Seen Elsewhere

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

My Message to Twin Peaks Charter School

This was first published at outboulder.org.

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

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.

Don’t take the bait

By Joel Dyer at The Boulder Weekly

Longmont Council member Bonnie Finley - with a surprising motion that should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

Longmont Council member Bonnie Finley – with a surprising motion that should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

It was a nearly packed house Tuesday, Aug. 26, in the Longmont City Council chambers as citizens who believe that local communities should have the final say over fracking in their neighborhoods turned up in good numbers.

The Council was voting on whether the city should continue its support of the fracking ban that Longmont voters placed into their city charter via the ballot box in 2012.

You may recall that Tuesday’s vote was necessitated by Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard’s ruling in July that found Longmont didn’t have the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing within its city limits because the state was in charge of regulating the practice and a precedent had been set in 1992 when Greeley tried to ban drilling within its city limits only to lose that right in court after being sued.

Public comment went as expected with one speaker after another imploring council to appeal Mallard’s decision. Many reminded the seven-member council that 60 percent of Longmont voters supported the fracking ban and that those citizens expect council to fight for their ban as long and as far as possible. In some instances that reminder sounded like a plea and in others a threat.

And then something a bit unusual happened. After virtually no discussion, pro-oil and gas industry Councilwoman Bonnie Finley, the same Bonnie Finley who has fought for years now to allow the industry to drill and frack Longmont at will, opened her mouth and said she wanted to make a motion that was going to surprise people.

“There’s a need for clarity on the issue,” she said. “That’s why I am supporting this [appeal], and that’s why I believe we should go all the way.”

And then she said one more thing.

“And I also believe we should invite other communities with similar interests to join our case.”

The crowd went wild. The other members of council, both those who were recently voted in by the antifracking crowd and those who are more industry-friendly, quickly echoed Finley’s sentiments. They all agreed with great enthusiasm that all the other communities along with Boulder County that have fracking bans or moratoriums should hitch their antifracking wagons to Longmont’s appeal.

Translation: Look at this really great giant horse Finley is offering to us as a gift. Let’s take it inside the fort, celebrate our victory and get a good night’s sleep.

For those unfamiliar with Longmont City Council, for more than a decade Finley has been employed by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry a.k.a. the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Her job at the state level is government affairs and membership retention. So who are some of the members that she is working to retain? How about trade groups like the Colorado Petroleum Association, Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the American Chemical Industry, all groups whose profits are increased by way of drilling and fracking. COGA is even one of the organizations who is suing Longmont over its ban.

The fact that Finley has not recused herself from votes on issues like fracking — an issue wherein her employer has a stated position and is actively trying to sway public opinion and lobbying to create a more oil-andgas -friendly regulatory environment at the state and local level — is an appalling abuse of Longmont’s democratic process. It’s like giving the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry a proxy vote at the center of one of the most important issues in Colorado history. It is also an incredible oversight by her council peers that they have not demanded that she recuse herself in light of this clear and substantial conflict of interest.

So why the sudden change of heart by Finley at Tuesday’s council meeting? First, I think that everyone on council knew that the city was going to appeal, so one dissenting vote wouldn’t have mattered.

Second Finley’s or her boss’s or COGA’s, however you want to interpret who controls this council seat, suggestion that all the communities with bans and moratoriums join Longmont’s appeal is pretty shrewd. After all, even the anti-frackers applauded the suggestion. But it may well be a Trojan horse of sorts.

The oil and gas industry is certain that it will eventually prevail in defeating the Longmont ban. They may yet be wrong, but truth be told, they think they will win sooner than later as the courts seem to be rushing through the fracking cases these days.

After the great Jared Polis debacle left the industry with a two-year drilling window before the next attempt can be made by citizens to create a constitutional amendment that can protect communities from the dangers of drilling and fracking, getting the rigs going in Boulder County potentially has a 24-month timeline.

So getting Lafayette, Boulder, Broomfield and Boulder County all into one court case wherein their concerns and legal arguments could all be dismissed at the same time would really help the industry exploit this small window of opportunity to drill up Boulder County . If each of the towns and the county fight their lawsuits and presumed-to eventually-be-filed lawsuits individually, it will no doubt drag things out much longer, regardless of the final outcomes, quite likely well past the Polis/industry created twoyear drilling window.

So thanks for your motion Bonnie Finley and thanks for your vote to appeal. But as for your invitation to get all the governmental entities to join Longmont’s appeal, I think that the elected officials getting your invitation will see it for what it is, an attempt to get the rigs drilling more quickly in Boulder County. Thanks but no thanks.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

A Call for More Balance at Vance Brand

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

Mi-Hile Skydiving’s Twin Otter skydiving plane.

I write to express a moderate opinion regarding the current conflict between many county residents and Mile High Skydiving. We live a few miles west of the Vance Brand Airport and plainly hear the excessive and rather continuous noise from the jump planes as they climb at maximum rate, then descends under 75 percent power to expedite their subsequent loads to altitude, often within minutes of each other. It is onerous and unfortunate.

Mile-Hi Skydiving is operating within the limits of a federal law which doesn’t restrict aircraft noise or frequency of operation. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) reserves the exclusive control of the skies throughout the U.S., and restricts local control of the airway system so that free, unimpeded air traffic can be unencumbered by a myriad of local regulation. This concept makes sense for air transportation of people and goods between airports.

The logic of this system breaks down, in my opinion, when those FAA regulations are used to allow a very noisy operation such as Mile-Hi Skydiving, to operate from, and back to, the same airport on a continuous basis, climbing and descending over the same areas of the county at full power settings. That doesn’t seem to me to be the intent of the FAA purpose for exclusive control of the airspace.

Tim Barth, the airport manager, has correctly used this argument in the past, stating that he has little control over activities that are regulated by the FAA. However, there have been several instances where local municipalities have successfully enacted noise control regulations at their airports. I believe that the City of Longmont does have the authority, if it so chooses, to control operations at its airport, including limiting excessive noise from planes, their hours and frequency of operation, hangar activities, etc.

The pressures to enact such control seem to come from a small part of the populous, many of whom are not city residents. So, from legislators’ “re-election perspective”, there’s little incentive to respond to complaints. Like me, there are probably many who are offended by the noise, but see little benefit of complaining to the deaf ears of the airport. Although Mile-Hi Skydiving provides little to the city in the way of taxes (it even purchases its own wholesale fuel rather than supporting the newly christened Elite Aviation) its activity does increase the utilization of the airport which probably aids in justifying federal funding.

However, the life of a small airport is fragile. Each year many across the country close due to inactivity, citizen mandate, or development pressures. Vance Brand has, so far, been relatively successful in maintaining a good support base of both the aircraft owners and the citizenry. But most of the airport tenants and pilots (I’m one) do not appreciate Mile-Hi Skydiving’s hazard to flying and their noisy activities. And more and more local citizens don’t either, resulting in deteriorated relations between the airport and the voters. Eventually there may be enough pressure from such sources to encourage a decision from legislators to move or close the airport.

Those feelings are progressing now. Many will tell you how beneficial the skydiving operation is to the airport. But many more will tell you that it is having a far more deleterious effect.

Gary Rubin lives in Longmont.

The Trouble With Jared

First published at ColoradoPols by Whiskey Lima Juliet.
Full disclosure, I think Jared’s one of the best congressmen the state of Colorado has ever had. The fact that he’s shaking up the establishment Dems is proof I’m right. -FRL

Congressman Jared Polis

Congressman Jared Polis

I recently read the Eli Stokols hit piece on Jared Polis “The Trouble with Jared” and I thought “the trouble with Jared?” How about the trouble with the Democratic Party. The “Trouble with Jared” is, he is a Democrat and it appears the rest of the Party has forgotten what that means.

While the Denver insiders fret about the fact that they still can’t control Jared, the rest of Colorado is cheering him on. Jared is a leader. Leadership was explained to me by my military father and my time in the military, I grew up understanding that leadership is sometimes lonely. Jared is always on the right side of being a democrat. Jared’s a disrupter, he always has been. He is out there being the change the Democrats wanted to see. And it appears he is always alone on the right side of history.

He was making the establishment unconformable when he started his schools for recent immigrants at a time when the Democrats in the state were campaigning on passing the toughest immigration laws in the country.

They were mad as hell when he proposed Amendment 41 to limit gifts and free dinner from lobbyist to law makers. That pissed off a bunch of the “buy me and my friends’ tickets to all of ball games, galas and expensive dinners in exchange for my vote on your issue” elected officials. (Yeah, you know who you are)

Then there was my favorite move by Jared, he supported the cannabis industry.

He honestly supported it. He did not give the behind the door cowardly response of, “Well, Wanda, of course we support not locking up minorities, but I have tough race and I am too much of coward to actually let people know what I think” crowd. Jared was upfront about his approach. And like all of his decisions, he was unwavering and on the right side of the issue and on the right side of history. He introduced a bill in Congress to legalize marijuana only to have his home state actually do it a few months later and now the NY Times is calling for Congress to take up his bill.

While Jared is making the political class “nervous” they might be wise to tune into what the people of Colorado are saying. We are in desperate need of bold leadership and a vision for the future. To be honest, can any of you give one example of vision from any of the elected officials? Supporting Oil and Gas is not visionary.

The trouble with Jared, is that he belongs to a party that is increasing out of step with Coloradans and they are spinning their wheels trying to take him down a peg. He is rich, he is gay, he is outspoken and he wears bow ties with polo shirts. They have no idea how to handle him. And I love it. And apparently, so do the voters of Colorado.

Read the rest of this great article at ColoradoPols.

Littwin: Mr. Attorney General, the gay marriage ship has sailed

From the Colorado Independent.

ping_missing_the_boat

In case you missed it, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Yes, it’s big news, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking news. Not any more. Maybe not ever again.

According to NPR’s Nina Totenberg, that makes 29 consecutive rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. I don’t know what the record is — but I wonder if the Supreme Court would really be willing to snap the streak.

The rulings began a year ago after the Supreme Court shot down key sections of the Defense of Marriage Act. Every ruling since has determined that marriage is a fundamental right. Once you get into fundamental rights, that’s pretty much the beginning and end of the story.

We’ve heard the same stories from judges appointed by Obama, by both Bushes, by Clinton, by Reagan. This is about as bipartisan as you can get in modern-day America.

Suthers’s ongoing losing legal battle feeds directly into the contention that the state’s Republicans have a 21st-century social-issues problem, beginning with personhood and following all the way to same-sex marriage.

Mark Herring, Virginia’s attorney general, put it this way: “Sometimes battles have been fought in the legislature, sometimes in the courtroom, sometimes even in the streets, but inevitably no effort to restrict the rights or limit the opportunities of our fellow Americans has ever succeeded in the long term.”

But no civil rights issue has moved so quickly through the courts — or so nearly unanimously. The point of the Virginia ruling was duly noted in bordering North Carolina, where the real news of the day happened. North Carolina is also covered by the 4th Circuit and has a same-sex-marriage ban similar to the one in Virginia. And so, seeing the ruling, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper held a news conference to say his state was throwing in the towel on same-sex marriage. You know, before someone gets hurt.

Cooper explained that attorneys general across the country have made “almost every possible legal argument” in dozens of cases and that the courts “have rejected them each and every time.”

“So,” he concluded, “it’s time for North Carolina to stop making them.”

If you heard the news conference, you may have had the same question I had: If this is so clear to Cooper — that there are no new arguments to make — then what in the name of fundamental rights is our attorney general, John Suthers, thinking?

The 10th Circuit in Denver was the first U.S. Appeals Court to uphold a ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. That case was about Utah’s ban, but the 10th Circuit also covers Colorado and its ban. Maybe you can see a pattern. But Suthers apparently does not. He is not simply continuing the fight against same-sex marriage. He’s taking on all comers and, if necessary, all of them at once. I don’t know how big his staff is, but if there’s a courtroom anywhere in Colorado, Suthers is probably there.

Of course, all hell broke loose here when Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall started issuing marriage licenses in Boulder County. By the time Denver began issuing them, chaos had set in. Two courts ruled Boulder could continue to issue licenses. The state Supreme Court ruled Denver should not. Yes, there was chaos, but what civil rights action doesn’t include at least a touch of pandemonium? And now Suthers is back trying to stop Hall again.

Suthers says it’s clear-cut. He says it’s his job to defend the Colorado law until the end, and that he thinks, despite all the rulings, that the law is constitutional. He’s ready to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will, of course, get the last word. And probably as soon as next year.

There’s cost, of course, and not just in court costs. It has been suggested that Suthers — who has never said publicly how he feels about same-sex marriage — might be running for another office (mayor of Colorado Springs, anyone?). And that as a Republican, it would help him to make this case. But I doubt very much it’s as simple as that.

This very public case can’t be very good for Colorado Republicans. In fact, it feeds directly into the Democratic contention — available in a campaign ad on a big-screen TV near you — that the state’s Republicans have a 21st-century social-issues problem, beginning with personhood and following all the way to same-sex marriage.

You can’t entirely avoid the politics in this, even if the judges seem to. The Virginia attorney general, who refused to defend his state’s law, is a Democrat. North Carolina’s Cooper is a Democrat. The South Carolina attorney general, a Republican, said he would continue to defend his state’s ban on same-sex marriage. There’s a pattern there, too.

But if you read the 4th Circuit ruling, a 2-1 decision, the judges made the Virginia case particularly hard to defend. It took us back to the days of racial segregation and back to the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling, in which the Supreme Court upended Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.

In his opinion, Judge Henry Floyd said it was no different today for gay couples who wish to marry.

“Denying same-sex couples this choice,” Floyd wrote, “prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

It’s a difficult argument to defeat. Which is how you get 29 wins in a row.

[ Top image of Ping, missing the boat. ]

In both the public and private sector, power is the power to hide

From SunlightFoundation

by Emily Shaw

In academic definitions of power, power is equated with influence over others. In Max Weber’s frequently-cited formulation, power is “the chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others.”  Harold Lasswell similarly describes politics as the art of determining “who gets what, when and how” and examines how individuals influence others to achieve those outcomes.

In the 21st century, the power to influence runs up against the internet-enabled equality of informational arms. When regular people can see how influence is being exercised, that influence can be highlighted and discussed — and is counterbalanced by public recognition of its antidemocratic effects.

In order for power to preserve itself, it now uses its influence to hide.

Read the rest at SunlightFoundation.com


I’ve watched this exact phenomenon happening in Longmont, starting with the 2009 city council election; powerful forces were set in motion and secret deals were very obviously made.

The numbers are clear, the election was bought and paid for.

Gabe Santos

Longmont City Council member Gabe Santos

Under no circumstances should Gabe Santos be left on council – he’s tied directly to corruption and his own supporters admitted being in on the hidden attacks waged in his campaign’s name.

Funny how it all spins down and around to oil.

Watch Santos fight tooth and nail for fracking at all costs – that’s what his masters paid for years ago, likely when he was working for Tom Delay.

Pro-fracking group books TV ads before November election

Ad financiers: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Coal for those who play Santa only for the already rich

Congratulations to those secret Santas, Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn for not passing the unemployment extension. That will show those 1.3 million slackers not to sponge off the government. Of course our secret Santas wouldn’t look at a jobs bill to get some of them off of unemployment. We can’t have that now could we? They also voted to cut $40 billion from food stamps for 3.4 million, seniors, veterans and children, half of the group. Let’s fire the janitors and let the kids get jobs cleaning the school bathrooms. Let’s not cut any corporate welfare though, ConAgra and Big Oil must have it to survive and contribute to our heroes.

They couldn’t afford to spend $25 billion on unemployment, but didn’t bat an eye at wasting $26 billion on a government shutdown that accomplished nothing.

Why should these lazy people get a couple hundred a week unemployment or $1.45 a meal for food stamps when Congress only gets $174,000 a year for working a whole two or three days a week. This is the most unproductive Congress in history. It makes Harry Truman’s “Do Nothing” Congress look like a dynamo. Congratulations again for seeing that all those slackers and never-do-wells get what they deserve while you have your turkey and ham with all the trimmings. Maybe that will teach them to get off their dead south ends and work hard like you in Congress. By the way, why is your approval rating at a huge 9 per cent?

Who is getting the free lunch exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the facts, not fiction, at feedingamerica.org

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

Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns’ Fracking Fight

Published on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Common Dreams

‘Industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.’

– Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

In what many are calling the new “ground zero” in the national fight against fracking, the toxic gas and oil extracting process is on the ballot in four Colorado towns where citizens are taking on the heavyweights of the fossil fuel industry.

Following the example of Longmont, which last year became the first Colorado city to ban fracking, next Wednesday, voters in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette and Fort Collins will have the opportunity to choose whether or not they support the controversial extraction method of shale oil and gas in their communities.

The Denver Business Journal provides this rundown of the four ballot measures:

  • Broomfield: Question 300 would impose a five-year prohibition on all fracking.
  • Fort Collins: Its measure would create a five-year moratorium on fracking and storage of waste products related to the oil and gas industry in town.
  • City of Boulder: 2H proposes a five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
  • Lafayette: Question No. 300 would ban new oil and gas wells in town. [As well as] prohibit “depositing, storing or transporting within city limits any water, brine, chemical or by-products used in or that result from extraction of oil and gas.”

Though local ballot initiatives, these are no small-town battles. According to reports, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) has poured over $600,000 into campaigns against the moratoriums.

“The oil and gas industry is trying to intimidate voters by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy this election,” Laura Fronckiewicz, campaign manager for the pro-moratorium group Our Broomfield, told Denver Westword.

Among those industry insiders who are concerned that the success of these local initiatives could spell trouble for the future of fracking in the west, Tim Wigley, president of oil and gas trade group Western Energy Alliance, said, “I’ve really beat the drum with our members […] across the West about how dangerous a precedent these could be if they become law.”

“The whole country is looking at Colorado as ground zero.” The state, he added, “has been traditionally a big-time [energy] producer, and the industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.”

Three of the four initiatives propose a temporary ban on the process which, according to Fronckiewicz, will allow researchers more time to determine fracking’s “true effects” on residents’ health and the environment.

Colorado’s history as an energy-producing state where landowners’ mineral rights are often owned by commercial entities compound the challenges faced by these grassroots initiatives.

The City of Longmont—where last November nearly 60 percent of voters approved an amendment that prohibited fracking and the disposal of fracking waste products within city limits—is currently facing suits by both the COGA and the state.

Those suits, however, have not succeeded in deterring others from taking up their own fight against Big Oil and Gas.

“People on Colorado’s Front Range enjoy their quality of life and this industry represents an immediate threat to public health and that quality of life,” Cliff Willmeng of the activist group East Boulder County United told the Denver Post. “People see that the question of the environment is not an abstraction—it’s something we’re living through now.”

COGA turns to Boulder Weekly with latest spin

The industry feebly attempts to remove egg on its collective face from flood coverage.

Editor’s Note:  The following appeared in the Boulder Weekly in response to a letter to the editor by Doug Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association  Flanders is the Director of Policy and External Affairs for COGA.  In layman’s lingo, he’s the go-to guy when COGA needs someone to trash those in Colorado who seek to protect their communities from the known dangers of fracking for oil and gas to health and the environment .


Flared gasOh, Mr. Flanders! I can’t figure out whether you’re wringing your hands in distress and bewilderment or in delight at being able, yet again, to take pot shots at the environment.  Yes, I wrote environment. I did not mean “environmentalists.”

I know a thing or two about the oil and gas industry. Once upon a time I had an insider’s look at it. So before you drip away in self-praise at your community-assistance motives, let me point out that your industry has a 40-plus-year history of spending millions upon millions upon millions of dollars to repair a badly bruised and battered public image. (Remember the 1970s?)

While those who are benefiting from the “assistance” that your mega-billion-dollar companies have contributed towards relief, auditors will find those write-offs buried in your accounting under a derivative of public relations.

You know that your alleged compassion and generosity goes well beyond helping your fellow man and his environment. If there were such genuine caring, your industry wouldn’t be creating the environmental chaos that you inflict each and every day.

Methane released into the air that is damaging to human health as ozone and to the climate even more than carbon dioxide. Chemicals thrust into the ground and brought back up that are causing serious illness to children and adults alike. Total disregard of communities’ rights to self-determination. Perhaps we should do an amputation of your industry’s collective middle finger. Would that it were just that easy.

Your partner-in-crime Tisha Schuller looked to be agonizing when interviewed during television reporting on oil spills, tanks tipped and overturned, berms that allegedly contain contamination washed into farmland and waterways in the aftermath of the flooding. While Ms. Schuller was telling the viewing audience “Don’t worry, be happy,” the cut-aways were showing such images. Now really, Mr. Flanders, do you expect us to believe her — and you?

So as a reaction to your public relations disaster from the flood, you pulled out your Rapid Response Team to come up with an approach to remedy the bruises from falling on your faces. Those dastardly ordinary citizens — moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, doctors, nurses, neighbors, friends — all those people who dare to point out the obvious and according to you and your mouthpieces are using a disaster to drive home a reality that you don’t want in public consciousness. Your industry causes damage — to people’s health and safety, to the environment, to the climate, to the air we breathe and water we drink and use to grow our food. And you will continue to cause that damage until you are stopped. We plan to do just that. And we will do it with truth, justice and the truly American way — not with lie on top of lie on top of lie, not by calling in chits with elected officials, not with lawsuits where the only intent is to deprive people and communities of their rights and well-being. You are on the wrong side of history, Mr. Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the wrong side.

 

Coloradans will continue to say “No” to oil and gas without action.

The following Guest Commentary appeared in The Denver Post on June 27, 2013 and is reproduced on Free Range Longmont with permission from State Representative Mike Foote.
Mike Foote, Colorado State Representative, House District 12

Mike Foote, Colorado State Representative, House District 12

Oil and gas is an issue that will not go away. The number of active wells in Colorado has doubled over the last four years. The number of spills and other contamination incidents has also increased. Drilling has encroached ever closer to more densely populated areas. The industry will spend and make billions of dollars in Colorado in the upcoming years.

People across Colorado have expressed legitimate concerns about their health and safety as well as their lack of a voice in the process. Changes to the system to increase transparency, accountability, local control and safety can go a long way in addressing those concerns.

That’s why I and other legislators brought forward proposals, including imposing minimum penalties for serious violations of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and changing the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to focus on protecting public health and the environment, ending its conflicted dual role of promoting oil and gas drilling while simultaneously regulating it.

The industry opposed those bills, as well as others increasing water monitoring requirements, increasing the number of well inspectors, creating a health impact study, and assessing fees for local inspection programs. None of those common-sense reforms made it through the legislature.

However, some hope emerged at the end of the session when Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing the COGCC to “reevaluate its enforcement philosophy and approach.” The governor’s order went on to say, “Colorado requires strong and clear enforcement of the rules and assessment of fines and penalties accordingly.”

Implicit in the order was the recognition that enforcement of oil and gas industry regulations in Colorado is neither strong nor clear, and that the COGCC has become too cozy with the oil and gas operators it is supposed to be monitoring. It is my hope more progress can be made on this issue as well as many others related to oil and gas over the next year.

Recently, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association announced it would conduct a “listening tour” around the state this summer. As an elected official, my job is to listen to the people of Colorado all year long, and I hear widespread frustration about the current oil and gas system. Perhaps after listening like I have, COGA will be more interested in partnering toward some solutions rather than saying no to any real reform. Because if the industry continues to say “no,” the people of Colorado will say “no” to oil and gas.

That is exactly what is happening across the Front Range right now. Concerned citizens’ groups have popped up from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. A ballot measure banning fracking passed in Longmont with a bipartisan 60 percent margin. Ballot measures in other cities and counties are promised this year.

Instead of taking their concerns seriously, industry supporters have called these citizens extremists and hypocrites for heating their homes and driving cars to work. That isn’t the language of dialogue; that’s the language of confrontation. People have responded with the tools available to them: public protest and the ballot box.

Coloradans know that our most precious natural resources are not gas and oil, but water, air and natural beauty. They will act to protect what’s most precious.

Until Coloradans have confidence that the oil and gas industry is behaving responsibly in our state, and under strict environmental safeguards, we will see this dynamic continue. Building public confidence by setting and enforcing high standards will not only protect the environment and people’s health and safety, it will also protect the livelihoods of the Coloradans who work in the industry.

Negotiation requires more than just sitting at the negotiating table. It requires a willingness to accept opposing viewpoints and a commitment to find common ground. Coloradans deserve no less.

State Representative Mike Foote represents House District 12 in Longmont, Lafayette and Louisville.

 

 

President Obama: Fracked Gas is Not a Solution to Climate Change

I watched with anticipation yesterday as President Obama delivered his speech laying out his new climate action plan. Climate change is one of the most pressing issue of our time, and one on which the United States desperately needs to lead. While it was heartening to hear the President take on climate deniers and pledge to fight the problem, his full-throated advocacy for fracked natural gas and oil was more a case of two steps back than a giant step forward.

A major pillar of the President’s climate action plan is increased production and use of domestic fracked natural gas – and it wasn’t just gas – he also lauded increased domestic oil production. While Obama didn’t use the word “fracking,” that is the method used to extract gas and oil in communities across the country. He repeatedly referred to “clean burning natural gas” and lauded it as a “bridge fuel.” But if our goal is stemming climate change, fracked gas is a bridge to nowhere. It’s true that we need to identify new sources of energy, but we can’t drill away our energy problems.

Studies show that the process of drilling, fracking, processing and transporting natural gas releases a tremendous amount of methane into the air. Methane is 70-100 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.  Some recently published studies on methane emissions show that burning natural gas may be even worse, in terms of the overall greenhouse gas footprint, than burning coal for electricity and burning fuel oil to heat homes or run industrial boilers. A massive expansion of fracking threatens to undo any gains from other parts of his plan and may make matters even worse. For an excellent video on the intersection between fracking and climate change, check out this great explanation by Cornell Professor, Tony Ingraffea.

Ban Fracking NowThere is a strong and growing movement against fracking – not just because of its documented impact on water, air and communities, but also because it is a driver of climate change. PrintAmericans Against Fracking, a national coalition to ban fracking has over 200 organizational members and vibrant state based coalitions pushing for a ban in New York, Colorado, California and elsewhere.  People across the country are growing to understand what climate scientists have said for years—that we must leave our fossil fuels in the ground to avert climate change.

When I heard Obama talking about boosting the development of natural gas and oil yesterday, I got angry, but then I got energized. I got energized by the tens of thousands of people in New York pushing Governor Cuomo to ban fracking; I got energized by the amazing organizing in Pennsylvania and California to move the Democratic Party to endorse moratoriums on fracking; and I got energized by the people in Boulder County, Colorado who won an 18 month moratorium on fracking.

Our movement is growing and our elected officials have not caught up to their constituents. It’s critical that we pressure President Obama to listen to the science and to this growing movement against fracking for oil and gas. We also need to continue to hold him accountable for decisions he is making that contribute to climate change. His Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, for example, is facing critical decisions about fracking on public lands and his administration is also making key decisions on liquefied natural gas exports, pipeline projects and other infrastructure projects.

Take action now to tell President Obama that fracked gas and oil is not part of any climate solution.

Mark Schlosberg is the National Organizing Director of Food & Water Watch. He has a J.D. from New York University and a B.A. in Economics from University of California at Berkeley.