4/30/07

Book-signing at the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

215 Colorado Avenue, La Junta

Friday May 4, 2007

1:00 – 3:00

Meet Contributing Authors:



C



Dianne E. Butts

Pueblo

Lisa Gossman-Steeves


La Junta

Renee Gray-Wilburn

Colorado Springs

Makes a great Mother’s Day gift!

The Durapatcher


The Durapatcher demo in the alley behind Ringo's
Arkansas Valley Independent photos

The city is testing the Durapatcher injection pothole patcher. Test patches were laid in the west alley of the 500 block of Colorado Avenue today.

According to informed sources, the Durapatch method requires only two men, a driver and an operator, while a conventional patching crew for these types of potholes requires as many as five men.

The Durapatch method first lays a tack coat into the pothole, then sprays a mix of stone filler and a binding agent - asphalt or a modified product that can contain polymer adhesives - to fill the hole.

The conventional process requires the tack coat, then a fill of stone and the binding agent, which must then be mixed in the hole. A roller is necessary to pack the fill. No roller is necessary for a Durapatch.

The time savings reduce the inconvenience to the public of the street and alley closures. "Dry time" for the patch can be reduced by using different emulsions in the mix.

This unit costs about $65,000. It can use standard stone or aggregates and standard oil-based emulsions such as asphalt, as well as more exotic and high-tech polymer-based binders.

See more about this machine here:

http://www.durapatcher.com/

Vietnam Redux

One thing we've heard over and over again from the current administration and a good many congresscritters is that Iraq and Vietnam are not the same.

Aside from the obvious differences, and aside from weapons and tactics, we are starting to see more similarities.

Here is a good example:

http://tinyurl.com/3ammjw

I gotta wonder...once the US does in fact pull out - and we will; the on-going hoo-hah over funding being yet another similarity - I gotta wonder...how may Iraqi colonels and politicians, having siphoned off huge piles of money, will be living comfortably in Orange County along side all those Vietnamese colonels and politicians, their collective retirement funded unwittingly by the American taxpayer.

There's the real rub. All those kids over there, serving and protecting, bleeding and dying. How many of them will come back to be run through the VA wringer and end up on a monthly disability check while 'those we freed for democracy', having stolen millions, are relaxing in comfort somewhere in southern California?

Will Little Baghdad spring up alongside Little Saigon?

Will various 'retired' Iraqi colonels compare 'investment strategies' with various 'retired' ARVN colonels?

Is that what Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski and several thousand others like him have died for?

4/29/07

"...Stand beside us..."

From the Murfreesborough, Tennessee Daily News Journal:

http://tinyurl.com/25868f



DNJ photo by Aaron Thompson

" I want all of you to be safe. And please don't feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Because it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation." - Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, written a week before he was killed in action in Iraq.

4/28/07

Sand Creek

The Sand Creek National Historical Site is being dedicated today at 10:00.

From the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1177765140/2

"The dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with Campbell and Gov. Bill Ritter on hand, along with National Park Service Director Mary Bomar; U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R- Colo.; Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and officials from both the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes."

From the National Parks Service:

http://www.nps.gov/sand/

4/27/07

PCEOC Announcement

The Governor is scheduled to sign HB 1069 withdrawing consent from the federal government to condemn land for the expansion of Pinon Canyon on Thursday, May 3 at 1:15 on the west side of the State Capitol. Festivities will begin at noon. Bring a brown bag lunch and celebrate with supporters of the Pinon Canyon Opposition.

Mark your calendars now.

E-vites to follow next week.

4/26/07

Virginia Tech Email Scam

From the VA-Tech website

http://tinyurl.com/yvufp6

SCAM ALERT: E-mail scam promises video of Virginia Tech shooting

According to reports received by the university from various sources, hackers have begun attempts to cash in on the Virginia Tech tragedy by spamming out "malware"-infected e-mails purporting to offer camera-phone footage of the attack.

The e-mail messages carry a photograph of the Virginia Tech gunman and a link claiming to connect to a Brazilian movie website carrying footage of the campus shootings. But clicking on the link downloads a malicious screensaver file which installs a banking spyware Trojan. The Trojan attempts to steal passwords, usernames, and other information from online bank users, opening the possibility for identity theft and allowing bank accounts to be raided by cyber-criminals.

Do not open, read, reply to, or open links included in any e-mail of this type!

As is always the case with computer and identity security: Treat ALL unsolicited e-mail as suspicious, and be sure to install and regularly run anti-virus updates, firewalls, and security patches to keep your computer up to date. For more information, visit the antivirus.vt.edu website.

Sound the Collision Alarm!

The Senate just passed the bill. The Senate funding bill includes a provision for troop withdrawal by next year:

http://tinyurl.com/2lcfj7

and now, we see what Dubya's willing to do.

"A Fresh Cup of Coffee..."

So. We're sitting there snuffling our noodles, and Leece is browsing through the fishwrapper.

She says, "Hey. This is a pretty good devotional."

I looked at it.

She's right.

It's by Rev M. J. Romano, over at First Presbyterian. It's on page 13.

Take a look at it if you get a chance. None of that judgmental crap that is published all too often under the guise of 'Christian' reading. Just a good, down-to-earth appreciation for the day and how to make it better.

Thanx, Rev. Well done.

Anon's Challenge

Anonymous says:

Here is the challenge for ALL of us. Is there a way to channel all this negative energy (criticism, skepticism, negativism, closed minded inflexiblity) into something positive and meaningful? If the blog is truly a forum and a conduit for change, maybe we can all start to change right here and now! Maybe there can be a raging discussion on how to fix things instead of the continual crying about what exists. Some CREATIVE thought would be refreshing and just might be needed. How 'bout it?

That's a great idea. It's actually been tried before, right here in La Junta. Former councilwoman Elaine McIntyre was the power-behind-the-scenes in getting that Community Assessment Program going. Most of us probably remember Ms. McIntyre over the ticket-fixing scandal, but when she got things moving on this CAP thing, she was really thinking outside the box and she really did something that got the community pulling together. I think she did more with that one move than many councilpeople have done during their entire council 'career'. After she left council, Wayne Snider and Rick Klein kept the ball rolling.

Most of us probably remember that CAP. We had council chambers filled up with citizens and business people, with discussion led by reps from the state's Office of Economic Development:

http://www.advancecolorado.com/business-development/index.cfm

and that was followed up later with the establishment of action committees, who then drew up a list of recommendations and actions that would help get us back on track.

It was positive; it was constructive; it was fun. I came away from the many meetings in which I participated thinking that we do indeed have some pretty bright, creative people here in town; that those people have some good ideas; that those people are willing to work at it; that those people are willing to communicate with each other. It was a lot better than a Wake Up Breakfast, participation in which requires little effort and no brains - other than on the part of those who present them - though they can be fun.

Much of that work by the community, maybe even all of that, was ignored by local politicians. This was epitomized by the attempt to pass the now infamous sales tax - which the CAP had advised against in favor of the lodging tax - to augment tourism. Then the focus moved on to such vital issues of the day as The Pooper Scooper ordinance (how much enforcement action has there been on that little gem?); the pit bull ordinance which defies all professional advice and the political experience of other communities; watering restriction exemptions for octagenarians, which was passed on emotion rather than reason. So...rather than moving ahead, we continue to stagnate, take steps backwards, and put up with the same old nonsense from the Old Guard. Where do we stand on tourism today? They're still trying to get yet another advisory board organized. But guess what - we had that, with the Tourism Committees from CAP. Local politicians had input from citizens, a consensus of opinion from a lot of citizens, and they ignored it all in favor of their own agenda. And where are we because of that?

The Old Guard seems to be well-satisfied by the status quo, even though you hear a lot of lip service to the contrary. Is that because they profit by maintaining their political and economic grip? One of our contributors commented that s/he thinks the Old Guard has already sold us down the river, which is why we seem to be in such a waffle state over Pinon Canyon. I don't know. It makes as much sense as an explanation as anything else for behavior that otherwise makes no sense.

I would love to see people use the blog for the purpose you describe. There is nothing stopping anyone from doing so. For example, if a candidate for council wished to post comments, political commentary, that sort of thing, there's no reason that can't happen, though of course that candidate would be open to challenge by citizens and other candidates as well. Wouldn't that be more interesting than the several candidates organized into a formal forum, answering canned questions for which they have had time to prepare? The blog is set to accept all comments. I have only dumped one comment recently, one that was laced with obscenities directed at Ms. Miell, and apparently from another young lady and having nothing to do with the issue at hand, such as it was. But that's another story.

And there you have it. The fishwrapper ain't up to it. So use whatever forum you think will work. I'd love to see some constructive input. I know it's out there. I've seen it and participated in it. But after that shafting we all took from the politicians, mostly what goes on in the basket-bumping at Safeway and Walmart, and on the benches at Loaf, ain't hardly positive. Our political leadership has badly misread things. Will that be demonstrated in the next election? Or will it continue to fester. That remains to be seen.

Cruizin' at the Sonic

From PartsM:

We're starting our summer Cruise Nights again, and the first one is tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the La Junta Sonic drive-in. If you have a vehicle you'd like to display or just wanna come look around, everyone is welcome. Best of all it's free. (But it would be nice if you'd buy some food or drinks while you're there! That way maybe Sonic will let us keep coming back.)

Nerves?

The article on the fishwrapper seems to have hit a nerve.

That one now stands as having the most comments.

It started out simply enough. Rick Miell expressed a certain dissatisfaction with my view of the fishwrapper. He did so fairly reasonably, though he got a bit catty a couple of times. That's OK; I have the same nature, at least in that regard.

So I put his comment up as a main post and explained to him why I thought he was wrong.

And then it was like, dude, gang-busters.

While the general discourse eventually sank to a grade school low, I gotta tell you that I'm truly disappointed in the fishwrapper. Most readers don't believe that the commentary for the fishwrapper was from fishwrapper supporters; they believe the commentary was from fishwrapper staff. If that's the case, we are in deep kimchee insofar as the Fourth Estate is concerned, for it was truly pathetic.

A newspaper that can't handle criticism from its readership is even worse than politicians who can't take criticism from their constituency. We seem to have both in Smallville these days. That bodes poorly for We the People.

One interesting tidbit kind of stood out. We seem to have a number of posters whose main contribution has to do with having a life - or not - and blogging.

I suppose so. But then, I could do what seems to occupy so many community leaders these days: I could spend my days forwarding endlessly chain letters, jokes - bad ones at that, and tear-jerker psuedo-patriotic garbage about Jane Fonda or the like. Or, I could simply play a lot of solitaire, though playing solitaire, especially with a computer, seems to me to be a lot like sitting there with your pecker in your hand and your thumb up your butt. Of course,that makes it hard to move the mouse...

There. Now I've sunk to the same level. But it was fun.

Y'all have a nice day. It looks like Spring may have finally sprung.

Iraq Withdrawal Timetable

So. The House passed a bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Is it left-wing liberal stupidity and cowardice?

Or is it coming to realize that we need to quit feeding the meatgrinder.

It's coming up for a Senate vote today.

Brother Ken is calling for the pullout. From a Chieftain article

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1177593359/4

this morning:

"Salazar, a Democrat, acknowledged that President Bush has pledged to veto the bill because it calls for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq next year, but argued the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended much the same. Reciting some of the study group's members, including former Rep. Lee Hamilton and former Secretary of State James Baker, Salazar said they were a group of "elder statesmen" who said the U.S. needed a new Iraq strategy."

Wayne - that's Wayne Allard, not Wayne Snider - comes back:

"Allard, a Republican, has been a steady supporter of Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq and he called the Democratic timetable "a surrender document." He countered that the Iraq Study Group refrained from setting any definite timetable for withdrawal in its report. He noted that Baker has specifically criticized the Democratic legislation because it establishes a timetable."

Well. Wayne is correct in what he says about the ISG's recommendations and findings regarding a pullout timetable.

And another excerpt:

"Let me remind our colleagues that we have seen terrible results from political motives being placed above military necessities," Allard said in his floor speech, citing the failed U.S. interventions in Iran in 1979, as well as in Lebanon and Somalia. "And leaving Iraq would be like the ending of our efforts in those areas as well: Our withdrawal from those countries emboldened the terrorists."

So what are we going to do?

The timetable thingie has been used in the past:

"Congressional criticism of the bombing [in Cambodia]had increased significantly before this incident [the Neak Luong "short round" incident]. President Nixon concluded that unless he presented a definite withdrawal schedule, Congress would insist on immediate withdrawal and cut off all funding. This led to Public Law 93-52, which Nixon signed on 1 July 1973, effectively cutting off all funding for all combat activities by US forces in or over, or from the shores of, South Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia. This was to take effect at 1200 hours on 15 August 1973."

That ended all military support for any operations in the Vietnam war. That led directly to that famous photo of the Huey sitting on the roof of the US embassy in Saigon as thousands of Vietnamese climbed up to the roof to try to get away, even as North Vietnamese tanks were rolling into the outskirts of the city.

Huh. Did cutting off the funding back in August of '73 lead to the fall of Saigon, or did it merely hasten the inevitable. I think it was the latter. The war had been politically lost by August of '73, actually long before that. So why continue to feed the meatgrinder?

And that, it seems to me, is where we are now.

It isn't that I think the GWOT (Global War on Terror) is wrong; it isn't that I think the Iraqi Gambit was wrong. But the current process is not doing us any good that I can see. But OTOH, I surely do not like the idea of cutting and running.

It would be real nice if we heard some popping noises in Washington and the boys came up with something that works better than what we're doing now. Something odd, like a display of brains and leadership for a change.

Popping noises? Yep. As a local teacher is now famous for saying to a class that seemed to be off in La-La Land: "Let's hear some popping noises, people, caused by pulling your heads out from where they are now."

4/25/07

Brother John gets off the dime

Breaking news from the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/breakingnews/1177540505/1

John Salazar comes out against the Pinon Canyon expansion.

An excerpt:

"I would argue that agriculture is far more important to our national security than expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site," he said in his letter."

Small-town journalist makes big-time impact on Central Valley community

http://tinyurl.com/3287bd

Reprinted here in full with the gracious permission of the author:

Small-town journalist makes big-time impact on Central Valley community

Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, March 19, 2007

(03-19) 04:00 PDT Willows, Glenn County -- Tim Crews looks like a jolly fellow, with his thick white beard, suspenders and jiggling belly, but many Glenn County officials probably see his rosy visage in their nightmares.

The 63-year-old owner, editor, reporter and editorial voice of the Sacramento Valley Mirror has a habit of sticking his nose where it isn't wanted. He has written exposes that have infuriated politicians, law enforcement officials, jailers, educators and developers.

He has, in short, yanked the cloak of secrecy off Glenn County bureaucracy.

"We're s -- disturbers. It's what a small county needs," said the bespectacled editor as he sat at his cluttered desk in his office, fielding calls and listening to a police scanner. "It is really important for a place like this to have somebody hold up a mirror."

The kind of scrappy journalism Crews does may become harder to find if current media trends continue. With classified advertising usurped by the Internet, newspapers across the country are facing mounting losses and, in many cases, cuts in staff and resources.

First Amendment scholars fear that investigative journalism may die as newsprint fades away. Crews won't have any of it. He is a country editor whose little paper is influencing public opinion on a shoestring budget.

A maverick, old-school muckraker, Crews is notorious in this rural farming community of 6,220 people and the governmental center of Glenn County.

In 2000, he was jailed for five days after refusing to name his sources for a story about a former California Highway Patrol officer charged with stealing a gun, a case that received national attention. Depending on who is talking, his financially strapped newspaper is either a beacon of journalistic integrity or an unsavory scandal sheet run by a scoundrel.

"I would prefer a little bit of the good news for a change rather than the dirty laundry all the time," said Forrest Sprague, a local developer and former county supervisor, echoing a common lament. "We all know that controversy sells newspapers. The sad part is that local newspapers can fall into that trap of yellow journalism."

Despite the criticism, the twice-weekly Mirror is surprisingly influential for a paper with a circulation of 2,944.

Almost everybody in the community reads it, more than pick up the Willows Journal and Orland Press Register, which have a combined circulation of 2,122 and are distributed twice a week by the Tri Counties Newspapers chain.

The Mirror is, readers insist, the most comprehensive source of information for the citizens of Glenn County, a historic agricultural county formed in 1891.

Some 30 percent of the 27,000 people in Glenn County are Latino, and many people live in virtual poverty. The median income for a household in the county is $32,107, according to the 2000 census.

Crews has written about farms and businesses failing, more children dropping out of school and the rising illiteracy rate. He has documented the slow deterioration of the downtowns in Willows and other Glenn County communities and lamented the movement of people to other places, such as Chico, in neighboring Butte County. He has castigated officials for taking years to build a promised soccer field for Latinos and pushed for the construction of an Indian casino as a way to revitalize the community.

"The function of newspapers is that by reporting the truth we will make you better," he said. "When I came here, there were twice as many hardware stores, there were music stores, a department store. Half of it is gone. I care a lot about this community, and want to make it better."

For his efforts, he has been snubbed and threatened, and seen advertising pulled and his beloved dog die in 2004, apparently with poisoned meat that he believes was left by an angry sex offender he named in the paper. An arson fire was set recently in an office adjacent to his newspaper.

There have been several attempts to silence Crews, but he has moles virtually everywhere, and the plots themselves invariably end up in print. The most infamous involved a series of hard-hitting stories last year about Joni Samples, then the superintendent of the County Office of Education.

The stories detailed Samples' alleged use of county resources for vacations, personal speaking engagements and financial deals with friends. Crews accused her of campaigning at work for her chosen successor, using the office computer for private business and trying to cover it up.

Samples and her colleagues got so fed up that they held a brainstorming session on how to shut Crews up, according to statements in the Mirror from people who were there.

"How do we quiet the lion?" screamed the front-page headline shortly after the closed-door session. It was a direct quote from an assistant superintendent as she kibitzed with Samples and other officials.

"The public records act has been broken, individual constitutional rights violated, thousands of dollars of taxpayer money spent on controlling a political scandal," Crews wrote. "And now they want to 'quiet the lion,' or, put more plainly, silence this newspaper."

The California Department of Justice is looking into some of the allegations in the Mirror. "We've been investigating allegations of wrongdoing involving the Glenn County Office of Education for several months now," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the California attorney general. "I know there has been a lot of reporting there on the subject."

Samples has denied any wrongdoing and defended her 40-year record as an educator. She said she could not comment about the allegations because of pending court proceedings, but her supporters have characterized the articles as a smear campaign fueled by wild exaggerations. "I loved education. I still do," said Samples, whose chosen successor was defeated by the man Crews supported after she announced she would step down in January.

Born in Aberdeen, Wash., Crews grew up in Olympia. He spent three years in the Marine Corps and, after his discharge in 1963, enrolled in Central Washington State University.
He was a bit too rebellious to get a degree and instead worked for a logging company and a steel mill, and also did commercial fishing. He got his first newspaper job in the mid-1970s with the Santa Barbara News & Review.

He worked for publications in Texas and Colorado before moving back to Washington in the early 1980s, where he wrote for two newspapers. After a stint as a documents expert at Boeing, he went to the Middle East as a freelance writer.

Crews returned to California in 1988, and a year later he was hired as general manager and editor of the Tri Counties Newspapers, covering Willows and Orland. Soon after that, he heard that certain officials had been issued concealed-weapons permits, so he published a list of several questionable permits issued by the county.

That infuriated the sheriff and other law enforcement officials, who, with political supporters, met with the publisher and demanded that Crews be fired. When the publisher sided with the sheriff, "I said screw these people," Crews said.

He got a divorce, his fourth, and with $35 in his pocket started the Mirror out of a motel in the hamlet of Artois. The first issue came out on Christmas Eve 1991. The paper recently moved to Willows.

He has won numerous journalism, photography and press-freedom awards, including the Bill Farr Freedom of Information Award from the California First Amendment Coalition and the California Society of Newspaper Editors.

Still, critics claim Crews mixes his opinions so liberally with the facts that it is impossible to decipher the truth.

"Frankly, I can't rely on stories he's written as being factual," said Denny Bungarz, a former county supervisor, who gave several examples of how he believes Crews jumped to conclusions about county actions before he knew all the facts.

Even some of Crews' supporters acknowledge that his prose often reflects his point of view. "He's an excellent writer, almost a novelist, if you get my drift," said Roy McFarland, a retired judge. "He can take an incident and make it pretty big."

But Jim Bettencourt, a landscape contractor and former Glenn County supervisorial candidate, said Crews' aggressive reporting has kept the public involved in government.

"Tim is the conscience of our community," said Bettencourt, who, like many locals, regularly stops by Crews' dusty office. "He addresses issues that others choose not to. He has empowered the downtrodden and instilled fear in the majority of the old guard in this community."

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

4/24/07

The Ten Commandments

By now, everyone knows that The Ten Commandments cannot be posted in a courthouse. Remember that hoo-hah down in Alabama?

The Supreme Court, the ACLU, the right wingnuts, and all the rest would have us believe that this is because of the need to separate church and state. That we cannot in any way present religion as an artifact of The State.

But that isn't the real reason.

The real reason is that you cannot post the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is simply that you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery ", and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians.

It creates a hostile work environment.

Ritter should side emphatically with the state

From today's Rocky Mountain News:

http://tinyurl.com/2pg57l

A few excerpts:

"Colorado vs. the Army":

The legislature overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to thwart the Army's plan to nearly triple the size of its training site in southeastern Colorado.

Now it's up to Gov. Bill Ritter to send a message to Washington by signing the bill quickly and enthusiastically.

He hasn't had much to say on the issue up to this point. Unfortunately, neither have most members of the congressional delegation. They seem to be hunkered down, wishing the problem would go away. Some have deplored the prospect of condemning ranches, to be sure, but only one - Rep. Marilyn Musgrave - has taken the obvious next step of flatly opposing the Army's goal."
Notice now that it is "Colorado vs. The Army". I like that thinking. It shows that not everyone is a sorry gutless wimp when it comes to standing up for we Hicks from the Sticks. Locally, we have Wes McKinley and Ken Kester, who took 'em on early on. Two stalwart fellows. Where is everyone else? Passing resolutions or trying to "salvage" what they can of the Army's droppings?

Then we have this:

"Outside the legislature, the most vocal opponent is Musgrave, although the land grab wouldn't be in her 4th District. It's in the 3rd, where Rep. John Salazar hasn't said much beyond the fact that he's against the use of condemnation.

The state's two senators have also equivocated a bit. As for U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, in whose 5th District Fort Carson is located, he has said he supports the expansion.

Which inspired this subversive thought: What the Army is fighting now in Iraq is urban guerrilla warfare. Would Lamborn also happily go along with a plan to condemn, say, a mere 12 blocks in downtown Colorado Springs so that troops could prepare for Baghdad?"

Yeah. Put that one on John Morse's plate, too, and see how he likes it.

Meanwhile, now that it looks like the ranchers and the rest of the peons have put together a solid grassroots movement pretty much on their own, will the rest of the local politicians start jumping on the bandwagon with more than a bit of lip service, to show what Men of the People they are?

What's it gonna be, gov'ner? You have to play the Hicks from the Sticks and all of southeastern Colorado against the 2 billion bux going into Fort Carson, as well as the additional troops and families that will move in and spend munny in Pueblo/Colorado Springs.

Are you going to sell us down the river...or rather, down Fountain Creek?

4/23/07

Monday, Monday...

"Hey! Hey! Howzit doon!" shouted Billy, as he buzzed on by Quickee's.

Leece and I were sitting outside, having a cappuccino as Billy turned around and parked the Fat Possum. "I'll be back in a minnit," he said, going inside.

Returning with his own cappuccino, he plunked his butt down next to Leece. Leece kind of sidled away a bit. It isn't that she doesn't like Billy, but Billy only washes his cycling outfit when it needs it. For most people, that's after every ride of any consequence. For Billy, ever aware of water conservation, that might be every couple of months. Today it was apparent that he was getting close to some kind of limit. I was glad I was sitting upwind.

"Hey. Hey. Where wuz youse yesterday?" he queried.

"We went to Pueblo," I said, "Leece had a book-signing at Barnes and Noble."

"A book-signing? You wrote a book? You got published? You're signing books like Tom Clancy?" Billy was astounded.

"No, Billy, nothing like that. One of my devotionals was included in "A Cup of Comfort for Mothers" and I met with some other contributors for a collective signing at Barnes and Noble. The book is still in progress," she explained.

"Huh. Huh. Well. So you ain't putting Grisham and the rest off the list, hey?"

"Nope. Not yet anyway," she replied, "but it was fun and we did sell quite a few books. There were some customers who had gone through some traumatic events who liked the book. They said they found it helpful, which made us feel very good."

"Kewl!" Billy exclaimed, "Can I have a copy? Will you sign it for me?"

"I sure will, Billy," she said, "in fact, I have one here in my bag." She drew it from her large bag and opened it, and wrote something, and gave it to Billy.

Billy took it and read it, and then got all teary and snuffle-nosed. "Aw gawrsh, Leece! That's a nice thing for you to say. That really makes me feel good. I didn't know you even liked me."

"Whaddidya write?" I asked.

"That's between us," Leece said. "Yeah. Yeah. It's between us," echoed Billy, shoving the book into his cycling bag.

Huh. A conspiracy.

"Hey, Billy, Leece is doing a signing over at the Lighthouse soon," I said, "you might want to drop by."

"Yeah. Yeah. I gotta get one a them NRSV's. Maybe they have one. B-N dint, last time I was there. I gots ta get one cuz they keep using that one in all them books Leece has me reading," he said.

"Hey. Hey. I gots ta git goin'. I gots ta be in Denver this afternoon. Annie May will be at the VA hospital," he continued.

"Annie May? Is that the psych nurse you've been seeing?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah."

"Well, have a good trip, Billy, and tell her 'hi' from us," Leece said, as Billy hopped on the Fat Possum and hied off to the west.

We sat there a few minutes longer, contemplating friendship, the whichness of what, and the thisness of that.

4/20/07

Preserve America and Southeast Colorado Tourism

From Jeanne Fenter:

Here is the link for the website and the Frequently Asked Questions on Preserve America Communities:

http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/hpg/PreserveAmerica/faqs.htm#2 .

April 28 is the official designation of the Sand Creek Massacre National Park Service Site

http://www.kiowacountycolo.com/dedication.htm

Jeanne

Janet Kathryn Finau wrote:

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is pleased to report that by letter signed by First Lady Laura Bush and dated April 19, 2007, the following 13 communities have been designated as Preserve America Communities:

Ketchikan, Alaska
Little Rock, Arkansas
Baca County, Colorado
Bent County, Colorado
Crowley County, Colorado
Kiowa County, Colorado
Otero County, Colorado
Prowers County, Colorado
Lafayette, Indiana
Saco, Maine
Wyandotte, Michigan
Owego, New York
Bellingham, Washington

There are now 486 Preserve America Communities nationwide in 49 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A total of 601 communities have applied to date.

Thanks,Kathy

Kathryn S. Finau
KSF Strategic Services
1840 W. Amb. Thompson Blvd.
Las Animas, CO 81054

From: On Behalf Of Janet Frederick
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 5:22 PM
To: SE Colo Tourism & Economic
Subject: Re: Preserve America

6 out of 13 right here in SE Colorado !! I'm so proud to be associated with you all. I know in each county, a lot of work went into these applications. Thanks to each of you who contributed your time to the cause. A HUGE thank you to Colorado Preservation Inc. who took such exceptional care of us. We are lucky, lucky people to have the friends that we do.

I will see you all on Saturday, April 28 at 2:30 pm on Maine St. in Eads when your communities will accept this designation. Let's all gather together and show them that they were RIGHT when giving us this honor.

Seriously

We were still sitting on the park wall when Leece made her thirtieth or fortieth -and last -circuit and stopped in front of us.

"So. Have you solved the world's theological 'issues'?" she asked.

"Uh. No. I don't think so. We bin talking about starting a serious political commentary blog," Billy said.

"Really?" she lit up a bit at that, "Wow. Could I write for it?"

"Of course you could, m'dear," I said, rather expansively, "we're always looking for a few good writers in the journalism field."

She smacked me with her sweaty towel.

"Don't you pontificate to, condescend to, and patronize me, buddy!" she popped out.

"Hey. Hey. HEY!" I whined as she dumped the remainder of her ice water over my head, "I wuzn't doin' any of that! I wuz, like, dude! I was serious!"

"You were? You are?" she was astounded. I don't know why. You'd think by now she'd be quite used to my charming and winning personality.

"Sure. Whaddya think about doing a serious blog, a real one, and if that works out, an online newspaper, taking online subscriptions like some of the online versions of print papers are doing - like the WSJ and some others - and if that works out, start another paper here in town?" Billy was quite excited over the idea.

"Huh. Hey, I like that..." she nodded enthusiastically.

"Yeah. Yeah, "said Billy, "we could get that Harris feller to sign on, too, if he's innerested!"

"Hmmmm...let's go over to Wendy's and have some chili and talk about this, "I suggested, "but I really don't like the idea of a print paper. Those things are really going down the tubes fast, though there's still a lot of differing opinion on that."

"Yep. Most of that differing opinion comes from the people in print papers," Billy said, "it reminds me a lot of the logic of the battleship admirals before Pearl Harbor."

"Wow. That's quite a connection, there, Billy!" exclaimed Leece.

"I see his point," I said, "it's the same kind of mindset."

As we wandered off, Billy was going on about that very fact.

Meanwhile:

http://tinyurl.com/26zrpu
http://tinyurl.com/2gbkl6
http://tinyurl.com/2chq7c

More Fishwrapper Apologia?

We have this comment to the original "Fishwrapper Apologia" post:

"While I agree with alot of the things brought up in this blog, such as the need for more enforcement of trash ordinances, noisy dogs and cars, and more ideas to keep the town from dying, I don't see why the newspaper is such a target for anger. The Tribune is just like any business in town. If I don't like the products that Sportsworld or Ringo's sell, I just don't go there. I don't have the energy to be mad at them, slander there names or berate them in blogs like this one. I have better things to do with my time than blame them when they don't live up to my standards. It's their business, they can do whatever they please. This goes for the Tribune as well.

I enjoy reading about the positive things that are going on around town, but I don't live like my life depends on what the Tribune prints. Articles about the Manzanola man who just received a purple heart, DeBourgh's open house, and yes, the Fowler sports scene are things I read about. So what if they write about the latest Wake-Up Breakfast happenings? What's wrong with a little Rah-Rah? Or is it easier to be a naysayer who seem more paranoid than "forward thinking"?

My daughter just happens to be the managing editor at the Tribune, and before anyone says anything, I am very proud of her. How many times has it been mentioned in the very blog that the young adults are leaving the area? Here is one who graduated from La Junta High, OJC, and from what is now CSU (Pueblo), and came back to live and work in this area. This makes me very proud, and very defensive of her.

To return to my orginal thought, if you don't like the way that the Tribune covers news, then don't read it. It is as simple as that. Don't expect the Tribune to be your personal rag. You can always post anonymously in this post, without any fear of retribution."

Rick Miell
4/20 5:40pm

Good day to you, Rick.

I have to disagree. That viewpoint, that it is just another business, which is increasingly prevalent in the print media these days, is doing nothing but tightening the downward spiral in the quality of the print media, especially newspapers, while electronic media is taking over. And that includes blogs, some blogs, though I do not include this blog as an example of 'serious journalism'. It isn't supposed to be, though it could be.

Journalism, the newspaper in particular, is often referred to as "The Fourth Estate". That comes from Thomas Carlyle in his book, "Heroes and Hero Worship in History," published back in 1841:

"Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact, .... Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy: invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. ..... Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making, in all acts of authority. It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or garnitures: the requisite thing is that he have a tongue which others will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite."

The newspaper has long been fundamental building block in this nation's foundation. Throughout our history, the newspaper has served a major role in keeping a leash on the government by keeping citizens informed, by editorializing, by rooting out corruption and misconduct, by offering a venue for differing and often unpopular - especially to the government - opinion.

Here is what I think is an interesting observation: When the blog has been in agreement with local officials, everything is swell. Local officials have even gone so far as to ask that things be posted on the blog - things that advance their agendas or positions. But when the blog or commenters to the blog have not been flattering to them, then it's been Off with his head! "Can't you do something about that blog?" or "I'd fire that son of a bitch if I were you...".

It would seem that the Founders had a very good idea of what they were about when they penned that pesky Constitution and that often peskier First Amendment. They understood the political mindset very well, and that power corrupts. It corrupts to varying degrees, but it always corrupts, and the Fourth Estate has been critically important in keeping that in check.

While I don't think local government is corrupt, I do think it is badly stagnated, and, like many of our neighbors, I think local government has become increasingly, blatantly, arrogantly, unresponsive to input from We the People. The Fourth Estate should be, ought to be, and until fairly recently, would be, on that like a...dare I say it in La Junta...a pit bull.

The importance that the Founders placed upon the newspaper is nowhere more evident than in the First Amendment. Today, of course, that extends to all kinds of media, but it was and has been the newspaper that has historically met Carlyle's definition and what the Founders meant by a 'free press'.

Today, we find for several reasons that newspapers are becoming not so much that Fourth Estate, but just another business. They increasingly become less relevant to maintaining democracy than they do to becoming bundles of advertising and feel good pap. This is not unique to the local paper; it is endemic among print media. The advertising is not the problem; it's the quality of the reportage and the editorial content.

Your use of the term 'slander' is interesting. I'm sure you aren't referring to the contents of this blog. Nor will you find examples of plagiarism here. Plagiarism, as any serious journalist will tell you, is the ultimate journalistic sin.

Your relationship to Candi has indeed caused you to be defensive. OK. I understand paternal pride very well, but it's irrelevant here. And, it doesn't alter the fact that the local paper doesn't amount to much in the historical context of what The Newspaper has meant, and has been, to this country. That failing is what the Old Guard depends on, because it relegates citizens' concerns to the benches at Loaf and Jug and to basket-bumping in Walmart. It allows government to continually ignore the people without fear of consequence. It's also refreshing to see that Candi has returned to La Junta. However, she remains an exception, particularly among those who have gone off to school, and the 'brain drain' and the 'kid drain' are in fact problems in the community. You should also understand that my views of the paper have nothing to do with Candi; it isn't personal. Why would it be?

So...it comes down to this:

Is this newspaper a serious journalistic endeavor in the Carlylian tradition? If so, then it is most certainly not just another business, even though it is failing failing miserably in the sense of the Fourth Estate, and you are dead wrong, my friend.

Is this newspaper supposed to be a glorified Thrifty Nickel or something on the order of a high school newspaper? Is it supposed to be the musical score to which Nero can fiddle? If so, then you are right. It's just another business that we can take or leave without consequence. If it closed up shop tomorrow it would be just another empty building.

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." --Thomas Jefferson

Unclean! Unclean!

There we were, DinkyDau Billy and I, sitting on the city park wall. Leece was out jogging around city park with Tookie. The rest of the thuglets and tapeworms were riding their bikes.

"Hey. Hey. Why do you call them 'tapeworms'? Billy asked.

"You ever see 'em eat? They put grits away like they have a tapeworm infestation that would be the envy of any Third Worlder," I responded.

"Huh. Yeah. I've seen 'em put away McNuggies in such a way that I've gone out and bought McD stock," Billy said, with a kindasorta chuckle.

"So. What did you think of Brother Tony's article in Religion Corner?" I asked.

"Oh, that guy that was thumpin' on Planned Parenthood? His latest piece? Yeah, I saw that. Well, he has some good points, I guess, but he's missed the boat on several others," Billy observed, thoughtfully twisting one of his dreadlocks around his finger.

"How so?" I asked.

"Well, taking the article as a whole, it's exactly why so many people have either left the church or refuse to go," he said, "the guy seems to be completely out of touch with the fact that we are now in the postmodern era. While his theology may be sound - though I have some questions about that - his approach is really a turn-off."

"Go on..." I encouraged. Billy was in his professorial mode now.

"Well, he's really stuck on that rather self-righteous concept that only 'Christians', whatever or whoever he means by that, are the only ones with a pass through the Heavenly Gates."

"Yeah. Yes, I see where you're going with that one. It's completely contrary to Mulholland's very good definition of spiritual formation," I said.

"Yep. Precisely. Mulholland defines it as '...the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others...' which is something we both agree on as being quite valid. More important than you agreeing, Leece also agrees."

"Oh really," I said, somewhat indignantly, "why is Leece agreeing more important?"

"Because she knows more about this than you do," he said, sniggering in his diet Pepsi.

He had me there.

"Yeah, but you see where Mulholland misses something. He should have said 'the spiritual image of Christ'. That addition is very much in keeping with the rest of his thinking, but the lack of that one word causes the literalists to miss the point," I said.

"Yeah. I agree. It's exactly like the verse in Genesis and the way the literalists use it to defy common sense, reason, and logic. They argue that God made man in his physical image. I don't buy that for a minute. I do buy that God made man in his spiritual image. Much different. Much more sensible. The literalists drive me nuts with their illogic," Billy went on.

"But what I really disliked about Bolen's article was the inference that non-Christians are not only unworthy, but somehow akin to dog crap on the bottom of a real Christian's boot. That's not only rude, but very un-Christ-like. Notice I didn't say 'un-Christian', because 'un-Christ-like' behavior is very common in so-called 'Christians', " he continued.

"Oh. Yeah. That comment where he expresses a certain amount of thinly veiled self-righteous indignation over a pastor who actually stooped to holding hands with non-Christians. Yep. That one jumped right off the page, didn't it?" I asked.

"Yup. How can you reach non-believers if you present the idea that they are unworthy of contact? It makes no sense to me. Did Christ behave like that?" Billy queried.

I thought about Mary Magdalene, and the woman at the well, and several other stories where Christ mingled with the low-rent dregs of society.

"No, no, not at all, " I agreed, "and it drove the Pharisees nuts. What Bolen describes is also in keeping with modern Christian behaviors, which is why I like the term 'neo-Pharisees'."

Leece had stopped on her fifteenth or sixteenth circuit around the park to eavesdrop on our conversation. "One of the members of my cohort said that he knew several non-Christians who were better Christians than real Christians," she shared.

"Yeah. I know exactly what you mean. That goes to the thing about 'spiritual image'. How does that fit with the literal meaning of '...no one comes to the Father except through me...'? I too have known many Buddhists, for example, and a couple of Muslims, and even a few Hindus who were spiritually more in tune with Christ than a whole lot of self-confessed 'Christians'," I tossed out, "and by way of illustration we have Gandhi's comment, 'I could have been a Christian...but then I met one..'."

"Yes. Exactly. Gandhi, one of the great peacemakers of all time, one of the greatest proponents of reasoned liberation theology, effectively applied...a man who has a much greater spiritual connection to Christ's behaviors toward others - 'for the sake of others' - and we are to believe that he is denied a place in heaven? Nonsense. Utter self-righteous, self-serving nonsense," Billy continued. He was quite animated. This was one of his buttons, and it had gotten pushed but good. "Not only that, but what's with throwing out chunks of scriptural verse? What's the point? To demonstrate that he knows it? Does he seriously expect non-believers to just read it and say...'Oh. Yeah. I believe now.' It doesn't work that way. That's 1950's thinking in the 21st century."

"Well," I said, "we're missing the point. McLaren, Mulholland, Foster, Nouwen...Yancey...all those guys...they're just puppets and mouthpieces for the PC crowd. Not a real Christian among them..."

Leece got some iced tea up her nose on that one. After a bit of gasping and wheezing, she took off on another lap around the park.

"Imus isn't the real bad guy..."

Here is a good article by Jason Whitlock:

http://www.kansascity.com/182/story/66339.html

Some excerpts:

"The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent."

and

"I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?"

Good article. Worth a read and offers a somewhat different perspective from that pap published in Across the Fence under 'Editorial Roundups" in today's fishwrapper.

"When mass killers meet armed resistance..."

Here is a very good post over on the Classically Liberal blog:

http://tinyurl.com/yr2w3b

An excerpt:

"In each of these cases a killer is stopped the moment he faces armed resistance. It is clear that in three of these cases the shooter intended to continue his killing spree. In the fourth case, Andrew Wurst, it is not immediately apparent whether he intended to keep shooting or not since he was apprehended by the restaurant owner leaving the scene.

Three of these cases involved armed resistance by students, faculty or civilians. In one case the armed resistance was from an off-duty police officer in a city where he had no legal authority and where he was carrying his weapon in violation of the mall’s gun free policy.

What would have happened if these people waited for the police?

In three cases the shooters were apprehended before the police arrived because of armed civilians. At Trolley Square the shooter was kept busy by Hammond until the police arrived. In all four cases the local police were the Johnny-come-latelys."

The local police will almost always be the "Johnny-come-latelys". The way the system is set up, if the cops are on top of something when it happens, it's almost always coincidence or luck. It isn't the fault of the cops. It's a matter of numbers and geography. There are lots of studies on this, starting back before even the famous - or infamous - Kansas City study, back in the '70's.

I tell students in classes at the various academies in which I have taught, and still occasionally teach: "We are social garbagemen. We show up, do the paperwork, listen to the sad stories, do more paperwork, and generally clean up the mess. Even then we have to have the fire department to hose off the blood. Sometimes, we get to arrest the bad guy. Sometimes."

It's a pretty dark statement. Some would say downright cynical. But it's true.

It is not the responsibility of the government to protect you. Not you as an individual. That's your responsibility. That's why when the Middle School published that incredibly assinine policy about self-defense, it raised such hackles. Most parents accepted it, despite it being patent nonsense.

The last two American generations have been raised to think not about reacting defensively, about protecting themselves, about defending themselves, but rather to wait like sheep in the slaughterhouse for the government to save them.

As we see at Virginia Tech, all the government did was eliminate a major opportunity for self-defense.

"Gun-free zone". What a pathetic, sorry attempt to make the world into something it isn't.

4/19/07

Ranchers' Benefit

From Susie Sarlo:

Benefit Performance for Arkansas Valley Farmers & Ranchers

Sponsored by the Koshare Indian Dancers
Friday, April 27 @ 8:00 PM
Tickets are $10 per person

Performance in the historic Koshare Indian Kiva:
115 West 18th Street , on the Otero Junior College campus
La Junta, Colorado

Thank you for distributing this.

K.S. Sarlo
Koshare Indian Museum
115 West 18th Street
La Junta , CO 81050
719.384.4411

"Freedom isn't free..."

Not according to John Morse, a Democrat from up in the Springs, who said this about the Pinon Canyon expansion:

"Freedom isn't free, and there are times in America when the public interests must supercede the private one," Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said. "Some of our citizens will pay a disproportionate cost to support our national defense. Some of our ranchers will pay that cost in having to sell their land. I'm not saying that it is fair. It seems to me that patriotism is about accepting your cost even when it is disproportionate."

So...all you ranchers down south, suck it up a bit and quit whining. You need to revise your sense of patriotism according to the gospel of John.

Meanwhile, John is drooling over the huge amounts of money being dumped into Fort Carson and which his constituents are sucking up, though in a different meaning of the phrase. Call me a cynic, but methinks John is confusing patriotism with putting a lot of money in his own pocket at the expense of we Hicks from the Sticks. Politicians are good at that kind of self-serving money-grubbing. It seems to me that Brother John has it down pat.

Here's John's website:

http://www.morseforsenate.com/

Here's more about Brother John here:

http://www.morseforsenate.com/about.asp

Check the po-leece uniform. John milks it for all it's worth and then some. How could you not vote for the guy? Especially when he demonstrates a perfect willingness to screw everyone blind down here in southeastern Colorado so all those happy voters in the Springs will keep him in office. Why, one day, he might be governor.

Here's his state contact info:

http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/Senate/members/Sen11.htm

Let him know what you think.

And remember...next election, think of all that the Democrats have done for you. Or to you.

4/18/07

From PCEOC

This morning, the Colorado Senate formally voted at the third reading of HB 1069.

The tally was 30 for - 3 against (2 absent)

We also have 18 co-sponsors now for this bill - they not only agree with it - they want to be an integral part of it!!!

Don't forget to write, call and e-mail our Senators with a thank you!!! Senator Kester and Representive McKinley deserve some more also!!!

KEN KESTER
Colorado State Senator, District 2
Office Location: 200 E. Colfax
Denver, CO 80203
Capitol Phone: 303-866-4877
E-Mail: ken.kester.senate@state.co.us

WES McKINLEY
House District 64
Office Location: 200 E. Colfax - Denver, CO 80203
Capitol Phone: 303-866-2398

Also:

http://tinyurl.com/ywcxyu

Breaking news April 17, 2007

The Colorado Senate HB 1069 (Pinon Canyon Expansion Bill) introduced by Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas. Heard by Senate and passed on Tuesday, April 17th! The tally was 30 for - 3 against (2 absent). Now it is on to Governor Bill Ritter's Desk.

"If the federal government prevails, we will see gradual soils that are compacted and polluted, wildlife displacement and destruction of habitat, our tributaries will be polluted, plants will be destroyed, our dinosaur trackways will be obliterated," said Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden. "Significant and permanent destruction will occur and continue to occur and will keep occurring.

"If the federal government prevails, we will see gradual soils that are compacted and polluted, wildlife displacement and destruction of habitat, our tributaries will be polluted, plants will be destroyed, our dinosaur trackways will be obliterated," continued Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden. "Significant and permanent destruction will occur and continue to occur and will keep occurring."

"I urge you all to vote with Senator Kester today to send a very strong message to the federal government that Colorado is our home." Fitz-Gerald added. "That they have enough of our land for training, and that they should go no further. Colorado has paid its price, and that we stand together as Republicans and Democrats to protect the heritage that is so special, that is Colorado."

"Freedom isn't free, and there are times in America when the public interests must supercede the private one," Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said. "Some of our citizens will pay a disproportionate cost to support our national defense. Some of our ranchers will pay that cost in having to sell their land. I'm not saying that it is fair. It seems to me that patriotism is about accepting your cost even when it is disproportionate." Morse lacked the votes to kill the measure and failed in an attempt to tack an amendment onto the bill that would have delayed it.

His parting words of advice to supporters sitting in the Senate chambers during the debate, which included Southeastern Colorado ranchers and Hoehne Future Farmers of America: "I need to remind you that the process hasn't started yet," said Morse, "So as you take (Tuesday's) victory, remember it's a hollow victory. It doesn't do what you hope it does because the process hasn't started yet. You must be involved in the process, so stay as committed at the federal level as you have at the state level, and show up and participate and bring your issues to the Army's attention so they can be fully debated, fully considered, and fully implemented in the plan."

Under the bill, the state would not give its consent to the federal government to solely own any land it obtains through condemnation. Under Colorado law, as with all states, the federal government is automatically given sole ownership rights to land it takes. The measure requires a final Senate vote before it goes to Governor Bill Ritter. That vote could come as early as today.

Mo' ho's...

In the aftermath of the Don Imus fiasco, where shock-jock Imus was eventually canned after referring to the Rutgers' women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's", Disney reports that 'issues' have arisen over The Seven Dwarves:

"This just in: Disney to hold press conference at 10:00 a.m. today. Word on the street is that Disney will apologize for the Seven Dwarfs singing "Hi Ho, Hi Ho" in the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney plans to remove all items, currently for sale, associated with this movie. This includes books, dolls, and movies. Later in the week the Seven Dwarfs will appear on the Al Sharpton radio show to apologize and undergo a 7 hour grilling. Je$$ee Jack$son has not been contacted for comment on this. His office stated that he and his personal secretary were attending a meeting in the Bahamas. However, people at PUSH hinted that a large protest is being scheduled at Disney World. Snow White could not be reached for comment."

Meanwhile, reports that professional race-baiters Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and Reverend Al "the diamond merchants" Sharpton will be fired for their racist comments over the years have been pooh-poohed by their supporters.

"The Revs are much too busy collecting 'love offerings' wherever they go to acknowledge any of that," said a representative who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fishwrapper Apologia?

This comment was posted to the Plagiarism Revisited article. I'm not sure if it's a bit of apologia or a bit of damning by faint praise:

Anonymous said...

"Regarding the La Junta Tribune Democrat Newspaper: It's not a fish wrapper. It's barely even a newspaper anymore, really. It's more of a slow motion trainwreck. Looking back over the last three or four years, the La Junta Tribune Democrat has been sold several times. There have been three different publishers, two different editors and the entire staff has suffered from a hideous turnover rate approaching triple digits! You'd be hard pressed to find anyone (save a precious few exceptions) on the staff today who have been there more than three years. Those who are left struggle daily against the almost insurmountable task of keeping the community's sole public print news organ from collapsing entirely. I'm betting it ain't easy just staying above water, and due to this most recent mess, their jobs just got a whole lot harder.I'll give them a lot of credit for just keeping a shoulder against the wheel, and trying to do the best they can in a tough ball game. "

Yes, I agree that it's a tough ball game. But let me ask you this: Why is keeping the community's sole public news print organ from collapsing entirely an almost insurmountable task? Is it a 'news print organ' or is it a rah-rah sheet for Aunt Molly's quilting club and for reprinting the same old church news every week? Granted that those local tidbits are important, but then so is digging out the reasons for what's going on behind the scenes in local politics and business. Many if not most people get their regional, national, and international news from electronic sources these days. We no longer depend on the local newspaper for news on what's happening at ...oh... Virginia Tech, for example. Local newspapers can't keep up with that. They just can't. But what they can do better is keep up with local news, news of substance. Does the fishwrapper do that? No, they do not. So far as I can see, they are not only making no real effort to do so, but they seem to be going out of the way not to dig up the background and print it. When is the last time you saw an editorial of any consequence, and even then, an editorial that didn't sound like a rah-rah flyer for a Wake Up breakfast Kumbaya singfest?

The 'wrapper was doing a lot better back when Mike Harris was doing some reporting. He was on Pinon Canyon while the local politicians were still talking about sucking up to the army and salvaging what they could, including their political careers. I would have really liked to have seen his reportage on the recent economic development hoo-hah.

If you hang around the breakfast clubs and the benches at Loaf, you hear a lot of interesting things, like who among the high and the mighty is throwing a snit fit over another 'personality' getting to sit at the front table with the other big shots in a real or imagined positional slight. That might not sound important, but when you start pulling at that thread and find out how such stupid, childish nonsense comes to play in decisions that affect the community, it does become important. Or those consequences do.

There is no reason that the fishwrapper can't be doing that kind of thing. But...like we've said before, when you start pushing too hard, the great, the near-great, and the merely self-important are pretty vindictive, and with jobs far and few here in The Smile Hi City, well, it becomes not so much a matter of keeping the shoulder against the wheel but self-survival, of sorts.

There's a target rich environment for reportage these days. That last Urban Renewal meeting was a real hoot. Why would anyone suggest hauling in people from someplace else and giving them a house purchased with tax bux, your tax bux and mine. What about those who already live here? What kind of jobs are those new people going to have? Are local businesses going to reserve jobs for them? You want more people living in La Junta? Why not first ask why people leave? Is it simply a matter of jobs? Does that explain Snob Street (Kimble Avenue) over in Swink? Or could it be that that much vaunted Smallville 'quality of life' is going down the toilet and the best answer you can get is 'we can't do anything about that'?

Ah well. I guess I need to start attending Wake Up breakfasts and accentuating the positive. Then I can go shovel the neighbor's dog shit out of the yard, pick up the beer cans from the gutter in front of the house and in the front yard, listen to more continuous barking and yapping, 24/7, and see if I can't putty up the windows to keep 'em from rattling from the car stereos. And I can close my eyes to the trashy appearance of the city coming in from the west, the east, the north, and the south. It seems that the power structure has; I might as well too.

And then I can go read about the Fowler girls' sports in the La Junta fishwrapper.

Lastly, but not leastly, we have this little non sequitur:

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2007/04/18/#a004093

4/17/07

"An Asian Male..."

OK.

So we're sitting on at least 32 dead at a major university.

The university administration describe the shooter as an 'Asian male'.

They also now state that he was one of their students.

What is an 'Asian male'?

What comes to most people's minds is an Oriental type person.

But VT has a rather large Muslim population. Let's see. Pakistan. All of the 'stans, for that matter. Saudi Arabia. Yemen. Syria. Lebanon. Turkey. All are Asian countries.

So what is this guy? Is he yet another disgruntled Muslim? Or not? Is the school playing those 'sensitive to multicultural diversity' games again?

The talking heads were chattering away about why no one stopped this guy. Hey. VT is a gun-free zone. Legislation that would allow concealed weapon carry on campus was recently defeated, with the support of the VT administration. So this nutjob gets to walk around popping people left and right, unhindered. And while he was a nutjob, he was a well-organized nutjob. It looks to me like his real target was over at the second shooting site. He hit the first one quickly, and left, drawing in the cops. Then he went to the second one and took his sweet time there, in the confusion caused by the first shooting.

I was talking with a retired cop who is now with the academic staff at a major university. He mentioned that he can't carry concealed on the campus. He further mentioned that his fellow professors feel this is a good thing. "You might become angry at a staff meeting and shoot someone," one fellow once said. To which our retired cop responded, "I carried a gun for 25 years and never shot anyone in a fit of anger."

Do you think an armed professor might have been able to put the shooter down? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's a certainty an unarmed professor wouldn't. Couldn't.

Good point about the fit of anger, though, especially the way school administrations function. The concerned associate may have a point.

So...what's the deal? Who and what is the shooter? Are they sitting on it because they don't want to 'offend' the Muslim community? I guess we'll find out, sooner or later.

4/16/07

The Latest and Greatest Master Plan

Leece and I were going into The Barista.

Billy's Fat Possum was parked outside.

Tookie was coming down the sidewalk on her Hotrock.

"Hi Toots! Hey! When are you going to take the training wheels off that thing?" I asked.

"I'm only six," she said, "I'm still developing my fine motor skills and meshing my inner ear with the muscles that control my more advanced reactions to balance maintenance. Don't you know anything about child development?"

I know when a child needs a boot up the butt for being way too precociously obnoxious, but not wanting to stifle any emotional growth, I kept my mouth shut. I held the door for Leece and Toots as they went in.

"Hey! Hey!" Billy cheerfully called out from where he was sitting. He had the remnants of a pannini of some kind on the table in front of him, and was guzzling water.

Tookie plunked herself down and announced that she would be having a couple or three scoops of chocolate and peanut butter Blue Bunny.

"You payin' for that?" I asked. She looked at me and said,"I thought you'd be more than pleased to indulge your littlest and cutest grandaughter." She was a bit smug.

"How would you like a boot up your butt?" I asked her.

Leece snickered and ordered some kind of foo-foo coffee thingie.

Billy was reading the fishwrapper.

"Hey. Hey. Whaddya think about this here 'thinking outside the box' they've come up with over in Urban Renewal?" he asked.

"You mean the deal about we the taxpayer funding homes for people who have never lived here before, in order to get more people to live here?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah." he responded.

"Well...I'm sure it's a great idea. After all, I'm a public employee so of course it's a good idea to spend more tax bux on stuff that doesn't benefit the local population. I'm not a real contributor to the economy, you see. On the other hand, the IRS and the Colorado Department of Revenue think I'm a taxpayer, judging from the amount of money they took from me last year. I don't think that counts, though."

"You sound like you gots the wind up a bit," Billy observed.

"Ya think?" I asked, "Well, Ok, let's see. I was just over to the house, the La Junta house, and the yard is full of trash. Again. Keystone Lite beer cans seem to dominate. And a coupla piles of crap from that Rotweiller across the street. The invisible Rotweiller. Again. And Becerra's dog and the Logan's dog were going alpha sierra. Again. And that place next door, 517 Lincoln, looks like an extension of Terry Lee Enterprises and Adams Wrecking. That's one reason Leece and I don't live in La Junta now. Maybe 'they' should give some thought to cleaning up the place first. Oh...yeah...and while I was there, the usual assortment of brain-dead goons went thumping and booming on by. Yep, the windows still rattle. That bucolic smallville lifestyle at its very best."

"Uh huh," Billy said, "so...they're going to move in new people, and maybe give them the houses after a period of time. Hey. Hey. What are these people going to do in order to earn enough money to keep up these houses that are now vacant?"

"Oh...well...I'm sure economic development has some irons in the fire over that. Allison Courtner said so," I said.

"Yeah, but what about all those people who are already here that don't have jobs, and live in dumps? What about them?"

"Yeah. What about them? Maybe they can move to wherever these other people come from and get free houses there, and maybe get jobs, too."

"You two need to learn to think outside the box," Tookie said, "you just ain't with the program at all."

"Don't say 'ain't, Tookie," chipped in Leece. Tookie rolled her eyes.

"Can I be on the Outside the Box Advisory Committee?" she asked.

"I've read the article," Leece said, "and it doesn't look like Hizzoner is for this idea."

"I gots some sources who tell me he ain't," said Billy, causing Tookie to giggle as Leece rolled her eyes at the "ain't", while Billy continued, "he said something about working more with TriCounty Housing to take care of local people first."

"What a concept," said Tookie, as she spooned up some Blue Bunny, "thinkin' outside the box is one thing; suffering synaptic short circuits in the frontal lobes is another."

"Hey. Who said you could have that ice cream?" I asked. Demanded.

"Want some?" she asked.

"Yeah. Slide it over here," I told her.

"Say please."

"Tookie!"

She slid the Blue Bunny over. "Some people need to develop a sense of humor that they are aware of," she said.

4/15/07

Great Divide Bike Ride

Photos from the Great Divide Annual Ride. The full ride is 34 miles, from Refractory West to the test track and back.

Great Divide is the bike shop at 4th and Santa Fe in Pueblo. They supplied pizza, homemade cookies, and a pretty good salad with crumbled blue cheese. Specialized and Trek had their 2007 models on hand for demos.

Pueblo in the distance:


Pike's Peak as a backdrop:


Water break with roadies coming up fast:


"Life is a highway...":



Outbound with the Twin Spanish Peaks in the background:


"Life is a Highway" © Tom Cochrane 1991

4/12/07

Congrats to Wayne Snider

Wayne is the new city administrator for Fowler. According to the Fowler newspaper, he started on April 10.

Utility Board Minutes

are up for the meeting of April 10:

http://tinyurl.com/2xmpr8

4/11/07

Halliburton

Remember Halliburton?

You want to get a Democrat frothing at the mouth and needing medical attention for apoplexy? Mention Halliburton.

Better yet, tell him to take a look at today's Day By Day:

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2007/04/11/#a004085

"MSM" for those who haven't been paying attention, is "MainStream Media". You know, like CNN, FoxNews, and our own local fishwrapper, though that last may be stretching a point.

You haven't been following that? Huh. Check these links for starts:

http://tinyurl.com/2qw3zj

http://tinyurl.com/2jfqac

http://tinyurl.com/3c2hb7

then Google the text strings

Feinstein corruption
Feinstein resigns

for more.


The LJDI that wouldn't go away...

Over on "More on Looking Forward", we have a continuing debate, of sorts, over what Wayne Snider did or didn't do regarding taking LJDI's intellectual property when he left them. For example, we have this comment from Anonymous:

"Ok, I'll bite.It is about a double standard. There is no attempt to defend LJDI, but a few fail to see the similarities. Sniders transition went rather well. He took LJDI's intellectual property w/ him, it wasn’t his. It doesn’t matter that he was involved. Yet you fail to understand why a transition could be important. "

To which I would reply:

How do you know that Snider took LJDI's intellectual property?

Snider and LJDI were at serious odds when he left.

Did they give it to him?

Did he steal it?

Snider had the advantage of having worked as the LJDI director. He had information in his head. Had he signed a non-disclosure agreement about that with LJDI?

In today's business world such agreements are common especially when a person is working on sensitive projects. They are also common in government. Here is a sample of such an agreement:

http://tinyurl.com/2kxde3

Pay particular attention to paragraph 2. Look at 2(a). The way personal and other information is splattered all over town by the great, the near-great, and the merely self-important in either pathetic attempts at self-justification or even more pathetic back-stabbing as they jockey for position in the political and economic food chain, it would be a minor miracle if anything LJDI held didn't fall under 2(a).

What is it that you think Snider did? Can you support your position? Or is it idle chitchat and gossip?

What I find interesting is that Snider, having been screwed, is now expected to cheerfully hand over his work.

I have to tell you, I'm with Snider on this one. You'd get any information I had when you pried it from my cold, dead fingers.

4/9/07

Key Water Official

In today's Pueblo Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1176124550/2

Joe Kelley, for those who don't know, is La Junta's Chief Fluid Druid; he is the director of the city's water department. He recently responded to technical aspects of a report of 'no significant impact' by the Bureau of Reclamation regarding water transfers.

Some excerpts:

"Joe Kelley, La Junta water supervisor, said the concerns of downstream communities are not adequately addressed in a finding of no significant impact issued last month by the Bureau of Reclamation in its environmental assessment of a contract with Aurora."

No significant impact? What utter nonsense. Joe rightly takes 'em on in his report and comments:

"Kelley criticized the finding of no significant impact because it makes loose assumptions that could affect water quality, and thus La Junta’s treatment costs, down the road. The remedy, according to Reclamation’s document, is to bring the affected parties together if there appears to be a problem caused by the contract.
“It puts the burden of proof on the one who feels they have been impacted,” Kelley said. “If there is a burden, it should be on the bureau.” "

and

"Among numerous technical objections about the assumptions used in the environmental assessment, Kelley also questioned Reclamation’s definition of “reasonably foreseeable actions,” saying it is “weak and needs further development.” "

and the real corker:

"...Kelley said, adding that Reclamation’s report gave him no such opportunity. “I think they’ve bypassed the state’s authority to deal with in-state issues.” "

There ya go. Another example of the Feds playing politics with locals. On the one hand we have the Feds waving billions under the economic noses over in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, what with the Fort Carson rebuild. That bit of greed has locals quite willing to cut each others' throats.

This business with the water is just another example of more of the same. Big Brother isn't going to look out for we Hicks in the Sticks. We have to make a stink about this. Fortunately, we seem to have some congresscritters who are at least superficially on board with that. You might want to pitch 'em an email or a phone call and let them know where you stand.

Well done, Joe.

Here is more on the Bureau of Reclamation:

http://www.usbr.gov/

http://www.usbr.gov/main/about/

4/8/07

Plagiarism Revisited

We have another interesting comment to a main post that seems worth bringing to the front. This one is on the allegations of plagiarism by either the fishwrapper or the tourism group or both, on using material from the Explore Southeast Colorado website without permission of the owners:

"Just to clarify, I am a new anonymous posting to this site, so none of the previous "anonymous" comments were made by me.

I, too, have looked through the tourism publication put out by the newspaper and, when I heard rumblings about possible plagiarism, looked up the web site in question. I found that every article I looked at was almost a direct copy from the web site. There were a few instances where sentences were altered slightly -- in many cases to take them out of first person and put them into third person. That, my friends, is copying.

I also noticed that a handful of the photos used in the publication were photos that were also on the web site. And, to make matters even worse, the lead article on the inside cover, signed by newspaper publisher Pat Ptolemy, is also "lifted" from the web site -- check out the main web site page and then read her letter again -- funny how similar they sound.

The fact of the matter is, if the newspaper did not request -- and receive -- permission to use content from the web site (whether it be one article or 30), then they plagiarized. It's as simple as that. It has nothing to do with who might or might not have had a hand in designing or editing the publication, although Jeanne Fenter sure seems to think that saying the tourism group was involved might make everything better. In fact, her comments are only making the tourism group look like they might have had a bigger hand in it. Jeanne, you aren't helping their case any.

To compound the situation, I have heard -- and this is purely heresay -- that the newspaper has not fired the person primarily responsible for this mess and has also not been exactly forthcoming in owning up to what happened. Where I come from, if you make a mistake, you admit it and do what needs to be done to make it right. Sweeping the whole mess under the carpet won't do anything to actually clean it up.

And if, by some odd chance, the newspaper didn't do anything wrong, then why are they being so closed-mouthed on the topic? If I was falsely accused of something this awful -- and in the publishing world, plagiarism is one of the worst offenses -- I would do whatever was necessary to clear my name. So far, I haven't seen a lot of that happening."

4/6/07

More on "Looking Forward"

This is a comment on the preceding post. It's by another Anonymous poster. It isn't a rant, there is no venom, and it's quite rational. I think it's a very good comment, so much so that I've moved it up here as a main topic:

+++++++

I am wondering if anon has ever applied for a job or tendered a proposal in response to an RFP.References are encouraged and even expected.

These were not threats from the businesses or the lawyer from the Pinon Canyon Expansion Coalition Opposition, but expressions of the contribution Snider has supplied.

This is not the full city council that is "looking bad", but the Mayor most of all and 3 city council members who had extremely poor reasons, speaking personally rather than as professionals, hiring someone for a very important position. Three city coucil members remained on task and seriously considered who was in the best position for improving the economic climate.

Anon states, "The threat was basically that you get rid of him you'll get rid of the businesses".

That might be true but not as a threat, but as a reality with consequences for a bad decision.

As mentioned there were more than businesses represented, but also the PCEOC. Was their letter a threat?

Mr. Moreno stated that he had received many calls encouraging renewal of Snider's contract. I am sure he was not the only one to receive them.

As to "Where were his peers? Why were none of them there to speak up for Mr. Snider?" And why were none there to speak for Ron Davis?

Besides, I understand there were at least 28 letters of support for Snider from Economic Devleopment professionals, businesses, and state agencies from within the state attached to the proposal submitted to the city.

The three council people voting for Snider expressed they could not understand why they should "change horses in mid-stream" considering Snider's experience, accomplishments, and what he was securing for the future to go with someone who will be starting all over again.

Do we have time to wait?

It is not surprising that people living in the community and people considering relocating here should be alarmed by the lack of judgement and rejection of qualified testimony, both oral and written, in regard to Snider's accomplishments and ability to do more.

It is apparent the whole process of going out for bids was a sham anyway. The Mayor did not want him precisely because Snider was forthwright and did not "cave into politics" or particular personal interests. This tells me Snider has integrity and is ethical.

Looking Forward?

Over on the original post, "Looking Forward", we have an interesting debate of sorts going on. The last post, by an Anonymous:

"If you disagree w/ the lack of ethics we will simply agree to disagee. Those were the wrong people to bring in to save ones job. The threat was basically that you get rid of him you'll get rid of the businesses. Just like one could argue that information pertaining to the city and the position of ED Dir. ethically should be the cities property. it was paid for w/ tax payer dollars. But those that simply disapprove of council might just say "who would blame him?" Where were his peers? Why were none of them there to speak up for Mr. Snider? That would have been very powerful in my opinion, but i can only assume why they were not there. Again, I think Mr. Snider was doing a good job. He just failed to realize the full job description. We can blame it on politics all day long, but reality is that life is politics. We often read the Chief stating he saw these things in the Navy. What does one do when faced with those decisions? If smart you find a way to over come. We all have jobs in which we deal w/ the same issues every day. Some how we must find a way to play in the same sand box. My frustration is that I feel that Mr. Snider could have very easily kept his job. Not by caving in to politics, but incorporating a few of his own. It is not rocket science. I fully supported Mr. Snider until the day he left and I will support Mr. Davis. It is the right thing to do. If you find something you don't like, change it. Griping and gossiping won't get much accomplished. Ask someone successful and see if they agree. When faced w/ adversity you pull up the boot straps and get to work. "

The preceding comments are under the original post.

There are a number of things here that fair beg for additional comment.

This Anon feels that Wayne Snider was unethical and threatened the city by asking representatives of the businesses with whom he had worked to come to the council meeting and speak for him.

I disagree. I agree with the Anon who states that all Snider did was bring in some references to speak to his job performance and to illustrate that he had in fact accomplished something positive. Given the rather vicious back-stabbing that had been going on behind the scenes - that 'griping and gossiping' that this Anon apparently finds so onerous - I think Snider's actions were quite reasonable. The businesses that did present did so respectfully, and I've not heard anyone say that they were threatening. By 'threatening' I am presuming that they stated that if Snider were not retained, they would take their business elsewhere.

Even if they had done so, they were quite within their rights to speak thusly. After all, if you don't like a business environment as a customer, you can shop elsewhere. I do it all the time, particularly when the people running the business - in this case the four council members who voted against Snider - are unable to present any rational argument to the contrary. This phenomenon, relative to Snider, has been commented upon by others, under various posts here on the blog. Speaking of which...what is the status of that biodiesel plant?

I am not quite sure of what Anon means with this: "Just like one could argue that information pertaining to the city and the position of ED Dir. ethically should be the cities property. it was paid for w/ tax payer dollars. "

That sounds like LJDI, who kept everything so close that no one outside of LJDI knew what was going on. When council had the temerity to question this, the LJDI board, represented by Grasmick, essentially told them to pound sand. That is, it was none of their - our - business.

Anon then asks where were Snider's peers. Again, I'm not sure what he/she means by that. What peers? The ones that that paragon of economic development, Allison Courtner, is going to train using our tax dollars? If they need training by Courtner, what does that say of their competence levels? And what does it say of their competence levels after this training?

Chief Bromden often comments about his experiences in the Navy. I find them quite familar, both from USAF days and as Anon says, in any job I have ever had, down to and including paper boy for the Greensboro Daily News. Part of that 'overcoming' is that 'griping and gossiping'. That is how people exchange ideas. It moves from poorly-informed griping to more informed decision-making (one can only hope) as the 'griping and gossiping' evolves. I call it 'basket-bumping' at Walmart and Safeway. Or observations and chitchat on the bench at Loaf and Jug. Or at the breakfast clubs at the Copper Kitchen. This is how grassroots movements build and grow. It's part of that political process. It has brought down empires and political regimes, either at the ballot box or by peasants taking up rifles and going up into the hills or out into the paddies. As an aside, those of us who have seen the latter thank God everyday that we still rely on the ballot box. Words are our bullets; a number of forums are the heavy weapons of the people. Pulling up one's bootstraps in the face of adversity takes many forms. Effecting regime change is but one of them. When you have a governing body that consistently ignores its constituency, soon enough the 'griping and gossiping' takes on a life of its own, and then its Katie bar the door. That, too, is 'politics'.

The threat here in The Smile Hi City, as with most other places, tends to be made regarding one's livlihood. Keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you. How many times have I heard that one, particularly back in the PD under the old regimes? The big problem with that, here and now, is that the makers of those threats know very well that they have the constituency by the short hairs - in a manner of speaking - given the current economic situation that they have brought about and that they maintain.

Doesn't say much for them, does it?