Denver Direct: September 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
I guess it’s time to revisit one of my continuing topics, The Alphabet Bonds (Better Denver) approved by the voters of the City of Denver in the last election. I’ve sought more information using the internal “contact us” email system but no answer after three weeks. I haven’t been able to find an email address for Bond Czar Don Hunt. Maybe you’d like to try.
When last we checked, the bonds had not been issued, and “30-day commercial paper” was being used to borrow millions to get the projects started. Reportedly, this was at a 2% rate, which I think must be monthly, resulting in a 24% yearly interest rate. At this rate, much more of the money will be consumed by interest (bankers) over and above the scheduled 60% that they were due to be paid by the end of the term, and my guess is that there will be shortfalls at the end of the projects. Oops, more taxes required down the road.
And speaking of taxes, I went to the City Assessor’s Office after paying my onerous property tax. I had a very interesting session with the assessor who actual set the outlandish assessment on my property. He agreed that I could possibly get a refund if I filed the necessary paper work after Jan 1, 2009. The board will review the past two years to see if any adjustments would be warranted. You can bet I’ll be down at the Webb building doing that first thing next year.
But as our conversation grew more general, I was interested to hear him say (not for attribution) that the City’s property tax revenues are nowhere near meeting expectations, and that they “are really hurting”. With Ritter announcing a State-wide freeze on hiring and new construction, will Hickenlooper be forced to do the same?
from [email protected];
The Chips Start to Fall in Colorado
As Congress and President George W. Bush continues to look for common ground in coming up with a massive, $700 billion economic bailout for faltering financial institutions, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter predicts difficult economic times ahead. He announced the state would not hire any new employees and would not begin any construction projects, according to The Denver Post. For example, plans to spend $30 million on a full-day kindergarten school have been set aside. Ritter said during a press conference at the state Capitol yesterday that Bush’s national address earlier this week, highlighting a dire economic situation, hit home. Ritter said cuts were prudent given the possibility that state revenues could “begin to dramatically decline.” The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has already warned that the state could face a $100 million shortfall this year. Institutions of higher education are immune from the freeze but must assess their own budgets in light of the governor’s concerns, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Optimist Andrew Oh’Willkie recently stopped by to tuck another comment into an old post. “I will note that ten months later, and much, much deeper into the collapse of the financial system, Denver bonds are still rated AAA, and Denver’s real estate market is among the healthiest of any major city in the nation.” The fact is that the ratings agencies themselves are now under scrutiny for their part in the current fiasco.
I note that the Washington Park oracle is still clutching that AAA rating to his chest, proclaiming, as did Frank Zapa years ago, “It can’t happen here”. For more ruminations as to why this can happen and is happening here in Denver, see here and here.
Time is the revelator. (Listen to the last post).
at 11:52 AM
We decided to make our annual trek to Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend to see if the meltdown of the US markets was having any effect on the elk.
Happily, there was no apparent effect – the elk seemed to be totally unconcerned with our machinations, and communicated a dedication to continue in the behavior they have developed over eons.
at 10:48 AM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Representative Wes McKinley is running for his third term in House District 64, way down there in the southeastern part of Colorado, where most of us metro folk never go. It’s kind of far for a day trip – 4 ½ hours to Springfield, and, in truth, unless you are into wind or cattle, there is, at first blush, nothing much to see.
But when I get there, I find “the planet”, as I refresh my view of where I am in the universe by being able to see the curvature of the earth itself (or is that my imagination?). I also can’t help but notice that “there” is on the edge of what was formerly known (before irrigation) as “the Great American Desert”. Some small towns are almost empty, boarded-up, as another drought takes its toll and the sand dunes begin to emerge once again.
McKinley, himself a cattle rancher (oops, he prefers to be called a cowboy, and please don’t call him a politician) struggles, along with his neighbors, to keep his family and herd together in hard times.
Some may remember McKinley as the foreman of the Rocky Flats Grand Jury – you know, the ones who wouldn’t knuckle under for three years, as they fought the prosecutors to indict the individuals and companies truly guilty of the nuclear atrocities perpetuated on that plot of land northwest of Denver. McKinley's book, “Ambushed Grand Jury” is an exciting read. You owe it to yourself to buy and read the book.
Many know McKinley as the uncompromising voice against the acquisition of further acres in the Pinon Canyon by the Army, who wants to “blow it up real good”. When the Army last grabbed land down there, for the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, they promised not to use live ammunition and not to ask for any more land, both of which are now broken promises.
My point here is that McKinley needs our help in his current campaign. Raising money in the vast HD 64 is difficult because the population (and the money) is scattered so thinly. I’m guessing that 95% of this population knows Wes by name and wants him to stay in office, but the Republican higher-ups want to see him gone, and are backing Ken Torres, little-known except for his new violations of campaign finance laws. How much money they will be willing to spend this time is unknown, but last time around they reportedly spent $250,000 in their unsuccessful effort to oust McKinley. Down in Wes’s neck of the woods, money translates into TV time, as TV is often the only way to reach the voters (door-to-door is often a 50+ mile trip).
Ever since I met McKinley, I’ve been trying to help, and recently volunteered to shoot and create some TV ads for the campaign. These ads have not yet been run on TV due to the cost. Please go to Colorado Needs Wes McKinley and join me in getting these ads on the air. Review the four ads, vote on your favorite, and send his campaign a check. Yes, it requires a little extra effort, but we need Wes McKinley to stay in the House.
We can’t afford to lose this guy. He is truly one-of-a-kind, and represents all of Colorado in his efforts. Many of his grass-roots supporters are Republican, so don’t let that stop you. All of Colorado Needs McKinley.
at 4:37 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Have you gotten this creepy mailer yet? There is no mention as to what these amendments are, just this scary cop who, in my opinion, looks like he is about to go psycho. That pouting, little boy, about to bash your head in look. This mailer makes me want to vote the other way, whatever that is.
And if you are ready to start your study of what these 18 ballot questions are, go here for the blue book. You might want to take this in small portions so as not to choke.
at 1:37 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Regular readers will have noticed recent articles by Dr. Phil Goodstein,
Goodstein is the author of many books on Denver and its history, and this new one, The Spirits of South Broadway, looks like another gem. He will be talking about it at the Tattered Cover on September 24.
Thinking I would test Westerberg’s knowledge of the eclectic, I asked if she knew Cano. “Why of course, his Antonito castle is featured in the book.” Immediate sale.
Upon seeing Student’s Riverside Cemetery, I knew I had to have a copy of that book too. Back in the 70s, when I was the Director of Sebastian High School, teacher Steve Metcalfe had created a course called HiPhoBike, history, photography, and bicycling. Students would load up their cameras, pick an historic destination, and bicycle there to take pictures. We had our own internal darkroom (there was no digital) and once they developed the film, they did the library research to understand the site’s historical significance. Experiential learning at its finest, and the Riverside Cemetery was a favorite destination. Some day I’ll dig those photos, now 30+ years old, out for publication.
How invigorating! Culture, history, and conviviality rolled into one evening. Thanks to all of those involved, I came away feeling very positive about my immediate neighborhood.
(Although I’ve provided Amazon links to the books, I’d suggest buying them at the Tattered Cover, to support another cultural gem in our midst.)
at 7:43 PM
My long-time friend, comedian/actor/musician George McKelvey, former owner of comedy clubs around Denver, made this "music video" for the Scopitone, a video jukebox appearing in bars in the early 60s.
Classic. Double click to go to YouTube where you can rate it and leave a comment. George will get a kick out of it.
at 7:43 PM
Sunday, September 14, 2008
By Dave Felice Denver’s new Manager of Parks and Recreation, Kevin Patterson, appears reluctant to give specific answers to questions about the Admissions Based Special Events Policy (ABSEP) task force.
Asked about the status of ABSEP at a meeting of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC), Patterson said: “I can’t give a timetable. I really need to listen more than talk.”
The task force is supposed to establish a policy to govern closed commercial events in public parks. Members of the task force have met since late last year to discuss matters such as policy, locations, and fees.
“I’m trying to pull information,” said Patterson responding to the ABSEP question during his brief appearance at the INC meeting. “We need to make sure we have better communication. I need to hear from you.”
“I’m looking forward to working with the community and the neighborhoods,” said Patterson. “With a background as an urban planner, I want to align park plans with those of other city agencies to see how everything coordinates to serve the neighborhoods.”
Patterson echoed earlier comments of Public Works Director Guillermo “Bill” Vidal, saying city agencies “need to talk about how they execute plans and bring projects to reality.”
Vidal had spoken of the Strategic Transportation Plan and said “we can do this, but it’s going to take all of us in a partnership. The way we fund things now won’t get them done.”
Patterson, who is also a member of the Denver School Board, comes to the post of Manager of Parks and Recreation after being the city’s Director of General Services for the last year. In his remarks, he spoke of his success in developing a new five-year plan for General Services to show how the agency “adds value” to the city.
The ABSEP task force – representing government, commercial, and citizen interests – was formed late last year by Patterson’s predecessor, Kim Bailey, in response to a proposal by Chuck Morris of Anschutz Entertainment.
Morris proposed closed two-thirds of City Park for a three-day multi-stage music festival. Following complaints by citizens and lacking the endorsement of the adjacent Denver Zoo, the festival was moved to an athletic field complex in Commerce City.
Ending a controversial tenure, Bailey left in May. Meetings of the ABSEP task force continued under the interim leadership of Acting Parks Manager Scott Robson, although the discussions seemed to be overshadowed by the city’s preoccupation with the Democratic National Committee.
Robson withdrew a controversial proposal by Bailey to expand the sale of alcoholic beverages in parks. Setting up a broader policy for alcohol sales would facilitate closed commercial events.
Patterson faces several controversial issues, including the skepticism of community advocates ab out his appointment, and the use of radiation-tainted sewage effluent to irrigate some park lands.
District 4 City Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann, chair of the Public Amenities Committee, says she’s “upset” that Patterson was not one of the candidates recommended by a search committee. Other members of the Amenities Committee, Carla Madison of District 8 and Marcia Johnson of District 5, have made no public comment on the appointment of Patterson.
Madison is a known supporter of preventing free and open public access to park land for commercial events. She was an early and enthusiastic backer of the Anschutz proposal, appearing in a promotional video prepared even before the proposal was made public. Documents show Morris had been quietly negotiating with the city as early as June of 2007.
“Patterson, no stranger to Denver, will have to hit the ground running as he takes over a department in need of strong management,” says former City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt, in a published commentary. Robson, who returns to his position as Deputy Manager of Park Planning and Construction, “will be a valuable partner to the new manager,” according to Barnes-Gelt.
“Where do we place Kevin Patterson? The unknowns abound,” writes George in Denver. “The precious resources of our parks are at stake. Will Mister Patterson serve the best interests of the city? Or, will Mister Patterson serve his management, which, in this case, is Mayor (John) Hickenlooper?”
As Parks and Recreation Manager, Patterson's salary will be $130,531 per year. He officially takes the position September 15, 2008.
at 2:28 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The opening yesterday of the Obama Headquarters at 27th and Welton was itself an "extraordinary thing". A crowd of at least 200 packed the office, and an overflow crowd waited outside for a repeat of the meeting.
Pat Waak, Elbra Wedgeworth, and Beth McCann, made brief appearances. Carla Madison was called on twice but was apparently missing. Councilman Michael Hancock gave a rousing talk, and was greeted with enthusiasm. The crowd was there to sign-up for work: phone-banking and walking the neighborhood, in an all-out effort to register the estimated 38,000 unregistered potential voters in northeast Denver.
Update: I'm informed that the number of unregistered voters in NE Denver is actually more like 7,000, and that Madison appeared for the second round of talks.
at 8:19 AM
Friday, September 12, 2008
With the election of G.W. Bush in 2000 and his re-election in 2004 (both questionable at best)
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,
Her ignorance is generally shielded by silence. In the 7 years prior to her election, I witnessed
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.
But the good news is this – the abuse of
at 10:11 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
At the meeting of the South City Park Neighborhood Association on
But in preparing the video clip above, I listened closely to what he had said, which was something like “There are one set of regulations for water coming directly from the pipe and another regulation for water being dumped to a body of water.”
Ok, something to work with here. I had learned of Regulation 84 - Reclaimed Water Control Regulation, directly from the Denver Water web site . Of course, by its number alone Reg 84 implies that their must be other Regs and I found this, a list of many Regs. Sure enough, if you click on Regulation 31 - The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, (for the pdf file) it seems to be the one Doug is talking about.
Oh my. Reg 31 contains a list of substances allowed in our lakes and streams. If you have the time, go to page 31 (p27 in the document itself), where you will find a list of 152 Parameters (note they are not called Pollutants as they are in the Permit). I won’t bother to reprint the list here, except for the radionuclides.
Parameter --- Picocuries per Liter
Americium 241* --- 0.15
Cesium 134 --- 80
Plutonium 239, and 240* --- 0.15
Radium 226 and 228* --- 5
Strontium 90* --- 8
Thorium 230 and 232* --- 60
Tritium --- 20,000
Some of the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site (LLSS) Permit levels exceed these standards. But that is not a problem, as Reg 31 states: (31.11 (1)) "All surface waters of the state are subject to the following basic standards; however, discharge of substances regulated by permits which are within those permit limitations shall not be a basis for enforcement proceedings under these basic standards". And best of all this statement (31.11 (2)): "The radioactive materials in surface waters shall be maintained at the lowest practical level."
I think I’m starting to get it – the recycled water is not used “directly from the pipe” as Doug puts it, but is “dumped to a body of water” (Ferril Lake) first, and then a different set of regulations (Reg 31) is in effect. Then the lake water is pumped to the fields for irrigation, thereby avoiding the Reg 84 rules (posting when the water is in use, or avoiding aerosol spray, for example).
How naive was I when I first learned of Permit No. 2360-3-1A, to assume that this might be illegal? I was shocked and outraged only because I was uninformed. How stupid of me.
I should have known that the CDPHE and its advisory committees, stocked with former employees, lawyers and lobbyists of the polluters as it is, would have prearranged to make all of this legal and in full compliance with the Regs. That apparently is why this one sign (at
So I guess I should apologize to those of you who got upset when you learned of the Permit. Don't be alarmed. Everything is OK. The hand fits perfectly into the glove. This is, as I’ve been told repeatedly, the “current state of the art” in water recycling.
Learn to live with it now, and we will learn what the long term effects of spreading these carcinogens around are in another 20 years or so, when our babies and children, whom we innocently let play on the pollutant-laden grass at
Or stay out of these parks, don’t come into contact with the water of any
Too bad, since many of us moved here to enjoy the "unspoiled" beauty of our state, cities, and parks. Little did we know.
at 8:45 AM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
By Dave Felice
While Denver’s new manager of Parks and Recreation intends to pursue a policy of closing parks for commercial events, a city councilwoman is “upset” that the appointee is not one of the candidates recommended by the search committee.
Mayor John Hickenlooper named Kevin Patterson to the Parks position just before the Democratic National Convention.
Patterson declined to comment specifically on the acceptability of allowing private businesses to close public park lands for the purpose of making a profit from special events. He said the question was “not in context to a particular situation” such as an actual event proposal.
Expressing initial displeasure with the selection, Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann said: “The mayor essentially ignored the recommendations of the (search) committee, but that’s his privilege.” Lehmann is City Council’s Public Amenities Committee.
“The mayor has made his choice.” says Lehman. “I was asked to serve on the selection committee and Patterson’s name was not on any of the lists presented by the committee.”
While Lehmann declined to comment on her view of working with Patterson, he took a different view. “Councilwoman Lehmann and I have a long standing relationship. I have already reached out to her about the transition and will continue to work with her as the Public Amenities Chair on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department.”
The other members of the Amenities Committee, Marcia Johnson of District 5 and Carla Madison of District 8, have neither reported nor commented on Patterson’s appointment. Council Member At-Large Doug Linkhart made a brief congratulatory statement in his monthly newsletter.
Mayor John Hickenlooper’s decision to appoint Patterson was made public August 22. Patterson has been Director of the city’s Department of General Services. He is also a member of the Denver School Board and will stay in that position until the end of his term in November 2009.
As manager of Parks and Recreation, Patterson will earn $130,531 per year.
Several community advocates expressed skepticism about the appointment, saying Patterson appeared to be a bureaucrat whose commitment to parks and recreation is yet to be determined. Some, who preferred anonymity, suggested that one of Patterson’s greatest talents is his ability to delegate.
Acting Manager Scott Robson returns to his position as Deputy Manager of Planning and Construction for Parks when Patterson officially takes over September 15.
Patterson inherits the controversial issues of closed commercial events in parks, the sale of alcohol in parks, a lack of communication with the community, continuing public criticism of the appearance and condition of the parks, and the future of recreation centers.
Patterson must also deal with the serious questions surrounding sewage effluent containing Lowry Landfill Superfund Site toxins used to irrigate City Park and fill Ferril Lake.
Under Robson’s leadership, members of the Admission Based Special Events Policy (ABSEP) task force have continued to meet. Former Parks Manager Kim Bailey set up the task force to develop a policy to allow private commercial businesses to close park lands for special events, promote additional sales of alcohol, and prevent free and open access to public lands.
Some citizen advocates have called for a full meeting of the task force to review what subcommittees have been discussing in recent months. The activity of the task force appears to have diminished somewhat while the city administration was preoccupied with preparations for the DNC.
At the time Patterson was named to the General Services position a year ago, Hickenlooper said: “Patterson’s extensive and diverse experience within Denver City government will be a tremendous asset as he leads…ongoing efforts to provide the most efficient, cost-effective and high-quality administrative services of any city in the nation – supplying the infrastructure that enables Denver’s City government to function at its best, both internally and externally.” Hickenlooper described Patterson as “an invaluable member of our administration.”
Patterson began his career as a middle school teacher in Texas. He was first elected to the Denver School Board in 2001 and re-elected in 2005. An elected member of the Colorado Association of School Boards, Patterson also serves on the Denver Workforce Investment Board and the Denver Consolidated Child Care Pilot. Patterson holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching from Sam Houston State University in Texas, and both a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Contact information: Kevin.Patterson@denvergov.org 720-913-0741 Department 601 201 West Colfax Denver CO 80202
Questions and Answers (by email, unedited)
Denver Direct: What actual parks and recreation experience do you have?
Kevin Patterson: I believe I bring a unique and highly qualified skill set to the position as Manager of Parks and Recreation. Because we have a highly qualified parks staff with programmatic experience, my goal is to bring an organizational approach to align the department with its mission and vision. The information below is from the Mayor’s press release and gives you a good overview of my qualifications.
“…Kevin Patterson brings a unique combination of experience as a teacher, elected official and executive manager to his new post as Manager of Parks and Recreation.
In his current capacity, Patterson established a five-year strategic plan focusing on core business operations and management. He also chaired the Construction Empowerment Initiative which included $4 million in new projects to provide opportunity to small businesses.
A City employee since 1993, Patterson has also served as Deputy Manager of Human Services, Finance Director for Community Planning and Development and Budget Supervisor and Budget Analyst for the City’s Budget and Management Office. Prior to his employment with Denver, he was Citizens’ Advocate in the Office of Gov. Roy Romer.
An advocate of partnerships and collaborative decision-making, ‘Kevin has proven his ability to manage programs, lead personnel and execute strategic plans in his career with the City,’ Hickenlooper said. ‘He is a skilled innovator and creative problem solver. We are excited to have him join our dynamic team at Parks and Recreation.’
In his new role at Parks and Recreation, Patterson will focus on operations review, oversight of the department’s capital projects budget and continued advocacy of the City’s goals and vision for Parks and Recreation. That vision includes sustainability, community engagement and equity of services. Patterson begins his new role September 15.
Patterson received his bachelor’s degree in teaching from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a master’s of Public Administration and master’s of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver. Patterson was elected to the Denver School Board in 2001 and reelected in 2005.”
DD: Are you going to keep your position on the school board?
KP: I will stay on the school board until the end of my term, November 2009.
DD: What happens to Scott Robson?
KP: Scott will return to his position as Deputy Manager of Planning and Construction.
DD: Are you going to pursue development of a policy on admission-based special events?
KP: Denver Parks & Recreation has an admission-based special events task force that has been in place for several months. The department will continue the process already in place and continue to develop a policy that was voted on in September 07. Once the task force draft policy is completed, we will vet it through the proper channels, including neighborhood organizations, City Council and others.
DD: Do you consider it acceptable to allow private businesses to close public park lands for the purpose of making a profit from special events?
KP: As this question is not in context to a particular situation and without further elaboration, it would be impossible for me to respond.
DD: In 50 words or less, what are your views on recreation centers?
KP: Denver Parks and Recreation embarked on an ambitious Future of Denver Recreation Centers study this year. In addition to the Task Force, comprised of community leaders throughout Denver, there have been a series of public input meetings. These meetings have generated rich dialogue of what is important to citizens regarding the recreation centers and programs. Citizens are encouraged to attend the “pair” of meetings at the 3 remaining locations. The meetings are from 6-8pm and a light dinner, Spanish interpreter, Sign Language interpreter with advance notice, and day care is provided. If you would like additional information please contact 720-913-0689.
Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 E. 53rd Ave. September 2 and 16
Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele St. September 3 and 17
Harvey Park Recreation Center, 2121 S. Tennyson Way September 4 and 18
Once all of the community meetings are completed, the priorities from the eight community meetings along with the additional feedback from these meetings will be presented to the Recreation Center Task Force. Draft recommendations will be created and presented at four Community meetings which will be held in November (dates, times and locations have not been determined). The draft recommendations will also be posted on the Denver Parks and Recreation website. Community comments will be gathered at these meetings and the Task Force will complete final recommendations. The final recommendations from the Task Force will be presented to Parks and Recreation employees, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, City Council Public Amenities Committee and the Mayor’s office in December and January 2009. Depending on the final recommendations, implementation of the outcomes from the Study could be implemented beginning in 2009.
DD: What is your transition date? KP: I will begin as Manager of Parks and Recreation on September 15, 2008.
DD: Have you spoken with Public Amenities Chair Peggy Lehmann? KP: Councilwoman Lehmann and I have a long standing relationship. I have already reached out to her about the transition and will continue to work with her as the Public Amenities Chair on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department.
at 6:56 PM
I’ve tried to stay out of the browser wars, so I check my sites in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. After upgrading to Firefox 3.0 recently, I noticed that the video clips would start and then stop after a few seconds. Research indicated that the Flash 9.xx player was to blame, and the solution is to download the Flash (beta) 10.x from here - http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10.html Notice that you have to first download and use the uninstaller to get rid of the old Flash. Slightly painful, but it works!
Update: BUT IT WORKS ONLY IN FIREFOX. If you follow the above instructions you will not be able to view videos in Internet Explorer. You'll have to chose one or the other. 70% of viewers still use IE.
at 9:39 AM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Guest editorial reprinted, with permission, from The Naysayer by Phil Goodstein. "Free political discussion is the best medicine for the fear of heresy.” - Carey McWilliams
As could have been foretold, the Democratic Convention was a scripted sham. In addition to providing the police the opportunity to show how mean and tough they are, it was an exercise in hot air, a make-believe event which wasted countless energy resources. But the supposedly environmentally conscious supporters of the farce paid for their right to pollute. This was illustrated by their "carbon offset" fee.
As the Democrats slobber over their illusions of retaking the White House, they systematically ignore how they lost it in 2000. Al Gore personified the most arrogant wing of the party. His push for the right to pollute through a series of carbon transfers is worthy of Milton Friedman and apologists for a culture of filth and waste. The message is not that capitalism will ruthlessly despoil everything and anything as it grasps for profits; on the contrary, the Gore Democrats reward capitalists by simply transferring around pollution.
Advocates of carbon transfers project themselves as having a special aura. They showed this in their efforts to dictate the food at the Democratic convention. In their self-enlightenment, they called for banning all fried foods and requiring that 70 percent of the dishes be of organic origins. The food, moreover, had to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables dispersed among various color groups. No wonder, amidst this eager desire to impose their pompous schemes on others, the environmental crowd has been amazingly silent about how their beloved candidate for the United States Senate, Mark Udall, has embraced off-shore drilling while promising to be Ken Salazar II. They were also silent about the massive clouds of tobacco smoke in public places, meaning those allergic to this pollution could not participate in many of the activities surrounding the convention. (The leftist protesters were even worse than the Democrats in this regard.)
The more the environmentalist establishment has embraced the Democrats and adopted panaceas like carbon transfers, the more it has ignored the fundamental premise of the ecology movement: that the world has limited resources. Consequently, it is necessary to understand and work with the forces of nature. Far from doing this, the carbon-offset ideology is a means by which the affluent are able to assuage their guilt by dumping their pollution on others. Its adoption by the Democratic National Convention reveals the essence of the party and how it is as much an enemy of the earth and human freedom as the Republicans and the rest of the Bush League.
The Democrats will not debate this issue. The party's compete alignment with corporate came out before the convention. To celebrate the conclave, the city hung banners on streets advertising AT&T, Pro-Logis, Western Union, and other big-money backers. (Among those sponsoring banners was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a union which, for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than a business brokering its members’ labor power.) Far from decorating its meeting hall with slogans embracing idealism and hope, the party filled them with comparable advertisements. This is the true "green" of the Democrats, the color of cash.
A key purpose of the convention was to dispel any doubts that the Democrats listen to Wall Street. They do not want to hear from anybody else. That was why they were so fearful of protests and dissent. Street politics illustrate that there is far more to civic involvement than simply registering, attending caucuses, and voting. These activities have never changed anything. At the most, elections have ratified mass discontent, upheavals, and protests. Only those who would be happy with a continuing American military presence in Iraq would achieve their ends by slobbering over big-money interests while embracing police-state tactics against popular expressions of dissent.
In 2004, the Democrats showed they were losers. Instead of seeking to mobilize voters and attack the militarism and dictatorial actions of the Bush administration, they vowed they could be as tough and mean as the president. In the process, they did far more to attack Ralph Nader than they did the Republicans. By denying Nader a ballot spot, they openly stated that their left-wing critics do not have the right to vote for a candidate outside of the narrow elite consensus.
City hall's smug hypocrisy on protests is unending. The administration, which has eagerly sought to seal parks to the public for private profit-making events while encouraging the ever greater consumption of alcohol in them, screamed that inebriated protesters might leave the parks and wander through residential neighborhoods. It pays no heed to the ravages of drunken yuppies. The Hickenlooper camp is blind to the activities of the latter, especially considering that the mayor made his fortune by appealing to that crowd. The mayor's backers apparently only complain about substance abusers when they have the wrong kind of politics.
Far more than the infantile prattle of protesters who vowed to “disrupt Denver,” city hall took all such bluster extremely seriously while doing far more to inconvenience locals and disrupt everyday life through massive traffic closings and police-state tactics than anything protesters could ever produce. In the process, the administration's backers showed themselves having all the wit of J. Edgar Hoover with his endless warnings of communist subversion. Like Hoover, Hickenlooper and company used a selective editing of protest manifestos to prepare to crush anybody and anything that got in the way in the gathering of the "green" Democratic aristocrats.
(At the last minute, Hickenlooper finally stated what he should have said months earlier: violence was not the preferred way of dealing with disagreement. He only expressed such views after arranging for a massive, overwhelming, intimidating police presence. Even at that, his approach was far more calming than anything that could have be en expected under the brutal police administration of Wellington Webb.)
The silence of Barack Obama about why Denver and the Democrats so eagerly sought to muzzle all voices who express anything but ultra establishment views shows he is part and parcel of the system which has produced cynicism, corruption, and a hatred of mass action. The candidate is at one with those who view dissent as heresy. Obama and the Democrats have shown they clearly prefer witch hunts and prosecution of demonstrators to free political discussion. This, in turn, reveals the "change" Obama promises: a change in the tilt of the deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship of state continues to recklessly sail through a sea of icebergs.
By Phil Goodstein The Naysayer Newsletter September 2008
at 9:35 AM
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