Opinion

Surprise! Ken Buck Shows Up for Work!

Longmont Area Democrats had their “with or without Ken Buck town hall meeting” and guess who showed up? The man himself. Think activism doesn’t have any effect – there it is. Buck started out on the defensive and got more shrill as the meeting wore on. He hacked his way through a series of questions, tossing out rhetoric, GOP talking points and some good ole fashioned bullshit – which the crowd called him out on. It got tense a few times and I think the organizers wished they had a whip and chair – but the Dems calmed down and Ken didn’t run away (as GOP candidates are wont to do when faced with any substantive resistance). It was a great meeting – the Dems were fired up and Buck scurried away with his pants still smoking, staff hustling to keep up. Thanks to Shari Malloy who asked me to shoot this meeting – and a special thanks to everyone that came and spoke!

Photos at Flickr.

My friend Kate Beier asking Ken Buck a question:

Merciful God

Saw this on Facebook from Joel Tooley, Lead Pastor at Melbourne First Church of the Nazarene.

What I am about to write and what you are about to read may make some people very uncomfortable, if not angry.

That is not my intention nor is it okay with me to cause anyone to stumble. That being said, what I experienced tonight was so dramatic that I cannot help but reflect on it and share what I experienced.

A few days ago, people across the United States heard the news that our newly elected President would be visiting Melbourne, Florida – our hometown. It is no surprise to many that I do not support many of the objectives and “campaignisms” of Donald Trump. I know many people who voted for him – friends, family, church people who all voted for their own reasons. The point of this experience is not to relay all of the reasons why I think he should not be the president. Those points are moot – he IS our President.

Now, I am enough of a sentimentalist that when I found out THEEEE President was coming to town, I got online quickly and reserved two tickets.

The tickets were being given away by the Trump-Pence campaign; I found it odd that the tickets indicated that this was not a government/White House event & that this was a campaign event. I have, of course, posted a joking post about that earlier. What I discovered was that by hosting this as a campaign event, Mr. Trump could determine who was and was not allowed in the venue. If he came on an official visit, they could not prohibit anyone from entering and he couldn’t sell his campaign merchandise.

So, in essence, he was only allowing his supporters in the room. Well, with a few exceptions…

I talked my 11-year-old daughter into coming with me. After all, how many times do you get to see the President of the United States in person – let alone in your hometown? I was eager for her to have this experience. It has to be a pretty cool thing, as a kid to see Air Force One, the President and the First Lady.

The event started at 5 PM; we got in line at the venue shortly after 2 PM and the line was already pretty long. There are several mini stories to be told about that experience but don’t need to be told for this post. Suffice it to say, it is always an intriguing sociological experience to be surrounded by people in line for something for which they are fanatics – whether it is for a movie premier, a live concert, the release of the latest beanie baby or Cabbage Patch kid. Fanatic people are fascinating to me.

While I am not a fan of Trump, I certainly did not want to come across as a vigilante protester while standing amongst some of his most adoring fans. I truly wanted to see if what I was going to witness in person was any different than what I had observed on TV.

The entry into the event was very impressive. I have always admired the professional posturing of the Secret Service, including those from our own local law-enforcement who were on duty serving in this capacity. These are women and men who should be highly commended for placing their lives on the line.

We entered the venue at 3 PM, two hours before the event started. As we entered, everyone was being handed pom-poms and Trump campaign signs. The hosts made sure everyone had a sign in their hand. Someone shoved one into my hand and gave pom-poms to my daughter.

I felt like a sheep in wolves clothing.

Music was playing loudly throughout the venue as it filled up with hundreds of people. I would guess there were eventually at least 3000 people in the room. It was nowhere near full, but there certainly were a lot of people there. From my view, the crowd was 99.9% white folk. I did see a row of about 10-12 supporters who were black, wearing T-shirts that said, “Trump and Republicans are not racist” – they were positioned in the seating area directly behind the podium.

We were about three rows of people from the very front and had a very good position to view the President and the platform. As people were coming in, there was a lot of excitement and a strong sense of patriotism. Approximately every 15 minutes, the music would be a little more enthusiastic and party-like. I posted my play-by-play feedback of “God bless the USA!” in an earlier post…it was almost church-like. People sang along, raising their hands and were emotionally moved by this anthem. It was intriguing to watch.

People were being ushered into a deeply religious experience…and it made me completely uncomfortable.

I love my country; I honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and I respect our history and what we stand for, but what I experienced in that moment sent shivers down my spine. I felt like people were here to worship an ideology along with the man who was leading it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the song per se – it was this inexplicable movement that was happening in the room. It was a religious zeal.

You might liken it to the experience fans would have after their favorite team won the Super Bowl – faces painted, banners flying, confetti in the air and celebrating.

But this – this was deeper.

A couple of local politicians got up to bring greetings followed by state representative, followed by one of our Congress representatives. A soloist sang, “God bless America” and there was a strong sense of patriotism in the room. A pastor got up to pray and repeatedly prayed throughout his prayer, “Thank you for making this the greatest nation on earth…in Jesus’ name.”

Uh-uh. No. No way, josé.

Pastor, this is not the greatest nation on earth. The greatest nation on earth does not exist. Are we a great nation? Definitely. But there are many other great nations as well. Pastor, you have your eyes on a different kind of “greatness” and certainly a different kind of kingdom. Shame on you for praying those words in Jesus’ name!

Suddenly, the music changed from the pep rally theme to something that seemed more Star Wars themed. The crowd went crazy and turned towards the opening of the airplane hangar that was the venue, just as Air Force One pulled up.

What a magnificent sight! That enormous airliner is absolutely breathtaking. The crowd was going wild; signs waving in the air, people cheering, and every cell phone was positioned to take photos and video. As the First Lady and the President emerged at the top of the stairs, the air was electric! It really is a magnificent image to see in person!

As they entered the venue and walked to the platform, there was terrific celebration. I have been in the room when other Presidents were in a similar mode – it is always such a meaningful experience to be that close to them, regardless of whether or not you view them with adoration. Theeeee President of the USA!

The First Lady approached the platform and in her rich accent, began to recite the Lord’s prayer.

I can’t explain it, but I felt sick. This wasn’t a prayer beseeching the presence of Almighty God, it felt theatrical and manipulative.

People across the room were reciting it as if it were a pep squad cheer. At the close of the prayer, the room erupted in cheering. It was so uncomfortable. I observed that Mr. Trump did not recite the prayer until the very last line, “be the glory forever and ever, amen!” As he raised his hands in the air, evoking a cheer from the crowd, “USA! USA! USA!”

Just as the President begin to speak, a short grandmotherly lady in front of us asked me if I would help hold her walker – the kind that has a seat built into it. She said, “I need to climb up on it and hold something up.” Such an odd request at such an odd place at such an odd time. So, I helped her.

She held a pillowcase that had something written on the front of it, words I could not see. She climbed up onto the seat, wobbly-legged and held the sign up above her head. People in front of her turned around and started jeering and yelling at her. After holding her sign up for about 10 seconds, she climbed back down and thanked me. I asked her what her sign said – it read, “You had your chance, now resign!”

The very first words out of the President’s mouth were the words of a bully. That is not simply one person’s perspective, it is factual. He immediately began badgering and criticizing the media; like a bully inciting a crowd.

Now, do I think the media needs to be held to a high standard and be able to be held accountable? Absolutely! The media as a whole has become sadly non-journalistic and more entertainment, in my opinion.

Call it what you will, but I was completely dumbfounded as the most powerful leader in the world began his speech by badgering the media. The crowd began screaming angrily at the entire press corps that was present.

He could have said something inspiring and worthy of a Tweet or Facebook post, instead he emerged as an overly powerful bully. Literally, everything that he began speaking about evoked this angry response from the crowd. Immediately following the words of prayer that Jesus taught his followers…

It was then that I heard two ladies off to my left chanting, not yelling or screaming but chanting, “T-R….U-M-P; that’s how you spell – bigotry!” They repeated the rhyme over and over.

Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at them. Another couple standing behind them started screaming at them as well. One of the chanting ladies had her eight-year-old daughter on her back; the other had a severely disabled child in a wheelchair in front of her. As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm – that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off. My heart wasn’t racing; I just instinctively became a protector.

I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear.

The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly.

I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger.

I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.

I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well.

My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, “I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him!”

I wish I could have captured the expressions of that man on camera. I will never forget him.

The little girl on her mother’s back was crying, completely frightened. I leaned forward and reassured her in her ear, “Your mommy is being brave and we will not let these people hurt you. You are afraid because these are angry, awful people. We will not let them hurt you or your mommy. You are being so brave and your mommy is doing something very brave.”

That’s when another lady screamed in my face that what I was doing was un-American. I just chuckled and responded, “What I am doing is completely American – I’m standing up for people who are being bullied – it doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not. You came here to see the President, now ignore these ladies, turn around and enjoy the show.” Without explanation, they calm down and turned around to hear what Trump had to say.

The two protesters then moved towards the back and left the building. I got a couple of high-fives and “thanks for stepping up for them” from bystanders . I wanted to say, “Thanks. Where were you when the the demons were screaming and fists were getting ready to start swinging?”

Once again, the environment reminded me of some church experiences I’ve had. Bystanders.

I have no clue what Trump was saying at that point – draining the swamp, vetting refugees, and other things. Oh yeah, I heard people chanting, “Build that wall, build that wall!”

I realized then that we were not listening to someone presidential, we were listening to someone terribly powerful.

My kid was shaken – she had just seen some of the worst of humanity. We edged ourselves away from the front of the room to the opening of the hangar so we could get a clearer picture of Air Force One. I wanted to give her at least one positive presidential memory.

The crowd was much thinner at the back of the room, people were leaving by the hundreds. Outside, there were two jumbotrons set up for a potential overflow – there really wasn’t a need for them. There were maybe a couple of hundred people outside watching on the big screens.

Not too far behind that group was a large group of protesters.

Inside, Trump had rallied the group by giving a little bit of attention to the “paid protesters outside.” Now, I can’t speak for all of them, but I asked a few where they were from and why they were there – every single one of them were from different cities in Florida and could quickly articulate why they were there. They were not paid protesters – not the ones I spoke with.

I’m trying to separate how I actually feel about this man and his campaignisms. I know why people voted for him; I know why people voted against his opponent. But, at the end of the day, what I felt from his leadership in this experience was actually horrifying. There was palpable fear in the room. There was thick anger and vengeance. He was counting on it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it would not have taken very much for him to have called this group of people into some kind of riotous reaction.

Now, not everyone in the room was a part of the angry mob mentality – I looked around the room and saw many people who could quite easily be folks from my neighborhood, folks from my church, folks who were planning to go grab a bite to eat at Cracker Barrel afterwards. Folks who truly wanted to see America “great.” The people who support the Republican Party want to see some needed changes in the government – the people that were there for that reason, are by and large good folks. But those are not the people the President was inciting – they are not the people he was leading. He was rallying the angry, vigilant ones.

As we began to leave, I knew my daughter could not possibly care less about Air Force One or the fact that she saw the President of the United States and his wife, in the flesh. I truly had hoped that she could have had that sentimental experience.

What she WILL remember is the angry, violent man screaming demonic vitriol at a child and her mother. She will remember the two ladies screaming at her Dad, her pastor – flipping the middle finger and using the F word repeatedly.

Now, I know there are people who are convinced that I am jaded and cannot fairly give this man a fair chance. Perhaps that’s true. But please remember, especially those of you who know me well, I am a student of culture and human behavior. I am not a stubborn, close minded individual who likes to stick to the status quo. I know there are people who long for me to see the good things about this President and to talk about THOSE things. I know there are people who want me to realize that not everything he is doing is bad and that every President has their strengths and weaknesses and…

I know there are people who, when they see these words and hear my thoughts will feel badly because perhaps they can’t like me as much as they once did because they don’t agree with me. They want me to like the President that they like – they want me to see him the way they see him.

I’m sorry. I cannot. You see, the angry, F-word-spewing man is what has been depended on throughout this campaign and is the one who is still being counted on to sustain the message. I tried.

As we left the room, these words were echoing in my mind, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

At the end of the day, I’m a citizen of a nation – I have a leader who God is very aware and who has tremendous responsibilities. I MUST and will pray for him. I’m a citizen of this world and I must continue to see beyond my own limited world view to seek ways to obediently serve Christ. But greater still, I am a citizen of a different kind of Kingdom – the Kingdom that strives for peace, mercy, kindness and a love-relationship with the King of kings.

May God have mercy on me.

Littwin: Gigantic, enormous, colossal, unpresidented women’s march drives Trump mad

From the Colorado Independent:

These are, as they say, early days. And as the nascent Trump era progresses — if that’s the right word — we will continue to see things we’ve never seen or heard before.

For starters, we’ve never heard an inaugural speech like Trump’s American carnage address.

We’ve never seen a counter-inaugural demonstration drawing an astonishing 3 million across the country, many of the protesters wearing pussy hats and many carrying signs about a president keeping his tiny hands off the First Amendment. If you think you were stunned by the turnout — the 100,ooo-marchers-strong aerial shot of Civic Center is a remarkable testament to those Coloradans trying to take their country back — imagine how Trump felt.

We’ve never seen a press secretary, on his first day, ordered by the president to read out a pack of lies about, of all things, crowd size and insist they were true – period. Or see a presidential counselor say the lies were actually “alternative facts.” Or see Orwell cited quite so accurately quite so early in a president’s tenure.

We have seen Trump embarrass himself many times, but never quite as he did, as president, at the CIA, standing in front of the wall honoring the CIA dead, using the occasion to accuse the press of willfully deflating his inauguration numbers and of falsely creating a rift between him and the intelligence agencies that he had compared to Nazis.

We’ve never seen a president, in his first days, hold a meet-and-greet with congressional leaders and tell them the already clearly debunked lie that he had lost the popular vote only because 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Clinton, who apparently was not smart enough, as several observers have pointed out, to wield these voters in, say, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

He can’t let go — of anything. He can’t move on — from anything. Getting elected isn’t enough. It has to be the greatest election. The most colossal crowds. A global movement. And still that won’t satisfy. We can only imagine what the GOP congressional leaders were thinking – that they have to pretend for four years that this is remotely normal. Remarkably, in the face of Trump’s allegation of massive voter fraud, no one called for an investigation. A better response, of course, would be to call for an intervention.

Read the rest at the Colorado Indpependent.

Comparing the Choices

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

Bruce Lindner, Portland, OR

So I’m reading this morning that the GOP has adopted two more policies to be included in the official convention platform next week: To build Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico and to recognize pornography as a public health crisis. Let me see if I have this right.

  • The proposed wall, which even the party’s hitherto favorite son, Jeb Bush, said yesterday was a stupid idea, would achieve nothing.
  • Pornography, which as far as I know isn’t lethal, is a “public health crisis,” but 300 million guns on our streets and in our schools, churches, night clubs and movie theaters, which take the lives of 30,000 Americans per year … isn’t.
  • The presumptive nominee, a man with precisely ZERO political experience, has accused the current President—the first African-American President in our history—of being to blame for any racial divisions in our society today. Yet he himself just DECLINED an invitation to speak before the NAACP, the nation’s premier and possibly most respected civil rights advocacy group. Cat got your tongue Donald? That’s a first.
  • The GOP platform also calls for “continued conservative fiscal principles.” Right. The last time they held the White House, they ratcheted up federal spending by 85%, cut revenue by 25%, passed two tax cuts largely benefiting the top 1%, launched two catastrophic wars, none of which was budgeted for, and plunged the nation into the deepest recession in 80 years. This in contrast to the current administration who pulled us out of the recession and increased federal spending by a whopping 6% (or 11% over the level he inherited).
  • The CEO of the party’s official media organ, Roger Ailes, suddenly finds himself in competition with Bill Cosby for most allegations of sexual harassment and lewd behavior. Is he innocent until proven guilty? Sure. But based on statistics alone, it’s hard for any rational person to believe all of the women who’ve come forward thus far with similar allegations are lying. Yet he still controls what Republicans hear, and perhaps more importantly, what they DON’T hear. What say you Rupert? Isn’t it time for Sexy Roger to go on a sabbatical for a little R & R?
  • And no GOP convention platform can be complete without mentioning their continued pledge to abolish and outlaw a woman’s Constitutional RIGHT to make her own reproductive decisions. Rather than respecting a 43 year old Supreme Court decision, they defer to pressure from the religious community and violent groups who firebomb Planned Parenthood clinics and murder physicians who perform abortions. Because their mission is to “defend the sanctity of life,” don’tchya know.

So let’s see… Vote for the sexist, racist, fascist, xenophobic, pathological liar who’s backed by the overwhelming support of Republicans (and their secretive brethren under the hoods and sheets), many of whom want to take America back to the good ol’ days of Jim Crow, Bible lessons in public schools, submissive women, puritanical “morality,” crushing economic policies, a nation where guns are defended over human lives and the cries of inequality from Black Lives Matter are called “threats from a terrorist group” by their most-admired television personality, Bill O’Reilly.

Or I can vote with the Democrats, who, imperfections aside, have overseen 7-1/2 years of economic growth, a party that’s inclusive of ALL races, religions, sexual preferences, and hold a position that the Constitutional RIGHT to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness *must* override the GOP’s warped reinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment fetish for guns in our bleeding society.

Thanks Reince. But I’m with her.

Exxon’s inconvenient truth

This Guest Opinion first appeared in the Times-Call (FRL)

Back in the day when Exxon was just a gigantic oil company, before its merger with Mobil, Exxon had its own inconvenient truth. Based on investigation by Inside Climate News (ICN) as well as research by the Los Angeles Times in conjunction with a project at Columbia University, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Exxon scientists conducted pioneering research on climate change.

The ICN article is the basis for the following. In July 1977, James Black, one of Exxon’s senior scientists, gave a sobering report. From a written version he recorded later, Black said: “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”

In 1978, Black gave an updated report to a larger audience of Exxon scientists and managers. According to a written summary of his talk, Black warned: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” Among other things, Black also predicted that rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert. In the written summary of his 1978 talk Black said: “Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.”

In 1982, Exxon developed a primer on climate change and carbon dioxide. Again, from ICN: Marked “not to be distributed externally,” it contained information that “has been given wide circulation to Exxon management.” In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.” The ICN article continued: Unless that happened, “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer said, citing independent experts. “Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

Exxon continued with its climate change research, an issue that posed an existential threat to its oil business, until the late 1980s. Exxon scientists even were permitted to publish at least three peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on their ground breaking research.

Unfortunately, in the late 1980s Exxon shifted tactics to stressing the uncertainty of research into the greenhouse effect. This change apparently was due to financial considerations and was not based on any research challenging its previous findings. Since then, Exxon and climate-change deniers have been successful in preventing effective action on this issue. We have lost 20 to 25 years when steps could have been taken, and now the window for alleviating the worse effects is much smaller. Every year we delay taking effective action means that future actions will have to be much more draconian or the effects of climate change will be far worse.

It appears as if nothing very constructive will be achieved during the current talks in Paris. The fossil fuel industry still has sufficient clout to stop effective action. Distressingly, the U.S. is pushing voluntary national reductions. There would be no requirements since each nation does what it wants when it wants. On top of that, there would be no enforcement mechanism to hold a nation to its commitment.

Talk about perversion— the worse climate change impacts will initially be experienced by those nations that had little to do with causing climate change. The U.S., a key contributor to the increase in greenhouse gases, will generally initially suffer lesser impacts. Coming generations, including the young children and grandchildren of today, who have had no role in causing climate change, will face the greatest suffering. Those generations aren’t going to think kindly towards us and our lack of action.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics who lives in Longmont.

I Think They’ve Peaked…

Eat shit!

Sometimes you can only say it so nicely.

Well, once again the cowards are getting their asses handed to them.

I watch the right wing online and one particular site spewed the most ridiculous lies and distortions for months, hammering away at the recall backers. The anti-union rhetoric was disgusting, especially in the state that hosted the Ludlow Massacre. Feh. The “thugs” in CO have already clearly identified themselves.

Here’s what Westword said about them:

Political Blog Colorado Peak Politics is Denver’s Best Political Blog.

Because of the secret-secret nature of this blog, it’s not entirely clear where it’s based.

Golly.

Why are right wingers in Colorado such scaredy-cats? Too afraid to put their name on their work? Or just unwilling to admit who’s pulling their strings? It’s very obvious that there’s fundy money and oil money at work.

Also, to those who whine about FRL censoring ‘opposing views.’ Bullshit. I’ve posted comments that were CIVIL. The rules are simple. The people bitching are just louts that want to make FRL a cesspool like the Times-Call’s virtually-unmoderated comments. When the hero behind Not So Bonita fesses up, then, maybe they can post comments here. Till then, to hades with them.

As for this wingnut echo-chamber, I don’t see ANYWHERE to comment. What courage.
Update, LOL, they’ve turned on comments apparently. Not a lot of folks agreeing with them.

Obviously they’re not interested in what anyone has to say.

And it seems to run both ways, based on the election results.

Big Kisses kids.

Follow the Money: Bonnie Finley = Developers

Developer funded and owned.

Developer funded and owned.

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

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

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

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

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

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@comcast.net
Bill Ellis

St. Vrain Valley Voices

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

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD

(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.

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.

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?

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