Monday, September 9, 2019

Big Fiction RR or Rampart Helicopter Services - Be Prepared!



This following is a true story. Some years ago, a close friend of mine and I filed incorporation papers with the Colorado Secretary of State and that was the humble beginnings of The Big Fiction Railroad Company. We used the boilerplate language set forth by none other than the father of the Superslab, Ray Wells.  We used the same antiquated and unfair language that allowed Mr. Wells to claim that he could build a toll road from Wellington, Colorado to Pueblo Colorado.  It was a swath of land that was 12 miles wide and 210 miles long and had literally thousand of farms and homes within its boundaries that would likely be subject to eminent domain laws straight out of the 1800's.  Encumbrances were placed on the titles of all the properties in the pathway of this gigantic railroad scam.  It took years to fully drive a stake in the heart of this ill conceived plan.


To make a point with the Colorado legislators, we used our railroad company to lay claim to a similar corridor that ran from the Cherry Creek Mall, through the Denver Country Club, up Broadway Blvd, through downtown Denver and arriving at Coors Field.  Our reasoning was no more outrageous than that shown by Mr. Wells.  When you want to get to the ballpark, why not take the train?  Our plan was read into the hearing records on the Superslab at the Colorado State Capital. Lots of lawmakers laughed, but it was derived from the same laws and flawed reasoning, and they had to agree it was a legitimate claim. Once we made our point, my friend and I put away our engineer caps and dissolved Big Fiction Railroad. We had successfully made our point.


Here we are in 2019.  The Elbert County BOCC is about to decide on the fate of Rampart Helicopter Services, to be located approximately 2 miles to the south of County Rd. 94 on the east side of County Rd. 37, on September 11th.  We are going to look at the laws and and zoning regulations and see if this is a fit for a quiet, agricultural/residential (A/R) neighborhood whose residents want nothing to do with this plan.  

The whole point of this post is that those of us who live here are going to face the fact that even though this is not a fit, the BOCC may make it a reality.  Can they do it? Yes, just as certainly as our Colorado State Government could have done it  with Ray Wells  over a decade ago. Before the contingency from the Eastern Plains arrived at the Capitol, the legislators were pretty much sold on the SuperSlab bill of goods.  But the precedent, as we pointed out with the Big Fiction Railroad, would have been far reaching and ill advised.  The people spoke.  Our representatives in government heard us.

If we let this type of decision go forward now, anybody can have their own helipad almost anywhere in a county, our county, which has as much land area as a small New England State.  Don't think it can happen to you to your neighborhood?  Well, when I moved here twenty-two years ago, I did not think a railroad could be built across my land let alone a commercial helicopter landing site be located just a stone’s throw away,  but both were planned and proposed and made it into the legislative process.

Think about it.  Would you want this in your backyard?  Most will answer with a resounding, “HELL, NO!"  Some may have no objection because the business does valuable work that I myself appreciate.  I understand that reasoning.  But once the genie climbs out of the bottle, it sets a precedent and it is hard to go back. 

 If this resonates with you, show up and go to the microphone.  Be prepared with a written statement.  If you have documentation to share, make four copies: one for each of the commissioners, and one for their clerk.   Make your three minutes count 

I will be there, not to say that Rampart Services does not belong in Elbert County because it could be an asset, but it needs to be located in a place where zoning and existing homes and agricultural businesses will not be so adversely impacted.  Be there and let your voice be heard as well. Be proactive and vigilant. Now. Our Elbert County property rights need to be protected.  

Sunday, September 8, 2019

'Copter Sham



"Copter Sham"
(with apologies to Dr. Suess)


I do not like this helipad
If near your home, would you you be mad?
Would you like it extra loud?
When wildlife flees, will you be proud?
When farm values, start to sink,
Will you admit you are a fink?

I do not like this ’copter sham
Its owner does not give a damn
I would not like it on my thumb
I do not want it up my bum
I do not like it, not one bit
Go someplace else you stupid twit. 



     I live very close to Elbert County's newly proposed “helicopter for hire” operation that made it through the September 3rd Elbert County Planning Commission's review.  As you probably have garnered from my terrible mutation of the Green Eggs and Ham passage above,  I really hate this idea.  There are a couple of levels on which this plan is flawed and I intend to make those perfectly clear in this post.  The precedent that this project sets is unconscionable and those of us who fought the Superslab (Look it up!)  in 2005 know the arguments set forth all too well.

     Milt Johnson, a neighbor and good friend, made the following observations from the September 3rd ECPC meeting:
     “ 9/3/19 Planning commission, 13 Nearby owners voice extreme opposition to finding that use is compatible with the surrounding area and neighborhood and that the use will not cause significant noise pollution, and that the use will not harm the welfare of present or future inhabitants of Elbert County. After hearing about 40 minutes of opposition applicant made statements some of which are paraphrased, and others verbatim. 
          • You're just being emotional (this is incredibly condescending to effected owners) 
          • We all hear the horror stories, not true, don't believe it 
          • Not that noisy, just 85 decibels. It’s a tractor with wings, really it’s a John Deere 
          • I don't even want the helicopter (honestly, he said it listen for it on the recording) 
          • Not as dusty as raking a field 
          • I'm going to plant some trees”

     Basically he reduced the heartfelt protests of the people with whom he says he wants to be a friend and neighbor and called them a bunch of whiney NIMBY's (Not In My Back Yards). The ghost of Ray Wells (that pesky Superslab guy) was smiling from someplace in the Underworld as he ticked off these beauties. Boiled down to its purest form, the applicant, Mr. Armstrong, owner/operator of Rampart Helicopter Services, is saying, "I do not care about your concerns.  I am in need of a place to put my commercial helicopter service even if it means turning a quiet agricultural/residential area into a noisy commercial area.  Everybody should love wanting to live next door to an open shooting range, a railroad line, a race track or helipad!  The noise is so enchanting. Just like they did in Douglas County...erm... before they kicked me out."

     Armstrong did his homework.  He went out ahead of time and recruited local emergency service providers to act as his ambassadors.  Which brings me to the divisive nature of the arguments he presented at the hearing: Elbert County Citizens love their firefighters, EMT's and Police.  The argument being made is that this is the only place Rampart can go in the county.  That is not true and to be pitted against these valued, brave men and women is totally unfair.  Mr. Armstrong actually will be inconvenienced if, after buying 79 acres of agricultural land and then building what the locals thought was a hay barn, has to move. It would be bothersome but it was his own fault. He hid his true intentions from his new neighbors without asking anybody in the surrounding areas if they had any objections beforehand.  Instead, he went about recruiting our emergency service providers who would never turn down an opportunity to have assistance saving lives and property in the event of a fire.

     I get that and you should, too.  But not one person said that Mr. Armstrong should not provide his services to Elbert County.  They did point out that there were areas in the county where the helicopter service would not present such a negative impact.  Nobody said they did not want it.  They clearly said that there were better locations.  Nobody said our county emergency services would not benefit from Rampart. They clearly would.  It was the way in which Mr. Armstrong manipulated the zoning to his advantage at the expense of existing homeowners that really is the problem. His lucrative vision of the future is no more or less important than his neighbors dreams or visions.  The only difference is that their vision was consistent with the neighboring properties.

     If you read this and understand that this could happen to you if we set this dangerous precedent, please attend the BOCC meeting on September 11, 2019 in the BOCC chambers of the County Courthouse in Kiowa (2nd floor).  If you can't attend, please consider writing a letter to your county commissioners or giving them a call.  Tell them that you understand that Rampart may need to be placed in the county, just not in an area that will have such a negative impact.  







Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Peaceful Valley Ranch... Questions Answered



     Today at 1:00 in the BOCC Hearing Room, the Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch made its presentation to get a zoning change from Agricultural status to a PUD (Planned Unit Development), and it was unanimously approved by the Board.  In my blog yesterday I had pointed out that it was my fervent hope that all my questions in regards to this matter would prove to be groundless and that I could gain reassurance that the enormous BSA Ranch (Boy Scouts of America), my western neighbor, was not up to anything suspicious due to the fact that its parent organization has fallen on hard times in recent years. 

     The presentation was made.  It was thorough and the public was asked to make comments.  That was why I was there.  I had three minutes to make my points and ask my questions.  I spent my three minutes asking the questions at the top of my list and making a few observations, but I was unable to get to them all.  That is the way it works in a hearing. I went first and was relatively sure that others in the crowd would ask the questions I did not get to ask. My focus was on valuable water reserves and to point out that even though I was an ardent fan of the BSA, I viewed this recent downturn for the Scouts a potentially problematic situation.  Since the BSA was in trouble, this vast land was an asset that understandably could help them resolve financial issues if it were sold.  Since it is in Elbert County, there is a genuine thirst for their water reserves by neighboring communities.

I also took the time to point out that recent unrest toward the county government regarding what the citizenry viewed as unbridled development was in part fueling this present concern.  I pointed out that letters to the adjacent neighbors were vague and the county provided little information to those searching the topic online or over the phone.

In Elbert County, water issues always take center stage. As much as I admire the BSA, selling water rights or changes usages on the property was something I believed the public had to know about. This concern was adamantly addressed by the representatives from the BSR. No plans to sell the water or water rights.  They need the water that is there to be a successful organization.

Another one of my neighbors stood up and delivered her message to both the Board and to the assembled committee of officials from the BSA.  That was it.  There were no more questions from the public.  The Commissioners asked some pertinent questions designed to assuage the frazzled nerves of an audience that, in hindsight, seemed placid following the formal presentation. 

This meeting was a first for me in that the BOCC members actually brought up more points than did the audience in attendance.  Then the BSA answered even more questions and validated that yes, the Scouts, on a national level, had fallen on hard times, had sold numerous facilities and even water rights due to recent enrollment decline and lawsuits.  But they were also careful to point out that the Denver Area Council was not in the same financial lineage of some of those more notorious branches, and that, in fact, were making $18 million dollars worth of improvements.  They pointed out also that the agricultural contract with the Olkjer family and the partnership that they have with the BSA are viable and keeping the camp in good financial shape.

This is all good news.  This was what I wanted to hear.  I walked away feeling that I had done my civic duty.  Despite some criticisms online in a couple of venues and one person in the meeting who seemed to believe this was all about fear mongering, the meeting was informative and non-confrontational.  I followed up with the members of the BSA contingency and they were even kind enough to offer my wife and I a tour. 

I feel more at ease, but lest you think I have now become a fanboy of current development policies in the county, rest assured I have not. The point is that when you have questions that you feel are legitimate or not, it is your right to participate.  Do not let others dissuade you from getting the answers you want or need. Stand up and be heard.
    
     If something changes in regards to the PUD, the public was assured that the BSR would have to resubmit their application.  It is our responsibility as citizens to watch for changes like the ones proposed in today's BOCC meeting.  If it does, and it is posted, I will be right back there asking questions.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

IS THE PEACEFUL VALLEY RANCH IN ELBERT COUNTY UNDER ATTACK?



A rural treasure, the Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch which is 3,344 acres of unspoiled pristine beauty, is slated to do a presentation on Wednesday, August 28th at 1:00 PM before the Elbert County BOCC.  In short, they are asking for a PUD (Planned Unit Development) designation for the entire ranch.  Let that sink in.  A large 3,344 acre ranch that has vast reserves of groundwater, with prime building potential, is asking for a zoning change that would make it almost impossible for the average resident to challenge on any grounds.  This is the same land that has been coveted by wealthy shooting sports enthusiasts from around the nation for decades. The Travis Family Sporting Clays Facility is there and it is amazingly beautiful.  That said, the shooting enthusiasts and the surrounding landowners have been at odds since 2007.  There have been lawsuits and issues surrounding what that type of activity does to the tax exempt status of the BSA.  That is why when you see a shooting event at the ranch all of the literature points out that it is all for charity.  Under the current arrangement, the tax exempt status of the ranch is jeopardized by "for Profit" events.

Times change and it is no secret that the BSA is no longer as popular as it once was.  There has been national attention focused on the declining enrollment and the allegations of misconduct by a few Scout Masters that have the organization scrambling to stay financially solvent.  The only real assets owned by the Boy Scouts of America are tied up in vast parcels of land situated across the country. It is inevitable that downsizing is one of the options that the BSA must examine to help resolve some of their issues.

I love this ranch.  I live adjacent to it.  Part of the way I make my retirement income is by shooting wildlife photography. Believe me...there is incredible wildlife on the Boy Scout Ranch in our county, even photographed from a distant public road.  And, as a former school teacher of young children I believe the Boy Scout experience is good for the young men and women of our  country.

But I also live in Elbert County.  In recent years, our county has come under extreme pressure to sell our water and develop our land for the sprawl of Colorado's Front Range communities.

Below are some of the red flags that those of us who have examined this issue just in the last few hours are seeing.  Please take a look and understand why we should all have concerns and become involved.  Time is of the essence.  

• Why are there no specifics in the letters sent to adjacent properties about what is being proposed in the way of development?
• Since the Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch is comprised of numerous parcels of land, why is the entire ranch included in a planned unit development?
•  What does this PUD do to the tax exempt status of the ranch?
•  Why has it been so difficult to get specifics from the county on what is going on here when you attempt to call them or review documentation?
• Why does documentation for this proposal reference numerous Douglas County government decisions?
• Why are traffic studies, water reports and other documents (that any other developer is normally required to submit for such a proposal) out of date, and, in some cases, as many as four years old?
• Is there any relationship between the Economic Development Zone designation for Elbert Road being lauded by our commissioners and this proposal?
• Heliport next to the East gate of the ranch?

This post is sure to ruffle the feathers of our county government, but trust in our local governance is low and possibly waning more as you read this.  I want to be wrong about all of this.  I want someone to ease my deep sense of foreboding.  After viewing the BOCC's  new attitude of growth at any cost and turning a deaf ear to citizens' cries to slow down,  I am convinced many people need to show up at this meeting.  Again: Wednesday, August 28th, 1 PM before the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners.  Please attend.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Elbert County on the Horns of a Homemade Dilemma

Editors Note:

Based on further research, it turns out that the abortion comments were not as lengthy as I was led to believe.  I try to be as accurate as I possibly can be. Pastor Swanson did not deliver a scathing diatribe about abortion and therefore I offer my apology on that error. It was inappropriate to bring up abortion in an invocation in my opinion. It was still a mistake to have a man who leads a designated hate group represent the spiritual direction of a community meeting.  With that one exception, the article still stands.  Elbert can do better than this.  

Robert Thomasson


Generally speaking, a dilemma is something that forces a person to make a decision between two difficult choices or outcomes. When you find yourself in a predicament in which you have only two difficult options you risk being caught on one of the horns. But as the title here suggests, in Elbert County our elected officials go out of their way to generate dilemmas on which they can continually experience the discomfort of being gored by their own flawed reasoning. Case in point: the decision to invite  controversial pastor, Kevin Swanson,  of the Reformation Church of Elizabeth, Colorado, to give a three minute invocation at the regular meeting of the BOCC on June 26th.  You may not know Pastor Swanson, but his controversial views in recent years precede him.

The following is short list of those views derived from national publications:

1. Blaming the wildfires in California on the state’s embracing of LGQBT rights

2. His view that Girl Scout leaders should be executed for supporting gay children

3. The Disney movie Frozen should be banned for promoting homosexuality and beastiality

4. That parents should drown themselves before allowing their children to read or view 
    Harry Potter movies

5. Pastor Swanson is the director of Generations.  Generations is a religious organization 
    that produces a daily podcast that primarily denounces LGQBT rights. Swanson is also  
    a  writer for The World View in 5 Minutes, a daily online Christian newscast.  His efforts 
    have won him a designation as the director of a hate group by the Southern Poverty   
    Law Center, the nation’s most prestigious organization to track such groups.



It is my understanding this was the first invocation delivered by Swanson at the regular BOCC meeting. Why would our BOCC go out of its way to invite Swanson to deliver its weekly invocation?  There are plenty of worthy religious leaders here in the Elbert community from which to choose without picking a total extremist with such a hate-filled agenda.  We know our  BOCC does have its own short list of Elbert County religious leaders from which it chooses to deliver the regular invocation.  And, it is unclear why there are no rabbis or imams in this rotation, but  perhaps the BOCC just believes that their list reflects the community makeup.  That said, I do not know many people who are calling for the execution of Girl Scout leaders here in the county either and who might qualify as a religious leader.



I have an opinion based on my years of involvement with Elbert County politics over the years as both an election official and as a commissioner candidate:

 

This selection was no accident.  Our commissioners, or at least a majority of the current board, knew exactly what they were doing.  They were making a statement designed to anger those Democrats who regularly show up at the meetings…just for the mere pleasure of doing so.  There have been several brush ups between the county government and the Elbert County Democrats over the years.  But, the invocation is a perfectly acceptable practice nationwide and permissible by law. Praying at the beginning of a community meeting is just one way to open a community gathering, remind participants to be inspired by their chosen deity, and to thereby do good work. Goodness is the key feature of an opening prayer.   In this instance however, the BOCC chose to weaponize a benign practice to insult the Democrats in attendance who, in the past,  have taken issue with the county’s disregard for the separation of church and state. 



Mr. Richardson is a former officer in the U.S. Military.  He proudly touts his leadership skills and features himself as a man of reason.  However, if you impugn  his intellect, Mr. Richardson is quick to take you to task.  Do not be surprised if you are challenged to a full contact game of Scrabble or a Trivial Pursuit Marathon.  He must believe that this is evidence that he is obviously no dummy.




Grant Thayer is a scientist and an engineer.  I have known him now for nearly 20 years and he drops those two facts into every conversation you have with him or into every diatribe he delivers in any meeting. Seriously,  I am sure he works it into everything he discusses.  Imagine the confusion his barista must have when he walks up and says, “Let me have a venti cup of Pike, the drink of engineers!” So he is also no dummy.



I  feel I must give Mr. Pettit a pass here.  I find him to be reflective and quiet. He is not boastful man and he always has a smile.  If he is a genius (and he may well be) he has never gone out of his way to wear it like a badge.  If he does have strong religious beliefs, he has never pushed them on me  or anyone while I was around.  Not only is he not a dummy, he appears to be a gentleman.



So it is my belief that this choice for the invocation last Wednesday was done on purpose by at least two of our commissioners.  It was a calculated move to enrage those who would know just how inappropriate it would be to have the leader of a hate group deliver an opening prayer.  By one account from a person in attendance, a significant portion of the invocation was on the evils of abortion in a tone only a practiced hate speech artist could deliver.  This was confusing, as abortion was not listed on the agenda of the meeting… at least the printed one. 



The message hit its mark.  People were definitely offended.  Keeping the community divided along purely political lines was strengthened.  Those who felt they had successfully delivered an attack from a position of righteousness could smugly smile with glee. And so now as a result, protests are being planned, news agencies have been contacted and social media has caught on fire. 



In my mind the BOCC walked away believing they were the clear winner in this planned altercation.  They know when it comes to an argument involving religion that the close knit leadership of the Elbert County Republicans will always gather the wagons in a tight circle.  But was it really a win?  It is certainly unclear at this point because the county is rapidly changing.



Colorado’s economy over the past few years has been on fire.  It has been growing and that is due in large part to the legalization of marijuana, transportation growth, clean energy, fossil fuels and real estate.  This is all occurring under a rapidly changing political dynamic that is headed toward the left.  The growth numbers in our population are strongest in the column of the millennials.  From red to purple to blue is Colorado’s continuing pattern of political evolution. In the meantime, Elbert County has acquired a taste for the money that development brings and that does not bode well for keeping the population of Elizabeth and Kiowa deeply conservative.  The call to “bring on the rooftops” is a double-edged sword, and I predict within five years, at current growth rates, there will be viable and successful Democrats elected into office to represent a changing majority.



This tact of insulting the minority party for the short term strategy of divisiveness may have left lasting scars on the rising minority party, and that will have lasting consequences. The notion that we are located  so far away from Denver and Boulder that they will never be able to impact local politics with all their so-called, “snowflake” ideas is not the way things are turning out.  Elizabeth is rapidly filling with those who enjoy the trees, the deer, other wildlife, etc.  I overheard a young couple at Starbucks the other day talking about why they were looking at real estate in Elizabeth. The frightening response to any Republican within earshot was, “It reminds us of Boulder and Niwot.”



The first horn for the local Republicans would have been to leave well enough alone and allow these very active Democrats with their critical view of the current board their weekly presence without challenge. I am certain that the Republicans felt that option left them looking weak, and they couldn’t have that now, could they? Horn number two was to call a hate monger and allow him to a platform that appears to give him political legitimacy by delivering what should have been a motivational and healing message.  We know what they chose to do and so now we find them dangling from the damned horns of a homemade dilemma.  If their mission was to dispel any notion that they had not a shred of intelligence or decency then it was a roaring success.



Hate is never a good foundation on which to build a house.  Even a dummy should  know that.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Game Has Changed...Slightly



It has been literally decades since Elbert County Republican primaries didn't mark the end of an election season. Stick a fork in it - the Republicans won..again!  Oh sure, there was always that period of time when the Democrat running for office would raise holy hell about the Republican party bosses  officially going on record saying that they saw absolutely no reason to debate a Democratic candidate.  This typically was for a very short period of time.  Generally speaking, the numbers were such that our local G.O.P.  had no interest in giving a platform to any idea that was not approved by the Republican Central Committee.  

It is a sickening feeling that rests in the stomach of any hard working Democrat in a solidly red Elbert County to know the race is over the day after the Republicans have pared down their hopefuls during the summer months.  Game, set and match,  Elephants.  The only way an Elbert County Republican could ever understand this overwhelming mental mindset of failure is to move to Boulder and run for anything.  Oh, and be more qualified than your Democratic opponent.  Ever feel that?  Probably not.

It has and will continue to be a predominantly conservative majority here in Elbert for decades to come.  The only thing that will change that fact is if, in our efforts to grow the county out of its agricultural roots, we turn it into a bedroom community of high density, low cost housing to house workers for the Denver metro area.  And THAT is when the water will completely disappear and the local political landscape will begin to turn from red to blue.  It is just a matter of time.

That said, an interesting thing happened on the way to the 2018 election in November.  The State of Colorado gave Independent voters a voice that they have not had before.  They got to vote in the primary election of one of the two dominant parties.  And to say that the Independent voters took the opportunity to express their opinion does not do them justice.  They did what no one, especially the local Republicans, thought was possible.  They took the Sheriff's race away from the Elbert County Republicans Central Committee and allowed the underdog, Tim Norton, a comfortable win.  Tim is a Republican, but many in the party found the result to be horrifying!  The vaunted Elbert County Republican Machine failed to produce the predicted winner.  Not only that, but Rick Pettitt, their choice for the EC Commissioner’s primary race,  won by only a two vote margin. 

This put the EC Republican Central Committee in a real funk.  The party began to sense the new reality of Colorado allowing Independents to vote in the primary as Democrats or as Republicans.  That is not the way the Republicans out here have had it for as long as anyone can remember.  How do you control a huge block of people who are not rabid supporters?  Who the hell are these people?  And even if you have a Republican on the ticket, can you be sure, since they were not picked by the Central Committee, that they will do as they are told?  And if they do as they are told, how will this be viewed by the Independents?  Cue the spooky organ music... they don't know!!!

That brings us to today and the selection of a new sheriff for our county.  The eight-year reign of a sheriff whose focus appeared to most as a revenue-generating squadron of leased interceptors with a penchant for stockpiling used military vehicles and weaponry comes to an end in November.  Those who were on board with that model tried everything to get rid of term limits over the years but to no avail.  In a last ditch attempt to get someone who was a disciple of the former sheriff and take Shayne Heap on as Under Sheriff,  the Central Committee offered up Troy McCoy.  That did not fly either, as the only thing Troy talked about was keeping the Feds from coming for your guns.  The Independents weighed in and the Heap Dynasty came to a resounding halt.  The old guard Republicans now find themselves trying to get their heads around giving support to someone who they had been working against in the primaries.   They decided they had no choice, held their noses and headed forward.

But now the problems of never expecting to lose reared its big ugly head for the Elbert County Republicans.  You see, Tim Norton ran against Troy with the slogan, "More Service, Less Politics." The G.O.P. in this county only does one thing...  old cronyism politics.  So they found themselves in the unenviable position of having to tell Tim that he has to tow their bright red political line. 
And that, my friends, means that the Democrat in the race, Don Charobee, has an opening.  Mr. Charobee has more experience and leadership skills in his bag than any candidate that has ever run for the office of Elbert County Sheriff. 

Tim says he is pretty much apolitical and does not want to do politics.  The Republican Party has almost no experience on how to win a close race because the primary was always the grand finale.  So what do they do?  They tell Tim no debates because after all, that is what has worked for over twenty years.   Except nobody knows that much about Tim Norton, only that he was the one who opposed Troy McCoy and the continuation of the Heap Dynasty.  

Don Charobee has an impeccable, lengthy service record to his country and has a tremendous amount of appeal to both Democrats and Independents.  Oh, and remember the old guard conservatives who felt cheated because Tim Norton broke the mold?  Now they are not sure that Don isn't a viable choice because of his service to his nation.

Fast forward to the present.  There are actual Republicans who are crying foul because the Democratic candidate is showing up, answering questions and impressing people with his resume.  How dare he look electable?  One noted Republican woman complained recently that Don was being a distraction because he was passing out literature, shaking hands and wearing Democrat blue instead of just dressing in street clothes at the Elizabeth Farmer's Market!  Really? That’s your complaint? Don isn’t playing fair for those reasons?  If that’s all you’ve got...bring it on.  Having run for commissioner as a Democrat, I can tell you, there are few Republicans without a red, white and blue outfit and they are no shrinking violets. 

So in all likelihood, the numbers are still working in favor of the Republican, but the game has changed...slightly.  Independents want competency over party purity and they demonstrated that in the primary.  Don is extremely well-qualified and he is answering questions at every venue he attends.  The Dems are not directing his campaign's every move.  In fact, they are encouraging his intuition and leadership skills.  It is a winning combination.

I still like both candidates although I was extremely disappointed that Tim refused to debate because it broke his main campaign promise: less politics.  To win his primary was a big deal and it was due in large part to his standing up to the Central Committee. But now, that is no longer the case.  Whether Tim or Don wins, we are in for lots of positive changes. It will be interesting to see if the Republicans learn how to deal with the Independents.  If they don't, you may have some elected Democrats in office in the not too distant future here in Elbert County.

I think I hear a Bob Dylan song, do you?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Does Experience Matter?





It has been a long while since I sat down and worked on my blog.  We have had many disruptions in the Thomasson household.  I have had serious surgery on my back to fix three vertebra, my wife underwent a seven hour spinal fusion surgical procedure during which she almost bled to death.  We have had health issues with our beloved now-geriatric dogs and one of them had to be put down this last weekend.  Everybody runs into difficult patches like this from time to time.  We face our problems.  We do what is necessary and then we move on to a stage of healing and change.  I am not soliciting sympathy here, it is what it is.

But today, when I was thinking about some of our problems, at a certain point I remembered that there are countless people in this country who have ongoing health issues that they deal with that are chronic and were derived as a result of being in the Armed Forces of the United States.  I felt that their problems and the difficulties that they have in getting treatment through the V.A. (Veterans Administration) gave me a better perspective on my own situation.  

Now stay with me here because I am going to come back to this important point in a few moments. It will take a few twist and turns along the way. Those of you who read my work know that I am a Democrat, that I work with Elbert County to help execute elections and that I have even run for commissioner with the firm knowledge that I was not going to have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.  I do not take on President Trump in this blog even though it is no secret that I am not a fan.  He is still my President.  With that said, I want to point out one blatant flaw in our current Republican majority in the Federal government without any real name calling.  I will stay squarely with verifiable facts and throw a few of those facts out there for  thoughtful discussion.  

The Trump administration has failed to properly run the V.A. and has let the 9,000,000 Veterans and their family members down.  It is a real problem and more important than any arguments that center around disrespecting America.  Standing for the Pledge of Allegiance versus "taking a knee" is a false canard dreamed up by politicians when it is placed next to the abysmal way we are treating the men and women who risked everything for our freedom and came home physically and emotionally wounded or broken.


Today I read an article in Esquire Magazine and I fact checked it against several sources, https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a22675157/veterans-administration-mar-a-lago-donald-trump-asbestos/.   It turns out that there are three people in charge of running the V.A. right now.  None are veterans.  None have any experience in running anything that resembles the largest medical complex on the planet.  Nope, the thing that got these three people the job of running the V.A. is that they are all old friends of Donald Trump.  They are card carrying members of his resort, Mar-a-Lago.  One is a lawyer.  One is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care. The third is the reclusive CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Ike Perlmutter.  Let that sink in for just a moment: The comic book guy is in charge of the health and well-being of the people to whom we owe so much in this country.

This is not a good thing.  This is not a political thing.  Plain and simple... this is a disrespectful gross error that should be rectified.  Our president promised us the "Best People" and these three are not qualified nor do they understand the needs of of our Veterans.  Period.  No matter what your political stripes are, no matter whether you are a fan of this president or not, our Veterans deserve the most qualified person available, and that would require a careful search beyond the confines of the locker room at the president's golf club.

Which brings me back to my day and thinking about my own situation.  Oddly enough, I have been thinking about a discussion regarding who is best qualified to become our next sheriff.  Tim Norton and Don Cherobee are both really nice guys.  In my humble opinion, it is the first election cycle in a long while where I am sure we will end up with a good person at the helm of the Elbert County Sheriff's  Department.  I have been drawn into some discussions in regards to which candidate will do the better job.  I can say with no  hesitation that the most qualified person for the job is Don.  Hands down, there has never been a more qualified person running for EC Sheriff than Mr. Charobee.  He has been in law enforcement all over this country and in Europe.  He has decades of leadership under his belt.  He has recommendations from all levels of law enforcement.

Does that mean that others should see things my way and vote for Don over Tim?  No, it does not.  But the arguments against Don that I have been seeing are quite frankly void of reason and more importantly, honesty.  I have heard it said that he has too much investigatory skills and not enough time spent in a patrol car.  I had one person try to argue that if you need a doctor, you don't go to the dentist.  (I still am not sure what that was about.)  But when it boils right down to it, most of the arguments are intellectually dishonest.  Those disgruntled citizens know Don has more experience, better training and much better recommendations than does Tim.  If they would just be honest, they would come out and say that they can't lower themselves to vote for a Democrat. What it says is that a less qualified Republican is a better choice for them than a more qualified lefty.  

Which finally brings us back full circle.  If Elbert County is the place you make your home,  I suspect you love the rural lifestyle and your family is here.  If you or a loved one ever finds themselves in need of a police officer, you won't call the dispatcher and expect them to send out a Republican officer to chase off a burglar. No, you will want the best trained, best equipped person that the department has to offer.  Why we have politicized the sheriff's department in Colorado is beyond me.  It is about following the laws.   Our sheriffs cannot pass gun legislation, and it does not matter one whit whether they like Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi.  It is all about service to a community and following the laws of the land.  If you are looking for political purity of ideas over solving crimes or keeping us safe, then in my opinion you have lost the meaning behind law enforcement.  You will notice I did not say law interpretation...that's political and that should not be a consideration.

If you believe the V.A. should be headed by people of integrity, have an impeccable resume that includes military service and an expressed devotion to the 9,000,000 people utilizing the services of the Veterans Administration, you wouldn't just pick one of the guys you play pinochle with at the club.  They may be wonderful people, but that does not mean they should be in charge.  We owe more to our Veterans.  Likewise, if you have two nice guys running for sheriff, a position that by rule should be above all politics, then you should hire an experienced leader.  We owe more to our Elbert citizenry.

But...and I mean this in all sincerity, it is your vote to spend.  Vote the way you must. Just be honest with yourself about whether your vote was about the most qualified or the most politically pure.  There is a huge and troubling difference.