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The political group Coloradoans for Responsible Reform initially refused to report to the Secretary of State how much cash they had and so they got fined for it.

The group of mostly land developers and realtors are battling Amendment 24, the initiative that would give local voters the ability to control growth and sprawl in their communities. And when they finally did report how much they've raised, the total came almost to a whopping $1.2 million. That was just as of August 2. And guess what? All of the top money contributors are land developers and realtors.

(Note to the big-money developers who may have just moved here recently and call their group "Coloradoans for Responsible Reform": The correct spelling is Coloradans.)

Here's a list of the top contributors:

US Home Corporation: $100,000

Colorado Association of Realtors: 1-PAC: $100,000

Shea Homes: $100,000

Melody Homes, Inc.: $90,000

Village Homes: $75,000

Terrabrook of Englewood: $60,000

Eagle Homes: $50,000

Colorado Association of Realtors: $50,000

Engle Homes Colorado, Inc.: $50,000

Shortly after the donations were reported, Monica Piergrossi, the campaign director for Coloradans for Responsible Growth, said she wasn't surprised by either the makeup or amount of money of Amendment 24's opposition.

"We knew the big developers would try to buy the election," she said in a prepared statement. "This is going to be a David vs. Goliath fight: the citizens of Colorado who want a direct say over how their communities grow against the wealthy sprawl developers and land speculators who personally profit from sprawl and don't think the voters should be trusted with local land use decisions."

One of the primary proponents of the measure is nature photographer John Fielder, and numerous organizations -- ranging from the League of Women Voters of Colorado to planning groups like the American Planning Association's Colorado chapter and local land use groups like the High Country Citizen's Alliance -- are backing the initiative.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR) has already forked over $150,000 in total donations to the stop-Amendment 24 effort. But in a July 12 letter to members, CAR president Dennis L. Johnson indicated that the group plans to raise another $380,000 via a mandatory $20 political contribution from all of its members.

"This ballot initiative will ultimately destroy the livelihood of the real estate industry and any chance of future affordable housing in Colorado -- now and for future generations," warned Johnson.

Realtors and developers who are battling the growth plan claim that, if the measure passes, home prices will inflate, metropolitan areas will be overcrowded and more traffic congestion will occur. However, they also claim that should it pass, the state will instantly be plunged into an economic recession, that people and businesses won't come here but actually will be fleeing in droves.

Not everyone buys such lines of reasoning.

"It's amazing the arrogance displayed by this organization in demanding that all members support their particular political agenda," noted one realtor who asked her name not be used because she was afraid of retribution from the organization -- and who plans to ignore the "mandatory" political contribution. "I think everyone should know that not all realtors are in favor of paving the state to keep our income levels up. My personal feeling is that we badly need the Sierra Club and CoPIRG to save the state from being blacktopped and concreted over."

* * * * * * * * * *

Last Friday, Sept. 1, George W. Bush's campaign sent out a fascinating press release noting the Republican presidential candidate's commitment to education, and bragging about all those Colorado -- at least we think they're from Colorado -- teachers who are standing behind Shrub.

This is how the press release began: "The Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign announced today the formation of Colorado Educators for Bush, a grassroots coalition designed to gather support from educators throughout Iowa for his education reform agenda."

Colorado, Iowa, whatever. They are practically the same place. But that, apparently, isn't the only thing that Bush might be confused about. This week's George W. Bushism was originally quoted by the San Antonio Express-News on Jan. 30, 2000.

"The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case."

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