After Gov. John Hickenlooper’s term winds down (and his presidential campaign winds up?), a senior advisor who’s been at his hip since his Denver mayoral days will join the Emerson Collective to cultivate public-private partnerships, or financial agreements between companies and governments.
Jamie Van Leeuwen has served Hickenlooper since 2005 in various capacities, most recently as the governor’s senior advisor. He led the Office of Community Partnerships, a public-private partnerships office aimed at enhancing social programs focused on issues like early-childhood education and homelessness.
“This office leveraged millions of dollars in new resources from the public and private sector to implement community-based programs where there were no tax dollars available,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. The office helped veterans jobs and children get books, according to a 2015 progress report.
“Community partnerships are about collaboration and finding common ground that brings people together across sectors to solve complex social issues,” Van Leeuwen said in a statement.
Van Leeuwen should feel at home at Emerson Collective, an LLC headed by Laurene Powell Jobs dedicated to “removing barriers of opportunity” to education, immigration reform, the environment, health and other social justice initiatives, according to its website.
Public-private partnerships are not all sunshine and rainbows. The idea is to get things for the public good by having private companies front the cost. Those companies profit, and sometimes things get messy.
The Regional Transportation District’s commuter rail woes are a result of a “P3,” as they’re known. So was was the expansion of U.S. 36, a project that put public infrastructure in the hands of a private consortium that will collect tolls for 50 years. And the I-70 expansion will end up costing taxpayers $1 billion more than advertised because of a P3, according to the Denver Post.
The highway financing agreements, though under the auspices of Hickenlooper, were reached through a separate office in the Colorado Department of Transportation.