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

text & photographs by D. Giles Clasen

After a three-year battle waged between Denver taxi companies, the Public Utilities Commission finally approved the creation of Union Taxi.

Ali Ahmed waits idle, fourth in line at a taxi stand in downtown Denver.  He worries about how his cab looks.  He takes a stocking cap from a cubby next to the driver side seat and cleans the side mirror before getting out of the car and walking to his friends, also waiting for fares, to talk.

The small group exchanges handshakes and hellos before their conversation goes one place—to Ahmed’s worn but newly painted orange taxi.

Ahmed is fourth in line today and will wait for his turn to give someone a ride.  But he is excited to wait; he has been waiting through a 3-year battle for the right to open a new cab company with 262 other taxi drivers. 

Read More