GOP and the Death of Accountability – among other things

From Walter Einenkel at Daily Kos

America last: Rep. Porter has receipts showing Trump chose a quick buck over American lives

Rep. Katie Porter has been all business since being elected to office. Today, Rep. Porter released a report showing that in spite of growing concerns and warnings about the potential oncoming pandemic threat of the COVID-19 virus from top officials and experts, Donald Trump not only did nothing about it, but he also allowed ramped up exportation of much-needed medical supplies. The report, titled “EVERYONE BUT US,” charges Donald Trump with misapplying and mismanaging our nation’s medical supplies in the months leading up to our current crisis.

Rep. Porter, like many Democratic officials, has long pleaded with Trump to use the powers afforded him under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ramp up production and supply chains for much-needed medical supplies. These essential medical supplies were needed weeks ago at the front lines of the battle to save lives. Trump has instead been stingy in his application of the DPA, trying to gaslight away the death count under his watch.

But while Trump’s incompetence and criminal negligence has been well covered, Porter’s team has analyzed “previously unreported government trade data” that paints an even darker picture of how complicit in our country’s misery Donald Trump is. According to the report, the United States was not simply ill-prepared for the coming pandemic—they were actively making big money depleting our medical resources, making us even less prepared: “The value of U.S. ventilator exports jumped 22.7% percent from January to February.”

And it wasn’t only ventilators. Porter says her team “found that in February 2020, the value of U.S. mask exports to China was 1,094% higher than the 2019 monthly average.” Think about that every time you read a pick-me-up story of some designer creating PPE masks for ER staff, or some grade-school kid donating their mask. And to be clear, during this same time the U.S. imported fewer PPE and cleaning supplies, as well as fewer ventilators.

It is clear that one of the fundamental tragic flaws of conservatism in America is how shortsighted its greed for money and power is. By not being more serious in January and February, and even in March, the Trump administration and the Republican power apparatus, in general, have worsened the economic problems we now face and will continue to face in the not so distant future. What this report shows is that this short-sightedness is pathological in nature, like a fish with a seven-second memory, wondering why it keeps getting hooked in the mouth every time a worm miraculously appears from the sky.

Longmont Council Needs Prodding to Adopt Drop Zone Fees

When will the next one land on Airport Road?

For several months, the Longmont city council has been considering a signficant increase drop zone fees, which would be based on the drop zone square footage of 338,000 sf (recommended by the USPA.) The fees would go from the current $7,800 to $70,000 per year.

Longmont airport advisory board Aug agenda and June minutes – search for keyword $70,000

For many years, Mile-Hi Skydiving has been getting a free ride, while the airport enterprise fund can barely meet operating expenses. They were paying zero dollars for the 40-acre drop zone area until we made council aware of the oversight. Then they began paying the annual permit fee of $7,500 codified in the city ordinance – still a paltry sum compared to the damage they are causing. Worse yet, in 2016 Longmont tax dollars – to the tune of $40,000 – were siphoned from the General Fund to pay for airport expenses. Your tax dollars were misdirected and taken away from other worthwhile public projects and amenities.

The drop zone fee proposal has languished since the AAB began reviewing it, and has not moved forward for at least 3 months now.

At least one council member has suggested that it would be very helpful for Longmont residents to speak at their meeting (PITBH) and urge them to proceed with the fees, without further input from the AAB. Your opportunity is tonight, Tuesday 8/22 at the Longmont city council meeting, 7 pm – I hope you will be there and also send an email to council. We must have Longmont residents driving this issue – I cannot do it for you but will provide full support.

Longmont city council email address

June 20, 2017 email: Kimberly: Attached is the information you requested regarding the airport. The answer to question 4 below is as follows: In 2016 the General Fund funded $40,000 for “Development Funds for Airport Utilities and Drainage Master Plan”.

Valeria Skitt
City Clerk

Many thanks,
Kimberly Gibbs
Founder, Citizens For Quiet Skies, Boulder County, Colorado

Stop by our table at the Longmont Farmers Market – Sept 2nd and Oct 7th

Follow the Money: Bonnie Finley = Developers

Developer funded and owned.

Developer funded and owned.

Longmont residents are fortunate that all city council candidates must report contributions at certain stages before Election Day. Some critical info came from the first reports candidates filed last week. We have eight candidates for three seats this election. Three candidates are incumbents. All have received the majority of their funding from the land development/real estate industry. A fourth new candidate has also received this same package of construction funding. We’re talking thousands of dollars…Four candidates have not received nor accepted this special interest money – these candidates are Joan Peck, Paul Rennix, Sarah Levison, and Ron Gallegos.

I’m speaking about publicly tonight because it’s important and the good people of Longmont need to know from where council candidates are getting their contributions. Very sadly, money in politics translates to influence. These developers, builders and realtors give candidates money because they want to have influence on their decisions regarding the future of our city. As constituents, we are curious about how beholden these candidates, if elected, might be to these special interests when making decisions regarding land use, development, affordable housing, the St. Vrain corridor etc.? One has to wonder what these special interests expect in return for their very large “donations”?

Do they hope it will assert influence in tonight’s discussion about Affordable Housing? For instance, the Construction Defects Law that Councilwoman Finley keeps bringing up. This state law helps to protect people whose homes and finances are hurt by poorly done construction. Like other professions, builders need to be held accountable for their work and homeowners should have some recourse when that work is poorly done. Ms. Finley’s repeated accusation regarding its negative impacts on new development ultimately aims to benefit developers at the expense of regular people. Her suspicions are unfounded and a waste of staff time to “investigate” as we can all see there is a building bonanza happening.

Similarly, we have the City’s old inclusionary zoning clause that the 2011 City Council nixed. This clause mandated developer’s make10% of new housing designated affordable housing or provide cash in lieu. Why hasn’t this council reinstated this? While Inclusionary zoning is not the whole solution, certainly it would help and be a step in the right direction—that direction being serving people & not just lining the pockets of the land development/real estate industry.

This council has been wringing your hands for far too long regarding affordable housing. People are hurting while the profiteers can’t count their money fast enough. Now we see big money being poured into certain candidates for city council. What are we to think? It certainly helps inform me, as I get ready to cast my votes for Ward 3, at large and Mayor.

Disagreeable Me

Five ‘Truths’ You ‘Cannot Disagree With’
Conservative PropagandaFact
1You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.You cannot legislate the poor out of poverty by legislating the wealthy into prosperity.
2What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.What a wealthy person received without working for probably came from what another person worked for without receiving.
3The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.But banks can, through fractional reserve banking, in which the wealthy create wealth by putting the working class into debt.
4 You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.But you can multiply wealth by inventing money, again through fractional reserve banking.
5 When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.But who is working, and who is living off of their labors? The wealthy lay around the pool, counting their dividends, while the working class pays for their largess in the form of bailouts and subsidies.
6(Insert bullshit about trickle down, voodoo economics, etc.)A consumer economy cannot be prosperous if the consumers are impoverished.

A few more points about #3:

“The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from someone else.”

If this doesn’t demonstrate that the author of this only cares about money, then I’m not sure what does. Let’s try this out with a few items that a few people might care about the government providing and see how this “truth” is borne out, shall we?

“The government cannot give someone a financial safety net to guard against economic and circumstantial events that are outside of that person’s control without taking away someone else’s financial safety net to guard against economic and circumstantial events that are outside of that person’s control.”

Weird. That didn’t turn out at all. In some magical way we actually *can* provide this kind of a safety net without taking away someone else’s safety net, for the reason that the needs of a safety net are amortized across the population as a whole.

Okay, let’s try it again:

“The government cannot give one individual access to clean water and unpolluted air without removing someone else’s access to clean water and unpolluted air.”

Damn. That turned out weird again. I wonder what’s going wrong? It’s as if there are material things that the government can provide that can be ensured for all people without having to take that very same thing away from anyone.

Alrighty, one more time. I’m sure it’ll be a “truth” that I can’t disagree with this time:

“The government cannot provide for the basic subsistence and shelter of one individual without denying someone else basic subsistence and shelter.”

What the …? How is it that we keep finding things that the government can provide that don’t result in the type of direct accounting of dollars that the “5 truths” above describe?

One last try:

“The government cannot provide an individual with a basic level of security from foreign threats without removing someone else’s basic level of security from foreign threats.”

Well, golly. How can it be that the military provides a benefit for everyone at the same time? That’s just impossible – except it’s not.

Thanks to all the folks that contributed to this.


Pro-fracking group books TV ads before November election

Ad financiers: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy

TV ad, Pro-Fracking expenditure, CO IndpendentSandra Fish
Oil and gas interests are planning ahead, even though a ballot initiative isn’t likely to be finalized until summer.

A pro-fracking issue group has reserved 323 TV ad spots at a cost of more than $299,000 for the nine weeks leading up to the November election – and that’s at just one Denver station.

Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence is an issue committee formed in January “to oppose anti-fracking ballot measures and to support pro-fracking ballot measures,” said Jon Haubert, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, a pro-fracking nonprofit backed by the oil-and-gas industry.

At least two ballot initiatives are being proposed that would allow communities to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.  No pro-fracking initiatives have been formally organized, but Haubert didn’t rule out the possibility.

In an order placed on Feb. 11, a California company, Sadler Strategic Media, scheduled the ads to run in September, October and early November on KMGH Channel 7.The ad buy includes spots on news programs as well as popular ABC prime-time shows such as “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Nashville.”

The company has also sought information about ad rates from KUSA Channel 9, according to a document filed with the Federal Communication Commission.  Typically, campaigns buy time on most network affiliates in major markets such as Denver.

Stations in the top 50 television markets are required to report information about political ad buys to the FCC.  That means Denver stations must file, but stations in Colorado Springs and Grand Junction don’t have to. They keep paper files available for inspection at their stations.

It could be early August before signatures are due to qualify initiatives — either pro- or anti-fracking — for the November ballot.

Haubert said the industry is “preparing in case they need to run advertising.”

“It seems that elections are year-round these days.”

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy created the nonprofit Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development after several communities approved fracking bans in the November 2013 elections.

On Sunday, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved new rules targeting methane and other chemicals released in oil and gas exploration. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper recommended the rule changes with support from Anadarko, Noble and some other companies.

Still, fracking remains highly controversial and industry is prepping to convince Colorado voters to protect its ability to drill throughout the state.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is suing some communities over their fracking prohibitions, and Hickenlooper has said property rights guarantees in the state Constitution should override such bans.  The state has signed on as a plaintiff in some of the lawsuits.

Coloradans can expect a deluge of political ads this fall because of a U.S. Senate race and one of the hottest congressional races in the country in the state’s 6th District, where GOP incumbent Mike Coffman is facing Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff.  In 2010, outside groups spent some $30 million on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, much of it on TV advertising.

Katy Atkinson, a Republican political consultant, said reserving ad time now makes sense, even if it’s unclear whether industry will be on the offense or defense of a ballot issue.

“It is always smart in a ballot issue to buy early when you can,” she said.

Atkinson recalled a ballot issue she worked on that couldn’t place an order until they had money to go on TV. By that time, she said, “there was nothing available. We had to buy the Golf Channel.”

Advocates of an initiative to allow local governments to limit oil and gas development told The Colorado Independent that they plan a grassroots campaign heavy on social media and door-to-door work.

Some ballot campaigns have succeeded by spending little on TV ads. In 2012, the successful campaign to approve medical marijuana spent about $170,000 on 154 ads in the Denver market.  Last year, backers of a tax increase for schools spent more than $11 million total, including millions on TV ads. Voters overwhelmingly rejected that initiative.Pro-fracking group books at least $299K in TV ads before November election


ALEC’s Half-Century Contract on the Boulder Highway, US 36

Have you ever wished to sign a 50 year contract?

Sounds like a major bummer. Even utilities seek contracts from city-clients that last only 20 years, although their finance projections for their coal plants can go 60 years. Fifty years, 60 years, 20 years, they all last longer than most marriages. But in a few days Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) will sign a 50 year contract for the management of the Boulder Turnpike and its toll lanes, affecting transportation planning options from here to central Denver.

The long term contract is the fruit of a trend around the nation, decried by many, to invent “public private partnerships” also known as P3’s, following a grand design crafted by former Colorado State Rep. Glenn Vaad, in the eagle nest of committee meetings he chaired with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Yes, the same ALEC that writes pro-corporate model legislation with active state legislators, and yes, the same Glenn Vaad who’s just been appointed to serve on Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (but is not yet approved by our Senate).

We should care that when the deal is signed for the 50 year concession for US 36, no one outside the immediate participants will have seen it, according to Ken Beitel with Friends of Colorado PUC and founder of the Drive SunShine Institute that promotes electric drive transportation and democratic process. Also, in coming weeks CDOT’s special office called the Higher Performance Transportation Enterprises (HTPE) will pursue a P3 arrangement for many Colorado roads including a major overhaul of I-70 in Denver along with a maintenance and toll-lane agreement for it all the way up to Glenwood.

Gravely imperfect, this P3 plan can still help Colorado. With the recession and the increasing efficiency of all manner of vehicles, the state gets less in fuel taxes for roads each year. According to Boulder councilman Macon Cowles the national gas tax has been frozen since 1993 and in polls Coloradans have said, “Not just no but hell no” to taxation for roads, and now there’s global competition for many materials used in highway construction which means to Cowles, “On transportation we’re in a very bad spot.”

So, allowing private companies to invest in our roads to profit from the toll lanes can bring fast relief to dangerous bridges and other binds. In 2009 Governor Ritter signed the FASTER bill, empowering CDOT to seek out and enter private-public P3 contracts to bring funding into transportation projects. The governor’s press release says that governments affected by the user fees can veto the projects, but how much scrutiny do they really get? And what about down the road of those long 50 years?

Review groups such as USPIRG have noted in particular that P3’s usually include “non compete” clauses to keep localities from building effectively competitive roads that might lure cars away from the toll lanes. Is that ALEC’s game — to talk about competition while ruling it out in the contract? Remember: 50 years.

Boulder Mayor Matt Applebaum explained by phone some key problems in developing the contract. First, he said, it’s still not clear whether there’s a non-compete requirement in the contract. Also, CDOT didn’t want to put in very much money to the turnpike upgrade, Applebaum said, which means that overflow revenues intended to go back to communities in the US 36 corridor will arrive later. To counter this, it has been suggested by the Plenary Group managing the highway that instead of allowing pairs of people to drive free in the HOV/toll lanes, groups of three minimum will be allowed to use the HOV/toll lanes which means pairs wanting access to that faster lane will have to pay. (Most lanes on US 36 will remain free.) The 3+ standard has been seen as a rip off to the public, however it remains plausible that the number one factor in upping the cost of a long drive is the fuel efficiency of one’s car in any lane.

It’s not clear if this P3 arrangement and its hidden details will be as bad as feared — or as silly as featured by ALEC’s own daft positioning when ALEC announced their idea of “true economic stimulus.” Prominently quoting its Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force Chair Rep. Glenn Vaad, it touted its newest initiative, “Publicopoly” to help states to shift government programs to private sector competitive bidding, with a special focus on transportation. About as subtle as “Unsinkable Titanic”, the term “Publicopoly” seems clear enough: let private interests grab monopoly control over public sector functions.

In Boulder we know a lot about monopoly grip over critical infrastructure that drives the heating of our climate, bumping weather into the unprecedented ferocity of the fires, floods and droughts suffered in Colorado, and we in Boulder voted three time to wriggle loose of XcelEnergy’s fossil fuel electric system. We in Colorado should recall what we know about ALEC: it has been trying to unravel states’ renewable energy standards and prompted voter-ID laws that have been ruled unconstitutional in three states, among many other vexing initiatives.

Therefore we should seek public review and legislative approval of the P3 contracts being signed. Will they accord flexibility to the state to favor emission free transportation as more climate change comes barreling down upon us?

Also Colorado’s Senate should find out who is really being served in the person of Glenn Vaad, a decorated ALEC committee chair who has thereby taken scholarship money from XcelEnergy and faced ALEC’s robust discipline that nearly foisted a loyalty pledge on its legislator members. Last but not least, the Senate should explore how Vaad’s committee member at ALEC, Geoff Segal of MacQuarie Capital, came to be a financial adviser (see page one) to the state of Colorado for creating a P3 for the over $1 billion improvement to I-70.

It’s not a wonderful life for many

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL - 1909

Girl Working in Box Factory, Tampa, FL – 1909

Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” is relevant these days with many in Congress playing the role of Scrooge before he was visited by the Christmas spirits. Dickens was greatly concerned about the plight of children forced to work under dreadful conditions and about the lives of the poor.

Pope Francis recently echoed these ideas when he expressed concern about unfettered capitalism. The Pope also called on world leaders to address poverty and growing inequality. Specifically, he said:

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. …”

This description applies to many of us, particularly to many in Congress. For example, the recent budget compromise allows emergency unemployment benefits for 1.3 million to expire. Millions more will lose their federal or state unemployment benefits in 2014. Future pension benefits for federal workers and veterans will also be reduced.

In addition, in the new farm bill, Congress is likely to push for cuts in food stamps instead of reducing or eliminating tax subsidies to giant agricultural corporations.

Unsurprisingly, Congress is again targeting Social Security and Medicare for cuts. These successful programs have kept millions from falling into dire poverty. Perhaps surprising to some people, President Obama has expressed a willingness to accept cuts in these programs.

Congress has refused to raise the minimum wage, a wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation. Currently the national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, this level is far below the minimum wage level of the late 1960s as well as being below the levels from 1956 to 1985. To be comparable to the level in the late 1960s, the minimum wage today would be close to $11 per hour.

Congress has also worked hard to restore the corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex. Congress throws money at this sector for weapons that are not needed or useful in dealing with non-state actors. Some of these tens to hundreds of billions in corporate welfare would be better spent by the badly under-funded Veterans Administration to help returning veterans prepare for reentry into society. Partly due to lack of extensive preparation, many veterans are, in effect, discarded by society. Many with PTSD and other problems are not adequately treated and join the ranks of the homeless and unemployed. We owe them so much more.

Note this budget compromise ignores the possibility of increasing revenue by closing corporate tax loopholes or by increasing the highest marginal tax rates. These higher rates would impact only the super wealthy, folks who would hardly notice these extra taxes. Instead, Congress chooses to cut incomes for the rest of us, incomes that are often already stretched beyond the breaking point for too many. Obama will likely go along with this mean and heartless approach.

Clearly, congressional and White House actions play a major role in increasing poverty and inequality. Contact your representatives and voice your opposition to cuts in these programs. I think Dickens and Pope Francis would say “bah, humbug” to these politicians.

Who is getting the free lunch exactly?

How many Americans have to starve before we develop some compassion?

How many Americans have to starve before we develop some compassion?

I spend Wednesday afternoons volunteering at the food pantry run by Caring Ministries. Each week I fill carts for about a dozen families with nutritious food that is a combination of staples provided by The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and donations from local churches and individuals. As I load another round of groceries into another trunk I reflect on the aphorism in our culture that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

What we mean by “no free lunch” is that everything has a cost somewhere to someone, and implied in this is that you should work hard and pay for your own lunch. It is an affirmation of the rugged individualism, the bootstrap mentality, we are so proud of in America – particularly here in the west. Unfortunately, the noble ideal of independence and diligence when allied with the status quo of profound economic inequality causes us to make the wrong assumptions. We tend to assume that anyone who can pay for their own lunch has earned that ability, and those who can’t pay for their own lunch are corrupt or lazy.

The caricature of those who receive SNAP (food stamps), or the families who I meet on Wednesdays at the food pantry is of lazy individuals taking advantage of the system. The facts simply do not bear this stereotype out. Four out of 5 recipients of SNAP are employed. Those who are not employed are usually disabled or seniors. In fact 76 percent of all households that receive SNAP include a child, a senior, or a disabled person and these households receive 83 percent of all benefits distributed. Over 90 percent of SNAP recipients are well below the poverty line. In other words, the people who are receiving this help genuinely need it and not because they are lazy. Those that can work, do work.

What’s more, these programs have incredibly low rates of fraud. You and I as tax-payers are not getting taken for a ride by food stamp recipients. SNAP had one of the lowest rates of fraud of any government program last year (under 3 percent) and most of that fraud was actually mistakes by caseworkers that resulted in recipients being underpaid, not overpaid. The rest of the fraud was by retailers taking advantage of SNAP recipients.

SNAP recipients do not receive more than they need. 90 percent of benefits are entirely used up by the third week of the month – I know, that is when I see them coming in greater numbers to the food pantry. If you’re not sure about this I encourage you to take the SNAP challenge: try feeding yourself for a week on less than $4.50 per day, which is roughly the amount you would receive in food stamps.

Something unfair is indeed going on when so many people are in need of support just so they can eat. Someone is receiving a free lunch in our society, but it isn’t the people coming to the food pantry. As wages continue to stagnate while profits continue to rise we will only see more and more people unable to buy groceries at the end of the month. Most of these people will work low wage jobs at employers like Walmart, where over 80 percent of workers receive SNAP benefits. For a long time now we have been subsidizing corporate greed by refusing to hold employers accountable for providing a living wage. The person who has been going to lunch on your dime is probably your boss.

Read the facts, not fiction, at

Rev. Aric Clark is the pastor of United Presbyterian Church of Fort Morgan. Read more of his writing on his blog at

Deadbeat Bosses

Deadbeats in suits.

Deadbeat bosses rip off low-wage earners with impunity.

Imagine what would happen if you did not have much or any savings and your employer failed to pay you for two weeks or longer as happens all too often. What if you could not buy food for your family? What if you missed your rent or payment on your car? People have lost their lease and ended up homeless. Because low wage earners have more than an even chance of not getting their full pay once a year, this is reality for tens of thousands of people in Colorado.

Failure to bring home the paycheck you deserve can cause family tensions. Where is our money? Why do you keep working for that person? It is an insult to hardworking people not to get paid.

Unscrupulous employers have made a covenant either in writing or verbal to pay for what they received, somebody’s time and efforts. The employer has benefited. There are consequences if we do not pay our bills. Your electricity could be shut off; your car could be repossessed; your credit rating could be affected; etc. Currently it is far too easy for unscrupulous employers to steal money from their workers with little chance of recourse.

It is not good for honest employers who face unfair competition. Workers not paid fairly have less money to spend in the local economy. Sales tax collections are negatively impacted. In New York, it is estimated that $427 million in state revenues are lost annually as a consequence of widespread wage theft. Public assistance agencies and nonprofits have a greater burden.

It is upsetting that the problem is so widespread and yet few people know about it. In the U.S., workers lose $19 billion every year. In some locations, 50 percent of restaurants, 74 percent of daycare centers, 50 percent of nursing homes, and 30 percent of hotels and motels violate labor laws. These include failure to pay at all, often for several weeks; not paying over time; not providing lunch or other required breaks; and misclassification (treating a worker like an employee and paying them like a contractor to avoid paying into Social Security and Medicare.)

In Longmont, we have seen complaints from workers at a dairy, a gym, a landscaping company, a bakery and many other businesses. El Comite has a few hundred clients every year come in for help. City of Longmont staff also receives numerous requests for help. Sometimes a phone call to the employer results in payment. If not, the odds of a worker getting paid are dismal.

Surely there are laws that protect workers who have had their wages stolen. Well, actually, for the most part no. Wage theft is not covered under theft of services, so there are no enforceable criminal penalties. Victims can go to small claims court, but few have the time or understanding of procedures to do this. They can hire a lawyer, but that cost is typically more than the unpaid wages. Worse than this, it is possible for the judge to award costs to the employer if the employee loses the case. While there are provisions for the employee to receive money above the actual lost wages, it is necessary to provide the employer with a letter within 60 days of the offense. Few employees know this, and frequent abusers know how to make promises of payment that are never fulfilled and thus the 60-day option is lost.

They can appeal to the U.S. Department of Labor, but they are understaffed (about 1,000 workers for 7 million workplaces) for this and only respond if the employer takes in more than $500,000 a year. (Some big box stores with a presence in Longmont have been guilty.) The Colorado Department of Labor (CDLE) is similarly understaffed, 5,200 claims for a handful of staff to handle along with the other 30,000 calls for other issues. Worse yet, the employer does not have to respond to CDLE, and frequent abusers know this.

Currently, it is much more likely that you will be prosecuted for shoplifting a piece of clothing than if you steal money from a worker and take food off their family’s table or cause them to be homeless.

The 2014 legislative session will be the third year when an attempt will be made to make some changes to Colorado law so that workers will receive a better chance for justice. Currently, FRESC, Centro Humanitario, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, 9 to 5, El Comite, the PELA, and others are working in several ways to help workers deprived of their earned wages.

Bob Norris is a member of the El Comite Advocacy Committee.

Shale Boom or Shale Bubble?

Come to a public discussion of fracking's false economic promise

Deborah Rogers, internationally renowned fracking economics expert,

to present and take questions

Deborah RogersDeborah will speak in three communities: Boulder, Broomfield & Fort Collins

As Front Range communities wrestle with hydraulic fracturing-enabled oil and gas development, residents should know the fracking boom may provide only a short period of oil and gas abundance before collapsing in an economic bust.

Analysis of more than 60,000 oil and gas wells shows:

  • Shale well production declines more rapidly than predicted.
  • The rate of drilling must increase to maintain current production.
  • Shale gas production has become uneconomical in many areas at current prices.
  • Wall Street has played a key behind-the-scenes role in hyping the fracking boom.
  • Industry is largely unwilling to invest in future shale development.


Deborah Rogers, co-author of Shale Bubble reports, member of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, advisor to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, former member of the Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Earthworks board member.


An opportunity for the public to learn about and discuss the financial underpinnings of fracking-enabled shale development.


Tuesday, October 22nd at 6:30 p.m.
Fort CollinsCouncil Tree Library, 2733 Council Tree Ave.

Wednesday, October 23rd at 6:30pm
BoulderColorado School of Law, Wolf Law Bldg, Rm 204, 2450 Kittredge Loop Rd

Thursday, October 24th at 7pm
BroomfieldLakeshore Room of the Broomfield Community Center, 280 Lamar St.



·         All events – Josh Joswick, Earthworks, at 970-903-0876,

·         Fort Collins – Kelly Giddens-Unuigbey, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins at 503-866-5962,

·         Boulder – Kate Johnson, Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights at 303-579-9537,

·         Broomfield – Laura Fronckiewicz, Our Broomfield at 312-533-0525,

Read the research at


Earthworks, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights, and Our Broomfield with East Boulder County United, Erie Rising, Food & Water Watch, Frack Files of Weld County, Frack Free Colorado, Our Broomfield, Our Longmont, Plains Alliance for Clean Air & Water, Protect Our Colorado, Protect Our Loveland, Weld Air and Water, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Greeley Chapter, YES on 2H.


The Energy Policy Forum addresses the serious long-term implications for U.S. energy consumers as America chooses course at the crossroads of potential energy futures.

The Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, environmental, and equity crises that define the 21st century. We envision a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

Finding homes is the next difficult task

Photo by M. Douglas Wray

The emergency’s over, now comes the really hard part.

It has been inspiring that so many nonprofits, churches, individuals and city/county staff and departments stepped up to help flood victims. The real challenges come ahead of us when funds run low and most residents return to normal life.

Normal life is not possible in the immediate future for many, and the solutions to their problems are not going to be easy. Housing has been a challenging issue before the flood and is now a huge problem. Finding a home to rent is proving difficult for those who have the financial resources. For low-income families, it is an almost unimaginable challenge — a challenge made worse by the continuing disparity in income and wealth and widespread underpayment of wages.

Maybe not a great solution, but what about the infamous FEMA trailers that we heard about after Katrina?

The city is looking at buying the property where the Royal Trailer Park was located. We certainly do not want to place low-income or any families in harm’s way. Trailer parks have been an option that has worked for many. Might the city consider trading some open space property for the Royal Trailer Park property?

Are the large chain hotels/motels willing to provide some free rooms for several months?

Adding to the problem is the shutdown of the government, which will reduce incomes and purchasing power of some of our residents and reduce sales tax collections as well as business at most stores. The various types of help that Congressional and Senate offices provide will not be available. It appears that much-needed work on roads conducted by National Guard members might not paid for by the federal government.

One lesson from the flood is that we do need to support the housing and human services nonprofits.

Gardner Votes Show No Compassion

Cory Gardner, no compassion.

Cory Gardner, no compassion.

In his letter of 9/27, Mr. James Langley accused me of shamelessly distorting the facts on Cory Gardner’s vote on the Food Stamp Act. He then went on to explain the difference between cuts and reduction of an increase which he said Cory did, the basis for my ‘distortion.’ The bottom line is that $4 billion per year, $40 billion total, would keep 3.8 million poor people, (children, veterans, seniors) from getting a very generous $4.64 per day for their groceries. Maybe they would buy Big Macs or Starbucks instead of oatmeal or ramen noodles.

What Mr. Langley failed to mention was that a big reason for the increased food stamp need was that the Wall Street Jackals had driven the country to its knees. He also failed to mention that a Senate passed Jobs bill that the CBO had graded as creating 1.6 million good paying jobs (which would have further reduced the need for food stamps) was in the House. Cory and his Republican buddies refused to look at it let alone pass it.

Cory has voted for the 43rd and 44th time to deny health insurance to millions of people who desperately need it. His last votes would also be votes to shutter the government as Obama will not be blackmailed into killing the law. Of course Cory will have his plush health plan and his $174,000 salary regardless of what happens to other people, including 40,000 Coloradans. The federal government is Colorado’s largest employer.

Cory is to be commended for his efforts to obtain federal help for Colorado flood relief even as he successfully shuttered the government. Too bad he voted to deny help for Hurricane Sandy, the Moore, Oklahoma tornado and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion though.

Need vs Greed

In Greed We TrustLet us assume that Mr. Pedro Gonzalez, an average employee at McDonalds works a 40 hour week, 50 weeks per year for a total of 2000 hours. At $8.00 per hour his gross pay is $16,000.00 per year.

Meanwhile, his ultimate boss, the CEO, is paid somewhere around $10 Million per year, or $5000.00 for each of those same 2000 hours. But let’s recognize reality- most CEO’s work long hours some of the time, so let’s assume Mr. CEO puts in an additional 5-600 hours per year doing other stuff. He’s still up over $4000.00 per hour no matter how you cut it. If he worked 4000 hours a year, he’d still be making around $2500. per hour.

Mr. Gonzales and his fellow workers in the fast-food industry are organizing around the idea that they should be paid $15.00 per hour, an income that would allow them to enter the middle class – the backbone of any successful economy.

The fast-food execs are screaming that such a wage increase would mark the end of their business models, eviscerate the market and probably collapse world-wide economies. Indeed, it seems the sky would fall.

Let’s think about all this for a moment. Is there a soul on this earth worth $5000 per hour? Exactly where did this obscenity in remuneration come from? I recall an old expression; “There’s need and there’s greed”. Was this ever more true?

Let me suggest that if Mr. Gonzalez was paid $15.00 per hour and Mr. CEO took a cut all the way down to (say) $3000.00 per hour and then raised the price of a hamburger by 25 cents, the corporation would survive and indeed flourish. Thousands more middle-class families would be spreading their incomes over a wider market, millions more hamburgers would be sold, Mr. CEO would likely get his salary cut back in the form of a bonus and just possibly realize he had helped his country begin to renew itself.

Sounds like a win-win to me. But then I remember the need-greed mantra; given past performance I’m guessing that greed will trump need, and the hell to Mr. Gonzalez.

Cory Gardner: Fraud and Abuse

Cory Gardner, anti-environmentI see that Cory Gardner, along with his compassionate christian Colorado Republican buddies, has voted to cut the food stamp bill by 40 million, citing fraud and abuse among other things. This program has a fraud level of 1% while congress itself has a fraud level of 2%. So much for fraud and abuse.

The cuts will remove 3.8 million people from the food stamp rolls. Half of the people getting food stamps are children. Some of them go hungry part of the time. If Cory Gardner and his family were on food stamps, I wonder if it would bother him if his children went to bed hungry part of the time. Probably not. It certainly does’t bother him that other people’s children go hungry part of the time. What a caring compassionate Christian.

Doyle Myers

Open Letter to American Business

It's no longer 'whatever floats your boat' but whether or not your boat FLOATS at all.

It’s no longer ‘whatever floats your boat’ but whether or not your boat FLOATS at all.

Dear American business sector:

Here’s how it is. We, the consumers who keep this country viable (at least we once did), are NOT going to buy your crap until and unless you –

  1. Reduce your incessant, blatant, mind-numbing ads everywhere. That means the ‘web, television, everything. Enough is enough.
  2. Stop calling us if we don’t want you to. The simple rule is, if we didn’t ask you to call, don’t. We usually have “Caller ID” these days, and if we’ve never heard of you, don’t be expecting anyone to pick up. This goes for your scammer friends, too. Especially them.
  3. Lower your prices. How unequivocal can THAT be? Since when is a 30% return really necessary?
  4. This one is critical, because without it, we are all headed for the dumper. HIRE MORE, much more, AND PAY BETTER. Provide benefits (you remember those; the execs have them), and you will gain a more loyal, dedicated, secure (and, therefore, STABLE) work force. Or is that what you really want? Oh, it’s a growing return for the shareholders (usually that includes management) that turns your head?

Well, unless you’ve forgotten BA 104 and Econ 102, if the common folk (the “rabble?”) don’t have the money, they won’t buy, because they CAN’T! What’s that you say? Foreigners will take up the slack? Did you just climb out from beneath a rock? Most of them don’t have much money, either. How about that 1% group? Just how many lunches can one man eat, anyway? Can anyone drive TWO Porsche’s at the same time? Try it.

Otherwise, just keep punishing and laying off your CUSTOMERS, and see where that gets you. A rising tide lifts all boats. All we ask is that you stop punching holes in them.