Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Burch Meets Baker

In another of the continuing archival series of Ginger Baker related footage, we have Clark Burch meeting Ginger Baker at the Parker, Colorado polo field. Burch had roped me into running camera, as you will hear. Clark talks about his dream jazz music video starring Ginger, to be shot later that summer. Related video here and here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I’ve been “under the weather” (aren’t we all?) with a sinus infection. Hence fewer posts. Now I’m on the second course of prescription antibiotics, this time with a steroid kicker. Does this stuff affect your mind? Is the long-awaited $600 trillion derivatives scheme tsunami coming on shore, or am I having a bad nasal hallucination. I usually spend Saturday morning listening to the 3-hour Financial Sense Newshour. It is well worth it, especially if want to know what is happening to you. If you can only listen for one hour, choose the second hour (December 20, 2008). Danielle Park has a book - Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom about money management, markets, and wealth that lasts. She’s very articulate and gives good advice. Also, here is the best graph explanation of current financial situation in pdf form that I have seen. Not satirical.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Best Report on US Finance

Thanks to the Onion News Network

Saturday, December 13, 2008

IRG: We will remove the landfill materials if we have to

“…or we would actually go through the process to get approval to remove that landfill material, if we have to, in those areas.” This is the first time I have heard IRG state that they would remove any of the “landfill materials” from the proposed “Lowry Vista” project site. If you are not familiar with the myriad details go here, here, here, and the index to the right. I recently learned that the water table on this site is just 2 feet below ground level. That makes sense when you think of the wetland just to the north, and the dam beyond that. What Marcus is trying to cover here is the fact that Urban Drainage said NO to the entire project, so IRG is proposing to dig out the north and build up to the south, to get the whole thing above the flood plane. Nonetheless, this is the first time I’ve heard IRG mention the possibility of actually doing what should have been done in the first place – dig up the landfill and haul it to a “safe” place, which I presume is in Nevada.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Local Local News

Sebastian House, a local non-profit founded in 1974, gives away thousands of new clothes items every year to the needy. This year we are adding a canned food drive. This is local local action, and will help your neighbors. Take a few cans of soup, tuna, or vegetables with you the next time you visit: Hairworks – 2201 Lafayette St. D’s Daily Dish - 1426 E 22nd Ave. East Denver Liquor – 1434 E 22nd Ave. On the Run Eatery – 1432 E 22nd Ave. Full disclosure: My partner Pat Manning and I are on the Board of Directors of Sebastian House, Inc.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Elyria about to get Stabilized.

I'm guessing most Denver residents don't even know where the Elyria neighborhood is located as they zoom over it on I-70. I probably wouldn't either were it not for the fact that my first job in Denver, back in 1972, involved going house-to-house there to distribute leaflets for the Denver Public Schools to encourage enrollment in a GED program. Tom Anthony, President of the Elyria Neighborhood Association, recently wrote: I was just served notice that my adjustable-rate mortgage is ratcheting up by 2 percent in February. As president of my neighborhood association, I also received notice by the city of Denver about their Neighborhood Stabilization Program dated Nov. 14, for which the comment period ends Dec. 1 - Monday. The plan involves the city taking possession of about $6 million in foreclosed properties by purchasing foreclosed mortgages from the banking industry that investors won't buy. We believe the shortened comment period is due to the fact the banks want to unload their defaulted paper onto the taxpayers in time to make consumer loans for Christmas. Another $10 million is being requested from the state for the purpose of purchasing and demolishing homes nobody wants, in neighborhoods nobody wants to live in. Thus, the "Neighborhood Stabilization Program" may direct up to 63 percent of its funding into purchasing and demolishing Denver homes and taking them out of the tax base. While some Denver neighborhoods are getting Historical District status - which means it virtually takes an act of Congress to remove a house - other neighborhoods stand to be at least decimated by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, in which an act of council can wipe out dozens if not hundreds of homes in one fell swoop. For this reason I must ask other neighborhoods to take note. Elyria Neighborhood has led the metro area in the foreclosure rate for nearly four years, ever since the Colorado Department of Transportation Web sited a proposed realignment of Interstate 70 that will put a 12-lane-wide stretch of that highway over our neighborhood. Three years ago the average home price in was $147,000. Today it's $61,000. Not surprisingly we are a "starter home" neighborhood and lots of people had ARMs. When you sign on the line for an ARM you know you have to keep your credit good and also invest in your home so you can get a good appraisal, or else you won't get a refinance and your interest rate will jump. I and many of my neighbors agreed to these terms because we did intend to improve our real estate. We remodeled, improved, added on, restored, landscaped, painted, applianced and furbished. Often we used credit accounts to accomplish this. However, we did not foresee the realignment of a 12-lane interstate highway over our neighborhood. It does little good to add a bathroom when your appraised value drops by 70 percent. Elyria was incorporated in 1880. We don't deserve this. Read more here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Seedco Gets Schooled

Seedco is back before City Council this evening, asking for a continuation ($3,000,000) of the Federal money Denver turns over to it for distribution as small business loans. As I understand it, Seedco is a not-for-profit out of New York which claims to “leverage” the money we give them. I think they are misusing that term and would advise that, in this over-leveraged financial environment, they use another word. What they actually do is “attract” additional private loans based on the credibility they get from receiving the Denver money. Apparently they haven’t been doing a very good job at their Denver office. Denver’s Office of Economic Development has been keeping track, and published a Monitoring report last week. There are many problems listed, but I’ll quote just one that seemed the most egregious to me. They don’t know how to create a filing system: Condition: Overall, the loan files appear to be disorganized, with no order or consistency. There are many files with a variety of documents inconsistently filed. Therefore, it is understandable that some documents are present in some files but not in others. Technical Asisstance offered: The Contract Administrator will provide the agency with a sample file and template to allow the agency to set up their files in a manner consistent with the way in which the City and County of Denver sets up their files in accordance with the direction of our HUD monitor. Recommendation: SEEDCO should purchase legal sized files with 6-8 compartments in order to facillitate file organiation to ensure compliance. The Contract Administrator will put together a sample file and provide technical assistance identifying the preferred method of organizing a file in order to assist SEEDCO in organizing their documents to facillitate a more comprehensive approach to establishing support documentation. All files should be reorganized in the prescribed method and missing documentation should be inserted by November 30, 2008. City Council voted last week to proceed, even though the Monitoring report was not yet available, and I’m guessing that Council will approve the continuation (another $3,000,000) tonight despite the seemingly incompetent manner in which the organization has been run.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive! Sir Walter Scott, 1771 - 1832 Last night’s (11-25-08) required public meeting for International Risk Group (IRG)'s submitted General Development Plan was another in a seemingly endless series (18 in 2008 and a total of over 60, they say) of public meetings concerning the “Lowry Vista” redevelopment project of the former Air Force toxic dump on Alameda. As usual, Marcus Pachner, the talented PR person for IRG, presented a slick, time-consuming slide show for the approximately 300 people in attendance. Essentially, he says, the project is an “idea” that will change over time, as IRG works through repeated official “no” decisions to forge ahead on the $10 (ten dollar) deal. Having attended and videotaped five of these meetings, I am aware that most of the presentation, and even the Q and A afterward, is repetitive and probably boring to the general reader of this blog. So I try to find a pivot point in the discussion, something I can cut out of the 2 ½ hours of blah, blah, blah. YouTube has a 10 minute limit, and readers have about a 2 minute limit before they get bored and click away. This requires me to review the entire meeting, looking for the gem, a moment that will crystallize the truth. I thought I had such a “moment of truth” from Tuesday’s meeting. In the Q and A, Adrienne Anderson, an expert on environmental radiation hazards, states, with regard to a California lawsuit brought by workers made ill from alleged radiation from an IRG project: “… and what was IRG’s response? They sued the workers to silence them, and, they also sued a website, a citizen-based website, that was posting documents about the workers allegations." "IRG took them to court to try to silence them, and a Federal judge, just about two weeks ago, ruled in favor of the worker’s right to speak up about the hazards of what he alleges is associated with his exposure on that site. So the liability, is to sue the people who are concerned, to shut them up. And that is their pattern….” So, to summarize, IRG sued the workers to shut them up, but a judge ruled in the workers’ favor and dismissed the lawsuit. Next comes Brent Anderson, attorney, with International Risk Group. “…as to suing, er, trying to chill Adrienne, I know the website, I guarantee you we haven’t done anything to chill it, AT LEAST NOT TO MY KNOWLEDGE, second of all, AS FAR AS I KNOW OF, any litigation that International Risk Group is involved in, in California, we were sued, we haven’t sued anybody. And I think its really important to make that clear”. Here is the lawsuit. Scroll down to 32(h) and (i) for mention of Adrienne Anderson. Note that 1000 "Does" are named. Ok, this looks fairly clear cut. Did or did not IRG sue the workers in California who were suing them? Well, not so fast, it turns out there are two different IRGs being referred to here; International Risk Group and Industrial Realty Group. Both of their websites claim Lowry Vista as one of their projects. The citizen website in question, KaiserPapers.info, details the web of interlocking IRG LLCs (as in Limited Liability Company), in Colorado, Nevada, and California. There is even a patent on the process of turning "brownfields" into money. Two hours later Wait, wait... oh no, there are at least 21 IRGs in Colorado alone. For more, check out California and Nevada Secretary of State offices. So when Adrienne says IRG (Industrial Realty Group) sued the workers, she is correct. And when Brent says IRG (International Risk Group) hasn’t sued anyone, he is correct(but he really isn't making anything clear). And by the way, if you want to get really creepy, the Kaiser Papers website was recently hacked and completely destroyed by what is alleged to be the “Russian mafia”, and the Downey Studios project in California caught fire just hours after the judge ruled against them. This is getting really IRGsome. My head is hurting from IRGness overload. As they say at the Kaiser Papers website “The Justice Department needs to sort this out.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Local Local News

Welcome aboard to Cathy Calder of BlondeDesign, who brings local neighborhood news and upcoming events to our eclectic mix. Sunflower Market The Cole neighborhood is working with surrounding neighborhoods in hopes of attracting a Sunflower Market to Northeast Denver. They would like to gather signatures by January 10th which will then be submitted to Sunflower markets along with a request for a meeting with Sunflower. If you are supportive of this effort, please sign the petition linked below and include your comments. WNA will keep the Whittier Neighborhood updated on the status of this effort. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/NEDenverSunflowerMarket/ Also, feel free to share this information with other neighborhood associations if they would like to join in the effort. All suggestions are welcome. Please email Jules Kelty at cna.denver@gmail.com. _____________________________________________________________ Pick It Up Project A class at Manual High School is currently participating in a service project to try to help with the litter problem at their school called "Pick it Up." Their class has done a lot of research at their school and in the community; they have found that Manual does not have enough trashcans and the ones they do have are not visible enough. Their goal is to place 12 new trashcans throughout their school campus in highly-trafficked areas as well as to paint them so that they are more eye catching. They are also going to do an awareness campaign to try and promote a litter-free community. They believe this will not only benefit Manual High School, but the greater community as well as it teaches students to be more respectful and responsible with their trash. They cannot do this project without your help. Would you like to support the project? If so, you can make checks payable to the Cottonwood Institute. This is the non-profit organization sponsoring the class. They are happy to pick the check up, or you can also mailit to: Manual High School Attn: Leslie Douglass & the Cottonwood Institute 1700 E. 28th St. Denver, CO 80205 Do you need more information? Someone from their class can come by and speak with you or you can contact the teacher, who will let then know when and how to get back in touch with you. Her name is Leslie Douglass. Her phone number is: 303.570.3716 or her email is leslie@cottonwoodinstitute.org _______________________________________________________________________ NEIGHBORHOOD VITAL SIGNS Building Inclusive, Effective and Connected Neighborhoods in Denver • Tired of trying the same things year after year in your neighborhood but not seeing results? • Are you interested in helping your neighborhood develop a shared vision and clear goals? • Would you like to learn how to use data to strengthen your neighborhood efforts? • Would you like your neighborhood to be more connected and engaged? Community Learning Exchange Sat., Dec. 6 Breakfast @ 8:30am . Learning Exchange from 9am - 2pm Manual High School - 27th Ave. & Williams St. (Childcare is Available) Join us as we learn about the Neighborhood Vital Signs Project--a new effort to promote strong neighborhoods by giving residents, businesses and other stakeholders the tools to create a shared vision, measure progress on what matters most, and work together to achieve their goals. Keynote Speaker John Stern, Executive Director of the Nashville Neighborhoods Resource Center and Chairman of the Nashville Neighborhood Alliance will discuss his extensive experiences using data and indicators to strengthen neighborhood activism and outcomes. Please respond to LaDawn @ 303.996.7350 or email lsullivan@denverfoundation.org by Dec. 4th! THE LEARNING EXCHANGE IS FREE, BUT RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED Presented by: The Strengthening Neighborhoods Program of The Denver Foundation, The Civic Canopy, Piton Foundation, City of Denver's Office of Community Planning, CiviCore, OMNI Institute, Athmar Park Neighborhood Assoc., Northeast Park Hill Coalition, and Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods. ______________________________________________________________________________ Home Installation Rebates Greenprint Denver has partnered with the Smart Energy Living Alliance and the Governor's Energy Office's 2008 Insulate Colorado program to offer cash-back rebates* to qualifying Denver homeowners who make energy efficient improvements to their homes. The rebates will be issued for the installation of either attic or exterior wall insulation and basic air sealing measures, performed by an approved contractor. To learn more visit: www.greenprintdenver.org. If you have any questions, contact Smart Energy Living Alliance for additional information at 303-216-2026 or email kelsmore@SELAlliance.org. * The rebates cover 20 percent of the total cost of insulation and air sealing upgrades or $300, whichever is less. Rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until program funding is exhausted. This is a limited time offer so rebates are not guaranteed. ________________________________________________________________ Rejoicing the Roots PREMIER Screenings: Mon. & Tues., Nov. 24 & 25 . 7 pm ESQUIRE THEATRE: 6th Ave. & Downing St., Denver, Colorado Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, one of the Colorado's most renowned, enduring contemporary dance ensembles, and Jae Ram Arts' Tom Tilton are pleased to announce a new digital film release Rejoicing the Roots. A film unlike any other, uniquely editted, bringing the thrill of live performance to the big screen. Mournin' Son, is an excerpt from Cleo's original Spiritual Suite, an offering from her dance ensemble's early repertoire, featuring Marceline Freeman & Randy Brooks; performed here for the first time with live musical accompaniment directed by Tom Tilton with his Improvisation Music/Theatre Ensemble. A Jazz Suite for Ann is presented here for the first time since the original World Premiere stage production played to over-capacity crowds attending each performance in 1998. Cleo offers tribute to her life long mentor and cousin Ann Henry, who's legacy as one of the innovator's of Jazz Dance, inspired this 6 movement Suite. It is uniquely choreographed, narratively and figuratively blending solos and duets into double-ensemble improvisations in a celebration of the freedom of modern American Jazz Dance! Watch the trailer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCsjKmVzjVY _________________________________________________________________ Share a Cycle Nov 1-30 Donate your outgrown kids' bikes to be refurbished for youth served by Denver Kids, Inc. Bikes will be accepted at the following locations: The Cherry Creek Bike Rack - 171 Detroit Street, 303-388-1630 Campus Cycles - 2102 S. Washington Street, 303-698-2811 For more information, call 303-377-7086 or visit www.transolutions.org. ____________________________________________________________________ Citizen Emergency Response Training (CERT) Dec. 9 & 10 . 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (both days needed to receive a certificate) When a disaster hits, we can't always depend on professional responders to be immediately available. We would like to have the citizens of Denver trained to help within their own communities. This 16-hour disaster preparedness and response training will include how to plan for a disaster and teach basic response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. At the completion of this training, participants are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in our community. This training is open to anyone. They will accept up to 40 participants and there is no cost. Sponsored by the Office of Emergency Management, Denver Fire Department, and the Denver Police Department. Where: Denver Police District #3, Community room, 1625 South University Blvd, Denver, CO 80210 For More Information and Registration: http://www.denvergov.org/oem; Carolyn H. Bluhm, OEM: 720.865.7600; or email, DenverCERT@denvergov.org ________________________________________________________________________ Mayor Hickenlooper Seeks Suggestions for Naming Justice Center Complex Facilities Mayor John Hickenlooper today invited Denver citizens to submit suggestions for naming the two central buildings of the City's new Justice Center Complex - the Detention Center and Courthouse. In May 2005, Denver voters approved the bond initiative and land acquisition for the Denver Justice Center Complex. Construction is expected to be complete by December 2009. Per City ordinance, public buildings can be named only for "outstanding persons who have been influential in the cultural, political, economical or social life of the community or in recognition of an individual or corporation which has contributed substantial funding for the construction of the public buildings or major component of public buildings." Anyone can submit a naming suggestion if they provide at least 100 signatures supporting the suggestion and a reason why the building should be named after the suggested individual. The City's Office of Human Rights and Community Relations will collect proposals through Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008, and submit them to the Justice Center Citizen Naming Task Force, currently being assembled by the Mayor's Office. The Task Force will hold its first meeting the first week of December to review the project and select a chairperson. The Mayor will then meet with the task force the week of Dec. 15 to finalize nominees, which will be presented to City Council the last week of December. To submit naming suggestions, contact Anthony Aragon at 720-913-8462 for complete instructions and a petition form. Once 100 supporting signatures have been obtained, suggestions should be submitted with an explanation of their relevance to Anthony Aragon, Director of Community Relations, Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Department 1102, Denver, CO 80202.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Economic Hurricane - Best Explanation

It's been hard to pay much attention to anything other than the economic hurricane, now that it is upon us. I've been writing about its coming for the past three years. People got tired of my ranting and raving over at Astounding News, my other blog. Now that it is here, there is no stopping it. The current action taken by the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Bank in concert with the Treasury Department amounts to the final rape of this country by the Bush administration. If you want to understand how this happened, read this. It's the best explanation I've seen so far. Obama's choice of Timothy Geithner, the New York Fed president, is not a good sign. Instead he should be seeking to nationalize the Fed and take the power from this cabal, whose greed is now plunging the world into chaos. The last person contemplating such an action was John F. Kennedy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bee Keeping in Denver

Denver City Council considered, and passed, a new ordinance to allow 2 hives per zone lot in Denver. I've condensed the two-hour discussion into 5 minutes for your viewing enjoyment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


In some circles, being known as a “developer” is worse than being a sex offender. Try to build a new structure (allowed by the zoning code) and the neighborhood goes into high-gear to “protect” itself from any change. You may recall my reaction (Overlay Express) when 20% of my neighborhood forced an “overlay” on our R-3 and R-4 properties to prevent building anything over 35-feet high. In my opinion, overlays are an illegal taking of property rights – an end-run around existing zoning laws. And even worse is ad-hoc down-zoning, in this case changing an R-2 area into an R-1, drastically changes what you can build on your own property. Anyone buying a property with plans to build will be thwarted if the neighbors don’t like your project and submit a down-zoning application, or as in this case, get their Councilperson to go for a "legislative" application. As Councilman Brown said “this is happening all over the City.” But when a Councilperson defames the reputation of a developer at a public meeting with unfounded accusations of “incompetence, and dangerousness” and rumors of “fraud and forgery”, a line may have been crossed. Is this then “slander”? From Wikipedia “Slander refers to a malicious, false, and defamatory spoken statement or report… Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts which arises where one person reveals information which is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. Slander per se The four (4) categories of slander per se are (i) accusing someone of a crime; (ii) alleging that someone has a foul or loathsome disease; (iii) adversely reflecting on a person’s fitness to conduct his business or trade; and (iv) imputing serious sexual misconduct (especially the chastity of a woman). Once again, all you would have to prove is that someone had published the statement to a third party. No proof of special damages is required." Madison's Statement “As you mentioned this date of September 8th, and that was very early in my relationship with Mr. Greg Thomas, and after I, you know, because he had worked with me, not really with the neighbors, he had worked with me, to try to get this, ah, his 9 units in place, um, I felt like that that would be the thing to do, but then, as I found out more and more about this man, I realized that he was not just, you know, rude, but incompetent and dangerous…I’m not going to go on and on about Greg, but I also got calls saying he’d been, was under investigation for fraud and forgery, um, you know, um, that’s just sorta how it went…and I kinda decided that this gentleman should not only not build 22 units, should not build 9 units, but probably should not build a dog house in Park Hill. And so I changed my mind.” Oh my, the Queen has changed her mind. Project allowed despite rezoning By Christopher N. Osher The Denver Post Article Last Updated: 11/04/2008 02:23:49 AM MST The Denver City Council approved a contentious rezoning late Monday, but it also crafted a compromise that will allow a property owner to go forward with a multiunit housing project despite the change. The council debated the topic until well after 11 p.m. An 11 to 2 majority, led by Councilwoman Carla Madison, finally supported the rezoning for a portion of Park Hill. An amendment to the rezoning had passed earlier in the night on a 9 to 4 vote. That amendment allows property owner Chad Anderson to proceed with a controversial development for nine townhomes. The wider rezoning would prevent similar multiunit development in the 21.5 acres bordered by East 16th Avenue, Batavia Place, Albion Street and Dahlia Street. It would change the zoning from R2, a category which allows duplexes and multiplexes, to an R1 zoning category, which places more restrictions on density and limits new development to single-family residences. Anderson pleaded with the council to allow his project to go forward, saying he had invested more than $1 million and faced bankruptcy if his plans were denied. He said he had bought out an earlier partner, developer Greg Thomas, who had angered residents by pushing a bigger plan for 40 three-story townhomes. Rezoning debates have been among the most controversial subjects for the council to tackle, and this one proved no less volatile. Tensions were high throughout the night, with both sides saying their property rights were at stake. Most neighborhood residents favored limiting development to single-family homes. Rezoning opponent Meredith Carson told the council that a developer had planned to buy her lot with a small bungalow. The rezoning proposal scared that developer away, she said, and her property is now worth $150,000 less. Update: Meredith Carson wrote a letter to the Rocky Mountain News. The Denver Post provides a good summary article.

"A landfill that will take monitoring forever and ever."

Attending an International Risk Group (IRG) public forum on the proposed Lowry Vista project is an exercise in futility, as the event is controlled by a slick IRG visual presentation, and the public is limited as to what subjects are “appropriate” for discussion. The meeting held Nov. 14, 2008, was worse than usual because most of the slides were unreadable, taken directly from the General Development Plan being submitted. But when the floor was opened for discussion, the fireworks broke out. Marcia Johnson gave her version of the history of the of this 80-acre former Air Force toxic waste dump. Interestingly, she said the site was a “landfill that would take monitoring forever and ever”. If, as IRG claims, there is nothing dangerous in the landfill, why would it have to be monitored forever and ever? Anne Calliston, herself an expert in this history, could not contain her disdain for Johnson’s defense of the project. For more on this project, click here. If IRG gets its way, I can imagine what a Lowry Vista resident might endure. Knock, knock. Yes? I'm here to check the radiation levels in your condo. Come on in, but don't wake the baby, she hasn't been feeling well lately.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

City Park West Neighborhood Association Bylaws

an email from Dave Webster: -------------------------------------------------------------- IMPORTANT NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING This meeting is very important to our neighborhood and is cosponsored by Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Wyman Historic District, Uptown Neighborhood Watch, City Park West, and, hopefully West City Park. It will be held on November 13th at 6:30PM at the old Harry's Chop House between the Vine Street Pub and the Vintage Theater. This is the northeast corner of Vine and E. 17th before the alley. This is a multipurpose meeting. Item 1 is to discuss the redevelopment of the Planned Parenthood building at 2030 E. 20th Avenue (at Vine) Item 2 is to update us on the redevelopment of Children's Hospital just west of Downing Item 3 is to elect two delegates to the Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods Board from our district (2). Item 4 is to elect officers of City Park West so it can again function effectively for our neighborhood in dealings with the city especially zoning and liqour licenses, the Uptown Neighborhood Watch and West City Park are focused on other issues. District 2 of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods is the area bounded by Colfax, 22nd Avenue, York and Park Avenue City Park West boundarv is bounded by Colfax, 22nd Avenue, York and Park Avenue. Please join us for an interesting evening that we will attempt to hold to one hour. Thanks for your consideration. Dave Webster ------------------------------------------------------------------ I (your blogger) scanned the copy below of the CPWNA Bylaws in the event that meeting attendees want to check out the section on elections - Article VI, Section 3, page 5, before planning or holding an election.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

McKinley Rides Again

Congratulations to Wes McKinley, who successfully won the State House District 64 race against the Republican challenger Torres, by over 17%. McKinley was back at the Capitol the next day, continuing to work on the issues, and planning a concert during the upcoming Western Stock Show (more later). I was pleased that he was able to run the commercials I created for him, which, according to Wes, were a "major factor" in his victory. I think he won because the people of his district truly support what he does for them. I mean, check out Prowers County below. How often do you see a 100% win? Colorado State House District 64 Results Wes McKinley vs. Ken Torres Results: District 64, 100% reporting ( 69 precincts )

Wes McKinley (Dem)58.7%15,305
Ken Torres (GOP)41.2%10,738
Results by County
McKinley (Dem)72.6%1,588
Torres (GOP)27.3%597
McKinley (Dem)62.7%1,181
McKinley (Dem) 62.8%1,974
Torres (GOP)37.1%1,168
Las Animas
Torres (GOP)51.3%3,364
McKinley (Dem)48.6%3,182
McKinley (Dem)61.2%4,757
Torres (GOP)38.7%3,014
McKinley (Dem)100.0%2,623
Torres (GOP)0.0%0

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Denver Votes at Manual High - No Drama

After two years of campaign drama, I figured I had to go out and shoot some footage of voters actually voting, so I went to Manual High. Poll workers told me that there had been lines at 7:00 am of people anticipating lines who had arrived early to avoid lines. Once those people voted there were no lines. The four electronic voting machines had gone down briefly earlier in the day, but while I was there, no one was using them. Seems everyone wanted a paper ballot. One first-hand story from a poll-worker who received a call telling her to go to a different location from the one she had been assigned. Another round of calls from headquarters straightened that out, but it appeared that a "dirty trickster", who may have had a list of the assignments, was trying to gum up the works. Ed. Note: That's Shanekua Lewis studying the lengthy ballot while baby sleeps.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Slithy Toves

Jabberwock and Jubjub Bird - Jake Jabs and Jonathan Coors `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" Lewis Carroll - 1872 "... smart voters might want to more carefully examine the current corporate-backed ballot initiatives - Amendments 47, 49 and 54 – which together seek to undermine Colorado’s working environment. The gist of the measures would limit workers’ abilities voice concerns about conditions on the job and undermine their ability to come together to advocate for improvements, whether in the classroom as teachers, as firefighters charged with protecting our communities, or as nurses protecting sick patients amidst increasing corporatization of our health care system. Services that we all rely on would be compromised by such measures.... The chief public proponent of this effort is Jonathan Coors, a 28-year-old member of the Coors brewery clan who holds a position as government relations director for CoorsTek, run by his father John K. Coors, Pete Coors’ brother. Within a couple of months, CoorsTek had doubled its initial contribution and according to documents filed with the Colorado Secretary of State, remains the largest source of money flipped to yet another group, followed by a $200,000 donation from an Arlington, Virginia-based organization called the “Free Enterprise Alliance.” read entire article

The Big Map

(from PCMSNO) New PCMS (Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site) Map In the long battle over the Army's plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, it's known as "The Big Map" because it shows the 238,000-acre training range northeast of Trinidad swelling by millions of acres until it engulfs the entire southeastern corner of Colorado. While Army officials have disowned or dismissed the map over the past two years whenever ranchers fighting the expansion have waved it as the Pentagon's true goal, opponents finally have unearthed the May 2004 study by Fort Carson planners that explains the big map. The study bluntly urges the Army to purchase 6 million acres of private land around Pinon Canyon, plus another 1 million acres of Forest Service land in a multi-phase process, creating the largest Army training reservation in the U.S. The plan puts the land acquisition costs at roughly $1 billion and says that 17,263 people in five counties would be "displaced." And the first step in that "big map" calls for the Army to purchase 80,000 acres directly south of the current Pinon Canyon site, which is almost exactly what Army officials announced they would settle for in July. At public meetings in Trinidad, Army officials said they would settle for 100,000 acres or even less, directly south of Pinon Canyon, rather than continue the battle to expand by 414,000 acres - a battle that had spilled into Congress and the General Assembly as ranchers and their supporters fought the expansion. The opposition group, Not 1 More Acre, is challenging the Army in U.S. District Court in Denver over its environmental studies of the current Pinon Canyon site. In pursing that lawsuit, the group obtained the 2004 Fort Carson report earlier this month. "When we first started showing the big map around in 2006, the the Army's reaction was disdain," said Mack Louden, a Branson-area rancher and a board member of Not 1 More Acre. "They've been denying it was a real expansion map all along. But here it is, part of a 2004 report, and it says they need 6.9 million acres. That's the stark reality. You don't want to believe the government would do this to you, but here's the study." Fort Carson officials on Monday referred questions to the Pentagon, where an Army spokesman dismissed the 2004 Fort Carson report as "silly." "We write tons of plans, most of them are never followed," he said. "That study was never adopted by the Army." Lon Robertson, a Kim-area rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, said the ranchers have made good use of the big map over the past two years - with and without the Army's acknowledged authorship. "But getting our hands on the actual report proves what we've been saying all along," Robertson said. "The Army wants an ungodly amount of land down here in Southern Colorado and beyond. And the first step in the big map is the same one the Army has said it will 'settle' for today. Maybe the people in the cities will start to understand why we don't trust anything the Army says." The May 2004 Fort Carson study, titled "Analysis of Alternatives Study Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site," is explicit, saying Pinon Canyon is the most attractive site in the U.S. for creating a "Joint Forces" training area that would allow the Army to use all its weaponry in large-scale, live-fire maneuvers. The 7 million-acre expansion was estimated to displace residents in Las Animas, Otero, Baca, Bent and Prowers counties. The study echoes what Army officials have said in public meetings about Pinon Canyon - that planners believe the Army is 5 million acres short in training space nationally. The Fort Carson report apparently recommended the Army remedy that entire shortfall through a bigger Pinon Canyon. In detailing Pinon Canyon's assets, the report said the training area has eight parachute drop zones, a 5,000-foot landing strip and a railhead that can handle 165 railcars at a time. "Given its size, remote location, diverse terrain, and infrastructure, PCMS far surpasses the training experience of any Combat Training Center in the (U.S.)," the report said. Currently, the Army is prohibited by Congress from spending any 2009 funds on the expansion effort, although senior Army officials said last summer they intend to go ahead and solicit landowners to determine if there are willing sellers among the landowners south of Pinon Canyon. This map animation was introduced into the record at the DEIS public input hearing Wednesday, October 29, 2008 History Part 1 Part 2 Recent Fire (Rep. Wes McKinley, June, 2008)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And now for something completely different….

A while back I mentioned a project I was working on that was different from the talking heads usually presented here. I am pleased to announce that the project is now finished ……. And here it is for your last-days-before-the-election Halloween enjoyment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama in Denver, Civic Center Park, 10-26-08 Part 1

Double click to go to YouTube where you can watch in better quality and rate the video. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Denver Assessor: Home Values Predicted to Fall $1,599,405,852 in 2009

101 High Street,Denver, CO 80218 $4,780,000, est. monthly payment: $22,926.81, 7 br, 8 full baths
One of the facts to come out of the presentation of the Denver Assessor’s Office at the City Council Finance Committee meeting of Oct. 15 was that the value of all of the single family homes in Denver, currently assessed at about $40 billion, will decrease by about $1.6 billion. That’s down about -4%, but when you add in the increase from new construction, that number falls to about -2.4%. Not bad. But what about condos? There is no number on the spreadsheet for the projected fall in the condo price. Further inquiry needed. From Department Head Paul Jacobs (prompt) email answer: “Regarding the missing Condominium number, my office has nine different valuation models (equations) that predict various price ranges and types of condominiums. In the current market higher-valued condos are pointing up while the values of entry-level condos are down. As a blended category, the net predicted change for 2009 is very close to zero change. I apologize that a “0” was inadvertently left off our chart. However, the subtotal for all residential properties remains the same (an overall decrease of 0.6% when compared to the City’s last Reassessment Program).” Answer: no change. And what about that nagging question I keep having: Is the valuation reset when a new owner takes over? Nope. Paul Jacobs answers: “…assessments city wide are adjusted to then-current market levels every two years using groups of sales and are not normally changed between Reassessment cycles. Any mid-cycle value change exceptions would only account for physical changes like demolition, construction, land subdivision or tax exemption changes. Although any group of sales in our analysis may include a sale of the subject (a single property being discussed or valued), the subject’s sale alone does not become its new assessment. This is standard appraisal practice and strives to set assessments in the middle of a range of similar properties and avoids undue influence of the highest, lowest or subject sale prices.” This seems weird to me – you just bought a house and the assessed value is based on comparables – other sales of similar properties – but not the value just determined by the marketplace – what you just paid. Oh well. “This is standard appraisal practice…”, and it renders my previous research moot. Given the two-year lag time built into the system, these effects won’t start showing up until 2010. Unless you appeal, that is. If and when you do that, remember that you’ll be looking at past history, not what is happening now. Good luck. (Ed. Note: The Assessor’s Office seems very cooperative – lo and behold, they even list their email addresses on their website, and their presentation to Council was very responsive. You may hate the results of what they do, but you have to respect their professionalism. Tip o’the hat to the Denver Assessor’s office, headed up by Paul Jacobs, and to the most responsive Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lowry Vista: the Women in White vs. the Men in Black

IRG "Men in Black" confer during Anderson's testimony. by Adrienne Anderson The Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle has recently published a front page story in its October 2008 issue - just mailed to thousands of residents throughout east Denver - entitled "Secret $1 Million Payoff Greases the Skids for IRG Zoning." (Go to the bottom of this post for a scanned copy of the entire article, which the Chronicle does not provide in its entirety in its online version.) Curious, though, how the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle fails to mention two important facts: 1) The document (LAC's Oversight Agreement) which formed the basis for their front page story had already been presented to the Denver City Council on August 22, 2008 by a member of the Rangeview Neighborhood Association, Linda Rea, who - wearing a white suit - testified to Council on the basis of the documents obtained. The conclusion of Ms. Rea and the neighborhood group committee tasked with reviewing the land deal? That IRG's acquisition of the Lowry Vista property "looked like a dirty deal." Linda Rea testifies before Denver City Council Rea's testimony was further bolstered by another leader from the same neighborhood, Damoni Rems, who also wore a white suit as she questioned the city's rush to push forward the creation of a special district for IRG to begin laying the underground infrastructure for their proposed residential and commercial development. International Risk Group bought the land for $10 (see this post), after the City of Denver declined to take title to it, records show, citing the extent of the parcel's environmental liabilities. Damoni Rems testifies before Denver City Council 2) Also unmentioned by the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle - which in the same issue publishes a "Letter to the Editor" from a citizen wondering why the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News have not covered this story - once again makes no mention of the elephant in the room, that the former U.S. Air Force property is a radioactive waste dump. IRG is now seeking approval of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to dig 60 holes into its "hot" property - which CDPHE has previously said had to remain covered up to prevent exposure to the dump's contents and not to be irrigated so as to minimize further infiltration into the dump and further contamination of the groundwater beyond. Given these developments, perhaps it's time for a more comprehensive citizens' investigation to dig further into not only what's been done behind the scenes with our city officials over this property and plans for its use, but what lurks below, and who could be put at risk while digging it up. (Ed. note: And here's Adrienne Anderson herself testifying at the same City Council meeting.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Home for a Crisis

(From the Panorama newsletter of 5280) As the economic crisis unfolds in scary ways, there's an apparently good hiccup in the Colorado housing market. The number of unsold homes hit its lowest level since December 2005, according to the Rocky Mountain News, and the number of homes contracted for sale jumped nearly 22 percent from a year ago. If you're a buyer, there's good news: Average and median sales prices have slipped back to 2002 levels. And if you're a seller, don't fret. It's "the mix of homes" that's skewing the numbers. Foreclosure filings are down by nearly 25 percent for the third quarter compared to a year ago, according to this Rocky story, which warns "the decrease does not signal that the metro region is off its record foreclosure pace." Rather, a new state law appears to be helping homeowners through counseling services and requirements that borrowers receive at least 30 days' notice before interest rates are hiked or a foreclosure is filed. Despite some apartment vacancies, rents are expected to rise by 3.5 percent, to $918 per month on average, although discount programs bring that amount to $804 a month, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Are we Really Stupid?

by Matt Bergles The impetus for this article came from several real-life experiences and a lifelong commitment to making a difference in how we Americans elect candidates, as well as how we formulate, enact and implement public policy at all levels of government. The most immediate experience came as a losing candidate from Denver’s House District 8 in the 2008 Democratic primary. I ran for many reasons, not the least of which was a disgust with the politics of who’s in and who’s out, who can raise the most money, who has the most connections and name recognition and who can create the best sound bites. I listened, walked and talked my way across countless miles and thousands of doorsteps and attended a multitude of neighborhood meetings, political events, church services and block parties. I also brought a plethora of real-life experiences that I thought were germane to serving in a “citizen legislature.” I’d been a high school teacher and coach for 27 years, had a Ph.D. in Public Affairs, was a former blue collar worker, a faithful Catholic Christian, a lifelong sportsman/conservationist and a husband and father among many other things. I thought that with a solid background, the ability to speak intelligently about pertinent issues, hard work and passion, I could certainly prevail. I was wrong. My opponent, the victor, brought many fine qualities and experiences as well and has been, and I’m sure will continue to be, a fine public servant. I was not ashamed to lose to her; I respect her and wish her well. The campaign experience however, aggravated a long simmering inquisitiveness I’ve had about the problems within the American political system and helped synthesize and focus the big picture experientially, whereas before it was merely conceptual. I will try to briefly summarize that picture as I conceive it and offer a possible remedy. My candidacy allowed me to meet a cross-section of voters from every possible ethnic and socio-economic group and helped form a clear picture of what is happening concerning elections and policymaking in our state, and at the risk of over-generalizing, our Republic. The day of my loss – exhausted and frustrated – I began to mentally review my campaign, its organization, fundraising, voter outreach etc. in an effort to surmise what I might have done better to attain victory. Serendipitously, a successful political consultant and old friend called from across the country to console me and debrief what happened. After the usual postmortem, he mentioned a book that he said explained the real reason for my loss and why our political system is in such disrepair. “I’m sending you Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, by Rick Shenkman” he said. “You’ll see that it’s not you at all. Who could have been a better candidate and run a better campaign than you? It is the fault of people we allow to vote in this country. They’re ignorant, lazy, uneducated on the issues and are easily swayed by gimmicks; if they even bother to register, let alone vote at all.” “That’s it, he’s right” I thought, as countless questions and comments I had encountered throughout my campaign began to resurface in my mind such as: “There’s an election?” “Can you get my neighbors to make their dog stop barking?” “Can you make a set of hitchhiking hand signals?” “Can you end the war in Iraq?” “Are you on City Council as a State Representative?” “Do I have to register?’ “I just saw you on TV, you’re the guy running against McCain, right?” “You’ve got my vote, I always vote for the Democrat (remember, this was a primary, all of the candidates on the ballot were Democrats)!” The title of the book alone conveniently let me off the hook for any responsibility in my loss and validated my candidacy. I immediately concluded that stupid voters were the reason for my electoral demise and the demise of the entire system. I smugly hung up the phone and waited for the book to arrive so I could read it and end my mental maelstrom, validate my superiority as a candidate and ruminate about the stupid voters in this district, state and nation! I did read Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, and there is some truth to be gleaned from it to be sure. But as time went by and the sting of my loss diminished, my thoughts broadened to encompass a wide array of questions concerning the present state of the American electorate and thus, of our republic. Obviously, voters share a large part of the blame. But what about the people they elect? What about the media? What about our public schools, colleges and universities? How about the billions of dollars spent to influence elections and those elected? Why is incumbency so powerful? Why can’t partisans let go of their entrenched allegiance and embrace the best evidence and therefore, the best candidates? I set out to find answers to these and other questions and once found, prescribe recommendations to put our republic back on track and asked how do we get from here to there? From the dismal state of the American political system that has, in turn, resulted in the dismal state of our economy, our foreign relations, our natural environment our public educational institutions and culture. To, a country of thoughtful and respectful citizens engaged in informed, lively, yet civil dialogue and debate – absent the politics of personal and party destruction – focused exclusively on forming a more perfect union. Impossible? Naïve? Maybe. But what is the alternative to striving for such a goal? A continuation of what today passes for democracy? Such as: Over a billion dollars spent on a mostly negative presidential campaign. Several hundred million more spent on mostly negative congressional, state and local campaigns that produce victorious candidates who barely have time to write a victory speech, let alone contemplate sound public policy before the reelection campaign begins. Thoughtful policy with an eye toward improving people’s lives and the community that is today superceded with policies that satisfy and enrich well-heeled interest groups. Citizens who can tell you the latest celebrity divorce details but don’t know the latest American casualty figures from Iraq. People who still believe that Al-Quaeda and Saddam Hussein worked together in the 9/11 attacks. As further demonstration, on the right, many people believe that guns are as American as apple pie and there should be no limits to their purchase, ownership or use – even bazookas and machine guns. They bombastically declare that the decay of our public schools is the fault of greedy, unionized teachers. We see people of faith who have been duped into believing that science is evil and have conveniently stopped thinking so as to actually espouse that the earth is only 6,000 years old, the theory of evolution is anti-Christian and global warming is a liberal conspiracy. They’re convinced that being “conservative” and pro-life means allowing the government to tell women that they must carry all pregnancies to term, no matter their personal circumstances. Yes, God is against abortion and euthanasia, but killing thousands of American service men and women and upwards of 100 thousand innocent Iraqi civilians in a war based on lies passes for patriotism. And let’s make sure we put all of those murderers, rapists and thieves to death in direct defiance of the First Commandment. Oh yes, a healthy planet is necessary to sustain life and the root word of “conservative” and “conservatism” is “conserve,” and there is that pesky Noah story; but people who advocate for solving global warming or saving our fellow dwindling species are environmental whackos. Never mind that there are over 6 billion people (and growing) on the planet and less than 1,000 blue whales. On the left, there are still those who believe that the Monica Lewinsky affair was only part of a vast right wing conspiracy. President Clinton did nothing wrong. After all, look at the adultery statistics among American males, he only did what millions of American men do – or wish they could do. Some on the left still hold that more money and bigger government can solve every problem. That with more caring, less structure and more programs in our public schools, kids are going to magically learn without adult guidance outside of the schools. That anybody should be able marry anyone and everyone and thousands of years of legal precedent be damned. That capitalism is evil and wealth should be equalized through a government formula. The list of fantasies – on both ends of the spectrum – goes on infinitely. So, how do we fix this problem? Shenkman is short-sighted in his prescription, calling for more civic education. I’ve been there and done that, teaching high school social studies for 27 years. It isn’t working. He is right in naming the root problem of our ignorant electorate: Americans would rather consume material stuff rather than news and information. So, we have to figure out a way to put elections in the hands of those who truly care to inform themselves and make sound voting decisions. In my mind, this means achieving two fundamental things, getting money out of politics and shortening the time allowed for campaigns. The problem of course, is that numerous court decisions, especially Buckley v. Valeo, have upheld spending and time spent campaigning as First Amendment rights. So be it. Volunteerism is the key. Right now, the best prescription seems to be in the “clean elections” movement, a voluntary program that is meeting with some success in Arizona and Maine. Under a Clean Elections system, candidates who want to receive public financing must collect a certain number of small "qualifying contributions" (often as little as $5) from registered voters. In return, they are paid a flat sum by the government to conduct their campaigns, and in turn, agree not to raise money from private sources. Candidates who are outspent by privately funded opponents may receive additional public matching funds. Since candidates may refuse government funding and continue to rely on voluntary contributions without spending caps, clean elections appear to be in line with the Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision, which struck down mandatory spending limits as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech and affirmed that elections can be publicly financed. As a life long Democrat and union member, I’m concerned that small contributions by lots of members may lose out, thus will the voices of working people. However, “clean election” legislation can certainly be tailored so as to protect small group bundling, or penalize large contributors equally. I simply want people to attend debates, read position papers and vote accordingly instead of letting commercials, yard signs and gimmicks inform their decisions. This sort of reform, it seems to me, is what our system needs. Matt Bergles 10/20/08

Friday, October 17, 2008


Once again I want to thank Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz for her responsiveness (same day!) to my questions and for getting to the heart of the matter in the meeting of the Finance Committee on Oct 15 (and thanks again to Channel 8 for televising it). I think I now understand exactly what is going on at the Assessor’s office and why foreclosures won’t lower the City’s property tax revenue. I may now understand it, but I still don’t like it. You can educate yourself by watching the video at Denver Channel 8 online (click on the Oct 15 video). It starts at about 52 minutes and lasts about an hour. Denver IS different. (Councilwoman Faatz also provided me with the PowerPoint presentation from which the following is drawn.) Here is the answer: If I understand this correctly, those foreclosed upon houses on your block will not lower your assessed value (although they are decimating your potential resale value) because they are systematically excluded. I originally asked this question because a friend bought a bank-owned property for $35,000 that had been previously assessed at $161,000. Silly me, I thought this would mean that the property tax would reset to the new lower value. But I guess not. This means that if, like me, you are currently stuck with an assessed value on your home which was set during the real estate frenzy at an unrealistically high value, your only hope is to appeal after January 1, 2009. That's what I'm going to do. I'm even going to get one of those lawyers who specialize in this. I'll let you know how it comes out. Here is the entire slide presentation: So, just as I learned that the toxic water filling Grasmere Lake in City Park is rigged by Regulation 31, I now learn that the property tax system is rigged to allow foreclosed properties to be excluded when computing your tax. Aaarghhh! Everything is rigged. My head is exploding!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Facts About Insane Pot Policy

NORML Marks 20 Millionth Pot Arrest: Tragic Marijuana Milestone Will Take Place This Friday Washington, DC: Law enforcement will make its 20 millionth marijuana arrest this Friday, October 10th, according to data compiled by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and extrapolated by NORML. The FBI provides annual marijuana arrest data dating back to 1965. “Police have arrested 19.3 million Americans for marijuana violations in the years between 1965 and 2007 - busting a record 872,000 last year alone,” NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. “At this pace, law enforcement will make their 20 millionth arrest this month, and will begin busting over one million cannabis consumers annually by 2010.” Of those arrested, an estimated 90 percent are charged with minor marijuana possession - not trafficking, cultivation, or sale. Three out of every four arrestees are under 30 years old. “This policy is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' resources; it destroys the lives of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and threatens the personal liberties and freedoms of all Americans,” St. Pierre said. “We've now arrested more American citizens for pot than the entire population of Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon combined.” Speaking last month on C-Span, Drug Czar John Walters denied FBI data indicating that hundreds of thousands of Americans are arrested each year for pot violations, claiming: "We didn't arrest 800,000 marijuana users. That's [a] lie." NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano recently responded to the Drug Czar's remarks in the Washington DC publication The Hill in an essay entitled, “How Can We Even Discuss Marijuana Policy When America's Top Drug Cop Won't Even Acknowledge The Facts?” More than 240 readers have commented on NORML's essay. Fewer than five respondents have commented in support of the criminal prohibition of cannabis. To date, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has not responded to NORML's rebuttal, nor has it issued a retraction for the Drug Czar's statements.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Homing In On It

Thanks to Jeanne Faatz (the only City Council member who seems to understand finance) for the following, an excerpt from the previous post which I feel needs to be stressed. Note particularly the information that 1) your valuation of real property may be going down (but not in 2009 unless you appeal) and 2) your mill levy may be going up. Also see this: The measures followed similar efforts by other central banks and governments around the world over the weekend and yesterday to get financial institutions to stop hoarding money and start lending to one another and to their customers. While Europe struggled to stop new bank failures, in the United States, alarm has increasingly focused on the commercial paper market, where all sorts of businesses and local and state governments turn for money for day-to-day operations. For the past week, that market has been nearly paralyzed, and yesterday, the cost of such borrowing soared. One benefit of such an action is that it would free up money for lending and lower the interest rates banks pay to borrow money to conduct business. Yesterday, the rate at which banks lend to one another -- the London interbank offered rate, or Libor -- was 4.3 percent for a three-month loan. In normal times, it would be not much higher than the 2 percent bank lending rate set by the Fed. The premium is a measurement of the mistrust among banks and translates into higher rates for businesses and consumers, if they can get loans at all. And this: In a survey of more than 300 municipalities released last month, the National League of Cities reported that four out of five finance officers said their cities would be less able to meet needs in 2009 than this year. The group called the findings troubling, with no sign of getting better. “This is the first time for at least two decades that all three major general tax sources — property, income and sales — have all declined at the same time,” said Michael A. Pagano, a co-author of the report and dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “That’s the real frightening thing for cities.” And this: AMSTERDAM/LONDON (Reuters) - What if there were a run on a bank and no one knew? In recent days some U.S. media have focused on a "silent run" on the deposits of Wachovia bank, which is now being taken over, after a bailout plan stalled and its rival Washington Mutual was seized.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bond Age

Thanks to Denver’s Channel 8 and the City Council Bond Implementation Committee for bringing us up to date (as of 9-22-08) regarding the current state of the Better Denver Bonds, which, as you may know, I’ve been trying to follow closely. My emails to Better Denver via their website and to Councilman Doug Linkhart have to date, brought no response, and I was beginning to get nervous, what with the “market turmoil” we are currently experiencing. It sounds to me like everything was going pretty smoothly at the time of this meeting. We won’t be issuing any bonds (until late in 2009?) but we have already saved a million dollars by issuing commercial paper (borrowing) at the low rates of 1.5 and 1.85% per annum (not per month as I incorrectly assumed in a previous post). I’m not sure how this is possible with the Fed Funds Rate at 2.00, but hey, let’s just keep rolling this over if we can. And oh, by the way, our financial partner/broker is Wachovia, currently being fought over by Citi Corp and Wells Fargo as it goes under. What if any effect will this have on Denver is unclear. Stay tuned – the next meeting is Oct. 27, and I’ll get it to you as soon as it is available. Tech note: Often when downloading from Channel 8 I get slippage between the picture and sound, so I have to adjust the sync before posting to YouTube. It seems to wax and wane, so what you see is the best fit I can get.

Friday, October 3, 2008

House Passes Bogus Bailout Bill

Congress Pats Itself on the Back - Dow, Not So Much Let’s see of I’ve got this right. The credit market is freezing up, after 12 years of gorging, de-regulation, naked shorting, and the creation of fantasy “derivative” instruments, because bankers won’t lend to each other because they don’t trust each other, and have raised their own interest rates considerably. The “spread”, as they call it, is speading. No one knows which bank is going to be the next to go down, because banks are, apparently, not very transparent. Now, in order to protect the bankers from the higher intra-bank interest rates that they themselves ginned up, we, the US taxpayers are agreeing to buy up their bad, nearly worthless shit, to provide the “liquidity” they need to continue making money. If we can sell it later, we might recoup some of the money. Or maybe not.
Here is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one Henry Paulson, himself the beneficiary of the gorging to the tune of his $700,000,000 net worth, now Secretary of the Treasury in the lying Bush administration, telling us if we don’t do what he says we are going to suffer a catastrophe of unknown proportions. It doesn’t really matter that this “rescue” bill has now passed, as the correction coming upon us now is like a force of nature – it cannot be stopped. You can run from it, you can seek higher ground, you can try to batten down your hatches, but like a hurricane, it will come. This $700 billion is (plus $600 billion already doled out) amazingly, a drop in the bucket compared to the unknown size of the derivatives market which must now be unwound. I’ve seen estimates between $300 trillion and as high as $600 trillion. Did you notice the 2-hour (and then extended) opening of the derivatives market on Sunday, Sept 14th? This before Lehman went under, presumably to allow the players some time to scurry out of the way of the hurricane. Yesterday I got word of two local Denver businesses closing their doors and a third, usually bustling with business, with very few customers. The tide has turned. Americans are battening down, spending less, saving more. Although perhaps “painful” to those used to living high on the hog from "financial services", this is a good thing. You cannot correct a prolonged period of loose credit, low interest, and insane buying of Chinese gee-gaws with an increase in credit. You may prolong the collapse, but more credit cannot correct the problem created by too much credit. For more, go here.