Longmont

Stand up and fight, Colorado!

No-fracking-logoOur founders stressed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in their Declaration of Independence. A recent survey found the happiest Americans live in Hawaii. Coloradans are second! The unhappiest people live in West Virginia. I think I know why: degradation of the environment and poor health.

I grew up in the 1940s and ’50s in Nitro, W.Va., in the Kanawha River Valley, home to a huge chemical industry. Cancer rates were high, particularly liver and lung cancer. The chemical plants sat outside our city limits, so there was no local control over what they did to our environment. The paint on our houses and cars faded from the chemicals in the air, the water stank and was unpalatable.

West Virginia coal mining mountaintop removal Courtesy EcoWatch

West Virginia coal mining mountaintop removal
Courtesy EcoWatch

Alternatives for West Virginia workers included working in the coal mines. Explosions, collapses and “black lung” took their toll. The coal industry has mined the coal easiest to reach, so they’ve begun blowing up the beautiful West Virginia hills to get at the coal. They let what’s left roll down into the streams, fouling the water, killing the fish and causing landslides onto private property.

Why are West Virginians the unhappiest Americans? Their land, air and water have been degraded by corporations seeking profits without regard to the health and safety of their workers and other citizens.

I hope more Colorado residents will join Longmont and Fort Collins in drawing the line in the sand between us and the oil and gas industry: You cannot ruin our beautiful state, destroy our precious, scarce water resources, pollute our formerly pristine air for your profit. You have a right to extract the minerals you have purchased, but not at the expense of the health and safety of present and future Coloradans. Stand up and fight, Colorado!

In The Days Before – Part 3

Mary Pitt at age 14

Mary Pitt at age 14

On a warm early spring, while I was outside playing, Mother called me back to the front porch where she told me that Father had passed away. She told me that there would be a number of people going in and out of the house and she would like me to stay out of the way until she called me in. As was (and is) my wont, I had no reaction except obedience. I walked up the sidewalk into the next block where I met a slightly smaller boy who, upon seeing me, picked up a rock and threw it with great accuracy right into my forehead. I fell to the ground and lay there weeping long after the bleeding stopped. I knew no emotional ties to this fearsome man but I suppose I knew that this would make new and terrible changes to my life.

And those changes were certainly unwelcome. There was a funeral in this little town where we had taken residence, followed by another in the town where my parents had lived for years. There were many strangers to meet and sort as to their relationship, a solemn visit with the one brother who had been able to obtain a “compassionate” leave for the occasion, and much confusion as to where life would take us next.

Mother decided to stay in the house until “things were settled” and then to take the remaining family back to the town where she had friends and relatives. At the funeral, friends and relatives had given her small donations which she carefully hoarded for moving expenses, and she rented two adjoining rooms upstairs to a newlywed couple who were diligent about paying their $10 a month rent so that, by the time the renter had to report to service, she said that she had enough to move. The oldest brother who remained at home had a birthday and he announced that he was enlisting in the Air Force but would wait until he had helped her move.

Life was again uprooted and my mother and two youngest brothers would undergo another settling-in with nothing but faith and optimism. The following year the next oldest brother enlisted and left, being followed the next year by the next younger brother, leaving only the youngest brother, who joined the Navy at only 17. Mother was left alone with only an adolescent daughter to care for and only minimal means of support.

war-ration-book-1_600
We continued, the two of us, living in the house with the five-star flag in the window and endured the rigors of living, not only in extreme poverty but with the added challenges of the war-time restrictions of food and ordinary daily needs. We were getting a reduced allotment from more than one brother in order to lessen the burden on each of them. I still wore second-hand and hand-me-down clothing, as did she. I vividly recall the time she decided that we could afford a rare visit to the cheapest movie house in town. The tickets cost eleven cents each and it was a rare and treasured event.

As we were leaving the movie, she paused in the midst of the pushing crowd, and all eyes searching her for the reason for the delay. There she stood with her under-drawers crumpled up around her ankles. I was feeling humiliated when she kicked them the rest of the way off, put them in her purse, and announced, “Darn that old Hitler! You can’t even get good elastic any more.” We continued proudly out the door to the sound of applause.

My brothers, as young men do, met lovely young women and got married. In turn, each asked Mother to forgo her allotment from him, to which Mother gladly agreed. Each time, we had to move to smaller and less expensive living quarters. Only one time did either of us have a serious illness and it was a trial. She became ill and the doctor told her that she had an obscure disease which he did not know how to treat. Being poor, hospital treatment was out of the question. She took to her bed and remained there for several weeks with no care other than what I could provide under the direction of the doctor who would stop in to check on her and to give me instructions

I gave up the upstairs bedroom and slept in the living room so I could hear her at night, eventually, staying home from school to care for her. She became delirious from the fever and required constant attention.

Finally, thinking Mother was dying, one of the brothers got a leave and came home to see her “one last time.” It was not the help I needed. He took me to task because the house was not adequately maintained and provided even more tasks, as I was also charged with cooking for him and his small family. His emergency leave ran out and they departed, so I continued caring for Mother until the morning she woke up lucid and demanding breakfast!

As time went on, older members of the family would turn to Mother for help. Because they were working on farms where a house was given as part of the wages, when they lost their jobs, they would have to live elsewhere. While with us, they would take any temporary employment they could find, but it was never enough. But Mother would pinch every dollar even harder and managed to keep children and grandchildren fed. First my sister and then a brother brought their child to us for them to attend school because, living in the country — before there were school buses — the walk was too far for a six-year-old to navigate alone.

The last of these events was when we were living in a one-bedroom house and another brother decided it was necessary to “come home.” Unfortunately, he brought his wife and four kids! Mother slept on the couch so that they and their youngest could have the bedroom. The rest of us slept on pallets of folded bedding on the floor.

My brother was still recuperating from the diphtheria that had cost him his job and it was a long time before he could find work that he could do. After a while, it seemed as though we were living with them! Mother finally informed them that the rent on the house was $15 per month and she had found us a one-bedroom apartment above a store downtown. We moved out and left them there. It was nice to have a bed again.

As more brothers married and cut off the allotments to Mother, money became more scarce than ever. Mother got a part-time job, altering clothes for a women’s store. She made a dime for measuring and sewing a hem, maybe twenty-five cents for alterations, etc., certainly not enough to live on but still welcome in her budget. I also got a job, washing dishes on weekend evenings in a tiny cafe downstairs from our apartment. I was allowed to keep the quarter I was paid each week for mad money!

I shall never forget my fifteenth birthday. Birthdays had never been celebrated in our home, just sort of a family reunion in July near Father’s birthday when we were on the farm. Mother would kill and dress a couple of young chickens to fry, and mix up milk and eggs for a freezer full of home-made ice cream. I recall it as the epitome of our familial happiness. This birthday, however, was an awesome surprise. Mother took me downtown to buy me a pair of shoes, not to the usual second-hand store but to J.C. Penney’s! To my delight, she allowed me to choose a pair of white gillie-tie shoes with the toes out! Then she said that we needed to go to the dress shop where she worked. I floated down the street in my beautiful shoes and into the door of the shop. There, she presented me with a new two-piece blue dress in the height of fashion! This was the first “store-bought-just-for-me” dress I had ever owned in my entire life!

Only over these many years have I really appreciated that gift as I came to understand the horrendous sacrifices and scrimping she had undergone to provide it to me. How many hems she had to stitch, how many seams she had to take in or let out and what she had done without in order to save that much money! It took many years of experience in scrimping and saving for something special for me to really appreciate her heroic efforts.

Today’s people may read of the circumstances of those days but they cannot be expected to truly understand them. It is possible to survive without welfare, Social Security, and medic-aid, but to those forced to live without them, there is a whole lot of miserable existence which only the heroic among us can survive. I lived in “The Days Before” and I know whereof I speak. I can recall as a small child asking my mother, “Why can’t we live in the days of fairy tales? Princesses lived in castles with beautiful things and had servants to do all the work.”

Mother’s reply was succinct and spoken with the wisdom of the ages, “What makes you think that, if you had lived in those days, YOU would be the princess and not the servant?”

America is Dying (But don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger)

SamSkull“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” ~~Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968), Strength to Love, 1963

Over the years I have written many articles about issues I felt are prevalent. For damn good reasons I have sounded the alarm bell for most of my life. And, for those who have paid attention and have answered the call to action while others have not, our country truly thanks you. For the rest of you, at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that in your absence, we have given it our best and we’ll continue to do so, regardless of your silent ineptness, but don’t blame me when I say our country is dying. I’m only the messenger, not the culprit.

Many of my essays on a variety of topics are published at OpEd News. All I can suggest for those who keep their heads buried in FOX News sand — either get wise, get active, or get busy digging a big grave for our national corpse.

If you want a great example of what it means to selflessly give part of yourself to society, a few years ago I wrote an essay honoring my parents, both whom were mavericks for hope and change. This tribute piece was the hardest thing I will ever attempt to write in my lifetime. When I submitted it to Consortium News back in 2008, editor-in-chief Robert Parry wrote a sobering introduction to the article — one that I consider a prime example of where I came from in the activist role-model department:

“Editor’s Note: One of the cruelest acts ever inflicted by the U.S government on its own servicemen was a 1946 experiment that put 42,000 sailors in close proximity to the detonation of two atom bombs to test the effects on humans.”The experiment, called Operation Crossroads, harmed the health of many sailors. It also was a turning point in the life of one, Anthony Guarisco, who dedicated his life — working with his wife Mary — to address the threat of nuclear weapons. In this guest essay, their son, Vincent, pays tribute to his parents and what they gave to him and to the world.

Moreover, I want to take a moment to share the value I place on being a worthy parent. It is after all our job to raise our children — the next generation — the best we can to ensure they have enough knowledge at their disposal to thrive in a world that although it offers much joy and beauty, is often laced with danger at every twist and turn. Their success (and survival) of our children is much greater if we adequately prepare them now for the road ahead.
At the starting gate, I guess I was luckier than most. I had an advantage at birth. I was lucky enough to have wise and loving parents. Looking back, I now know they were my lighthouse, my trusty compass … because they were always there to provide us kids with the essential knowledge and wisdom that gave us safe passage in a vast sea filled with many ripples with each crashing wave.

I wish I could say their life experience ended on a perfect note, but that would be untrue. My parents knew a terrible storm was gathering on the national horizon — much like the one that is building up today. They often spoke of this pending disaster that lay in wait (in the shadows) for just the right time to unleash its hell with ramifications in line with George Orwell’s 1984.Who can blame them for being skeptical of what the future had in store? Especially when we consider that both of them grew up during the great depression, both witnessed the attack of Pearl Harbor, WWII with atom bombs bursting in air and two Presidential assassinations as their horrid history lessons.
I guess my parents found other clues, having devoted most of their time studying history, current events and actively performing social activism that took them around the globe. They say some wounds cut deepest when they’re personal. For them, it was heartbreaking to accept that, while they worked overtime to help the sick and vulnerable in our society, most folks sat on the sidelines doing nothing.

Therefore, a question begs an answer — why do so many do-nothing squatters think “freedom” is free? As history has taught us many times over, tyrants will always try to dominate society in every aspect imaginable, and without hesitation, will always slap a “price tag” on it. If you think otherwise, quickly slap yourself in the face and wake the hell up!

It takes a lot of hard work and courage to step up to the plate and get the job done. With love, intuition and a little weariness, my parents did their best to prepare my sister and I for the many challenges that lie ahead. They knew empty minds are easily manipulated, so they taught us history and pushed education, which they believed was the foundation for creating a better, peaceful society and nation.

They did their best to prepare us for the many obstacles that life can surely put in front of us, and they also included some useful survival techniques to help us avoid many nefarious pitfalls often created by psychopathic individuals working in unison for the global elites. They held nothing back; they told us everything good or bad that we may have to face in life … and I must admit I learned my lessons well. Because, when the inside job of 9/11 occurred and afterward when the same hateful neocons fabricated the bogus War on Terror, I was neither surprised nor fooled; even when many other terrible events later reared their ugly heads for all the world to see.

Early on, I was made aware that most politicians will eagerly kiss your baby at any election photo Op, but afterward … will throw the little tot in the fire of hell (as they steal their future) to serve their own selfish goals. Being armed with the truth is not always pleasant, but I was taught to be a critical thinker and read between the lines so I would not be fooled or manipulated into doing anything that I knew in my heart was against the high principles of my beliefs. In addition, I was taught to redirect my energy and knowledge into positive ways to create a meaningful life not only for myself, but for those around me. However, my father also warned me that if I ever found myself boxed into a corner in harm’s way with no peaceful way out, to be a fierce fighter and defeat my opponent(s) at all cost. Words to live by…

Fast forwarding to today, I know the hard knocks of life are getting tougher with each passing day. Indeed, it’s not getting any easier to decipher truth from lies nor is this heavy burden getting any lighter to carry as we try to keep our heads above the waterline. I understand many folks are woefully confused as to what exactly is going down here, so let me clarify the severity of the situation by offering my synopsis. For those who do not pay attention, It’s a bleak version of the worst-case scenario. Sorry, If you want it candy-coated, go elsewhere…

Listen up. While most of us were fast asleep, the nature of mankind has become disproportionately twisted and has immorally ordered its political sentinels to serve only a select few at the top 1% of the food chain. Thus, a primary method of control has been achieved through violence, oppression, murder and genocide. This applies both at home and abroad. Indeed, other nations the world over are paying the price whenever our leaders desire to crush them for this or that.

Thus, at home we are thoroughly being groomed, brainwashed and inseminated with a barrage of psychological head trips, vicious physical assaults with a mixture of false-flag terrorist acts, including but not limited to, soft-kill tactics in all sectors of psy-Op covert action deployment. Eventually, if we do not stop it, we’ll all become sick, docile and compliant as they would love to reduce our living standards to those comparable to a large third-world prison. It’s the same life-diminishing trick our CIA has been doing to the other nations for decades.

Do the math. Seven billion souls on the planet has been deemed “far too many,” so the elites want to drastically reduce this number to a more manageable amount (perhaps a few hundred million). The hard kill plan is already in motion in most third world countries, and like a thief in the night, it will eventually land here in the U.S. For now though, they’re still using the “soft kill” approach by adding fluoride to our already polluted water supply which already contains mercury, lead and a host of chemicals, all of which are carcinogenic killers from all the fracking. Plus, we are also being fed harmful Genetically Modified Food (GMO) in virtually every food product we consume. Unless of course you have the money to buy all organic.

And don’t forget, we are still receiving our daily dose of radiation exposure from all the fallout drifting over from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. Yes, even though that little goodie fell off the news media map, we are still getting exposed every minute of every day. Quick pop quiz: Raise both hands high in the air if you know someone who is dying of cancer? Golly gee, so many hands extended my way! Now bow your head with your hands extended. Wow! Am I a God or what? Just kidding…

After that, it only gets worse: After the great culling, the rich 1% elites will completely enslave those of us who survive to a life of hard labor factories, and we’ll be worked to the bone until our bodies eventually give out. Thus, we’ll all be slaves to the grave within the construct of our own mundane borders … unless of course some of us are deemed “enemy combatants.” In that case, we will be quickly black-bagged and hauled off to Guantanamo (or imprisoned elsewhere via their extraordinary rendition policy) and forced to dance on a crate with wires attached to our teeth and testicles while some picture-taking gulag goon slowly cranks the handle on a generator just for shits and giggles.

Or — best case scenario — we will simply be placed in cages to rot … or if any of you desire, you can participate in one of the many hunger strikes that are always ongoing. Then, you get to watch your body slowly feed on your own flesh and organs until you eventually perish as a razor-thin skeletal corpse with little meat remaining. Nice, huh?

Yes, we’re in serious trouble! We’re not quite there yet, but all the preparations are almost in place … In fact, when we consider how our lives have drastically changed in just the last 13 years, we will soon realize how intense control-freak obsession can be: to track, monitor and record virtually everything we do.

I mean seriously, are we that damn stupid to merrily get into cars equipped with automated license-plate readers that track where we go? Do you think it’s A-OK that we have smart meters tracking our electrical use or that we walk the streets with a vast network of security cameras and “smart street lights” constantly watching our every step? Do you blindly accept tens of thousands of drones patrolling the air space, spying on us? Think about it — those same drones can zero in on a gnat’s ass and are highly equipped to kill in a variety of ways.

Will you comply when the TSA sets up “internal checkpoints” all over the nation, comparable to what the Soviet Union did during the Soviet Block? Do you accept Homeland Security encouraging all of us to report any (loosely defined) “suspicious activity” on our neighbors so the federal government can flag us as “potential terrorists” if we display a hint of nervousness? I would also mention this is happening at a time when all of us “should be very nervous.”

Will you quietly let the U.S. Military kick down your neighbors’ doors and shove black bags over their heads and indefinitely detain them without ever charging them of a crime whatsoever? To know they will never be afforded due process of law in order to defend themselves against some non-existence crimes they supposedly committed?

What happened? I thought this was the home of the brave and land of the free! Why do we seem content to roll over for this crap? For some time now, I have seen this fundamental shift quickly escalate. I have watched my fellow citizens eagerly give-up huge swaths of liberty and freedom in exchange for vague promises of increased security. Why? Have we lost all common sense along with our druthers?

If we don’t break away from the shackles of corporate fascism and state-sponsored intrusion, that big country-size prison I mentioned earlier will materialize. Thus, like any prison, capital punishment is a reality. A noose can easily be applied, the lever pulled, and a free-fall will commence for that final snap and jerk.

The primary objective of any tyrannical government is to exercise absolute control — to conquer the subjugated populace. For now, it’s mostly about keeping the revenue stream generated by lop-sided trade agreements and myriad forms of taxes imposed on individuals with the Internal Revenue Service collecting the wares for their foreign investors. The Federal Reserve will keep everyone in debt with their worthless fiat money and conduct on-demand inflation until they’re given the green light to crash the system.

Welcome to the “Big Brother” Orwellian prison matrix, a Homeland Security, CIA, NSA, FBI prison playground, where jackboots rule the nest. Truth is, were already walking the green mile. It’s just that far too many of us are too dumbed-down to know it.

This is the truth my parents could not bring themselves to tell their children. Deep down, they hoped we could stop them. But that hope is quickly dwindling away. I guess that is why my mother (before she died) often told me to cherish each moment. Unfortunately, as bad as I think it is now, in reality, these are the good days…

Author’s Bio:

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back. For replies, contact: vincespainting1@hotmail.com

Dangerously Exploitative

bad_idea_sign_crossbonesThe new mall plan looks DOA to me.  Basically, we are replacing Dillard’s with Sam’s Club, aka Walmart.  Why does Longmont need 3 Walmarts?

And what small businesses will want to be in the same mall as Walmart?  Why cozy up with people who will undercut small business prices?

And by the way, it’s not “at the peaks,” which are quite far away.  A confusing name that pretends to be something that it is not, but then the whole project could be seen in the same light.

The stores that Newmark Merrill has in mind are not bringing new kinds of business to Longmont.  On the contrary, they are aggressively overlapping with stores on Hover and Ken Pratt that have proven they can do business here.  The mall’s intent is to siphon off that business, not develop new business.

The TIF (tax incremental financing) is what the developer is looking to pocket, and reaping all these tax dollars will also give them the upper hand in undercutting the prices of the existing stores they seek to undermine.  That’s not a productive way to do business.  It is basically parasitic.  And very NON competitive.  It will use TIF to destroy what are now viable businesses, and will only replace them with a cheaper version.  If you think Twin Peaks Mall has succumbed to urban blight, wait ‘til you see what Hover and Ken Pratt will look like in 5-10 years.

Big box abandonment will be pervasive.  Or Longmont City Council will be dishing even more TIF money in an attempt to save them.

This is a poisonous project and NM should be kicked out of here.  It is self-destructive for Longmont to continue with this plan.

And don’t you look forward to 25 different versions of “Planet of the Apes” in stadium seating.  And then you can enjoy “patio dining” in the low-budget fast food court in 100 degree weather (or about 20 in winter) –cheaper by far since there’s no need for cooling or heating.

That the new mall will restore Longmont’s reputation as the armpit of Boulder  County is really the least of our problems.  This is a financially unsound plan, designed to benefit the developer and not the city or residents.  It will damage Longmont very seriously.  Longmont’s tax dollars would be far better spent in redeveloping Main Street, Kimbark, and Coffman.

Pawns Are Always Expendable When Played

“You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to
pick up the piece and move it. But what Chess teaches you is that
you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really
a good idea and whether there are other
better ideas.”~~Stanley Kubrick

Chess is a crafty old game — one that’s been played throughout the ages. When I was a young lad in my Junior year of High School, I was quite good at it. In fact, I became my school champion. Indeed, I wanted to be the next grand-master like my mentor, “Bobby Fischer.”

In 1974, Fischer’s match against the Russian Spassky was seen as the Match of the Century — East v. West. Soon after, Fisher resigned from chess after a bout with the body politic. It was then that I realized a simple game that I adored could be exploited for political reasons. In 1992, Bobby came out of exile to replay Spassky in Yugoslavia. This outraged some Americans (but not me) as it was declared a breach of a bogus UN embargo. Evading arrest, in July 2004, he successfully got political asylum in Iceland. He remained there until his death in 2008. May the champ rest in peace…

Whew, youthful days can be so innocent, but soon we realize the world operates in nefarious ways…

Chess was first invented in India during the 6th Century, and has since been played around the world over. It’s safe to say that, although the concept of this complex game is a metaphor for various situations, no one can deny that the object of the game — in terms of winning — is to take out the opponent’s “king” at the expense of all other pieces placed on its checkered layout. In essence, it’s a military game. And, as I later learned in life — and I’m sure Fischer would agree if he was with us today — it’s a shrewd game at best.

Since its invention, game pieces have assumed many colors, shapes and sizes and it’s startling to say, chess pieces take on actual human form. It’s not my intention to be cynical in making this comparison but, in lieu of all the present-day wars being fought, and when we consider the many Generals who callously move their battle lines from side to side in the war room (on a big grand chessboard), I think it’s only fitting that we place a real human face on each one of those lively figurines made of flesh, blood and bone.

Indeed, our military-industrial complex has some very busy players. Aside from all the carnage we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, in 2002, Washington approved and supported a coup against the Venezuelan government which continued non-stop until Hugo Chavez died of cancer in 2013. Who can blame him for noting on his deathbed that he believed he was infected with cancer cells by U.S. Special Ops?

In April 2008, the United States collaborated with Israel to attempt a coup on Hamas in Palestine, even though Hamas was dully elected by the people in a fair democratic election process that was closely monitored. And, although the United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades, in early 2006 the CIA was sent back in for a fresh round of more covert actions.

In 2005, then President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to undertake black operations against Iran in an effort to destabilize the Iranian government. This covert policy continues unabated today under the directives of the Obama Administration.

In 2011, Obama issued covert action that authorized the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition. Muammar Gaddafi was ultimately overthrown in the Libyan civil war, which we started and supported. And, In 2012, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. government agencies to support forced regime change in Syria. This covert action is ongoing, with Israel conducting fresh bombing campaigns daily.

In fact, with all the hostility we seem to love to create, I can honestly say that this ancient game that I call “chess for keeps”… is reason enough for me to exercise my God-given right to make a symbolic request for all those poor souls who were duped into war and have been destroyed. If I could ask the Highest Deity for one small favor, one simple concession — it would be that all politicians who support or voted in favor of going to war — including the Generals who think it’s cool to play God with human lives on their chessboard of death via covert action or otherwise — that they attend each soldier’s funeral and look into the eyes of each family member and explain to them why their loved ones are dead! I say let them experience the pain and suffering of having your life ripped apart forever.

Remember when I mentioned earlier it would be fitting to place a real human face on those lively figurines made of flesh and bone? Well, here’s one worth mentioning. In his own words, here is an excerpt from a sobering letter written by Mr. Tomas Young:

The Last Letter
“A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

“To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

“From: Tomas Young

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all–the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.”

Young went on to say…

“You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans — my fellow veterans — whose future you stole.”

To read Young’s letter in its entirety, click here.

Yes, chess and war are both strati-graphic and strategic, but the end result of war is no game. It’s f*cking deadly — cut and dried. Pawns and People are one and the same, and both are considered expendable. Thus, only a king will survive unscathed… and the only ones who benefit are the shrewd patent holders selling their heartless war game (along with their investors) who always seem to cash in at the expense of everyone else.

Sadly, war will always be big business to those soulless bastards we often write songs about. In fact, here’s classic by Black Sabbath, “War Pigs.”

Let’s do a “Sing-A-Long,” shall we? Here’s the lyrics:

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction

In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgment day comes
Yeah!

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Author’s Bio:

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back.

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea on fracking

Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea (photo courtesy of ClearingTheFogRadio.org)

What a rare and wonderful event to have a nationally known and highly regarded scientist come to Longmont to speak to a group of concerned citizens!  The day-long conference sponsored by Our Longmont began with a keynote address by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, the Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a highly regarded expert of the history of hydraulic fracturing and its present practices.  In 2011, TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered.”  His widely published research on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes provides the very latest information on the controversial process of fracking.

In a very engaging lecture with numerous slides, Dr. Ingraffea showed that the deleterious effects of the process of fracking are not in fact controversial.  Only someone ignorant of the widely published research could hold that view, and that includes data made public and researched by oil companies, themselves, as well as independent research scientists.  Among the more disturbing disclosures he offered was the very latest on fracturing technology’s saturation approach to drilling.  Gone are days of drilling single wells that are miles apart, or even drilling just a single well pad.  Dr. Ingraffea showed how the most economical and profitable drilling is now done on wells so closely spaced that the lateral drill shafts are only 500 feet apart.  Companies lease miles of land and then drill literally everywhere within it.  This means there would be explosions of shale every 500 feet.  It’s easy to see that no urban area could maintain its residences or general habitat if it was subjected to saturation drilling.  Why, then, are public officials in Colorado saying that only a few more regulations should make everything ok?  That is absurd.

Dr. Ingraffea also provided a perspective on the real economic data about fracking.  Far from being a great boon to the economy, most wells are played out within 5 years.  Most will also eventually leak, causing environmental damage, even if they are not actively drilled again.  Dr. Ingraffea showed that the Niobrara formation, which is underneath Longmont and most of the Front Range, is nowhere near the size of the Bakken Field in North Dakota.  It is only about one-tenth the size of the Bakken, possibly even less than that.  Why should we destroy the place where we live for this small amount of oil?   It will not significantly benefit the Longmont economy, but it will wreak havoc with our way of life and our health and safety.


You can also listen to an interview of Dr. Ingraffea on ClearingTheFogRadio.org.

In the Days Before – Part 2

farmgirl_mary_pittLeaving the farm, for an eleven-yer-old girl who was accustomed to leaving the house at will and roaming the pastures and fields in the company of a pair of vigilant collie dogs, was not an easy transition. After the one-room schoolhouse, the school was huge and strange. There were more children in my classroom than had been in our entire school in the country. And they were all strangers! But I was a child and was maleable as children are known to be. I could endure the strange looks as the other girls looked carefully over my home-made and hand-me-down clothes since I had become accustomed to that and I soon developed my own life around the constraints of living so closely with other people.

It was much less easy for my poor mother. She had no help except for what the children could provide. Granted, she had running water and the old wood-fired cook stove was replaced by a “modern” gas range. The washing machine was now powered by electricity instead a gasoline engine, but the clothes still had to be hung on the lines outdoors. Our father had up taken residence in the downstairs bedroom and demanded many trips a day to provide for his needs. Yet she managed and the meals always appeared on the old kitchen table at the right time.

Mother found a neighbor who came and plowed the garden which the boys then worked with rakes and shovels to create arable soil so she could plant the garden and she continued with the unending work schedule that she had known all her life. Father’s condition continued to deteriorate but Mother found that a doctor who lived in the neighborhood would look in on him to guide her in his care.

Eventually, the doctor began providing medications in order to keep Father sedated in his moments of forgetful delusion. Then he started asking to be paid and Mother had no money! I recall going with her to talk to a man about “getting on the county”, which is what welfare was called in those days. There was a “county farm” but it was only for old folks who worked in large gardens and cared for animals in return for their “keep,” but there was no accomodation for families with children.

We walked downtown to the “land office” where we were ushered into a back office occupied by a man such as I had never seen. He was grossly fat, wearing a white shirt and three-piece brown suit with the vest stretched tightly across his opulent belly and decorated with a shiny gold watch chain. This man acted as if it were his own money for which we were begging. I could sense Mother’s humiliation but she bore up under his condemning gaze and he finally agreed to provide a few dollars to pay the doctor so that he would continue to assist in Father’s care. But we were to meet that man again!

Yet, there were incidents when the medications were insufficient. I remember being wakened in the middle of one night to the sound of a loud ruckus taking place downstairs. I crept cautiously down the stairs with visions of robbers and thieves invading us. As I opened the stair door and peeked out the panorama spread before me was even worse than I expected. There was Father, in the middle of a delusion, standing at the front door and trying to open it. (I had never known that Mother had previously locked the door with a key in case of just such an event.) Three of the boys were trying to help her to control him when she asked, “What were you trying to do?”

His response was firm and commanding. “I’m going to run up and down the street naked and show the neighbors what a crazy man can do!”

This was the state of the family when the next crisis fell. My youngest brother, then no more than sixteen, came home with a bad stomach ache which grew worse all night and required Mother to sit with him all night to soothe him when the pain grew unbearable. The next morning, she called our neighbor/doctor who came by for an examination and declared that it was a severely inflamed appendicitis which should be taken to surgery on an emergency basis.

Mother put on her Sunday hat and we once again walked downtown to apply for country assistance. The fat man listened very briefly before explaining that he could not pay for the work to be done in the hospital which was “only” twenty miles away and would require payment. However, they could pay for transportation to Kansas City where the State charity hospital was located.

We went home and Mother dressed my brother and had another brother drive the old car to take them to our local train station. They got the invalid onto the train and then she was on her own. They traveled sixty miles to the east where there was a railroad junction and she had to take a taxi through that town to the other station to wait for the Kansas City train. There was still almost a hundred miles to go with stops at every little town along the way. Other pasengers helped her by keeping her supplied with damp cloths with which to soothe his fever until the destination was reached the next morning.

I have no idea how this little lady was able to help this tall, gangly, helpless adolescent from the train to a taxi but they were brought to the admitting room of the hospital. A brief examination by an intern preceded a quick trip to surgery where they found a ruptured appendix with inflamation spread throughout the internal organs, all due to the delay in getting him to treatment. Mother received the news that her son would live but recuperation would be slow, beginning with a two-week stay in the hospital.

But this was in “the days before.” There was certainly no Ronald McDonald House and she had no money. She didn’t question it but she spent that two weeks sitting in a chair in a ward full of ailing teen-aged boys, ministering to them as needed until the nurses would arrive to attend to them. At last the two weeks were up and she was given instructions for home care and he was released. She had saved the last bit of cash that the fat man had given her, called a taxi, and repeated the return trip in the same way.

With the hindsight of many years, I can only imagine the strength it took for this aging farm lady to embark on such an ordeal. She, who had at times spent multiple years without ever seeing a town, much less a large city, finding the courage to begin such a trying hegira, not only alone, but with the life of one of her offspring hanging in the balance. But she got home, safely, and with her remaining brood around her. And so she changed Father’s bed and did the laundry before she went to bed!

This is the life that those who complain so loudly about “wasteful government spending” would impose on yet another generation of American citizens so that they can play the part of the fat man and make sure that nobody who suffers misfortune ever gets quite what they need. Returning to :”the days before” would not only be wrong; it would be both criminal and sinful.

In the Days Before

Sharecropper

Farmers paid $100 per year plus a share of the crop for the privilege of occupying the land.

History and legends are rife with tales of “Old Crones” who educated the people and the leaders of nations in their search for further civilization by telling them the stories of what had gone before in their history. This writer has reached that stage in life where I am ready and willing to accept the title of “Old Crone” and to try to educate our people of “the days before”, in this case specifically, of the days before many of the political and social programs which affect our lives today. Today, my story will be about what life was like for many in the days before some of taken-for-granted social programs of today.

I was born in 1930, during the administration of Herbert Hoover and in the early days of the famous Dust Bowl, to parents who were already elderly by the standards of the day. They already had eight children and had lost one in infancy. My father was a farmer and they reared their family on eighty acres of rented farmland as had their own families before them. I can remember the 1936 elections and my father’s ire at the successes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He hated government and resented any intrusion of said government into what he had considered the business of private persons.

Father paid $100 per year plus a share of the crop for the privilege of occupying the land. The money for the landlord had to be saved by pennies and nickels throughout the year to avoid having to move to another property the following year, so hard cash was very hard to come by. Therefore, all the household support was accomplished by my mother. She would plant huge gardens of vegetables which were canned in glass jars and stored in the storm cellar for use all year. Any patches of native fruits and berries were harvested and processed into the jars for winter consumption.

She kept chickens, laying hens that would provide the eggs which were carefully cleaned and boxed for transport to town to get enough cash to purchase the basic food which was our fare. A large box of eggs and a couple of gallons of cream from our cows would buy a huge box of oatmeal, a can of lard, and a 24-pound sack of flour for the bread which was our staple. On a good week, we could also afford a pound of oleomargarine, the kind that had to have the coloring removed from the packet and stirred into the glob of white goo which substituted for butter. Only occasionally was there a nickel left to buy a bit of sugar to sweeten the fruit or, wonder of wonders, to bake a cake.

When Roosevelt established the Work Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corp, we worried that Father would die of apoplexy! A married older brother with a family went to work for the WPA and another brother joined the CCC. At last, there was a bit of cash in the household. And then, to Father’s horror, the farm commodities began to be distributed, “forcing” the families of farmers to “eat from a tin can.”

In the summer, Father and the boys would contract to bale hay for farmers with larger acreage. Some of that work was for cash while some was for a share of the bales, which could be sold to accumulate cash toward the annual rent. In the hardest years, there would not be enough cash income from the contracting and the sale of other crops to cover the $100 rent. Fortunately, since Father was such a good farmer with so many mouths to feed, the landlord was often lenient and accepted only the share. It was hard, energy-sapping work and people just wore out at a much younger age than they do now.

When Father was only 60 years old, he began to suffer more from his chronic cough and there would be days that he would spend the day in the house, worrying aloud….very loud! On many occasions, due to the hard work and the vagaries of nature, he had suffered from severe pneumonia for extended periods and his cough had worsened each time. There were doctors at that time but even they were limited in what medicines or procedures were available. Even if the doctors had the capabilities and the knowledge of today, the poor had no money and would lie-in at home until nature took its course.

In 1940 another of the older brothers left home. Since there was no work locally, he joined the Navy, so he would not be available for the next haying season but, somehow, we made it through. Then Pearl Harbor happened and our whole world turned upside-down. The oldest brother who was left at home went to the county seat and enlisted in the Army. This left only three brothers at home, not enough to do all the work, much less to compensate for Father’s lessened abilities.

There was no choice but to sell out what we owned on the farm and move into town. Being still a child, I was more concerned with losing all the friends when the animals had to go to new homes, but there were more serious concerns than that. Later in life, in going through Mother’s papers, I came across the accounting from the auction of all my parents’ worldly goods. With the sale of every animal, every piece of farm equipment, and all the appurtenances that went with them, their “lifetime savings” amounted to slightly over $600!

My mother has always been my hero, and she proved it then. She rented a house in our small town and moved in with three almost-adult boys, an elementary-school daughter, and a dying husband and she made us a home! The brother who was in the Army arranged for her to be given $15 a month as a “family allotment.”  This amount covered the rent with nothing left for food. The brother in the Navy had married and his allotment was going to his wife. The two older sons who were at home did find part-time work around town, as helpers in various shops, and contributed their earnings to the family.

You may ask, “Why didn’t she go on welfare or apply for SSI for your father?” The answer is simple. That was in “The Days Before!” When you hear the politicians complain about needing to “reform entitlements,” and you know that their aim is merely to end them, be sure to watch for my next article about what life was like in the days when there were no entitlements or other assistance for the poor.

Celebrating Colorado Civil Unions!

First United Methodist Church of Boulder (FUMC) applauds Colorado’s new Civil Unions Act and alongside our longtime community partner, Out Boulder, will participate in the celebration, at midnight on May 1st. As part of the festivities, happening at the Boulder County Clerk’s office at 1750 33rd Street, FUMC will be offering blessings for interested couples and their families.

FUMC is a welcoming faith community dedicated to “honoring the sacred worth of every human being in a way that creates and sustains a Beloved Community.” Both the appointed pastors and the lay members of the congregation affirm that they are among the people following the path of Jesus and of Methodist founder John Wesley by welcoming everyone into their midst, stating that they are enriched, as individuals and as a community, when diversity is honored, welcomed and celebrated.

In the spring of 2012 Reverend Pat Bruns made news by declaring that he and the other pastors at First United Methodist Church of Boulder were prepared to offer church ceremonies for committed and consenting adult life partners, regardless of their gender. Referring to a broadly supported “Fuller Marriage Ministry” that offers ceremonies and holy unions for same-sex couples, the pastors and congregation notified their local Bishop of their intention to move forward in this ministry regardless of church policies to the contrary.

“I am simply delighted that our Colorado Legislature has approved Civil Unions,” say Bruns. “This is an important next step to full marriage equality in our beloved state. We have enough ways to kill, hurt and terrify people in our nation and in our world. Right now we need ways to love one another, to embrace each and every one of us as beloved children of God. All relationships anchored in love, loyalty and commitment need to be celebrated! Loving relationships are a gift to us all and to all creation.”

FUMC member, Melissa Preston Vaughn made this statement when asked what the new Civil Unions Act means to her and what it might mean to others:

“For the LGBT community, the idea of ‘marriage’ or anything that resembles a publicly and legally recognized affirmation of our love is something that is so foreign to us. Standing together, family and friends close by, hands held tightly, hearts pounding, lumps in the throat forming, and then signing both names to a piece of paper that will forever mark time and change lives is something we’ve only dreamed about. The emotion and experience will be nothing short of sacred. God, I’m sure, is pleased that we are finally figuring this out… that love is love.”

Boulder County couples are invited to contact FUMC Boulder prior to April 30th or simply introduce themselves during the festivities, if they feel inspired to have their union blessed.

Pastor Bruns is thrilled about the Out Boulder event saying, “I can hardly wait for midnight May 1st. The opportunity to bless Civil Unions and to consecrate these wonderful partnerships will be a marvelous privilege. I am certain that God smiles when we surround loving relationships with our own love, support, affirmation and welcome.”

Hick, job security is not guaranteed.

Frackenlooper appears to be digging his own political grave.

Frackenlooper appears to be digging his own political grave.

If it’s not clear what our governor intends to do to bills that might inhibit oil and gas operations, then our legislators are less informed than I have believed. I hope there is sufficient spine in both houses to override any folly.

In the early 1970s the state almost mandated statewide land-use planning under HB 1041. That measure gave at least implicit authority to the state to “designate” numerous classes of lands as subject to “state interest,” meaning local land-use planning efforts could generally be ignored, if the state wished to do so. Sound familiar?

The Legislature didn’t take long to “come to its senses,” eviscerating the Colorado “Land Use (Control) Commission” by denying that body funding. At the time I disagreed with that move, but if one lives long enough sometimes a different ship comes in.

There is a difference between a matter being of statewide interest and being of interest to the state in each and every spot. Municipalities take precedence even over counties in Colorado.

Does CDOT hold sway where there are no highways? Does the Public Utilities Commission have any jurisdiction where there are no powerlines, generating facilities, pipelines, etc.? If oil and gas development is important to every individual in the state, then operations dedicated to that end are also. With modern production technology one needs not drill everywhere to withdraw oil and or gas somewhere. Best practices would dictate that in some cases, “somewhere” does not always need to be here.

I notice there are no oil wells near the governor’s mansion in Denver. Left unchecked, this governor may have drilling in Rocky Mountain National Park. Don’t laugh; he doesn’t plan on abbreviating his political career just yet. Maybe legislative representatives of the people will have to do that for him.

“Be FrackSURE” Conference Announced by Our Longmont

Be FrackSURE logo -fracksure-sm

 

Longmont, CO…Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, the organization that sponsored the city charter amendment that banned hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Longmont, will hold an educational conference on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and its many perils.

“Be FrackSURE:  What you don’t know may WELL hurt you,” will be held on April 27, 2013, from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Plaza Conference Center (1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont) behind the Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel.  Tickets for the event are $38 to cover the costs of the event.  Pre-registration is necessary and tickets can be purchased at www.fracksure.org.

Dr. Anthony IngraffeaOur Longmont is thrilled to have Dr. Anthony Ingraffea as the Keynote Speaker at “Be FrackSURE.”  Dr. Ingraffea is the foremost engineering authority on fracture mechanics and holds the prestigious title of Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering in Cornell University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.   “With his partners in what has become known as the Cornell Study, Dr. Ingraffea revealed that, contrary to the never-ending mythology promulgated by the oil and gas industry, unconventional gas, procured by fracking likely emits more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere during its life cycle than does coal,” said Our Longmont’s Kaye Fissinger.

In 2011, TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered.”  Not only is Dr. Ingraffea among the “people who matter,” but he also recognizes that people matter in this battle with the oil and gas industry, politicians who embrace it, and regulators too closely tied to it.  When asked his position on the impacts of drilling for oil and gas using horizontal fracking, Dr. Ingraffea, with his vast knowledge in this area, unequivocally states, “Where shale gas development has not yet occurred, ban it.  Period. Where it is occurring, enact ironclad regulations, inspect for compliance with them with dogged diligence, and enforce them relentlessly with fines that really mean something.”

Dr. Geoffrey Thyne will be the featured speaker during the “Be FrackSURE” buffet luncheon.  Dr. Thyne, author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers, will speak to the complexities of research and the influence of industry and government in academic settings.

Breakout sessions on the health ramifications of fracking on air and water and on the economic ramifications of fracking will include notable experts Phillip Doe, Wes Wilson, Shane Davis, Pete Morton and Jeanne Bassett.  Sam Schabacker, Mountain West Region Director for Food & Water Watch, will discuss ways for others to protect their communities from the dangers of fracking in urban areas where people live, work and play.

Said Michael Bellmont, spokesperson for Our Longmont, “No day would be complete without music and Our Longmont is proud to be able to present the acclaimed Hazel Miller, who has been called a ‘force of nature’ herself.  With her ‘stunning, moving, and powerful’ voice, Hazel has been a sought after performer in Colorado for the past 24 years. Whether she is singing blues, jazz, pop, or Gospel, her voice charges the songs with a primal dose of genuine soul.”

Our Longmont’s “Be FrackSURE” is proud to have Patagonia as its corporate sponsor.  Patagonia, a designer of outdoor clothing and gear, explains its sponsorship of Our Longmont’s “Be Frack SURE” conference, “We give at the grassroots level to innovative groups mobilizing their communities to take action.  This is our niche: supporting people working on the frontlines of the environmental crisis.”

Our Longmont encourages everyone who is concerned about fracking and who wants to be more fully informed by experts in their fields to join with them for this interactive, informative, day-long event.  Come celebrate the progress that has been made in Colorado to restrain and prohibit the dangerous practice of fracking, and to energize our continuing efforts to keep up the fight for our health, safety, property values and quality of life in Longmont, along the Front Range and throughout all of Colorado.

Detailed information can be found at www.ourlongmont.org/be-frac-sure/.

Jones trounces Hickenlooper in debate

Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones clearly won the debate against Governor Hickenlooper about “Who Should Control Hydraulic Fracturing in Colorado” that took place at CU Denver Law School. The debate was held on April 1st at Denver University’s Sturm College of Law.  The complete debate may be heard here.

DSC_0395_EliseJonesHickenlooper 2Commissioner Jones was more persuasive in advocating for local governments to have local control to ban fracking in residential neighborhoods and other places. She also had better command of the facts for why the regulatory environment needs to level the playing field between fossil fuel and renewable energy development.

“Oil and gas fracking poses many risks to our health, to our air and water, to our property values, to our quality of life. Fracking for oil and gas is an intensive process with a heavy footprint. It is not something you want near your home, your kid’s school, your parent’s nursing home or your drinking water,” Jones said.

“Why are we having an argument about drilling in cities near schools and homes? That is a ludicrous place to drill. Allowing local governments to regulate and ban if they want, works better for a renewable energy future.”

Commissioner Jones presented compelling arguments in favor of local control. Take note on the points that follow as these and others can arm Boulder County with legally defensible reasons to extend the moratorium in Boulder County after it expires in June 2013. If we don’t extend the moratorium, the City of Boulder’s land in unincorporated Boulder County will be fracked.

She also referenced a 1994 Colorado Supreme Court ruling where a uranium mining mill in Weld County was not allowed to extract uranium out of the ground because of the radiation that could be emitted and cause harm to the public. The Colorado Department of Health won the suit and the company did not sue for lost resources.

During the debate, House Bill (HB) 1269 Conflict of Interest with the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) was raised.

The COGCC was developed in 1951 at a time when there was a perceived need to foster oil and gas development. That need no longer exists as the oil and gas industry is now the wealthiest industry in the world and production continues to rapidly expand, despite public outcry against the permanent removal of what will be trillions of gallons of drinking water from the hydrologic cycle if allowed to continue in a draught state, and 9 percent or higher methane leaks that directly contribute to climate change.

Currently the COGCC is mandated to both promote and to regulate oil and gas, a clear conflict of interest. HB 1269 would remove the promotion mandate and allow the COGCC to focus on public and environmental health and safety exclusively. This would be a much wiser use of our taxpayer dollars and would begin to give renewables a fighting chance to compete.

As introduced, the bill also redefines “waste” to allow the commission to not extract hydrocarbons under the Earth when methods and locations would jeopardize human and environmental health; and prevents members of the commission from simultaneous working for and having a financial interest in the industry they are charged with regulating.

HB 13-1269 passed the full House of Representatives, but unfortunately not without amendments, both of which watered down a superior bill.

HB 1269 now moves to the Senate.

Neshama Abraham is the founder of Frack Free Boulder.

Longmont Council Floundering on City Planning

Photo by M. Douglas Wray ©2011 FreeRangeLongmont.com

Council is floundering on Twin Peaks redevelopment.

Longmont City Council seems to be floundering again on city planning.  It’s a familiar story.  They cozy up to a company that wants to have its own way completely in what it does to Longmont.  Whether it is oil companies or mall developers, they make deals that do not reflect the thoughts or preferences of the people of Longmont.  Then they paper it over simply by declaring that their own bizarre decisions are “what the people want,” or “what the people have asked for.”  Listen up, City Council!  The people of Longmont didn’t ask for fracking wells in the city, or fracking wells surrounding Union Reservoir, but it took a public referendum and official vote to make that clear to the Longmont City Council.   Even so, the City Council seems less than enthusiastic about enforcing the ban on drilling that the people’s vote now mandates.  Instead of listening to the residents of Longmont, the City Council seems distressed at the thought of conducting themselves as the representatives of the people who elected them.

The recent disputes about how to redevelop Twin Peaks Mall involve tactics that are similar to the push for sweetheart deals with the oil companies.   City Council members have again shown their eagerness to bend over because the failed cinema wants to extend its failures into the future by using Longmont tax dollars. The existing mall has only one major survivor at this point, a large department store that found a way to stay in business, despite the disastrous mismanagement of the mall.   And what does City Council want to do with it?  Taking a wrecking ball to it, of course, and declare that this is what the people have asked for.  On the contrary, the people have already voted with their dollars to keep this department store.  There is no other store like it in Longmont, and no other store with their survivor skills in today’s market.  You’d think the City Council would be consulting the department store about what would be needed for a viable mall.  Instead, they have courted one of the worst cinema chains, whose appeal is largely to teenagers and small children, and made this the cornerstone of their redevelopment.  This theater habitually screens the cinematic equivalent of fast food.  There are other cinema chains that would be far better choices for redeveloping the mall.  Boulder has found them and so has Denver.  Why can’t the City Council take its blinders off and do the same?  Do they really think that the weekly allowance of twelve year olds is what it takes to make a new mall financially viable?

And aren’t these the same Council members who moaned and complained about the expense of law suits when it came to standing up for citizen’s rights against the encroachments of oil companies?  Now they have decided to initiate legal action to try to condemn the only viable store at the present mall.  This strategy seems like a very long shot, and a ridiculous misuse of Longmont tax dollars.  It will cause serious delays in the mall redevelopment and will drive away many new tenants who might otherwise want to be in Longmont.

If the deal with the current cinema can’t get the wrecking ball, then choose something else for another anchor.  Why not revitalize the conference center, and give it more variety and visibility in the possible uses for it.  Add a performance hall to it, for example, like the one that Arvada has.   Put a new multiplex cinema on Hover or Ken Pratt Blvd or upper Main St. or Pace St.  Apparently the present cinema only has a deal for the present location.  The cinema for Longmont could easily be relocated, and could attract a film distributor that would provide us with much more variety and quality.  And finally, why rebuild the entire mall when only parts of it need to be changed?  Has City Council never heard of remodeling?

The City Council needs to change its approach, and in fact put the needs of residents first in their considerations, not last.  Longmont residents have shown that they will not stand for a flagrant misuse of tax dollars to underwrite sweetheart deals with companies that have no interest in the well-being of Longmont.

TOP Operating: Flagrant, serial COGCC rule violator

Editor’s Note: The following testimony was given to the Colorado Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee on March 21, 2013, by Gordon Pedrow. SB 13-202 concerns additional inspection of oil and gas facilities. SB 13-202 advanced out of committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Chairman and Committee members.

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Thank you for this opportunity to be heard regarding this important matter.  I am Gordon Pedrow, a twenty year resident of the city of Longmont.  Until I retired on April 1, 2012, I served the community for 19 years as city manager.  I am here to share with you why many Longmont families support SB 13-202.  I am certain you are aware that the state government in Colorado is experiencing a massive hemorrhage of trust when it comes to adequately regulating oil and gas operations.

The citizens of Longmont have been struggling for many months to protect their health and quality of life from the negative impacts of heavy industrial activities associated with oil and gas operations.  This battle began in 2011 when the TOP Operating Company began the process of permitting a new multi-well drilling site within the city’s corporate limits.

Using the COGCC’s online data base, citizens examined the inspection and enforcement record of the two existing wells within the Longmont city limits that were closest to residential areas.  The results were appalling.

In 2011, Both Rider #1 and the Stamp wells had numerous unresolved violations, including benzene contaminated ground water 100’s of times above state standards.  I am going to provide the committee some specific information about Rider #1 and  its operator, TOP OPERATING COMPANY.  I believe this information will clearly demonstrate why residents were appalled in 2011 and remain so today.  It will clearly demonstrate why passage of SB 13-202 is a necessary first step in appropriately regulating this industry and restoring public trust.

RIDER WELL #1: 350 feet from homes in the Quail Crossing subdivision, 350 feet from Trail Ridge Middle School

  1. July 17, 2006, Engle Homes to COGCC (TOP’s contaminated well on Engle’s property)
  2. July 21, 2006, COGCC to TOP Operating:  Provide site Investigation and Site Remediation Plan
  3. December 7, 2006  Notice of Alleged Violation (200100371)  Numerous violations
  4. 4.     (nothing done for a year) TOP and COGCC staff failed to accomplish anything.  Both ignored the owner, Engle Homes and residents rights to have safe operation
  5. December, 2007  Engle Homes again found violations not corrected
  6. September 2008  COGCC fined TOP $10,000 for failure to remediate
  7. March 30, 2009  Still Benzene problem

2011Public scrutiny of both TOP and COGCC performance begins by angry Longmont residents.  (You would think a state agency might try harder when citizens are engaged) However, the concerns of the citizens were still ignored by TOP and COGCC.  Both the regulators and the regulated act as though they are above the citizens!!!!

  1. January 24, 2012 Notice of Alleged Violation (1771570) Rules 210d, 301, 308A, 308B,309,603j,604d,906a
  2. February 22, 2013, COGCC  issued a Notice of Order finding Violation and Hearing set for March 25/26   COGCC staff is seeking an order finding violation of all the above rules and imposition of a fine not to exceed $85,000.
  3. 10.                         March 21, 2013.  (today) TOP still in violation & Benzene levels still out of compliance.

SETTLEMENT:  The most appalling COGCC document regarding this whole Rider Well #1 fiasco has now come to light.  For over 6 years, TOP OPERATING COMPANY has flagrantly disregarded COGCC orders and the COGCC has ignored its mandate to protect public health and the environment.  Now the regulators and regulated have gotten together for a sweetheart settlement deal as outlined in this Administrative Order by Consent now scheduled for March 25/26.

Despite flagrant, serial, multi-year violations of state rules and regulations, the COGCC staff has now agreed to three unbelievable provisions.

   Read these sections from the consent order. 4,6,8

Unfortunately, this ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER BY CONSENT does not deal with the benzene in the ground water within 350 feet of Trail Ridge Middle School.  That matter is still being mitigated !!

I encourage you to pass SB 13-202.  Furthermore, before this legislative session adjourns, I encourage you to carefully review the entire regulatory operations of the COGCC.  Because more inspectors inserted into a flawed agency culture will most likely be wasted resources.

Our Longmont, others act to protect fracking ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2013

CONTACTS:
Kaye Fissinger, 303-678-7267 (Our Longmont)
Michael Bellmont, 303-678-9470 (Our Longmont)
Bruce Baizel, 970-903-5326 (Earthworks)
Shane Davis, 303-717-4462 (Sierra Club)
Sam Schabacker, 720-295-1036 (Food & Water Watch)

Coalition Acts to Protect City of Longmont’s Ban on Dangerous Hydraulic Fracturing

LONGMONT, CO – Today, a coalition of community, public health, consumer and environmental organizations filed a motion in the Weld County District Court to intervene in the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s lawsuit that seeks to invalidate Longmont’s ban of the oil and gas practice known as “fracking” and related surface activities, such as storage of toxic post-fracking fluids. This ban was instituted by the citizens of Longmont in an amendment to the City Charter, Article XVI , the Longmont Public Health, Safety and Wellness Act.

The people of Longmont by an overwhelming vote of 60% (more than 25,000 people), voted in the November, 2012 election to amend the City Charter to ban fracking, affirming their intention “to protect themselves from the harms associated with hydraulic fracturing, including threats to public health and safety, property damage and diminished property values, poor air quality, destruction of landscape, and pollution of drinking and surface water.” This historic ballot measure was spearheaded by Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont (Our Longmont).

“We are taking this action because we hope to affirm the rights of citizens and communities to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for themselves and future generations,” said Michael Harris, Director of the University Of Denver Sturm College Of Law Environmental Law Clinic. He continued, “We are honored to represent Our Longmont, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club and Earthworks.”

The Colorado Constitution confers on all individuals certain inalienable rights. These rights are expressed in the Colorado Oil and Gas Act, which requires that oil and gas resources be extracted in a “manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety and welfare.”

“The extraction process of hydraulic fracturing has not been proven to be safe,” said Kaye Fissinger, managing member of Our Longmont. “Further, the State of Colorado has created a situation where the commission that oversees the oil and gas industry has an inherent conflict of interest. It cannot simultaneously foster the development of oil and gas and protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.”

“The dangerous, toxic practice of fracking has been a matter of grave importance to the people of Longmont since October of 2011,” said Michael Bellmont, spokesperson for Our Longmont. “To assure the protection of those in our community, Our Longmont undertook a petition drive to place the charter amendment on the ballot. In November, our citizens exercised their rights to self-determination, also guaranteed under Article XX of Colorado’s Constitution. In light of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s attack, it is necessary that citizens participate in the judicial process to guarantee our constitutionally protected rights. It is for this reason Our Longmont and others have moved to intervene,” Bellmont said.

Food & Water Watch provided invaluable assistance to Our Longmont throughout the effort to qualify and pass Longmont’s charter amendment. Sam Schabacker, Mountain West Regional Director for the organization, said, “We were delighted to be able to help the citizens of Longmont prohibit the dangerous industrial practice of hydraulic fracking and are pleased to be able to continue to support them. We have every confidence that the courts will reject the claims of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and preserve Longmont’s constitutional and home rule rights.”

According to Eric E. Huber, Senor Managing Attorney for the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, “This lawsuit could have a precedential effect throughout Colorado as other communities work to pass similar prohibitions on fracking and the disposal of its waste products within their boundaries.”

Bruce Baizel, Director of Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, said, “The citizens of Longmont took this action because they don’t trust state regulators to protect them. Rather than sue communities acting to protect their public health, industry and the state should be addressing legitimate community concerns by putting the public’s health before industry profits.”

Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, is a group of concerned citizens from throughout Longmont. We believe that Longmont has a constitutional right to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our community. Our goal is to preserve the quality of life in our exceptional city. By so doing we will preserve our economic vitality, our home values, our water, parks, wildlife, lakes, trails, streams, open space, and recreational areas for ourselves and future generations. www.ourlongmont.org,

Food & Water Watch is a consumer organization that advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water. It’s essential that these shared resources be regulated in the public interest rather than for private gain. www.foodandwaterwater.org,

Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide, including 160 members in the City of Longmont. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation. http://rmc.sierraclub.org

For 25 years, Earthworks has been dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions. http://www.earthworksaction.org.