Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Donate a CD, support a library

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Got tons of CDs you never listen to, taking up room that could be devoted to some other kind of clutter?

Beginning Jan. 2 and continuing through Feb. 13, all Pikes Peak Library District locations will have collection boxes where you can donate those Billy Idol and Blind Melon albums that seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The best part is that Independent Records will be donating $1 for each CD received in order to help support All Pikes Peak Reads community outreach programs. (Note that CDs must be in good condition, with no missing inserts, so no cheating, OK?)

Face it, you'll never have time to list them all on eBay and then spend the rest of your life making trips to the post office. Plus, if you can't bear the idea of parting with all that music, go sign up at and, if there are any albums that you can't stream for free, just upload them to your computer.

Yes, it's a New Year's resolution you can actually keep. And you can feel good about helping save public libraries, that last bastion of democracy, before Doug Bruce figures out how to shut them down.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

David Williams in the hot seat

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM


Thought that the storm in the El Paso County Republican Party had passed? Nope.

Next Tuesday, at 6 pm, the county party's executive committee will be meeting. On the agenda, along with run-of-the-mill business such as the Pledge of Allegiance and updates from the party chairman and secretary, is an executive session. And as we know, an executive session of this bunch can become quite the notorious affair.

So what ever will they be discussing behind closed doors? If party vice-chairman David Williams' hunch is correct, what they'll be discussing is him.

Back in November, the party held an executive session to discuss, "some of their frustrations, and how to move forward with me being vice-chairman. As a result, they formed a sub-committee to meet with me, and discuss various things with me. Their official purpose was to ascertain what my intentions were to fulfill my role as vice-chairman."

"I haven't heard anything back from them, but as far as this upcoming executive session goes, that's probably going to be what it's about," he says.

Apparently, he says, there are members of the executive committee who are still miffed over his forwarding to central committee members former party secretary Sarah Anderson's resignation letter, and the accompanying longer letter in which she described party officials and elected Republicans in a way, way less than positive light.

"They were upset because they didn't really appreciate her eight-page letter, which I didn't even read until afterward," he says. "But they didn't like it. What I told them was, 'Look, you guys silenced Sarah for a long time. She asked me to do it, and I did it as a professional courtesy.' If people think that she is crazy, then they are going to read into it. If they don't think that she is crazy, then, well, but my point is let them decide."

"I want to cooperate with these people, but there doesn't seem like a willingness on their end," he says.

He says that he has requested copies of the party organization's financials, and has been denied a number of times. He says that the chairman has offered to allow him or any other registered Republican the chance to view the financial documents at headquarters.

"I want to make sure everything is on the up-and-up, and I have no reason to think that everything is OK because I have been denied information," he says.

He says that he suspects that the chairman, Eli Bremer, won't release information to him is because they are concerned that he will leak that info to the press. (We have reached out to Bremer and will update with any response.)

"Sarah released e-mails, and I think that they lump us together," he says. "But what I really think is the double-standard is that Eli did too."

He points out that of all the party officials during the great dust-up of 2011, he was the least likely to talk to the press, or to leak information on the party battles.

What would he have to leak to the public if there is nothing wrong with the party's financials he asks. Yet, he caveats, the party leadership can't expect him to remain quiet if he finds evidence of corruption.

"I don't know what's going to happen at this meeting," he says. "But I am not doing this anymore. Everything is going to be made public if I am involved."

Here is the official meeting notice:

This is an official call of the next Executive Committee meeting to be held on January 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM at EPCR Headquarters. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss several important events we have coming up, including Caucus and Assembly, as well as to publish an organizational calendar for the next year. You will find the proposed agenda for the meeting attached. Please review the proposed agenda and let me know by this Saturday, 24 December, if you have any changes or additions. (This deadline is IAW Article VII, Section 7.01, C1 of our bylaws.)

Given the numerous discussion points planned for this meeting, we anticipate that we will need to have a second Executive Committee meeting in January. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for the 17th at 6:00 PM, and its main purpose will be to discuss proposed changes to the bylaws. Please “save the date” for that meeting and look forward to an official call the week after Christmas.

In addition, I would ask that you forward any suggestions for changes to the bylaws to me at this e-mail address ( I will then consolidate all of your recommendations and deliver them to the Bylaws Committee.

Thank you for your hard work and continued support!

Jenny Daines

Secretary, El Paso County Republicans

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Lew Christensen dies on Christmas Eve

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Lew Christensen and his late wife, Sandi
  • Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs
  • Lew Christensen and his late wife, Sandi

Famed local developer Lew Christensen passed away on Christmas Eve morning after a long illness. He was 75.

Christensen is best known for his work with business partner John Venezia. The pair developed the Peregrine Master Planned Community and several commercial properties, but their signature work was Briargate. The two began the development project in the 1970s. Venezia died in 1992, and Christensen saw the project through until 1995.

Christensen was a two-time chairman of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation, which he helped establish in the 1970s, and a one-time chairman of the board of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

The EDC sent the following message regarding Christensen's passing:

EDC has lost a very dear friend and longtime leader. Lew Christensen passed away early on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Lew served twice as Chairman of EDC and also served as a Chairman of the Chamber board. He played a key role in establishing EDC in 1971 and again played a key leadership role in the early 90's. He was named the Chamber's Business Citizen of the Year in 1993.

Lew was a partner with John Venezia in the development of the master planned community now known as Briargate.

He leaves behind many friends in the Colorado Springs business community who will remember him for a life of significant accomplishments and contributions to our community. He was "one of the best".

I will forward information on a service for Lew as soon as I receive it.


Julie Boswell
Executive Vice President
Development and Communications
Colorado Springs Regional
Economic Development Corporation

C. Lewis "Lew" Christensen departed to be with our Lord on December 24, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Lew was born in Laramie, Wyoming, on June 3, 1936, to his parents Raymond H. Christensen and Elizabeth Cady Christensen. He attended elementary school in Laramie until the age of ten when his family moved to Casper, Wyoming. While attending Natrona County High School (Casper), Lew lettered in football and swimming, played the clarinet in the band, was a photographer for the school newspaper, and served as student body vice-president during his senior year, graduating in 1954.

Lew was a fourth generation graduate of the University of Wyoming, receiving his BS degree in Engineering in 1958. His great-grandmother, Emma Howell Knight, was the first dean of women at the university. His great-grandfather, Wilbur C. Knight, was a professor of geology and curator of the geology museum at the university and also served as state geologist. During Lew’s university years, he served as president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity ; was active in student politics, Air Force ROTC and Arnold Air Society; was a photographer for the student newspaper and annual; and was a free-lance photographer for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and other newspapers.

After graduating from college, Lew was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served for three years at Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana. While serving in Montana, he met and married the love of his life, Sandra Stadheim. Sandi and Lew were a very special couple and a great example of what a solid marriage should be. They met and were engaged nine days later, and were married for forty two years until Sandi passed away in 2002. They had two children, Kim Wyse and Brett Christensen, both of Colorado Springs; and four grandchildren, Kylie Wyse, Keaton Wyse, Jacob Christensen, and Nicole Christensen, all of Colorado Springs.

After finishing his military service, Lew went to work for Mountain States Telephone Company in 1962. For the next several years he worked for various AT&T companies in Helena, Montana; Phoenix, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City, New York, before being transferred to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1970. In 1973, when he was to be transferred again, he resigned from the telephone company and entered the real estate business in Colorado Springs. In 1977, he was introduced to John Venezia who was in the process of beginning the Briargate Master Planned Community in Colorado Springs. John and Lew were partners in the development of the Briargate Community until John’s death in 1992. Lew continued to operate the Briargate project until it was sold to the Gary & Dusty Loo Family in 1995. John and Lew had also been partners in the development of the Peregrine Master Planned Community and the construction and ownership of various commercial properties in the Colorado Springs area.

When Lew moved to Colorado Springs in 1970, he became immediately involved in many community activities. He served on the board of directors for the city’s chamber of commerce, serving a stint as chairman; the Economic Development Corp., serving a stint as chairman; the Homebuilders Association; Penrose St. Francis Hospital, serving a stint as chairman; the Boy Scouts; and several other organizations. Lew was always a big supporter of his alma mater, the University of Wyoming, serving on both the Engineering Advisory Board and the University of Wyoming Foundation Board.

Because of his hard work and dedication to the Colorado Springs community, Lew had been presented with numerous awards. The Chamber of Commerce selected him as the Business Citizen of the Year in 1993; the Economic Development Corp. awarded him with the distinguished service award in 1999; the Colorado Homebuilders Association selected him as the Citizen of the Year in 1991 and selected him for its prestigious "Founders Award" in 2009.

Lew’s wife Sandi and his mother, father, and sister, Kay, predeceased him. He is survived by his significant other, Alina Carris, a true angel, of Colorado Springs; his two children and four grandchildren; his step-sister Donna Golden-Strube and his step-brother Michael Golden, both of Casper, Wyoming; his trusted friend Dr. Tim Wyse of Colorado Springs; and countless family and friends across the country.

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of Lew’s life will be held at a later date. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in Lew’s memory be given to the American Cancer Society, Pikes Peak Hospice, or the University of Wyoming Foundation.

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Social dining (and drinking)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Hey! How was your Christmas or Hanukkah?

Great! Me too! Blah blah blah ...

Now that we have that awkward post-holiday necessity out of the way, let's talk a little (more) food and drink.

• First up, The Summit at the Broadmoor recently announced "Social Hours" from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.

The earlier hour-set features a menu called "Tastefully Early" with $5 to $9 apps and $5 cocktails and wines.

The latter hour-set brings a "Fashionably Late" menu with similar prices, including $4 beers as well.

Here's a look at a sample menu provided by The Broadmoor:

• For the beer faithful who are willing to go truly great distances for their passion: how does a three-hour drive sound?

The 12th annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival takes place Jan. 5 through 7 in Vail.


I'll once again defer to Focus on the Beer, who's already done the research and writing on this one.

Click that link and check out Eric Steen's recap from last year, as well as this year's event calendar.

• And as the new year approaches, let's remember that it's not cocktails and beer-fests all the time — some hard work gets done in between.

So in the spirit of a "that food don't grow itself" lecture meant to inspire humility and appreciation, I offer you yet another Pikes Peak Urban Gardens food-growing class.

From 10 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, catch "Getting Ready for the 2012 Veggie Season," with tips on how the Mayan calendar and imminent end of the world will affect your Swiss Chard and other leafy greens this year.

OK, I made that last part up to see if you were still with me. The class will actually cover such topics as seed saving, bio-intensive planting methods, space-saving techniques and much more that is completely unrelated to a fiery earthly demise.

Details as well as a registration link are available on PPUG's website.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

UPDATE: Christmas gifts push Give! past $402,000

Posted By on Sun, Dec 25, 2011 at 9:50 PM


Wow! This area's generosity has continued on Christmas Day, with nearly $3,000 in donations just in the past eight hours, taking the Indy's Give! campaign to $402,212.47 !

Now comes the stretch run for this year, leading to the deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31.

——————ORIGINAL POST, 8:14 a.m., DEC. 24—————

Here it is, the day before Christmas, and we at the Independent have something very special to celebrate.

Our third annual Give! campaign to benefit local nonprofits is on the brink of surpassing $400,000 - with another full week to go.

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, the campaign total (you can check it yourself 24/7 at stands at $397,317.47. You can also make your own donations at that site to one or more of the 49 participating nonprofits.

Yes, the ultimate goal this year is $555,555.55, which still might seem like a long way off. But with many more matching funds pledged to the campaign, based on how nonprofits fare, it's safe to say that we have a chance to make it over the top.

But the donations this year are especially gratifying when you consider:

In the first year of Give!, the total was $198,698.59 — more than 30 percent beyond the initial goal of $150,000.

Last year's goal was $333,333.00, but the donations totaled $336,872.44. After the matching grants were added, the final total surpassed $422,000.

So the 2011 campaign is leaving 2010 behind, with one more busy week to go.

Indy associate publisher Carrie Simison-Bitz, co-chair of the campaign, says the organizers are overwhelmed by area residents' generosity.

“We know what a tough time people are having as the economy sits motionless, so the growth Give! is experiencing is unbelievable,” Simison-Bitz says. “Our donors are really getting behind what they see as important, vital parts of our community and putting their support right here, in the Pikes Peak region, so we can help ourselves and our neighbors weather the economic storm.”

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bonus CineFiles: The Simpsons, Futurama, Point Blank, Tora! Tora! Tora! and Stars and Stripes Forever!

Posted By on Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 1:19 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.

The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season / Futurama: Volume 6 (NR) (Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Just in time for Christmas (or whatever gift-giving holiday you choose to celebrate), two of the best-loved animated shows on television, The Simpsons and Futurama, have released new Blu-ray collections that are guaranteed to make lifelong fans happy over their holiday break. The 14th season of the long-running Simpsons — possibly the last really good, imaginative season — finds Marge getting breast implants, Homer going to rock ’n roll fantasy camp with Mick Jagger, Krusty making a run for Congress and the whole family becoming part of a reality show that forces them to live in 1800s conditions. Meanwhile, the Comedy Central-revived Futurama Volume 6 set contains 13 of the latest episodes of the satirical sci-fi show from Simpsons creator Matt Groening. In this set, Fry becomes a cop assigned to the “Future Crimes Division,” Leela hunts down a 4-D space whale, and the crew alters history when they travel back in time to the American Revolution. Fun stuff.

Point Blank (A Bout Portant) (R)
Magnolia Home Entertainment

The French don’t get enough credit for being masters of the action film. Over the past decade, they’ve been delivering some of the most inventive and original slam-bang cinema, giving us powerhouse director and producer Luc Besson and franchises like District B-13. The latest to blow my house down is the frantically paced chase thriller Point Blank, a movie which, I am predicting now, will get an American remake starring Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington within two years. Nurse Samuel makes the mistake of stopping someone from killing a witness in ICU. The thugs kidnap his very pregnant wife and force him to abduct the witness in exchange. Dirty cops get involved and soon enough, Samuel is accused of being a cop killer, running around the city trying to find his wife who might go into labor any minute now. Point Blank is an absolutely perfect thriller, with so much tense action, your heart will race with Samuel’s every step.

Tora! Tora! Tora! / Stars and Stripes Forever (NR) (Both Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

No bones about it: I love America. It’s the greatest country on Earth, and I make no apologies for that belief. I also tend to enjoy movies that celebrate America. 20th Century Fox has released, on special edition Blu-rays, two highly regarded pro-America movies that will leave you with a right hand over your heart. First up is the Pearl Harbor retelling Tora! Tora! Tora! A co-production with Japan, Tora! recounts, in heartbreaking detail, both sides of the story and the events that led to it, featuring an all-star cast. On a lighter note, Stars and Stripes Forever is the musical biopic of John Philip Sousa, perhaps the most American musician since Toby Keith. He composed songs like “Semper Fidelis,” “The Liberty Bell” and the title cut. Played with patriotic gusto by Clifton Webb, Stars and Stripes is a fun family film that you could watch with your conservative grandma.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

The gifting isn't over yet

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Looking for one more really last-minute gift? How about a calendar?

You've got three local options (that we know of at least...)

1) The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5 annual calendar.


Yes, the Springs has its very own firefighters calendar. And, yes, I tried to get you some inside photo samples, but alas, you'll just have to trust me on this one. You can purchase copies for $15 at Colorado Coffee Merchants, 302 E. Fillmore St.

2) The Expressions of Hope AspenPointe annual art calendar.


Filled with art by wounded Fort Carson soldiers this year, purchases of this calendar will go to support art therapy programs at AspenPointe. Purchase online for $10 each.

3) The Original 365 Days of Kittens a Year calendar.


OK, this one's not locally produced, but it's got a local cat in it.


Boom is featured in the month of September, and is cared for by locals Jon and Avery Maddaloni. You'll find this calendar by Workman Publishing at book and calendar stores all around town, retailing for $12.99.

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What to get the candidate who has everything?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 4:06 PM


That's what the young children of Senate President Brandon Shaffer want to know, just in time for Christmas AND his bid for Congress.

An e-mail from Dylan and Madison Shaffer (grades 4 and 2, respectively), informs us that they "have been thinking for a long time about what gift to get our dad, but we are stumped. We asked Dad what he wanted, and he said a break from fundraising calls! So Madison and I need your help."

Awww, how adorable. Their dad is sick of begging for campaign donations, and they wanna help. These are some really thoughtful campaign staffers kids.

Here is what we were thinking. You can vote on a present idea by donating. The present with the most donations wins! This way we can decide what present to get, AND he doesn’t have to make as many calls!

Cause when I think Christmas, I think politicians using their kids to raise campaign cash.

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Loss hits Pride Center

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 2:37 PM

It's supposed to be a season of cheer, but the folks at Colorado Springs' Pride Center are in mourning today.

Linda Rankin, the center's heath and wellness coordinator, passed away suddenly yesterday, for unknown reasons. She leaves behind a partner and a son.


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State lands $17.9 million education grant

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Colorado is among the savvy seven states that each will receive a share of the $200 million Race to the Top Round 3 federal education grant to improve student achievement. Colorado's share is $17.9 million over four years, the state said in a news release.

The state's cost of application was $60,000 and involved help from various organizations, including the El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs.


Today’s announcement of the Race to the Top Phase 3 award marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to secure additional funds to support the state’s aggressive education reform agenda. Countless individuals, educators, public/private agencies, business groups, and the state’s policy makers helped craft a vision for the state’s education system that was articulated in the first and second phases of the Race to the Top applications. Colorado has been actively implementing that reform agenda despite not receiving the Phase I or 2 funding.

“The award of Phase 3 funds, which was based on the state’s Phase 2 application, recognizes the excellent and hard work of all of the individuals who helped draft the state’s reform agenda and provides much needed financial support to maintain and accelerate momentum on the state’s reform efforts,” Education Commissioner Robert Hammond said. “The Colorado Legacy Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Donnell Kay Foundation, Piton Foundation and the Daniels Fund, all came together to help fund and support the development of Colorado’s grant application and their contributions made our application very strong.”

The announcement is welcome news for Colorado after having recently been edged out of earning a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. That award would have supported early childhood education initiatives.

Focus of the RTT3 Grant
The state’s grant will focus on four major areas designed to advance the state’s education reforms:
Leveraging and expanding the state’s capacity to support district implementation of the state’s reforms;

Implementing the Colorado Academic Standards through the work of Content Collaboratives (teams of educators with content and assessment expertise who will develop tools and assessments to assist educators in implementing the new standards and with accessing multiple measures of student learning for use in educator evaluations);

Supporting district implementation of the state’s educator effectiveness law (S.B. 10-191); and

Increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education across the state.

District Participation
As with prior rounds of Race to the Top, 50 percent of the award is designated for district use. All districts are eligible to participate in Phase 3. District funds are allocated based on their Title I share distributions. The state has 100 days after the grant is awarded to work with districts to determine participation.

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Conscious Table adds lunch hours

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 8:00 AM

This just in from the chefs at Conscious Table:

As of Jan. 10, the outfit will open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, for lunch. (Dinner hours will remain 5:30 p.m. to midnight, Thursdays through Saturdays.)


Here's some info from a release and a look at the inaugural lunch menu:
Conscious Table’s lunch menu continues their commitment to local and sustainable sources and will include wild buffalo from Mosca, Colorado’s Zapata Ranch, fruit from Paonia’s Austin Farms and vegetables from their growing stable of local growers. Prices vary from $4 to $12, with additional specials, including sustainably harvested seafood and Colorado meats, offered daily. The menu will change on a seasonal basis.


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have yourself a Unikord Christmas

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Christmas comes but once a year and, happily enough, that's also true for Christmas songs.

Whether it's the endlessly repeating partridge in a pear tree or that creepy, Yoko-enhanced choir that keeps drowning out John Lennon, holiday music can quickly wear out its welcome.

So if all those saccharine sentiments are starting to overload your system, a stiff dose of Unikord may be just what the doctor ordered.

Earlier this week, the local death-carolers posted a brand new Xmas tune called "Soylent Night" to their bandcamp site, where it joins Unikord's previously posted "Frosty" and "Santa Claus Is Killing in Town."

Enjoy if you can.

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Snow closes county offices but not city

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 2:30 PM


The county are a bunch of wussies, you might say. El Paso County offices are closing today at 3 p.m. due to the snow.

El Paso County Public Health and the Clerk and Recorder's Office put out press releases citing the weather for the early closure. Other county offices also will close at 3 because of weather.

This means an early start to the holiday for county offices, which will be closed Friday and again Monday.

Over at the city, meantime, the "Grinch," Mayor Steve Bach, is keeping public servants on the job.

"Just heard from OEM," writes city spokesperson Mary Scott referring to the Office of Emergency Management. "The forecasts they are using are saying it’s moving out with no more significant accumulation so we aren’t closing early."

Also, city offices are closed on Monday for the holiday, not Friday AND Monday, like at the county.

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This Christmas: A progressive cause

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 1:47 PM

  • borman818

This isn't exactly 2008.

And no one knows that quite like, which hasn't felt nearly as powerful (or rich) as it did a few short years ago. Still feeling the progressive fervor? Then you might want to consider a less-traditional holiday donation. It won't cost you much. MoveOn is asking for $5 donations.

Dear MoveOn member,

Between work or school, and paying the bills, and taking out the trash, and checking out that new XBox/trashy novel/cookbook/fingerpainting set, you probably don't think about MoveOn too much.

When you do, you probably think we send you too much email. Almost everyone thinks we do (except my mother-in-law, God bless her).

But you're probably also glad for the work that gets done thanks to all those emails. Glad that whenever the Republicans come after working Americans, MoveOn members are there fighting back. That whenever a proud progressive like Elizabeth Warren comes under attack, we stick up for them. That every day, MoveOn is a channel for millions of people to speak truth to the powerful — Republican OR Democrat.

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, we're a rapid response progressive political alarm system. Sure, sometimes you just click delete. But imagine if MoveOn disappeared and the work so many people do through MoveOn stopped happening altogether.

Not to get technical, but it would be bad.

To avoid that — to keep MoveOn going and growing — costs money, even though we keep our staff small and work from home to keep overhead low. Right now, to make ends meet, we need to raise $400,000 by the end of the year.

That's not a lot — in fact if every MoveOn member gave just 5 cents, we'd be all set. If every MoveOn member gave a few dollars, it would cover our budget for years.

Sadly though, not everyone can. Too many MoveOn members are unemployed, or have seen their hours or benefits cut, or are having health problems — and really truly can't afford anything.

So if you're blessed enough this holiday season to have a few bucks in your pocket, please chip in to keep MoveOn fighting hard for the issues we all care about. And if you can afford it, kick in a couple extra to cover some folks who are hurting.

I'll contribute $5 to keep MoveOn fighting.

At the end of the day, MoveOn is its members — we're a platform for millions of people from all walks of life who take time out of busy lives to fight for what's right. Please donate $5 so we can keep being there for every important fight in 2012.

Thanks for all you do,

—Justin and the rest of the team

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Douglas Bruce: a different perspective

City Sage

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Douglas Bruce: Now its a waiting game.

Way back in the mid-1980s, when I was a struggling not-so-young rookie real estate salesman, a friend gave me a hot lead. She worked at the symphony, and a newcomer to town had just purchased season tickets.

“He’s moving here from California,” she said, “and he asked me if I’d recommend an agent. I gave him your name, so he might call you. His name is Douglas Bruce.”

A couple of days later, Mr. Bruce called. He told me that he intended to buy a dozen properties, but that he didn’t need my (or anybody’s) advice on what to buy, where to look, how much to pay, or how to obtain financing. He considered the then-customary commission structure to be absurdly inflated, and suggested that my compensation should be much, much less.

It didn’t sound particularly promising, but we met and tried to work something out. After a few minutes, it was clear that we couldn’t work together. I thought that he was an arrogant know-it-all, and he didn’t much care for me, either.

For the next 25 years, we clashed repeatedly, driven by opposing beliefs and mutual personal distaste. It’s been a long, strange trip.

In April of 1991, the always unpredictable voters of Colorado Springs approved TABOR’s first iteration in the form of a Bruce-initiated charter amendment — and elected me to City Council.

Game on. I thought that the voters would soon see the error of their ways, modify the amendment, and toss the Dougster into the dustbin of history. Instead, voters statewide approved TABOR a year later, making Bruce the most influential Colorado politician since Wayne Aspinall, the canny Western Slope congressman who sponsored the giant trans-mountain water diversion projects that created the modern Front Range.

Aspinall built - Bruce destroyed.

Once a registered Democrat who ran for a seat in the California legislature, Bruce’s beliefs had changed radically by the time he arrived in Colorado. He saw governments as bloated kleptocracies run by self-serving incompetents interested only in feathering their own nests. He knew how to stop their thieving ways; cut off the money.

And since the money came from taxes, and people don’t much like paying taxes, the way was clear. He had to persuade the sheep to stop being shorn and show the suckers how they were being fleeced.

He had to slow down, and even reverse, the inexorable growth of government.

It was a reasonable goal, one shared by many Coloradans.

But for Bruce, shrinking government was a crusade. It was a war between good and evil, and he was the white knight. He was Douglas the Lion-Hearted, leading his motley legions against the ruthless, amoral minions of a corrupt state. For such a goal, every means was legitimate. If he authored constitutional amendments containing devious and deceptive language, that was OK. It was OK to demonize your opponents, to ignore facts that didn’t support your position, and to skirt laws in the process.

After all, THEY made the laws, THEY enforced the laws, and THEY tried to stop him from revealing the truth! THEY were corrupt — not him.

Such was his contempt for government and government employees that he didn’t even bother to get an attorney when indicted on multiple counts of evading state taxes. He represented himself, probably figuring that the prosecutors were hack lawyers who couldn’t get better jobs, that the judge was an ignorant twit who would let him take over her courtroom, and that a freedom-loving jury of his peers would never convict the man who had led them from the wilderness of oppressive taxation to the sunny uplands of liberty.

Wednesday he stood in a Denver courtroom, where a jury found him guilty of all counts: failing to file tax returns, tax evasion, filing a false return, and attempting to influence a public servant. He could be fined as much as $750,000, and sent to prison for up to 12.5 years.

He’ll appeal, but that may just drag out the process. At some point, he’ll have to do a John Gotti who, when sentenced to prison, took off his Bruno Magli’s, slipped on a pair of running shoes, rose and said, “Ready for Freddie.”

And Bruce’s troubles may not be over, even if he can avoid jail time on the state charges. If he defrauded Colorado, he may have defrauded the IRS as well — and, as one who is paying off his own back taxes, I’m reasonably certain that the feds won’t let him slide.

It’s a sad coda to a significant life. For better or for worse, Bruce affected the lives of every Coloradan. Not for him the dustbin of history, where most of his erstwhile political adversaries (myself included!) now repose.

Not so many years ago, the prospect of the Dougster in an orange jumpsuit would have delighted me. No more. When you grow older, you begin to treasure your enemies as well as your friends. As Richard Skorman once told me, the trick to working with people whom you dislike is to concentrate on something that you like about them, and ignore the rest.

On the witness stand, Bruce reportedly choked up when talking about his late mother, Marjorie. She was a retired schoolteacher who moved to Colorado Springs to be near her son. She was also a writer, so accomplished that she was twice chosen by the Denver Post as one of its “Colorado Voices,” ordinary Coloradans who each write a half-dozen columns for the paper in the course of a year.

I talked to her once or twice — she called to praise something I’d written, saying “I hope you don’t mind that my son is Mr. Controversial!”

She was very much her own person.

On Nov. 7, New York magazine’s cover story celebrated the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking first issue of Ms. magazine, published as an insert in New York on Dec. 20, 1971. The new pub’s impact was immediate and overwhelming. “These enormous mailbags (from new subscribers) would arrive every day,” said founding editor Joanne Edgar. New York published three such letters last month. Here’s one, dated Feb. 9, 1972.

“I’m encouraging every young woman I know to subscribe — those who can leave their macramé long enough to use their minds.” — Marjorie Bruce, Hollywood, Calif.

Marjorie: rest in peace. And Douglas: hire a good lawyer, and stay out of the slam!! And if you need a character witness at your sentencing, give me a call…

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