Denver Direct: The Ascendance of Ignorance

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?”