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Eating their own 

What sort of person would actually submit -- for public tax-paid consumption -- such angry and cynical claims as these:

The families of people with mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy should take care of their own family member and not expect the government to help. It is their family member and their responsibility!

Working with people with mental retardation and other severe disabilities is expensive and the tax money is better spent on other programs where the return on the investment will be greater.

Many of these disabilities occur at birth as a result of the mother's bad conduct or habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse, or sometimes even due to the mother having the child beyond the age of natural childbirth. By funding programs to care for these children, we are encouraging irresponsibility. If we stop funding these programs, people will see that the government and the taxpayers are not going to take care of their mistakes and bad behavior and it will eventually stop.

If you assumed that anti-tax zealot Douglas Bruce submitted these statements for publication in this year's government-distributed voters' guides to persuade voters to oppose a proposal to help out people with disabilities, you would be, as Mr. Bruce might say, wrong, wrong, wrong!

In fact, these comments were filed, for anonymous publication, by local attorney and political operative Bob Gardner, who has been paid more than $10,000 to get a countywide ballot measure passed to benefit The Resource Exchange, a local nonprofit organization that provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

In other words, Mr. Gardner, in a political maneuver, is using the developmentally disabled -- people that he supposedly supports -- as pawns by anonymously claiming they deserve nothing. And, hey! Even if the tax goes down, Mr. Gardner has already pocketed 10 big ones, just for his political advice!

Last Friday, we asked Steve Hall, who runs The Resource Exchange, and Sarah Jack, the political consultant whose company has been paid nearly $46,000 so far to get the ballot measure passed, for an explanation.

The following is what we call their eight stages of denial:

First, Jack and Hall claimed that the offensive statements -- that people with developmental disabilities are unworthy of taxpayer support had been written by Douglas Bruce.

When it was pointed out that the statements were actually those of their own campaign adviser, Jack and Hall claimed Gardner's comments had been in response to those submitted by Douglas Bruce.

When it was pointed out that Gardner's comments had actually been filed at the Clerk & Recorder's officer before Mr. Bruce filed his, Jack and Hall claimed they had "merely" employed a "political tactic" designed to offset anything Mr. Bruce might submit. (Both Bruce and Gardner's full statements in opposition to the tax proposal can be read here. It should be noted that Mr. Bruce's comments are nowhere near as inflammatory as Mr. Gardner's.)

Then, Ms. Jack and Mr. Hall claimed that since Gardner had also submitted comments in favor of the tax proposal, they were merely presenting -- for the voters' benefit -- all of the pro and con viewpoints.

Then they downplayed the Orwellian aspect of Mr. Gardner's opposing statements, claiming that "some people" in their campaign "focus groups," had made such egregious comments as the ones cited above and, wrong as those people were, the pro-1A campaign believed the voters deserved to hear all sides.

Then they defended the morality of submitting such scandalous comments for publication in the guides that are distributed to every voter in El Paso County. They actually claimed these statements were not anonymous, as Gardner's name was attached to the filing with the Clerk & Recorder's office. Of course, when voters actually read the guides, no one's name is attached to the comments, making them anonymous.

Jack then claimed Gardner's tactic was perfectly OK, since it's not the first time that it has been used in political campaigns in Colorado. Both Jack and Hall expressed incredulousness about why we objected to this "minor" detail.

Finally, Jack claimed our objections were nothing more than a "personal vendetta" against their ballot measure and, presumably, any disabled or person with mental retardation living in El Paso County.

Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. We were hoping the campaign would take some personal responsibility for their hurtful anonymous statements, and reject them outright.

Instead, what we got was confirmation for why voters -- who are angry and downright cynical -- refuse to pass new taxes and are steering clear of the voting booth on Election Day.

-- degette@csindy.com

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