BY DAVID KERBERGREENWOOD VILLAGE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER While we are distracted by the impeachment of the Preside...
On Monday, we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. It wasn’t until 1...
BY SAM ZAKHEM – U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BAHRAIN UNDER H.W. BUSH & LITTLETON RESIDENT Your editorial,...
Ramblin’ around the corral with Bob Sweeney Come along with me as we ride down the busy trail this week...
Erma Bombeck was a great speaker and writer and another great pundit was Andy Rooney who always had a di...
BY KATHY TURLEYCENTENNIAL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER Which one are you? Let’s explore, shall we? Since the beginning...
Denver’s RTD, or Regional Transportation District, meets public transit needs by providing “safe, clean, relia...
Over 40.1 million Americans live in poverty, nearly one third are children. In spite of the growing economy, 1...
Ramblin’ around the corral with Bob Sweeney The past two weeks have been challenging. The Christma...
The Middle East is boiling over with religious intolerance, civil strife, killing of Christians and hatr...
BY DAVID KERBERGREENWOOD VILLAGE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
While we are distracted by the impeachment of the President and returning our Christmas gifts, I came across an article about RTD. It was talking about how RTD was losing all of this money. “Ok Captain Obvious,” you say, but no, this was special.
In 2018, RTD took in $143 million in revenues, but spent a whopping $777 million in operating costs. The financial situation is so dire not only because RTD is losing its shirt on the fare vs. operating cost battle, but the RTD tax that we pay on every purchase and is supposed to cover the rest, well…it isn’t. RTD officials admit that not only aren’t the fares and taxes enough cover the operating costs, but that there will be a $12 million/yr shortfall and may require “painful budget cuts.”
The RTD solution? It is going to engage in a “2-year Reimagination” project so RTD can “Reimagine” itself during which I reimagine that large amounts of money will be spent on meetings and consultants. Now I admit, my light rail experience is limited since it doesn’t go anywhere I go, and, the last time I took it, I nearly froze to death waiting for the train and vowed never to do anything so stupid again, but I think the analysis is pretty easy. RTD is selling a service that costs a lot of money to a small group of people who don’t want to pay what it costs. In the normal non-RTD world where you have a business that provides a service that not enough people want, you go bankrupt, and you have to go and get a job.
RTD’s historical response has been to expand the light rail system. You know; lose money but make it up in volume. As Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Since 2006, we have built Union Station, opened the West line, the A line to the Airport, the B line and the R line in Aurora. Despite these expansions, total ridership has actually declined by almost 6 million since 2014 alone. Still the idea of expanding the system in the northern suburbs and to Longmont remains.
Apparently, even the RTD bus and rail operators don’t want to take public transit. Out of an organization of 1083 bus drivers, 710 quit over the last 3 years and 201 of 710 light rail operators left as well. In August, RTD had 295 dropped trips. “Dropped trips” is public transit speak for it doesn’t show up when it says it is going to. Tough break if you have to do something like get to work on time or meet your parole officer.
At what point will RTD realize that light rail is neither financially sustainable, reliable or fair? Maybe we shouldn’t spend more than 30% of our transportation dollars to move only 4% of our riders. Maybe as a society we should take that wasted money and reallocate it to fixing our highways.
On Monday, we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday.
It wasn’t until 1985, with much controversy, that the United State Congress designated the third Monday in January as a federal holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The City of Aurora has celebrated a week long MLK program for the last 31 years. The week celebration, founded by Dr. Barbara Shannon-Banister, includes lectures, forums, church services and a ceremonial wreath laying honoring Dr. King’s legacy.
The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s non-violent efforts to bring down the veil of racial prejudice and bring together a coalition of many races and religious leaders to help him in his quest for justice is a remarkable achievement. His nearly thirty years of persistence helped focus America’s attention to the most heinous examples of hateful behavior toward Africa-Americans to deny them the basic principles of human and political rights.
Through the concerted effort of many, America was exposed through the graphic television footage, the examples of coordinated violence against African-Americans being denied the right to assemble, fair housing, the right to vote and free speech, at the end of a bully club, or worse.
It took Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination before President Lyndon Johnson and his persuasive congressional lobbying to enact the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act which put the federal government behind the effort to grant and enforce the civil rights of all minorities.
Unfortunately, the dream of Dr. King continues to be under threat, it has been over 50 years since the monumental enactment of civil and voting rights legislation.
In 2013, The US Supreme Court gutted provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by removing provisions of the Act that required certain southern states to be monitored by the US Department of Justice to ensure that minority voting rights were not denied or restricted of their Constitutional right to vote.
Almost immediately several states placed restrictive barriers to prevent minorities from voting. Those restrictions included changing voting locations, enforcing burdensome voting requirements such as voter ID requirements, and the purging of eligible voter files.
The federal and appellate courts continue to overturn these local and state efforts to restrict minorities from voting. But these issues to deny or restrict minorities from exercising their Constitutional right to vote continues in some states.
Another troubling phenomenon is the rise of hate crimes against many minority communities.
Even in Aurora we have seen a significant increase in anti-minority and religious hate crimes against Africa-Americans, Jews, Hispanics and Muslims. These crimes include spray painting KKK symbols on doors, slashing tires of Hispanics and threating and insulting Muslim women.
Per national crime statistics, hate crimes throughout the nation have seen a 26% increase in just the last year. Much of this increase in ethnic discriminatory behavior is attributable to the hateful rhetoric coming out of last years’ presidential compaign. Apparently, many hate groups see the rise of hateful rhetoric against minority communities as a license of acceptance and encouragement to them to come out of their basements and physically act on their prejudices.
Many of the leaders of the African-American communities are alarmed by increases in discrimination against minority communities and the preserved lack of support expressed by the new president-elect and attorney general in supporting their civil rights.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, called for all Americans to judge people by the “content of their character” not by their ethnic or religious background. He also said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.”
We all must play a role in helping to drive out the darkness of hate and discrimination so that everyone can fully embrace the freedoms we all should share.
BY SAM ZAKHEM – U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BAHRAIN UNDER H.W. BUSH & LITTLETON RESIDENT
Your editorial, Iran could be on thin ice in last week’s Villager, accurately portrays the Iranian regime of Ayatollah Khamenie and his henchman General Qassem Suleimani, Commander of the Quds Force. You hit the nail on the head. Not only is the Khamenie regime set on destroying Israel, but, like its predecessor, the Khomeini regime, it is strongly anti-
American and is determined to spread terror and unrest in the whole Middle East. The killing of General Suleimani was a courageous and proper decision by President Trump. As a matter of fact, getting rid of this terrorist who was responsible for killing and wounding thousands of our soldiers and guilty of spreading violence throughout the Middle East, was long overdue. It behooves the critics of President Trump’s action to think about the numerous crimes committed by Suleimani and his proxies since he came to power with his Quds force in 1998. His murderous trail extends from the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, to murders in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, among other terror activities. Those critics should ask themselves where Suleimani was coming from and why he was in Baghdad. He was coming from Lebanon which, due to Suleimani’s proxies has become an Iranian satellite, and was headed to Baghdad to plan the takeover of the American Embassy and hold its staff hostage as the Khomeini regime did to our Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
During the Shah’s regime Iran was our best friend in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, the United States created Central Command and Middle East Force for the purpose of defending Iran from an invasion by the Soviet Union. When President Carter failed to support the Shah during the uprising in Tehran in 1979, Ayattollah Khomeini came to power and ushered in the Islamic Republic of Iran. With that, Iran became an ardent and vocal enemy of the United States. The first hostile action of the Khomeini regime was to take over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and to hold all the American staff hostage until the day President Reagan was sworn in as president, on January 20th, 1981. I am sure that Khomeini knew that President Reagan, unlike his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, would punish him and his regime if he did not release our hostages.
The Khomeini regime continued its unlawful acts during the Iran-Iraq war, from 1986 to 1989. Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf waters through the straits of Hormuz against international law. Iran’s unlawful actions threatened the export of oil from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar. Most of the oil used by the free world, at the time, came from those countries and if Iran’s attacks on the tankers did not cease, that could have led to terrible economic crises affecting most countries in the free world. That is why President Reagan asked Congress to pass legislation allowing the administration to reflag the tankers of these oil exporting countries with the American flag giving us the right to escort and protect the tankers through the strait of Hormuz. This happened during my tenure as the U.S. Ambassador in Bahrain, the country which hosted U.S. Central Command and Mid East Force under the Command Of General Norman Schwarszkoft. We had 42 warships operating from Bahrain and on April 15, 1989 our navy destroyed all the Iranian warships that engaged it, including their best and most powerful destroyers, named Sabalan, Jashan and Iran Ajr.
Those of us who understand the Middle East and are aware of the Islamic Republic’s history of disregard for international law and morality are disheartened when so many congressmen and senators attack and criticize President Trump, instead of lining up behind him for his bold decision to take out Suleimani who caused all the chaos and terror across the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, in order to finance his terrorist activities and ventures, Suleimani, with the help of Ayatollah Khamanei, drove his country to the brink of bankruptcy. Due to his terrorist ventures the United States had to slap Iran with deadly economic sanctions, resulting in great suffering to the Iranian people. As a result, the Iranian people are suffering from high unemployment, high prices for gasoline, food products and other necessities. I truly believe that deep inside, majority of Iranians are rejoicing that Suleimani is no more and hoping that his demise will bring sanity back to the rulers of their country. I hope that the people’s wishes will be respected and Iran will again be a respectable member of the community of nations. The Iranian people were among the best and most highly educated people in the Middle East and I hope their glory will return and the United States and Iran would again be friends.
Come along with me as we ride down the busy trail this week to events, places, and people. It was a very interesting week following what was a confusing two-week period with the major holidays occurring in the middle of the week. The retailers were busy over the next three days with sales from gift money and returned items. This local retail activity provides the sales tax that directly or indirectly supports are cities, fire department, police, and government agencies. Greenwood Village last year drew in more than $24 million in retail sales revenue. Sales tax is the glue that holds our tax structure together along with property taxes. Both are under rising pressure from on-line purchases and governmental pressures to provide more services to the public.
I had the pleasure of attending a Heritage Eagle Bend program featuring Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. In his first year as the leader of this massive school district he is following very well in large footprints from prior school district leaders. The school board has always done a masterful job of finding new leadership and promoted Siegfried to this top position. He faces challenges leading this Forbes Magazine ranked 8th “best employer” in Colorado. He also has the second largest work staff in Arapahoe County with almost 60,000 students.
Matt Weiss, world history and economics teacher at Cherry Creek High School states in a brochure, “We’re not just talking about innovation, we’re doing it. I take pride as a parent, employee and graduate of Cherry Creek Schools, we’re creating the future now.”
The Cherry Creek School District could be under a major budget crisis if a new bill in the state legislature passes that would create a “Uniform mill levy” for all school districts. This might be summarized by taking from the more affluent school districts to assist the more economically depressed school districts across the state and there are many. Cherry Creek school taxpayers have always stood up for the school district and the present mil levy is approximately 18 mills.
This rate has decreased because the school leadership did not take the loophole around the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. (Tabor)
Now comes the legislature contemplating a new law to implement a uniform 27 mills for all Colorado school districts to supposedly fix a state revenue problem.
The financial impact on the district would be massive with voters having to agree to increase their property taxes to a higher level or face reduce funding to Cherry Creek schools by drastic amounts.
Needless to say, this bill needs to be killed by our local elected state representatives and senators.
Supt. Siegfried did not dwell on this subject, I just happen to know about this bill from chamber and legislative sources that are gathering support to oppose this legislation.
Elsewhere in this Villager you can read about the positive progress of the school district as they work hard to “Move Forward”
We will need help from local state representative Jeff Bridges, Susan Beckman, et al. jeff.
Covered the Greenwood Village city council meeting on Monday night. Freda was out of town so had the highlights of that meeting in last week’s newspaper. One issue sticks in my mind with the city embarking on a new pilot program for aesthetic improvements to remodel existing older city buildings. The city approved allowing a considerable tax break to a proposed new bistro restaurant for a roof top beer garden. Only councilman Kerber voted against this proposal.
This entire pilot program should be reevaluated before other projects are proposed or approved.
I arrived late at the Cherry Hills city council session Tuesday night and was only able to hear member and staff reports. There was a very short agenda and the council moved into Executive Session at 7:15 to discuss the hiring of a new city manager and probably to review applications. I’d let city clerk Laura Gillespie run the city.
Thursday night I had dinner with Ambassador Sam Zakhem and we discussed the Iranian situation. He was the Ambassador to Bahrain during the Desert Storm conflict and knows the history of the entire Middle East. I asked him for a column about the war that is in this week’s Villager. Sam is a lifelong friend coming to Craig in the 70s to play against the Moffat County high school volleyball squad where I had two daughters playing. He defeated the team all by himself with an awesome serve he developed playing on the Lebanese Olympic team in his youth. He was a state legislator and senator, holds a doctorate degree and was a fabulous Ambassador to the Middle East speaking fluent Arabic. He is the highest-ranking Middle East native that has served in that position. They could use him now with his keen understanding of culture, history, and customs. He travels extensively in the Middle East working to save Christians from annihilation.
Missed the Coors media party Friday night. The annual event
was at the stock show booth exhibit building soon to be torn down as the National Western Complex undergoes a massive remodel and addition of a CSU campus facility at the site.
New Redstone Bank is opening in Littleton January 27. This will be their second location coming from eastern Centennial over to Littleton. A locally owned institution operated by some friendly folks.
Apparently, the work of Greg Reinke and his followers has gained the ear of South Metro fire officials and they have lowered the rates charged for local events. Many thanks to Greg for standing up for Littleton and all other municipalities in the vast fire districts to gain support for local non-profits and civic minded organizations. A thanks to fire district leaders for listening to the people.
Lastly, a surprising act of kindness from Shirley McClintock, who with another friend sent us a Starbucks gift card in appreciation of having the
Villagers delivered to them every week. An unsolicited act of kindness!
According to the oldest newspaper in Colorado The Weekly Register-Call out of Central City, reporting 151 years ago on January 14, 1870 the following: “Governor Edward M. McCook offered a reward of $200 for the apprehension and conviction of the parties who had been robbing the mails between Cheyenne and Denver.”
The wild west wasn’t so long ago in Colorado.
Erma Bombeck was a great speaker and writer and another great pundit was Andy Rooney who always had a dialogue at the end of 60 minutes. A quote from Andy states, “We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk the lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document and open to their interpretations.”
It appears that the Senate hearing will commence in the near future presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. This will be a historic event for the nation and not seen since the Clinton days.
The event should be over quickly, and history buffs and political junkies will relish in the rhetoric and the posturing. In many ways this is just an issue between the three branches of government; legislative, judicial and executive. Justice Roberts will be the referee between the house and the senate.
The Supreme Court has become very important in recent decades and seems to have the final word to settle American issues. President Trump has reinforced the court’s conservative stance with his two newly appointed justices. One of his all-time greatest accomplishments of his first term in office.
Strong presidents like Reagan and Trump have strengthened the presidency, while Nixon and Clinton behavior damaged the image and power of the executive branch. We need strong presidents.
American presidents are not kings and our founding fathers almost made our first president, George Washington, ruler for life. Washington, in his wisdom, turned down these proposals and set in motion our present system.
The Congress is the people’s house and close to the voting public with elections every two years. Representatives to Congress have to continually campaign and raise money for expensive campaigns. The high cost of running for office brings in the special interest lobby money that is needed to be elected, or re-elected.
Senate races are even more expensive, and millions of dollars will be raised and spent in the upcoming Colorado Senate race this year.
Senators usually are the best of the best and serve in the most exclusive club in the world, the United States Senate. There was a time in Colorado history that the state legislature selected and elected the Senators to represent Colorado in Washington.
On the Senate horizon it
would take 67 U.S. Senators to impeach
President Trump and voting along party lines, with some exceptions, it won’t even be close.
Bottom line, this is a waste of time and money and meant to harm the presidency and weaken the executive branch of government.
Rooney said, “I don’t hate the rich; I don’t pity the poor, I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn’t stop you from watching them.”
Let the impeachment chronicles begin.
BY KATHY TURLEYCENTENNIAL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
Which one are you? Let’s explore, shall we? Since the beginning of time women have had an exceptional gift of influence, leadership and compassion. Born with an innate, intuitive sense and a nurturing spirit has afforded them opportunities for self determination as well as leading the way for cultural change. Women have the unique advantage of accessing a graceful and thoughtful demeanor when advancing an issue or idea forward. Many women, like Harriett Tubman and Margaret Thatcher have been and are today social change agents whether in their community or in their home mentoring their daughters and grand daughters. While acknowledging those historical women, it’s only been in the last 50 years that we’ve seen the advancement of women in powerful positions. Whether from oppression, societies dictates or personal passion, history has laid a path for women to excel and be “the women that they were meant to be.”
The woman in power. How does she get there? How does she navigate the systems and networks to reach her goal? How does she win the race? How does she treat others? How does she maintain her God given principles and core values? How does she treat others? Is she ego driven, blinded from kindness, patience, peace and dignity? The woman in power.
A powerful woman. A powerful woman has no need for ego or proof. Her validation is confidence, elegant stature and many “thank you’s” along the way. Grace surrounds her, exudes from her and engages those on her journey. Her agenda is pure with integrity and substance with the sole purpose for a greater cause. A powerful woman!
Like the caterpillar who climbs the mountain, kicking off others along the path only to find that by dropping off and becoming a butterfly is true liberation and personal power.
Ideally, a woman SHOULD cross over both spectrums. We are at a place in history where we CAN!
Woman, Wise & Whole – Which one are you?
Denver’s RTD, or Regional Transportation District, meets public transit needs by providing “safe, clean, reliable, courteous, accessible, and cost-effective service” throughout metro Denver, according to its website. How are they doing?
On New Year’s Eve they fell short. They were to provide free bus and light rail rides that evening through the next morning. Two of my adult children took advantage and ventured into Denver to celebrate the first hours of 2020. Getting home from Union Station, however, after midnight was not so easy as no trains appeared for over an hour.
Free rides are great for late night New Year’s revelers, so they aren’t tempted to drive under the influence of alcohol. But what happens when the ride home doesn’t appear?
Sure, there is Uber or other ride-sharing services, but surge pricing on New Year’s Eve can push prices to well over $100 for a ride from downtown to the suburbs. That was the choice dictated to many when the free RTD ride never showed up.
I’ve not seen any media reports over the trains to nowhere that evening, but there have been reports of the “train to the plane” delays. RTD notes a driver shortage, difficulty finding and retaining train and bus drivers.
The driver shortage is real, as reported by The Denver Channel. One morning this past November, “At least 37 train trips were canceled on six different lines before 6 a.m.” Yet job applicants don’t receive replies from RTD. As one applicant said, “I applied some time ago. Clean background, clean (motor vehicle record.) They never called. They can blame themselves.”
Exacerbating the problem is that ridership is on pace to fall for the fifth year in a row. Fewer riders means less revenue for equipment maintenance, leaving more riders stranded when they need a ride, turning back to their cars to get around.
When a quasi-government entity runs into mismanagement or financial problems, their knee-jerk reaction is not to solve the problem, but instead grow the bureaucracy in the whimsical hope that more oversight will fix things.
State Senator Jack Tate proposed legislation to increase the 15-member RTD board by two seats, allowing the governor to appoint two more directors. If 15 board members can’t fix this, why would adding two more provide the magic cure for RTD’s maladies?
Many large American cities have functional and reliable mass transit systems. Perhaps instead of increasing the size of the RTD board, they could shrink the board and hire one or two people from another city transit system who could rescue Denver’s RTD from its death spiral of unreliable service, declining ridership, decreasing revenue, further diminishing the service and ridership, and so on.
A strong economy with low gasoline prices is a further incentive for commuters to drive rather than hop on a bus or train, but that is beyond RTD’s control. Still they need to provide a service that consumers are willing to pay for and use. Until then, Denver’s RTD will continue to struggle.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a Denver based physician, freelance writer and occasional radio talk show host whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and QuodVerum.
Over 40.1 million Americans live in poverty, nearly one third are children.
In spite of the growing economy, 1 in 6 Americans rely on some form of government-funded food assistance. These programs include food stamps, Meals on Wheels, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), free and reduced school lunches and other programs. These food assistance programs help subsidize nutritional food for infants, children, the elderly and families living in poverty.
Without these food assistance programs many Americans would simply go hungry.
The Trump Administration is proposing a 30% cut in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps), elimination of the Community Block Grant Program, which subsides the successful Meals on Wheels program for the elderly, and other programs that provide nutritional assistance to mothers and their young children. These cuts will take over 700,000 qualified low-income families off these benefits. Many of these families are the working poor and are very dependent on these programs to feed their families.
Arapahoe County administers federal welfare programs including nutritional programs for low-income households in the county. Currently, Arapahoe County has over 19,000 individuals and families receiving SNAP nutritional food assistance.
If these proposed cuts are implemented nearly six thousand people would be terminated from Arapahoe County food assistance program. The SNAP program, as many of the other federal assistance programs, require able-bodied individuals to either attend job development programs or find work to be eligible for these benefits. These programs help low-income families find work to improve their income and eventually get off this food program, to become tax paying earners.
By cutting off the working poor from subsided nutritional programs their children’s health is in jeopardy.
Today, many Americans are only one paycheck away from not meeting their basic living expenses. The federal nutritional programs are designed to help families with a temporary safety net that gives these families help until they can work their way back to become contributing members of society.
By significantly cutting these programs that protect the health of the children of low-income families, help kept the elderly in these homes and provide a safety net when families are in need of help, we will only increase the medical costs, increase homelessness and adversely affect the health of those service by these programs.
Please contact your elected representatives to not cut or eliminate these programs that help low-income families get through their temporary economic hardship.
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