I was emailed this info a few days ago, regarding Robert Speth, who is again running for Denver school board at-large. This time, however, not only do I support Julie Bañuelos 110 percent, I’m also her campaign manager. You should be aware of that, because I definitely am not impartial in this race, even though I supported Speth two years ago. I am posting about this in my own voice, and I do not speak on behalf of Julie’s campaign in this post.
Why don’t I support Speth now? Simply put, Julie Bañuelos is the much more qualified, legitimate choice for Denver’s schools. Not only is she a 15-year veteran teacher and former board member of the Denver Classroom Teacher’s Association (teacher’s union), but she also has the legitimate life experience of 80 percent of kids enrolled in DPS. Our biggest problems have been because people of means, who don’t know what our kids face, are trying to decide what’s right for us. We can all see the results from that strategy, so this election is about self-determination of the majority of the Denver Public Schools population.
More to the point about Speth’s inappropriateness as a representative for our communities is the fact that since he has left his corporate executive job with Sprint, he has taken on a new hobby: gentrifier for profit. In my opinion, this intentional exploitation of our communities makes him no better than the big developers that are funneling money to the “reform” candidates. He’s just the “temporarily embarrassed millionaire,” to invoke Steinbeck.
To make matters worse, he has been MIA from the schools fight, other than showing up to a few school board meetings and a couple of “our Denver our schools” events. He has been touted as “anti-privatization,” but over and over he says publicly that he is against a moratorium on charters, or that he only objects to the amount of charters that are approved. You really cannot have it both ways, and he has not grown in his understanding in the last two years.
When asked for his prescription to cure segregation in DPS, his response is literally that “we all just have to decide to go to the neighborhood schools together” and that we’re “stronger together,” as if segregation is a personal choice and not specific, damaging policy imposed by the DPS board and administration. And the constant tokenization of the fellow students of his own children is pretty nauseating, because he constantly uses their identities as some sort of progressive bona fides. He has shown ZERO interest in learning about the federal court order (consent decree) that impacts English learners in our district, or 40 PERCENT OF ALL DPS STUDENTS, a percentage that includes those he tokenizes.
I never could stand hypocrisy or double standards, folks. You know this about me.
Denver’s families need better, more legitimate representation, and that’s why I not only support Julie Bañuelos, I am also proud to work for her campaign. The email I received follows…
I sent basically this same e-mail to Melanie Asmar at Chalkbeat and Erica Meltzer at Denverite but I haven’t seen anything from them and thought I would share it directly with you since from what I’ve seen online you’re the only candidate that seems interested in addressing this issue.
The topics of gentrification and how that gentrification affects the re-segregation of schools is troubling to me, particularly considering rapid development of our city that is coinciding with the decreases in enrollment we are seeing in some schools that, so far as I know, has been used as justification for at least one school closure – Gilpin Montessori.
In researching the various candidates for the school board this year I was looking to the teacher’s union for guidance on the candidates they were supporting and came across this profile of Robert Speth. In the profile the union says that he was “a former telcom national account manager who now owns a small construction company…” This was a red flag to me, as I think developers are part of the cause of gentrification, so I set about doing some research.
The first place I looked was at business licenses on the Secretary of State’s website. I searched for Robert Speth as a registered agent and found that he is the registered agent for two LLCs New Century Highlands LLC and Pecos36, LLC.
A quick google search of Pecos36, LLC led me to an address connected to the Denver Property Tax and Assessment system and showed that this LLC owns a house in the Highlands, 3546 Pecos. St. I checked on Zillow and found that it had been rented out earlier this year, and that the owners were seeking a tenant for a 6 month lease. I thought this was pretty normal until I looked into New Century Highlands, LLC.
I did the same thing, ran a google search for New Century Highlands, LLC and found another link to Denver Property Tax and Assessment for 3238 Zuni St. This was much more interesting to me, it appears New Century purchased this property in 2015 for $555 thousand, and sold it this year for $1.3 million dollars. This LLC also owns the property next door, and after looking on Zillow, it appears that there are two condos at this location now. I looked at google maps street view, and the most recent picture just shows a hole in the ground, but a year or two ago it was a small house.
This to me looks like textbook gentrification! Mr. Speth bought a small property, developed it, and is in the process of selling generic condos for a profit, while eliminating affordable housing. The 6 month lease on the property on Pecos looks to me like it’s buying time to do the same thing, and considering that there are several of the post modern box condos on this street, I find it very likely that Mr. Speth is hoping to cash in on the gentrification of the Highlands.
Additionally I received chain of title for the property of Zuni street from the Denver Assessor’s office going back to the original deed in 1960. It looks like a holding company bought the property from the original owners (Martha and Manuel Aragon) in 2014, split it in 3, and sold it to Robert Speth/New Century Highlands a few months later.
This does play into the segregation and declining enrollment of our schools, and the decrease in enrollment. Bryant Webster, the school closest to the house on Pecos has seen an 11% enrollment decrease since 2009. Valdez Elementary, the school nearest to the Zuni condos, has seen a 10% increase in enrollment of white students since 2011 along with a 7% overall enrollment decrease since 2009 (according to the Colorado Department of Education).
I find it concerning that Mr. Speth could win a seat on the board this November considering his economic interests in development of the city. I think it is important that Denver Schools works on integrating our schools and that the city needs to address the lack of affordable housing. In the material I’ve seen on Chalkbeat he doesn’t really seem interested in addressing this issue at all which strikes me as a problem.
There are several links in this e-mail that don’t appear to have gone through when I sent this e-mail to Melanie Asmar. You can find them below.
Sorry this seems like a lot, but I hope you find this information interesting and helpful.
Best of luck in your campaign!
I hope you win.
———————————————- Links Below ————————————————
Robert Speth DCTA profile: http://denverteachers.org/dcta-school-board-endorsement-robert-speth/
Pecos 36 Business filing: https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20151784460&masterFileId=20151784460
Chain of title Pecos house: https://www.denvergov.org/property/realproperty/chainoftitle/160843300
New Century Highlands business filing: https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20141754267&masterFileId=20141754267
Chain of title Zuni property: https://www.denvergov.org/property/realproperty/chainoftitle/163994311