Monday, October 22, 2007

Caregiver's Dispatch

NOT strictly election material -- but something relevant


A Caregiver's Dispatch

I spent an evening, a night actually, with a man (‘T’) who has alcohol-related frontal lobe dementia. Which means that he frequently acts like his mind has simply ‘flown the coop.’ He wanders a lot—barely sleeps—feels frustrated a lot—talks about ‘going to the club’. Talks about his annoyance with certain people. He’ll point to a male nurse (working at the care facility) and ask plaintively, ‘is this guy brain dead?’

At times he seems to understand everything that’s said and is both cheerful and chivalric. At other times he imagines that you have said something very strange, while he struggles with the zipper on the jacket he just put on again for the tenth time in the span of an hour.

I might say, “ you think you might want to get some rest? You’ll feel better tomorrow? Does that sound like a good idea?”

He sometimes responds well to that question, ‘does that sound like a good idea?
But frequently I’ll say, “do you want to get some rest?” and he’ll say, as if repeating to me, but with a look of incredulity, “do you want me to donate further playdough?” The syntax is sensible; you could be talking to an office-mate.

Unlike most office-mates, he sometimes gets up at night and pisses on his furniture, or into a drawer, or under his bed, or somewhere other than the toilet, and he will refuse to be directed to the toilet. One night he peed into a drawer with one of the nurse’s aides pulling his arm. T was laughing as he pissed—seemingly possessed of a defiant child’s joy. Sometimes he gets angry if you try to pull his arm or otherwise touch his body to try and get him to do or mostly not do something. He frequently wanders into other rooms and sits down on the bed where someone is sleeping. Of course, certain patients in the place understand, others don’t.

When he goes into someone’s room, sometimes he’ll just sit on the bed, but sometimes he’ll say, “I wanted to go over some figures with you, do you have a moment?” I wasn’t sure how he came up with lines like this, but then I found out he once worked for IBM.

His frontal lobe dementia is such that he can’t care for himself – he lives within the bubble of an ongoing hallucinatory state. He has been known to take the handles off of faucets when agitated. He has swatted me a few times when I touched his arm in the process of trying to redirect him somewhere. (If he is about to piss on the floor of his room, I try to notify him of other options.)

Probably the most striking incidence that accompanies his disability is his habit of imagining that he is drinking alcohol. He ‘pretend’ sips it very slowly. This usually only happens late at night. He doesn’t have this particular hallucination during the day. He can sit in a chair for a half-hour or more, just sipping, and then also ‘smoking’ and sipping. It would make an interesting component to a video documentary on the topic of alcohol abuse, or for that matter, alcohol-related frontal lobe dementia, or for that matter how helpless people can become in the storm of debilitating illness.

No disrespect to the science of medicine, but T’s brain is oatmeal. He won’t ever return to life as anyone knows it. He and the other facility residents can’t count the days of future freedom they might expect on one finger; they are captives of something absolute, and regardless of who started it, there’s nothing to be done about it now. Still, humble as the circumstances may be, it’s as if the sweetness of childhood—the sweetness of life before drugs—has been given back.

Sometimes, late at night, T gets restless and begins searching for things. When the search gets tiresome, he gets busy with shoes. He always spends time on shoe issues, lacing them up, unlacing them, removing them, putting them on again, changing into sandals, taking his socks off, etc.. In the midst of this seemingly random behavior, he’ll stop and hand me the framed photo from the table next to his bed, an older photo of him and his two children. Two smiling kids and a smiling dad (with a flowery, funny hat); the way things were meant to be. Somehow, we are still entitled a memory of what we miss. Like as not, I can’t prove that he even knows who is in the photo—but when he hands it to me, as he’s done a few times, I ask, “Your kids, T?”
“Yes,” he says quietly. And not much else, but smiling.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

R. Valenty's Colorado Daily Profile of Rob Smoke

Smoke: Keep Boulder livable
Deck: Council candidate grew up in dense Manhattan, concerned about Boulder’s rush to density
Colorado Daily Staff Writer

Rob Smoke, a candidate for Boulder’s City Council in 2007, has seen a bit of urban density first-hand.
He was born in Connecticut, but his family moved to New York City when he was five years old, and he spent about 25 years there. Locals shouldn’t expect Boulder to ever become a city of skyscrapers like Manhattan, but Smoke said he is concerned that parts of the city might become not only dense – but also somewhat cold and soulless – if certain plans go through unchecked.
Those who have heard Smoke speak on the campaign trail have certainly heard his opinion on the Transit Village Area Plan (TVAP) and a potential paucity of area green space, depending on how the plan is implemented. Estimates in 2007 say the 160-acre TVA might gain 1,400 to 2,400 new homes and 2,800 to 4,200 new jobs over the next several decades, although the current council just adopted the TVAP last month and no actual projects have commenced.
And despite Boulder’s reputation as being a relatively small city whose residents desire a natural life, Smoke is concerned that TVA development won’t be as natural as the 1960s-designed Manhattan housing project that he lived in.
“The people were concerned with creating really nice, livable, enjoyable spaces,” said Smoke. “The one I grew up in, they set a minimum goal of 15 percent green space surrounding it, and I think they wound up closer to 20. If you went out on either side of the building, you would always see nice lawns, shrubbery, shade trees and flower beds.”
On the other hand, Smoke did choose to move here. He said he came here in 1981 and went to massage school, went back to New York for several years and came back to Boulder for good in 1986.
“I just liked the whole feeling out here,” said Smoke. “It’s really helped me a lot, on many different levels, in terms of my personal development to be out in Boulder. I really appreciate the Open Space, the mountains, and all the usual stuff.”
Today, Smoke works as a caregiver for people with Alzheimer’s and ALS – and works with a person who has alcohol-related frontal lobe dementia.
“I just kind of keep him company, and help him with whatever his needs are,” said Smoke. “I try to make his life somewhat more livable than it is. He’s really sort of tortured – he doesn’t know what hit him, and his mind just doesn’t function very well at all.”
Smoke has also volunteered some of his time over the past several years to the CU-City Oversight Group. The group, in short, is a team made up of representatives from CU, the City and County of Boulder, and the local community that has studied alcohol problems in the Boulder area and has produced recommendations to mitigate the impacts of abusing the legal drug.
“It’s just kind of sad to me that it’s the drug of choice in our nation, and certainly in this community,” said Smoke.
Smoke is also a current member and former chair of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission (HRC). Again in short, the HRC holds hearings and interacts with the community on issues of human rights and discrimination.
To step back briefly, Smoke said one of his favorite parts of living in Manhattan was that he felt connections with people of many different types of backgrounds and ethnicities.
“The most beautiful people I met while growing up were the Puerto Rican kids in my neighborhood, who were just really nice to me all the time,” said Smoke. “It was just really wonderful, that aspect of living in New York, although other aspects were really difficult in a lot of ways.”
The difficult part included what he called a “subtext of violence” and no shortage of “desperate people” who were stressed out and unable to cope.
Back to the present – Smoke said he believes the HRC has done some very interesting things over the past several years, including working on new anti-hate legislation that arose after the beating of mixed-race CU student Andrew Sterling in downtown Boulder several years ago.
He also said the HRC helped the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organize workers in Boulder, and said the commission helped turn the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration into more of a community-wide event.
Smoke has been involved with Boulder community affairs, either with the media or as an activist, for a number of years. For example, he said he helped organize a group called Citizens Analyzing the Redevelopment of Crossroads And its Special Subsidy (CARCASS) in 1998.
At the time, the city was considering using Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) to finance redevelopment of the aging Crossroads Mall, where the Twenty Ninth Street (TNS) retail center stands today. Smoke said he researched the issue and came to the conclusion that it would be a very bad deal for the city.
“I organized people, talked to business people and several council members, and we changed the direction,” said Smoke. (Former council members) Will Toor and Spense Havlick sort of changed their thinking, but (former Mayor) Bob Greenlee was a very strong proponent of TIF. It sort of wore on him that I was involved in the political discussion, but I was happy to be the person to do it.”
Smoke is also a long-time volunteer with KGNU radio, and he followed council meetings and offered radio commentary on what happened. He said he has also done shows on local topics such as the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, West Nile Virus, computer addiction, transportation and public safety.
He said he was motivated at a deep inner level to run for council, and said he believes the political direction of the council and city government needs to be challenged.
“I think somebody needs to be in there who would shake things up when they need to be shaken up,” said Smoke. “And it’s not hard to identify that I’m someone who will do that.”
So, locals should expect to hear or read Smoke’s opposition, whether he’s elected or not, if the city goes forward with (not yet formalized) plans to build a convention/conference center and a hotel at 13th Street and Canyon Boulevard, near where the Farmer’s Market, the Dushanbe Teahouse and Central Park currently exist or operate.
“The things that people value now, and that obviously work well, are worth preserving,” said Smoke. “We have to recognize that, and bend over backwards to preserve them.”

Contact Richard Valenty about this story at (303) 443-6272 ext. 126 or

For more information about Rob Smoke, visit the Web site Also, to read recent and past Colorado Daily profiles on other candidates, visit the Daily’s Web site

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Salazar and friends

Saw Ken Salazar tap-dance through a Democratic Ladies luncheon today.
He says it would be too time-consuming to impeach Bush.
He says it's important to support Mark Udall.
He says we will not go to war with Iran.
He says the Dems have been busy re-writing the mission statement for Iraq.
He says Colorado is a clean energy state and he's very proud of that.
He had a good George Bush at the White House story, but besides that, is
sort of unimpressive in his level of activism as a U.S. Senator.

However, the crowd was nice -- friendly --

I fear the worse for my little tugboat of a campaign during the final stretch.
We are listing under the heavy winds of Sierra Club and PLAN-Boulder and city council member non-endorsements. Additionally, I passed Mark Ruzzin on the street and he looked at me dead on and said, "I hate you."

I'm sorry, that's not true. And I actually like Mark. I think he needs to be removed from government and barred from further political activity, but other than that, I think he's a great guy.

The problem is that all these great guys and gals on council don't always act in the best interests of everyday residents and people fighting to get by in our community.

I was at the PLAN forum several weeks ago and told the audience that I am an activist. And after sharing that, candidate Massey felt it important to say that he is not one. Look...Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his lovely wife Bertha -- I mean Ellie -- they were activists. The reason we have Social Security is because of activism. The same for civil rights in the workplace and the right of women to vote. Activism is all about creating a better society.

We need people in government who are going to hold feet to the fire when the priorities become short-term economic goals and not long-term human sustainability interests. And not "go along to get along."

Please....I need your vote!!!!

And if I already have it, please tell a friend with an email, a phone call, or a knock on their door.
ALSO....when you vote, vote for the minimum number of candidates you deeply support. You are not required to vote for seven, and when you do restrict the number of candidates you support, you increase my chances, and my chances could use a little help.

If you want to reach me for any reason...say you know a forum where bomb-throwing anarchists like myself completely fit in...don't hesitate to call my campaign cell number:

Thanks ...and please check out my KGNU interview and various other links that I shall post within the next several days.

Love ya',


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday election diary

Weird event at Trilogy last night -- weird, kind of fun, kind of weird, weirdly fun --
drunk audience -- barely sober candidates -- sort of a neat guy hosting -- Waylon the Elephant man -- not fat, not physically grotesque, not even especially drunk --

The problem with the whole shebang was that it opened with Mark Ruzzin hijacking the stage for ten minutes and crowing about all the wonderful things he's done on council --

his wife and infant child were there, which is great -- I think the kid was drinking mai tais

anyway, NO ONE had the opportunity to rebut the b.s. Ruzzin laid down -- and the crowd cheered because...well, what do they know? they're drunkass

Forgive me, but I can think and chew gum at the same time and I happen to regard Ruzzin as a total con artist. Let me give you a recent example --

at the first August meeting of the Boulder city council, Ruzzin put a apresentation by RTD before the citizen participation portion of the meeting -- which pretty much always comes first on the agenda, at least until Ruzzin took office and started inserting PR presentations from Ball Aerospace or anything else he thinks is more important than Boulder's citizenry, which is pretty much anything that happens to please him --

I took issue -- I commented at the meeting after two people had to leave to take care of family business -- (one of the people leaving was Lisa Morzel) --

I wrote a letter to the Camera, which they published -- in turn, Mark Ruzzin wrote an even longer letter attacking me and saying I was trying to manufacture credibility for my candidacy --
what a jerk -- manufacture credibility? -- I'm sticking up for citizens who get disrespected every time they come down to council and are made to feel intimidated and as if they didn't belong --

that bothers me a lot --

in Ruzzin's attack, he picked out the 'straw man' argument -- he said that I knew full well the item was announced on the agenda (I had said there was an unannounced agenda adjustment)

well, technically, he was right! big deal! RTD was listed on the agenda -- I hadn't looked, because the staff signing people up will generally fill people in on unusual details -- for instance -- the fact that people who are expecting to speak in the first hour of the meeting but will unfortunately be delayed is an unusual detail that staff would normally share -- but they didn't!!!

and on other occasions, the presentations inserted prior to citizen participation have not been inserted into the agenda -- in any case, that's not the issue! the issue is the unadulterated lack of respect for people who take the time to come down and give voice to their -- very often -- unique and quite serious concerns ---

I've had enough. Haven't you? I walked High Street, Sunset, and a piece of Mapleton and Pine today -- a couple of people who didn't even know me at all invited me right in -- another several people wanted to discuss issues with me and had really important things to say --

I was particularly interested in the downzoning that occurred on Uni Hill and the 3-unrelated rule problems as related to me from a landlord's perspective --

I may not support every landlord's request, but I do think application of the 3-unrelated rule is very poor thinking --- also, the guilt-by-association of our nuisance ordinance -- I'm all in favor of the city stopping bad behavior by tenants -- I don't think the landlords necessarily foster it --
if they do specifically foster it, then perhaps they are culpable -- just the fact of renting to young tenants does not make them culpable if the young tenants make a mess or behave poorly

The discussion regards this went on forever at council and council came up with a plan to penalize anyone who rents to someone who might act badly -- so...we're talking about young people who rent, people who may not have an incredible track record, people who may show up to sign a lease looking a little scruffy or badass -- well, the city council is telling landlords not to rent to people who even look like they might cause a bit of trouble because the landlords can end up paying for it -- essentially it works out to another gentrification scheme --

in the big picture, it may not be the number one issue this season -- but still...when we come up with rules and regulations we have to make sure they're fair, otherwise we're just encouraging people to find ways to defy unfair laws.

That's how I see it.

I really enjoyed walking today -- it was a beautiful day -- some people just instantly said, "I will vote for you" -- and every time that happens it just makes me feel fantastic --

I may not pull the upset this go-round -- but then again I might --
if you think you can vote for me -- do so, but tell a friend as well

Mercury hits retrograde the day before the ballots are mailed --
astrologically, that indicates a time for big upsets --

I was posted at 100-to-1 by David Thielen, who many of the candidates are coming to understand is sort of a jerk --- to be polite

I wish I could visit every doorstep -- however, if I am elected, I promise to be available to everyone who has a doorstep -- how's that?

I'd insert the link for the Colorado Daily profile of me -- however, it wasn't working just now, so I'll wait to see if they get the glitch ironed out -- it was in the Thursday October 4th edition

it reads well


Friday, September 28, 2007

PLAN Boulder Q and A

My PLAN Boulder Questionaire Answers

PLAN-Boulder County City Council Candidate Questionnaire

1. What experience and skills do you possess that will make you a strong leader on council and a fair and open representative of the citizens?
I have been a participant in our civic process since my arrival in Boulder in ’86. Over the past five years, I’ve participated as a member of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission, and I’ve been very involved in the dialogue on diversity issues which I think is essential to the maintenance of the collective psychic and moral health of our community. As I’ve mentioned at a couple of the forums, in 1994 I created the bicycle share program at Naropa, soliciting donations from local vendors for a silent auction, which led to the purchase of some discounted bikes, and now it’s a model of a great bike share program – the kind of thing we could always use more of in Boulder. In 1998 I led a group of citizens questioning the appropriateness of TIF finance for the new mall – a technique used by mall developers to expand their profit margin, and not, as certain individuals proposed, “help” our community. I visited with council members and wrote op-ed pieces on the subject, also opposing the lifting of the height restriction, which won on the ballot by less than a hundred votes.
I have consistently advocated for the establishment of humane institutions within our community, and the development of policy that supports a better understanding and sense of caring between the very diverse groups of people who live here. Without that sense of caring, I submit our community is shortchanged. I am both an activist and an advocate – I’ll support a program that makes sense, but speak out passionately against policy decisions that are inappropriate and supported primarily by a very small subset of our community, such as the expansive development proposal for a convention center next to Central Park.
I feel very supportive of the PLAN platform; I hope PLAN-Boulder will lend me its support as well.

2. Name the 3 top priorities that you plan to address in your first year on council. Please outline the issue and your proposed approach in each case.

As I stated at the most recent forum, if elected I will immediately seek a performance audit for our planning department. Boulder pays an incredible per capita sum for planning services that have been reasonably questioned by a great many individuals – indeed, when reviewing the TVP (Transit Village Plan), or proposed downtown convention facility concept, it’s hard not to find fault. For instance, with regard to the TVP, the site is currently set to go forward with only two small pocket parks as greenery. I find that unacceptable on several levels; however, from a community-wide perspective, we’re adding enormous density without providing relief from that density—thus obviously creating circumstances that will cause people to drive away from their residences to obtain that relief, thereby putting more stress on all of our park and open space amenities. I grew up in the middle of Manhattan (NY, not Kansas) in a housing project built with nearly 20 percent green space on its premises. It’s not simply functional—it’s livable—and remains a place where seniors can go out their door and sit under shade trees—or kids can find a playground with their parents nearby to supervise. Those are essentials for a large housing development – I can’t really imagine a different approach.Moreover, I’m appalled that the plan received unanimous approval on council. It may sound a bit strong when I say that I would “shred” the plan—however, unless the issues are approached by someone with conviction and the life experience to understand the importance of these issues, it’s likely we’ll be stuck with a project no one appreciates—least of all the new inhabitants.
I think a performance audit would begin to give us a better handle on our direction with the planning department—we need extreme detail on who is spending their time doing what for whom. I want planning that serves all of Boulder, but particularly the present residents who deserve better value for their tax dollar. This audit would be the first step, I believe, in getting a better set of planning decisions for Boulder’s future.
A second priority for me would be to seek a revenue-stabilization plan that is fundamentally based on a fairer assessment of who pays what for what service. Some years ago, Boulder citizens did not pay a tax on basic food items (I don’t have the date on the change.) I think it wrong when a low-income resident is paying sales tax on milk and canned tuna, while others working or living in our community do not pay the fair share of cost for our roads or service infrastructure. I believe that a modest head tax—with funds paying for the infrastructure used by non-transit commuters-- would improve the revenue picture for Boulder and give us better funding for basic community services.
I want a thorough look at the options, but I think action in this area is in order. I also do believe that certain expenditure realignments would help create a balanced budget.
My third priority would be to change the focus and direction of our ‘economic vitality’ program. I might support an “incentive” to working families that went in the direction of partnership on some basic service like early childhood education—I believe there are studies to show that this type of program is a progressive community-oriented type of choice. I don’t support handing out government checks to corporations that serve as decoration to some division manager’s end-of-the-year balance sheet, as is presently the case. I support programs that offer documentable results—not programs that offer some vague assurance of retaining businesses that have been here across decades.

3. Are you willing to spend City funds on economic vitality incentives? Please explain your reasoning. If yes, what types of economic subsidies do you think will be most effective? How would you measure effectiveness?

My answer is just above—however, in terms of measuring effectiveness, I generally hold to the principle of communication with recipients, and in particular, I find the testimony of a division manager who would insist a hundred grand incentive as the reason for a billion dollar firm staying in Boulder as somewhat specious—but would likely believe the report of a working parent who felt that an early childhood program was valuable as not specious at all, but visible and real.

4. Would you favor construction of a conference/convention center in Boulder? Why? Do you believe the facility's operations would have to be subsidized each year by the City? Where would you locate such a facility?

By its nature, such a facility would be somewhat like a football stadium – good for use a few days out of the year, but a waste of land and resources at other times. I would possibly support a facility that was in a location that would a) not add to congestion downtown; b) not demand subsidy by the city; and, c) not displace, diminish, or otherwise harm very significant long-term resources like our downtown park or farmer’s market. I’m a little disconcerted by certain candidates who offer a certain position at a “business” forum, and then offer a take that equals a reverse of that position, or a quagmire of viewpoints that are largely indecipherable when testifying elsewhere. I will have the same position on this today, tomorrow, and during any term on council if elected. I do want to support the needs of non-profits in our community—I have doubts as to whether a new convention facility really does that effectively, and I also have doubts as to whether there is a shortfall in the city or region. That said, any plans for a facility have to make sense in both the particulars and broader view.

5. In 2005 the Boulder Civic Forum completed a study showing that 45% of the City’s residents have incomes lower than 80% of the Area Median Income, yet our community goal is to provide 10% permanently affordable housing. Does this indicate that our affordable housing program is inadequate? How would you change the program and its funding sources, if at all?

I grew up in a very progressive middle-income housing project built in NYC under the “Mitchell-Lama” law passed through the state legislature which provided underwriting support to significant parties like the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (so named at the time), which sought living quarters for its retired workforce. Eighteen of these projects were built—all of them largely successful and providing living quarters for half or less than half the market rate for would-be occupants. These projects were based on a European model that I think deserves recognition. The basic principle is that large underwriters supported a not-for-profit housing corporation creating the housing and the structure for its management, and the management was controlled by the people living in the project. I think this is an excellent model. I recently had a conversation with the RTD (TWU) union president about this type of opportunity, and I think it would work in Boulder. If elected, I would pursue a pilot program. I think the idea of dependency on developers to “gift” us an affordable housing program is counter-productive. A friend described it as “rinky dink”—I realize that may sound harsh to people who have benefited and I don’t discount their benefit—however, I don’t think it’s a program that works in the direction of solving the problem, but moreover tends to perpetuate it as the larger effect of new (and expensive) development is gentrification of the entire city. I want to see something that represents real change and I think I have the type of solid life experience and understanding to help us get there. Incidentally, my father was an affordable-housing advocate in New York State for many years—he was instrumental in establishing New York’s senior citizen rental rebate program, which I believe is still in effect.

6. Public discussion in the last few years on management of Open Space and Mountain Parks, on trail building, and on dog regulation has been the subject of controversy between those who emphasize resource protection and those concerned with the availability of public lands for public use. What are your thoughts, and how would you resolve conflicting demands?
I’ve written about this elsewhere—however, the basic principle to my mind is that this precious resource will be diminished if it is not protected—and although I love dogs, I have consistently seen that owners fail to act responsibly when they are not firmly regulated. A NYC policeman will instantly write an expensive ticket to anyone not cleaning up after their dog and NY’s Central Park is still a beautiful place on that account. It’s unfortunate, but we do need that level of regulation and I am also aware that native plant species—often damaged by dog leavings—is a central part of our natural ecosystem. I support dogs on leashes only on designated trails. I think our current policies in that regard are pretty good, but probably will continue to need adjustments. In any case, I greatly support resource protection.
7. The University of Colorado presently has an undergraduate population of about 22,000 students. CU planning documents project a potential increase by 2030 to as many as 35,000 students. What challenges will this create for the city, and how would you propose to plan for and deal with results of this university population growth?
I think the planning at CU is questionable and has been across the past couple of decades. I think, generally speaking, there are communities across the state that would benefit from a greater educational opportunity in their district, and the quality of the education at CU-Boulder is jeopardized by the planned growth. In terms of dealing with whatever growth occurs, I support working with CU on issues that have been discussed at council over the years – I did serve on the recent oversight committee and participated in some in-depth discussion about alcohol abuse and its effects on our community. I recall the suggestions of Will Toor, Spense Havlick, and other council members who talked about helping CU establish new housing options and restrictions on car use for incoming students—these are perhaps smaller items for the agenda, but just the same, I think our city needs to comprehensively engage in all of the areas of concern, and ought to do its utmost to work with CU on its growth conundrum. Certainly, there are other communities around the state that deserve higher education services within closer reach—our city ought to find partners able to influence intelligent policy decisions for the future.
8. Boulder County and City of Boulder citizen surveys over the last decade, including a county survey only a few months old, consistently show that growth of population and attendant development are by far the highest-ranked concern of city and county residents. Do you believe growth rates in the city and county justify these concerns? What, if anything, would you propose to do about the amount and type and form of growth?

Again, I support growth paying its way—since someone eventually does pay. The costs have to be looked at from a holistic perspective and met with accordingly. I’m dog-tired at the moment from working a job as well as running for council—however, I only offer that as an excuse for giving you a short answer here. I do have a lot of ideas on this topic. One would be to discourage the type of development where everyone has a two-car garage and an extraordinary amount of square footage and a postage-stamp sized lawn of their own. I think we can do it differently and I believe in comprehensive policy decisions made both locally and regionally. Co-housing communities, where people share everything from kitchen space to car parking facilities to green space—offer some potential. If we had even a few of those along the 36 corridor, everyone would be a lot better off right now, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t. We need to have a much broader discussion on these issues. I think the concerns of residents are very justified—I have to add that I am disgusted by the developer sales pitches which inevitably inform prospective buyers that adding 2,000 or 3,000 more square feet to their already large home purchase is a good deal from an investment standpoint. These profit-motivated sales pitches run counter to everything people have done to make our community livable across time. Again, I believe we have to work hard to establish better regional policy. I want to see real incentive for managed growth, and disincentive for real estate profiteers.

9. Boulder City Council has discussed the possibility of taking action to preserve neighborhood character and sustainability by somehow regulating the demolition of existing housing to make way for new housing that is often significantly larger, more massive, and much more expensive. Should council address this issue? What approach would you suggest?
Absolutely—we have to acknowledge firstly that there’s an enormous difference between someone adding a couple of rooms to their house and a “pop ‘n scrape”. I’m living next door to a pop-n-scrape site where the home demolished was probably less than 30 years old. It’s unconscionable. I believe in neighborhood self-determination, and investment oriented pop/scrapes are a detriment. We need advanced economic disincentives to this type of activity. We need some sort of graduated set of fees as a starting point. If it costs more to do a pop/scrape than can be recovered through the sale of such an item, the activity would diminish quickly, and I think that’s probably the right direction generally.
10. The Boulder City Council recently approved a $1.8 million allocation from the city’s Educational Excise Tax revenue to the Boulder Valley School District to help fund green building practices at Casey Middle School, but stopped short of requiring any preservation of the historic 1924 building. Despite the city’s Zero Waste Resolution and Waste Reduct ion Master Plan, this may result in the total demolition of the 1924 building. What would you have done? How would you address this ongoing issue on council?
I think the excise tax revenue would be better directed to another program entirely. There are many demands for educational capital improvements—I have to add that the BVSD’s policy of regarding its Boulder properties as convertible income is pretty unnerving. If we want to teach conservation and preservation to children, we might start by preserving local schools. That said, I still hope there’s a way of changing course with Casey.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ele4ction Diary Entry -- How to Pick a Winner in the Kentucky Derby without Really Trying

Remember: A) The Kentucky Derby is almost always won by a huge longshot.
B) The size of the council field is exactly the size field of the Kentucky Derby.
C) An online 'expert' has set my odds at 100-to-1
D) Mercury is in retrograde starting the night before the ballots go out!
E) That means upsets!
F) Batten the hatches, we're in for a bumpy ride, or whatever it was Betty Davis said.

And if that isn't enough for you, read this diary entry. I'll try to update as we progress the next two weeks -- thanks for checking it out.

i dont live on the last unpaved road in boulder for nothing election diary entry
I don't live on the last unpaved road in Boulder for nothing. OR...
how to pick a winner in a crucial city council election...
Here are the facts of this election...there are two incumbents running (Gray and Wilson) who approved a transit village plan that intends to put 1,600 hundred units of housing in a tract development offering 1 percent green space via two tiny postage stamp-sized pocket parks and they're telling everyone it's a good thing and something that's very environmentally conscious. (So everyone who lives there can drive to the nearest shade tree.) I don't buy it and I don't think anyone should have to buy that. You probably have at least another five candidates who brag about having the endorsement of the people who are voting for that very thing (Pierson, Massey, Appelbaum, maybe a couple more) -- so you have another clue there, and then you have things like this League forum episode, which I personally went to bat to keep on the air, which included telling everyone I know multiple times how upset I was, and making sure people knew what was going on, and I never, ever saw any members of council say they outright oppose the decision of the city manager and how do I know this? I know this because I was the guy who went to multiple meetings and took time out of his day to stand up in front of council and tell council and anyone else who would listen that it was wrong.
I'm telling it to you straight--I oppose the brand of thinking that has been prevalent on council so I don't feel I'm exaggerating the level of problem we have here and the work that needs to be done to turn things around--and I do happen to know urban planning issues well enough to know when I smell either a dead rat, or something that constitutes a massive donation of public wealth to a very small subset of people who insist on earning extraordinary returns on the dollar invested. I've lived here 21 years and I don't appreciate that and I don't think anyone should be made to feel that they should appreciate that, because there are plenty of other options and options that would preserve certain values that a lot of us share. If you can hear and appreciate what I'm saying, please --give me your vote and I will work to restore community values and values of human sustainability here in the city of Boulder which is still a very special wonderful place to live. Thank you very much.
And, oh, by the way...Seth Brigham is in ft. Logan mental hospital. Apparently the police visited with him last night after a harassment complaint from a neighbor and now he's gone. I presume his dog 'pockets' is getting excellent care somewhere. I'm sure he misses Seth. Seth did leave a message with me indicating he thought it very likely they would kill him; however, he's been leaving this type of message for me periodically since I've known him. I think I identify with Seth because he's familiar with some of the same variety of ethnic urban culture that I grew up with -- a version of it anyway. He seems to have been struggling lately and I'm sure he's deserving of either prayer or kind thoughts.