Tag Archives: El Paso County

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams wants voter registration fraud evidence pulled from net

Romney supporter, 20-year-old Mormon Victoria Bautista, registering only Republican votersCOLORADO SPRINGS– A young voter registration activist, by admission soliciting only Mitt Romney supporters, was caught on video saying she worked for the El Paso County Clerk, mistakenly as it turns out. Local Dems have run with the story while Clerk & Recorder Wayne Williams and the Colorado Springs Gazette, both notorious GOP bullies, insist the viral video be taken down because it misrepresents the truth, missing the point about WHO was misrepresenting the truth. Whether the young woman spoke in error, she and perhaps others are representing themselves as county representatives, and the clerk’s damage control is revealing. After clarifying that his office does not employ partisan foot soldiers (although examples abound of Democrats being purged from his staff), Williams scolds only the video taker for “spreading disinformation”. He does not warn citizens to question volunteers who pretend official status, nor does he offer evidence of reprimands or special retraining. Of course all sides are protecting the identity of the 20-year-old Victoria Bautista. Why? At 20 she’s not getting any smarter, or educated obviously. I hardly think it serves our society to coddle anyone screwing with civic participation. Many of our current officials are evidence of what happens when you nurture mediocrity in politics. Are we so hard up we want idiots in authority? I think that’s a characteristic best pruned aggressively like you would rot.

Are Colorado Springs Citizens Being Gagged On Fracking Issue?

Our colleague Lotus has initiated some fruitful correspondence on the subject of the still-impending fracking of the Pikes Peak region. In light of the City’s abrupt cancellation of the May 17 public hearing, we’ll present excerpts of his emails and telephone notes here.

Are Colorado Springs Citizens Being Gagged On Fracking Issue?

The fracking hearing was cancelled. The more I learn about how the fracking issue is being dealt with in Colorado Springs, the more it looks like citizens have very little room for input. This even seems to be true of the way the City Council Advisory Committee on fracking was run – very little room for public input.

The letter from Councilman Val Snider below seems to be saying that the public will only be allowed to respond to the recommendations of the advisory committee, will not be allowed general input concerning the issue of fracking.

It appears that 4-5 people from Huerfano/Las Animas Counties, who have been harmed by fracking, may be willing to speak to the city council and the public here in Colorado Springs. But the process seems to be so closed that it does not appear likely that these people who were harmed will be allowed to speak, allowed to warn people here in Colorado Springs what may be in store for them if they allow fracking in Colorado Springs. The informal Council meetings do not allow for public input. The formal meeting only allow for 3 minutes of input on subjects not on the agenda. And what will be on the agenda may not allow for general input, will be limited to discussion of the recommendations of the committee.

I read articles about how the El Paso County Commission dealt with fracking, and they ignored the recommendations of their own planning commission when they watered down their regulations. Where is the protection of our water, land and air when it comes to fracking? There does not seem to be much of any.

Lotus

From Colorado Springs City Councilman Val Snyder:

Hi Lotus,

The city will not be having any public meetings on fracking. The city will have public meetings on the recommendations of the Oil and Gas Committee on areas of potential regulation for oil and gas activities. The first public meeting on this is May 24, 6-8pm, at the City Administration Building.

There will be opportunities for public comment before City Council, as the potential oil and gas regulations work their way through the process. The first is tentatively scheduled for June 12, a formal Council meeting.

Thank you for your writing.

Val

From a telephone conversation with May Jensen:

Anti-Fracking Info From Mary Jensen & Other Info
(From my notes, so hope is accurate.)

I have been wondering why people from other communities who have been harmed by fracking (their land, water, personally, etc) have not been asked to speak to the local Colorado Springs City Council, El Paso County Commissioners, etc. So I finally located the author of a letter to the editor of the CS Independent, Mary Jensen, who has a doctorate in applied clinical nutrition.

Mary Jensen’s March 8-14, 2012 email:

Fracking concoction by Mary Jensen:

Across the state and the country, there is documented evidence of wells being contaminated by chemicals used in oil and gas fracking. Yet Gov. John Hickenlooper recently demonstrated how supposedly safe fracked water is by taking “a swig of it.”

I am incensed at the example he’s setting — playing Russian roulette by drinking water that may or may not have been sanitized for a cheap publicity stunt. He need only look as far as his own state to see the irreparable harm done to our people, our livestock, our air, our water and our lands.
Here are some materials Hickenlooper might have ingested in his fracked beverage:

• Benzene, a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer. It may also cause fatigue, skin and mucous membrane irritation, and narcotic behavior including lightheadedness, disorientation, loss of consciousness and coma.

• Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems, loss of consciousness and death.

• Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia — besides potential harm to developing fetuses.

• Xylene, with cancer-causing and neurotoxic effects, which can cause reproductive abnormalities and death through respiratory or cardiac arrest. More toxic than benzene and toluene!

• Methylene chloride, which may cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and worse.

• Or any of more than 1,000 other safe “food additives” used by the oil and gas industry.

Hickenlooper is welcome to come down to Huerfano and Las Animas counties to talk with the ranchers and other folks who have been irreparably damaged by these poisons.

— Mary Jensen, Ph.D.

From telephone conversation with Mary Jensen on 5-12-12:

Mary especially emphasized that we should get Josh Joswick to speak to our elected leaders. Josh Joswick: commissioner in southern Colorado’s La Plata County, which successfully fought state regulators and companies in court for a say in oil and gas production.

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Drilling-threatens-nature-Colorado-residents-say-1968302.php

Josh Joswick is now a Staff Organizer, Oil and Gas Issues the San Juan Citizens Alliance Staff Organizer, Colorado Energy Issues josh@sanjuancitizens.org Josh brings nearly 20 years of experience in dealing with the oil and gas industry to the position of Oil and Gas Issues Organizer. He served three terms as a La Plata County Commissioner from January 1993 to January 2005; in that capacity, locally he worked to see that La Plata County’s oil and gas land use regulations were not only enforced but expanded to protect surface owners’ rights. Josh has dealt with numerous agencies, and legislative and Congressional elected officials, to uphold the rights of local governments to exercise their land use authority as it pertained to oil and gas development, and to assert the right of local government to address with the environmental impacts of oil and gas development.

http://www.sanjuancitizens.org/otherpages/contact.shtml

http://www.spoke.com/people/josh-joswick-3e1429c09e597c10008191b9

Mary Jensen said there are probably at least 4-5 people who have been adversely affected by fracking that would be willing to travel to Colorado Springs in order to speak to the Council. Many people have gone to court and signed a settlement that they later learned prevents them from speaking to the press. Many of these people have spent everything they have fighting the fracking companies in court.

Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets
http://truth-out.org/news/item/9004-silencing-communities-how-the-fracking-industry-keeps-its- secrets

See attached two page fracking information add that was run in the LaVeta Signature and Huerfano County Journal. Organizers paid over $2,000 for these adds.

Mary mentioned that 6 people in her area have died of brain cancer, and another person has brain cancer.

Mary Jensen went on to say that she had heard that drilling down around Trinidad was disastrous in terms of contaminating many wells, but she did not have specifics. Her understanding is that the gas company declared bankruptcy and walked away from it all. (Contaminated wells are not likely to be usable for 100 years.)

In one of the Gazette articles, see below, it said that the Colorado Springs moratorium on fracking ends May 31, 2012. (A reason to extend the moratorium would be in order to provide more time to revise the regulatory structure.)

Mary said that fracking, this dangerous method of oil and gas extraction, is not more effective than simply drilling for oil and gas. Read: Deborah Rogers Transcript of “In Their Own Words: Examining Shale Gas Hype”

http://preservethefingerlakes.org/?p=127

Mary said that there is now a network of 14 anti-fracking organizations. The contact for getting on the Grassroots EnErgy activist Network (GREEN) is Citizens for Huerfano County, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com

The CHC website is http://www.huerfanofrack.com/.

Also there is going to be a Colorado Grassroots Fractivist Summit, Jun 9, 2012

Mary stated that it was important that I visit the website TEDX http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php and learn about the 600+ chemical used in fracking hundreds of which adversely affect the endocrine system.

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/home.php

Mary said another important resource on fracking is A Primer for Local Governments on Environmental Liability

http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/environment/envliabprim.pdf

She said that the president of Citizens for Huerfano County, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com , would be able to provide me with access to this document. The CHC website is
http://www.huerfanofrack.com/

On http://www.huerfanofrack.com/ I located POW: Protect Our Wells appears to be a mainly Colorado Springs based group. The president is Sandy Martin, 719-351-1640, sandra@protectourwells.org .

Other board members also seem to have CS area phone numbers

http://www.protectourwells.org/ ,
http://www.protectourwells.org/BOD.html .
http://www.huerfanofrack.com/
also listed the Sierra Club
http://rmc.sierraclub.org/ppg/
and Green Cities Coalition, which I am already familiar with.
http://www.greencitiescoalition.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88&Itemid=30

Both of these organizations have people on the committee advising the Colorado Springs City Council on fracking.

Mary said that Perry Cabot from Colorado State University in Pueblo was helping people in her area with base line water studies. These are needed in order to later prove well contamination.

Mary said the Land Owner’s Guide To Oil and Gas Development by the Oil and Gas Accountability Project was another important document. And also the book Oil and Gas At Your Door: 970-259-3353.

Citizens for Huerfano County President, Kelly Kringel, kkringel@gmail.com, asked in an email if I knew Mary Talbott. I do not, so I did a search and came up with:

Mary Talbott & fracking issue:

Commissioner to energy company: ‘We’re scared of you’

http://www.gazette.com/articles/drilling-127253-county-approved.html

Citizens, county respond to frack attack

(Talbott, who is retired from the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment and does not live near prospective drill sites)

County, city leaders to get a present on Tuesday

(She plans to hand them a copy of “Split Estate,” a 75-minute DVD about drilling issues in Rifle, Colo. )

http://thecountyseat.freedomblogging.com/tag/el-paso-county-commissioners/

Talbott presented fracking report to El Paso County Board of Health (bottom p 3)

http://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/sites/default/files/11_14_11_Minutes.pdf

What has happened in El Paso County…Majority of Commissioners Ignored head of own planning commission, and the recommendations of the Commission!

Gazette article:

County adopts slimmed-down oil and gas regulations

ANDREW WINEKE
THE GAZETTE

http://www.gazette.com/articles/talbott-129368-denver-citizens.html

El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday narrowly approved a basic set of regulations to govern oil and gas drilling in the county.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a proposal that was significantly scaled down from what the county’s planning commission approved earlier this month. The regulations govern transportation, emergency response, noxious weeds and, controversially, water quality issues related to drilling.

Commissioners Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn objected to the water quality regulations, arguing that the county was overstepping its authority because the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission also regulates drilling-related water issues.

“I think it would be irresponsible for us to open ourselves up to lawsuits,” Littleton said.
The Attorney General’s Office and oil and gas commission director Dave Neslin have expressed concern over the county’s proposed rules, both in the version approved by the planning commission and a trimmed-down version the county’s planning staff developed last week, arguing that the county can’t regulate areas where the state has its rules in place.

However, commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey said that water quality was too important to leave up to the state.

“I really don’t mind pushing the envelope when it comes to our water quality,” Hisey said.
The water quality monitoring regulations adopted by the county are similar to what the oil and gas commission has agreed to in other counties, requiring wells to be monitored initially for a baseline measurement and then at one, three, and six-year intervals after drilling begins.

The commissioners scrapped most of the rules proposed by the planning commission, including measures that would have governed setbacks from structures and property lines, mitigation of visual impacts and noise and impacts to wildlife. The commissioners will instead try to address those issues by working with the oil and gas commission on an intergovernmental agreement.

Getting some kind of oil and gas regulations in place was vitally important for the county, since a moratorium on oil and gas permits expired at midnight Tuesday and the county had no other regulations in place. Houston-based Ultra Resources has applied to drill six wells in El Paso County, four in unincorporated parts of the county and two more in Banning Lewis Ranch, inside the Colorado Springs city limits. The city imposed its own moratorium and set up a task force to study oil and gas regulations. The task force plans to make a recommendation to City Council by early May.
All of this was decided in a meeting that stretched nearly nine hours Tuesday. Several dozen speakers weighed in on the proposed regulations on each side of the issue.

Jeff Cahill, who lives near the Corral Bluffs Open Space, said that the proposed drilling has already hurt his property values and made it difficult for he and his wife to sell their home.
“They say they’re not going to impact us,” he told the commission. “Well, they’ve already impacted me.”

Steve Hicks, chairman of the El Paso County planning commission, urged the commission to pass more stringent regulations such as those approved by the planning commission.

“At times, there needs to be extra regulation where the state doesn’t go far enough, and this is one of them,” he said.

Other speakers praised the economic potential of expanded oil and gas development in the county.
Bob Stovall recounted his experience as an oil and gas lawyer and a city attorney in Farmington, N.M.

“Air is pretty clean there. Water is pretty clean there – and that’s after 100 years of oil and gas,” he said. “If oil and gas is around in this county, it could be good for us and it can be done well.”

Tisha Conoly Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the county’s new regulations were a good framework to build on.

“The El Paso County commissioners made significant progress today,” she said. “The rules passed are 90 percent within the guidance provided by the Attorney General. There are still a couple of important issues to work through, but I am confident that the county is serious about finding common ground, and after seeing the progress made today, we will continue to work toward county regulations that are protective of the environment and within the scope of the county’s jurisdiction.”

Read more:

http://www.gazette.com/articles/county-132696-water-quality.html#ixzz1ujNiqAjK

Split Estate: an eye-opening examination of the consequences and conflicts that can arise between surface land owners in the western United States, and those who own and extract the energy and mineral rights below. http://splitestate.com/

http://www.splitestate.com/video_clips.html
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?rh=n%3A2625373011%2Ck%3Asplit+estate+dvd&k eywords=split+estate+dvd&ie=UTF8

“split estate,” in which landowners have surface rights but someone else owns the rights to the underground minerals. Josh Joswick : commissioner in southern Colorado’s La Plata County, which successfully fought state regulators and companies in court for a say in oil and gas production.

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Drilling-threatens-nature-Colorado-residents-say- 1968302.php ;

http://www.spoke.com/people/josh-joswick-3e1429c09e597c10008191b9

Gasland, a documentary on fracking.
http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats- fracking/affirming-gasland ,
http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/
http://gizmodo.com/5905909/gasland-the-definitive-documentary-on-fracking

Frack-happy Ultra Petroleum is the city’s largest private landowner. What kind of neighbor might it be?

Ultra Petroleum Corp., which owns subsidiary Ultra Resources…has most of the leases and permits in El Paso County and Colorado Springs

http://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/close-up/Content?oid=2422410

Wise up Colorado Springs only YOU can stop fracking

Heads up Colorado Springs environmentalists! If you’re thinking that among your colleagues, someone’s got your back on hydraulic fracturing, your count is off by one. NOT ONE SINGLE local organization or leader has taken the position that oil and gas fracking must be stopped, or even can be stopped! Did you miss that memo? I’m guessing they haven’t issued a distress signal among their membership, because, um, fracking’s “inevitable” right?! Green-minded residents, and Manitou tourists we’ve come across while holding NO FRACKING signs are incredulous at the thought that local officials would permit fracking, I’ve even been assured that local eco-celebs are on the case. NOPE. If you’ve got the phone tree, give them a call. If someone’s going to stop fracking, it’s going to be you.

Now, here’s a surprise…

Our local District Attorney has declared the case closed that the Real Estate industry who own City Hall and the Mayor and the County Commissioners might be using the legislative and enforcement powers of City Hall and their appointed servants in the Police and Courts to rig deals that profit… The Real Estate Cartel. Couldn’t possibly be that Rich People would use their wealth to buy political power and use that power to route Public Money into their already swollen bank accounts.
No, they’re above that sort of behavior.
Or so we’re told, this time by their bought-and-paid (through stolen public money, perhaps?) District Attorney. Because wealth and the attendant Greed would never invite them into corrupt practices. No not never!

Petition Sallie Clark not to groom Lisa Czeladtko city council campaign

Conflict of interest, anyone? County Commissioner is one of those “low paid” jobs in local government which pays off hugely in graft money, if one is so disposed to take advantage of that opportunity, by voting tax breaks, zoning laws (enforced at Public Expense) and other Pork-barrel subsidies for the actual paying business of the Commissioner. Quasi-legalized Grand Theft would be a better word for it.

editorial note: There are lines even in Colorado Springs politics which should not be crossed. Such as paid representatives using their positions of power to influence elections. Sally Clark is an Earth-raping Fascist a Land Developer, part of the “in crowd” who destroyed the economy of the U.S., the entire planet and in particular Colorado Springs with their Ponzi-scheme federally subsidized Mortgage Ripoff. And who bought her position and vote not only as city council but as County Commissioner. Same as always Lisa Czeladtko is running for City Councilor of Colorado Springs Colorado. The status quo in Colorado Springs shows hatred toward victims of a poor local economy.

Former Colorado Springs City Councilor and current El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark is the campaign manager for Lisa Czeladtko.

Lisa Czeladtko has negatively criticized the New Life Church for having helped victims of a fallen economy in Acacia Park. Lisa Czeladtko has publicly demonized victims of a fallen economy.

Sallie Clark is acting as her campaign manager while serving as El Paso County Commissioner.

Sallie Clark must either resign as El Paso County Commissioner or resign as Lisa Czeladtko’s Campaign Manager.

Colorado Springs needs fair minded representatives on the City Council not those who express hatred toward toward people who were negatively affected by the downfall of the economy.

Furthermore let this petition serve as a notice that the whole world is watching Colorado Springs

There was a Richard Pryor movie long ago “Brewster’s Millions: an American excess story” in which the question was put, of a mayoral candidate, “Why would anybody spend 30 Million dollars to get elected to a job that pays a hundred Thousand a year? Answer: because he can steal it back, with interest”

While the campaign costs for City Council and County Commissioner here aren’t that large, neither is the actual pay for those positions. Since every man jack and girl Jill on either board considers or at least calls him/her self a “conservative” and with business ethics which start and end with Profit At Whatever Moral Cost, that leads to a (yet another) wide-open all-you-can-steal-buffet publicly funded trough where the Rich can feed.

Exact text of petition:

Please Resign

Greetings,

We feel that your efforts to help Lisa Czeladtko win a seat onto the Colorado Springs City Council are with hatred toward the victims of a poor economy in the Colorado Springs Area.

We the undersigned feel that it would be in the best interests of the people in the Colorado Springs and El Paso County Area if you resign as Lisa Czeladtko’s Campaign Manager and/or El Paso County Commissioner

[Your name]

Of course my take on it remains unchanged

The City of Colorado Springs worships as a demigod a former United States Army general who used his leverage as a certified Baby-killing Land Thief in the (for now paused) Genocide against American Indians with the sole purpose of taking the land… Used that leverage to get a GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED Railroad “free market enterprise” and used THAT position to get, from the Federal Government, and at taxpayer expense, sections (square mile blocks) of land and started the City of Colorado Springs on what is basically Real Estate Fraud, enforced by U.S. Cavalry rifles and sabres.

The aforementioned Acacia Park, which Lisa Czeladtko and others of her Fascist Ilk wish to make off-limits to anybody who doesn’t meet their criteria, largely based on income, for citizenship in Colorado Springs, or El Paso County, or the State of Colorado or The United States….

has at the North-east corner an intersection, Platte and Nevada, where they’ve got this humongous Idolatrous statue of the aforementioned Baby-killing Land Raping Thief which we, the Citizens, are required to worship with our tax money (it costs us to maintain their idol) and is an utterly ridiculous traffic hazard.

“At Smith-Barney (or any other thieving-ass Investment House temple-of-Mammon) we make money the old fashioned way… we hire scions of the Slave Class to join our armies and take the resources of other people and kill anybody who objects”

El Paso County to thump on poor too

El Paso County commissioner Sally Clark is pushing to enact county regulations to prevent Colorado Springs homeless from shifting their camps outside municipal lines in response to the new anti-camping ordinance. Recent business complaints prompted the city to evict the tent communities. No public poverty has yet been reported to be despoiling county lands, but apparently Pikes Peak region administrators share a uniform standard for pettiness.

Ed Billings scripted this video:

Dems: Stop backing Israeli death squads

REMINDER: Colorado Springs PENROSE LIBRARY, 11am Saturday JAN 10
Stop the US-Israeli massacre of Gaza
Come speak to Governor Ritter and newly appointed Senator Bennet.

Bring whatever message you want. Maybe you’d like to ask the Governor why he appointed a PRO LIFE school administrator to the state’s highest legislative office?

Or keep the pressure on about Israel’s ongoing atrocity in Gaza. In addition to GENOCIDE IS NOT SELF-DEFENSE, and ISRAEL OUT OF PALESTINE, we have:
Zionism is racism with Star of David

and:

Israel is an illegal US colony

UNDO THE COUP begins at home

COLORADO SPRINGS- Rita wants to remind local Democrats about which way to push Barack Obama, come January 20 after the inauguration, and before then, at the local Democratic Party precinct meetings. Whether we have expectations of Obama or not, if he doesn’t know what we want, how’s he supposed to deliver?

Here’s the full text of her latest communique:

CHANGE AND MORE CHANGE
by Rita Walpole Ague

With the Obama inauguration about to happen, may we all come to rest and live in peace and justice and true democracy. Recent comments made by Obama coordinator Bob Nemanich re. the anti-democratic stance certain of his old friends, do not surprise me in the least. Failures of our democracy to function as a democracy are not new, and have been around for awhile – some say since 1947. I recall when the FBI was doing warrantless wiretapping of the Kennedys and MLK, plus countless of their supporters and followers. Such blatant anti-democracy tactics have now reached new levels of power lust and greed under the oh so fascist, manipulative Neocons.

Consider Neocon “spook” surveillance and infiltration into so many organizations and efforts, certainly including numerous peace, and justice, and political and governmental organizations and operations The first such governmental operation that comes to my mind is the democratic and fundamental act of voting and having that vote count. No big secret – vote fraud’s gone broad based and high tech.

Here’s reality, as painful as it may be to face – we’ve lost democracy. And the “change” our almost president Obama has promised to render must first and foremost address this loss of democracy, and all the constitutional violations that go and have gone unchallenged and all too often hide and have been hidden under the guise of “security against terrorism.” In the words of the head of Grandmothers for Peace International, we must become our own media, a job Bob Nemanich did so well following the Democratic assembly when he, acting in his co-ordinator position with the Obama campaign, sent out an email far and wide with a request for info. on the intimidation and disenfranchisement that occurred at the Democratic county assembly in February, 2007.

Bob wanted identified who it was who had stood at the door and turned away countless elected delegates and alternates, many of whom had dangerously been kept standing outside in the bitter cold for hours. How tragic it is that question even had to be asked by Bob and the party vice chair Jay Ferguson, since the Democratic party chair, John Morris, was most certainly aware who this person at the door was – former NSA operative and then current chair of the local A.C.L.U., and now chair of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, William Durland. Certainly Morris knew who Durland was and what he’d been assigned to do, just as Morris knew and knows who Durland is and what he does when Morris recently authorized that complaints re. voting “irregularities” be sent to Durland.

And how tragic it was and is that Morris, supposedly a staunch Democrat and chair of the local party, praises people such as El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, the same official who ousted me from his office in Oct. of 2006 as I attempted to cast an early vote and refused to take off my small “Grandmothers for Peace” button. Very recently and far more outrageously, Balink attempted to disenfranchise Colorado College students and keep them from voting, attempting to intimidate their parents with a threat of IRS involvement. Disenfranchisement and intimidation. Isn’t there a pattern?

And what role has and does Colorado Springs being a major “fusion center” play in these and all the other totally undemocratic and unconscionable incidents we’ve experienced here in Colorado Springs – for example, the tear gassing of peaceful demonstrators as they gathered prior to our entry into the Iraq war? Similar tear gassing occurred at that time only in one other city on earth – Athens, Greece. Then there was the brutalizing of the peace demonstrators during the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day Parade – their offense was wearing a uniform of sorts, green shirts with peace signs. They peacefully marched and rode under permit in the parade, and suddenly were brutalized beyond belief. Guess what? No national press coverage, even though one of the top stories of the year happened that day – the dragging in the street by a cop of Elizabeth Fineron, a physically disabled former nun, until she was raw and bleeding on her thigh and stomach, an act of torture still available for view on the internet and in photos which appeared in the Independent. Talk about terror!

Cursed until the day of her death with post traumatic stress disorder following her being so brutalized, Elizabeth died a year and a month later, the victim of a fully “infused” Colorado Springs Police Department. Next came the arrest, handcuffing and removal of two peace demonstrators at the 2008 Democratic State Convention, along with the destruction by police of the support poles for the banner. Their true offense was standing outside police lines, holding up a banner that asked: “Dems, please stop funding the war in Iraq.” Waiting to enter the arena to take part in the convention, elected delegates and alternates cheered the demonstrators, as simultaneously, unidentified persons, standing on a nearby hotel roof with a hyperbolic dish, surveilled and recorded the entire arrest incident. The official offense the police initially charged the peace demonstrators with was “obstruction,” but that charge was almost immediately abandoned and replaced with the charge of “trespass.” Guess who would be the party to bring and pursue such a complaint of trespass? You guessed it – the leaseholder of the convention site, the Colorado state Democratic party!

And then came the request by the head of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, at that time but no longer located behind the Independent in a building which the Indy owns, for police to appear and question and possible place under arrest four individuals, myself included, who sat in folding chairs in a streetside parkway outside the J&P office for an hour one spring evening and discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver. We considered what “infusion” style police tactics might be (and unfortunately were) used on peace demonstrators. Once again, it’s difficult to miss the pattern of disenfranchisement and intimidation.

Rather than standing watch on the constitution and democracy and asking the hard but vital questions that are the basis of all good critical thinking, the U.S. has allowed itself to be spun by the greed and power mongers and their corporate controlled mass media into a state of “La La Land.” Not only was Elizabeth Fineron a victim of a fully “infused” Colorado Springs Police Department, but the peaceful older disabled woman, an Obama supporter, a teacher who dedicated herself to peace and justice for all, was a victim also of a naive, consumption preoccupied, unquestioning and not sufficiently concerned U.S. populace.

It’s increasingly apparent that what all this spells: COUP! Certainly we all, under the leadership of our man Obama, need to address the Neocon-insurged “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID” peril we find ourselves in. But until we place as our number one priority the return of true vs. token democracy, and do what it takes to “UNDO THE COUP,” we’ll continue to be at the mercy of the military/industrial/corporate power and greed mongers who, like Bob’s old school friends, think we Americans are stupid, should not be able to vote, and believe democracy is a quaint, antiquated, naive institution. Our democracy, which has been tortured, waterboarded, and all but done away with over the years, will be beyond resuscitation if we don’t clearly concentrate on the root of the problems underlying the economic and total undemocratic mess we’re in today.

Let’s keep the faith, and Obama-style hope. Let’s honor of all our U.S. brothers and sisters who, along with Elizabeth Fineron, have donned a uniform and fought and died for their country – for democracy and the constitution, for lasting peace and fundamental justice. Let’s rejoice in the not so minor miracle that’s happened – the election of Barak Obama. Let’s celebrate his inauguration. Let’s push hard and fight peacefully but firmly for the change we so desperately need. And let’s never stop reminding our soon to be President Obama that we’re counting on him to bring about the change he’s promised – the change we so need and long for.

President Obama, congratulations, and never forget – we want to help you and your appointees to UNDO THE COUP!

Rita Ague

Election day fire alarm at Centennial Hall

Centennial Hall fire alarmCOLORADO SPRINGS- The Gazette has video footage of city firefighters arriving at the El Paso County election offices at Centennial Hall on the evening of election day, Nov. 4th, just as Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink exits the building. RNC delegate Balink’s possibly illegal ban of news crews from all county polling places, did not prevent cameras outside from documenting the 8:20pm fire alarm which delayed the tabulation of election results. Here’s the official CSFD DUTY REPORT for UNIT E1C.

Incident No. 838997
Alarm Time: 20:20
Dispatched: 20:21
Arrived: 20:24
In-Service: 20:54

ATAL-Detector Operated Due to Particle Contamination

E1 to scene for automatic fire alarm sounding, unknown further.

E1 arrival to a single story government building, fire resistive construction, no visible signs of emergency, evacuation completed. Investigation of fire alarm panel, activation of detector in zone 5. Further investigation shows activation of detector, apparently due to dust, in basement level electrical closet. Facilities maintenance on scene completed successful reset of system after cleaning out detector. No further action required, E1 return to service.

El Paso County resists blue trend how?

Two articles caught my eye in this morning’s Gazette, and I’d like to thank the editors for putting them side by side. The first lauded El Paso County’s strong Republican push-back to the Obama landslide, the other illuminated Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink’s dubiously legal measures at the EPC polling stations. Do the Gazette editors think, as I, that one of these stories could have a bearing on the other?

The first article was written with the partisanship we’re used to from the Gazette. In face of this election’s “blue tsunami,” El Paso County remained high and dry. Can we read this any other way than meaning “safe” and Republican (red), in the face of the Obama danger? The article detailed how El Paso County voted against the prevailing tide. Even the Democratic candidates who won elsewhere were “stomped” here. Stomped –like cockroaches?

The adjacent article was about the Clerk and Recorder. It reported that on election day, the media had been banned from the local polling places. This measure was in defiance of common practice and, the question was raised, even election law. Apparently, lawsuits may follow.

Mention was also made of Balink’s attempt to intimidate Colorado College students.

Did the media ban mask inappropriate election worker activity? Had the CC letter deterred student voters?

The article did not mention a yet-to-be investigated story, the mysterious fire alarm at Centennial Hall, a half hour after voting closed. Everyone had to leave the building. By the way, the fire alarm tactic is a recurring theme if you’ve watched video reports of past election irregularities, in this new age of the self-deputized citizen poll watcher.

Centennial Hall was not only the main poll station downtown, and the chief early voting location, it was the central office into which all the El Paso County precincts reported their election results. Might there be a story here?

The article also didn’t address why in El Paso County, paper ballots were not permitted for early voters. Only Diebold touch-screen machines were available for the early birds, who one might guess would have been the most activated of the new wave.

GOP behaving badly at Hillside Center


Mark Lewis recorded some white-people desperation at the mostly African-American Hillside Center polling place. Here’s his account:

The lawyer for the El Paso County GOP, John Buckley takes down an Obama sign from across the street to the polling place, blames it on poll workers, then two McCain worker show up to place signs closer than this new several hundred foot limit.

They also come equipped with some silliness about firecrackers being thrown at kids (by kids) It turns out to be as false as the fire alarm pulled at the Centennial Hall polling place.

As usual, the first order of business in a controversy is the suspend the first amendment right of the free press and rewrite the laws on public “reasonable expectation of privacy”. People cheating and breaking the law hate this open society that exposes them.

In the end, no big deal, just the usual wrangling by a loosing party, desperate to take an election the way they’re used to taking them. They also misrepresented what they knew nothing about: that a person coming to vote carried up an OBama sing and the poll workers told them the law: you can’t come within 100 feet with that sign, so they folded it and put it in the trash. The poll workers thought that might be a violation too, it was visible in the open trash if you looked inside, so removed it, and these 2 guys witnessed the removal, and claimed the poll workers were electioneering within 100 feet.

Earlier Buckley threw out observers from the floor who were later allowed back in because they had a right to be there as credentialed by various ballot initiatives.

Another GOP poll worker threw out a woman looking up registrations for people and claimed she was electioneering and causing a “disruption”. I taped her helping people and she found some at the wrong precinct, directed other to the correct line (3 precincts at this polling place) and some mail in ballots that needed to be taken downtown. Never a word about any political issue.

Otherwise, where I was: West Middle School, Colorado College, Palmer High, and Hillside, the early voting long lines ended up making shorter lines on election day. Now if we can just get the lines down to the 2 hour limit that state law requires and employer give employees time off to vote, we’ll have a match and reasonable election day.

hillside-center

El Paso County votes country bumpkin

Parts of the country which favored McCain/Palin, by how much. El Paso County in no position to make fun of hicks in Kentucky or Tennessee.
Mississippi, Oklahoma 66%; Wyoming 65%; Idaho, Utah 63%
Alaska 62%; Alabama 60%
Arkansas, Louisiana 59%
EL PASO COUNTY 58%
Kentucky, Tennessee 57%
Nebraska, Kansas 57%
Texas, West Virginia 56%
Arizona, South Carolina 54%
North Dakota, South Dakota 53%; Georgia 52%; Montana 50%

Colorado election by countyThe population centers along the Front Range and along the I-70 corridor appear to have gone to the Democrats. The Front Range interrupted only by El Paso and Douglas counties.

In Colorado news, Mark Udall’s IN and Marilyn Musgrave’s OUT; but crooked SOS Mike Coffman is promoted to Congress.

El Paso County lost its 1A jail money, but kept squeaky idiot Doug Lamborn in Congressional District 5.

SENATE DISTRICTS: 4, 9, 10, 11 & 12
Mark Scheffel, (Tim Schultheis), Bill Cardman, (John Morse -D), Keith King

HOUSE DISTRICTS: 14-21
Kent Lambert, Mark Waller, Larry Liston, Dennis Apuan (D), Michael Merrifield (D), Marsha Looper, Amy Stephens, Brian Gardner

Local Dem candidate faces 3 obstacles

COLORADO SPRINGS- How’s this for polling place trouble, and it happened to our own Dennis Apuan. The peace community’s own Apuan, Filipino-American and Democratic candidate for state House District 17, (1) hadn’t receive his absentee ballot in the mail, so (2) was given a provisional ballot on election day. When he discovered HIS NAME WASN’T ON THE BALLOT, election workers eventually noticed (3) they were using ballots for District 19.

El Paso County Board fine with long lines

el-paso-countyEL PASO COUNTY, COLO.- I visited the Board of County Commissioners today to seek their intervention with problems developing with the upcoming election. They’d already voiced their support for Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink’s voter intimidation of Colorado College students. In light of national criticism of vote suppression tactics such as the fewer early-voter stations, longer wait times, and the possibility of running out of paper ballots, I wanted to give the commissioners a chance to reassure voters of El Paso County. Long lines? They’re all for them. In their own words:

While disadvantaged citizens are particularly burdened by the prospect of long lines at the polling stations, this was not a concern shared by the commissioners. They saw long lines as a sign of greater voter participation. In particular, for that reason, Commissioner Sallie Clark said “I hope there are long lines.”

Two other commissioners also up for reelection on Tuesday held the same view. Commissioner Amy Lathen said “Long lines mean people are getting out and voting … I don’t think that’s a problem.” Commissioner Dennis Hisey added “Waiting to vote is an American tradition.”

County Treasurer Sandra Damron felt compelled to stand up and add that she thought “casting aspersions” was unwarranted. Damron reminded me of a typical small town administrator bucking at the oversight of Federal supervisors whose job it is to know better.

“I’m really angry that outside organizations, feel that they can come into our community, and try to cast aspersions, when there are none that are deserved. … Last time I looked, there is no constitutional right to avoiding long lines. They just happen.

Commissioner Jim Bensberg put the blame for long lines on voters who come to the polls “without having done their homework” in view of the lengthy ballot initiatives. Commissioner Wayne Williams thought that those who criticized our local election were “ignorant” and of “questionable judgment.”

Commissioner Hisey answered the criticism of no early polling location for the South East part of town, where there are more African American, Hispanic, and military families. He explained that the Citadel Mall early-vote facility was targeted for them. “We put a polling place in the heart of where the minorities live, shop and work.”

News reports reflect the turnout at the Citadel Mall has been primarily white.

Every commissioner wanted to admonish any complainants with the reminder that they had their opportunity to mail in their ballots. No one addressed the reports of many who’ve yet to receive such ballots, nor those who await confirmation that they are registered.

The County Attorney answered a concern about Absentee ballots sent in without photocopies of personal IDs. Even he was unsure if sufficient warning was given that such photocopies were required, but he consulted with a colleague before admitting that all such ballots would be considered provisional, and then duly discarded as insufficient.

By the way, every board member took the occasion to make an opening statement at today’s meeting. Each was a Republican partisan reminder to vote for the candidates who promise smaller government, etc, etc. Commissioner Bensberg ended with this anecdote.

“One of my constituents called me yesterday with a suggestion. He was concerned that there might be a long line at the polling place, and he came up with an idea that I think is worth pursuing. I’d like to pass this along to our Clerk and Recorder, and that is, that all Republicans should vote on Tuesday, and all Democrats should vote on Wednesday.

To which Commission Hisey said “I’ll leave that one alone.” I’d say Commissioner Bensberg was trying to be humorous, but if you wonder why that disinformation tactic reemerges every election, and has been reported recently in numerous precincts around the country. We can certainly question whether elected officials should be joking about it, without a preface, or explanation. In light too of the many serious violations that the El Paso County Board of Commissioners appears to be adamant to overlook.

You can observe the complete statements on Comcast Channel 17 tonight at 7PM or later at 10PM. Otherwise the audio file becomes available at this link on the El Paso County website.

Jim Bensberg also suggested that complaints about voting irregularities always came from the “other side,” suggesting questionable motives on their part. I paraphrase: Perhaps accusations of partisanship could be dropped only when complaints come from both sides.

Well, I do not wish for either. But maybe Bensberg should let us know the minute a phony “November 5” notice emerges which instructs REPUBLICANS to vote the day after. An example I doubt we’ll ever see. Number one, because believers in democracy don’t want to disenfranchise anyone, but two, Republicans don’t dare make a fake flier to discredit the Dems, because it would mean risking their own voters falling for the ruse. An entirely likely outcome.

A fake notice distributed in Virginia:
virginia-elections-fake-flier.jpg

How my vote was stolen

How I lost my vote to EARLY VOTING. Alright, to be less dramatic: How my vote is now in somebody else’s pocket.

Following the prevailing advice, Obama’s for example, among others, I voted early. But against the most important precautionary warnings, I wasn’t able to use a paper ballot. You can’t, for EARLY VOTING. In El Paso County, for some reason, early voting is all electronic.

Why do I presume there is something inherently wrong with the Diebold touch-screen voting machines? The problem is, no one can make a case for how the computers involved can be defended from corruption.

While it sounds unfair to consider electronic voting devices guilty until proven otherwise, imagine we were talking about a leaky boat. If experts can point to the holes, it would become the obligation of the designers to demonstrate how their perforated vessel is going to stay afloat. Can we agree that we might require some such proof before we put our destiny in their hands. Isn’t that fair enough?

Let’s also admit that reassurances from inexperts, who maintain that no such holes exist, do not hold water. Especially when they’re backed by party bosses who profess expertise, minus technical degrees. And cling to power, mysteriously unaccountable to their constituents. Think about the issue of building the County Jail, in spite of the incredible local outcry.

In much of the country, electronic voting devices, manufactured by GOP-backers Diebold for example, or otherwise, have been taken out of the election loop. Many state legislatures have taken heed of the 2004 election experiences, and popular outcry, and banned “black box voting” altogether. Colorado is not one of those wised-up states. What better indication do you need that to be “conservative” really means to be an idiot?

Really. The “conservative” take on the Diebold anti-democratic vote theft of 2004 is to say “balderdash.”

At least our Secretary of State was made to provide paper ballots to all who request them. Except in El Paso County, for early voting.

In all three early voting centers in Colorado Springs, your only option is to use the Diebold touch-screen machines. When I asked about a paper ballot, I was told that I would be able to verify my vote on a paper receipt generated by the machine.

Here’s how it works. After you make your choices on the touch-screen, and after you scroll through the completed ballot on the screen, you have the option to make a print out of your votes on a cash-register-like roll of paper located inside a compartment beside the Diebold screen. There, behind a small plastic window, you can see a line by line record of your votes, in three inch length glimpses. Each time you touch the “print” button, the paper advances with the next three inches of your votes. Eventually it line feeds into the upper portion of the compartment, presumably to accumulate until the roll is replenished. Exactly like a cash register, actually.

Now if you’ve used a cash register, you might also know that it often keeps two separate tapes. One for the customer, and an abbreviated one for the sales tax records. The latter is compressed to save paper, but in substance they are identical. But a programmable point of sale machine could produce different tallies, if such was desired.

Likewise, the Diebold print-out which you see but cannot touch behind the plastic, needn’t be the print-out being archived. As simple as that.

Interestingly, the printout visible under the plastic is more a translation of your vote, in plain English, than a coded abbreviation of what your vote represented. Meaning, to reassure you that your vote is recorded according to your wish, the paper trail sacrifices being in a format easily tabulated by an auditor. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the rolls processed at all. Even the election volunteer giving my tutorial explained that the roll is kept only for extenuating circumstances. I was not polled upon emerging from the election center, to survey how El Paso County’s early voters are leaning. So, will there be any call for election workers to review the roll of paper representing my vote?

Now I cannot remember for certain, but it seemed that the push “print” operation was optional. Because of the numerous ballot initiatives this year, the ballot was particularly long. I had to push “print” at least a half-dozen times. That’s rather strange, isn’t it, if printing would not be optional? But then, what kind of a paper trail would represent each Diebold unit, if the rolls only recorded the votes which only particular users were concerned to see in print?

Thus my choices for office holders and local amendments are now recorded with Diebold. They will be counted on other electronic devices, and communicated to central devices. Experts have pointed to man-in-the-middle vulnerabilities where results can be processed at intermediary points-unkown before being retransmitted to their official destinations.

These are the vulnerabilities which other states have determined pose a risk to democratic elections. El Paso County officials, GOP bureaucrats determined that things remain exactly as they are, are plenty happy to stick to their tried and true Diebolds.

Perhaps they know that El Paso County is expected to fall in line with the GOP, and thus no one is planning to challenge the results anyway. Even if this were true, what about the local issues on the ballot. Might the public not want to verify the votes on the sales tax measure? The county administrators themselves benefit from that tax increase. Might taxpayers want to audit that vote, in case it’s really the citizen’s preference not to raise a regressive tax that weighs more heavily on those with less money? The county has been in financial trouble because of the breaks it’s been giving to the wealthiest of clients. Why should they make up the shortfall on the backs of the needy?

Don’t give El Paso County your vote to do with what they please. Cast a paper ballot which remains traceable to your authentic vote. If you believe that your only role in this Democracy is the right to vote, at least, make certain it counts.

RIGGED!

indy event
COLORADO SPRINGS- I attended the Every Vote Matters town hall symposium and I can cut through the unselfconscious evasiveness for you. The El Paso County election is RIGGED. The Republicans in charge are already folding their arms smugly behind locked glass doors. Many of the major bureaucrats showed up today to be seen smiling about it.

County Commissioner Dennis Hisey introduced the event with this assurance on behalf of the agency: “All those eligible to vote will be able to do so.” Give Hisey credit for taking straight aim to muddy the chief point of contention. Both the State of Colorado and El Paso County have been caught hindering voter registration. Promising to respect voting rights reserved for eligible citizens is a sick joke.

El Paso County’s purposeful mishandling of voter registrations has already excluded thousands who Hisey may well consider now ineligible.

What else? Here’s what else:

1. No redress for voter participation already suppressed.
2. Many newly registered will not be notified of their eligibility.
3. More will be sidelined with provisional ballots.
4. No early voting facility for voters more likely Democrats.
5. No paper ballot alternative to Diebold for early voters.
6. No nonpartisan oversight of Republican data technicians.

Neither Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink nor Secretary of State Mike Coffman showed up to answer the current accusations. Instead two representatives from the election staff were put forward to offer attendees the same reassurances crafted for the county website. Every vote matters, regardless the election, partisanship aside, yada yada.

The two women were besieged by complaints and worries from public at large, and though they had no answers, they were applauded by the Republicans in the room, most of whom were men in suits, many of whom were county employees. So much for partisanship. You’ve never seen such smug assholes.

In fairness, I’d guess neither Liz Olsen nor Terry Sholdt know the partisan shenanigans being pulled by their bosses. Probably the two are fully qualified office managers who enforce the rules they are given. Without a hint of awareness of the big picture. “Anyone with concerns should feel free to call us anytime.” I’m paraphrasing Olsen. Their office is eager to resolve any issue, so long as it’s brought to their attention. Fortunately someone was on hand in the audience to tell them trying to reach their office by phone was often impossible.

And is that your understanding of a voter’s rights? So long as a voter knows to call the Office of the County Clerk and Recorder, or try, he needn’t feel disenfranchised.

NOTE: Mark Lewis provides some video of the meeting:

Latest vote suppression from El Paso County Bob Balink should land him in jail

colorado-absentee-ballots
COLORADO SPRINGS- The Colorado Independent has reported a new salvo in El Paso County’s Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink’s usual anti-election measures. Balink is IN CHARGE of all local polling outlets, he’s partisan as GOP SHIT, he’s faced accusations before, and this latest move seems to betray what he thinks he can get away with. Though Balink’s election-year tradition of intimidating Colorado College students was this time rebuked, his comeback should land him in jail.

Every election year, Colorado College are warned by El Paso County administrators that if they try to register in the county, they might be breaking the law. When the same strategy was tried this year, the students struck back with a newspaper article dispelling the untruthful scare tactic. Bob Balink’s staff had to backpedal in public, but the CC journalists have received another salvo.

This letter was sent to CC on behalf of El Paso County, drafted by a Denver attorney. It explained that registering in El Paso County:
“can have cascading effects”
“could affect the students and their parents financially.”
have “ramifications that go far beyond where they cast their ballot.”
“could result in criminal penalties.”
“can jeopardize their parents’ ability to claim the student as a dependent”
“could end up costing the parents the $3,500 tax deduction.”
“could impact … health insurance plan or auto insurance policy.”
“could have a rough awakening”

Here is the full text of the letter:

The September 24th article [in the Colorado Springs Gazette], “Balink under fire for error on CC voter registration”, gives significant attention to whether Colorado College students are able to register to vote, yet little attention is given to the consequences of doing so.

Advocates, such as Senator John Morse, Martha Tierney, and Pat Waak, are correct in stating that there are no prohibitions on Colorado College students registering to vote. Nevertheless, out-of-state students should do so with their eyes wide open. Registering to vote in Colorado can have cascading effects that could affect the students and their parents financially.

When an individual registers to vote in Colorado, they make an affirmation that they are a resident of Colorado. The statement of residency exceeds merely being present in the state. The affirmation also includes abandoning prior residency in other states. Additionally, it makes departure from the student’s home permanent rather than temporary.

This distinction of a student living here temporarily or establishing a domicile has ramifications that go far beyond where they cast their ballot. Colorado law allows students who are here temporarily to maintain vehicle registration and drivers licenses in their home state. Once an out-of-state student registers to vote and declares Colorado as their state of residency, all the additional obligations of residency attach. These obligations include both vehicle registration and obtaining a Colorado drivers license. Failure to do either of these acts could result in criminal penalties. Are the students who are the targets of voter registration drives informed of these consequences? Are they aware of the big picture impact of signing the voter registration form?

Beyond the student’s new obligations related to Colorado state residency, there are other potential consequences to establishing residency as a student. Out-of-state students who are claimed as dependents by their parents can jeopardize their parents’ ability to claim the student as a dependent on their taxes. Establishing a new domicile outside of the parents’ home state could end up costing the parents the $3,500 tax deduction. The establishment of a new domicile could impact the student’s dependency status that is required for eligibility under the parents’ health insurance plan or auto insurance policy. Students who intend to return to a state school in their home state for graduate school could have a rough awakening when they find out that they have to pay out-of-state tuition because they have lost their previous in-state status. These are complex issues that must be addressed.

It is worth noting that an out-of-state student can still participate in the election by requesting an absentee ballot from their home state, if that is where they are registered. The voter registration drives that are targeting Colorado College students have a moral obligation to inform them of the impacts of their voter registration and to suggest that they consult with their parents prior to registering.

While groups that work to increase involvement in the electoral process should be applauded, blindly pushing students to register in Colorado, even when doing so could be to their detriment, is wrong. Registering out-of-state students in Colorado without fully disclosing the potential impacts of such registration borders on exploitation.

For further information contact:
Zakhem-Atherton LLC
303-228-1200
Mr. Erik Groves
Denver, CO

Come march in favor of elections for all

ON MONDAY OCTOBER 20th, at 12:30pm, Colorado College students will hold a PUBLIC MARCH to mark the first day of EARLY VOTING in the 2008 presidential election. Students will assemble at Worner Center, and march straight downtown to the El Paso County Registrar. This action will call attention to the need to go early to the polls, in case voters encounter challenges to their registrations. I’m more encouraged simply that students are taking to the streets because I believe, like Emma Goldman, “If voting could change anything, it would be illegal.” Would Goldman be so revered a social reformer if people didn’t recognize, deep down, the wisdom of her words?

Students at Colorado College have in years past faced regular disenfranchisement at the voting booth because local election administrators chose to muddy the qualifications for whether out-of-state students could vote in El Paso County. This year, plans to enforce a similar policy were leaked, and the county was forced to deny its intentions. As yet, student organizers do not know what to expect on November 4.

In the past, El Paso County has been such a God-forsaken Republican bastion that election rigging was probably unnecessary. It’s conjectured that this year, facing a growing Democratic electorate, local officials will be so eager for the region to hold to its conservative-idiot tradition that they will justify any means to do it.

I’ve seen the Republican partisanship on display at even ordinary county meetings. The Clerk and Recorder, Bob Balink for example, wears his Republican allegiance like a soccer fan. It would be no exaggeration I’m sure to speculate that Bob Balink will bite off your left foot sooner than let progressive ideas contaminate his hillbilly heaven. He travels to the Denver legislature on a regular basis to report back about what the crazy Democrats are trying to do. Every county commission meeting begins with his scouting tips about what progressive threats his Republican colleagues face over the horizon.

Conservatism in Colorado Springs stands for cronies, imbecilic cretins and the clan. In the 1930s the Pikes Peak region was the Colorado stronghold of the Klan. I’ve no doubt a lot of these guys still have their clan robes. In fact most recently the Minutemen, the post-9/11 incarnation of the KKK, held its recruitment meetings in a Colorado Springs Police Substation community room. It included, I kid you not, a recruiting inducement lifted verbatim and without irony, from the KKK.

Maybe a daylight demonstration of public unwillingness to be represented by bigots –who continue to parade about as if their support is unanimous– will push their politics back into the stagnant backwater of their fenced no-immigrants-welcome backyards where it belongs.

Freeway Blogger logs Colorado Springs

DONT BOMB IRAN set against Colorado Springs skyline
There’s DON’T BOMB IRAN set against the Lilliputian Springs cityscape. State and El Paso County authorities were not pleased with its visibility. Now the sign’s been documented on Freeway Blogger. Here are some EASY instructions if you want to try this at home.

YOU’LL NEED:
1) Continuous-feed computer paper, approx 250 sheets.
2) Duct tape.

Tear the continuous (tractor-feed) paper into eight-sheet segments. You’ll need 31 to spell DON’T BOMB IRAN. Vertical and diagonal strokes are formed by single strips, loops and horizontals are made by bending the strips. Pre-measuring and cutting the paper will facilitate hanging the letters. You won’t have a tangle of spaghetti paper growing as the wind blows.

Choose a location where the wind is blowing from behind you, so that the paper is drawn toward the metal fencing. If the wind is trying to rip your paper letters away from the fence, you won’t have enough tape to secure them.

Ideally you need three people. One to climb on the rail to hold the top of the strip, another to hold the bottom, and a third to dispense the tape. Use strips of 3-inch length to fasten the paper to the wire fence. Make sure the duct tape is wrapped through the links to adhere to the opposite side of the paper.

If you’re not concerned with being considered a vandal, you can leave your sign for someone else to take down while you hit the next freeway overpass.

Activists not arrested for trying to get into the State Democratic Convention

The mugshot photographer forbid me making a toothy smileTO CORRECT POLICE BLOTTER DISINFO
(A friend asked me casually “how far did you get?” I was disappointed to admit that Peter and I were not arrested trying to get into the convention.)
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The police team coordinating security at the Colorado Democratic State Convention used confusion and unreasonable exertion of authority to curtail public participation. Officers broke protest signs over their knees and used arrest, detention and relocation to keep dissenting voices from the public eye until the opportunity to demonstrate had passed.

The two protesters arrested on May 17 had posed no security threat. Neither were their voices disruptive of the convention goers. Their banner which read “Democrats please stop funding the war” elicited support from the attendees. Many delegates began booing the police actions as the two men were being arrested for questioning police directives which seemed to contradict previously negotiated access.

As the convention check-in began at 7AM, the two men entered the “Free Speech Zone,” walked to the edge of the police tape and unfurled their banner. The two were immediately informed by police officers that where they were standing was reserved for “boosters” only and that they must move back a considerable distance. A supervisor was called to the scene who simply commanded the activists to move. After declining to explain himself, he grabbed one activist by the wrist while SWAT officers subdued the other, grabbing his banner and peace flag and breaking the bamboo poles before throwing them to the ground.

Eric Verlo and Peter Sprunger-Froese were handcuffed and driven to an El Paso County sheriff’s station across the street, charged with trespassing, photographed, fingerprinted, and after a delay, driven 15 miles to a distant city police substation before being released in the parking lot and given back their phone. By the time the two were able to get a ride back to the convention grounds, it was after 10AM and all the delegates had entered the convention.

ABOUT THE MUGSHOT:
Perhaps you knew this already but you are forbidden to smile by the police photographer. In application this just means you can’t show your teeth. I couldn’t help but think of Tom Delay’s beaming mugshot head-shot, but I pursed my lips because I did not intend to let the CSPD portray me as a forlorn felon. When I learned that the mugshot had been published online by Denver’s 9NEWS, I asked a friend about the attitude I’d projected. in his words: “demented.”)

Corral Bluffs safe from tire track erosion

COLORADO SPRINGS- El Paso County Board of Commissioners decided today not to pursue a proposed Corral Bluffs OHV park. Their reluctant vote followed a recommendation from El Paso Parks Department that the site would be inappropriate for motorcycle trails. Open Space proponents exchanged smiles at the unexpected turn, but bore the brunt of scolding as the board tripped over each other to pander to their yokel constituency.

Our speakers today were careful to point out the argument had never been against OHV parks in general, merely for this site. Off-road motorcycling being a recreational orientation like any other. As if gas-guzzling, air-noise-polluting, and terrain-shredding were inalienable rights, a God-given American pursuit of happiness guaranteed by the Constitution.

El Paso hayseeds.

The El Paso County commissioners could have made this vote a stand on environmental grounds and heralded the Pikes Peak region’s awakening to the enlightened frame of mind generally attributed to the rest of Colorado. But no, El Paso County are proud hayseeds.

Voting down the OHV turned into protestations for having to do the right thing, without understanding, nor fully believing why. This included repeated admonitions to the Open Space group for its presumed condescending attitude toward the lowly off-road bikers. One commissioner even called upon the presumed eco-nimby crowd to help their motorcycle-preoccupied brethren to find a suitable alternative OHV location, and “not a dump, or under power lines,” etc. She would “hold [our] feet to the fire” until an OHV site was found for them.

Do we have to?

With receding fuel supplies, global warming, and a rising appreciation for man’s unsustainable environmental footprint, the days of feeling entitled to moshing about on motorized dirt devastators are probably coming to a close. I’m not sure how to defend the argument that hillbillies must be permitted their heritage of behaving badly.

It’s fun? I’m sure it is. So was bear-baiting I’m sure, and spitting, smoking or snag-hooking spawning salmon. Having come up against man’s better judgement, maybe it’s time to rain on our off-road thrill-seeking destructo-hicks. Who has the time to police whether they can tell an anthill from a pile of sawdust? They’ll scatter either like it was confetti.

A chief argument made by Commissioner Bensberg had to do with the sticker fees already collected from motorcycle owners. They’re entitled to something for that. I say they’re entitled to get their money back. Having collected the fee is not a reason to keep prostituting your down syndrome sister once someone with better judgment has let you know it’s wrong. Give the fee back. Go pimp something else, if that’s all you know to do.

El Paso County is clearly a poor steward of our land resources. Beside the sprawl, beside the lacking mass-transit system, look at our mountain scape. How are we doing? There are the mining scars along the Front Range, our part of the Front Range, where we shave for aggregate because it’s cheaper than digging for it like every other town. The mining companies have old, pre-environmental contracts, but apparently we do not care enough to stop them. For tourists, our mountains are our natural resource. How much deep-thinking do we have to do to figure out they are worth more than cheap aggregate?

There’s the Pikes Peak Highway. Still unpaved, despite the environmental devastation it causes. Was it the advent of automobiles that convinced civilized man to pave the roads? Did I say autos? I meant Romans. Of course, paved roads came late to the American West, but they came when we tired of wiping the mud off our boots every time we crossed the street. Later we learned that paved roads are better for the environment. Well some folks believe that.

There are the ridge top homes. Pikes Peak is the only region of Colorado where homes are permitted on ridge tops. The practice is terrible for erosion and flooding, not to mention everyone else’s view, but in these parts we say Okie Dokie!

Of proposed methods for saving the archeology of Corral Bluffs, Commissioner Bensberg professed he didn’t see how either flooding or paving would preserve the artifacts, hence his preference for motorcycle trails. If you are not prepared to follow the recommendation of experts because your inexpert self doesn’t understand it, you’re probably not suited to vote on the matter.

Pikes Peak region trustees can point to the mining scars on the Front Range, the still unpaved Pikes Peak Highway, and the ridge top homes as proof that Colorado Springs won’t be told how to care for nature. And we’ll look to serve the OHV throwbacks too. Give those yokels their spitoons!

El Paso County Peter Principle sadists

COLORADO SPRINGS- I attended a County Commission meeting Thursday morning and caught such a whiff of bureaucratic decay that I don’t have any faith that our local government works at all.

I came in as the County Treasurer was addressing a shortfall in income. According to her, the problem was owed to sales tax, particularly the use tax component, which the County simply wasn’t collecting, to the extent of the funds it was actually due. I’ve bored you already with an irrelevant over-simplification, but this woman was able to reiterate this non-specific summary for ten minutes. Use tax, blah blah, use tax blah blah. I thought it was a deliberate filibuster. She spoke in a kindly, completely perplexed tone, but she went on and on and on. She explained: you wouldn’t know it from the records, and I know the figures seem to indicate otherwise, and there’s no way of calculating exactly, but there it is, the use tax, etc, etc.

No sooner had she finished, and we couldn’t believe she had, believe me, but that the commissioner who next spoke, Sally Clark, had this response, I kid you not, and I paraphrase: “I just don’t understand how such a thing could be. Can you please explain this to me again?” Which prompted an interminable re-reiteration, as if the commissioner had ascertained the squirming of the audience and goaded the idiotic speaker for her further amusement. No really, someone, somewhere must have better things to do.

Demonstrate Saturday to remove racist El Paso County Commissioner, Douglas Bruce, from office

We have some real losers holding reigns of power in Colorado. We are talking people like racists Tom Tancredo, Colorado Congressman from the 6th District centered by nearby pueblito, Castle Rock, and local yokel racist, Douglas Bruce, El Paso County Commissioner and Colorado State Congressperson both.

Both these men are totally unfit for office, even though one of them actually had the temerity to run for President of the US! Tomorrow is your chance to demonstrate against these two racist clowns, and to demand that they both be censured and removed from the offices they hold.

Tom Tancredo, you shouldn’t get a free pass tomorrow either, though it is the toad, Douglas Bruce, that is the immediate target of the demonstration. In fact, you are the ignorant peasant that gives fuel to the other Colorado dimwit, Don Bruce, who is actually a transplant (from Southern California), another Right Wing loser region of our country, like our own Colorado Springs.

Actually, I happen to be a transplant myself from yet another loser Right Wing idiot center of the US, called the not so great State of Texas. I have nothing against immigrants from other parts of the Americas at all, You Right Wing Bastard pigs! (Oh sorry, I’m not behaving very well, Dear Aryan brothers.)

What sparked the call for a demonstration, were the most recent anti-immigrant comments of the not so-beloved El Paso County Commissioner, Senor Bruce, who got his rocks off calling immigrants from Latin America illiterate peasants. Douglas Bruce is a long time slum lord, who actually likes to abuse immigrants for profit by renting sub standard housing to these hard workers from other lands.

I really can’t stand these racist and hateful bullies. I will be there at Acacia Park tomorrow on Saturday at 3 PM. Hope to see you there, Paisanos. Just say No to racist meatheads being allowed to stay in political office. Deport them out of their seats of power, where they can only do injustice to others.