Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Finance

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Government

Representative McKinley, HD64, on Colorado Water

Representative McKinley in Trinidad

Representative Wes McKinley from HD64 spoke at the invitation of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Trinidad on September 22, 2010. Although his opponent, California attorney Lisa Kellogg (aka the Malibu Cowgirl) had asked to speak to the group, she cancelled 4 hours before the meeting due to a "conflict".

After his talk, (see above)  McKinley introduced Republican candidate Mack Louden, running for County Commissioner in Las Animas County. Mack gave Democrat McKinley a rousing endorsement heard often in HD64 - "He's one of us".

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vote for r3

In 2005, big money convinced us (by way of Referendum C TV ads) that Colorado Government needed our TABOR refunds more than we did. Amazingly, we agree to give up an unknown amount (because the returned refunds were for the next 5 years and were as yet undetermined), which was estimated to be about $3.5 billion. As the years went by, the amount we gave back turned out to more like $7 billion. My, how generous we were then at giving the government our money.

Things are different today.

Today we are all by necessity more frugal. We need to keep our own money more than ever. Do I need to list the reasons why? Unemployment, 42 million US citizens on food stamps, rampant foreclosures in the housing market (1 in 4 mortgage holders underwater), dollar devaluation, asset deflation and price inflation. For the same reason that giving money to the homeless guy on the street doesn't decrease homelessness, giving the government our refunds of $7 billion didn't improve government frugality, in fact, they spent even more.

Now, once again, with 60, 61, and 101 on the ballot, we face an onslaught of TV ads (see campaign sponsors here) warning us against voting for keeping more of our own money. The government needs it more than we do, we are told, and if we vote FOR the "Ugly 3" (as opponents have framed it) all hell will break loose. Firefighters and teachers will be laid off - our homes will burn and our children remain uneducated.

A detailed analysis shows that the "3 Amigos" (as proponents have tried to frame it. I hereby frame it as Our Three or r3) will save Colorado taxpayers about $5 billion over the next 10 years, a more gentle reduction in government revenue than Ref C was an increase. Remember, this would be $5 billion over 10 years from a budget at $49 billion today. That's about a 10% reduction if you let them pack it all into one year, but only .5% per year over 10 years.

A poll, published today, shows that, in general, Colorado folks are looking for a reduction in government spending at all levels.

Will TV ads win out over common sense? Will the people's need to keep their own money be beaten by a TV fear campaign? That's what usually happens. I remember having to explain to my then 3 year-old son that TV ads are mostly lies. He was amazed, but then he was only 3.

Rob McNealy, a Libertarian Congressional candidate in CD6, is in favor of r3.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep more of your own money. Help the government go on a diet. Vote in your own self-interest for a change.

Referendum C took our rebates for 5 years and totaled $7 billion. Now we want the money back.
Westword reports here.
Pro here.
You'll be hammered by $7 million in TV ads, so I won't bother posting the con link.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

When is Enough Enough?

The imposition of a registration fee to pay Denver's Occupational Privilege Tax is, in my opinion, a tax increase disguised as a fee. As a director of a Corporation I am now told that in order to pay the $48 annual OPT I must also pay a $50 registration fee. This tax increase was not done with the approval of the voters as required by TABOR, and is therefore illegal.

It is also interesting to note that there are no fines or penalties for not paying this fee. At some point, we have to stand up and refuse to pay illegal fees. For me, that point came yesterday when I sent this letter back to the Manager of Finance.

Date: 9/15/2010
From: Gerald Trumbule
To: Manager of Finance, Denver
Re: Denver Occupational Privilege Tax Fee                       
Dear Sir:
I have your notice dated 8/3/10 requesting that I send you $50 to register a business that is already registered. I note that this “fee” is payable every other year. In other words, it is not a fee but a tax. All tax increases must be approved by the voters. This was not. Therefore it is an illegal tax and I respectfully decline to pay it.
I also note that there are no fines for non-payment or late payment. I was informed that you would “turn it over to collections” if it is not paid.  
 Gerald Trumbule
What does "turn it over to collections" mean? Stay tuned to find out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

California Hype Not Playing Well in Trinidad

Kellogg in her booth space
Representative Wes McKinley, (D) Walsh, is running for re-election to his 4th, term-limited stint. As usual, he visits local fairs and celebrations to talk to his constituents.  His Republican opponent this time is Lisa Kellogg, a California lawyer who visited Colorado as a child, and now claims an address in Walsenburg. It's hard to figure out what the heck she is doing in HD64.

At the recent TRINIDAD ROUND-UP ASSOCIATION 100TH ANNUAL LABOR DAY WEEKEND FESTIVITIES we stopped by to see if we could interview Ms. Kellogg.

"No thank you and please get out of my booth space" was her reply. "I've been to your website and it's a bit slanted." Although she had no booth, she, and her sidekick Ermal Williamson, dressed up like John Wayne, were standing in booth space number 14, so I backed out a few feet to the public fairway.
Kellogg declines interview

"Don't you want to at least talk to my viewers" I said. "You could get some free face-time."

"I'm getting plenty of face-time" she replied.

"Not according to Google Alerts. I've got an Alert on your name and nothing much ever comes up."

"I guess I'm not a popular girl" was her response. The following donation record (from the Colorado Secretary of State's office) seems to verify that.


Kellogg's latest reported donation of $400 came from her parents. An earlier newspaper report touted Kellogg's lead over McKinley in fund-raising, but that tally included her $52,100 loans to her own campaign. McKinley has loaned his campaign $700.

Ersatz Cowboy

 Ermal did a good job of blocking camera
Kellogg, who had earlier categorized McKinley as an "entertainer" and a "character", apparently has decided that she needed an entertainer of her own. Her campaign spent $1000 to hire actor Ermal Williamson to travel from his home in Branson, Missouri to Trinidad to campaign on her behalf. Despite not really looking like "the Duke", Ermal did his best to imitate John Wayne's style and walk. His comments to McKinley were really over the top, as when he confronted McKinley face-to-face, when leaving the rodeo earlier, about his "court date" for being "found guilty of sexual harassment." When I talked to Ermal, he denied making those comments, and didn't even know what House District Kellogg was running in. He also claimed that Kellogg had "25,000 horses on her ranch." Later, while we were having dinner at a local restaurant with McKinley, Ermal approached our table, with their campaign photographer in position, and extended his hand to McKinley. McKinley declined, and told Ermal to "get away from us." Ermal quickly sidled away.

Watch where you point that thing!
Kellogg's entry into HD64 politics reportedly has some local Republicans scared. Some have contacted McKinley with offers to help defeat her with funding and advertising. The citizens of HD64, who elected McKinley in 2008 with 76% of the vote, are apparently not falling for the California hype. Some think it's funny, but others are incensed, calling it degrading.

One 12-year old noticed Ermal's lack of gun-handling skills. "He doesn't seem to know what he is doing." Well put.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New City Council President Nevitt on Parks "Experiment"

September 13, 2010

To: Denver Citizens
From: Cathy Donohue, Former Member, Denver City Council

Following is an e-mail sent by Council President Chris Nevitt to Chantal Unfug of the Parks Department, all Councilmembers and a host of other city officials:

"Thank you, Chantal. I'm looking forward to the update. And lastly, let me say that I am very happy - and I know a substantial number of my colleagues are as well - that we are finally taking this measured, limited, and common-sense step forward to experiment with a broader set of activities in our parks. Reasonability, compromise, and broad public interests have prevailed against hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests. I admire and appreciate the patience and persistence of Kevin and the Parks and Rec team through this long and difficult process, and I want to offer equally deep thanks and admiration to our volunteer appointees on the DPRAB - you have worked harder and endured more, and made a greater contribution, in the interests of good public policy, than we could reasonably have asked for". -CN-

A few days ago I received a copy of the above message that expressed the thoughts and opinions of the current Council President, Chris Nevitt, regarding the testimony of Denver citizens who spoke before the Board of Parks and Recreation on the subject of Admission Based Events in the city parks of Denver.

He described their beliefs in the following way: "hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests". The testimony, both spoken and written, about turning our parks into private, open-air venues was not supportive of his views or the final decision of the Parks Board (which, incidentally, was fairly evenly split).

As a former member of the Denver City Council and a three-time president of that organization, I have never witnessed such hostile and demeaning comments made by any public official about the citizens of Denver. His words can only be described as contemptuous.

When did it become acceptable for an elected official to scorn the honest and heart-felt statements made by Denver citizens regarding change in an historic city custom?

The people who wrote and spoke about the issue of Admission Based Events in our formerly free public parks were overwhelmingly against the measure. Mr. Nevitt is a shining example of why the citizens of our country are thoroughly disgusted with elected officials at every level of government. His opinions are more important than the electorate. He has become a dictator of political change, not a representative of the people's interests.

One citizen, a Holocaust survivor who lives by Sloan's Lake cried out in anger after the final vote. She had just heard 90% of the people who testified at the hearing declare their objections to charging admission to enter events in public parks; yet the Board, ignoring the purported democratic process, followed the Mayor's new dictate to begin having such events in our parks. Could her solitary protest be the reason for his derisive comments?

There was a time when testimony given at public hearings at City Hall was accepted as valid. Reading his declarations that the voters are "hysteric, extreme, narrow-minded and parochial", is insulting to the electorate. He has clearly displayed his contempt for the democratic process. Many who took the time to let their wishes be known now realize what a hopeless task it is to try to influence their city government, especially when the President of the Denver City Council speaks so negatively about their values.

I have participated in Denver City government since the late 60's. Council sometimes voted against the wishes of their constituents; but never before has any elected official publicly expressed themselves as harshly as Mr. Nevitt did.

I hope this instance of appalling behavior will cause citizens to work to change our city government. I, for one, am ready to work to elect people who respect the electorate.
Additional comments by Dave Felice:
Councilman Nevitt:
You use the phrase "hysteria, extremism, and narrow-minded parochial interests" to describe widespread opposition to a policy to allow closing parts of public parks for admissions based events.
These terms are highly inappropriate and derogatory for a person in your position to use in reference to sincere, honest, dedicated, and respectful neighborhood representatives and community leaders.  In fact, use of these terms shows your callous disregard and disdain for valid public opinion.
I would find it almost impossible to apply these demeaning comments to people such as Carolyn Etter, Joe Halpern, Cindy Johnstone, Larry Ambrose, and hundreds other Denver residents who are committed to the principle of keeping parks free and open to the public.
You also insult the seven members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board who voted against admissions based events, and the members of the community who voluntarily gave their time, energy, and resources to participate on the Admissions Based Special Events Policy (ABSEP)Task Force.
By your comments, you have done a great disservice to the citizenry and the democratic process.
It is particularly distressing that you would use such terminology, given your background as both a leader in the organized labor movement and as a member of the Democratic Party.
To call a large number of community leaders narrow-minded and parochial because they disagree you about this issue is to say that you have a more enlightened and worldly perspective. It is clear, but sad, that hubris rather than wisdom is coloring your view.
By addressing you by your first name instead of title on occasion, I may have appeared disrespectful. I would not, however, use such insulting words to describe you, either in public or private.
Thanks for your attention. You can still call me "Dave," not "mister."
Dave Felice

Friday, September 10, 2010

Controversy won’t stop policy, says parks chief

By Dave Felice
Exclusive to Denver Direct

In spite of community opposition, Denver Parks and Recreation Manager Kevin Patterson is forging ahead with implementation of a controversial policy to allow exclusive commercial events in public parks.

Patterson says his department will start accepting applications in November from operators who want to close parts of parks and stage events open only to those who pay an admission fee. “Although the Policy lists eight specific parks where admissions based events can be held, I have instructed my staff to only accept applications for Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central parks for the 2011 season as well as all event facilities and special occasion sites for Confluence, Skyline and Centennial,” Patterson writes in a letter to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Commenting on the controversial proposal to close parts of public parks, Patterson says: “While there has been a great deal of conversation about sale or leasing of park land, I want to be clear that this is neither of those instruments. This is a permit. It grants exclusive authority to an entity to use the space for a period of time, to make sure there are no added conflicts for the use of the space.”

Numerous neighborhood organizations and individuals have complained that granting exclusive authority for a closed commercial event, no matter how long, is a violation of the City Charter and the principle that taxpayer funded parks should be free and open to the public. Opponents have formed the online community known as to continue to express resistance.

The Advisory Board accepted the policy recommendation last month, following a public hearing during which many people criticized the policy. There are ongoing concerns about preventing the public from full use of park land, severe disruption to neighborhoods. The Board voted 10-7 to endorse the policy with a review after the first year.

Patterson has acknowledged that revenue to the city is not a motivating factor to allow admissions based events, and the Parks and Recreation Department has been unable to document any significant demand for such events.

While the original policy covers those parks where the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverage is currently allowed, points out that the Parks Manager is not prevented from expanding the policy to ANY park at any time. In addition, suggested fees for park leases are well below market rates, creating an unfair competitive advantage for event operators over existing businesses.

Patterson says the Parks Department needs to work on a fee structure and determine how fees can be used. “We have to have an ordinance that allows us to collect fees and use the fees specifically for parks,” Patterson told the Advisory Board. City Council also will have to approve a change if money from the seat tax is to be returned to parks. Right now, that money goes into the general fund.

Opponents vow to continue to protest the policy in any way legally possible, including refusal to support events and event sponsors. The controversial policy could be issue in the mayoral and city council elections next May. The Parks Manager is an appointee of the mayor.

The full text of Patterson’s letter follows:

September 9, 2010

Dear Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board members:

First and foremost, I wanted to thank you for your work, diligence and thoughtfulness on the Admission Based Events Policy. Although some of you have been involved in this discussion for almost four years and some of you were new to the conversation, I truly believe you were insightful and deliberate in your voting.

I have taken your comments and suggestions from this past year, as well as your recommendations from your recent board meeting to develop a reasonable, rational, and equitable implementation plan.

Let me clarify some points that have been raised during the discussion and development of the revised policy. We began this process with a land area restriction of 20% of a park or 20 acres within a park, whichever was smaller. This was in direct response to the concerns about limiting the size of the events. We have further restricted the maximum size to 5 contiguous acres in a park, and we have also limited the number to 8 parks (City, Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Sloan’s Lake, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central Park), 4 special occasion sites already within the 8 parks (City Park Meadow and Flower Garden, Confluence, and Skyline), 1 additional special occasion site (Centennial), and 4 event facilities (Molkery, Chief Hosa, Stapleton Central Park, and Washington Park Boat House). The original policy had a limit of 10,000 patrons, and we have restricted that down to 7,500.

We also heard from the community about the concerns with the frequency and duration of the permitted events. The original policy stated that 80% of events had to be free and open to the public. It also limited the number of events to four in a month. In the new policy, we have the admission based events as the lowest priority after all of the other permitting categories have picked their dates and times in the November permitting timeframe.

While there has been a great deal of conversation about sale or leasing of park land, I want to be clear that this is neither of those instruments. This is a permit. It grants exclusive authority to an entity to use the space for a period of time, like a picnic site. A permit is simply to make sure there are no added conflicts for the use of the space from other people or entities who may want to schedule an event, whether it is a family reunion, wedding, or an admission based event.

Let me outline my thoughts on how this new permitting process will move forward for the 2011 season:

Although the Policy lists eight specific parks where admissions based events can be held, I have instructed my staff to only accept applications for Civic Center, Confluence, Skyline, Ruby Hill, Parkfield, and Stapleton Central parks for the 2011 season as well as all event facilities and special occasion sites for Confluence, Skyline and Centennial. There are three basic reasons for this decision. First, we have to look at the impact of construction at our parks and consider how much of our system has been inaccessible from Better Denver Bond and Capital Improvement projects. Second, we will give first priority to events that are either contained within a larger free event, or within one of our special occasion sites or event facilities. Third, we are focusing these events where the infrastructure exists or is being built to hold them within our system. I believe this will have the least impact on the parks, the surrounding neighborhoods, and will allow these events to fit within walls or an already accepted boundary that park patrons understand.

The Department will be finalizing a fee and revenue structure and will submit those for ordinance to City Council this fall. We are also working with the Budget Management Office, the Treasury Department, Theaters and Arenas and our own permitting office to develop sound procedures and mechanics for collecting fees and revenues.

It is essential that we implement this new permitting procedure in a deliberate way to ensure the department can accurately and effectively support the events and our community.

I am recommending that we return to you, the Advisory Board, in October 2011 to provide a report on the number of admission based events, revenues, strengths, areas of improvement and other general information in order to facilitate further process improvements for 2012 and beyond. We will ask a small subgroup of the Advisory Board to assist us in determining the indicators of success, so that we may better gather data over the next year.

Please let me know if you have any other questions at this time and again, thank you for helping to ensure a strong and effective policy for our parks.


Kevin N. Patterson

What's So Bad About "The Bad 3"?

Since I came to Denver, there have been a number of occasions when voters have had a chance to reduce their tax burden by cutting back on government spending. With the major exception of TABOR (which passed on the third attempt), voters have chosen instead to increase their tax burden. These choices have been encouraged by large advertising campaigns mounted by those who would benefit from the increase - government entities and construction related firms. Remember the "lemon" campaign? Or how about Ref C, in which we were told we would be giving back $3 billion of our TABOR returns over 5 years, but it turned out to be closer to $8 billion? In short, voters have been swayed to vote against their own self-interest by these special interest groups.

Once again, with Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, the negative campaign has begun with THE BAD 3 (see also DBJ here). If you vote for these, everything will collapse, they say. Here is a more factual presentation from Colorado Campaign for Liberty.
Click to enlarge

You have no doubt seen or heard some of the negative ads about Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.  You’d think the sky is falling.  Are you tired of the same old scare tactics that the politicians, big banks, unions, lobbyists, and out of state interests keep recycling?  Did you know the power elites are spending six million dollars to scare you?
Well, how about some TRUTH?
Property taxes alone, at all levels, have increased 183% since 1992, and that is with TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) in place.  Our senior citizens are being hurt the worst with these unconstitutional, non-voter approved property tax hikes.  How mad are you now?
Since 1992, Colorado state government spending (local and state) has grown from $15.1 to almost $47 BILLION in total spending.  That’s a 310% INCREASE in spending!
If you want to stop this reckless spending, act NOW!  Click here to volunteer, hand out fliers, put up signs, write letters to the editor, and make sure you vote YES in November to pass 60, 61, & 101!  The elites have the money, but we have the PEOPLE!
You may have heard…“If these pass, it will kill jobs and crush Colorado’s economy!”  Oh, really?  Let’s see the real figures that were garnered from a government website (see above).
Again, here are some Campaign for Liberty translations of “elitist” claims:
Elitist: “Shuts down our ability to build or expand our roads, schools, water facilities…all of our infrastructure.”
Translation: “We’ll have the same budget we had in 2007…remember when we had no infrastructure three years ago?”
Elitist: “Eliminates a major funding source for road and bridge construction across the state.”
Translation: “Voters will never approve road and bridge improvements unless we force them to.”
Scare tactics won’t work on Campaign for Liberty members.  We know the truth.  We share knowledge, and we VOLUNTEER! Click here to do so now.  We are grassroots - watch us GROW.
Is the media interested in how much debt our children will be left with if these don’t pass?  NO!  Do we, as a grassroots organization, need to remind them, relentlessly, of the vital importance of saving every single child from the burden of over $43,000 of debt?  YES!
Getting “fiscal conservatives” elected is futile.  Why?  Since 2000, Colorado state level debt has tripled.  Servicing debt (the amount you pay back) has doubled!  This is with a mixture of political parties being dominant in the legislature.  When you hear any politician say, “We want smaller government, but 60, 61, & 101 go too far,” remember the real translation:  “Suckers!”
Elitist: The panel discussions are overwhelmingly opposed to these measures.
Translation: Our paid speakers can beat up your volunteers.
Volunteers are the only way to reclaim our state.  Truth will prevail, and activism is how we will win!  Do it NOW!
Yours in Liberty,
Bonnie Cannon
Colorado C4L State Organizer
P.S.:  Here’s one more translation for good measure…
Elitist: “Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 will push Colorado into a voter-approved recession”
Translation: “We will blame these ballot measures for the recession, even though the recession began before they were passed.”
Let’s win this and reclaim Colorado to ease the tax burden on our seniors, preserve a debt free future for our children, and keep our money in our pockets!