9/30/07

The TID Redux and other 'issues'

If a local business can obtain funds through Urban Renewal, which is funded in large measure through the Tax Increment District, where does that leave us?

For example, could La Junta Mill apply for a grant from Urban Renewal to redo their storefront? Such a grant would go a long way toward relieving urban blight in the downtown area, certainly within the TID. If you don't think so, drive by and take a look at La Junta Mill.

TriCounty recently did some work on their storefront, which was beginning to look rather shabby. Though it really looks a lot nicer, could they have applied for a grant from Urban Renewal?

What happens when a business owned by a councilman, a member of the Urban Renewal Board, or a member of the Planning Commission...or perhaps the mother of such a person...applies for a grant from Urban Renewal? Is there a conflict of interest? Will it matter if there is?

I listened to the recordings of the candidates forum before making comment. I wanted to think about the candidates' answers and then go back and listen to what they had to say. Several things come to mind as the result.

First, we had Mr. Rizzuto and Mr. Johnson talk about listening to the people. We have already seen how that works. Remember the CAP? I do. Why do I keep on harping about CAP? Well, those who keep taking me to task for being 'negative' should understand very well why I do that. CAP was one of the most positive and constructive collaborative efforts by citizens of this community to communicate ideas and desires to the governing body. Yet what happened to it? What happened as the result of overwhelming community input, including expert testimony, on the pit bull ordinance? What happened to Mr. Mestas' questions about why the hospital wants to lower the trigger point on profit margin? Recently, the Utilities Board, which is elected by the people, advised by two of the most knowledgeable professionals in municipal power systems and municipal water systems you will find in the state, and made up of members...some, anyway...who have studied utilities issues for years...recently, the recommendations of that board were overridden by the governing body. Not only that, but the governing body took the matter completely out of the Utility Board's hands. The Utility Board made their recommendation based on sound business practice. Why was the board overridden? Did it have anything to do with this being an election year with challengers to encumbents?

How does all that, and more, fit in with 'listening to the people'? Or should we just ignore that as the question being too 'negative'?

Ms. Rikof was asked questions by the public. One fellow asked why we should oppose Pinon Canyon's expansion. It is clear from Ms. Rikof's manner in responding to him that she does not like being questioned. It is also clear from her response to the TID question that she does not like being questioned, yet all she had to do in order to answer the question was attend the last Urban Renewal Board meeting. There was no 'privileged information' in or behind the question. Do we really want more of that on city council? Do we really want bluster in an attempt to cover ignorance? Or do we want some real leadership?

Mr. Mestas then told the public what he thought were the issues of the day...and then stated that he doesn't know what to do about them. "Ask the city manager," he said. Really? Then why do we need Mr. Mestas?

Mr. Balicki told us of his youth in Tucson, and stressed the high crime level in that area. Then he told us of moving to La Junta and feeling 'safe'. And yet later, he told us of how the police department needs to spend less time on weed ordinance enforcement and more time on crushing crime, citing his own burgled residence as an example of police inaction, or indifference, or incompetence...it's hard to tell which. Mr. Balicki feels that the police department 'needs more resources.' Does Mr. Balicki have any idea of the budget of the police department? Does he know who does weed ordinance enforcement? Is he familiar with the crime crushing resources of the department? Does he know how much training our officers receive, especially under the leadership of Chief Quick?

The Hyatt campaign has made their candidate's activities in promoting gangster rap in the area a campaign issue. Gangster rap is arguably a 'music' form that does not promote Christian values. It is laced with obscenity. It degrades women. It glorifies gun crime. It glorifies drug and alcohol use. It glorifies the killing of police officers. It glorifies the killing of others.

Mr. Hyatt calls himself "Dangerous Dan". Why is that? Is that an effort to identify with the gangster rappers he was promoting? The city just hired an events coordinator. Half of her salary comes from an El Pomar grant. The rest comes from your tax dollars and mine. If "Dangerous Dan" is elected to council, is he going to have the city's events coordinator bringing in more gangster rap concerts? How will that sit with El Pomar? How does it sit with you?

The Hyatt campaign has made this an issue by calling to question the Christian values of the editor of the Tribune-Democrat, who is also a licensed pastor in a Christian church whose roots are based in Wesleyan theology and the Holiness movements of this country. In the same breath, the campaign extolled the Christian virtues of their own candidate and campaign. This was done in the crowded forum room as candidates and public milled about discussing the event. It was overheard by those nearby. Does the Hyatt campaign think they can insult with impunity a pastor of a church that has its roots in the Holiness movements of this country? Whose theology is either the basis of or the foundation of not one but several churches, including the Methodist church? Do they really think that by going to my boss and the editor's boss and whining about the blog they can silence us? Do they think they can threaten us to silence with comments like "I have a lawyer and and IT person watching you..."? What insufferable arrogance. Is that what we want on city council?

I'd rather stick with what we have. At least I know those guys and where they're coming from.

Mr. Horner and Ms. Goodwin did the community a good service by organizing the forum. It raised more questions that were answered. They are planning another forum. Perhaps there will be time for those questions to be asked.

9/29/07

TID

Regarding the question of the TID - the Tax Increment District - that came up the evening of the candidates' forum...

Most, if not all, of the candidates professed to be concerned about 'revitalizing the downtown area'.

The TID is an extremely important component of that revitalization.

You can find out more about the TID here:

http://www.ci.la-junta.co.us/boards.htm

and scroll down to the Urban Renewal Board section.

The TID is about to be expanded by a considerable margin. The two entities that are most affected by this are the county and the school district. They have apparently signed off on the expansion. The expansion has gone through both the Urban Renewal Board and the Planning Commission, and will next be considered by City Council.

Questions that candidates should be able to answer:

What is the TID?

How does it work?

How much will the expansion cost the School District? Perhaps more correctly that might be asked as "How much tax revenues will the School District not receive as a result of the expansion", since they can't 'lose' what they never had.

What are ad valorem taxes? Is sales tax an ad valorem tax? Are sales tax revenues included in our TID? If so, how is the sales tax component calculated?

The Boss Hogg restaurant has applied for a grant through Urban Renewal, and Urban Renewal has voted for that grant. Are those TID funds?

If another La Junta business, such as - and this is only conjecture - The Barista decided they wanted to expand their patio and make it over in the pattern of a German Gasthaus patio or an Italian barista patio, could they apply for a grant in the same manner? Will any increased tax valuation go to the TID? (that should be an easy one) Will any increased sales tax revenue go to the TID?

These are the sorts of questions candidates should be able to answer. If not smoothly and assuredly, then at least in a manner that lets we the voters know that they are at least aware of the existence of the TID and its purpose.

I would suggest once again that all of the candidates examine Councilman Friedenberger's advice, published earlier in the Tribune-Democrat.

Definition of a Veteran

I got this from one of my discussion groups:

"A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it."

I like the first part. I don't agree with the last sentence. It expresses a sentiment that has always been true. It's nothing new. The Continental Army suffered grieviously at Valley Forge because of it. Almost every time we have gone to war the military has suffered badly, at least in the beginning, because the citizens of this country on the whole lived up to the sentiments in Kipling's "Tommy". It takes more than a magnetic yellow ribbon to support the troops.

"Tommy"



Dangerous

"Yo dawg! Wut up?" hollered DinkyDau Billy as he slid to a stop in the Holy Land Quickee's parking lot.

"Wut up yo'sef, homedog. You inna yo gangsta role again?" I asked, ethnically.

"Naw. You guys went to that candidate forum last night," he said, "and I was just gittin into the mood for summa them candidates, like Dangerous Dan."

"Ah. Yes. Our innovatively entrepreneurial showbiz promoter," I said, rather dryly.

"Yeah. Yeah."

"Well, I have it on good authority that the Dangerous Dan campaign is rooted in Good Christian Values," I said, "so you can just disregard all that g-rap lingo."

"Huh? Now...wait a minnit. Ain't Dangerous Dan the feller who organized that RapFest over in Rocky Ford last June? The one with 'Mr. Capone and the Criminals' and 'Kid Frost the Los Angeles West Coast O.G?' "

"The very same," I replied.

"So how does all that filthy language in Mr. Capone's gangster lyrics that glorify crime, drug use, gun violence, abuse of women, and killing police officers fit in with 'Christian values'? Or the apres-show party at the local bar up the street." Billy was curious. So was I, but being a mere heathen, I lacked the theological wherewithal to come up with the usual rationale that allows one Christian to berate others using Christ as a bludgeon while lining one's pockets with the Wages of Sin.

"Didn't you used to be Presbyterian, Billy? Are they OK with it? Are the Nazarenes OK with it? The Baptists? The Church of Christers? The Lutherans? The Mennonites? The Pentecostals? The Catholics? Are they OK with lyrics like 'Fuck it homies i shooted out wit the cops Aint no fuckin way in hell this vato gonna stop...' in Mr. Capone's 'Mija Wants To Be A Gangsta'?"

I could just see Pastor Don presenting the Nazarene Youth Group singing "Mija" at the Sunday service.

"Yeah. Yeah. When I was a kid I went to the same Presbyterian church what Stonewall Jackson used to go to," Billy confided.

"I think it might be OK with the Catholics. My source goes to the Catholic church. I'm not sure. I think I'll ask the priest next time I see him. Maybe it was in Vatican II. I don't remember it in the catechism but that was a long time ago." I was digging deep.

"Like, dude, where's this coming from?" Billy was very curious.

"We seem to have hit a nerve, my friend. Did you know that we are being watched by an IT specialist and a lawyer?"

"Really?"

"Really. I think it was supposed to be a threat."

"Huh." He looked around the parking lot. "I don't see no IT specialists or lawyers."

"They're over in the bushes by the Garden Club's roadside thingie. The guy with the telephoto lens is the lawyer. The guy with the laptop must be the IT specialist."

Billy unzipped his Speedo and started to expose himself..."Watch this, you...!" he shouted.

"Dude! Dude! It's a public parking lot! Get a grip on yourself...no...check that...". He already had a grip on himself. That was the problem.

"OK...OK...Leece wouldn't like it anyway," he said.

"No, she wouldn't. Settle down, man."

"OK. OK. So. Lemme see if I gots this right. We gots Dangerous Dan running for a leadership role in a community full a Christian churches that pride themselves on Christian values."

"Yep."

"And Dangerous Dan promoted this event that brought in filthy language, that glorified criminal, murderous behavior and drug use? And sponsored a drinkfest at a local bar after?"

"Yep. The lyrics are right there on the rappers' websites. And it was reported in the paper. They gave Dangerous Dan full credit for bringing it to town. Listed him as the 'concert director'."

"Huh. Does the Ministerial Association know about this? Have they endorsed Dangerous as a candidate? How do the pastors feel about this in a potential leader? Do they feel it represents the best of our small-town values? Do they want the youth of the village exposed to this?"

"Good question. I think I'll bring it up at the next Ministerial Association meeting. We go to them, you know. It might make for a good editorial, don't you think?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey. C'mon in. I'll buy the fudgesicles. Where's Leece?"

"Writing up the article on the forum. She'll be awhile. Lots of material there."

"Huh. OK."

June 13 article



9/28/07

Symbiotic relationships

Symbiotic relationships can turn sour.

For the moment, most of the communities and political entities in southeastern Colorado are aligned with the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition movement. It has not always been so. Some of those politicians needed a good kick in the pants to come on board. Let's not forget that, though the politicians obviously wish we would.

When the Pinon Canyon expansion plot first came to light, I was fairly ambivalent about it. I didn't care one way or the other mostly because it was out of my hands. Why was it out of my hands?

Because the ranchers own their lands and if they want to sell out, take the money and run, they can, and nothing I think or say about it can change that.

They have. Ranchers have and farmers have. If you have forgotten this, take a look out to the west of Swink and up into Crowley County.

Those ranchers and farmers didn't give a hoot for the economic well-being of the local communities. They had the chance to sell their land and their water and take the money and run, and if it had a really bad economic effect on the towns in Crowley and Otero Counties, well, too bad.

When the Pinon Canyon expansion first came to light, you didn't hear anything about getting all the communities to join in against it. Back then, it was still 'willing sellers'. It's when the lack of 'willing sellers' became apparent and the Army started making noises about 'eminent domain' that the ranchers down there started with the economic consequences to the rest of us. And because I agree that government taking of private property is way up on the list of causes for rebellion, I joined the uproar against the expansion.

But let the situation change and see what happens. What do you think will transpire when Rancher Rick,getting on in years, finds out that the kids, having been off to college and having seen the rest of the world, decide that they don't want to run the family ranch. The kids may regret that in later years, but that doesn't do Rancher Rick any good right now. He's getting too old to do that ranch work, and we all know ranching ain't easy. What do I know about ranching? Nearly nothing...other than the fact that it has some similarities to commercial fishing, which is very common back where I come from. What similarities? Well, you work your butt off to make the payments on the boat and the equipment and you depend on God's good will for weather that won't kill you or sink the boat, and if there's any of that good will left over, maybe there'll be enough shrimp or fish to catch to pay the bills and some extra. That sounds a lot like ranching. But I wander...

So now Rancher Rick sells out. Hey, it's his land. He can do that. Is Rancher Rick going to lose a lot of sleep how that affects we city folk? So far he has not.

We have a symbiotic economic relationship with the ranchers down south. How far that goes depends entirely on whether or not Rick wants to sell out or not. It's all about money and nothing at all about communal loyalties.

We all know what the ranchers think about us city folk. We see that in every issue of whatsername's column about country livin'. She pokes fun at city folk, ridicules 'em, makes 'em out to be idjits. If you think that attitude just applies to Big City folk, you haven't been paying attention. Even here in The Holy Land, there's the farmers, who matter, and the rest of us, who don't. Not really. Not like it counts.

So let's not get all gushy about the relationship between the ranchers, the farmers, and the rest of us.

It's all about money.

9/27/07

"Off with their tongues!"

"Hey! Hey! Wussup?" Billy hollered as we came around the corner and zipped past Ringo's.

We stopped. He was comfortably ensconced on his favorite bench, a bag of WonderRoast at his side. He was sipping a diet root beer.

"Billy, are you sleeping on this bench?" Leece asked.

"Naw. I goes home to The Holy Land at night," he said. Billy lives on 'the wrong side of the tracks' in Swink. I'm not sure which side of the tracks is really 'wrong'. It seems to depend on which side you find yourself.

"Speakin' a which, kin I borrow one a youse gices AR-15's?" he asked,"I'm gonna kill them dogs what live there on the highway. Signin' a complaint don't do no good and I'm tired a the yappin'. Wassa matter with that guy who lives there? He deaf? Or jist stoopid?"

"I'm not sure which ones you mean, Billy," I said, "We don't seem to have a lot of that where we live. There's that dog kennel or whatever it is that gets stirred up sometimes, but not like in The Smile Hi City."

"Jist gimme an AR.You don't have ta know no more than that," he insisted.

"I think we'll pass, dude," I said.

"Huh. Hey. Hey. Wuddya think about that amendment Ken and Wayne done tacked on to the appropriations bill? The one what says the Army's gotta come up with reasons for expanding Pinon Canyon?"

"Good question," Leece said,"You'll remember that at the Udall meeting all the ranchers were complaining that the Army had never explained why they need it."

"Yeah. Yeah. But now them ranchers is whinin' that the Army shouldn't be given a chance to do that," Billy noted.

"Well...there's one school of thought that sees the Army as having had their chance. If they are going to push this expansion, they should already have their reasons lined up. So they are seeing the amendment as both Colorado senators rolling over for the Army to scratch their bellies -tame lap dogs, the both of 'em. They see it as Ken having paid lip service to supporting the ranchers while really playing to all the votes up in El Paso, Fremont, and Pueblo counties."

"Oh. I see it. I was thinkin', well, them ranchers wanted the Army to explain, and when Ken and Wayne pushed for that, now they's whinin' about that," Billy amplified.

"No...no, the Army should have had its reasoning clear before they started on Pinon Canyon. Now they have another opportunity for the assault on the ranchers and all of us who live here in southeastern Colorado," I said.

"Huh. Ya know, them Good Neighbor types come across as some kinda moonbats, what with their conspiracy theories and all. I bin thinking about sending them several rolls of tin foil. I gots some extra," Billy said.

"I don't think they are doing their cause much good with some of the stuff they are coming up with," I said, "and take a look at how they are trying to use all those 'archaeological treasures' as justification to keep out the Army."

"Yeah. Yeah. That Louden feller went on about all that stuff being 'hidden away'...and if the Army gits it, it'll be off limits to ever'one."

"Yep. The key there is 'hidden away'. Nobody can get to it now anyway. Try it sometime. You go on down there on your bike and ask to walk down along one of those creeks or along the canyon tops looking for pithouses or petroglyphs and see how far those dreadlocks and your DD214 and your Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars get you. They'll tell you to shove it all up your backside."

"Yeah. Yeah. Already bin there, done that, and gots the t-shirt. You know, I got a better chance a seein' that stuff if the Army gots the property."

"Undoubtedly so. But now that the ranchers are threatened, they want everyone to be their pals and stick up for them. Some of their arguments are weak at best."

We bid Billy adieu and took off for the day's activities.

9/25/07

"Jesus was a Republican..."

We were walking back to the fishwrapper after enjoying the observations, chitchat, and idle gossip down at the Copper Kitchen. Leece had enough leads to fill the paper for the next month.

Billy was sitting on his favorite bench in front of Ringo's. He wasn't wearing the tinfoil beanie. His Ghisallo was locked to the pole in the parking lot.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, "How ya doon!"

"Pretty good, Billy, howboutchersef?" Leece replied. She's kind of loosened up a bit when chatting with Billy. He responds well to this.

"Hey! Hey! I bin reedin' in my New Revised Standard what you guys gimme for my birthday awhile back!"

"Yes?" she asked.

"Didja know Jesus was a Republican?"

"Ummm...no...so far I haven't stumbled on that Revelation," Leece shared.

"Yeah. Yeah. It's right here: "A wise man's heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man's heart directs him toward the left!" Billy was excited.

Leece looked at me. I looked at Leece. It was kind of like that Joe Friday/Bill Gannon exchange. I wasn't touching this one.

"Billy. That's Ecclesiastes. 10:2 if I'm not mistaken. Matthew Henry saw it a bit differently," she told him.

"Yeah. Yeah. But there wasn't no Republicans or Democrats when he wrote them commentaries. I betcha he'd be a Republican today and he'd see it my way," Billy insisted.

"That's a possibility. I think if anything, he would have been a Democrat in the Roosevelt/Truman tradition, not a Republican," I said.

"Naw. It's right chere in black and white. He was a Republican."

"But isn't Ecclesiastes about Solomon?" I asked,"I'm not sure, being a mere heathen, but that's what I seem to remember."

"You and yer details. Wanna chicken laig?"

Being stuffed with eggs, bacon, and grits, we passed.

9/24/07

Tinfoil hats

Billy had his butt plunked down on the bench in front of Ringo's. He was nibbling one of their deep-fried porkchops and snuffling from a bag of Doritos. It was a most interesting breakfast combination.

I noticed he was wearing his AFDB (Aluminum Foil Deflection Beanie) again.

Leece and I sat on the bench next to him.

"You OK, Billy?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey, man, them ranchers down south is right on da munny. They figgered out them conservationists and Fish and Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy is in cahoots with the gummint to take all the land."

"Really? How do you figure that?"

"Well, look at that guy who talked about using the Endangered Species Act as a tool to steal land. What they do is make up these big conservation areas, and go in and dig up endangered species, and then put the land off limits to ever'thin'."

"Huh. I guess that's one way of looking at it," I said.

"You guys are part of the conspiracy," he said.

"Say what?" That from Leece.

"Yeah. Yeah. You guys wrote about them Heritage Foundation scientists down there lookin' for Canyon Tree Frogs what ain't been seen for nearly a hunnert years. Why they diggin' for them frogs? You find them rare frogs down there an' Pinon Canyon is done."

"Oh. You're saying that a Tree Frog can stop an Abrams or a Bradley?"

"Better 'n one a them RPG thingies," he said.

"Huh. OK, so if a conservationist group can stop the Army in that manner, what's the problem?" Leece asked.

"Well, it's the gummint and the Endangered Species Act. They gonna come in and put it off limits and start tellin' the land owner what he can and can't do with it."

"Ah. I see. So the scientists are working hand-in-hand with the Federal government?" Leece asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. And then the Feral gummint's hand-in-hand with the UN and the New Whirled Order," he said, "lookit that north-south highway they's buildin' from Mexico to Canada, and how they wouldn't answer no questions about the North Merkin Union! They's all in it together!" Billy was getting worked up. We might have to double his meds.

"Well, you make some points to think about, Billy," I said, "I certainly don't want to be part of a government plot against the people."

"Yeah. Yeah. An' they's wantin' ta track all the cows, too, but that's just a training plan for trackin' people," he said.

"What?" Leece was astounded.

"Yeah. Yeah. It ain't gots nuttin' ta do with bein' able to track diseases like Mad Cow and whatever they lets loose outa that Plum Island and NBAF. It's all about controllin' people. Lookit how they's workin' their databases. What they really wanna do is stick chips in alla us so's they can keep an eye on us."

"OK. I see your point. So what do we do about it?"

"Here. Make yersef an AFDB and throw yer cell phone away. The gummint is sending subliminal messages to you with it. They gots 'em at very high frequency so's you don't know about it. And quit watchin' TV, too. Same thing." Billy was gnawing on the pork chop bone with a vengeance.

"Hey...uh...Billy?"

"Yeah? Yeah?"

"You take your meds today?"

"Naw. That's part a the plot too. They's stickin' mind control drugs in my 'scriptions."

This was serious business. Billy needed to stay on his meds.

"Let me see your pills, Billy," Leece said to him.

"OK." He handed over the bottle. He keeps it in the crotch of his Speedo. Leece looked at me with an arched eyebrow. So I took the bottle. Hanging around Billy, I find I wash my hands a lot.

I held it up for Leece to look at. She motioned for me to take the top off. I did, and shook out a few tablets into her hand. She held one up to the light and made a huge production of examining it.

She put the pills back in the bottle and I handed it back to him.

"They're OK, Billy. I don't think the guys at the VA pharmacy are going to let that happen. They know about the gummint too."

"Yeah. Yeah. You think I should take 'em?"

"Yes, I do. I think you're a much nicer person when you do. You scare me with that tin foil hat," she said.

Billy took several of his pills and washed them down with diet Dr. Pepper.

"Ummm. Billy?" Leece asked.

"Yeah? Yeah?"

"Next time, why don't you just take what the label says you should take?"

"OK. But it's more fun my way."

9/23/07

3rd Brigade Combat Team

Fort Carson's 3rd BCT is getting read to go back to Iraq. This Chieftain article discusses some of the training the troopers are receiving in a mock Iraqi village on Fort Carson's Range 60:

Return to 'the sandbox'

Fort Carson's 3rd Brigade prepares for a return to Iraq; about 70 percent of the 3,800 soldiers are Iraq veterans.

An excerpt:

While the soldiers of the 3rd BCT have made the difficult journey before, this time they are going for 15 months, not just a year. For soldiers leaving their families behind again, those extra months can hang heavily over them.

"What it means is my 18-month-old daughter is going to be almost 3 years old when I get home," said Sgt. 1st Class David Gonzalez, a Pueblo native who has been in the Army 17 years. This will be his second deployment to Iraq, although he is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia and other deployments before the war on terror.

Gonzalez, 37, is married with four children, and said his older teenaged sons are more understanding of his absences.

"They've been through it all before, but they also know the reasons why I'm doing this - that we're trying to make a difference for our country," he said.

9/22/07

The Peking Mall and The Great Crib Recall

"Yo dawg!" Billy hollered from the Ringo's bench as we drove by. I waved and pulled in to Ringo's parking lot.

Billy had a bag of WondeRoast on the bench next to him. It smelled pretty good.

"You didn't get that one out of the dumpster, huh?" I asked.

"Naw. My Vanguards is doin' good so I thought I'd treat myself," he said.

"I thought you 'treated' yourself pretty good with that Ghisallo," I observed,"you even have a carbon fiber water bottle cage."

"And a titanium water bottle. Hey. Hey. We all have our little idiosyncrasies," Billy told us.

"And snuffling WondeRoast is one of them," Leece snickered,"but at least you haven't been in the dumpster."

"It's gittin' harder to find good eats in dumpsters," Billy complained,"What with the hospital cuttin' back on hours an' the pickle packers still outa work, people's bein' more careful."

"Good point."

"Hey. Hey.Didja hear about the latest bit o' Chinee sabotage?" he asked.

"Chinee sabotage?" Leece asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. They's recallin' a millyun cribs made in Chiner. They's the one's Walmart sells," he revealed.

"Oh. Yes, we've heard that. They are also sold in Target and Big Lots," she said,"those are the cribs where the side can detach and leave a big gap. I've read that at least two babies suffocated after rolling into that gap."

"Yeah. Yeah. I read about it on FoxNews."

"You mean you saw it on FoxNews," I corrected him.

"No. I mean on the computer. On the web. I bin down to the Woodruff. You know more people than ever are using the liberries, all the way acrost the country?"

"Yep. Heard that too."

Here's the story:

Crib Recall

If you have a baby or a grandbaby, check the crib and see if it is one of those 'Chinee sabotages'. One can only hope that isn't being too 'negative' about one of the businesses in The Smile Hi City.

9/20/07

Fudgesicles in The Holy Land

We were all sitting on the rail on The Holy Land's bridge over the Arkansas. We were eating fudgesicles.

"The minutes for that city council meeting are up," announced Tookie, who had ridden her little Specialized Hotrocks out to Swink. Her mother was going to have a fit when she found out Toots had been on the highway on her bike. Tookie had brought some Gramma's Chocolate Fudge cookies from the Quickee's.

"Yeah? Where?" asked Billy, as he licked the last bit of chocolate off the stick.

"Council Minutes 09.17.2007, said Tookie, "take a look at the discussion under section D."

"Betcha can't say that fast, three times," challenged Leece.

Tookie just grinned. It was an engaging grin, lacking her top front teeth. She looked a lot like Junie B. in the kids' book series. There was a remarkable similarity in thought processes, too.

"I wasn't aware that we had an emergency in the Water and Sewer departments," she said,"since the sliplining and the Holbrook reserves have been a matter of more or less routine discussion and reporting for some months now and there hasn't been any excitement over either."

"Huh. Good point. But one of those lines collapsed, they say, earlier this summer."

"Ummm...good point backatcha. But if the rates had been where they should be to begin with, would they not have had the money in the sewer fund? How long are they going to keep taking from the electric fund to make up for not having raised those rates when they should have? And what does that do to the funding for those power plant upgrades Chairman Vic was talking about? Those 'very critical' upgrades?"

"And all those people we are so concerned about, the ones that are on fixed income, what are they going to do when they have to increase the rates anyway? A big hit all at one time rather than several smaller ones spread out over time? Or do they think this new rate study is going to show some miraculous reversal? C'mon. They've done two studies that say they have to increase the rates, and they have refused. Since then, fuel costs have risen dramatically, along with concurrent operating expenses and everything else related to utilities," Toots noted.

"Do you think they will publish the rate study?" Leece asked.

"Dunno," said Billy, "but I can think of several Freedom of Information-type processes that can be used. We should have had a rate hike a lot earlier. That's why the water and sewer funds are down."

"Going back to that rate study...it won't be done till the end of this year," I pointed out.

"Yep. It won't be in till after the elections,"Tookie rather cynically stated.

"Hmmmm."

"Hmmmm."

"Hmmmm."

"Hey. Never mine all them 'hmmms'. You gonna eat them cookies?"

9/19/07

Rates

"Hi guys," Billy greeted us as we walked along in front of Ringo's. He was sitting there with a brown paper bag in his hand.

"Billy! You aren't off the wagon, are you?" Leece asked.

"Naw. This is some apple juice. Want some?" Billy swiped the mouth of the bottle with a greasy cycling glove and offered it to Leece.

"Ummmm...no...I think I'll pass, Billy, but thank you just the same," she told him.

He offered her a chicken leg. "You didn't get that out of the dumpster, did you?" she asked.

"Yer always so suspicious," he grinned, "naw, I bought this fresh."

She took it. Leece is a sucker for drumsticks.

"Hey. Hey. Wuzzup with rate hikes for utilities in The Smile Hi City?" he asked.

"Another good question. You're just full of them, aren't you?" she observed.

"Well...I bin lookin' at the minnits from the Utility Board meetin's over the last coupla years. They's on that city website fer everyone to git. Looks to me like the auditors have told that Board twice that they need to raise rates. But they ain't done it. Why?" he asked.

"Another good one. As I understand it, first time, Chairman Vic wanted regular audited figures based over a longer period of time. He didn't seem to like what the first figures were telling them. Those figures hollered for a rate increase. Second time, same deal, pretty close, but still no rate change."

"Why?"

"Raising rates is not going be a popular thing for elected officials to do, Billy," Leece explained.

"But what about the power plant? Two years ago, before the last election, the mayor told everyone that upgrading and replacing equipment in the power plant was 'critical'. He said that. It's a quote in the paper. And Chairman Vic said the city has a capacity of 15 megawatts, and that it will take 1 million bux per megawatt to do those upgrades and replacements. That's in the paper too, and in the minnits. So they needed 15 million to do that 'critical' job, but had 8.9 million bux in the Electric Fund, less if you don't count the required reserve."

"Yup. That seems to be pretty much right on the money, Billy."

"So...let's give Chairman Vic the benefit of the doubt and presume he knows what he is talking about...we need 15 million to do those critical upgrades and repairs, but only had 8.9 million, and they just gave away almost 2 million of that. And the auditors have twice told them they need to raise rates but they won't?"

"Seems to be spot on, dude. Though I don't know if the Utes Board knows what they are talking about since they were just told to 'Go Fish'. Doesn't engender a lot of confidence, does it?"

"Yeah...yeah...so...when are we going to do those upgrades?" Billy asked, "and what's going to happen now that they've reduced that fund and aren't going to raise rates?

"Billy, I think that's one of those questions council should have been asking rather than voting for things they don't understand."

"Huh. I'll bet all our kids and grandkids are going to thank us for this one."

"I don't think they'll be 'thanking' us, Billy."

First Aid

Billy was sitting at the outside table at The Holy Land Quickee's. He had a pile of papers and was scanning through them.

"Hey, Billy, what do you have there?" Leece asked.

"Some stuff from up at the hospital," he replied, "about munny."

"Really. Hold that. We'll be back," she said.

We fetched our cappies and returned to the outside table.

"I gots some questions," Billy told us. "Fer example, when council voted to approve that request from the hospital to lower the trigger point from 2 percent of profit margin to 1 percent of profit margin...why did they do that?"

"Good question, Billy," I pointed out, "Mestas asked 3 times for clarification on that very thing about trigger points, and he was ignored. In fact, Johnson actually interrupted him to tell everyone that "the hospital is doing a wonderful job" and then pushed the vote on the issue. Interestingly enough, Johnson is on that Hospital Board and his signature is on that report."

"So they voted for it not understanding what was being asked?"

"Yep."

"Huh. Well, I'm looking at this stuff here. Did you know they are cutting the hours back again for the service staff?"

"Oh sure. One worker told me she got cut 5 hours a few weeks back. She's not even making full-time hours now," Leece said.

"But according to this report from the hospital, they've cut employees by almost 100 since 1998, yet their payroll has gone up from just under 11.5 million to just over 15 million. They've gone from an average of 22,000 bux a year per employee to an average of 37,000 bux a year per employee. Why are they wanting to drop the profit margin trigger point?"

"Well, that's the question that Mestas asked 3 times but never got an answer. And, you can bet that the service staff is making nowhere near $37,000 a year."

"What about audits?" Billy asked.

"Good question. The auditor was not present to comment because of a conflict of interest," Leece told him.

"But doesn't the city own the hospital? Who does the auditing for the hospital? Why is there a conflict of interest? And if there is, why don't they use a different auditor? That really stinks, you know," Billy observed.

"Good questions. There don't seem to be any answers forthcoming. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

We all finished our cappies and took off to our various doings.

9/18/07

Whores?

In today's Chieftain, we find a great article about the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District's illegal sellout to Aurora:

Wrong and Illegal

Here is an excerpt:

"For several years, the bureau issued one-year contracts to Aurora, and each year the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District filed objections on the grounds that the bureau had no legal authority to do so. But then Aurora bought off Southeastern by promising to pay it an estimated $24 million over the life of the contract.

That amounts to barely more than half a million dollars a year, and certainly doesn’t fit into the mission of Southeastern to conserve water in this river basin rather than canoodle with Aurora for such a comparatively few dollars. In agreeing to take the money, the district directors prostituted themselves."

What is it these days, with the communities along the Front Range whoring themselves to the Army over the Fort Carson buildup? There's nothing at all wrong with those communities getting all those lucrative contracts. But not at the expense of everyone in southeastern Colorado.

Why is it that Colorado Springs can continually get away with washing their sewage downstream to the lower Arkansas River communities?

Why is it that the conservancy district can sell out to Aurora? You know Aurora...the city where they let the water run into the gutters as they irrigate their highway medians in the noonday sun. Yeah. That Aurora.

Well...no matter. We in The Holy Land-Smile Hi City metroplex have bigger fish to fry, more important issues to debate, more puzzles at which to wonder, as we contemplate the grand mysteries of life: "Whose money is it, really now..." and "Are we for or against the Highway 50 bypass?"

Huh. 'Scuse me now, I gotta go make sure the neighbors have shoveled up their dog turds over at the La Junta house. Of course, to do that I'll have to wade through the blood on the sidewalks and broken beer bottles from all the street brawls that have been taking place over there the last month, as that particular 'hood enjoys the bucolic Smallville Lifestyle. It's such a great lifestyle for the grandkids to enjoy...

9/17/07

Next Generation Southeast Colorado Initiative Seeks to Improve Economy for 12 Counties

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

PPWFC 0728

Media Contact: Jeanne Cotter
Phone: 667-3730

Cell: 499-0642

Email: cotter.j@ppwfc.org

ROUND 2 CLUSTER WORK SESSIONS BEGIN

Next Generation Southeast Colorado Initiative Seeks to Improve Economy for 12 Counties

September 13, 2007, Colorado Springs, CO ¾ The Southeast Colorado E3 Partnership (SCE3P) today announces that the next round of industry cluster work sessions will take place the week of September 24, 2007.

The SCE3P consists of business and community leaders, economic development offices, chambers of commerce, better business bureaus, community colleges and universities, workforce centers, and business people involved in the following eight industries:

1. Advanced Manufacturing and Fabricated Materials

2. Aerospace, Microelectronics and Defense

3. Biotechnology and Bio-medical Devices

4. Experience and Tourism

5. Finance, Insurance and Customer Services

6. Information and Communications Solutions

7. Next-generation Agriculture and Renewable Energy

8. Professional, Business, and Social Services

“Across the globe, business leaders, their suppliers, and key economic input providers are working together to make their industries (clusters) more competitive and their surrounding regions a stronger platform for growth. Here in Southeast Colorado, partner organizations realize that we need to do the same as our competitors—learn how to use and leverage existing resources in new ways to enhance all industries and to reach agreement on strategic improvements for the overall region,” says Jim Gollub, Senior Vice-President of ICF International, the consulting firm hired to facilitate the regional industry cluster study process.

The second round of work sessions focuses on collaborative action. Each of the industry clusters will examine best practices and develop concrete, market-focused, collaborative actions to address shared competitive challenges.

In round one, participants defined and prioritized each cluster’s competitive challenges.

Business people who would like to participate in the Round 2 industry cluster work sessions should register at www.ppwfc.org, scroll to bottom of home page and click on Next-Generation Southeast Colorado Cluster Work Sessions or call Laura at 719 667-3816.

More information about the Next Generation Southeast Colorado Initiative can be found at www.e-colorado.org. Look under the Team Room tab at the top of the page.

Note: please see attached word document for the complete invitation, with dates, times and locations, to the Next Generations Southeast Colorado Cluster Work Sessions.

About PPWFC

The Pikes Peak Workforce Center supports business and promotes employment by providing market-driven solutions for our community to succeed in the global economy. PPWFC helps businesses solve their workforce-related business problems and helps residents with career transition. More information about the Pikes Peak Workforce Center can be found online at Pikes Peak Workforce Center

Chocolate Mint Frappies

"Yo dawg. Wut up?" DinkyDau Billy was soaked. He had gotten himself caught in the afternoon showers. With his dreadlocks about half-grown back, he looked like a drowned rat.

"Not much, Billy. You wanna frappie?" I asked him.

"Naw. Thanx, though. Hey. Hey. I bin reedin' them minnits of the last Utilities Board meeting."

Now there was a political bomb. "Yeah?" I rather cautiously acknowledged.

"Yeah. I don't unnerstand somethin'."

"Yeah?" Still cautious.

"How can that Electric Fund be 'The People's Money'?" he asked.

"That's a good question. I've been puzzling over it myself. If you don't think about it, you assume that it's The People's Money because you think it's like tax revenues, coming out of the people's pockets in order to fund future government operations," I explained.

"Yeah. Yeah. If you don't think about it," he said.

"Yeah. Where you goin' with this?" I asked.

"Well, you said 'if you think about it'. That means you've thought about it," he observed.

"Yep." I was going to stay noncommittal.

"But that ain't the way it is. It's the Electric Fund. The money comes from people paying for something they have already received," he explained.

"Yep. You hook up to the city's electric grid, and the city sells you reliable power. You pay for that product that you use. You don't pay for it until you have received it, used it," I told him.

"Yeah. Yeah. So how is it 'The People's Money'?" he asked.

"Well, it isn't. If you pay for goods or services, you exchange money for those goods or services. The goods or services no longer belong to the seller -the city, in this case - and the money no longer belongs to the buyer - 'The People', in this case."

"Yeah. Yeah. If we follow that 'it's the People's money' reasoning...well...you live in The Holy Land and you get your 'lectrics from Aquila."

"Yup."

"So you pay your 'lectric bill, same as people in The Smile Hi City pay theirs," he went on.

"Yup."

"What's going to happen when you go to Aquila corporate headquarters and tell them all that munny you been paying them fer yer juice ain't theirs, it's yours?" he asked.

"They're going to slap me into the rubber room?" I suggested.

"Helluva way to run a bidness," he said, "But...there's a lot of money in that Electric Fund," he noted.

"Right now there is. And Aquila has a pile, too, for the same reasons. Get a good flood or a tornado and take out a few substations or the main plant and see how fast that disappears. The fund buildup is part of the price of 'keeping the lights on'. People look at that Electric Fund like it's some kind of 'fun fund'. It isn't. Hey. We have people like Lloyd Smith and Joe Kelley running the city's utilities because they know what they are doing. They advise the Utility Board. And the commissioners are all elected by the people. They aren't political appointees. You have Sutherland, who has been described as a 'water guru', and A.W Hill, and then Friedenberger, who is also on the ARPA Board. I've always referred to that board as 'the brains of the outfit' for a reason. It's because they know what they are doing and they have done right by we little people who depend on the utilities. Handing the money over as grants that won't be paid back, and will be gone forever from the Electric reserve does two bad things. First, it depletes the emergency reserves. Hopefully one of these dark cold winters when we get a couple of bad blizzards right on top of one another, and when the lights go out and people are freezing their buns off in the dark, they'll think about that, and get hot enough to live through the night. Second, it just opens the door for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to raid the fund for every hair-brained scheme that comes down the pike. Remember how some people wanted to rip off the reserves for a city-owned theater?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I do," Billy recalled.

"Now there is nothing to stop that. It's wide open," I said,"So that's why the hoohah over the loans. It's not 'The People's Money'. It's the city's money, and the Utes Board is handling that money in a competent and trustworthy manner."

"Uh huh. It's an election year, isn't it," Billy asked.

"Yes. Have you considered running for Trustee? You live in Swink, too, you know."

"Yeah...hey. Hey. I'll have that frappie. Want some Jameson's in it?"

"Ummmmm....sounds good, but Leece would not be amused."

"She'd never know.

"Yes she would. And then both of us will rat you off to your Twelve Step."

Billy was crushed. Still, he slurped happily at his chocolate mint frappie.

Why we need a properly managed Electric Fund/Reserve: from Alliance Energy's "Keeping the Lights On" series:

Keeping the Lights On: Reliability

9/16/07

Pinewood Derby

The La Junta First Church of the Nazarene held a Pinewood Derby and potluck after the morning service:

Pinewood Derby



9/15/07

"It was well known in the Army..."

There is an article in today's Chieftain about Major General Robert Mixon's retirement up at Fort Carson. Speaking at the retirement ceremony, General Charles Campbell said:

"Talking to reporters early Friday, Campbell was asked about the Army's plan to expand the Pinon Canyon training area by some 414,000 acres - a request that is currently facing at least a year's delay in Congress.

Campbell noted that when he was commander at Fort Carson in 2001, it was well-known in the Army that Pinon Canyon needed to be expanded.

"There has been a powerful partnership between the Front Range communities of Colorado and the military and I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach some accommodation on the expansion of Pinon Canyon," he said."

Really, Chuck? Back in 2001? Then how come nobody said anything to we Hicks in the Sticks? Was it because you knew you and "the Front Range communities" were going to be screwing our brains out? Or did you just think we don't have any brains?

The full article:

General retires, hands over command of Fort Carson

9/14/07

Ren and Stimpy

"Hey! Hey!" Billy shouted exuberantly as he slid to a stop in The Holy Land Quickee's parking lot. Leece and I looked up from our books. Leece was still getting herself beat up over Derrida while I was intellectually stimulating myself with the comics in the fishwrapper.

"Guess wut I bin doon?" he asked.

"I dunno," I said. I was all stimulated out.

"I dunno," Leece said. She was just zombied out.

"I bin goin' through ol' copies of the noosepaper over at the liberry," he said, "and I came across all that stuff when Ren Monaco was goin' on about all that money belongin' to The People."

"Yeah?" I remembered that. Who couldn't. Monaco was bustin' city council's chops over money in the reserve funds. He was taking out half page ads talking about how much every household would get if The People's Money was returned.

"Yeah. Yeah. The Champion of the Common Man. Youda thunk he was running for re-election or sumthin back then," Billy chortled.

"It can be very convenient to remember that Common Man in election years," Leece observed, "though I think it would be better if they did it all the time."

"I don't think Monaco was at all concerned about the Common Man," I said,"I think it was just all about him, and a lot of sour grapes over the city doing better than when he was on council."

"Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm real glad we don't have that kinda thinkin' goin' on any more, ya know? It's downright ugly," Billy opined.

There was general agreement. Billy got himself a pack of Grandma's Chocolate Fudge Cookies and a diet Dr. Pepper, sat down, and took out Aquinas' Summa Theologica. In Latin. Billy has a lot of hidden talents.

9/13/07

A philosophic two-step

We were down at The Barista, but we weren't having any ice cream.

Tookie and Leece were sitting at the table staring into space.

I was ignoring them. I was snuffling a pannini, quite a good one, too.

Billy came wandering in.

"Hey! Hey! Wuzzup! I bin diggin' up stuff on Just War," he shared.

There was no response.

"Wuzzup with them?" he asked.

"They've been reading Caputo's "The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida" I told him.

"Ugh. No wonder they look like zombies," he replied,"Derrida drove me nuts. Everyone was cooing and drooling over his stuff when I went through school. I never got into that form of deconstructionism. Caputo ain't no better."

"Really? The 'intellekshuls' seem to fawn all over him," I said.

"Yeah. He 'reverse engineers' a lot of Western philosophy. He was accused of being something of a nilhilist back then, but in truth, he is the opposite. You gotta read him in a somewhat different light than how he is usually presented."

Billy can be quite surprising at times.

"But the plain fact of the matter," he went on,"is that he reminds me of Chauncey Gardner in that Peter Sellers' movie,'Being There'."

"Chauncey was an idiot savant," I countered, "are you saying Derrida is an idiot savant?"

"Not at all. But remember how all those upper crust types fawned all over everything Chauncey said, and how he eventually counselled the President, simply because they were all assigning deep meaning to whatever he said?"

"Yeah...I think I see what you mean. The flick was based on a Jerzy Kosinski story of the same name. It was kind of a deconstructionist thing too. So,you've got all these people all over Derrida, and they have no idea what he's talking about, but it sounds so...brilliant...they agree and get into their own discussions?"

"Eggzakly. I aced the course. What I did was take some of the papers written by Derrida's followers, cut and pasted the phrases around, turned that in, and got a whole bunch of really good grades," Billy laughed.

"But your papers wouldn't have made any sense," I protested.

"They didn't anyway. That was the craziest thing about it. I just reshuffled 'em around, and it didn't make any difference. I'd get them back from the professor with notes in the margin like 'Excellent point!' and 'You've hit the crux of the matter!' and 'Brilliant work! and so on. I even got a tutoring job out of it. I needed that at Oxford. Helped pay the rent. Some of those English profs are a bit weird."

That was really a hoot.

"Hey. If'n she ain't gonna eat that sang-widge, kin I have it?"

"Knock your socks off, dude."

They didn't even notice when he scarfed up their eats.

9/12/07

The Wages of Sin

"Hey! Hey!"

Billy was in a cheerful mood as he settled into the bench opposite us at Loaf. He sipped his cappie, which was laden with three or four different creamers and flavorings.

"Mmmmmm...that's good!" he exclaimed.

"That stuff ain't fit for man nor beast," I said, "you oughta read the labels on that stuff."

"Wutter you drinkin'?" he asked.

"Diet Dr. Pepper. Over ice."

"Uh huh. And I oughta read the labels? Hey. Hey. Wuzzup with the religion page in the fishwrapper?" he asked.

"Religion page? What about it?" Leece wanted to know.

"I wuz in here yesterday and one a them preacher boys was in here buying lottery tickets," he explained, "a preacher from one a them penta-coastal churches. Not sure which one. You know. Them ones what gits real loud makin' joyful noises and all."

"Uh huh. There are several between Las Animas and Fowler. He was buying Lotto tickets?" she asked.

"Yep. And Powerballs."

We all snickered at the thought. "Some of these churches really frown on the lottery," Leece pointed out,"I wonder which pastor it was."

"Hah. You know, I win the big bux, say, take home 4 million, and I go over to the church, any a them churches, and say, hey, here's a check for $400,000, do good works with it, you think they're gonna turn it down?" Billy laughed at the thought.

"I don't know. I think there are some that probably would," Leece said.

"Right. Let's see. Lotto funding goes to GOCO. Pays for stuff like the kids' playground equipment in the parks. Lots of other stuff, recreational stuff. So I guess they don't go to parks and let their kids play on any of that?"

"It's entirely possible, Billy. Some of those church-goers are a downright humorless bunch. Kids playing in playgrounds on equipment funded by The Wages of Sin probably is something they would avoid," I observed.

"And they wonder why so few people want to go to church," he said,"But that's not it. He was goin' on about the religion page. How all you see in it these days is stuff from that Nazarene church." He looked rather pointedly at Leece.

Leece fixed him with a baleful stare.

"Well, Billy, consider these facts. First, it's becoming very apparent that few if any of the people who submit information from the churches have read Pat's letter from a few weeks back. It was printed at least twice on the religion page. Second, there are at least two reporters hanging around the Nazarene church, taking pictures and writing stuff and sending it in. If that's all we get for the religion page, then that's what gets printed. Third, it isn't true. We printed the articles from at least two pastors in the last few weeks. All they have to do is send them in." She shrugged her shoulders as she sipped her cappie. It was an interesting move.

"There's also the lay ministries," I said.

"Yeah?" Billy was curious.

"Sure. All these churches have lay people who do things around the church, and there is plenty of scriptural support for them to participate. It's no one's fault but their own if they don't."

"Yeah. Yeah. That's true. Hey. Hey. Kin I write stuff?"

"Why not, Billy? You're actually quite well-versed in number of theological areas. How about doing a series of two or three articles on Augustine, Aquinas, Niebuhr, and the Theory of Just War, and how that applies to the war on terror?" Leece suggested.

Billy looked thoughtful. As we left, he was digging a notebook and a pencil out of his backpack.

"This could be interesting," I said.

"Yup." Leece agreed.

We hopped on the bikes and made our way to the seething inner urban center.

9/10/07

Wayne Allard

As we know, Senator Allard's performance regarding Pinon Canyon has been less than satisfactory. People seem to be somewhat surprised over his attitudes toward the recent Musgrave-Salazar Amendment in the House and the Salazar Amendment in the Senate. Why they should be mystified is a ...mystery. As a reminder, here is the bill sponsored by Allard back in January of this year:

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 135

To authorize the Secretary of the Army to acquire land for the purpose of expanding Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 4, 2007

Mr. ALLARD introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services

A BILL

To authorize the Secretary of the Army to acquire land for the purpose of expanding Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. AUTHORITY TO ACQUIRE LAND FOR THE EXPANSION OF PINON CANYON MANEUVER SITE.

(a) Authority- The Secretary of the Army may, subject to subsections (b) and (c), after consulting with the congressional defense committees, and using funds previously appropriated for such purpose, acquire for not more than fair market value any and all right, title, and interest in and to one or more parcels of real property located near Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (in this section referred to as the `Site') for the purpose of expanding the Site.

(b) Limitation on Expansion- The Secretary of the Army may not acquire real property under subsection (a) to expand the Site if such acquisition would require the exercise by a Federal or State governmental entity of eminent domain authority.

(c) Report- The Secretary of the Army may not acquire real property under subsection (a) until 60 days after the date on which the Secretary submits to the congressional defense committees a report setting forth the following:

(1) An assessment of the economic impact on local communities of the acquisition of real property under that subsection.

(2) An assessment of the environmental impact of expanding the Site.

(3) An estimate of the costs associated with the potential expansion of the Site, including land acquisition, range improvements, installation of utilities, environmental restoration, and other environmental activities in connection with the acquisition of real property under that subsection.

(4) An assessment of options for compensating local communities for the loss of property tax revenue as a result of the expansion of the Site.

(5) An assessment of whether the acquisition of additional land at the Site can be carried out by the Secretary solely through transactions, including land exchanges and the lease or purchase of easements, with willing sellers of privately held land.

(d) Definitions- In this section:

(1) The term `congressional defense committees' means the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.

(2) The term `fair market value' means, with respect to a parcel of land, the value of such parcel as determined by an appraisal performed by an independent, certified appraiser in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

Summary of Congressional actions as of today:

S.135
Title: A bill to authorize the Secretary of the Army to acquire land for the purposes of expanding Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Allard, Wayne [CO] (introduced 1/4/2007) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 1/4/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.ALL ACTIONS:

1/4/2007:
Sponsor introductory remarks on measure. (CR S134)
1/4/2007:
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

9/8/07

Colorado Tourism Board meeting at OJC

The Colorado Tourism Board and Colorado Tourism Office staff will be hold their September board meeting in the Otero Junior College Banquet Room, September 10, 2007, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This meeting is open to the public and you are welcome to attend.

Kathy Finau will be doing a presentation on the activities of Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism (SECORT).

Join us in giving them a Southeast Colorado welcome.

Jeanne Fenter

9/7/07

The Dichotomy of Pinon Canyon

"So, Billy, looks like Brother Ken is on board?" Leece asked our Fellow Traveler.

"Uh...maybe. When they gots all that munny floatin' around, it's hard to figger out who is fer what, and why, and fer how long, and how sincerely. But I guess we'll see. Are you sure this thing's a 'dichotomy'? Maybe it's a disambiguation?"

"Let's not play semantics, Billy. You know what I mean," she replied.

"Huh. Thinkin' like that's why you should run for council," he snickered.

"I can't. I live in The Holy Land," Leece rolled her eyes in exasperation.

"Then county commissioner. You should do that," he suggested.

"Not in a million years!" she exclaimed.

"You sound like Fred Thompson," he opined.

"So what about the Fort Carson Money Trail?" she asked.

"I think maybe summa my Vanguards have summa them companies in my portfolios," he said,"that's the problem with 'em. They's all over the place. Now, if you have a name, or an institution's name, it can be easier to track down who has an interest in what. I remember one deal where the goods were all in a grandkid's name, and a lot of it was in offshore accounts. Very difficult to bust that one."

Sometimes Billy gives glimpses into a past he has yet to talk about...I call it "The Missing Years". But that's another story, and quite possibly a good one.

"Say, did you notice that Lon Robertson's comment about the "Pentagon's playground" for all their wealthy contractor buddies? Did he really say that about Pinon Canyon?"

"Yep. That or sumthin' close. I thought when I read it, 'Lon...dude...get a grip, bud, yer losin' it."

"Yeah. I read the Report of Decision, and I read the executive summary of the Environmental Impact Statement, and I gotta tell you, Craig E. College's logic in the decision paper makes sense to me," I said.

"Me too," added Leece, "you know, the times I've been up to Fort Carson I've really been impressed with the Army troops. They look so young to be doing what they do. I think we owe it to them to give them the best we can. They give us, the nation, their best, and often more than that."

"Sure. It's easy to confuse the faceless bureaucratic machine that is 'the Army' with anyone wearing the uniform. We want to guard against that," Billy said, "I know about all that. Been there on the receivin' end of it."

"I remember when Pinon Canyon first opened," I added,"and a bunch of troops were bussed up to The Smile Hi City. That was part of the deal, you see. They were going to bring troops up to spend money downtown. But there was a lot of upstir over the idea of a bunch of young grunts coming in, getting drunked up, and lifting the skirts of La Junta's corn-fed, proper young ladies."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. In fact,they even had some MP's ride around with us to 'deal' with troops that got out of hand. You'd think we were about to be invaded by the Mongol Hordes from the attitudes of some folks around town. They wanted the Army troopers' money. They just didn't want the Army troopers."

"How'd it go?" Leece asked.

"Well, the MP's were a hoot to ride around with. I think the ones I had with me might have been 17 or so. Teenagers with 1911A1's and an MP brassard. But they had their wits about 'em; they were well-trained. I remember one young ElTee got himself a real load on and was hooked. He was turned over to the MP's. Otherwise, it was no big deal. But that was the last time I remember any troops came up from Pinon Canyon. I think maybe the attitudes of some of our locals put 'em off. I'm not sure. Several things contributed, I think," I mused.

"Leece makes a good point about Fort Carson," I continued,"I used to avoid Carson, and went instead up to the Academy or Peterson. Fort Carson was a real dump until very recently. I couldn't see why anyone would want to enlist in the Army and get sent to a slimehole like Fort Carson. Now they are building badly needed new barracks - I think they call 'em 'dormitories' now - and expanding a lot of their support facilities. It's long overdue. And Evans Medical Center? Now if you want to see a first rate hospital, there you are."

"That's for sure," Leece said,"I rather marveled at Evans the first few times we went up there. The service there, and everywhere else we've been on Fort Carson, has been excellent."

"We were sitting there in that barbecue diner in the mini-mall complex the other side of the BX, first time Leece was up there," I said,"that's when she made that comment about how young the troops are. And I explained, 'Now you have faces to put with the numbers, when the newsies start talking about Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the people who are taking the fight to the enemy. Most of 'em have at least one tour over there, and many have two or three by now."

"Yes, we have to keep the separation between the Army bureaucracy and the Pentagon, and the troops. Lon needs to keep a bit of a lid on the rhetoric, or he's going to end up shooting himself in the foot. The troops deserve everything we can give them, and more. The troops are not the enemy. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Fundamentalists are the enemy."

"You could say that about some of them Christian Fundies, too," Billy added.

"Yup. But let's not go there, at least for the moment. The Smile Hi City can take only so many people vapor-locking at one time."

Forwarded from PCEOC

PCEOC / Grassland Trust / Not 1 More Acre!

I'm sure everyone is well aware of the excellent news of the US Senate passing the amendment offered by Senator Salazar!

Good work everyone! It is very welcome news and, if we may say so, well deserved! There are many steps yet to come however so we will continue to be diligent about the important work still ahead!

Please be sure to let Mr. Salazar know he made a very good decision to support the Musgrave/Salazar amendment language and thus the people of the entire state of Colorado, as well as the entire country. We should support him along with our county commissioners, our state representatives and state senators, and our congressman and congresswomen. Almost all of them now share our understanding that there is only one course to take: no expansion and no funding for expansion . We trust Mr. Salazar will also now solidly support our efforts to stop the unnecessary expansion and that he knows that we can not deviate in the slightest from that course!

Also, it is important to remember the Coalitions' string of achievements, the hard work, time and expense that have made today's success a reality. Without the Coalition this amendment today would not have been possible. We must also keep in mind that we cannot waiver and we have to continue our work and efforts to keep those successes coming. Together we have succeeded and together we will continue to do so.

In the past 18 plus months we have had tremendous success in mobilizing support from the grassroots and maintaining such a consistent and intense level of grassroots efforts that now we have support from more than 50 groups, clubs, districts, and foundations. Our communities, our counties, our cities, our schools, and the many and various groups have combined to provide the strong base we now have. More than 300,000 'voices' are represented by those entities and groups and that number continues to grow!

From that grassroots base our elected officials have found and used the platform of majority support we have provided to represent and defend us, their constituents at the city, county, state and federal levels. We have made our thousands of voices heard and our elected officials are carrying that message to secure the oversight and management we demand. We must continue those efforts to be able to successfully secure the future for our children, our communities, our state and our country.

So keep up the good work and remind everyone that the Congress represents the people not the Pentagon, and that Congress, not the Pentagon, has the power of the purse. Don't allow them to spend one cent of our tax dollars on the senseless and destructive plan to expand PCMS!

Thanks again to everyone!

Lon Robertson

9/6/07

Politics

"That was an interesting council meeting the other night," DinkyDau Billy observed, as he swung his feet idly back and forth as we sat on the rail of The Holy Land Bridge Over The Arkansas. We were all watching the sunset. Cliff swallows were flitting about, catching what we hoped were the last of the season's mosquitoes.

"How so, Billy?" asked Leece, who was snuffling...daintily, mind you, but still snuffling...a fudgesicle that we had gotten a few minutes earlier at Quickee's.

"Ummmm...well...does anyone know why they voted to give the hospital what they wanted?" he asked.

I didn't. Leece shook her head to indicate she didn't, either.

"Eugene asked for an explanation of those trigger point thingies, but he didn't get it," Billy noted.

"Nope. He didn't," I agreed.

"What I don't understand is why they wanted to lower the trigger point to 1 percent," Leece commented,"since their document showed them at 2.01 percent and then climbing higher, not lower. From their graph, it looks like they are well above that 2 percent anyway."

"Billie Johnson told them that the hospital was doing a great job, and they voted for it," Billy said.

"Well, I think from a service perspective, they are doing a great job, but I don't understand what that has to do with the discussion in the meeting the other night."

"And is he an expert on that kind of stuff? Malouff freely admitted that he wasn't, and he's the lawyer who works the deals."

"So if they didn't understand the complexity of the trigger points, then why did they just vote for it? Why didn't Mestas stick by his guns?"

"I dunno. It ain't the first time they've done that," Billy said.

"Friedenberger stuck by his guns," Leece said.

We continued to snuffle our fudgesicles. I looked over at Leece and said, "That's going to go straight to your butt, you know."

She gave me That Look. That one that wimmin are so good at. She said, "It's only 100 calories. I looked it up."

"Aha. That's why it doesn't taste nearly so good as that Blue Bunny. No butterfat."

We tossed our fudgesicle sticks into the water and watched them float under the bridge.

It was quite a peaceful evening.

The 51% Minority

Good read:

The 51% Majority

“Lis Wiehl tells us where the law protects us, and where it is letting us down. And as a bonus she gives us the tools to make change happen! If you care about where we are going, you have to read this book.”
–Rita Cosby, Emmy Award-winning TV host

Women make up 51% of the American population, yet still aren’t treated equally to men in areas that matter most. In this provocative new book, Lis Wiehl, one of the country’s top federal prosecutors, reveals the legal and social inequalities women must face in their daily lives–and provides a “Tool Box” for dealing with a variety of issues. From boardroom to courtroom, from pregnancy to contraception, from unequal pay to domestic violence, women are more often than not handed the short end of the stick.

• A woman earns seventy-three cents for every dollar a man makes.
• The law labels pregnancy a “disability.”
• Domestic violence remains the single biggest threat of injury to women in America.
• The federal government continues to increase funding for abstinence-only education, even though it’s proven to put our daughters at greater risk for unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
• Health insurance plans are more likely to cover Viagra prescriptions than birth control pills.

What’s worse, we’re also weighed down by a myriad of troubling attitudes: The media bombard us with images of young, perfect-bodied women; acid-tongued commentators label us “feminazi” if we try to claim equal treatment; and the current chief justice of the Supreme Court has a history of opposing legislative and legal attempts to strengthen women’s rights, and questions “whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.”

Why are powerful women viewed with consternation while powerful men instill respect? Why is it that for every ten men in an executive, decision-making role in this country, there is only one woman in that same role? Why do our federal courts continue to be stacked with male judges even though women receive more than half of all law degrees? And why shouldn’t a woman be president?

Enough! Women are not equal in our society or under our laws and the remedy is quite simple: Besides being the majority of the population, we also control the economy, spending 80 percent of every discretionary dollar, and given that 54 percent of voters are female, we can swing an election. With our numbers we can do something about it.

This is a critical moment: We can either take the road toward equality or allow ourselves to be driven further away from fair treatment. The 51% Minority is a clarion call to the silent majority to take a stand . . . before it’s too late.

9/5/07

Hospitals

"Hey. Hey. You shudda been at the city council meetin' last night, you two!" Billy was excited. He slid into the bench next to Leece, there at McDonald's.

She slid away. And not very discreetly. Billy really needed to at least rinse out his cycling Speedo.

"Why so?" she asked, "we were busy. I finished up late at the office and then I had another essay to do for Professor Oord. And we don't have enough reporters to do everything that needs to be done. So get over it."

Leece was a bit testy. She had only gotten an A- on her last paper, and was in something of a snit over it. Being a perfectionist has its hazards.

"Well, there was the hospital thing."

"What about it?" I asked.

"Well, you know, the city owns the hospital, right?"

"Really? I didn't know that," I told him.

"Huh. Yeah. Yeah. And they have a kind of management corporation running it. 'least, that's the way I unnerstood it," Billy explained.

"OK. And?" That from Leece.

"Well, they wuz in whining about their profit margin dropping below 2 percent, and that triggering some kinda covenant or watchdog point or sumthin'," Billy explained further.

"Yes?"

"So they wanted to drop that triggering level to 1 percent margin," he told us.

"That seems a strange way to run a business," I said.

"Yeah. Yeah. But check this. Not so long ago they had sumthin like 497 employees and wuz payin' em on average about 22,000 each a year. I think it was 497. Close," he said, "came out to 11 million and change."

"Huh. I'll bet the admin staff is making a lot more than 22k," I said.

Billy snickered,"Yeah, I reckon so, but it gits better. Now they gots sumthin like 404 employees, and they're makin' sumthin like 37,000 on average. They's payin' out over 15 million in salaries."

"So they've dumped almost a hundred employees, and someone has gotten substantial raises, and they want to adjust the 'WTF?' triggering point on profit margin downward? Strange way to run a business."

"But wait! There's more!" Billy exclaimed, sounding kind of like a Ginzu Knife commercial, "you oughta see their depreciation set up. It's like, weird, dude. Gots a crazy spike in it."

"OK, Billy, but what does all this mean?" Leece asked.

"Well, you'd think that would be the Question, right? But no! It just got passed through. The only one what voted agin it was that Freedinberger dude."

"That's interesting. Who is their Chief Financial Officer? Someone with a strong background in accounting, I'd think," Leece observed.

"Ummmm...I dunno. I think it's one a them former pickle packer execs. You know, the ones what got a parachute out of the pickle plant to the hospital."

"Ah. I remember that. And now they seem to have gotten substantial raises. I wonder how many people in The Smile Hi City have gotten substantial raises from their bosses, while the bosses have cut the profit margin by half?"

We pondered the labyrinth of Big Bidness, certain that being mere minions, we were simply too stupid to understand The Big Picture.

Brother Ken Makes His Move...

Senator Ken Salazar has gotten off the pot over Pinon Canyon.

Here is the news release from his office:

Sen. Salazar Fights for a Delay on Pinon Canyon Expansion
Colorado Senators Offer Amendment to DoD Bill to Study Whether Expansion is Needed

WASHINGTON, DC- Today, United States Senator Ken Salazar announced that he would introduce two amendments to address the proposed expansion at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver site (PCMS). Salazar will offer one amendment to the Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Act that is being considered by the Senate this week. This amendment would halt the expansion of PCMS for one year. It is identical to the Salazar-Musgrave amendment that was adopted by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The other amendment would require reports from the Army on the existing uses of PCMS and potential expansion. That amendment will be offered as part of the Defense Authorization and Appropriations bills.

“I fully believe that we owe our men and women in uniform the best training opportunities possible to keep our Nation strong. I have always and will always fight to ensure that Fort Carson remains a premier training facility for the Army.

“I also have met several times with the farmers, ranchers and communities in Southeastern Colorado who would be most affected by the proposed Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion. In my view, the Army has not yet provided a sufficient justification for its expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site; nor has the Army created a plan that protects private property rights and the agricultural heritage of the area.

“I believe that this one year delay, coupled with a requirement that the Army justify their proposal is the right thing to do.”

Senators Salazar and Allard will also offer a second amendment to the Defense Authorization or Appropriations bills later this month. This amendment requires the Army to provide a report on the following matters:

* Is there a need for expansion, given the 2005 BRAC Commission finding that Fort Carson has sufficient training land to support its needs?
* Is the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site being used to capacity? · How can the Army better use the existing land at PCMS to meet its training needs?
* If the Army needs additional land to train Fort Carson units, can it use other federal lands or land at other installations?
* If the Army added land to PCMS, what training capacity would be added to Fort Carson?
* If the Army were to expand PCMS, what economic benefits would it provide to local communities and how could the ranching heritage of Southeastern Colorado be preserved?

The amendment requires the Army to provide the justification and requires it to solicit public input on its report. In addition, the amendment would require that the General Accounting Office (GAO) review the Army’s report and justification for expansion.

“In addition to my request that the Army explore more flexible acquisition methods such as reverse mortgages and lease-to-own options on lifetime estates, Senator Salazar and I agree that that the Army simply needs to do a better job of spelling out their justifications for expanding Pinon Canyon,” said Senator Allard. “I am exploring additional legislative options to protect the rights of private property owners in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense authorization bill,” said Allard. “The Army owes the residents of southeastern Colorado a full explanation of their work on this issue and I will continue to remind them of their pledge to be ‘good neighbors’ as we move forward.”

“The people of our Nation, the State of Colorado and the residents of Southeastern Colorado deserve answers from the Army on the fundamental questions of training need and capacity before any decision is made to acquire additional land beyond the 235,000 acres already owned by the Army at PCMS. This amendment requires the Army to provide that information,” said Senator Salazar. “I will also continue to work closely with Senator Allard to ensure that the Army will not take private property from landowners for the purpose of expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.”

9/4/07

SECORT Workshop Announcement

SOUTHEAST COLORADO REGIONAL TOURISM GROUP

Crowley County
Otero County
Bent County
Prowers County
Kiowa County
Baca County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Kathryn S. Finau
Project Manager
KSF Strategic Services
719-469-8818
ksfinau@rural-com.com

SECORT Encourages Local Investment for the Future

Las Animas, Colo., August 20, 2007 – On Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at the Rocky Ford Depot – Baggage Room from 9:00AM-Noon, Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism (SECORT) will sponsor a workshop on starting a community foundation. Representatives from the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation, Southern Colorado Community Foundation, and the Anschutz Family Foundation will discuss the benefits of starting a community foundation, the process involved, and the support they offer.
For the past several decades, there has been a lack of economic certainty in most of our rural communities from agricultural consolidation to reduced federal funding to loss of financial and human capital. All of these changes affect the ability of the private sector and local government to invest in critically needed new technologies, equipment and community facilities.

A community foundation assists concerned individuals mobilize charitable giving from local donors and former residents to support the betterment of our communities and organizations to provide or continue essential services, such as health care, telecommunications, K-12 education, environmental protection, libraries, community centers, parks/recreation and scholarships.

Supported by Congress and its tax laws, a community foundation is a unique product of a democratic society that is built upon private enterprise. It originally grew out of American traditions of charity that would have those with ability provide opportunities for achievement to those less fortunate. Today, donors to community foundations are from diverse backgrounds with a common commitment to their communities’ well being. Unlike other institutions which directly provide services to the needy, a community foundation’s impact derives from its support for the promise of progressive new ideas and programs designed to address the changing needs of the community.

The Anschutz Family Foundation, Southern Colorado Community Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation are committed to helping the citizens of the region create enduring solutions for the preservation of our heritage and development of our communities. Please join us on September 11, 2007 to learn how we can invest in our future.

SECORT appreciates the support of Colorado Historical Society, State Historical Fund, Colorado Tourism Office, Preserve America, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado State Parks, Anschutz Family Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Southern Colorado Economic Development District, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation, and our local communities for helping make these workshops possible.

For additional information, contact: Kathryn S. Finau, Project Manager, KSF Strategic Services, 23275 Hwy. 101, Las Animas, CO 81054, 719-469-8818, ksfinau@rural-com.com.

Like...yo!

We were at the Rocky Ford Sonic, having some chili dogs. Billy, on his way back from his 12 Step in Pueblo, had met us there.

Finishing his fourth dog, he sat back and belched discreetly. Leece fixed him with a baleful glare.

"Scuse me," he said, in a small voice, somewhat chastened by the glare.

"No, Billy, you don't get it. It's like anything else. If you're going to do it, do it well."

With that, she let out a belch that came from somewhere deep down, and echoed under the metal awning.

Billy was shocked. "Leece! That's downright...unladylike!"

"Don't hand me that double standard nonsense," she told him.

"Hey Billy," I said.

"Yeah?"

"Don't fart, dude."

I picked myself up off the deck and went back to eating my chili dog as Leece rubbed her knuckles.

"So...here we are in Rocky Vegas," Billy noted, "Ain't this Dangerous Dan's stomping grounds?"

"Say what?" Leece asked.

"You know. Dangerous Dan, the area's premier showman and promoter," Billy explained. "The guy who brought that gangster rap crew into town and who arranged for the 'apres show' swillfest at that bar up the street."

"Oh. Yeah. You mean the guy who is running for La Junta councilman in Ward 3. Yeah. Well, that's what we need, a guy who brings in self-proclaimed criminals and gangsters to glorify the criminal lifestyle. Yep, that'll go well."

"I heard his mom is running the show, took him down to get the petition," Billy said.

"I heard the same thing, too. Twice. Today."

"Is he in cahoots with that Balicki kid?" Billy asked, "are they part of the Sarlo Machine?"

"I dunno," I replied, "but at the meeting with Udall the other day, Balicki wasn't at all positive about tourism opportunities around The Smile Hi City."

"Are you serious?" Billy queried.

"Yep. Got it all on video tape," Leece told him, "though I suspect it was more him not being clear than being downright negative."

"Maybe a bit of ignorance, too. I'll transcribe the exact comments from the tape for you, Billy," I said, "I think you'll find it most interesting."

"Like, yeah, dude...hey. Hey. If Dangerous Dan gets hissef elected, ya think he'll be rappin' up on the bench:

Like yo, muthafukka, like yo!
I'se heah to say yo look like a ho!
I'm yo mayuh
So say yo prayuh
Gimme a gat
I show ya where it at.."

"Give it a rest, Billy. You're no rapper. And besides, he isn't running for mayor."

"Thank you Lord. I think I'll have another chili dog."

What's in a highway?

"Good morning, Billy!" Leece called out, as Billy walked into The Holy Land Quickee's.

"And to you, poppet!" Billy replied, wiggling his eyebrows up and down as he contemplated the multitude of flavored foo-foo syrups for the various foo-foo coffees. "Whatever happened to just plain coffee?" he asked.

"You haven't drunk 'just plain coffee' since the yuppies made all this foo-foo popular," she retorted, "you used to complain all the time about that brownish battery acid that was called 'coffee'."

"Huh. Hey. Hey. Didja reed that article or column or whatever it is that whatsername writes for the fishwrapper? That one that's supposed to be folksy and down-home? The one that's supposed to make Hicks from the Sticks feel good about themselves by ridiculing yuppies and city folks and suchlike?"

"You mean the one where she slams farm tourism?"

"Yeah. Yeah. You know, that woman is about as negative as they come. All she does is make city folks seem like iggerint fools, probably Democrats."

"It's a form of self-validation," I pointed out, "if you can't understand it, then ridicule it. Or if you're afraid of it, ridicule it. Or if you aren't sure of yourself, then ridicule it. You see a similar example with some Christian sects these days and how they react to society."

"Ah. Yeah. You mean,like when they recoil in horror at Hollywood flicks? Or is it that they recoil in fear that their minds and souls will be polluted?"

"Probably both. Doesn't say much for strength of faith if watching a movie will undermine or destroy that faith, does it?"

"Some of 'em are so paranoid they won't even mingle with them what they call 'non-Christians'," Billy noted.

"You can't do much evangelizing or proselytizing on that basis," Leece pointed out, "so much for Judea, Samaria, and the far corners of the world...".

"So in the same sense we just stick our heads in the sand and ignore the world?" Billy asked.

"Well, look at the comments about the highway expansion," I suggested,"we have this viewpoint that running the highway north or south of the towns through which it already passes will ruin them. Stop economic development. They'll wither up and die."

"Uh huh," Billy said, "Like some of these city governments are doing such a great job of it right now. US 50 has run four lanes through The Smile Hi City for decades and where are we with that economic development? Some of the new buildings that have been constructed since I got here are empty, and all of the old buildings that were empty when I got here are still empty. I guess I must be stoopid or somethin' cuz it seems to me the highway runnin' through town ain't doin' all that much good."

"Maybe you should move out by Cheraw and start getting some horse poop on yer boots, pilgrim," Leece snickered, "then you can chew on a piece of straw and pontificate on the stupidity of city slickers."

"Yeah. Think about, Billy. You could do all that cool stuff like pull calves and artificially inseminate cows and pluck chickens and attend the local Democratic Party's political singfests and so on. Country Democrats are a lot smarter than city Democrats, you know," I pointed out.

"Huh. Ya think? I dint git that impression at the Udall meetin' the other day. The cowboys made sense but then sum a them city slickers from The Smile Hi City got into it, and they's Democrats."

"Well, you see, Billy, 'city slicker' and 'country folk' are relative terms."

"So's the term 'smart'," he replied.

And with that, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled off to greet the day.

Musgrave/Salazar Amendment goes to the Senate

PCEOC / Not 1 More Acre!
Musgrave-Salazar amendment language - HR 2642 -- is scheduled for consideration on the Senate floor Tuesday, September 4!

We can't have anything added or taken from that language - don't let anyone try to pull a 'fast one'!

Phone Senator Salazar TUESDAY morning BEFORE 11:00 (Mountain Time)!

Give Senator Ken Salazar your support and expectation that he will support no expansion/no money for expansion language as passed by 383 - 34 in the US House of Representatives!

Let Senator Salazar know how important it is that he support his brother's no expansion / no money for expansion language in the Senate!

Ask Senator Salazar to represent those OPPOSING all parts of the proposed Pentagon expansion at Pinon Canyon -- wildlife advocates, schools, historical groups, conservationists, Indian Nations, archaeological societies, cattlemen's groups, private property rights groups, labor unions, religious groups, sustainable agriculture associations, counties, cities, towns, museums, scientists and farmers. Both Colorado Preservation Inc and the National Trust for Historical Preservation have placed the area surrounding PiƱon Canyon on their lists of most endangered historic places because of the threat of the Pentagon's ill-conceived expansion.

Fifteen southern Colorado county commissions voted unanimously against the expansion plan. Earlier this year the Colorado House and Senate both gave overwhelming support (86 votes to 12) to a bill withdrawing the state's consent from the use of condemnation to acquire land for the expansion.

Expansion Opposition = Democracy at work!

Senator Ken Salazar's Washington DC office:
(202) 224-5852

Denver office:
(303) 455-7600

Arkansas River Region
(719) 542-7550


SUPPORT MUSGRAVE-SALAZAR AS WRITTEN IN THE HOUSE!
Amendment to H.R. 2642, as reported

Offered by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04) and Rep. John Salazar (CO-03)

(Military Construction Appropriations Bill)

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

1. Sec.____. None of the funds appropriated or other-
2. wise made available in this Act may be used for any action
3. that is related to or promotes the expansion of the bound-
4. aries or size of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in south-
5. eastern Colorado.



Senate Calendars

Senate Floor Schedule

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

12 noon.: Convene and begin a period of morning business.

1:00 p.m.: Begin consideration of H.R. 2642, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, Fiscal Year 2008.
PCEOC
Not 1 More Acre!
PO Box 137
Kim, Colorado 81049

Sister organizations working for the people, wildlife and places of southeastern Colorado.

www.pinoncanyon.com
pceoc@hughes.net
news@not1moreacre.net