For Sale: Longmont City Council – $10245

Bonnie Finley, 100% For Sale

Bonnie Finley, 100% For Sale

For Sale: Certain members of Longmont City Council. Bonnie Finley likey the most valuable coming in at @ $10,245 (or best offer). In exchange, you may get business incentives, financing totaling more than $27 million, or just a pat on the back as she claims she can’t be bought at any price.

This lays it out straight.

The Big Red Scare

Joe Stalin, nothing like Bernie Sanders.

Joe Stalin, conservative boogieman

Beware! Be very afraid is the message George Will imparts in his commentary, “When history books make history,” published in the Opinion page Aug. 9. But to me the overriding theme is the hubris— excessive pride— Will attaches to the power of writers. He singles out Robert Conquest, who, according to Will almost single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union with his honest and truthful description of the evils of communism under Joseph Stalin.

Understand there has been no communism except in theory, especially under the brutal dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. Everyone was not equal but there was a level of thugs at the top who were “more equal.” Everyone else followed orders or got sent to gulags in Siberia, or were shot. No writers brought down the Soviet system, and neither did Ronald Reagan as has been claimed for him posthumously. No, the Soviet Union collapsed in utter failure with a corrupt government, a failed economy and by investing in an arms race resulting in total disregard of its people.

By some estimates, Stalin had more than 20 million citizens murdered in order to instill his brand of communism. Stalin was guilty of “moral obtuseness,” meaning he said one thing and always did what he wanted, which usually resulted in breaking treaties and murdering anyone who got out of line. Liar and hypocrite are the most polite words we can associate with Stalin.

Yet, in his meandering punditry of 700 words, Will brands U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with moral obtuseness. That is one writer’s hubris run amok. It is also disgustingly false.

So just what has Bernie proposed that is so threatening it receives a label the writer also chooses for the worst killer dictator in human history? Here is a sampling: healthcare for all by extending Medicare; eliminating tax evasion techniques by large corporations that offshore profits and jobs; extending Social Security to all by applying the payroll tax to income more than $250,000; raising the minimum wage to $15/hour; paying for parental leave and vacations; and foremost, getting big money out of politics.

These are major issues for the 99 percent of us who are being squeezed out of the middle class by stalled wages and benefits. Yet somehow Will and conservatives in Congress interpret our issues and Bernie’s common sense solutions as “socialist threats.”

America is a social country. Our history is marked by communities coming together to deal with tough issues. Every farming community has a cooperative that allows members to save money through bulk purchasing of goods and services at lower prices. Foremost though are the many benefits derived by all of us by combining our taxes for the common good: setting up public utilities and services, public libraries, public education, highways and roads top the list. Consider too that we have a national military, Social Security and Medicare.

Realize that many hardline conservatives like George Will consider social services undeserved entitlements. What is scandalous is the association of Bernie Sanders’ stand on providing for the people first akin to the moral obtuseness of Joseph Stalin. Rather, I believe entitled is the No. 1 characteristic of large corporations avoiding taxes and offshoring jobs. Entitled describes a Congress that votes itself better health insurance benefits and a better pension system than it allows the people it is supposed to serve.

Where Bernie would extend Social Security, conservative pundits like Will would cut it, limit benefits and raise the eligibility age.

A final thought. My friend Hermine is from Germany, a democratic socialist country. In a recent discussion she was asked about health insurance there. Her answer: Everybody has it. What about unemployment insurance? It never runs out. What about the homeless? She says there isn’t any. Parental leave and vacation pay? Yep, Germany has those too. Other studies point out the happiest people live in Scandinavia, where democratic socialism also exists with the benefits found in Germany.

In the next 15 months, pundits and politicians will try to scare you with demagoguery tactics like Will’s. “The Big Red Scare” was a farce perpetrated by radical anti-communist demagogues like Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Don’t believe the ghosts of that era posing as pundits and candidates for the presidency.

Bill Ellis is a local author; reply to
Bill Ellis

St. Vrain Valley Voices

Better to be Thought Miserable Excuses for Human Beings than to be Aaron and Melissa Klein


(apologies to Keith Olbermann)

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Last month, judgment was finalized against Aaron and Melissa Klein for refusing to sell a same-sex couple a wedding cake out of the Oregon bakery they co-owned called Sweet Cakes by Melissa. In addition to $135,000 fine for violating the state’s nondiscrimination law, the Kleins were ordered to cease and desist from in any way communicating to the public an intention to discriminate. This, they claimed, was a violation of their free speech, but this week, they undermined their own self-victimizing argument. On September 8th, residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas will consider Ordinance 5781, which creates LGBT nondiscrimination protections. While a local group is advocating for the protections, religious conservatives with national support are working to quash the ordinance, and Tuesday night, they brought in the Kleins to speak at their rally. The rally attracted press attention, not only because of the hundreds who turned out, but because several advocates of Ordinance 5781 were forced to leave the event by a police escort. Aaron and Melissa Klein were among those interviewed by KNWA…. “You guys are facing the same issues we face in the state of Oregon and that is a law that really seemingly is needless,” Aaron explained. “It leaves the door wide open to force people to adhere to something they don’t want to adhere to.”…. Melissa added, “We just feel that we also should have the right to — you know, not necessarily refuse a person, but refuse an event.”

pol-rightSomewhere along the line, it seems some Christians decided that following their Lord and Savior’s teachings about love, tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion just didn’t make sense. Perhaps they felt Jesus couldn’t grasp that homosexuality is an abomination and that those living an LGBT lifestyle are sinners destined for an eternity in the fiery pits of Hell. Perhaps He neglected to adequately address the truth that it’s supposed to be “Adam and Eve,” not “Adam and Steve.” Or perhaps Jesus just didn’t consider that there would be a large number of judgmental, self-righteous, self-victimizing zealots who believe they possess the absolute right to demand the world live by their narrow, fear-based morality.

Aaron and Melissa Klein are typical of those who’ve turned hatred and homophobia into a career- despite the teachings of the Jesus Christ they claim to revere. They’ve managed to convince themselves that their prejudice and hatred of homosexuality is a core tenet of their Christian faith…when in fact it’s nothing of the sort. They’re free to hate and judge whomever they may choose, but they don’t have the right to demand that ALL Americans hew to their morality…nor do they have the right to portray themselves as victims.

That they’re predicated their hatred and homophobia on their (bastardized and intellectually dishonest) faith isn’t surprising, if only because they representative of a vocal and ugly minority of Christians for whom hatred is the new Christian charity.

By continuing to speak out, the Kleins are proving that LGBT nondiscrimination protections are actually not a violation of free speech or religious liberty. They simply protect LGBT people from discrimination.

Despite what the Kleins believe, there’s no right- 1st Amendment or otherwise- to discriminate against someone because you happen to find their lifestyle and sexuality to be “icky.” There’s no right to treat another human being as “less than” because how and whom they choose to love clashes with your conviction as to what relationships are “right” or “appropriate.”

I’d respect the Kleins more if they at least had the courage and intellectual honesty to own their hatred and homophobia. Instead, they cower behind their “faith,” and portray themselves as the victims in this scenario. It’s as if the lesbian couple they refused to serve didn’t even exist. The Kleins have succeeded in martyring themselves in the sense that they’ve become minor celebrities among the American Taliban and have raked in something like a quarter-million dollars, more than enough to pay their fine without feeling any pain.

The Kleins continue to proclaim their victimhood, that their 1st Amendment rights and religious freedom is being proscribed by those who hate the baby Jesus. The fact that they’ve suffered no backlash from speaking out demonstrates their argument to be a sham, proof that their cherry-picked cafeteria Christianity is about their convenience and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If nothing else, Aaron and Melissa Klein illustrate why I reject modern Christianity. They’ve taken a perfectly good concept and turned it into a means for justifying their hatred and homophobia.

EXACTLY What Jesus Would Do, eh??

If you believe in karma as I do, you believe that the Kleins will at some point be called to account for their hypocrisy and self-superiority. When it comes to life, you get out what you put in…and the Klein’s karmic bank account has long been overdrawn. Their time will come.

No Ceiling for Noise

photo by D Wray

Working for or against the community?

The recent editorial touting the positive economic benefits of the Vance Brand Airport (VBA) was aimed at rallying support for efforts to increase airport operations (Lewis/Slayter opinion 7/26/2015).  The authors claim that further benefits will result from “implementation of the Airport Master Plan,” a veiled reference to the airport expansion, and particularly the runway extension that city council unanimously approved in 2012.

While you ponder the economic benefits provided as justification, consider the undeniable consequences of airport expansion:  more aircraft, more flights, more touch-and-goes, more nighttime flights, more noise and more pollution.

In exchange for your tacit approval for airport expansion, the authors, on behalf of the city, promise to “continue working to address noise concerns.”  Their efforts will include 1.) encouraging commercial instead of residential development near the airport, 2.) encouraging compliance with the voluntary noise abatement procedures (VNAP) and 3.)  asking the FAA to enlarge or modify the skydiving “flight box.”

These promises are distractions, not solutions. What steps have been taken so far?  None.  In fact, noise from skydiving operations has increased since the recent lawsuit ruling in Mile-Hi’s favor.  How would future commercial development help the people who are already subjected to the constant droning of the jump planes?  Regarding the VNAP, there is no enforcement, no fines and no accountability for pilots who choose not to follow them.  Consider that Mile-Hi Skydiving owner, Frank Casares, testified under oath that Mile-Hi pilots consistently follow the noise abatement procedures.  Finally, expanding the flight box will only subject more people to the noise and allow more jump planes to operate concurrently.

So, what can be done to address noise concerns?  Aviation attorney John Putnam presented a lecture in Longmont recently on this topic.  The airport receives Airport Improvement Program (AIP) federal grants in exchange for assurances to keep the airport open to all aeronautical users on reasonable terms.  The grant assurances limit the operator’s ability to adopt regulations to reduce noise.

Mr. Putnam stated that “[Grant assurance 22a] does acknowledge that airports can make reasonable rules governing the access to that airport.  However, the key piece is that it has to be reasonable.”  He also noted that a Part 150 noise study is voluntary and not required as a prerequisite for imposing local noise or access restrictions.  Mr. Putnam further explained that, in practice, the FAA deems all restrictions to be unreasonable, so it is difficult to justify regulations aimed at reducing noise.

Can airports survive without the federal grants?  Yes, according to Mr. Putnam, and real-world examples include East Hampton, NY and Santa Monica, CA.   Since 1982, the city has accepted about $4.7million in AIP grants. That’s an average of $204,347 per year – a modest sum that could be collected through airport user fees.

One of Mi-Hile Skydiving's Twin Otter skydiving planes.

Mi-Hile Skydiving – 70% of Longmont’s noise pollution. Photo by M. Douglas Wray (free to use if attributed)

Who is really benefitting from the airport?  On summer weekends, Mile-Hi Skydiving accounts for nearly 70% of operations. Pilot training and touch-and-goes account for another sizeable chunk of traffic.  Clearly, the airport users are the ones benefitting from the airport and they should pay their fair share for its maintenance, instead of relying on federal taxpayer subsidies that prohibit local control.

You are being asked to surrender your rights to accommodate aviation interests – don’t allow the soothing promises to lull you into complacency.  Remind city officials that the people who live here – both city and county residents who spend their hard-earned dollars in Longmont – are the lifeblood of the community and a high quality of life is worth taking a stand.  Would you allow a Longmont business to poison the water or foul the air? No, you would demand regulations to protect the health and well being of its citizens.

The time has come for the city to adopt sensible and mandatory regulations to address community noise concerns.  Otherwise, the solution will be to disentangle the airport from the onerous demands of the FAA grant assurances in order to restore local control over airport operations.

The Sacrifice and Final Words of Rev. Charles Moore

Reverend Charles Moore - Photo from The Washington Post

Reverend Charles Moore – Photo from The Washington Post

From The Washington Post

A Texas minister set himself on fire and died to ‘inspire’ justice

One Monday in June, 79-year-old Charles Moore, a retired United Methodist minister, drove to Grand Saline, Tex., his childhood home town some 70 miles east of Dallas. He pulled into a strip mall parking lot, knelt down on a small piece of foam and doused himself with gasoline.

Then, witnesses said, he set himself on fire.

read the rest at The Washington Post

The Reverend Charles Moore’s final words are included in the WaPo article as scanned images. I feel that they should live on in the Internet so I have transcribed them in their entirety. Strong language caution. Powerful sentiments backed up by a man’s life. I feel this should be transmitted as far as humanly possible. – M.D.Wray

O Grand Saline, Repent of Your Racism

I was born in Grand Saline, Texas almost 80 years ago. As I grew up, I heard the usual racial slurs, but they didn’t mean much to me. I don’t remember even meeting an African-American until I began driving a bus to Tyler Junior College and made friends with the mechanic who cared for the vehicles: I teased him about his skin-color, and he became very angry with me; that is one way that I learned about the pain of discrimination.

During my second year as a college student, I was serving a small church in the country near Tyler, when the United States Supreme Court declared racial discrimination in schools illegal in 1954; when I let it be known that I agreed with the Court’s ruling, I was cursed and rejected. When word about that got back to First Methodist Church in Grand Saline (which had joyfully recommended me for minsitry– the first ever from the congregation), I was condemned and called a Communist; during the 60 years since then, I have never once been invited to participate in any activity at First Methodist (except family funerals), let alone to speak from its pulpit.

When I was about 10-years-old, some friends and I were walking down the road toward the creek to catch some fish, when a man called “Uncle Billy” stopped us and called us into his house for a drink of water — but his real purpose was to cheerily tell us about helping to kill “niggers” and put their heads up on a pole. A section of Grand Saline was (maybe still is) called “pole town,” where the heads were displayed. It was years later before I knew what the name meant.

During World War II, when many soldiers came through town on the train, the citizens demanded that the shades in the passenger cars be pulled down if there were African-Americans aboard, so they wouldn’t have to look at them.

The Ku Klux Klan was once very active in Grand Saline, and it still probaby has sympathizers in the town. Although it is illegal to discriminate against any race relative to housing, employment, etc., African Americans who work in Grand Saline live elsewhere. It is sad to think that schools, churches, businesses, etc. have no racial diversity when it comes to blacks.

My sense is that most Grand Saline residents just don’t want black people among them, and so African-Americans don’t want to live there and face rejection. This is a shame that has bothered me wherever I went in the world, and did not want to be identified with the town written up in the newspaper in 1993, but I have never raised my voice or written a word to contest the situation. I have owned my old family home at 1212 N. Spring St. for the last 15 years, but have never discussed the issue with my tenants.

Since we are currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer in 1964, when people started working in the South to atttain the right to vote for African-Americans along with other concerns. This past weekend was the anniversary of the murder of three young men (Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney) in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which gave great impetus to the Civil Rights Movement — since this historic time is being remembered, I find myself very concerned about the rise of racism across the country at the present time. Efforts are being made in many places to make voting more difficult for some people, especially African-Americans. Much of the opposition to President Obama is simply because he is black.

I will soon be eighty years old, and my heart is broken over this. America (and Grand Saline prominently) have never really repented for the atrocities of slavery and its aftermath. What my hometown needs to do is open its heart and its doors to black people as a sign of the rejection of past sins.

Many African Americans were lynched around here, probably some in Grand Saline: hanged, decapitated and burned, some while still alive. The vision of them haunts me greatly. So, at this late date, I have decided to join them by giving my body to be burned, with love in my heart not only for them but also for the perpetrators of such horror — but especially for the citizens of Grand Saline, many of whom have been very kind to me and others who may be moved to change the situation here.

Rev. Charles Moore
June 13, 2014

Lost Teaching Moment

bad_idea_sign_crossbonesAs a recently retired teacher of 33 years, I am disappointed to observe how Twin Peaks Charter Academy handled the teaching moment Evan Young’s graduation speech presented. When they could have taught tolerance and freedom of speech/expression, instead they taught intolerance and suppression of free speech.

Evan Young is a shy, witty and very intelligent young man. He happens to be gay and wanted to weave this fact into his valedictory graduation address where he spoke about the importance of respecting others — whether or not you agree with them. It’s ironic Evan was not given the very respect his speech was about.

Outing Evan to his father was wholly inappropriate. Informing Evan minutes before the ceremony began that he would not be allowed to speak added insult to injury. Not acknowledging Evan as valedictorian was punitive. Throwing him under the bus in their public statement was a cheap shot. Four missed opportunities to afford Evan, a 4.5 GPA student with a scholarship to Rutgers, basic respect and dignity. Evan deserves better, and so do taxpayers.

Because Twin Peaks Charter receives public monies to operate, the SVVSD superintendent and school board have an obligation to pursue this matter. While charter schools are exempt from direct oversight by the school district, this does not mean they get a waiver to discriminate. At the very least, Twin Peaks Charter Academy owes Evan and his parents a formal apology. They also need to provide assurances to taxpayers that measures are being taken to ensure they will not discriminate in the future.

If Twin Peaks is not able to meet these reasonable criteria, their charter should be revoked. Hopefully, Twin Peaks will take this opportunity to rectify their lost teaching moment into a lesson involving self-reflection, reconciliation and improvement.

My Message to Twin Peaks Charter School

This was first published at

Evan 1

“My name is Evan Young. I was the valedictorian of Twin Peaks High School’s 2015 graduating class, but was not allowed to deliver my prepared speech at the graduation ceremony on May 16th.

The school’s administration maintains that I was prevented from speaking “to preserve and protect the mission of the school.” However, my school’s mission is one of promoting tolerance and respect, and it is these values I sought to promote in my graduation speech. The central message of my speech was that you must learn to respect people even if you disagree with them, a lesson which I learned during my four years as a student at Twin Peaks High School, and I thought briefly disclosing my sexual orientation in my speech would be the perfect catalyst for this discussion.

I understand such a revelation might be difficult for some people, but my main point was precisely that even if they don’t agree with me we can respect each other’s opinions. My friends and I disagreed about many things over the years, but we learned to overlook our differences and respect one another. In my speech, I merely asked the audience to do the same to me.

Lastly, I’d like to make clear my reasons for bringing this to the press. I’m not angry or bitter, and my frustration at being prevented from speaking at my graduation has largely subsided.

I love my school, and I want nothing to happen to it save that which will improve it in the long run. Nor am I doing this for publicity, or to seem like a hero. I’m not a hero, and the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends, family, and even people who I’ve never met show that I had nothing to fear to begin with.

Rather, I’m bringing my story forward so that it may serve as an inspiration, not only to other LGBT students, but to any student who is in some way different. I want them to know they should not be ashamed of who they are. They can celebrate their uniqueness, no matter what people in authority tell them. They can achieve academic success, if they let nothing hold them back. They can become virtuous and compassionate; their differences don’t make them morally inferior. That’s what my school is all about.”

-Evan Young, Twin Peaks Charter School Valedictorian 2015

Disagreeable Me

Five ‘Truths’ You ‘Cannot Disagree With’
Conservative Propaganda Fact
1 You 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.
2 What 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.
3 The 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.


From Dr. Evil, with love

Recently The Sentinel’s editorial page repeated a charge that’s been formulated by the right-wing echo chamber: that the movement to oppose fracking is brought to you by “Russkies.” The more we see these desperate attempts to malign advocates (in this case, a Hail Mary pass that’s reminiscent of red baiting during the McCarthy era), the more we know: we’re winning.

The “journalistic investigations” referred to in Rick Wagner’s column linking the environmental movement to Russia have not come from journalists at all: the people behind the attack are the folks at a front group led by PR man for the oil and gas industry, Rick Berman — a man 60 Minutes has dubbed “Dr. Evil.” His dishonest attacks have targeted public interest groups from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to unions — and are bought and paid for by industry. He’s the man corporate executives call when things go horribly, horribly wrong for them in the court of public opinion.

And, for the oil and gas industry, that’s precisely what has happened. Despite paying more than $85 million to PR and advertising firms since 2012, and spending just shy of $12 million to influence the 2014 elections in Colorado, polls are not looking good for fracking. A recent Pew Poll, for instance, showed that 51 percent of the general public is opposed to increased fracking. The number leaps when you look at the scientists (66 percent) and biologists and medical scientists (73 percent) opposed to increased fracking. These numbers have the industry on high alert.

Coloradans are not fooled by these oil and gas industry scare tactics. Despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the oil and gas industry, five communities along the Front Range have voted to protect their health, safety and property from this dangerous, industrial practice. Gov. John Hickenlooper and the industry are desperately afraid of this bipartisan opposition to fracking and they have teamed up to undermine these public votes in the courts.

It’s also ironic that this line of attack is coming from Berman since he was secretly taped at a recent industry event in Colorado. The New York Times quoted Berman as saying, “You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” He also told the executives present, “Think of this as an endless war” (apparently touting his own services) “and you have to budget for it.” With the proliferation of front groups across Colorado promoting fracking — including the innocuously named Vital for Colorado, CRED, and Energy in Depth — it appears the industry is heeding his advice.

According to the Times, Berman told the executives that he could hide their role in funding his campaigns. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

So “Dr. Evil” knows a little something about obscuring facts. And as happens with a specious argument not based on facts, somewhere along the way, it was claimed that Food & Water Watch has been given money by the Sea Change Foundation, the foundation that Berman’s organization linked to Russian interests — a charge repeated in Wagner’s column. Food & Water Watch has never been funded by Sea Change.

Please don’t look to the oil and gas industry and their right-wing echo chamber to stay up on the facts, because on the facts, they lose on every count. Fracking is bad for the environment, communities and public health, and should be banned.

Sam Schabacker is the Western Region director for Food & Water Watch and is based in Denver. He is a native of Boulder.

You Bet Our Lives

Enstrom 280FX Shark (G-ZZWW), built 1990, photographed at the Heli-Day, Kemble Airfield, England. Taken by Adrian Pingstone in August 2003 and released to the public domain.

Enstrom 280FX Shark (G-ZZWW), 1990
‘Useful load’ 930lbs, 225HP, 7′ x 28.7′, 2,600 lbs
Photo by Adrian Pingstone Aug 2003

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for owners and operators of the Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.

It issued the EAD because they had “…evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition … is likely to exist or develop in other products of these same type designs.” i.e. this brand and model of helicopter. So, spontaneously, a part can break off, a rotor blade detach, causing the aircraft to immediately plummet from the sky, crash and burn furiously. The swath of destruction from the Engstrom 280FX crash in Erie very easily could have been in the middle of a neighborhood – instead it was a training flight and over an open field.

A witness, still obviously shaken from the experience, relates that she “…thought it was coming down on our house.” I can’t imagine the carnage that might have occurred that Monday afternoon if it had been over the homes when the culprit part ‘separated.’ Must be a lot of force involved – the witness said they saw “…an explosion happen at the top of the helicopter.” The FAA EAD indicated the crack that likely caused the crash had “…existed, undetected, for a significant amount of time before the separation.”

Literally a 2,600 lb flying time bomb.

Makes me wonder what could have happened if this part had failed during a reckless stunt while buzzing a residential neighborhood at 100 MPH while at only 200′ altitude. That no doubt window-rattling* maneuver could very easily have turned into one of the darkest chapters in Longmont’s history involving millions of dollars of property damage as well as injuries/deaths.

Thankfully it did not, but based on the crash in Erie it may well have been only a hairs-breadth chance.

Or if this had happened anywhere but an empty road:

Luckily, the owner of that company is respectful of his neighbors and surely is taking great care not to have another incident.

* saber-rattling?

A New Colorado Democratic Party

Vic Meyers for CDP Chair — A New Colorado Democratic Party

My Philosophy

Vic Meyers - Candidate for CO Democratic Party Chair

Vic Meyers – Candidate for CO Democratic Party Chair

The Democratic Party, at both the national and state levels, exists to support candidates and advance the values and ideals of the Democratic Party platform. All politics being local, one would think that the State Party would feed up to the National. But over the course of the last decade this model has been reversed, and our state-level and Congressional campaigns are run from Washington, D.C. This led to 2014, when instead of formulating a message that derived from and resonated with the grass-roots of Colorado Democrats, our campaigns adopted a national narrative, which in most cases was based on national polling and resulted in pre-conceived ideas and beliefs of “Democrats.” This disengaged CO Dems and depressed turnout, and it’s the model that that led to Republicans taking over the Colorado Senate, U.S. Senate, and expanding their U.S. House majority by a record margin. In a state where unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats or Republicans by 100,000 voters, it is imperative that we have a robust base of Democratic activists to constantly engage voters.

We must fundamentally recognize that the backbone of our state party is the county-level party organizations, and that the role of the state party is to provide them with the resources they need to be as strong and effective as possible. We need a new model, one that is Ground-Up, not D.C.-Down. To win in 2016 and beyond, the CO Democratic Party, all over the state, needs to be engaged, organized, and supported.

We need a CDP Chair who recognizes these ideas and is prepared to fight to be true to them. Herein I detail my qualifications and plan to do so.

My Qualifications

I was born and raised in Beulah, Colorado where I worked my summers on the local ranches and spent my weekends trail riding. After graduating from Pueblo South High School I felt the call of duty and joined the 101st Airborne Division. I was a soldier in an aviation unit where I made E-5 (buck sergeant) in less than four years. While in the Army I also completed the Personnel Leadership Development Course.

I worked for the Colorado Dept. of Corrections for 17 years. While there, I served two years on the Board of Directors for AFSCME Local 935, until Governor Owens killed it. When Gov. Ritter made it possible for state employees’ unions to exist again I helped Colorado Wins introduce their union at my facility. I also chaired two facility employee councils and twice served on the Executive Employee Council for the entire department. As Shift Commander I supervised a staff of more than twenty, and was responsible for training, developing performance plans, and evaluations.

I also served on my local school board. It was this service that led to my placement on the Trinidad Correctional Facility Management Team. In both of these capacities I worked to develop mission statements, develop policies, received management training, and improved my understanding of organizational needs and meeting those needs. While on the school board I learned about Interest-Based problem solving. Moreover, during my tenure on the Trinidad School Board and the Trinidad Correctional Facility Management team, I successfully worked with policy experts and community leaders to balance budgets, reform programming and curricula, and reorganize staff to most effectively manage and serve the population.

In 2014 I ran for the U.S. House of Representatives against Ken Buck in Colorado´s 4th Congressional District. My goal was to provide voters a reasonable, intelligent, and moderate choice to counter my opponent´s extreme, right-wing platform. I learned much about how the state party can better support candidates, county level parties, and CDP Initiatives.

I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics with a minor in Physics. This degree gives me the skills to see many sides of a problem and seek the best solution.

A Statewide Party

In order for our party to be successful in 2016 and beyond we must once again become a true statewide party. Whether we are engaging activists in Denver, donors on the Front Range, or voters on the western slope, a comprehensive and interconnected party is necessary to engage communities on all levels.

There are far too many CO counties without county-level leadership. And in many others we are losing experienced leaders and committed Democratic activists. During and since my congressional campaign I have spoken with many of these people and know well their reasons. They have lost trust, or feel the state party is too Denver-centric, or because of the way they were treated by the coordinated campaign. They are leaving because they don’t like losing.

The CDP needs to make better efforts to support and grow the ranks of county parties, large and small alike. Without a constant initiative of community building, our activists will continue to struggle with the demands of constant campaigning. In this way, shifting our focus to the local level will create new opportunities to engage, rather than exhaust, our base.

Getting some of these county-level Democrats to re-engage will take a Party Chair that recognizes the problem and meets with each and every county to help solve them. It will take somebody who is willing to listen and do the work to rebuild the trust. I can and will do these things.

Another significant problem we face is ensuring the ability of rural Dems to participate in party functions and committee meetings. To help address this problem I will work with the other officers to develop a regional meeting model similar to one used by the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB).

Having been on my local school board I am familiar with CASB’s struggle to keep rural school board members active and engaged in their association. To solve this problem CASB developed regional meetings where the officers would travel and present information on CASB initiatives, progress, etc. This is a very effective model for them and it, or a similar model, could be effective in keeping rural Dems active and engaged.

Resources for rural-based CO Democrats have, to say the least, been lacking over the past few years. As CDP Chair I will ensure that training, legal, and fundraising help is available to county-level parties throughout the state. This could come in the form of sending trainers to them or helping them meet the expense of traveling to us. It could come from my personally traveling to them to engage donors to help fund local efforts.

Whatever it takes, no county-level party will be left out in the cold when you elect me as CDP Chair.

An Inclusive Party

We are the big tent party. The Democratic Party is comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, union members, LGBTQ, students, environmentalists, and many other communities. Similar to what we have seen at the county level, many are disappointed and feel that they have not been taken seriously by the CDP in recent years.

Our Party Initiatives, which should be one of the CDP’s greatest sources of strength, are left disengaged and underutilized by the current party leadership. Some aren’t even listed on our website, and attendance by our CDP leaders at their meetings has been lacking.

As CDP Chair it will be my goal to attend every Initiative meeting. When I cannot attend I will review minutes with the Initiative Chair and/or ensure that a CDP officer or representative is in attendance.

If the CDP is to truly be an inclusive party then it must improve how it collaborates and works with the various party Initiatives and all our affiliated organizations.

Marketing the Democratic Party Brand: A New Narrative

From my own experience as a Congressional candidate, and from talking with Democrats around the state, I know that too many people voted Republican in the 2014 election for no other reason than they didn’t want to vote for a Democrat. Over the past few years too many elected Democrats have failed to stand behind our President. They’ve failed to put up a public fight for Democratic policies and values – and even for their own significant achievements. Where did this get us? Years of Democrats being defined by Republicans and their media machines.

As soon as I’m elected as the CDP Chair, I plan on changing this. My plan is one that communicates our successes as Democrats and reengages the voters. This marketing will come in the form of traditional media, new media and public engagement.

Traditional Media

There will be plenty of opportunities during the upcoming legislative session and the 114th Congress to highlight individual Democratic Party accomplishments and GOP attempts to weaken America and our values. As party chair, it will be my responsibility to make sure the public at large knows about these things. For example, at the end of our state legislative session I will have a television commercial ready to tell Colorado voters about the good things our Democratic legislators accomplished and fought for. I’ll contrast it with how the GOP promoted their divisive, Tea-Party-based agenda.

I envision a 2-tier communications strategy for traditional media. Tier 1 involves news such as the passage of major legislation or extreme GOP gaffes and will be treated as top-earned media priorities. The party will activate its members to engage local, state, and national TV and news outlets to push the narrative on specific events and issues. Tier 2 news may not be garner national media attention but should generate interest at the state and local level. These events could include local political accomplishments, smaller pieces of legislation, or targeted GOP attempts to undermine legislation. These news stories will be approached in a more targeted way with the broad effect of keeping constant engagement with TV and print media as well as providing targeted coverage in interested markets.

In addition to activating members to engage the media, we’ll also have a professional marketing campaign to educate voters about what Democrats fight for.

New Media

We all know that many of us get as much news online as in print or TV. I will work hard to ensure that the CDP is using new media to its full potential.

It begins with re-vamping our CDP website, which needs a professional re-design to better grab and hold the attention of visitors. My vision is to ensure that, by 2016, voters know it to be a ‘one-stop shopping’ place to learn what they need to know about Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, state-wide.

The next step is to ensure that every county-level party has both a website and a Facebook page. Some counties already have outstanding pages; we’ll learn strategies from them, and develop templates for those who don’t have them. We’ll explore the possibility of the CDP hosting sites for those counties that cannot afford a website.

New media also provides an effective vehicle to engage individuals on a micro level. My vision for new media engagement in Colorado is interactive, collaborative, and representative of the diverse ideas, needs, and opinions of an inclusive party.

A Candidate in Every Race

In 2006 Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and gave America its first Democratic House majority in 12 years. Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy is largely credited for this happening. It also contributed to the election of President Obama in 2008. Chairman Dean invested in every state. As CDP Chair, I will invest in every county, in every race.

By engaging the GOP in races in which they weren’t expecting to compete, Howard Dean caused them to re-direct their resources, which opened up opportunities for us to win in more places.

Another impact of the 50-State Strategy was for grass-roots Democrats to see our party fighting the good fight, engaging in and communicating about our values — something quite opposite from what we saw in 2014.

It’s time to engage this strategy in Colorado. I will work with the DNC and our state House and Senate committees to ensure that we do not let any Republican slide into office without a contest. I will raise funds specifically for a Rising Star account that will ensure every new Democratic House and Senate candidate to come out of the assembly or primary has funds to start a general election campaign.

With the county-level parties making sure their local ballots are full and the state party making sure the state ballots are full, federal candidates will have a larger base to get votes from.

Ground-Up, Not D.C.-Down

We went into the 2014 election expecting to lose some races, the conventional wisdom being that the party in the White House always loses seats in the mid-term elections.

However, this was only part of the story. It is certainly not enough to explain the loss of tremendous candidates like Senator Udall, Betsy Markey, Joe Neguse, Don Quick, and Andrew Romanoff.

What we saw was a complete collapse of our local narrative. When the party is operated with a D.C.-knows-best approach— when we rely on national consultants’ polls and focus groups that are geared towards cohesion of national message rather than the opinions of Colorado voters— we lose engagement at the grass-roots level. Resources are directed at helping the top of the ballot assuming local, down-ballot races benefit from trickle-down voting. This trickle-down approach doesn’t work in our economy and it doesn’t work in elections.

I envision a party where our strength comes from the grass-roots and is deep and wide. I see a party where the top of the ballot is winning, in part, because we are winning down-ballot races. My vision creates the kind of party that wins elections, grows and advances its goals.

This is not to say that the DNC is not central to my plan. On the contrary, the 50-State Plan originated with the DNC, and it proved that we need to work together to elect our next president and win statewide races. But I envision a relationship of mutual trust, one with two-way communications and shared experiences, not a relationship where the terms are dictated by the coordinated campaign.

All of the goals listed above will put the CDP in a position of credibility and strength and allow me, as Chair, to work with the DNC as a voice for Colorado Democrats. I will be in touch with, and listening to, local leaders so that campaign messaging is consistent with what our local leaders know the voters want. I will be able to ensure that the next coordinated campaign is a part of, and strengthens, our team instead of weakens our team.

Community Engagement

We have many opportunities for the Democratic Party to get engaged in local communities. We can do it at the local level and we can do it at the state level.

There are many local offices up for election in 2015. The GOP will be fielding candidates in all of them. They’ll be mobilizing their base to get out and work for their candidates. They’ll be building-up their future candidates for higher office.

Some of our county-level parties do a good job of getting candidates to run for these local races. I will work to make sure more of our county-level parties have the resources to generate candidates.

Besides elected office, there will be various local ballot issues that are consistent with the values and ideals of the Democratic Party. If a county-level party votes to endorse one of these issues, the state party will help them in any way possible within the campaign election laws and desires of the local party. This can be overtly done or behind-the scenes. I can put out a call for volunteers. We can coordinate voter-registration drives. There are ways that the CDP can help so that when the issue passes, local Democrats can be proud of it and others will know that the Democratic Party helped improve their community.

As an example, the CDP should already be having voter registration drives in Denver City Council districts to help Democrats win these seats. This is an action that is independent of the campaigns and doesn’t favor one Democrat over another.



The lack of financial transparency that currently exists with our budget is a real problem. As CDP Chair I will honor the intent of the party rules. I will provide detailed budgets. I will consult with the Executive Committee on decisions that affect personnel costs in the budget. CDP rules require the Chair to administer the budget “as approved by the Executive Committee.” My interpretation of the rules is that a change in personnel expenditures is a change in the budget.

The demands of running a competitive and efficient party require us to professionalize the CDP staff. We must readjust our priorities at the leadership level and create a team that is properly equipped to design and implement a winning plan for 2015 and beyond.

Smarter Budgeting

The current CDP budget for 2015 has only $1000 allocated for political spending. The rest of the budget is for salaries, fundraising expenses and operational expenses of the party. This is a budget that does not do anything to grow our party in 2015. It calls for the CDP to be silent and inactive while the Colorado GOP is actively engaging their base, getting their members elected to school boards and other local elections, and keeping their base engaged and energized for the 2016 election.

We won’t win in 2016 by waiting for 2016 to happen. I will call an executive committee meeting for April 4, 2015 and submit an amended budget that helps the CDP grow at every level. It will help us have regular outreach and voter registration drives to expand our base and help Democrats get elected in 2015 and 2016. My budget will pay for the marketing plan stated above.


My plan for raising the revenues for success employs traditional methods and newer methods.

The current revenue goals for 2015 are unambitious and, coupled with unambitious electoral and programming proposals, are likely to demotivate donors. Furthermore, there is little creative thinking about how the party can grow our donor base and reduce donor fatigue.

As Chair my approach to fundraising will be to employ traditional methods, expand our donor base locally and nationally, help county-level parties raise money, and take advantage of the tremendous fundraising opportunities that exist with the internet.

By presenting to donors an ambitious, cohesive plan for the party I expect to find success in increasing our revenues. I will work with county level parties to engage local donors and increase their revenues.

Another source of increased revenues will be through expanded guest speaker/surrogate events. There is no revenue projected in our current 2015 budget for this line. As Colorado is a critical state in the 2016 presidential election I expect to be able to bring national Democrats in to help raise both revenue and excitement among Colorado voters. My amended budget will have a goal of $300,000.00 in revenue on this line.

ActBlue is an internet fundraising organization that raises money for Democrats and Democratic causes. It has averaged over $63 million a year in revenues over the last eleven years. This shows that the 2015 CDP budget is missing out on significant fundraising opportunity because there is no line for online revenue generation. My amended budget will include a goal of $300,000.00 in online revenue.

The overall revenue goals in my 2015 Amended Budget will double the goals of the current 2015 budget.

The Future

As Colorado Democrats look toward the future there is much at stake. Do we gamble on the idea that continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them will finally pay off? Or do we take a bolder course of change and fight for the future we want?

Electing or re-electing an establishment Democrat to lead us is hoping that things will change. Electing me as the new Chair means we are ready to take control of the fight for our future. The establishment choice is the status quo choice. I’m offering a vision that doesn’t wait for 2016 but puts us back into the fight today. If you’re ready to take the fight to the Republicans, elect me as the new Chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Quiet Skies: Speaking at Longmont city council

Vance Brand airport - Now a liability for Longmont?

Vance Brand airport – Now a liability for Longmont?

On behalf of Citizens For Quiet Skies, I would like to speak about the airport in the context of avigation easements.

At the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) meeting in February 2013, the airport manager Tim Barth and Don Burchett with the planning department gave a presentation regarding the proposed West Grange Subdivision. This proposed subdivision was located at the southeast corner of Nelson Road and 75th Street, which is within the Airport Influence Zone.

In the meeting packet memo, Mr. Barth explained that since the early 1990’s the has used an airport disclosure statement to inform home buyers of their proximity to the airport.  Mr. Barth recommends that the city transition away from the airport disclosure and instead engage in the use of legally binding avigation easements.

So, what is an Avigation Easement? An avigation easement is a conveyance of airspace over another property for use by the airport. The propery owner has restricted use of their property subject to the easement.  The acquired easement rights typically include the right-of-flight of aircraft; the right to cause noise, dust, vibrations, to name a few. The avigation easement on the property “runs with the land”, meaning that future owners are also restricted.

To summarize in plain English, the airport disclosure does not protect the city from being sued for damages from excessive noise.  The avigation easement does – it is a legally binding document.

So, what does the home buyer receive in exchange for signing the avigation easement?  Example 1 shows 1 dollar in consideration. Example 2 shows ten dollars. For ten dollars, the home buyer signs away their rights to peaceful enjoyment of their land.

At the board meeting, Tim Barth and several board members commented on the proposal.

Mr. Barth said that with the avigation easement, the city has some protection, it doesn’t stop complaints but it protects the city.

Who is “the city.” The dictionary defines a city as “ the people who live in a city.” Was
Tim Barth aiming to protect the people of the city?

Board Member Morgan commented that, because of the numerous complaints, the disclosure was not working well and a stronger document or avigation easement would be in order.  Board Member Yates stated that the airport needs to be able to have airplanes come in and out without distractions or disturbances. And finally, board Member DaHarb said it is imperative to support the avigation easement project and move forward … for the city’s protection.

At that meeting, the airport advisory board unanimously passed a motion to support avigation easements.  However, it is my understanding that council did not move forward in considering this ill-conceived and nefarious plot to subvert the rights of citizens and homeowners.  I hope that Tim Barth’s successor will have a better sense of his role as a public servant.

In my experience talking with a lot of people, residents who live near the airport expect to see and hear some airplanes.  But they also have an expectation that there will be reasonable regulations in place to minimize the impact to the community.  What we are living with now appears to be a lawless free-for-all where anything goes.

I believe the City has two viable choices for managing the future of the airport.

  1. Adopt a comprehensive noise abatement plan that includes mandatory limits on skydiving operations and addresses other local concerns, for example touch-and-goes and helicopters.  These limits may include reducing access to airport property for use as a parachute landing area – land which is currently being given away for free.
  2. Close the airport.
    Those are the choices.  The current path is completely unacceptable and we cannot continue along the current path.  We can either adopt reasonable regulations and manage the airport responsibly or close it.

Thank you.

The Great Giveaway Program

News Flash: The Longmont Airport is costing you a bundle.

News Flash: The Longmont Airport is costing you a bundle.

The Colorado Division of Aeronautics is taking some well-deserved heat for grossly overestimating next year’s tax revenue from aviation fuel sales. This revenue is used to fund the Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grant Program (DAGP), which supports runway maintenance and other improvement projects for Colorado’s 74 public-use airports. The grants for 2015 were initially projected at $15 million, but they were recently revised downward to $3 million – a $12 million shortfall.

Vance Brand airport - a public resource or a giant money-pit?

Vance Brand airport – a public resource or a giant money-pit?

Colorado airport managers harshly criticized the division’s wild miscalculation. And Longmont airport manager Tim Barth stated that the funding cutbacks will hamper airport and economic growth down the line (“Colorado airport officials admit errors, vow to save grant program” (11/19). But there is more to this story than meets the eye.

For those of us who have analyzed the airport budget it is obvious, at least in Longmont’s case, that the funding crisis has been years in the making and largely self-inflicted. Longmont officials have fully embraced a budget model that relies too heavily on federal and state subsidies, and not enough on revenue from airport users – a tiny fraction of residents who actually benefit from the airport. City officials are responsible for charging reasonable fees to use airport property. Yet for many years Longmont has elected to leave money on the table, as the following examples show.

Mile-Hi not paying fees? Why??

Getting a free ride – at your expense.

The airport has designated a Parachute Landing Area, also known as a skydive drop zone, covering about 40 acres. Assuming for a moment that the best use for this prime real estate is a drop zone, shouldn’t the city earn revenue from its use?

  1. The Longmont Municipal Code (section 4.64.040) clearly specifies a $7,500 annual fee for the use of airport property and further states that no one may use this area without first obtaining an applicable permit. Yet curiously, the city is not assessing this fee. In fact, there have been no drop zone fees assessed since June 1999.
  2. In 2007 the city leased about 180,000 square feet of airport property to a skydive operator. The initial annual lease amount was $41,566 (roughly 23 cents per square foot.) The skydiving company currently enjoys the use of that land. However, that lease is still considered “inactive” and no fees have ever been assessed nor collected – ever.
  3. In 2004 and 2007 the city considered a modest $1 per jump fee, which would generate more than $30,000 in airport revenue annually. Both times, this funding option was rejected. Again in February 2012, the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) revisited the proposed fee. A brief discussion followed in which a city employee described the airport budget as “bare bones.” Still the AAB voted unanimously to strike all information regarding the skydiving jump fee from the Airport Business Plan, thus hampering any further consideration by the city council. The result: zero revenue. Longmont officials have the fiduciary duty to manage the airport finances ethically and in the best interests of the community. The first step toward solving the airport budget crisis is ending the great giveaway program. Airport users should pay a fair market rate for use of airport property – especially private businesses that are reaping enormous profits and enjoying a free ride at taxpayer expense.

Kimberly Gibbs is a Boulder County resident and the organizer of Citizens For Quiet Skies.

Times-Call Owners Must Have the Mindset of Feudal Lords

It should be of concern to Longmont residents that the Longmont Daily Times-Call newspaper apparently is being run by people who have the mindset of feudal lords of the thirteenth century. Given that there were no newspapers back then, they certainly would have fit right in.

The most recent evidence of their inability to provide any meaningful service to Longmont voters during this election year is the Oct. 24th editorial endorsement of Ken Buck, another fine example of thirteenth century mentality, for election to the U. S. House of Representatives from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.

We can only assume they took the time to talk with him about his plans if he gets to Congress. We do not have to assume anything about whether they talked to his main opponent, Vic Meyers of Trinidad. They definitely did not talk to Mr. Meyers. In fact, when he called and said he would like to meet with the editorial board, he was told they would not meet with him, nor any other candidates for Congress from the 4th CD because the newspaper would not be making any endorsements in that race. Clearly, that was a falsehood.

That wasn’t the only time Mr. Meyers tried to meet with a representative of the so-called newspaper. All his efforts were rebuffed.

Back when I was a reporter, my job was always to seek out candidates for public office, interview them, and write stories that were then published. We believed we were doing our readers a service. The Times-Call does not want to provide any such service. The Times-Call owners just want to tell us who we should elect.

I, for one, am rejecting their advice. I’m voting for Vic Meyers for Congress. He’s an honest, hard-working Coloradan who’s running for Congress because he’s fed up with partisan gridlock and the worst do-nothing Congress in the history of our country.

Vic Meyers deserves the support of Coloradans who value public service and want the best people possible to represent them in Washington, D. C. And who don’t care what the feudal lords who own the Times-Call have to say about it.

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers

Let’s Send Vic Meyers to Washington

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers

This year the residents of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District can send a strong message to our nation’s capital.

The message is that we are fed up with the failure of Congress to do its job, and we’re sending back a man to help fix it.

That man is Vic Meyers. He’s running because he shares our frustration and wants to do something about it. Vic will represent us, not the wealthy individuals and corporations who believe that their money makes their opinions more important and valuable than ours.

Send a message this year. Vote for Vic Meyers for Congress. He’ll do us proud.