Friday, September 12, 2008

The Ascendance of Ignorance

With the election of G.W. Bush in 2000 and his re-election in 2004 (both questionable at best) America chose an undeniably ignorant man as president. The “dumbing down” of America that took place during the 1990s and before was finally paying off.

And now with the sudden ascendance of Sarah Palin into the national spotlight, ignorance again roars into prominence.

Locally, here in City Council District 8, voters chose an equally ignorant woman as their representative, “masseuse” Carla Madison. At one of her first campaign appearances, Madison said “I am smarter than I appear”, as if some rear-view mirror of intelligence were in play. Sadly, this has proven to be untrue. She is not smarter than she appears, in fact, just the opposite is true – she is more ignorant than she appears.

Her ignorance is generally shielded by silence. In the 7 years prior to her election, I witnessed Madison’s ignorance first hand at the monthly meetings of the City Park West Neighborhood Association (CPWNA). Her disregard for Association by-laws, ignorance of conflict of interest concerns and general disregard for the democratic process led many members to leave. Membership dwindled down to a few who felt the Association was worth saving. Sadly, it did not survive the financial shenanigans of her husband, Paul Weiss, who refused to produce documentation of his financial activities with Association funds. Now, with Madison in office, CPWNA, the vehicle of her ascendancy is “inactive” with but one stalwart who continues to forward email notices to what is left of the membership list.

As Madison fulfills the requirements of her office with meeting attendance, she rarely speaks up. Generally, she is given Proclamations to read at Council meetings, and she has difficulty doing even that. Stumbling and giggling her way through them, her performance is embarrassing to watch.

At a recent City Council meeting, members were confronted with a complex issue – the creation of a Metropolitan District for taxing area residents to pay for the infra-structure at the proposed development off Alameda Boulevard, in which the developer of highly polluted “brownfields” around the country, International Risk Group (IRG), intends to turn an Air Force toxic waste dump known as OU2 into a pleasant mixed-use complex they call “Lowry Vista”. They plan to add 6 feet of dirt on top of the existing two foot “cap” currently covering the toxins, and then build condos and retail space over the mess. I was at that meeting to videotape the proceedings.

Madison is great at silently seeming to pay attention to what is going on. Her meeting attendance skills are nearly perfected. But when she speaks, the illusion is shattered. At this meeting, the one question she asked revealed that she had no understanding of the issue. One hour and 40 minutes into the two hour discussion, she apparently was not aware that the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site (LLSS) and the proposed Lowry Vista project are not the same. Here is a video of that embarrassing moment.

But the good news is this – the abuse of City Park engendered by the Permit that allows radionuclides to be dumped in Ferril Lake is penetrating the awareness of even the most dense of Council members. “Does anybody know anything about that?”


  1. Anonymous1:08 PM

    Mr Trimble,
    I asked Councilwoman Madison about why she brought up the LLSS. She said that a constituent who was greatly concerned about it was in the audience and maybe they could give him some answers. Perhaps she was trying to bring your pet cause to issue.

  2. Anonymous12:01 AM

    The various "Lowry" sites are not geographically the same (the former Lowry Air Force base is in Denver, the Lowry Bombing Range where the Lowry Landfll Superfund site is located is three miles to the east), but they are operationally linked The Air Force at Lowry AFB, records show, dumped for a time onsite all along the southern quadrant of the base, including what is now the IRG-owned property now at controversy as the proposed "Lowry Vista" development. The Air Force at Lowry AFB also dumped at its more remote site on the bombing range, contributing to the mess now being flushed via our public sewage structure back into the public domain. After questionable levels of "treatment" it's being recirculated to end points including City Park and Washington Park lakes and environs, and surprise, is also being used as non-drinkable irrigation water for the grounds of the former Lowry Air Force Base, bringing the circle of poisons full circle.

    Carla Madison at least made a public query to a council session raising a question about the mess, which no others have done, and for which she should get a nod. That she would then go on, however, to approve creation of a developer-controlled special district to build atop an unremediated radioactive and asbestos-filled toxic landfill in Denver is, well, troubling. Three of Denver's city councilpersons - Council members Lopez, Montero and Linkhart - voted against the formation of this special district, citing the lack of public confidence in the project. Councilman Lopez had also supported concern for the safety of workers who would be digging into the dump. These three are to be applauded for their caution and judgment, given some disturbing facts of record and apparent abuse of public process.

    Councilwoman Madison's confusion is understandable, and she will hopefully show more leadership around both in future actions by council. Both Lowry dumps are indeed radioactive and pose risks for workers and environmental health. Representatives concerned about their constituents' health and safety and the long range viability of areas impacted should take a long hard look at what's at stake and act accordingly.

    We can have good jobs in Denver, and also invest wisely in building and sustaining neighborhoods with proper environmental health decision-making. Safe communities, safe jobs, a healthy environment. We should not have to sacrifice one for another, or have the costs for anything less shifted to the public.

  3. Anonymous12:45 PM

    I live in California now but attended several CPWNA meetings over a two year period. I though it was a small but well run RNO.
    I only saw you at one meeting, about a section 8 housing problem. Only one meeting?
    Are you one of those people who love to find fault with people who are trying to do some good and just sit around and complain? People like you are the reasons small RNOs have such a hard time.
    You had a chance to show some leadership and initiative but instead of rising up, you just point fingers.
    Shame on you.