Friday, December 30, 2011

Bonus CineFiles: The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut, Catch .44 and Little Deaths!

Posted by on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

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The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut (NR) (Blu-Ray)
Lionsgate

While I was a pretty big fan of Sylvester Stallone’s action-throwback The Expendables, in retrospect, I feel that my fandom of it was more for what it represented than for the actual movie. It was released in theaters the same weekend the interminable chick-flick Eat Pray Love and the hipster garbage Scott Pilgrim came out, so it was pretty much America’s masculine duty to make it No. 1 at the box-office, which it was. The movie itself, however, was filled with badly edited fight scenes and nonsensical dialogue. Stallone heard the critics and, like a true filmmaker of the people, went back and made, literally, hundreds of edits to create a radically different vision of his action opus. The new edits restore a real sense of flow to the movie, making this the preferred version, at least in the eyes of the fans. If only more filmmakers would listen to their audiences, there wouldn’t be such backlashes.


Catch44.jpg
Catch .44 (R) (Blu-Ray)
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

I know that I comment a lot here about the steady stream of Tarantino rip-offs that I have to endure, but, when I’m really being honest about it, most of those filmmakers only take certain elements, desperately trying to infuse at least come basic creativity and originality into the proceedings. Catch .44, however, is a big, greasy middle finger to all those filmmakers. Its Tarantino fetishism is so blatant and so in-your-face, that for the first half-hour, I thought I was watching a spoof movie, something along the lines of Not Another Tarantino Movie. But, sadly, it’s for real. The God-awful Malin Akerman leads a trio of giggling tough girls through a bloody botched robbery, with Forest Whitaker, as a Latino, and Bruce Willis, as a scumbag, mucking things up ever further. It’s funny how, even though Tarantino himself has continued to grow and change as a filmmaker, his obsessives are stuck in a state of creative arrested development.


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Little Deaths (NR)
Image Entertainment

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not a big fan of mixing sex and horror. I’m not talking about, you know, topless woman in the shower getting stabbed by a slasher, as that’s really just cheap titillation. I’m talking about the actual act of coitus presented as an act that incites orgasm through the forced pain and suffering of another. The British anthology flick Little Deaths is a celebration of that, kind of The Red Shoe Diaries meets Tales From the Crypt but only not, well, good. Usually, in anthology movies, the stories have some sort of EC Comics morality twist that’s clever, but here, it’s lazy and limp. A posh couple kidnaps the homeless to rape, only to have picked, I think, a vampire. Then, a narcotic is derived from some sort of grafted member. Finally, a man with a canine fetish forces dogs to rape and kill his humiliating lover. It’s all quite sickening, and not in the way you’d like.

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Colorado requests marijuana reclassification

Posted by on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 11:54 AM

On Dec. 22, reports the Denver Post, Department of Revenue executive director Barbara Brohl sent a letter requesting the federal government reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I substance — one with "no currently accepted medical use" — to a Schedule II, with "accepted medical use in treatment." This makes Colorado the third state to make that request, after Washington and New Jersey.

The move was mandated by the state's initial attempt at regulating its medical marijuana industry, House Bill 1284.

(g) IN RECOGNITION OF THE POTENTIAL MEDICINAL VALUE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA, MAKE A REQUEST BY JANUARY 1, 2012, TO THE FEDERAL DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION TO CONSIDER RESCHEDULING, FOR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES, MEDICAL MARIJUANA FROM A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE TO SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE.

See the letter:

Barbara_Brohl_letter.pdf

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Uh, that was quick ... Graham exits state House race

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 5:22 PM

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And just as we were starting to warm up to him, he's gone.

From the Denver Post:

Gar Graham, the retired U.S. Air Force major general who had jumped into one of the most fascinating Republican legislative primaries in 2012, has now jumped out.

This isn't terribly surprising.

With impressively bad timing, Graham chose to announce in the week before the state was set to finalize the reapportionment maps. So while he announced his run in HD 20, home of House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, the new district lines moved him and Stephens into HD19, Rep. Marsha Looper's stomping ground.

Stephens is Public Enemy No. 1 to the people, like former Sen. Dave Schultheis, who are backing Graham, for bills such as SB 200 from the 2011 session. They want nothing more than to keep her far away from Denver, and it might be that Looper, who is popular among conservatives and her constituency, has a good chance of doing just that.

Yet when this point was brought to his attention by Grassroots Radio, Graham could barely shift his laser-like glare away from Stephens long enough to notice that his candidacy might actually be the spoiler that undermines Looper's base and hands Stephens the win.

When show host Ken Clark forced him to consider that possibility, Graham responded that his first priority was to oust Stephens, whether that job falls to him or Looper. He added. "I want to pay a little bit of attention to Rep. Looper's record. I really haven't studied it; I don't know much about the lady."

Apparently, he got schooled. Again, from the Post:

“Having met with Rep. Looper and studied her voting record, I am confident she will demonstrate consistent leadership in standing for our core Republican values,” Graham said in a statement. “Rep. Looper will hold Stephens responsible for her SB 200 support of Obamacare and her questionable voting record of only 50 percent support for key conservative values.”

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Express sold, but not to CDOT

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 5:18 PM

A family at the Express before its closure.

The Express Inn at 725 W. Cimarron Street has been purchased at a foreclosure auction, but not by the expected party.

Since the aging and bed-bug infested motel closed in spring — leaving scores of impoverished residents to find a new home — the Colorado Department of Transportation has had plans for the property. The Express sits near the busy intersection of Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street and was expected to be absorbed into a future road project.

In order to facilitate this, CDOT was expecting that the property would be retained by the bank when it went to auction. But that didn't happen. On Dec. 22, E.D.R. Allinn LLC, which is registered to Ernest Ringler, purchased the property at auction for $1.1 million.

By law, CDOT cannot bid on properties at auctions.

E.D.R. Allinn is registered to 3855 Hill Circle in Colorado Springs. The LLC was previously known as Pikes Peak Sanitation LLC, a garbage company that still operates in the Springs. It's unclear what the connection between the garbage company and the purchase of the Express may be since Ringler could not immediately be reached.

Dave Watt, CDOT Project Manager says the purchase does not necessarily put a kink in road plans for the area. He said CDOT representatives would likely schedule a meeting with the new owner in the coming weeks, to see if a sale can be negotiated.

The deed for E.D.R.'s purchase is below:

grot.pdf

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Holiday overdose: Chris Mandile celebrates a big week

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 3:45 PM

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  • Anthony Graham/Broken Glass Photography

While there's no mayoral proclamation involved, it's pretty clear that this is Chris Mandile Week here in the Springs. And since the current Indy just hit the stands this morning, we figured we'd better give you an additional online heads-up about the festivities tonight and this weekend. So here's the full story, straight from this week's Reverb column:

There was a time when punk-rock veterans were hanging up their high-decibel angst in favor of the folksier, if no less ragged, sound of Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg. But improbably enough, the acoustic guitar has lately been joined by the accordion as the post-punk weapon of choice.

Once the province of Champagne music purveyors like Lawrence Welk, the instrument is gradually becoming a fixture on the local scene, thanks in large part to frequent gigging by Dear Rabbit's Rence Liam and Good Morning Accordion Terrorist's Chris Mandile. While Rence leans toward more Tom Waits-inspired originals, Chris deploys his squeezebox in the service of an odd array of covers. His repertoire includes "Big Rock Candy Mountain," an old folk song that was, coincidentally enough, once performed on Welk's TV show, and Cracker's "Mr. Wrong," which wasn't.

This Thursday, Dec. 29, the perpetually smiling musician, mechanic and scene supporter will be bringing his contagious post-punk enthusiasm to the Zodiac stage for a festive birthday celebration. This is a big one for the artist — his 40th — and the event will also feature a set from Brian Parton, followed by some birthday karaoke. (Details here.)

"I'll probably play accordion and then smash my face into a cake or something," says Chris, who retains the punk-rock spirit of his long-time band Lambasted, for which he was sometimes bassist, sometimes lead singer. The group was a local fixture for the better part of a decade, before calling it quits in late 2010.

"I think I played my first show dressed as Saddam Hussein, and we had a revolving cast of band members, probably more than 20," he recalls fondly. "I've been playing accordion since the mid-'90s, but I didn't really progress my skills a whole lot until the last few years. I guess I'm a punk rocker first and a musician second. I mean, I want to play accordion, but I still have my punk-rock roots and sensibility — or lack thereof."

Chris, who'll return to the scene of the crime for Zodiac's New Year's Eve Bash featuring Peaks and Pasties a couple days later, also dreams of mounting an exhibition of band T-shirts he acquired during his days as a punk-rock fan and promoter. "There's probably easily 300 of them in bags I'd have to dig out of my storage unit," he says. "A lot of them would fall apart if I washed them one more time." Gallery owners, get in line.

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County deal for Arrowswest building expires

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 3:13 PM

We've received confirmation that El Paso County is walking away from a tentative agreement to purchase part of a building at 4425 Arrowswest Drive as detailed in today's Independent ['Another black eye,' News, by Pam Zubeck].

The agreement expired today, after conflicting statements about whether an extension would happen. The sellers, Bryan Construction, apparently thought a 30-day extension was imminent. But the county never officially asked for more time, and nonprofit organizations who would have been tenants did not make a paperwork deadline.

"Executable contracts from the non-profits were not submitted," El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose says by e-mail. "There was no extension and the agreement expired under its own terms."

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The chemistry of food

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM

In this week's Side Dish column, I mention Conscious Table's newly announced lunch hours, beginning Jan. 10.

In related news, Indy CEO Fran Zankowski and I attended the "chemistry of food" cooking class at the restaurant last night, to survey the teaching style and structure while also getting to enjoy some eats, drinks and a lengthy educational lecture.

A daily special chalkboard features some pricey plates, justified in part by the sourcing of local and sustainable (and often more expensive) products.
  • A daily special chalkboard features some pricey plates, justified in part by the sourcing of local and sustainable (and often more expensive) products.

Here's a brief rundown of our experience and impressions, and in the interest of transparency, I'll go ahead and disclose once again my prior personal and business relationship with Conscious Table chefs Brent Beavers (not present last night) and Aaron Retka: I used to work with both of them at Sencha prior to its closure and sad transformation into an Arby's. As well, Retka and I attended Colorado College together, where we played in a surf rock band, made student films and ventured on more than one road trip.

So it is possible our experience last night was abnormal in some way due to old friendships, even though four other students were in attendance? Sure. So make of this mini-review what you will.

Firstly, we left feeling that the class was a great value at $39 a head, as that price included four small courses of food paired with two wines poured generously, and around two hours of informal lecture time.

At times, we'd gather around a portable burner for a quick demo, and otherwise we'd sit at dinner tables and watch Retka scribble chemistry diagrams on the restaurant's chalkboard and talk about the nuts and bolts (molecularity speaking) of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, free radicals and the like.

I won't go into all that here because that'd be stealing the restaurant's thunder (read: go pay for your own class), but suffice to say it was heady, informative and Retka eventually wound it around to applying that info to cooking techniques.

I also won't belabor you with food descriptions, as every class' offerings will of course be different.

What we left feeling good about was having a better understanding of what goes on when we do certain types of cooking (the Maillard reaction and all that) — essentially grasping a little more of the why behind why foods do the things they do when heat is applied, or salt, or an acid or base, etc. etc.

You might be great at brining or braising, but if you want to know exactly what's happening structurally in a pot or pan, and why "low and slow" is a good rule of thumb, this class is for you.

Too bad it's not on the schedule again for the next couple of months, but you can always call to customize your own class.

Other topics coming soon: a two-night bread class, sauce basics, classic French and curries.

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If a campaign suspends in the forest...

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Evans.jpg

Bob Evans announced that in his bid for Congressional District 5 in Colorado against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn he was going to be a champion for the little guy.

I've been told that only millionaires run for congress. If that's true, then the "people's house" has become an American House of Lords. But, if they're wrong, if common folks still have a voice, then we are honor bound to speak up.

Today, the Democrat has announced via e-mail that he is suspending his campaign.

I would like to announce the indefinite suspension of my campaign. I began this campaign because I believed that the effectiveness of our educational system and our stewardship of the environment will determine the economic and social status of our children.

The foundation of this campaign has been FDR’s Second American Bill of Rights as stated in his 1944 State of the Union Address. I thank all of you for your support and invite you to join me in the critical battle to make these ideals a reality.

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Ten songs that made 2011 great

Posted by on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 5:59 AM

Ghostpoet
  • Ghostpoet

It was only after compiling my Top 10 favorite songs of 2011 that I noticed how, with the exception of one track (“Go Outside”), all of them are on independent labels.

That was entirely unintentional, as was the disproportionate number of new acts on the list. (Seven out of 10 have yet to release more than one album or EP.)

All of which, I think, speaks well for today's music — although possibly not for the industry itself.

You can read all about these songs and the artists behind them in Thursday's issue — or here — and I hope you will. But ultimately, it’s the music that matters most, which is why I'm posting these videos for all ten songs, in order of preference, so you can hear them yourself.

Also, if you’re interested, the Indy has interviewed most of the artists included here. (We interview around 150 artists each year in our music section, so these things happen.) You’ll find links to all those stories below as well.

And finally, I should emphasize the fact that I'm not passing these off as the best of 2011, mainly because I think anyone who makes that kind of claim is either dishonest or delusional. Some 100,000 albums came out this past year, and you'd have to listen to three a day to hear just 1% of them. Even if there were such a thing as an objective "10 Best" out there, no one would know for sure what they are.

So instead, these are the songs and performances that meant the most to me as a music writer and fan in 2011, the ones I can put on and still get a sense that there’s nothing else I’d rather be listening to at that moment.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

1. Ghostpoet, ‘Survive It’

2. Lianne La Havas, ‘Final Form’

3. Fitz and the Tantrums, ‘Don’t Gotta Work It Out’
Read our Fitz interview here

4. Che Bong, ‘Okay’
Read our Che Bong interview here

5. Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers,
‘The Chelsea Clinic Physical’
Read our Shilpa Ray interview here

6. Mike Clark, ‘Hey Daisy’
Read our Mike Clark interview here

7. Atmosphere, ‘The Last to Say’
Read our Atmosphere interview here

8. El Toro de la Muerte, ‘The Chattering of Rats’
Read our El Toro interview here

9. Cults, ‘Go Outside’
Read our Cults interview here

10. Tokyo Jihen, ‘Kaze ni Ayakatte Ike’
(‘Go With the Wind’)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Military Bowl: Falcons gamble and lose to Toledo, 42-41

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

lrg_Air_Force_Falcons.gif

Air Force had a perfect play called to pull out a Military Bowl victory. But the play didn't work.

A fake extra-point try turned into a fumble through the end zone, and Toledo escaped with a 42-41 victory. Air Force had pulled to within a point with a clutch fourth-down pass from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth for a 33-yard touchdown with 52 seconds to play.

Air Force had spent the entire game chasing Toledo, catching up four times, but never taking the lead. If the option pitch had worked on the fateful extra point, the Falcons would've finally led.

Instead, Air Force came up short and ended its season 7-6, while Toledo finished 9-4 thanks to some luck and a fourth-quarter touchdown pass of its own.

After both defenses came up with three straight stops, but with the Rockets clinging to great field position, the Falcons finally buckled.

On a third-and-6 from the AFA 33, Bernard Reedy turned a short pass into a 33-yard touchdown, his third TD reception of the day from Terrance Owens, making it 42-35 with 5:01 to play.


—————PREVIOUS POST, 5:10 P.M.—————


Air Force and Toledo are heading into the fourth quarter of the Military Bowl at 35-35 after a mistake-ridden third period.

After a dropped pass ended the Falcons' first series of the second half, Toledo's Jermaine Robinson picked off a deflected pass and returned it 37 yards to give the Rockets a 35-28 lead.

Air Force came back, as it has the entire game, this time driving 50 yards on seven plays. Mike DeWitt's second touchdown, a 2-yard run, made it 35-35 with 5:59 left in the third.

—————PREVIOUS POST, 4:17 P.M.—————

Air Force has rebounded in the second quarter with two fourth-down touchdowns, including a fourth-and-3 pass from Tim Jefferson to Jonathan Warzeka for a 37-yard score, giving the Falcons a 28-28 tie with Toledo at halftime of the Military Bowl.

Senior Asher Clark scored from a yard out with 9:43 left in the half for a 21-21 deadlock, but Toledo responded quickly. Terrance Owens and Bernard Reedy hooked up for the second time, this one a 48-yard touchdown, putting the Rockets back on top.

Toledo's first turnover, a fumble at its 44, set up the final score of the half. With the Toledo defense expecting a fourth-and-3 run, Jefferson pulled up and lofted a perfect strike to Warzeka, breaking behind the coverage.

Air Force leads in total yards, 256-231, but has had a lot of trouble defensively against the Rockets' high-powered offense that resembles Boise State's.

After the half, the Falcons will get the ball to start the third quarter.

——————PREVIOUS POST, 3:20 P.M.——————

Air Force's offense has awakened for two touchdowns, but Toledo has been more explosive in building a 21-14 lead after the first quarter of the Military Bowl.

AFA senior quarterback Tim Jefferson broke a third-and-13 draw for a 22-yard touchdown, and fullback Mike DeWitt capped a quick 63-yard drive with a 3-yard run as the Falcons avoided falling into a deep hole early.

Toledo scored two touchdowns in 16 seconds to take a 14-0 lead, then made it 21-7 on an 87-yard kickoff return by Eric Page.

Terrance Owens tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Reedy with 6:38 left in the first quarter for the first score. Air Force then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Toledo recovered at the AFA 41, and running back Adonis Thomas promptly broke a 41-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to make it 14-0.

Owens directed a seven-play, 53-yard scoring drive after a short Air Force punt gave Toledo good field position. So far, Air Force's defense is having trouble with the Rockets' spread-out, wide-open offense. Owens threw a third-and-nine pass for 14 yards to the Falcons 37 to set up the score.

Toledo took the opening kickoff and drove from its 26 to the AFA 27 before stalling, and Jeremiah Detmer's 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left.

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Food fights, big and small

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 5:26 PM

Remember kids, don't forget to fight for what you believe in.

Even if that something happens to be In-N-Out Burger.

Yes, a fast-food chain so apparently beloved that a Denver city councilman hopes to lure them to Colorado.

Well if you put it that way ...
  • Well if you put it that way ...

Yup.

Don't be discouraged by those real food fights out there to be fought, like say, Monsanto's genetically modified corn that's supposedly responsible for organ damage in rats.

Wouldn't worry about that being in your food — fast food or otherwise.

Don't forget, Monsanto has your best interest in mind, and of course, the planet's. And so does the USDA, who recently approved the company's genetically modified, drought-tolerant corn, which reportedly has not undergone testing on humans.

Yes, we may be approaching a new year, but we're bringing some old scuffles with us.

And thus concludes today's once again disparate aggregating of relevant food news.

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Ethics Watch releases top five 'ethical failures' of 2011

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Douglas Bruce, cause of many an election problem.
  • Douglas Bruce, cause of many an election problem.

Ethics Watch, a nonprofit group that calls out illegal maneuvers in Colorado elections, just released its 4th Annual Ethics Roundup.

Included are Colorado's top five "ethics failures" over the last year. Colorado Springs, perhaps unsurprisingly, made the cut. In fact, given the long list of goof-ups made by the city clerk and city attorney in 2011, Ethics Watch was unable to choose just one to highlight.

But the story of Douglas Bruce's Reform Team, which dodged reporting requirements during the City Council elections, stood out. Ethics Watch specifically pointed to an aspect of that scandal as the pinnacle of the Springs' election woes.

Here's what happened: About a month before the April election, the Independent wrote about Bruce's antics. Following that article, Ethics Watch called on the city to fix the situation. Instead, the city embarked on a long (and somewhat comical) legal fight in a thus-far vain attempt to make the state enforce the city's own election laws. It was this prolonged battle that earned special recognition from Ethics Watch.

The Independent was the first to report on the scandal, and the only local news source to cover it consistently. It continues to drag through the courts.

Read on for more on the year's troubling election law violations:

Colorado Ethics Watch Releases 4th Annual Ethics Roundup
Report Highlights 2011’s “Top Ethical Failures” in State Ethics


DENVER — Colorado Ethics Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit legal watchdog group, today released Ethics Roundup: Top Ethical Failures of 2011, the organization’s fourth annual report highlighting Colorado’s public officials, agencies and municipalities who have either committed ethics violations or shown significant lack of judgment that places their behavior in the top tier of ethical failures in the state in the past year.

“Only by paying attention to the actions of our government agencies and officials, identifying ethical lapses, and shining a light on them will we be assured to have what Colorado voters have demanded — transparent and accountable public leaders,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch.

In its annual effort to round up the year in ethics in Colorado, Ethics Watch honed in on the largest controversies and qualified them as the Top Ethical Failures of 2011. The most egregious of ethical failures took place in Adams County, in the Secretary of State’s Office, and in Colorado Springs, where multiple examples demonstrate a consistent lack of regard for ethics rules, laws and values. The other two ethical failures — by former Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky and by an organization now called WAIT Training — shine a light on the kind of corruption and undue influence that take place in government every day.

• Adams County Meltdown: From the Quality Paving scandal, to a corrupt county assessor and abuse of power in the sheriff’s office, Adams County was the unquestioned epicenter of ethics problems in Colorado during 2011. These ethical failures caused voters to demand reform.

• Gessler in the Tank: Secretary of State Scott Gessler reduced a campaign finance fine for the Larimer County Republican Party in spite of its clear negligence in failing to file disclosure reports, then compounded the ethical failure by offering to personally help the group raise money to pay off the fine.

• Colorado Springs Sues to Avoid Enforcing Its Own Laws: Colorado Springs’ first municipal election under its new “strong mayor” system revealed a city incapable of enforcing, or sometimes even understanding, its own election laws. In fact, Colorado Springs government actively fought against transparency when it refused to enforce its own newly adopted rules.

• Golden Parachute: After submitting his resume for a highly paid position at the Jefferson Economic Council, Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky voted to approve a $400,000 grant, an increase of $20,000 over the previous year, from Jefferson County to that organization.

• WAIT Not Worth It: An August Westword story by Andy Kopsa raised serious questions about how an abstinence-only sex education group was able to work with members of the State Board of Education to circumvent state laws against such programs, and later received federal dollars through the state despite scoring the lowest of all applicants on Colorado’s grant evaluation rubric.


Ethics Watch compiled the report by reviewing news reports, campaign finance records, state audits and documents, emails, and other disclosure forms. Ethics Watch’s legal experts analyzed this information for violations of state laws, regulations or ethics rules.

Designed to bring public attention to the matter of government accountability, this is the only report of its kind in Colorado. The full report, including Ethics Watch actions and litigation on these issues, is available on the Colorado Ethics Watch website at www.coloradoforethics.org.

# # #

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Bruce's new punishment: Independence Institute shuns him

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Douglas Bruce: the booking photo
  • Douglas Bruce: the booking photo

If the slick end-of-year fundraising package from the Independence Institute that recently arrived on my desk is any guide, the Colorado conservative establishment has quietly declared Douglas Bruce a non-person.

Some may recall the Stalinist purges of the 1920s and '30s, when once-prominent party leaders were not just disgraced and imprisoned, but purged from history. Their names were stricken from the history books, photographs were doctored to remove their images, to mention their names was to court arrest, and others assumed credit for their productive work — if any!

The Independence Institute, a right-leaning think tank headquartered in Golden, spared no expense in this year’s attempt to extract a few bucks from the true believers. As you’d expect, a pleading letter from Jon Caldara, the Institute’s combative, capable and surprisingly likeable boss, features the usual fulsome tropes of the extreme right. The 11-page missive warns readers against “Radical policies that take away our freedom and opportunity … leading us right down the pathway to Socialism.” Caldara invites the marks to “join me and thousands of other patriots across the state to stand up today and fight back against the liberal tax-and-spend crowd!”

Also, he continues, who better to lead the fight than the Independence Institute? And here’s the proof.
“One of our most important victories to date was our successful push in 1992 to amend Colorado’s Constitution with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, otherwise known as TABOR.”

Um, er … Mr. Caldara, I was there. TABOR was conceived, written, named, and carried to ultimate victory by one man — Douglas Bruce. It was his relentless energy, his refusal to surrender or compromise, his singular focus on the task at hand that won the day. I know, because I fought him every step of the way. Bruce is to TABOR what Elway was to the Broncos, what Churchill was to the Battle of Britain, what Osama bin Laden was to al Qaeda. No Bruce, no TABOR — it’s as simple as that.

But now that Mr. Bruce has been convicted of tax evasion, his once-devoted followers at the Independence Institute have not only abandoned him, but purged him. Want more proof? Here’s a bio of one of the their staff members, Penn Pfiffner, a former state representative now chiefly remembered for having three ‘f’s” in his last name.

“Penn Pfiffner is a former state representative, having served in the Colorado legislature from 1993 through 2000. He was an early leader and proponent of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), serving as Regional Coordinator in the 1986 effort, and serving on the TABOR Committee in subsequent years.” Nope, no mention of the Dougster — nor is his name mentioned anywhere on the Institute’s website.

Alas, poor Doug! I know how you feel — my greatest achievements, such as inventing the internet and saving the Cheyenne Building, have been usurped by a couple of attention-grabbing politicians, Al Gore and John Hickenlooper. But that’s OK. Just as Trotsky and Bukharin were eventually recognized as revolutionary titans, so too will future historians recognize our greatness.

We just won’t be around to read about it.

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City to fill parks-projects position

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Someone in the city will continue working to open the Incline.

Earlier this month, I wrote "Brain drain," an article that addressed the decimation of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services' staff.

Long story short, the department has shriveled during the recession and lost some of its best talent. At the time of my writing, one of the department's top performers, Sarah Bryarly, was resigning in order to become a full-time mom.

Bryarly oversaw all the projects funded through the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks tax. That's pretty much all the big parks projects you ever hear about. (The South Slope and the Manitou Incline come to mind.) It was hard to imagine the parks department running without someone taking over the reins when Bryarly left, but the mayor's office had not yet approved replacing Bryarly.

Luckily, that's changed. The city has approval to hire someone for Bryarly's position and already has the job posted here.

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Gessler: Following law an "absurdity"

Posted by on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Screen_shot_2011-12-28_at_11.37.17_AM.png

Poor Scott Gessler.

Apparently, the first-term Colorado secretary of state thought his job gave him special powers. (Able to change laws with the strike of his pen! Capable of making big money election funders invisible!)

The series of strike-downs he's received since taking office must be disappointing to him. Turns out, the secretary of state is supposed to uphold law, not make it.

This morning another e-mail from our troubled secretary of state popped up in my inbox. It explained that Gessler tried to cut down reporting requirements for candidates and committees, "to resolve the conflict and avoid the absurdity" of all that paperwork — that would be the paperwork that tells voters who is funding their elections. To achieve this efficiency, Gessler simply unilaterally made a new rule.

The thing is, those reporting requirements aren't just a suggestion. They're mandated by law. The secretary of state just doesn't think he needs to follow the law.

The Legislature disagrees. And thus, Gessler has had to change his tune, and send out this rather irritated and unrepentant e-mail to Colorado's candidates and committees:


This is an important message about the reporting schedule for all state candidates and committees active in the 2012 election. Please read the entire message, because starting January 30, 2012, you will be required to file campaign finance reports every two weeks.

Background for biweekly reporting

Last year, the General Assembly moved the primary date from mid-August to late June, 2012. This move created a conflict in Colorado’s campaign finance reporting requirements. On one hand, Colorado law requires quarterly reports in an off-year, followed by monthly reports. On the other hand, another statute states that biweekly reports start in July before the primary. With a June primary, that literally means 26 biweekly reports starting July 5, 2011 and ending June 18, 2012.

In order to resolve the conflict and avoid the absurdity of 26 biweekly reports, I passed a rule requiring all active candidates and committees to file reports according to the off-year and monthly filing schedules.

On December 14, the legislative committee that oversees rules voted that this office exceeded its authority in creating this rule. By an 8-2 vote, the committee made it clear that this office had no authority to pass the rule and should have required everyone to begin biweekly reports on July 5, 2011.

Your new, biweekly reporting schedule

In order to follow the legislature’s guidance, my office is rescinding the previous reporting rule, effective January 30, 2012. This means all committees active in the 2012 election must begin biweekly reports on January 30, 2012.

Please note that this office will not require you to retroactively file the 14 biweekly reports from July 5, 2011, until January 3, 2012, unless the legislature takes further action.

Your new reporting schedule is as follows:

Screen_shot_2011-12-28_at_11.33.55_AM.png

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