Friday, December 31, 2010

I always knew I would be great...

Happy New Year Zeke!

..I just didn't know that it would happen as a result of my granddaughter Kim's giving birth to a son - Zeke Thorne. Now I'm a great-grandpa.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pinon Canyon "Covenant"

Covenant is example of Department of the Army following their scripted design to takeover southeast Colorado

KIM, Colorado (December 29, 2010)

The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC), is opposed to the 'Community Covenant' agreement scheduled to be signed on February 8th, 2011, in Trinidad. This 'Covenant' is offered by a military contractor through the Department of the Army. PCEOC maintains that the first step towards improving relations with SE Colorado communities is not signing a covenant, but rescinding the waiver on expansion by the DoD.

Lon Robertson, PCEOC President stated, "First of all, we recognize the positive motives of those who are planning to sign the covenant. We agree with their intention to express support for the troops. But we have grave concerns about the appropriateness of this particular expression of that support."

The PCEOC Board of Directors has further determined it will not to be a signatory to the Army-initiated and funded covenant and has instead passed a resolution (attached) in support of the young men and women who are making extreme sacrifices and suffering unimaginable hardships during and after their military service.

A covenant is a unique and ancient document; it is a solemn promise with Biblical origins. Fort Carson Commanding General, Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins has called the covenant a "sacred document ... built upon faith." PCEOC holds that a resolution of support would be a more appropriate form for a secular body to use.

The 'Community Covenant' is being initiated by the Army yet wording of the document has been penned by a private military contracting firm, Whelden Associates, Florida.

The Army is also following the script for takeover of southeast Colorado as stated in one of the documents another opposition group acquired last year through the Freedom Of Information Act. One of the 'Strategic Decisive Points' made in the Army 'Pinon Vision' document designed to guide the takeover of southeast Colorado states: "County and Municipal Government.... the vital intermediate level of government must be won over in support of our expansion plan. Carefully prepared briefing teams must be ready to visit these officials to generate support....."

"If they are serious about improving relations they need to remove the waiver (the DoD gave the Army in 2006 to go forward with expansion plans). Otherwise it's just more lies," said RC Patterson, PCEOC Director.

Army officials seemed to link the signing of the covenant with potential financial rewards to the Trinidad Community. Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin identified a specific dollar amount saying that each Army maneuver can generate as much as $90,000 into the area economy. But we know that 'local benefit' promise is as empty now as it was in the 80's.

The PCEOC Board of Directors encourages other organizations and government agencies that want to show support of our troops to refrain from simply signing on to the Army's "covenant", and to pass their own resolutions instead.

"Our hearts go out to the men and women who serve in the military and their families, and we find it completely inappropriate that their service should ever be used as an instrument of economic development," said Robertson.

PCEOC is a non-partisan organization united in its opposition to any expansion of PCMS. No funding, no expansion.

For more information, please see

Mercury Cafe - New Year's Eve

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Denver foreclosure filings are up, foreclosure sales are down

The data from here:
- Comparing year-over-year from 2009 to 2010, foreclosure filings in November increased 4.8 percent with totals rising from 2,802 to 2,932.
- November 2010 foreclosure sales (completed foreclosures) were down compared to November 2009 with a decrease of 21 percent from 1,512 to 1,195.

Although some reports put a positive spin on this data (see FORECLOSURES CONTINUE TO FALL), an associate of mine who actually attends the foreclosure auctions tells a different story (to date he has bought 25 houses at auction). Very few buyers are showing up to buy the houses offered at auction. At the last auction, he was one of two buyers. He bought one house for the asking price of $25,000. Another sold for $1 over the asking price. A two-bedroom house with an asking price of $15,000 went unsold with no bids.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Filing for Denver's Musical Chairs

Filings for Denver municipal office in the May 3, 2011 Municipal Election

Filings for Mayor

 Carol Boigon
 Paul Noel Fiorino
 Michael Keith Forrester
 Michael B. Hancock
 Dwight Eisen Henson
 Doug Linkhart
 Danny F. Lopez
 James Mejia
 Chris Romer
 Kenneth R. Simpson
 Theresa Spahn
 Thomas Andrew Wolf
 Eric Jon Zinn

Filings for City Council

At Large:
 Josh Davies
 James Doherty
 Richard L. Gonzales
 Robin Kniech
 Tiffany Lee Rice

District 1:
 Paula E. Sandoval

District 5:
 Michele Fry
 MaryBeth Susman
 Leslie Holben Twarogowski

District 10:
 Timothy F. Karre II

District 11:
 Christopher J. Herndon
 Steven C. Lawrence
 Christopher Martinez

Filings for Clerk and Recorder
 Jacob Werther

Monday, December 20, 2010

Return to Fair Play

Apparently there is nothing like a reversal by an appeals court to get a judge’s attention. Colorado Judicial District 11’s Judge Stephen Groome presided over yet another Contempt of Court hearing against Vern Wagner in Fairplay, Colorado on November 23, 2010. Having been reversed on a previous Contempt of Court hearing which put Wagner in jail for 5 days without a proper hearing, Groome was now a changed man. He had even stated earlier that now he was going to run his courtroom “by the book”.

Having spent 4 days in Fairplay last May, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go back and watch the fate of rancher Vern Wagner being kicked around in the court room of Park County Judge Stephen Groome. The local Fairplay newspaper, The Flume, has done a great job reporting the details, here and here. For earlier Denver Direct coverage, go here and here.

Expanded Media Coverage

At that previous hearing, Denver Direct had filed for permission to videotape inside the hearing room. Judge Groome dismissed the request because it wasn’t properly filed at least 24 hours before as required, and when we re-filed 24 hours before the next day's hearing, he rejected it because the decision had already been made for the whole hearing.

This time we filed by email 4 days before the hearing. Two days later we were told we could set up our video equipment in the court room but not turn it on until given permission. So that is what we did. Arriving at 9:00 am, we were ready to roll at 9:30.

Sitting to the right of the court room were many of the same government crew that had gathered at the previous hearing. This included the irrepressible Park County Animal Control Sergeant Bobbi Priestly, in uniform with flak jacket, who had previously demonstrated her profound lack of knowledge in evidence gathering practice. Also in attendance was the government veterinarian who hadn't known the gestation period for cows, and the chief for the Bureau of Animal Protection, Scot Dutcher, (recently reprimanded because of the revelation of his more than 4,000 tweets on Twitter as Skinnyhorse) who had earlier explained his failure to roll a dead cow over to see its brand by saying he had a weak stomach.

On the left sat Wagner’s family and friends, including his bright young grandkids. We were excited and pleased to be cracking the video firewall surrounding what had been a travesty of justice at the previous hearing. This time, we hoped, videotape would reveal the incompetence, ignorance and arrogance of the State in its prolonged harassment of Vern Wagner.

We were all squirming on the hard bench pews by 10:00 am, and around 10:30 a clerk came in to tell us that all the parties were still in conference. At around 11:30 the conferees filled the front of the courtroom, and Judge Groome, after checking with the attorneys for both parties, and commenting on our patience, gave us the go ahead to videotape.

Unfortunately, what followed was essentially a report on the “backroom” deal that had just been struck. In private, the State backed down. Under the terms of this new agreement, Animal Control has to give Wagner 72 hours notice of an on-site visit and Wagner gets to have an equal number of individuals inspecting the cattle. Wagner has to report on the status of the cows once a month, and report if he chooses to move them to pastures other than the ones specified. The current Contempt of Court charge is dropped. As Groome himself said, the State gets what it wanted and the “status quo is preserved.”

It wasn’t until Judge Groome had been castigated by the Appeals Court and been nearly removed from the bench in the recent November election (lost in Park County but won overall in the District) that we have seen a return to Fair Play. Let’s hope it lasts in Fairplay, at least until Vern Wagner truly gets his day in court.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Denver Artist K. A. Collins

As an antidote to our usual coverage of pollution and politics, we are pleased to present local artist K. A. Collins and some of her recent work. She has small canvases for the beginning collector, and does commissioned portraits of homes and individuals. Lovely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Musical Chair Filled

The Democratic vacancy committee for Senate District 32 (chaired by Edgar Neel, see process here) voted last night, Dec. 13, 2010, at South High, and on the third round, elected Irene Aguilar over Rep Beth McCann to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Chris Romer who is running for the Denver Mayor’s seat which will be vacated by John Hickenlooper after he ran for (and won) the Colorado Governor’s position. Now McCann will stay in her House seat, which she won by the largest majority in the State. More "music", more chairs to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Water Magic - How Lowry effluent becomes Waters of the State and gets into our lakes unannounced

I've always wondered why we don't see any of these signs around Ferril Lake, Duck Lake, or Grasmere Lake where "recycled water" is currently in use. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Reg. 84 - Reclaimed Water Control Regulation, requires signs to be posted and care to be taken in the use of recycled water. 

Thanks to Doug Woods, Director of Park Operations, I now know. In response to my recent email, he says: 
"Some factors to consider in why the City Ditch water is not classified as recycled water are:
-The City Ditch is classified as Waters of the State and there are specific water quality criteria associated with the permit to allow supply of water to the ditch.  Denver Water operates a dechlorination facility at the start of City Ditch. 
-Once water enters the City Ditch, Denver Water no longer has any control over the quality of water since there are numerous external influences, such as storm sewer inlets. 
-The compliance point for the permit that Denver Water must satisfy is at the start of the City Ditch once the water leaves the dechlorination facility.  Denver Water has never violated this permit."
The Denver (City) Ditch to which he refers used to be an open irrigation ditch (read the history here). The Ditch was terminated at I-25 during the T-REX rebuild. Claiming that putting the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site effluent ("recycled water") into the Ditch changes its nature is pure magic - a useful fiction that conceals the fact that this toxic effluent is flushed into these lakes. So that's why there are no signs around these park and lakes to warn the public as required by Colorado Reg. 84. I'm guessing that this clever magic also relieves Denver Water from any liability coming from citizen exposure to this toxic mix.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Park give-away?

Formerly known as Triangle Park, at 23rd and Broadway,  renamed Eddie Maestas Park in 2006. Photo from Google Earth.
Stamped "Confidential", these internal documents reveal Denver Parks and Recreation negotiations to give this park to the Denver Rescue Mission under a "stewardship agreement". Recall that we recently spent $275,000 to rebuild this park in order to make it less hospitable to the homeless. For more go here.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Pet people - here's your survey

via email:

Denver Animal Care and Control (ACC) is dedicated to protecting human and animal health and safety. As part of this effort, ACC is gathering public input on how to increase pet license compliance rates. This input will help ACC identify ways to get more lost animals back to their owners, enhance customer service, and guide our outreach efforts. Please take a minute to complete our short online survey on pet licensing. The survey can be found here. Hard copies are also available at the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter or can be obtained by calling (720) 865-5387. The survey will be open until January 7, 2011.