10/31/07

Hillarycare


If you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait until government makes it free.” –P. J. O’Rourke

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton called for universal health care on Monday, plunging back into the bruising political battle she famously waged and lost as first lady on an issue that looms large in the 2008 presidential race.

“This is not government-run,” the party’s front-runner said of her plan to extend coverage to an estimated 47 million Americans who now go without.
Her declaration was a clear message to Republicans, the insurance industry, businesses and millions of voters who nervously recall what sank her effort at health care reform 13 years ago in her husband’s first term - fear of a big-government takeover.

In unveiling her plan, she called for a requirement for businesses to obtain insurance for employees, and said the wealthy should pay higher taxes to help defray the cost for those less able to pay for it. She put the government’s cost at $110 billion a year…

The New York senator said her plan would require every American to purchase insurance, either through their jobs or through a program modeled on Medicare or the federal employee health plan. Businesses would be required to offer insurance or contribute to a pool that would expand coverage…

The centerpiece of Clinton’s latest effort is the so-called “individual mandate,” requiring everyone to have health insurance just as most states require drivers to purchase auto insurance.

3A in The Holy Land

It would appear that Amendment 3A is officially sanctioned by the town government. The "Yes on 3A" sign in the front window at the Town Hall seems to indicate that.

So. Does that mean if I vote against 3A and let that fact become known, I am in trouble with the government? Am I to surmise that if...oh...the dog is out in the yard barking, I am more likely to receive a summons than a warning? Will the streets be paved everywhere but in our block? When it comes time for tree-spraying, will our house be skipped?

Is there something wrong with this picture?

Well. I voted against it. That sign was the final straw; I'm not voting for anything being pimped by the local government. But, there are several other reasons why I voted against it:

1) The emphasis on the presentations has been on how bad is the condition of the old gym. These leads to even more questions. First, why is it in such bad shape? Mere age is an insufficient reason. From the photos presented, we see substandard wiring, substandard structural repairs in the roof, indifferent maintenance in the shower/dressing rooms. That means one of two things. Either there is insufficient money in the general fund to effect proper repairs, or Velva Addington was correct when she said maybe the school district has not been diligent in taking care of the building. In the first case, and as was pointed out by another observer, how can we Swinkians expect to now maintain two buildings if there is not enough money to maintain the one? But if the second case is the reason, then we seem to be looking at either incompetence or indifference. Where will that leave the new building in a few years? Can we trust the administration with a new building?

2) If the current gym is in such bad shape, why is it still in use? We have been told of fire hazards, wiring that was incompetently installed, plumbing improperly laid, and roof repairs that look like the Keystone Cops, the 3 Stooges, and the Chinese fire brigade worked on them as a group project. Routine maintenance aside, how are those things going to be fixed? Addington said things would be prioritized and repaired, but why haven't they been prioritized and repaired all along? Can the general fund support maintenance on both buildings? If so, where are the figures?

3) Following reason 1 above, I do not understand why we should bear a tax load for a bond when we do not know in any detail what that bond is buying. I agree with Mr. Cox on that. Addington said the school administration was going out this week to look at a school similar in size to Swink's, and that has a gym configured like the one desired by Swink. Or some people in Swink. And it's my understanding they did just that yesterday. But why are they doing that less than a week before the election date? Does it not seem to have the cart before the horse? Why are we being asked to float a $2.5 million bond with a payback of up to just over $4 million...but 'they' are just now going out to figure out the configuration of the thing? There are pretty drawings of the project, but no details. Why not?

4) It looks to me like some of our more affluent town residents have decided to push this project. I have yet to speak to one farmer who is in favor of it. There may be, somewhere, but I haven't found that farmer yet. Larry Siegfried said his tax increase will be about 30 bux a month. No more than a bag of shrimp, he said. No reason we can't each and every one put that away. Well...I walked back from the meetings through Swink...not over on that new street with all the big houses...and I'm thinking, a lot of these folks work at Walmart, or up at the hospital, and they aren't making the kind of salary that even allows a fleeting thought of a $30 bag of shrimp on a whim.

5) What about Pinon Canyon? Addington said the school board 'considered Pinon Canyon'. Really? What did they consider? Do they know something about Pinon Canyon that the rest of us do not? Who is going to pay the tax load if that deal goes through and we no longer have the economic input of all those ranchers?

6) What about water? What about Catlin Canal? What happens when the water gets sold out from under us when some farmer decides to retire and screw the rest of the community...which has already happened. What happens to the tax base when irrigated agricultural land goes back to dry land? Have the proponents of 3A been watching the water fights? Do they know about Pure Cycle? Not any with whom I have spoken.

So...I voted against it. When the school district demonstrates that it can properly maintain what it has, and demonstrates an understanding of who pays the freight tax-wise and the transience of that, and demonstrates a better understanding of planning such a project, I might reconsider. Otherwise, we can move ahead with doing what should have been done in the first place, and that is taking care of what we have.

Where's da munny?

There's a good editorial here about the money from Referendum C:

Funding for Higher Ed

You remember Referendum C. It was going to pull higher ed out of the red. It was going to send The Big Bad Bruce packing.

Yet the administrators who run the colleges and universities continue to whine that they need mo' munny.

Why is that?

Either the money isn't coming out of Ref C like it was supposed to, or we have administrators who think blood does indeed come from turnips.

An excerpt:

"When proponents of Referendum C were touting the measure in 2005, voters were led to believe that a goodly portion of the extra revenue that the measure would bring to the state’s coffers would go toward higher education. Proponents initially projected the extra revenues to be $3.7 billion over five years, but it looks like that figure could exceed $8 billion if current trends continue.

However, support for higher education has not been as robust as voters were led to believe. Earlier this month, presidents of the state’s colleges and universities told the Colorado Commission on Higher Education that, while Ref C has helped their budgets somewhat, more is needed."

It's obvious that some schools at least require mo' munny. If I see one more note from our highly vaunted schools that mixes singulars with plurals I think I'll have a complete meltdown.

Example: "Each student must have their costume on the day of the Halloween party."

The schools appear to be sacrificing proper use of the language on the altar of the God of Political Correctness. God bless a milk cow, but we certainly can't use 'he' or 'she' in a simple sentence. That might give the impression that there are actually two sexes among our students!

And it would seem that writing "Students must have their costumes on the day..." is beyond the conceptual processes of our educators.

Perhaps we should demonstrate for mo' munny to send the teachers back for remedial English.

10/27/07

Christine's

Today we were in Rocky Ford for the Methodist Ladies' Crafts Sale. We stopped in at Christine's for the World Famous Cinnamon Rolls. They were, as usual, the Best in The World, and the coffee was pretty good, with a robust flavor far superior to the weak dishwater served elseplace in the Valley, The Barista excepted, of course. It was crowded this morning to the point of Standing Room Only.

Froggy enjoys a roll and a cup of hot chocolate.


"Crazy Hands" Steverino of recent basketball fame, snuffles on The Best Cinnamon Rolls in The World.

Consumption of The Best Cinnamon Rolls in The World is serious business, as we see here as Leece digs in.

Christine's is in an old church building that has been artfully redone as the bakery and dining room. 209 South 2nd Street, Rocky Ford, between the eastbound and westbound legs of US 50.

10/25/07

The Brits: "A softer form of paternalism:

This evening's rant...and it is a rant, no doubt about it...is over the latest do in Merry Olde England over universal health care 'issues':

Radical prescription for our health crisis

Interesting. I didn't know the Brits were having a 'health crisis'. I thought the government-run universal health care system fixed all that.

Some excerpts:

"In a speech to the Royal Statistical Society last night, Professor Le Grand said instead of requiring people to make healthy choices – by giving up smoking, taking more exercise and eating less salt – policies should be framed so the healthy option is automatic and people have to choose deliberately to depart from it.

Among his suggestions are a proposal for a smoking permit, which smokers would have to produce when buying cigarettes, an "exercise hour" to be provided by all large companies for their employees and a ban on salt in processed food.

The idea, dubbed "libertarian paternalism", reverses the traditional government approach that requires individuals to opt in to healthy schemes. Instead, they would have to opt out to make the unhealthy choice, by buying a smoking permit, choosing not to participate in the exercise hour or adding salt at the table.

By preserving individual choice, the approach could be defended against charges of a "nanny state," he said. "Some people say this is paternalism squared. But at a fundamental level, you are not being made to do anything. It is not like banning something, it is not prohibition. It is a softer form of paternalism." "

Uh huh. And Comrade Lenin and Comrade Marx were just evening out the economic scale, and doing a fine job of it, till those blood-sucking imperialist war-mongering entrepreneurial capitalists threw a monkey wrench in the works.

And here is a better one:

"In his speech, Professor Le Grand attacked the report from the Foresight group of scientific experts published last week, which blamed the obesity explosion on an "obesogenic" environment where energy dense cheap food was readily available and sedentary lifestyles were the norm and said individuals could no longer be held responsible."

Hah. It ain't your fault you're a blubber-butted, puss-gutted, fat-cheeked couch potato of a glutton. It's society's fault. It's government's fault. Let them fix it. Perhaps free periodic liposuction is the answer? On the tax-payer's tab, of course. But Le Grand doesn't go along with the Foresight Group's viewpoint. Nope. He just wants to go for that 'softer form of paternalism'. It isn't really socialism, you see. Not on that fundamental level. It's just...paternalism.

Gee. Thanx, dad.

Here is L'Internationale. I have it in English, and Russian, but then I got to thinking, let's put it up in a language that epitomizes the Seeker of the Handout; the heart of the "Let the Gummint Do It", the home of the 35 hour workweek and the hundred holiday year...yes...you got it. Here it is in...French!





A footnote for those not familiar with L'Internationale:

"The Internationale (L'Internationale in French) is a famous socialist, anarchist, communist, and social democratic anthem and one of the most widely recognized songs in the world. The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism. The Internationale is sung not only by communists but also (in many countries) by socialists or social democrats."

The Fires of Califas

From Leece's SoCal connections:

Only this afternoon is Banning seeing some smoke overhead.

The east winds that have driven the fires throughout SoCal have abated and the west winds have come. Up until today, we have had clear air and mild temps. Beaumont and, especially, San Jacinto were hammered in the dust and wind storm that hit on Sunday and carried through until yesterday. Lines, trees down. Windows on 2 Riv county Office of Education vans blown out in SJ. Banning suffered only downed tree limbs and lots of wind-blown debris. Minor, really.

I was in Redlands today and got my dose of smoke. Nothing, of course, compared to what the firefighters have to breathe, nor even what those in areas downwind, but not evacuated, must inhale. I did get a mask from the crash kit I carry in the pu, but saw no good reason to use it.

The scanner has all the local fire freqs in it. One way to keep track of things. Latest report from the hams in the local mtns and from the news is that Running Springs area (bet lake Arrowhead and Big Bear) has eaten it. Zero percent containment of the Slide Fire. Real fear is that it will join the fire to the west of Arrowhead (Grass Valley) and make for even more trouble.

San Diego county, alone, has about 250,000 evacuees. These are not the same breed of cat that lives in New Orleans, meaning, they are dealing with it and, even assisting others.

Friends are working in the big shelter at the Orange Show grounds in San Bernardino. They are with the Salvation Army. Note from niece Christie Higbee's brother, Roscoe, today that he and his bride are fine, though, it was interesting locating masks. They live in SD proper so no evacs, but they do need to deal with the added confusion of having so many evacuees in the area. Julian was evac'd.

If you Google "Running Springs Fire" you will get timely info. San Diego fires will do likewise.

Off to town to get extra copies of the Riverside rag to take with me to Texas tomorrow. Weston graduates from Nav sch on Friday. He will be a Wizzo, slang for weapons systems officer. Gets his wings. His wife, Christie, is at sea until the end of Nov. Jack and Don and Pam Cook (Christie's folks) arr today. Jack will meet me at airport and catch ride back to Randolf with me in my rental. Will be a good time. Love, kicks, back slaps, and hugs. Steve

A grand conspiracy?

 http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-07-11-alqaeda-fire_x.htm

An excerpt:

FBI: al-Qaeda detainee spoke of fire plot

PHOENIX (AP) — The FBI alerted law enforcement agencies last month that an al-Qaeda terrorist now in detention had talked of masterminding a plot to set a series of devastating forest fires around the western United States.

Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, told The Associated Press that officials there took note of the warning but didn't see a need to act further on it.


10/24/07

Highly skilled workforce

This just in from a correspondent:

We had a "going away" party yesterday for a lady at our office. One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered the cake. He told them to write: "Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that, "We will miss you".

This is what they got:

The 8.1 percent income tax

We were sitting down at The Barista,snuffling blueberry cheesecake ice cream. Tookie was seriously into it. She had blueberries from chin to snoot.

Leece licked some off her spoon and closed her eyes. "Mmmmmmmm..." she said, "that's really good."

Yep. It was.

Billy was noisily slurping a triple 'spresso. I was worried about him. He had developed a taste for those new Maxx Pepsi drinks. Now he was slopping down triple 'spresso's.

"Billy. Dude. Do you have...well...you know...a 'substance issue'?" I asked him.

"Huh? Huh?" he replied, his eyes wide, as he jittered around on his chair and tapped his spoon in time to some Bruce Dickinson bit or another. Billy is really into Iron Maiden.

"Caffeine, man, you seem to to sucking it down these days like it's nothing," I explained.

"Ah. Oh. Yeah. Yeah. It's the pressures of the campaign trail, ya see? I gots ta keep goin'.'

"Yes, Billy, but what's going to happen when your ticker pops?" asked Tookie.

"Yeah. Yeah. No sweat. No sweat. We's gonna have universal health care and I'll be OK," he replied, sweat beading on his forehead and running into his dreadlocks.

"Universal health care?" Toots asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. Comrade Lenin will be proud of us. We's gonna tax everone another 8.1 percent and then we'll all have health insurance. Run by The State. They'll play L'Internationale in all medical waiting rooms. They'll have pitchers a Lenin and Karl and Trotsky and all the boys hangin' on the waitin' room walls."

The thought made me want to puke.

"Uh. Billy. Do you really think anyone will go for an 8.1 percent income tax hike to pay for everyone else's health insurance?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. Why not? Whateryew payin' now? Betcha if you figger it out it'll be more than 8.1 percent," he pointed out.

"Ummmm...yes, but it's my choice, not the government's. Why don't we fix the system we have rather than 'let the government' take care of it. That's more of that 'cradle to grave' crap you get out of the Democratic National Party," Leece pointed back, "and why should those who live a healthy lifestyle pay the freight for smokers, boozers, crack-heads, tweakers, and paint huffers?"

"Yeah. Yeah. I usta be a Democrat. Now I'm a Liberian," he said.

"You mean 'Libertarian'. Slow down on those 'spressos. You sound more like a socialist," she said.

"Socialist, Democrat, what's the diff?" he asked.

Good point, these days.

"This reminds me of the time the kids went out and made thirty bucks in an afternoon of cutting lawns," I said,"and when they came home, I took ten bux away from them and gave it to the kid next door. The fat kid that smokes Marlboros at the age of eleven and huffs a bit of paint on the side."

"Why'd you do that?" he asked.

"It was a much better lesson in economic systems than they'll ever get in school," I explained, "It was like this: You go out and work, and bust your butt with your business - lawn care in this case - and invest in the lawn mower and grass trimmer and fuel, and sweat - and then when you have the fruit of your labors, so to speak, the gummint comes along and 'redistributes' the wealth."

Billy snorted some 'spresso up his nose.

While he was gasping and gagging, Tookie said, "I remember when you did that. It wasn't funny."

"It wasn't supposed to be funny. It's an economic crime the way the government operates."

"But you already pay for everyone else through higher insurance premiums and higher medical costs up at the hospital," she said.

"Yes. But at least it's not the government taking it out of my pocket and telling me it knows what's best for me. The Democrats are good at that."

"So you think we should fix the existing system rather than palm it off on the government?" Leece asked.

"You betcha. That's the answer to everything today. Let the government do it. Then we hear candidates saying, 'we believe in small business'. Letting the government do everything is a sure way to misery. Look at how well they do with all the so-called 'social welfare' programs now. Do you really want to give the government another $15 billion bucks to play with? And that $15 billion is The People's Money, because they are fleecing it right out of our pockets with nothing up front."

We went back to snuffling our blueberry cheesecake icecream. Tax included.

10/23/07

The campaign



"Hey! Hey!" Billy was excited as he waved to us. He was sitting on his favorite bench, there in front of Ringo's. He was snuffling from a bag of WondeRoast and slurping from a bottle of that new Maxx by Pepsi. It has enough caffeine to launch a space shuttle.

"How's it going, Billy?" Leece asked. We were walking back from the Bamboo Poodle. The Poodle's delightful cooking smells wafted over the entire downtown area. It reminded me of walking along the streets of Nakhon Phanom or Ubon Ratchithani...but that was a galaxy far, far away and a long time ago.

"I'm good. I'm good. Hey. Hey. I gots people gonna write me in on their ballots! Kin ya bleeve it?"

"Well...yes. Yes, I can," Leece said, "you make more sense than anyone else I've heard, and if we still lived in The Smile Hi City, we'd vote for you."

"But Billy lives in The Holy Land," I protested.

"Maybe I do, and maybe I don't," he said, somewhat cryptically.

"What's that mean?"

"Well, that place in The Smile Hi City is mine. I own it, free an' clear. And they's no one livin' in it besides me," he explained.

"Yeah, but you live in The Holy Land. On the wrong side of the tracks," I pointed out.

"Huh. Huh. But how much time do I spend there, and how much time do I spend at my place in town here?" he asked, with a snicker.

Leece and I gave each other that Dragnet look. Again.

"Yep. Uh huh. If I gits enough write ins ta win, I'm a Smile Hi resident. If I don't, I'm not. Then I think I might run for Holy Land."

"That reeks of politics, Billy," Leece complained, "and besides, the Charter says you must live in town.

"Politics reek, Leece. Politics reek," he retorted, "and these days that Charter ain't worth much, is it. Want a chicken laig?"

"Is it from the dumpster or is it from inside?" she asked.

"Well...it was sealed up pretty good. The critters ain't got to it and it was cold last night," he said, not too convincingly.

"Ah. Oh well. Might as well be hung for a sheep as hung for a goat," Leece said, and took the proffered chicken laig.

It's a fast-paced, fast-changing world in which we live.

Swink Amendment 3A Forum

Swink school multi-purpose room

Wednesday, 24 October, 7:30 PM

County tax assessor will be at the meeting to answer questions about how the bond will affect taxes.

New income tax of 8.1 percent

Here is a Pueblo meeting (Nov 28) or Lamar (Nov 7) that we will want to cover:

Ritter sends health on the road
Meetings across state to gather input on reform

* Ritter sends health care on road
* Anti-tax crusader Capitol-bound?
* Costs dog health care proposal
* Price tag for health plan would reach into billions
* Lawmakers urged to require preservation of DNA evidence

By Chris Barge, Rocky Mountain News
October 23, 2007
Local business, health care and civic leaders from across Colorado will get a chance to weigh in on what direction health care reform should take during a two-month outreach tour announced by Gov. Bill Ritter on Monday.

"The goal of these sessions is to give me, legislators and others a clear view of how Coloradans want their health care system to become more efficient, more accessible, more affordable and consistently excellent," Ritter said in a statement.

The "Governor's Dialogue on Health Care Vision and Values" is designed to complement the ongoing work of the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform.

That group has analyzed four proposals for reform from various interest groups and is in the process of developing a fifth hybrid proposal.

About 60 community leaders will be invited to participate in each session. The meetings will focus on practical ideas, such as how to cover the uninsured and how to pay for it.

They also will discuss more philosophical questions, such as the roles of government, of employers and of individuals in health care.

Ritter does not plan to attend the meetings. Joan Henneberry, executive director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, will lead the tour.

The Colorado Trust has donated $147,000 to pay for the meetings, as well as a 28-page booklet that explains the state's health care crisis to help guide the discussion.

The private, nonprofit foundation's grant also will pay for a report summarizing the findings at the end of the tour.

"We wanted as many people as possible across the state to be involved in this process of health care reform," said Irene Ibarra, CEO of Colorado Trust. "Even though the (blue ribbon) commission has its recommendations, it still is going to require policymakers in this state to carry this forward."

The Blue Ribbon Commission plans to present its recommendations to the legislature in January.

It has analyzed proposals that range in cost from $387 million to insure fewer than half of Colorado's estimated 791,800 uninsured, to $15 billion to provide universal coverage under a government-run program funded by a new 8.1 percent income tax.

The statewide meetings are open to the public, which will be given an opportunity to comment, both orally and in writing.

Session sites

The Governor's Office of Policy and Initiatives and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing will host 10 meetings across Colorado in November and December. The outreach program will solicit input from business, civic and health care leaders. Here are the dates and locations:

Nov. 7 Lamar

Nov. 8 Alamosa

Nov. 13 Durango

Nov. 14 Grand Junction

Nov. 28 Pueblo and Colorado Springs

Dec. 5 Denver Dec. 6 (two meetings)

Dec. 11 Sterling

Dec. 12 Fort CollinsFor More Information, Call 303-866-5800.

Strykers

Public hearings on the possibility of stationing a battalion from one of the Stryker brigades down at Pinon Canyon:

There is a comment public comment period ending October 30, 2007 - with meetings this Thursday and Friday:
In Colorado Springs:
Mesa Ridge High School Auditorium
6070 Mesa Ridge Parkway
Colorado Springs
Thursday, October 25, 2007
5:30pm to 9:45pm

In Trinidad:
Trinidad State Junior College
General Purpose Room
600 Prospect Street
Trinidad
Friday, October 26, 2007
5:30pm to 9:45pm

Not many people seem to know what a "Stryker" is.

Here they are:

Stryker Description

(It ain't yo daddy's APC)







10/22/07

The Smile Hi City's Peoples' Army

"Hey! Hey!" shouted Billy, as he wheeled into the parking lot of The Holy Land Quickee's.

We were sitting at the table outside. It was a bit chilly but we were sipping some steaming hot cappies, and Leece was putting away one of those Juan Diego breakfast burritos. I had passed. Nothing against Juan, mind you, but I can only take so much gastric abuse at that time of the morning.

"What's up, Billy?" I asked.

"Mfmspupillee?" Leece managed to get out.

"I'm gonna be a kunnel in the Smile Hi City Peoples' Army!" he told us, somewhat breathlessly.

"A what?" Leece was not familiar with the term. I was. It's one of those southern things. Billy is from Vuh-ginnyuh, you see, in fact, he had gone to the same Presbyterian church that Stonewall Jackson had attended.

"Colonel. He's going to be a colonel of militia," I explained.

"Yeah. Yeah. An' we kin make up our own uniforms, too, like in the Confed'racy," he went on.

"So what's this all about?" Leece asked.

"We're gonna march on Fort Carson and take back the country," he said, "take it back from the Ree-pubs."

"I thought that had already been done. Isn't Congress a Dems majority now?" she observed.

"Well...that's one a them cornfuzing facts, ya see," Billy, "but we's still gonna call up the militia."

"How are you going to do that?"

"It's in the city charter. "The mayor is the gen'rul. He kin call up the militia. It says so: The mayor shall be a conservator of the peace, and in emergencies may exercise within the City the powers conferred by the Governor of the State of Colorado for purposes of military law, and shall [have] authority to command the assistance of all able-bodied citizens to aid in the enforcement of the ordinances of the City and to suppress riot and disorder.'"

"But there's no riot and disorder, not even any 'emergencies'," Leece pointed out.

"Another one a them pesky an' cornfuzin' factoids," Billy said, "and I sent over a picture of George Patton for the mayor, too. That uniform like George C. Scott wore. I'm thinkin' Hizzoner could give an inspirational speech like in the movie."




"Yes, but the charter also says, 'Not less than sixty (60) days prior to the first day of the next fiscal year, Council shall adopt the budget by resolution, and pass on first reading an ordinance for the annual appropriation.' Have they done that?" Leece asked.

"They did sumthin' last meetin', but I ain't sure they kin pass on first if there's changes to it after the first reedin'. Is there changes? They's lookin' at them free munny awards as fer this year, but they affect next year's budget too. They sure do. Ain't gotta be no rocket scientist to see that. They's enterprise funds and they's investment funds, and how does all that factor into the budget. It does, it shurely does."

"Hey. That's right. So they are supposed to adopt the budget for next year no later than 60 days before the 1st day of the next fiscal year. But there's changes to the budget after the first reading because they didn't factor in the...um...the factors...of the budget amendment resolutions on next year's budget," chipped in Tookie, who had been rummaging about in the soft drink cooler, looking for a strawberry bunny milk, "and the next meeting of council is November 5, which is inside the 60 days, and therefore a violation of the city's Home Rule Charter."

"Huh. Huh. Hey. Hey. They's sure making some toilet paper outa that charter, ain't they?"

We all sat there in silence, thinking about the ramifications.

"So we can pick and choose out of the Charter that with which we want to comply?" asked Tookie.

"I guess so," said Leece.

"Huh. Huh. Good thing the Constitution don't work that way, huh?" asked Billy.

"I'm kinda innerested in that bizness of being drafted to help enforce the city ordinances," Tookie shared, "does that mean the mayor can call me up to shovel dog crap in City Park?"

We were speechless at the ramifications.

10/21/07

Harry Potter and the Fire-breathing Fundamentalists

Here is a good article about Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, and allegations of unholy witchcraft and other misleading fulminating fundamentalist accusations:

Jerry Bowyer's Harry Potter and the Fire-breathing Fundamentalists

Some excerpts:

"I’m afraid the Arthur stuff doesn’t do much for many American evangelicals, though. It’s a little too British for Americans, plus it smells suspiciously Roman Catholic to a lot of Evangelicals. While I got lots of appreciative remarks, I didn’t make much headway with the fire breathers.

Next I tried the more recognizable Christian material. In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, Harry confronts Voldemort (whose name means “will to death”) by traveling down into a great cavern where he slays a serpent to win an (eventual) bride. He fatally wounds the serpent in the head. He’s rescued by a bird who descends upon him and the bride, a kind of bird whose “tears have healing powers, and who are able to bear immense loads.” The bird bears them up out of the cavern. “There, how’s that?” I thought. The problem is that very few Christians seem to be aware of descendit ad infernum, the descent into hell. Don’t the schools teach Dante? Don’t the Churches teach the Apostle’s Creed? Well, as a matter of fact, no, they generally do not. The Proto Evangelium, the first gospel in which God told Adam and Eve that He would send Someone who would rescue their descendents by crushing the head of the serpent doesn’t seem to get a lot of play either.

I could go on for page after page: snippets from ancient hymns and creeds for instance. The most powerful spell in Harry’s world is the Patronus, in which the wizard forcefully says “Expecto Patronum”. That’s Christian Latin for “I look for the Savior”. Expecto is used in the Nicene Creed, and Patronum is used in the medieval Dies Irae as the Savior that we look for in the day of judgment. Harry uses the spell when ghastly evil spiritual beings called DEMENtors (caps mine) attack him and another innocent man near a lake. A stag (which just happens to function as a common Christ figure in medieval art) walks across the water dispelling the vile soul-destroying creatures. What’s it take, a 2 by 4 across the forehead? This is Christian stuff! "

And, to top it all off, Dumbeldore is...gay:

Dumbeldore is gay!

Some excerpts:

"NEW YORK (AP) -- Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay.

J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall. After reading briefly from the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," she took questions from audience members.

She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love."

"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause."

and:

"Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason."

You go, girl.

Burglar 'messes' with wrong family

Couple Make Burglar Clean Up at Gunpoint


Oct 18, 9:03 PM (ET)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A burglar in Montgomery chose the wrong family to mess with, literally. Adrian and Tiffany McKinnon returned home on Tuesday after a week away to find that thieves had emptied almost everything the family of five owned, Tiffany McKinnon said through tears.

"Tears just rolled down my face as I walked in and saw everything gone and piles of trash all over my home," she said.

Adrian McKinnon sent his wife to see her sister while he inspected the piles left behind. As he walked back into the sunroom, a man walked through the back door straight into him, Tiffany McKinnon told the Montgomery Advertiser in a story Thursday.

"My husband Adrian caught the thief red-handed in our home," she said. "And what is even crazier, the man even had my husband's hat sitting right on his head."

Adrian McKinnon held the suspect, 33-year-old Tajuan Bullock, at gunpoint and told him to sit on the floor until he decided what to do.

"We made this man clean up all the mess he made, piles of stuff, he had thrown out of my drawers and cabinets onto the floor," Tiffany McKinnon said.

When police arrived, Bullock complained about being forced to clean the home at gunpoint.

"This man had the nerve to raise sand about us making him clean up the mess he made in my house," she said. "The police officer laughed at him when he complained and said anybody else would have shot him dead."

Capt. Huey Thornton, a police spokesman, said police arrested Bullock at 2PM Tuesday on burglary and theft charges. He was being held in the Montgomery County Detention Facility on a $30,000 bond.

"The victims were lucky in this case to be able to catch the suspect in the act and hold him until police arrived," Thornton said.

10/20/07

Great show

The Picketwire Players have an excellent show running.

Showtimes: 20 October: 7:30 PM
21 October: 3:00 PM
26 and 27 October: 7:30 PM

"Before the Ending" was written by Barbara Bolinger and Chad Evett. It's a takeoff, of sorts, on the old fairy tales, and it's very well done.

The T-D's Own, Ashley Jo Owen and Mark Randall, play Little Red Riding Hood and Will.

There will be a review in the T-D Monday or Tuesday...or maybe Wednesday, depending on unforeseen fiascos, the number of Machiavellian political schemes and scandals unearthed, and international events of Great Portent that may or may not occur.

But you really oughta go see it.

10/19/07

Historic theater workshop

This is wonderful opportunity to learn the latest in Historic Theater programs and funding. This is a first in Southeast Colorado to bring such a group together to create a synergy for our region’s downtown revitalization. It will be great networking and lots of fun allowing you to leave with constructive information. Please see attachments for all you will get.

You must be registered, which I will be happy to handle for you if you want to respond to this email. Or, you can register directly with Chana Reed at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, lamarchamber@bresnan.net, 719-336-4379

Registration needs to be done ASAP, in order to have enough food.

Jeanne Fenter

719-826-2060


Historic Theater Workshop
Arts, History and Economic Prosperity
Lamar, Colorado
October 26, 2007

8:30 – 9:00 Registration and silent films

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome from Rick Ross, the Lamar Theater, and Nelva Heath,
Mayor of Lamar

Imagine This: A Rolling High Plains Film Festival
(Diana Laughlin)

9:15 –10:00 The League of Historic American Theaters
National Trends with Historic Theaters: Felicia Harmon
Historic Theaters In the Age of Digital Cinema Barbara Creasman

10:00 – 10:45 Financing the Preservation and Maintenance of Historic Theaters: Creative Funding Strategies and Case Studies
Alyson McGee, State Historical Fund
Tax Credits for Rehabilitation Projects
Abbey Christman, Colorado Preservation Inc.

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 –11:45 Theaters in the Arkansas Valley: Where We Find Ourselves Now
Moderator, John Schler
Rick Ross, The Lamar Theater; Wayne Snider, Fowler Theater, Betsy Barnett, Plains Theater in Eads, the Ritz Theater in Las Animas,

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch – Heritage Cuisine at The Shore Arts Center. The Notables will sing us to our tables

1:00-1:15 The Colorado Historical Society and the Plains
Edward C. Nichols, President and CEO

1:15 – 1:45 Economic Success Stories from Historic Theaters in Colorado and Across America
Regna and Jason Jones (Paonia Theater), Felicia Harmon, and Barbara Creasman

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – 2:45 Curtain’s Up: Putting the Arts on Stage in Movie Theaters
Dan Wecks,The Business of Art Center, Manitou Springs

3:00 – 4:00 Next Steps: Moving forward toward a Regional Network
Judy Walden, moderator


Hosted by Prowers County Historical Preservation Advisory Board, Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce, The Lamar Chamber of Commerce, and Rick & Tina Ross, owners of the Lamar Theater.

Free Popcorn served throughout the day!

Historic Theaters Workshop
Most Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who should attend?
Theater owners (private parties, cities and towns, non-profits)
Fans of single screen theaters
People who love their historic downtown
High school students who yearn to be entertained
Civic leaders who seek downtown redevelopment and economic development
Drive-In theater operators
Towns looking to develop a venue that can mount plays, bands, concerts, weddings, cowboy poets, and other local events
Restaurants and motels who want more travelers
Travelers who want to share in the life of small towns

2. How big is the region that is receiving invitations?
The Lower Arkansas Valley counties of Prowers, Baca, Kiowa, Bent, Otero, Crowley
Pueblo, Trinidad, Walsenburg, Colorado Springs, Canon City, Buena Vista, Salida, Monte Vista,Western Kansas, Northern Oklahoma

3. Are Drive-In Theaters included?

Yes, indeed. We know the value of a rare bird.

4. Can high school students participate?

Students in Eads, Colorado, were pivotal in saving the Plains Theater. They will be on site at the Lamar Theater to tell their story.

The SE region of Colorado is established as a state leader in Preservation and Youth. Students from Granada, Pritchett and Eads met last spring to share ideas. We’d love to draw more students into preservation projects and heritage tourism. Granada students who are actively restoring Camp Amache will be on the Prowers County Preservation Tour Saturday morning

5. Will there be a time when we can visit individually with state and national speakers?

Most will arrive in Lamar the night before and we’ll set a meeting place for dinner.
There will also be a gathering at Chez Duvall on Friday night for those who can stay over to join the Prowers County Preservation Tour on Saturday. Let’s help Lamar profit economically from this preservation event!

6. What about people who want to come but can’t afford the $10 conference fee?

Submit a request for a waiver of the conference fees directly to Chana Reed at lamarchamber@bresnan.net. We don’t want anybody to miss the opportunity to learn national trends,gather up tips and refuel their own inspiration.

7. What about towns that don’t have a theater? What can they learn?

Funding mechanisms and sources for any historic building
Entertainment as community development

Home Rule Charter: The Utilities Board

An excerpt from Chapter 12 of the city's Home Rule Charter:

12.13 Utilities Board.

(a) Creation of Utilities Board. There shall be and hereby is crated a Board of Public Utilities (herein called Utilities Board) of five (5) members. The membership of the Utilities Board shall consist of the mayor, one (1) councilman appointed by the Council, and three (3) citizen members elected by the qualified electors of the City for a term of six (6) years to succeed the member whose present or future term of office expires at that time. The mayor and one (1) councilman appointed to the Utilities Board shall serve during the terms of their office. All citizen members serving on the Utilities Board shall continue to serve on the Utilities Board for their unexpired terms.

(b) Vacancies. Vacancies (for positions other than those occupied by councilman at large) shall occur when any of the members dies, moves from the City, or becomes incapacitated. In case other vacancy occurs in the office of one (1) of the members elected to office by the qualified electors of the City, a majority of the remaining members of the board shall appoint a successor from the duly qualified electors of the City to fill the vacancy and serve for the balance of the term. In case the vacancy occurs in the office of the members elected by the Council, the Council, by a majority vote of the total membership thereof, shall elect one (1) of its members to fill the vacancy so occurring and to serve the balance of the term.

(c) Organization of Board. The Utilities Board shall annually elect from its citizen members, a chairman and from its members a vice-chairman to serve for a term of one (1) year. The members of the Utilities Board, including the mayor and council member of the Board, shall be reimbursed for such expense as shall be provided for as separate items in the annual Utilities Department budget.

(d) General Powers. Subject to the limitations contained in this Charter, the Board shall have and exercise the following powers of the City of La Junta granted by the Constitution and laws of the State of Colorado: To fix the rates charged for services rendered by any public utility operated by the City. All such rates shall be uniform as far as practicable and as low as good service will permit, after making adequate provisions for depreciation of the utility and after making similar provisions for the payment of the principal or any interest on any bonds which are payable, in whole or in part, from the revenues of such utility, in accordance with the ordinances authorizing the issuance of such bonds. To provide for all utility so as to insure its efficient operation, the costs of all such extensions and betterments to be paid from the revenues derived from the operation of the utility; provided, that no extensions or betterments to any such utility shall be made except in accordance with the terms of the ordinances, if any, authorizing the issuance of bonds payable, wholly or in part, from the revenues derived from the operation of such utility.To purchase and lease all supplies and equipment necessary or proper for the efficient and economical operation of any public utility owned and operated by the City. To sell and dispose of all equipment and supplies not used or fully usable in connection with the operation of any such public utility; and provided further, that such sale or disposal shall be made only in accordance with the terms and provisions of any ordinances authorizing the issuance of bonds payable, in whole or in part, from the revenues of such utility; and provided further, that neither the Council nor the Board shall have power to mortgage, pledge, or otherwise encumber such utility or any part thereof but the Council may pledge the net revenue derived from the operation thereof to the payment of revenue bonds. To determine and by resolution establish the policy or polices of utilities owned by the City. Upon all matters and things referred to in this article requiring approval of the Council, the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners shall act in an advisory capacity to the Council.

(e) Manager. The City Manager shall be the operating manager of any utilities owned or acquired by the City.

(f) Rates and Charges. All utility rates shall be sufficient in amount to provide good service to the customers, to pay all bonded indebtedness, to pay refunds to developers, to cover the cost of operation, maintenance, additions, extensions, betterments and a reasonable return on the City's investment in utility properties to the City annually or a sum equivalent to a franchise tax on revenues collected within the City limits on such amounts as the Council and Utilities Board shall from year to year determine.

(g) Budget. The Utilities Board shall annually cause a budget to be prepared in accordance with the requirements of a departmental budget as set out in this Charter, which budget after approval by the Utilities Board shall be submitted to the City Manager for inclusion in the City Budget. The Utilities budget shall be subject to modification, reduction, or increase as may be determined by the Council following the budget hearing.

(h) Limitation on Expenditures. The Utilities Board shall not authorize or permit expenditures in excess of the amounts authorized in the approved utilities budget, except as requested by the Utilities Board and approved by the Council. (Amended November 7, 1989)

12.14 Abolishing the Board.

The Council shall not have the power to abolish the Utilities Board.

The entire Charter is here: Home Rule Charter

The Municipal Code: The Utilities Board

From the municipal code:

CHAPTER 2.24

Board of Public Utilities Commissioners

2.24.010 Created.

There is created a nonpolitical Board of Public Utilities Commissioners, consisting of five (5) members, to have complete charge and control of formulating policy for any utilities owned by the City. (Prior code §2-17)

2.24.030 Filling vacancies.

The Commissioners shall serve as members of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners without compensation. Each member shall serve until his or her successor is duly elected and qualified. (Ord. 1081 §§16, 17, 1992; prior code §2-19)

2.24.040 Meetings; officers.

The Board of Public Utilities Commissioners shall hold one (1) regular meeting each month at such time and place as it may provide by resolution. The chairman of the Board shall have the privilege of voting on all questions that may come before the Board. A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum and all action by the Board shall be taken by a majority thereof and not otherwise. All meetings shall be open to the public. The chairman or any three (3) commissioners, shall have the power to call special meetings upon twenty-four (24) hours' written notice served upon each Commissioner, either in person or by leaving a copy of such notice at his or her residence. (Ord.
1144 §§1, 2, 1995; prior code §2-20)

2.24.050 Powers and duties.

The Board of Public Utilities Commissioners shall have the following powers:

(1) To fix the rates charged for services tendered by any public utility operated by the City. All such rates shall be uniform as far as practicable and as low as good service will permit, after making adequate provision for depreciation of the utility and after making similar provisions for the payment of the principal of and interest on any bonds which are payable, in whole or in part, from the revenues of such utility, in accordance with the ordinances authorizing the issuance of such bonds.

(2) To provide for all reasonable extensions and betterments to any such public utility so as to insure its efficient operation, the costs of all such extensions and betterments to be paid from the revenues derived from the operation of the utility; provided that no extensions or betterments to any such utility shall be made except in accordance with the terms of the ordinances, if any, authorizing the issuance of bonds payable, wholly or in part, from the revenues derived from the operation of such utility.

(3) To purchase and lease all supplies and equipment necessary or proper for the efficient and economical operation of any public utility owned and operated by the City.

(4) To sell and dispose of all equipment and supplies not used or fully usable in connection with the operation of any such public utility; provided that such sale or disposal shall be made only in accordance with the terms and provisions of any ordinances authorizing the issuance of bonds payable in whole or in part from the revenues of such utility; and provided further that the Board shall have no power to mortgage, pledge or otherwise encumber such utility or any part thereof or the revenues derived from its operation.

(5) Upon all matters and things referred to in this Chapter requiring approval of the City Council, the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners shall act in an advisory capacity to the City Council. (Ord. 1144 §§3, 4, 1995; prior code §2-21)

2.24.051 Oversight of funds.

The powers and duties enumerated in Section 2.24.050 above shall include the delegation to the Board of Public Utility Commissioners to have oversight of the City Sewer Fund, Water Fund, Electric Fund and Sanitation Fund and all operations associated therewith. All expenditures and rates shall be established for each of the funds pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 2.24 of this Title, or Chapter 11 of the City Charter. (Ord. 1219 §1, 1998)

2.24.060 Legal advisor and funds custodian.

(a) The City Attorney shall be the legal advisor of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners and shall render all legal services required by the Board without additional compensation, unless such additional compensation is first authorized by the City Council.

(b) The City Treasurer shall act as the legal custodian for any funds under the control of the Board. The Board shall render a monthly statement to the City Council, which statement shall cover in detail the financial operations of the Board. The accounts of the Board shall annually be audited by a certified public accountant satisfactory to the City Council. (Prior code §2-22)

2.24.070 Operating manager.

The City Manager shall be the operating manager of any utilities owned or acquired by the City, with the powers, duties and responsibilities given him or her by statute. (Prior code §2-23)

10/18/07

Utility Board Minutes: Special meeting 16 Oct 2007

Subject to approval at the November 13, 2007 Utilities Board Meeting.

CITY OF LA JUNTA )
COUNTY OF OTERO ) SS
STATE OF COLORADO )

A special meeting of the Board of Utilities Commissioners of the City of La Junta, Colorado, was called to order by Chairman Vic Aldea on Tuesday, October 18, 2007, at 4:00 p.m. in the Power Board Room of the Municipal Building.

Roll was called and the following Board Members were present:

Vic Aldea, Chairman
Bob Freidenberger, Council Representative
Allen Hill, Commissioner

Absent: P. Lorenz Sutherland, Vice Chairman
Don Rizzuto, Mayor

Also present: Rick Klein, City Manager
Bill Jackson, Assistant City Manager
Phil Malouff, Jr., City Attorney (Arrived 4:40 p.m.)
Lloyd Smith, Electric Utility Director
Joe Kelley, Director of Water & Wastewater Treatment
Dan Eveatt, Director of Engineering
Patty Hurt, Finance Director
Jan Schooley, City Clerk
Bob Smith, La Junta
Cheryl Lindner, La Junta
Kat Walden, La Junta
Diane Rikhof, La Junta
Lisa Steeves, Tribune-Democrat

The purpose of the special meeting was to consider budgetary resolutions. Chairman Aldea had some questions regarding this year’s and next year’s budget. There was lengthy discussion on budgetary matters. He then went on to consider the two resolutions on the agenda.

A. A Resolution Concerning the Supplemental Budget for the Electric Fund, Water Fund, Sewer Fund, and Sanitation Fund. Chairman Aldea asked what action the board wished to take regarding this resolution. There being no motion or second, no action was taken.

B. A Resolution concerning the 2008 Proposed Budget for the Electric Fund, Water Fund, Sewer Fund, and Sanitation Fund. Chairman Aldea asked what action the board wished to take regarding this resolution. There being no motion or second, no action was taken.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:49 p.m.
ATTEST: CITY OF LA JUNTA

Janice L. Schooley, City Clerk Vic Aldea, Chairman

Excerpt from City Council minutes

A regular meeting of the City Council of the City of La Junta, Colorado, was called to order by Mayor Don Rizzuto on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Roll was called and the following Council Members were present:

Don Martin, Ward 1
Eugene Mestas, Ward 1
Billie Johnson, Ward 2
Don Rizzuto, Mayor
Ardeth Sneath, Ward 2
Bob Freidenberger, Ward 3
Michael Moreno, Ward 3

Absent: None

Also present: Rick Klein, City Manager
Bill Jackson, Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Safety
Phillip F. Malouff, Jr., City Attorney
Jan Schooley, City Clerk
Lloyd Smith, Electric Utility Director
Patty Hurt, Finance Director
Ron Davis, Economic Development Director
Bob Smith, La Junta
Allen Hill, Utilities Board
Joan DeGrado, La Junta
Beverly and Jack Babb, La Junta
Diane Rikhof, La Junta
Cheryl Lindner, La Junta
Kat Walden, La Junta
Chris Moreno
Eric Hurt
Lisa Steeves, Tribune-Democrat

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING – Mayor Rizzuto asked if there were any corrections to the minutes of the October 1, 2007, regular City Council Meeting. Hearing none, he declared the minutes approved as published.

CITIZEN PARTICIPATION

A. Vic Aldea, Chairman of the Utilities Board, made the following statement: “At the present time I am Chairman of the Utilities Board in La Junta. I am here to comment on the ordinance that takes the money from the Electric Fund and gives it to the Water and Sewer Funds. Let me first say that four out of the five members on the Utilities Board are very upset – I have talked to them all – about Council’s decision to reject the Utilities Board Resolution. The Electric Department lends the money to the Water and Sewer Departments. As far as I can remember the Council has never rejected a resolution from the Utilities Board before. This is the first time in how many years that we’ve been operating. The Utilities Board tries to run the utilities as an independent business and holds them ac-countable through the budget process. This is how most businesses are run. The Council’s actions have destroyed any accountability that we may have had. Why make a budget?

Last, let me remind you, the Utilities Board Members are elected officials the same as you are. All of the Members have been long-time members--I’ve been on sixteen years—the others have been on more than six years. They are very knowledgeable and dedicated members. For you to reject our proposal shows no confidence in the Utilities Board, that it is capable of running the utilities. If so, why were we elected by the people? I feel you should have a little more respect for the Utilities Board’s decision, and at least call for a meeting between the boards before final action is taken.

It is time to review the City municipal authority and responsibilities of the Utilities Board. This will take a vote of the people to decide. The Utilities Board is having a special meeting tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Council could table action tonight and meet with the Utilities Board tomorrow and listen to what the majority of the Utilities Board’s story is. That’s all I have to say.

B. Bob Smith, 2825 San Juan Avenue, said he seconded all of the comments made by Mr. Aldea. He then spoke about the public hearing that was held concerning an access road to Bent’s Old Fort from Highway 50 to Highway 194. He expressed disappointment that the attendance at this meeting was very poor, especially in the light of our desire to improve our tourism efforts.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A. Ordinances

1. Second Reading/AN ORDINANCE MAKING SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS TO THE SEWER FUND AND ELECTRIC FUND FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR 2007. The ordinance was read by title only, there being copies available to those in attendance.

MOTION TO ADOPT THE ORDINANCE ON SECOND READING: Martin
SECOND: Johnson

DISCUSSION: Moreno said we should take Vic Aldea’s suggestion and talk to the Utilities Board tomorrow afternoon; he therefore made the following motion to table the ordinance.

MOTION TO TABLE THIS ORDINANCE UNTIL WE CAN MEET AND DISCUSS IT WITH THE UTILITIES BOARD: Moreno
SECOND: Freidenberger

DISCUSSION: Freidenberger said “If you read the minutes that were presented to you, they were accurate and that was the thrust of my statements at the last meeting, that the way we were doing it I just felt wasn’t the correct way to go about it. I think if the Council and Utilities Board had had a chance to work together on this and come up with a compromise, it would have been better for everybody. Your statements, Mr. Rizzuto, that the Electric Fund had provided money for the pool and so forth – that was done with consent and planning, not just over-ruling, and I think this needs to be discussed.

Those voting YES: Freidenberger, Moreno
Those voting NO: Martin, Mestas, Johnson, Rizzuto, Sneath

The motion failed to pass 2-5.

MAYOR RIZZUTO CALLED FOR VOTE ON THE MAIN MOTION TO ADOPT THE ORDINANCE ON SECOND READING.

Those voting YES: Martin, Mestas Johnson, Rizzuto, Sneath
Those voting NO: Freidenberger, Moreno
The motion carried 5-2.

2. Second Reading/AN ORDINANCE MAKING SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS TO THE WATER FUND AND ELECTRIC FUND FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR 2007. The ordinance was read by title only, there being copies available to those in attendance.

MOTION TO TABLE THIS ORDINANCE UNTIL COUNCIL CAN MEET WITH THE UTILITIES BOARD: Moreno
SECOND: Freidenberger

DISCUSSION: None

Those voting YES: Freidenberger, Moreno

Those voting NO: Martin, Mestas, Johnson, Rizzuto, Sneath

The motion failed to pass 2-5.

MOTION TO ADOPT THE ORDINANCE ON SECOND READING: Martin
SECOND: Mestas

DISCUSSION: None

Those voting YES: Martin, Mestas, Johnson, Rizzuto, Sneath
Those voting NO; Freidenberger, Moreno

The complete minutes may be found here: City Council Minutes 15 October 2007

10/17/07

10/16/07

Special

"Hey! Hey!" shouted Billy as he whizzed by on his Ghisallo. We were walking back from the Fruita tour group meeting at the Otero Museum. Billy pulled the Ghisallo around in a 10-G turn that would have blacked out Steve Canyon, and stopped alongside us.

"Hey! Hey! Didja go to the special meetin' of the Utility Board?" he asked.

"Nope. Not me. Leece did," I told him.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"It didn't. None of the council members showed up, though Chairman Vic invited them last night at the council meeting," she said, "so the board let the resolutions hang fire. They voted to neither accept nor disapprove them."

"Huh. Huh. Wuzzint Councilman Bob there? Ain't he a member a the Utility Board?" Billy asked.

"Oh sure. Bob Freidenberger was there. They mayor wasn't, and he's a member of the Utes Board, too. And some of the candidates were there. Cat Walden, Cheryl Lindner, and Diane Rikhof were there, as was Bob Smith. Didn't see any others. Of course, after that business of ramming it through last night, in essence telling Chairman Vic to go pound sand, I'm not surprised they weren't there. It strikes me as a real one-fingered social salute from council to the board. It's already been made abundantly clear that council does not consider the Utility Board worth taking seriously. So why waste time showing up at a meeting the results of which will just be ignored anyway?"

"Say," I chimed in, "let's go over to the Library Board meeting. They's always some good snacks at that one."

And so we went over to get the lowdown on the library.

The two million dollar two-step

Yesterday at 4:00 PM there was a special meeting of the Utility Board:

City Notices

As you can see, the items on the agenda were the budget amendments moving the money from the electric fund to the water and sewer funds.

Monday night at the city council meeting, Utilities Board Chairman Vic Aldea addressed council over the high-handed manner in which the authority and judgment of the Utilities Board have been undermined.

He was ignored.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Johnson rushed to make and second the motion to accept the budget amendments.

Mr. Moreno applied the brakes a bit, in a manner of speaking, by stating that the action should be tabled until after the special Utilities Board meeting. The brakes failed, Aldea was completely discounted and ignored, and council voted to accept the budget amendments. And, Mr. Freidenberger's counsel was again completely ignored.

Yet the budget amendments had not yet been voted on by the Utilities Board.

What does that tell us about the Council's attitude toward the Utilities Board, which is elected by the people to oversee and manage the utilities funds?

It tells us that council is discounting the judgment of the Utilities Board members, who have spent years studying utilities funding, and their professional advisors, who run our city utilities departments. It tells We the People that our elected Utilities Board members are meaningless, and especially so in an election year. It also tells us once again that the majority of our council members are not willing to listen to reason, to attempt, much less accept, compromise, or work with others...and most importantly, that they are perfectly willing to vote on important issues on which they are poorly briefed and on which they are inadequately informed. At the last meeting this became quite clear when Mr. Johnson threw his temper tantrum over not having had anything 'to read' on the matter.

Why Mr. Johnson was not moved to ask questions about the matter, or to table the matter till he could be better informed, or to attend the Utilities Board meeting at which this was discussed remains one of The Great Mysteries of the Universe...but it didn't stop him from voting.

City council has made up its collective mind and will not be 'cornfused' by fact.

The mayor, who also sits on the Utilities Board, was the sole dissenting vote over the Utilities Board's decision to go with loans versus grants. One vote. Yet by lobbying his fellow council members, who are poorly informed and demonstrably so, he has managed to circumvent the authority of an elected board. The Utilities Board is not an 'advisory board'. It is an elected board, deriving its authority through the Constitutionally ordained Home Rule Charter, and a loophole in the Home Rule Charter is being exploited to allow this political opportunism to occur. It would seem that it is time for a charter amendment process to begin. That would seem to be the only way to keep the fingers out of the till, and to bring some measure of those Constitutional checks and balances back into play.

We've heard some of the most specious and flatly incorrect explanations of what is 'the people's money' and how corporate shareholding works that you will ever hear outside of the Karl Marx Institute for Higher Finances. Considering the source, it reinforces my decision to move my own funds elseplace some years back. I was asked back then why I did that. It should be readily apparent now.

But the most interesting thing about yesterday's special meeting of the Utility Board is that council, although invited to attend, was conspicuously absent. The mayor was not there, and he is a member of the Utility Board. Councilman Bob Freidenberger, also a member of the Utes Board, was there. He was the only council member there.

Candidates who attended: Lindner, Walden, Rikhof, Smith.

10/14/07

"A game of bowls..."

"Hey! Hey!" Billy shouted as he skidded to a stop in the parking lot of The Holy Land Quickee's.

"Yo dawg. Wut up?" I asked. Leece was busy snuffling one of those Juan Diego burritos and didn't answer.

"Hey! Hey! I gots my bumper stickers in. Want one?"

"You betcha. Got 'em with you?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. Here. Have one. No. Have a bunch. Pass 'em out," Billy gushed. He was very exuberant.

"OK. So. What's new?"

"Well, Urban Renewal is gonna git us a new bowlin' alley!" he exclaimed.

"Really?" This was news to me.

"Ummm...Billy...I don't think that's the way it went down," Leece pointed out.

"Oh yeah? Hey. Hey. I hear there's a buncha them college kids from OJC what wants a bowlin' alley before even a theater! Kin ya bleeve that? Hooda thunk it?"

Indeed. Hooda thunk it.

"I heard there's a movement afoot to move the Utilities Board meeting from 4 in the afternoon to an evening time, when more people could or would come," I said.

"Uh...oh...I gits it. Yeah. Yeah. I gits it now. You think they's a 'personal interest' at stake here?" he asked.

"Well, sure. Look at the source of the sudden interest. Now, it would surely be a good thing if the bowling alley were back in business, but what's the real motivation here?" Leece queried.

"Huh. Huh. Hey. Hey. Ya know I spend a lotta time up in The Big City, right?"

"Yep."

"So's I've noticed them bowlin' alleys draw in the biggest crowds with the high-end arcades. The bowlin' is secondary. Lookit Fat City up there for example."

"Precisely so. I guess we'd have to really look at why our bowling alley went belly up. I know what the party line is, but that's not what I'm hearing as The Whole Story," Leece told him.

"So. Maybe you should do a little o' that there 'investigative reportin' and git the scoop, huh?"

"Sure. Or, since you're probing the rumors of hospital closure and unrest among the natives over hours and pay scales and some interesting FLSA 'issues', maybe you could exercise your own talents in that area," she suggested.

"Hey. Hey. I could do that. I could break the story. That'd be good fer my campaign."

And with that, he hopped back on his Ghisallo and hied off for his Twelve Step in 'Pebbler.'

10/11/07

Embracing the Third Way

Another post over on Yahbut:

Embracing the Third Way

Reminder:

Leece hosts a Sunday morning discussion group - not a 'Sunday School' - over at the Nazarene church. Right now she is doing "The Jesus I Never Knew", though the group has gone off on some very ...interesting... tangents. It starts at 9:15 and continues till 10:15 or later; sometimes it has been known to carry on past the start of the regular service at 10:30. Anyone is welcome. Donuts and coffee strong enough to eat the wood off a pencil are always on hand.

Movies and elections

LJ Movie Critic left a comment under "Campaign Issue?"

Balicki vs Rizzuto vs Archuleta?

Who would have known....

(Copy and paste)...view this youtube link, (the first 1 minute and 36 seconds)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paKA3skBjLM

++++

10/10/07

Getting along with the Boss: Knowing a relational God

Leece has another post up on Yahbut, written for Dr. Thomas Oord's (aka 'The Oord Supremacy')class in Readings in Western Spirituality, Northwestern Nazarene University:

Getting along with the Boss


Campaign issue?

Mayoral candidate Davied Balicki's allegation of police inadequacies in the investigation of his burglary a couple of years ago seems to have drawn some ire.

Since Mr. Balicki has made the matter a campaign issue by stating that the police department needs 'resources' in order to do its job as a crime-crushing organization rather than serving as weed enforcers and 'fund raisers', I would agree with our commenter that Mr. Balicki should illustrate more clearly what he finds to be the issue.

If Mr. Balicki will not release the case report, perhaps the media can either obtain the documents from the police department simply by asking for them, or by using the various Freedom of Information tools at hand.

10/9/07

"Lots of ’splainin’..."

Here is a good editorial in the Pueblo Chieftain:

Lots of ’splainin’

When the series of articles about the Fort Carson money trail ran in the paper, illustrating this 'golden curtain' was the exact purpose of those articles. That, and pointing out that all that money going in up there is hard for a bunch of Hicks from the Sticks to fight. "Good neighborliness" goes out the window when a couple of billion bux come to town.

The Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition has stated that there are 'a lot' of people up in El Paso county who are opposed to the expansion.

In all the trips we've made up to Fort Carson, USAFA, Peterson, and Colorado Springs in general, we have not seen one "Not 4 Sale" button. Quite the contrary. Businesses up there are chuckling over the 'ka-ching' of cash registers, and employees who have suffered through the dry days of the early deployments are now back in the bux...or getting there.

I'm sure there are people up there who are opposed to the expansion. There are always people opposed to something. But are they in significant numbers? Not that we've seen.

I liked Salazar's 'golden curtain' term, which I heard for the first time at the meeting on Saturday. It fits. And it is exactly right. I wish I'd thought of it.

3A

There is a movement in Swink for a new gym.

3A, which will be on the ballot, will float a new gym if approved.

The cost of the new gym, according to Friends of Swink School, is about $3 million. They have $350,000 from a Colorado Energy grant; district cash reserves of about $600,000, and the bond proceeds will add $2.5 million.

According to a flyer being circulated by the Friends of Swink School, this will add a property tax burden of $4.70 per month per $50,000 of property market value.

There will be a town meeting on Wednesday, October 24, 7:30 PM, in the Swink High School multipurpose room to answer questions and for discussion.

10/8/07

Meet and Greet

Cheryl Lindner, candidate for city council in Ward 2, and Kat Walden, candidate for city council in Ward 3, are hosting a Meet and Greet on October 14, 4:00 PM, at the 14th Street Gazebo in City Park. Live music provided by Spotlight Productions.

Lindner and Walden have all of the T-D articles on the candidates and the election posted for all to read, down at The Barista.

By popular demand...

Here is mayoral candidate Davied Balicki's entire and unedited response to what he sees as the issues facing The Smile Hi City and what he would do about them:



Mayoral candidate Balicki's comments on issues and answers


Rick on Raton

Has posted a comment to "Mayor candidate Balicki's comment on hospital closure". Here it is as a primary post:


Accurately assessed? I can conclude an accurate personal observation, but disagree with the statement of an accurate assessment.

With respect to the Blogmeister's personal opinion, can anyone else think or reply with a post which is actually viable for discussion?

Blogmeister, as usual, I respect your opinion, as well as appreciate your complete thought. I will now post an argument to raise an intelligent discussion. Similarly, this post is not intended to stand as a put down, or as a complete view of my opinion, but rather to supplement an opposition to what has so far been a single sided debate.

The recent posts have been even more exciting than usual due to the time spent to post the audio clips. Is it possible to post a longer clip of Mr. Balicki's speech? It is hard to understand the full meaning behind a statement without hearing the supporting information before and after the highlighted audio we are discussion.

I support Ms. Archuleta and Mr. Balicki's decision to run for Mayor. I am having a difficult time following the post of:

"I agree that Friedenberger could easily defeat Rizzuto. But Friedenberger is on the Utility Board, and the mayor has for all practical purposes flushed that board into our newly sliplined sewer mains."

In your opinion, is Friedenberger's position on the Utility Board an excuse for his decision not to run? After all, the sewer issue didn't come up until recently. If he won verses the "Don" then he might have had have had a chance to clear that negative image. The mayor after all is on the same board, so in my perspective if there was a negative view of the Utility Board they would share the credit.

With that being said, and to support my continued effort to post in a manner that is fair and balanced, I offer the following thought.

A gentleman's agreement between candidates in my opinion is not a viable cause for a candidate's decision to run for office. Mr. Friedenberger may have been able to win by a landslide, (Ironically, LANDSLIDE was a name Councilman Moreno self-bestowed upon himself after the last election in which he won by a considerable amount) however, Mr. Fridenberger decided not to run for the position, so why should we worry ourselves with the matter? Positive or negative, he isn't running for mayor. If we would have built a lunar station on the moon in the 80's then it would have been a great achievement, but we didn't so it doesn't really matter. As far as I'm concerned, we should be discussing the mayor race between the three candidates.

Second, we should think a bit about the future of the council. If the "four or five on council" are all out after the election, how will that effect the participation between the new council and the various boards?

What will Mr. Friedenberger, Mr. "The Don" or the others do if they are voted out of office? Will Friedenberger run for Utility Board next time around? Will he take a chance at Mayor? Will "The Don who is no longer the true Don" retire from local politics? One question I ask every candidate that I speak to is: "What will you do if you're not voted in/reelected?"

If incumbents are voted out, will they still play an active role in voicing their informed opinions? If a challenger is not elected, will they take part in community and council efforts later on? If so in either case, will it be to sit, watch, and complain, or will it be in an active manner with input from neighbors, friends, family etc?

What exactly is the Sarlo Machine? I do not see either of the candidates for mentioned in the Blogmiester's post as having a viable affiliation with any of the Sarlo family. What is the affiliation? Thank you.

As always, with the utmost respect to all readers and blog participants....

Regards from Rick.

10/7/07

FLSA

We stopped by The Barista for a frappie.

DinkyDau Billy was there. He had another pile of papers in front of him as he munched on the quiche special. From the looks of his table, he was on his third one.

"Good quiche?" I asked. I was kind of partial to them myself. But three of those babies would kick my cholesterol into overdrive. Especially followed up by a double scoop of blueberry cheesecake ice cream.

"Yeah. Yeah. Really good today. Love this stuff."

"Whatever happened to 'real men don't eat quiche',Billy?" asked Leece, "and how are you going to reconcile eating quiche with plastic bull testicles?"

"I got in touch with my feminine side," he explained, "we politicians gotta appeal to a broad spectrum of our constituencies."

"I see. So. What are you studying?"

"This is some interestin' stuff. I gots the opinions for New Hanover Regional Medical Center's FLSA case. They ended up payin' out $1.3 million in back wages fer screwin' with the employees' hours. They's also talkin' 'bout salaried employees what you'd think was exempt. They's some innerestin' stuff in the Shawnee Medical Center case, too, and these other cases. Findlaw is really cool," Billy shared.

Our frappies came and we settled in at the table next to Billy.

"Dude. You want a frappie?" I asked him.

He didn't answer. He was deeply engrossed. He had his laptop up and running and was scribbling notes like a steno in overdrive.

"Hey Billy. From your studies do you think they'll be able to maintain that Fitch rating? If they can't maintain that operating margin that could likely affect that rating, won't it? Push it down?" Billy likes to get into finances. Ask him about Vanguard investments sometime.

"Ummm...it's innerestin' that Fitch don't like their disclosure process regardin' NRMSIRS, and talks about our weak economic and demographic characteristics. Don't bug me, dude, I'm reedin' this stuff."

Billy can be somewhat difficult when he's really focused and digging. So we didn't bug him. We savored our frappies, and then left. Billy never looked up.

"Messin' with the wrong bull..."

We stopped by The Holy Land's Quickee on the way to America's Favorite Place to shop.

DinkyDau Billy was there at one of the tables. He had several piles of papers in front of him.

"Wutsup, Billy?" asked Leece.

"I'm doin' some investigative reportin'," he said, "and also gettin' my campaign set up. This is gonna be my campaign headquarters."

Leece and I gave each other our Dragnet glances.

"Investigative reporting?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. The hospital is remarkably sloppy with their shreddin'," Billy confided.

"You've been dumpster diving behind the hospital?" Leece asked.

"Nah. I got a pal what sets this stuff by the dumpster in a plastic bag. Don't have to dive. Good thing, too, cuz you never know what you'll find in a hospital dumpster. Used WonderRoast is one thing. Surgical rejecks is another."

That was a distressing thought.

"So...what about campaign headquarters?" I had to ask.

"I'm runnin' a write in campaign. 'DinkyDau Billy fer Mayor'. I gots bumperstickers on order."



"But Billy, you don't live in The Smile Hi City. You live in The Holy Land," Leece pointed out.

"Don't cornfuse the issue," he said, "that's the problem. Them candidates git all cornfused."

"There's nothing to be confused," she said,"you have to live in The Smile Hi City to run for mayor of The Smile Hi City. It's a fact."

"That's what I mean," he explained, "facts jist cornfuse the issue."

"Oh. Good point. You mean like the transfer from the electrical fund. Yes, I see what you mean," she finally agreed.

"I'm also gettin' some plastic bull testicles, too, to hand out."

We gave each other a really long Dragnet glance. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon would have been exceedingly proud of us.

I had to ask. "Plastic bull testicles?"

"Yep. Last time I heard that was in one a these here local po-litikul races. Mayoral, if I remember keerect, and I do. 'That boy is messing with the wrong bull,'" I heard it said, "'I'm gonna slap him down good'. So I figger I'll git some plastic bull testicles to hand out. Makes sense, doncher think?"

"I guess. I dunno if the little ol' ladies will think much of it," Leece expressed some doubts.

"No sweat. I'm gonna talk about givin' 'em all vouchers for their 'lectric and water and sewer bills," Billy revealed, "It'll be my new municipal energy bill."

"Huh. Will there be an age limit?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. But I ain't decided yet. I'm thinkin' I might go with the water restriction exemption age. 80, ain't it?" he asked.

"Yes. I believe so. But you know, there are a lot of people in their late 60's and in their 70's who are are fixed income, too. What about them?"

"Huh. Huh. Yeah. Yeah. Yer right. OK. If they can show they's on fixed income I'll give 'em a voucher," he decided.

"When your bumper stickers come in, can we have a couple?" Leece asked.

"Course ya can. Will you vote fer me?"

"I don't see how. We live in The Holy Land."

"There ya go again," he shook his head in frustration, "cornfusin' things with them facts."

"Well, you could run for mayor of The Holy Land. Do you want to run for mayor of The Holy Land too?"

"Sure. Why not," he said. Billy was in an expansive mood. Some might say he had visions of grandeur.

On the other hand, he might win.

10/5/07

Mi Casa Su Casa

A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. She lowers her altitude and spots a man fishing from a boat below.

She shouts to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consults his portable GPS and replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolls her eyes and says, "You must be a Republican!"

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answers the balloonist, "everything you tell me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you're not much help to me."

The man smiles and responds, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replies the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met but somehow, now it's my fault."

Mayor candidate Davied Balicki's comment on hospital closure

As others have noted, at the Candidates' Forum Mr. Balicki made a brief comment about the hospital closing or staying open. This clip is 22 seconds long and is Mr. Balicki's comment on this matter in its entirety. I have no other information on this subject.



Mayor Candidate Davied Balicki's comment on hospital closure

10/4/07

Senator Salazar meets with opponents to Piñon Canyon expansion

Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition

Meet with Senator Ken Salazar to oppose the Piñon Canyon Expansion Plan

Saturday, October 6th, 2:45pm
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Hasan School of Business Auditorium

Senator Ken Salazar will meet with County Commissioners and Southeastern Colorado citizens opposing the proposed Pentagon expansion of the Piñon Canyon Manuever Site.

Please bring your friends and family to this very important meeting in Pueblo.

Directions:

From I-25: Take Exit 101 (Hwy 50)
At end of exit, head East on Hwy 50 West. On Hwy 50, take exit from Bonforte Blvd. Turn left on Bonforte Blvd, which will dead end onto the CSU-P campus. Turn right when you get on campus. Follow signs for the Business Building. Park in any parking lot. The auditorium is on the first floor.

Piñon Canyon Opposition Coalition
P.O. Box 137
Kim, CO 81049
Phone/Fax: (719) 643-5600
Toll Free: (866) 426-7026

Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition

10/2/07

Council Minutes: Discussion - Budget Amendment for Funds Transfer

This is a 22 minute MP3 segment of the debate and vote for the budget amendment moving funds from the electric fund to the water fund and sewer fund. City council meeting 10.01.2007:



Budget Amendment Discussion



Council Minutes: TID Public Hearing discussion

This is a 5 minute MP3 segment of the TID Public Hearing discussion from the city council meeting of 10.01.2007:



TID Public Hearing discussion



Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Recently, the T-D carried an article entitled "City has enough money to fund an emergency".

In that article, we find that the auditors tell us that we should have $11,809,920 in the Electric Fund. Right now, we have $8.9 million.

In previously cited T-D articles, we saw that Utilities Board chairman Vic Aldea talked about critically needed upgrades to the engines and equipment at the city's power plant. He stated that we need about $1 million per megawatt, and that we have a 15 megawatt capacity. That seems to be $15 million.

From Chairman Vic's comments, it would appear that already know about 'issues' within the power generation infrastructure that must be addressed, and generally what that the price tag is.

And we're still going to get the rate increase, too late, and probably too little. If we have not acted on two previous rate studies, and costs have risen since those studies were done, the recommended rate increase is likely to be significant.

Here are some previous articles on rate studies and rate increases:

10/12/2005: The race is on: city candidates state their views

01/11/2006: Utilities Board won't raise rates yet

09/13/2006: Utilities board recommends sewer, water rate increases

The elderly on fixed income have been cited as the reason for granting rather than loaning 'the people's money'. Since when has the city become a bastion of socialism? This whole process has been a classic case study in Marxist economic theory, centering on 'redistribution of wealth'. I think we covered that in Econ 101.

There are programs already in place for assisting people with utilities bills. Here is a starting point for researching those:

LIHEAP Clearing House

Here is the Colorado-specific site:

Colorado Low-income Energy Program

And what about the community. The Nazarene church has a fund for helping folks who are having trouble. I rather doubt they are the only church in town who does that.