Denver Direct: April 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
In a 25-9 vote yesterday, the state Senate passed House Bill 1317, which would prevent the State Land Board from selling or leasing land to the feds if the land is going to be used to expand the roughly 235,000-acre Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeast Colorado by 100,000 acres (via The Pueblo Chieftain). It’s now up to Governor Bill Ritter to sign the bill and effectively stymie the Army’s plans to expand Fort Carson’s training grounds. Lawmakers from Colorado Springs, who say Fort Carson needs more training space and fear the Army post could be closed without it, tried in vain to kill the bill–the second such bill in two years. In 2007, lawmakers approved a bill to remove the state’s support for any federal effort to use condemnation law to take land in the region for the Army training. In a recent article, the Chieftain noted that Keith Eastin, the Army official who tried to get the expansion approved, has failed and is now retiring. What’s so special about the land? Numerous things, according to this Forest Magazine article written in 2007, when the Army wanted to expand the site by a whopping 418,000 acres.
at 10:26 AM
(from Denver Dems)
Vacancy Committee Election for State Senator
Senate District 33
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Park Hill United Methodist Church
5209 Montview Blvd., Denver
Doors open at 6 p.m. and there will be light appetizers and refreshments available. The forum will be held in the lower level auditorium which has disability accessibility through the elevator in the church. There is a small parking lot and street parking is also acceptable.
Democratic Party of Denver Chair Cindy Lowery will be moderating the debate, and she will take a few questions to the candidates from the audience, so come with your questions ready to go!!
at 7:12 AM
Monday, April 27, 2009
Our own nationally-known environmental investigator, Adrienne Anderson, has come out with both barrels blasting in a new study of the pollution buried at the Denver Federal Center. Portions of the plot have been sold for development, and a hospital is being built there right now.
(Excerpted from the report)
- Citizens of Colorado are not getting a comprehensive clean-up of toxic and radioactive land and water at the Denver Federal Center. Grounds where a half century of combined toxic uses by the military and waste disposal by other government agencies are simply being moved around, reburied onsite, and/or sent to other locations around metro Denver not licensed to accept hazardous or nuclear-contaminated wastes, as a part of redevelopment plans now underway since the federal government sold off the site in 2007 in a $25 million privatization deal.
- Unknown to the general public and workers on the site, records obtained from CDPHE in a two-months investigation reveal that the west end of former Denver Federal Center government-owned property were once burial grounds for radioactive wastes by the agency operating the State of Colorado’s only nuclear reactor, the U.S. Geological Survey. Though apparently done during the Atomic Energy Commission (which also operated at the Denver Federal Center), and now the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Energy, no public investigation into this history or the fate of these drums and their impact to the surrounding environment is of record.
at 9:28 AM
Monday, April 20, 2009
Colorado State Senator Peter Groff is headed for Washington, D.C. to be part of Obama's education team, and that will leave District 33 with a vacancy. Filling that vacancy is up to the Senate District 33 Vacancy Committee comprised of 150 Democrats including Precinct Committee People (PCP), sub-district Officers, Finance Chairs, Captains-at-Large, House District Officers, Senate District Officers, County Officers, State Officers, DNC Members, and elected officials (RTD, School Board, City Council, Auditor, County Clerk and Recorder, CU Regents, District Attorney, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Board of Regents, State Board of Education, State Assembly, US Representative, US Senator, Mayor, and Governor), if they live in the Senate District. If you are not one of these people, you will not be voting. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be involved. Go here for further details.
As of Saturday evening, four candidates had emerged. Each gave a brief talk at the HD8 Democrats Annual Spaghetti Dinner on April 18, 2009. Here, in alphabetical order:
at 8:16 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009
by Dave Felice for DenverDirect
The country’s newest presidential dollar coins show how religious interests influence congressional decisions. The slogan “In God We Trust” has been moved from the edge of the coin to the bottom of the coin’s face.
With little general public and media notice, legislation by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat, was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008. Section 623 of the lengthy legislation directed the Treasury Department to move the slogan either to the front or back of the coins “as soon as is practicable after the date of enactment of this Act.”
Brownback has a reputation as an ultra-conservative advocate of what some consider “religious” issues. Byrd is known for sometimes taking unusual positions.
When the coins were first issued, religious activists complained that the slogan was not prominent enough on the edge of the coin. Before the edge inscription became more widely known. Some even criticized the U.S. Mint for omitting the slogan.
A production error at the Philadelphia Mint resulted in the issuance of some George Washington coins without the edge inscription. A few critics complained this was a deliberate attempt by the Mint to eliminate the slogan. More zealous opponents suggested not using the coins as a protest against the original design.
New coins, new design The first presidential “golden” dollar of 2009, featuring the image of William Henry Harrison, is starting to circulate in the Denver area. The slogan is at the bottom of the “face,” or head, of the coin, preceding the words “9th President 1841.” Three more presidential coins will be issued later this year.
The Mint describes the new design as featuring “larger, more dramatic artwork, as well as edge-incused inscriptions of the year of minting or issuance, "E Pluribus Unum" and the mint mark "In God We Trust" will appear on the face of the coin starting in 2009.”
In advance of the Brownback-Byrd amendment, The Christian Examiner newspaper stated: “Public pressure soon may send the motto back to the front or back of the coins.” The Examiner is a Baptist publication.
In a later statement, Brownback said, “Since the colonial beginnings of the United States, citizens of this nation have officially acknowledged their dependence on God. It is important that our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is prominently displayed on all of our currency. We should not relegate our heritage to the side.”
Courts reject opposition In 2006, a federal judge in California ruled against Michael Newdow, an atheist and lawyer from Sacramento who contended the motto’s appearance on the coins violated his First Amendment rights.
Newdow’s appeal included an argument for removing the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court denied Newdow’s claim that both references were disrespectful to his religious beliefs.
Slogan grows from Civil War fervor In spite of common belief that the slogan originated with the formation of the country, the Treasury Department says use of the motto stems from increased religious sentiment during the Civil War.
“Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins,” the department says on its website.
According to The Christian Examiner, the first recorded appeal came in an 1861 letter to Secretary Chase from a minister from rural Pennsylvania, “noting that recognition of ‘the Almighty God’ had been ‘seriously overlooked’ on the nation's coins.” The newspaper says the minister suggested that placing the words “God,” “liberty”, and “law” on coins would “relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism” and “place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed.”
In response, Chase wrote “The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.” He told the director of the Philadelphia Mint to prepare a motto “expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.” Chase approved the words “In God We Trust” and the slogan was stamped on the 1864 two-cent coin.
Dollar coins not popular The United States is the only industrialized nation which still has unitary paper currency, the famous “Greenback Dollar” with the image of George Washington on the front.
Canada has a brass-colored dollar about the same size as the U.S. “small” dollar coin. Canada also has a two-dollar coin, and hasn’t used a paper dollar for over two decades. Australia and New Zealand both have one-dollar and two-dollar coins. The European Union has one-euro and two-euro coins. The five-euro has always been the smallest euro bill.
The United Kingdom has one-, two-, and five-pound coins. The five-pound coin, known as a “crown” is about the same size as the old U.S. silver dollar.
The original “small” U.S. dollar, featuring the image of Susan B. Anthony in profile, was unpopular because some people thought it looked too much like a quarter. The re-designed “golden” dollar, was issued in 2000. That coin featured a three-quarter image of Sacagawea, the Native American woman who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The Treasury Department started issuing the presidential golden dollars in 2007. Four coins are minted each year.
The one-dollar coins can be used in most vending machines. However, even the newest parking meters are not all capable of accepting the coins. Denver Public Works reasoned that people would not use the dollar coins and purchased new parking meters with a coin slot only big enough for quarters.
Consumers have complained they don’t want to use the coins because of weight. Many cash registers do not have a separate compartment for dollar coins.
So far, the Treasury Department has rejected calls to eliminate the paper dollar as a way of stimulating coin use. Some defenders of the paper dollar have even suggested that it would be disrespectful of the first president to eliminate the dollar bill.
at 6:26 AM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
at 3:21 PM
Former House District 8 Representative Rosemary Marshall announced her willingness to fill the vacancy created by President Obama's appointment of State Senator Peter Groff to the US Department of Education.
She is certainly our first choice because she has the experience and ability to fill the position. She is a proven leader. She knows the ropes and can assume the responsibilities of office immediately. No one else suggested so far (that we know of) comes anywhere near her qualifications. In addition, she has a grace and dignity that would make us proud to have her as our Senator.
As the former State Representative for house district 8, from 2000 - 2008, I am asking for your support to continue my public service to the citizens of the community by succeeding Peter Groff in the State Senate. My eight years of legislative experience and in-depth knowledge of the general assembly process would ease this transition and provide needed consistency for representation of the district. There are critical issues currently being debated that will continue into the 2010 legislative session. In 2011 we will be faced with the very crucial and political challenge of redrawing legislative and congressional districts based on the new census data. I participated in this process in 2001 while serving in the House of Representatives.
Other legislative experience includes serving as chair person of Business Affairs and Labor, and serving on the committees of Finance, Judiciary, and Audit. I have sponsored and had passed numerous bills in the areas of consumer protection, criminal justice, health and education. Prior to being elected in 2000, I was MIT-Harvard certified in public policy disputes.
I am a life long resident of Denver, and well acquainted with the quality of life issues and concerns of the district. I recognize and respect that you have choices. I would be honored to serve you in the Colorado State Senate.
at 11:18 AM
Sunday, April 12, 2009
by Dave Felice for DenverDirect
Denver, Colorado (April 11, 2009) By a vote of 18 to nothing, with five abstentions, Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) delegates are seeking a moratorium on a plan to put up advertising signs on animal waste bag dispensers in several city parks. INC is a city-wide association of many of Denver's largest and most active registered neighborhood organizations. The request for a delay in implementation of the pilot project comes in a letter to be sent to Parks and Recreation Manager Kevin Patterson. His assistant, Angela Casias, attended the INC delegates’ meeting Saturday to explain and defend the proposal.
Casias says the plan focuses on the areas with the greatest problem of animal waste, the Rivers and Trails District and the Northwest District. City Park is not on the original list of parks to get the dispensers with advertising but, “all parks are still under evaluation.” The letter says the requested moratorium would be in effect “until RNOs (Registered Neighborhood Organizations), other interested parties and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board have been included in a process to discuss the proposed pilot project. In the process, information could be shared on the assessment of the impacts and desirability of the dog waste project, the exploration of other alternatives that would help with the management of dog waste in parks and the project's adherence to the intent of the City laws, regulations and policies.” Casias claims dealing with dog waste in the city’s parks may cost the city up to $100,000 per year. She explains that the company called Poo Free Parks would be “totally responsible for maintaining signs and dispensers, and keeping the dispensers stocked with biodegradable bags.” Sign advertising presumably would pay for operating the dispenser program and the city would get no additional revenue. Casias acknowledged that Parks and Recreation policy prohibits “permanent” signs, but the signs to be placed on the poles holding the bag dispensers are “temporary” because “the contract requires the company to offer only six-month sponsorship agreements.”
Because the bag dispenser operation is what Casias calls “kind of a new business,” the company headed by Bill Airy was selected without competitive bidding. She says the project would be open to competitive bidding after the first year if there are any other interested operators. According to Casias, the City Attorney's office has been asked for and has given its blessing to these unusual interpretations of city ordinances and regulations.
Some of those attending the meeting indicated they didn’t think “voluntary” homemade bag dispensers set up by concerned residents were effective. “I’d rather see a well-maintained sign instead of plastic bottles full of newspaper wrappers,” said non-delegate Ken Beaudrie. A northwest Denver delegate, Bill Johnson, says the “integrity of our parks system” is the real price. “The overriding issue is, and has been, private advertising in public parks,” comments Johnson. “Are we going to be crossing the Rubicon (by allowing the signs)?”
Several members of the INC Parks Committee and other critics contend the plan to allow advertising signs conflicts with Parks Department guidelines. Opponents also say the bag dispenser project could be contrary to the City Charter’s language which grants decision-making authority to Parks administration.
In spite of the resolution to seek a moratorium until the plan can be fully and publicly discussed, Casias maintains Parks representatives have met with various neighborhood groups and “we’ve gotten positive response.” She says samples of the signs were not previously available “because the contract was just finalized last Friday (4/10).” Casias did not present any example of the signs. She also did not explain why the proposal is not presented on the Parks and Recreation web site. Casias says Parks did not want to present the plan to the citizens’ Parks and Recreation Advisory Board until the contract is finished. The original proposal calls for up to 150 signs in five to ten parks. Casias says it’s more likely there would be 100 signs, meaning each of the ten parks in the pilot program would get approximately 10 signs. More...
at 2:15 PM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Hey, I thought this blog was about Local Local News. Okay, here's my walkabout from April 9, 2009.
at 2:55 PM
I grew up in an experiment in socialism, created by Eleanor Roosevelt and run by the government of the United States of America. It was called Greenbelt, Maryland, and it incorporated many of the advanced ideas of the time, around 1935, as to what the ideal living environment should be. Many of those ideas were what would be called “socialist” today.
Although the residents did not “own the means of production”, they did “own” all of the retail stores in the town, and each year they received a percentage of the profits in proportion to their expenditures in those stores.
This town and its amenities were built from scratch in abandoned farmland 7 miles from the northeast Washington, D.C. border. I started to write a book some 15 years ago about my experiences there. I researched old documents in the Tugwell Room of the Greenbelt library to get a feel for what was going on at the time. It was interesting to read Eleanor Roosevelt’s impassioned speeches before Congress which got this experiment started.
As I recall, Congress got tired of the experiment in the early ‘50s, and sold the town. Some bought the homes they were living in but my parents chose to move out to neighboring Hyattsville, Md. I was 16 at the time.
This post is inspired by a film I just discovered, entitled “The City”, by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke. It’s a propaganda piece by the Government about Greenbelt, but the part I’ve clipped out for your viewing enjoyment was shot in my neighborhood, and the shots of kids riding their bikes could have been a home movie of me and my friends, just a few years later.
Someday maybe I’ll finish that book. I’ve always wondered what the results of the experiment were. Maybe I'm it.
(Ed. Note: The narration of this clip is filled with falsehoods. I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to invent stories when the reality was itself very good.)
at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Click image to enlarge
Rebecca Goodwin of the Otero County Historic Preservation Board reminds the House Committee considering House Bill 09-1317, to prevent sale of State Lands to the Department of Denfense, that the Pinon Canyon Site contains thousands of historic sites.
Oh, and by the way, the vote was taken and the bill passed easily, and now, it's on to the House.
Update: (from Rep. Sal Pace's newsletter) "The Pinon Canyon Land and school protection act of 2009 survived its first hurdle last week when the House Agriculture Committee voted 11-2 to send the bill onto the full House of Representatives. The bill would protect private property rights by prohibiting the state land board from selling or leasing state lands for the expansion of Pinon Canyon. The bill should be heard on second reading on Tuesday, April 7th sometime between 10 AM and noon. You can watch the proceedings on Tuesday on Comcast Cable Channel 165 or on-line at www.ColoradoChannel.net."
Background on Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site Expansion:
at 7:02 PM
Friday, April 3, 2009
(click title for in-depth report)
Red = Current Maneuver Site, Yellow = Proposed Expansion
Update: (From 5280.com) State Lawmakers Take on Army's Expansion Plans in Southeast Colorado The Army's controversial move to acquire an additional 100,000 acres of land in southeastern Colorado has made its way from Washington, D.C., to the Colorado Legislature. Yesterday, the state House of Representatives voted to prevent the State Land Board from selling or leasing land to the federal government if it means that Fort Carson's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site would grow. The legislation is meant to prevent the Army from expanding the 238,000-acre site, a move opposed by ranchers in southeastern Colorado who say their lands are under siege, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. Roughly 20 percent of the land that the Army has designated for future expansion is State Land Board land, placing a major crimp in any plans to expand, according to News 13 in Colorado Springs.
Meanwhile, back in D.C. last week, U.S. Representatives John Salazar and Betsy Markey, whose districts include pieces of the proposed site, called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask the Army for an updated briefing on its plans by no later than April 10, according to another Chieftain article.
The Department of Defense secured the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in the early 1980s through purchase and eminent domain (It is said to have been the largest seizure of land through eminent domain). At that time, DoD promised that 1) No live ammunition would be used on the site and, 2) No additional land would be requested. Both of those promises have been broken.
For the past 4 years, the Army has been discussing the acquisition of additional land nearby. Various statements as to the amount of land have been made by the Army, but leaked documents indicate that they want the entire southeast corner of the State of Colorado. This time around, the citizens are more adamantly opposed. Nearly every ranch in the area has a sign proclaiming “This land NOT for sale to the Army”.
On Wednesday, April 1, a committee hearing on HB 09-1317 was held. This bill would direct the Colorado Land Board NOT to sell any more State owned land to the Army. Representative McKinley (District 64) and Representative Pace (District 46) sponsored the bill (among others). The hearing lasted 3 hours and all of the speakers were in favor of the bill. The young people, representing their Future Farmers of America groups, had traveled 4 hours to get to Denver. In my opinion, theirs was the testimony that struck closest to the heart of the matter.
You can support their efforts by buying one-square inch of Pinon Canyon Land here for just $10.
at 9:15 AM
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
"On March 24, 2009, the INC (Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation) Parks and Recreation Committee passed a motion to send the following letter to officials of the City and County of Denver after consideration by the INC delegation on April 11. Please be prepared to discuss and vote on the motion.
The Delegation of INC approves sending the following letter to the City and County of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, copied to Mayor John Hickenlooper and members of the Denver City Council and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee: Kevin Patterson, Manager Department of Parks and Recreation City and County of Denver 201 W. Colfax Denver, CO 80202 email@example.com
Dear Mr. Patterson, At the INC Delegation Meeting meeting on March 14, 2009, your representative, Angela Casias, announced that a “pilot project” would commence in early summer wherein dog waste bag dispensers would be installed in five to ten Denver parks. Furthermore, this plan was publicly announced in a Parks and Recreation Newsletter sent out by Jill McGranahan on March 27. On January 20 of this year, Mr. Bill Airy, President of Poo Free Parks presented his company's plan for such dispensers to The Parks and Recreation Committee of INC. The plan included signage with commercial advertising to be placed above the dispensers.
We encouraged Mr Airy to take the project to Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, to Registered Neighborhood Organizations, and to other interested park groups as a matter of community outreach. We also voiced our concern about advertising in the park and the possible push back from the community.
Although details of Denver Parks and Recreation's “pilot project” are unknown, Parks and Recreation wrote an an article which was forwarded to INC members on March 15. This article stated stated that “We also will be rolling out a pilot project in early summer with a company that will install and maintain dog waste stations in 5-10 parks at no cost to the City. If this pilot project is successful, we hope to roll it out system-wide to help with our overall dog waste management goals.”
In responding to questions at the INC meeting on March 14, Ms. Casias, confirmed that commercial advertising would be featured as part of the dispenser project. She maintained that such advertising was not in violation of any City legal or policy requirements, but is, rather, allowed under the Department's Policies and Procedures on Corporate Sponsorship, although Section 2.3 of these policies, states "...The permanent placement of a corporate logo, brand, or product placement in a public park or facility is considered advertising and [is] not allowed....".
As we are sure you are aware, members of INC and city-wide Registered Neighborhood Associations are vitally interested in all projects slated for the City's parks. City-wide Registered Neighborhood Organizations have not been included in the planning process for these dog waste stations. Therefore, the Delegates of INC hereby call for a moratorium on implementing the pilot project for dog waste which would include advertising in Denver parks. This moratorium would be in effect until such time as RNOs, other interested parties and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board have been included in a process to discuss the proposed pilot project. In the process, information could be shared on the assessment of the impacts and desirability of the dog waste project, the exploration of other alternatives that would help with the management of dog waste in parks and the project's adherence to the intent of the City laws, regulations and policies."
at 11:44 AM
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