Now we live with Evil dolls - Iain Thomas is in Japan

By Iain Thomas - - - Much like the ever gaudier and grander Christmas trees we welcome in December, late March and early February sees the appearance of a special decoration in Japan—the hinadan. A red, collapsible staircase, the hinadan houses a cast of 15 dolls numbering 1 prince, 1 princess, 2 ministers, a band of 5 minstrels, and two sets of 3 servants—one for the prince, one for the princess. These dolls represent the royal court in all its splendor and are passed on to the young daughters of each new generation in a family. Accordingly, the day is a time to mark the importance of girls and femininity in general.
     But why?
     That question takes us back to the days of the Heian Period (794-1185 AD). Throughout Japan, a special purification ritual was annually performed in villages. The local priest would imbue wads of straw with the village's evil and chuck them into the river to float downstream and become someone else's problem.
     But they hit a snag. Girls in the villages began to play with the wads of straw, eventually decorating them and turning them into dolls. Rather than dissuading them, parents encouraged this behavior. The clothing became more elegant. Faces appeared. Straw was replaced with more craft-friendly materials. In some regions the custom of floating dolls down the river remains; but, for the most part, the dolls are here to stay now.
     In fact, it's tricky to dispose of a hinamatsuri doll. As my students have attested, throwing one away invites possible curses. Likewise with pawning it. The only surefire way to get rid of a doll is to go to a local shrine and entrust it to a priest.
     With what bright expressions and clothing they have, one wonders why that is.

Elizabeth Mayor Hurst hard at work

By Aaron Brachfeld - - - It was a privilege to watch Judge Hurst work today in Douglas County Court.  The Mayor of Elizabeth is also the First Appearance Judge of Douglas County, meaning that criminals get to see him first. 
     Hurst’s style is definitely modern and progressive, with an eye toward reform and prevention as a means to reduce the increasingly burdensome caseload on our Judiciary.  But it would be inaccurate to describe it as merciful: fair would be a better word.  In the three cases I observed, consideration was made fully toward the letter of the law with an understanding that its intention was to be applied conservatively.
     He seemed to hesitate at exerting the fullness of his power, and managed to treat every party with the utmost respect – as a servant of the People.

     I would encourage everyone to stop by the First Appearance Courtroom of Douglas County to see your Mayor hard at work, presenting a fine example of Justice – but not from the perspective of the accused, of course!

When the CMA came to town

1983. I was the DJ/asst. Manager for that was the Premier Country and Western Nightclub in Washington D.C.; Bronco Billy's Goodtime Saloon. Up the street and around the corner was another premier nightclub for the New Wave Crowd called the Annex. The DJ in their and would trade albums back and forth for each to review for our perspective clubs. We would then discuss which moved us and which flopped. We had a rate success rate of 90%. It was there I met Laura Brannigan who gave me a dozen roses because I "looked hot dressed as a mortician".
The dress code for me at BB was black trousers, white ruffled formal shirt, black string tie and a Stetson. My outfit was that but I wore a black suit coat and a black stetson and black books.
The owner of BB was a former Penthouse Pet who could have the vocabulary of a sailor. We tangled a few times, but that was just a part of the job. He biggest freakout was when I came in one day and vacuumed all the white powder on the bar. See, they had parties after hours and this one and only time they forgot to clean up afterwards so about $1,000.00 of coke went into the Hoover.
The other time she had an absolute conniption was when the Country Music Association (CMA) came to town to hold their awards at D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) Constitution Hall. It was one of the first times that had ever happened.
One day, I knew something was afoot when she called me by the bar name she gave me; Dudley Do-Right. Be it for a run to the CVS for Cotton Ponies or to the Pleasure Chest because she needed a new BOB, she would call me by that name.
This day she helped me take two boxes to my car, handed me addresses, names, and locations of some of the Managers of Country and Western Acts. The plan was to go to these people, talk up the bar, and maybe get some free advertising on a National Level.
I am supposed to drive up to the Ritzy Hotels in my beat up to Hell 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate Station Wagon. I brought that to her attention hoping I could use her fiances Cadillac. No dice, she says. She went on to say "I have heard you in action. You could talk the Devil out of his Gold."
So, me and mine went around to the Hotels delivering the goods and amazingly I actually got on the floors where the acts were staying. I would come off the floors and get mobbed by fans. Why? I am nobody, but i signed books with my "Snakes having an Orgy" signature.
Back at the club, I set up for happy hour, tossed in a tape, and prepared for the evening.
Bronco Billy's was not really that big, maybe 6,000 square feet. The bar occupied one end of the club like a fortress. It was oblonged shape and could serve people on either side.
The bar itself used to be a Disco so the walls were covered in mirrors. Some were regular mirrors and others were little squares, like the pole which was in the middle of the dance floor. There was a bandstand, if you wanted to call it that, where the bands set up. 5 members and their equipment would fit. It was cozy, but they fit. Plus the stand was only curb height off the floor. Some parts of the club you could reach up and touch the ceiling.
What was above the club? Part of the Anthony House Hotel and an Alley.
The furniture in the club was couches, tables, chairs and stand ups.
This one night was very crowded with a line snaking out the door. Members of the CMA (and performers) were coming to the club. Tiffany, the Manager/Owner of BB was pleased for the turnout for she thought my journeys produced results. I wasn't going to burst her bubble and remind her our nearest competition was in Rockville, Maryland.
As the evening wore on, I was called over to a table which was covered in beer bottles. The man introduce himself as Raymond Hicks, Road Manager for the Oak Ridge Boys. He invited me to join him and a long haired dude with a beard whom I recognized as Bill Golden. We talked for a bit and Bill said, "You know a lot of women in here.". "I know". What else could I say? It was then a friend walked over and said, "Is that Bill Golden. Gary?"
"Yeah. Just a regular guy having a beer. Bill, this is my friend strawberry."
"I like eating Strawberries" he says. She melts. I roll my eyes, they depart.
"Have you ever been to a rehearsal of the CMA before?" No, I replied. "You have been now. Go to the side door of the DAR and tell the Guard you are a guest of me. Be there at 8 am"
I look at the empty beer bottles and go, "Yeah, right", but I agree to meet him tomorrow at the DAR.
I did not get up until 7:45 the next day.
My schedule usually consisted of having Supper when people were having breakfast (thank goodness for Ihop) sleeping when people were working, breakfast when people were having Supper, and lunch/work when people were sleeping. I went as far as to nail shoes to the ceiling and I had a floor length cape an ex gf made tossed over a chair. The only thing I was lacking was candles and Gregorian Chanting.
I got to the DAR at 8:30. Walked up to the guard and told him who I was, Keep in mind there are hundreds of people there trying to get a glimpse of someone, anyone. The guard gave his best "Yeah, sure" smile and went inside.
He came back out, opened the door with a flourish and said, "You are LATE, sir".
The fuck? Raymond kept his word?
I walk in and there he is, hands on hips, and he says, "Where have you been? I hope she was worth it. People are expecting you!"
Wait. I work in a nightclub with a dance floor insiders call Postage Stamp size. It is run by a former Penthouse Pet whose boobs alone bring in money from guys who drool. I am nobody.
And I am late.
"JOHN" he shouts bringing me out of my reverie. Over walks John Schneider, "Dukes of Hazzard" star and singer. "Is this him? Is this the man?" John at that time was built like a small mountain and his handshake could of bent rails. We talked and then Raymond led me to the auditorium. "You are asked to judge the next act."
I had been to the DAR before when Paul Simon came to town. I was, however, up high, not front row. On stage was Ronnie Milsap and Ray Charles. Ray asked if the DJ was here.
"Yes" I squeaked. They both laughed and Ray said, "Overcome buy our awesomeness! I didn't think Marines squeaked."
How did he know that. Oh, I told Ray.
They did their bit and remarked they were the only act that did not use cue cards. For those who are not in the know, both performers are blind. After my critique, I went back to the "lobby and got coffee and a doughnut.
Performers were walking by, saying hello, asking which of their songs got the best response, and all this time I felt as though I was way out of my element.
A beautiful young lady touched me on my arm and said, "Excuse me, sir, Mr Autry wants a word with you." Gene Autry wants a word with me. What could go wrong?
Say what?
"Sir, these are..."
I am getting my ass chewed by a legend. Hank Williams is standing there along with Tanny Wynette and the look in their eyes spoke of sympathy. As if they had been there as well.
At this point, I need normal people. The young lady leads Gene away and I am just not myself. I see a bunch of guys sitting on packing crates, eating from McDonald's bags. I go over to them and say, "This is going to sound weird, but can I join you?"
One guy said, "I heard the ass chewing. Here, we have more food than we know what to do with."
So, here am I, chowing down on Big Macs, Fries, Slurping down Ice Cold Cokes, swapping tales with these people. All was going great until a little old lady approached us. She appeared to be 90 if she was a day.
"I enjoyed everybody’s performance. May I have everybody’s autograph?"
Sure, replied one of the guys. They took her book and passed it around. When they got to me, I refused and one of them said, "She wants everybody’s autograph." I signed it, handed it to her and she thanked us all.
I laughed and said, "When the time comes and I cannot tell the difference between the roadies and the stars, someone shoot me."
The guy next to me put his finger against my head and said, "Bang."
I looked at him and said, "Trying to be funny, wise guy?"
Another guy said, "Look at us roadies again."
I did. Once, Twice, by the third time I realized I had stepped in shit all the way up to my ass.
I was eating with Alabama, at the time one of the most popular bands around, and Randy Owens shot me in the head.
From then on it was a blur. I do not remember much except at the bar, Tiffany came in breathing fire. She was mad and upset. Her cousin, who also worked at the bar, and I were going other the next days liquor order.
"What's wrong, Tiff?" She asked.
"I tried to get into the rehearsal. They said no. I tried to get into the Awards itself, No. Invite only for it as well. I did everything I could, but could not get in."
Her cousin pointed at me, "He got in."
"You got in? To the rehearsal? And you didn't tell me?"
"I got the invite last night, you weren't here and I do not have your number."
"Plus he got an invite, with front row seats for two. But he turned them down so he could work tonight."
Now she was pissed. She got close to me and hissed, "I would of fucked your eyeballs out if I had known." She got closer and said, "Next time, tell me." and she stomped away yelling, "I HATE YOU DUDLEY DO-RIGHT! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST YOU ARE A PIECE OF WORK!" She spun around and said to the stunned crowd, "He got invited to the Rehearsal and the show. He turned down the show SO HE COULD COME TO WORK!"

What can I say? It’s fun though.

2 Difficult Rescues in RMNP – at the Pool and Emerald Lake

By Kyle Patterson - - - July 19, at 7:30 p.m. park rangers were notified via cell phone that a 13-year-old female from Estes Park had suffered a leg injury roughly a half mile northwest of The Pool in rugged Forest Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park.   Her father had climbed to higher ground and was fortunate to get cell phone coverage.
     Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team members reached her and her father between 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. this morning.  It was difficult to find the patient in steep, rugged, off trail terrain.  The general area had also been impacted by the Fern Lake Fire, which posed additional challenges for rescuers to traverse through this area after dark.    
     A technical raise was used to bring the patient roughly 150 to 200 feet up and over a rock cliff to a flat bench area where a landing zone had been constructed.  The patient was flown from the area to the Upper Beaver Meadows helispot at 4:30 p.m. today.  She was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.
     Park search and rescue team members were assisted by the Northern Colorado Interagency Helitack Crew.  This helicopter crew assisted with reconnaissance and extraction of the patient from the area.  Over 30 park personnel were involved in this incident as well as one member of the Alpine Rescue Group. 
     Because the patient is a juvenile her name and her father’s name will not be released.
     As park rescue personnel were finishing the Forest Canyon rescue they were notified at 5:15 p.m. by cell phone of a 43-year-old woman, hometown unknown, with a leg injury near Emerald Lake.   Park search and rescue personnel reached her at 7:45 p.m. A team carried her out on a wheeled litter.  They are expected to reach the Bear Lake Trailhead by 10:00 p.m.  She will be taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.  Twenty park personnel are involved in this incident.

Rocky Mountain National Park a little bigger now

By Kyle Patterson - - - Completing a land protection effort that began in 2012, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy (Rocky Mountain National Park’s nonprofit partner ) announced today that it has transferred the Johnson Property to Rocky Mountain National Park.
     In 2012, Rocky Mountain National Park identified the private inholding known as the Johnson Property as a high priority for acquisition and enlisted the Conservancy’s assistance to raise the needed funds. The 3.89 acre parcel is located on the park’s west side in the scenic Kawuneeche Valley, home of the headwaters of the Colorado River, and within view of the Continental Divide Trail. More than 900 donors contributed to the $400,000 project to purchase the Johnson Property so that it could be transferred to RMNP for permanent protection. The property was purchased by the Conservancy in February 2013.

Now that the transfer is complete, the park will remove several small structures, power lines and a one-mile access road. The land will be returned to its natural state, enhancing valuable wildlife habitat and improving the visitor experience.

“The addition of this property to Rocky Mountain National Park continues the legacy of community support and individual philanthropy established by Enos Mills, F.O. Stanley, Mary Belle King Sherman and others who founded this park.” said Charles Money the Conservancy’s executive director, “This is especially significant in this, the park’s centennial year.”

According to Superintendent Vaughn Baker, “We appreciate the continued support of the Conservancy to preserve this special place for the benefit of current and future generations.”

The Rocky Mountain Conservancy has an ongoing Land Protection Fund, which sets aside money for future land protection efforts. Often, property sales by willing owners have a short time-frame for acquisition for protection. This fund allows the organization to move quickly to purchase available parcels. Donations are always welcome and needed.

Since 1994, 18 parcels of land have been acquired for permanent protection in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. With the help of donors, the Conservancy has purchased a number of these including:

Johnson Property, $400,000
Jennings Tract, $78,000
Roessler Tract, $415,000
Adams Tract, $280,000
Sleepy Hollow, $315,248
Miller Tract, $1.02 million
Fahy Tract, $846,000
Kueker Tract, $600,000
Owens-McMahon Tract, $300,000

Funds received by the Conservancy from the transfer of the land to the park will be applied to future land acquisition projects.

Bernie Sanders looked pretty spiffy

By Ali Vail - - - For the record, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) looked pretty spiffy.   Wearing a light blue shirt, navy blazer, his hair neatly combed, he is comfortable in his own skin.
The crowd in the gymnasium at University of Denver’s Ritchie Center had reached its capacity of 3,000. 
But they were still coming, and the remaining 2,500 waited in the atrium and a nearby lacrosse field for the man of the hour to arrive.  They came alone and as families.  Grandparents, babies and all ages in between, and I wondered how they might otherwise have spent this beautiful summer evening.
In the gym, the music of Neil Young played.  The crowd spontaneously started “the wave” using Bernie for President posters.  Then the chanting began:  “Ber-nie, Ber-nie, Ber-nie”.  They were not impatient waiting for Senator Sanders to arrive.  The mood was jovial and there was a sense of history in the making.  Wait!  Here he comes down the aisle near me… I moved in to get closer but he had already passed.  He saw me out of the corner of his eye though, and backtracked a bit to come shake my hand. 

Candidate Bernie Sanders has been talking about the same themes for over 30 years, since his days as Mayor of Burlington, VT.  Themes that resonate with the middle class.  Income inequality, free college education for all citizens regardless of age, pay parity for women, minimum wage at $15/hour, single payer healthcare, “free” trade and off shoring, money in politics, climate change.  He recognizes the reality of politics, and makes only one campaign promise:  there will be a litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee to re-hear and repeal the Citizens United decision.  The Koch brothers were mentioned often and booed by the crowd.  Ultimately, it comes down to this:  “ I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT UTOPIAN THINKING TO SAY THAT EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD SHOULD HAVE HEALTH CARE. IT IS NOT UTOPIAN THINKING TO SAY THAT WORKING FAMILIES SHOULD HAVE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE. IT IS NOT UTOPIAN THINKING TO SAY THAT COLLEGE EDUCATION SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO ALL. [APPLAUSE] WE CAN DO THESE THINGS AND MORE. WE CAN CREATE THE GREATEST NATION THAT ANYONE HAS EVER SEEN. [APPLAUSE] IF WE STAND TOGETHER. IF WE DO NOT LET PEOPLE DIVIDE US BY RACE, BY WHETHER WE WERE BORN IN AMERICA OR BORN IN MEXICO, WHETHER WE ARE GAY OR STRAIGHT. [APPLAUSE] I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU ALL. IN CREATING THE POLITICAL REVOLUTION THAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS.”

Uncompromised integrity of Robert Rowland and Kelly Dore

     Elbert County Commissioner Kelly Dore, who was recently warned by DORA for practicing medicine without a license, and Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland, found guilty of elections violations and misuse of public funds, have taken a stand against lying.  We at the Herald are encouraged that these habitual liars who have obstructed public oversight in so many ways have apparently learned the error of their ways and are turning over a new leaf.
     Five days after publication of last month’s issue of the Herald describing her misconduct, Kelly Dore wrote on her facebook page that she was “feeling blessed” as she reflected upon “that moment when you realize that you weren't elected to be liked by everyone or to make decisions based on getting reelected. Being a Public servant is to always do what is right and never compromise on your integrity.  I began this journey 6 months ago today and I am proud to say we are building relationships that were broken down and are bringing our small county to a light which we have never seen.”
     Robert Rowland responded to the post with encouragement.  “Yes we are, for those who see past the lies of the radical, dishonest Democrat leader and her lapdog local print media. Results speak the truth, and our direction and progress speaks for itself. Its good to have two of us who are willing to reject the radicals lies, the rest will be judged accordingly!”
     Kelly Dore apparently deeply reflected on this statement before responding with a new self-critical insight.  “That is true too, but my statement was a blanket one about both parties. I am unwilling to stand up for anything but what is right and transparent, regardless of who is spreading misinformation, even if that means calling out the same side as me too.”
     This seemed to strike a chord with Robert Rowland.  “Agree, but the outright assault of untruths is currently coming from the group I describe. Where we conservatives are falling short is letting their intentional attacks on anything positive happening go without challenge or being held accountable. Everyone needs to be held to the test of truth, failure to expose liars allows misinformation to dominate the conversation. Their intent us clear, our failure to push back is not.”
     Kelly Dore was unavailable for comment, having unfriended the editors of the Herald, and blocked our email address with an automatic bounceback.
     Comment was sought from Robert Rowland on July 28:
1) What lies are you specifically responding to?
2) Is the dishonest Democrat leader you refer to Jill Duvall, who brought the complaint against you in Court that resulted in the $1000 fine?
3) What is the positive that is happening which is being attacked?
4) What truth would you share to result in the "accountability" you seek and "expose liars"?
5) What will you be doing to "push back?"

     A followup story will be printed when Mr. Rowland responds.

To the stars upon the wings of a hummingbird

Before science, people used to answer the questions of how and why through “mythology,” or an application of ethics and spiritual beliefs to natural phenomenon. People believed that phenomenon were either “right” or “wrong,” and the result of deities.  These deities were expressed in symbolic terms of geographical features, weather patterns, or even animals – like hummingbirds.  Using such a symbol allowed people to express the subtle and complex concept of their God’s temperament toward doing what was right, wrong, or some combination of both right and wrong.
One of these symbols was a hummingbird. To the Mexicas, the hummingbird represented the God Uitzilopochtli.  To them, he was the God of the sun and the God of war, and the protector of the City of Tenochtitlan (which today is called Mexico City).
He was worshiped 18 days of the year by a practice of ceremonial murder called by the Mexicas “Toxcatl.”  This ceremony required Priests kill human beings upon an altar to please their God under the belief that if they did not, the sun would not continue to shine over the earth – and, equally terrible, the Mexicas would suffer defeat in war.  You see, war was very important to the Mexicas: they relied upon war to sustain their economy: defeat in war would mean they would have no food, no tools, no raw materials.  This would be the end of their civilization!
Of course, such beliefs were not scientific – they were religious expressions of faith. And despite proper practice of Toxcatl, the Mexicas were ultimately defeated, and Tenochtitlan was destroyed (it was rebuilt as Mexico City).  No amount of murder could change the fact that the sun is not a God, it is a kind of star around which the Earth orbits in space – and that victory in war is never certain.
                The Mexicas also believed that the warriors who died in battle would be reborn to an afterlife in the palace of Uitzilopochtli as hummingbirds and revered hummingbirds as symbols of their honored dead.
                The Mexicas originally came from a place called Aztlan, and were called “Aztecs.” They believed that Uitzilopochtli commanded them to abandon Aztlan and find a new home, and to stop calling themselves “Aztecs.”  He gave them a new name: the Meixca.  Uitzilopochtli guided them through their journey, but for a time, they were left under the protection of Uitzilopochtli’s sister, Malinalxochitl.  The Mexicas resented her rule, and begged Uitzilopochtli to rescue them from her: Uitzilopochtli returned, put his sister to sleep and led them onward, leaving his sister alone in the desert.  As you can imagine, Malinalxochitl was very angry.  So, she gave birth to a son whom she called Copil to take revenge upon Uitzilopochtli.
                Copil found Uitzilopochtli and the two Gods fought until Uitzilopochtli tore out Copil’s heart and threw it in the middle of lake Texcoco, far, far away.  Uitzilopochtli told the Mexicas to build a city when they saw an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a serpent.  This was seen on lake Texcoco where Copil’s heart rested, and the Mexicas founded Tonochtitlan.  The scene is remembered on the modern Mexican flag, which shows an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake.
                One story says that the Goddess Coatlicue became impregnated while sweeping a ball of feathers on Serpent Hill.  Her other children (which included the 400 Centzonuitznaua and the Goddess Coyolxauhqui) were angered out of jealousy, and decided to kill their mother to prevent the birth of their new brother.  At the moment of the murder, Uitzilopochtli burst forth from his mother’s womb in full armor, fully grown, and defended his mother by chasing away his older brothers and sister.
                In the age before science, this story explained why Uitzilopochtli, as the sun, appeared to chase away the stars (the Centzonuitznaua) and pursue the moon (Coatlicue).  It also explained why the moon sometimes covered up the sun during an eclipse, and why the stars could be seen during that eclipse event.  By presenting the sun as a kind of hummingbird, the Mexicas could better comprehend the reasoning of why the sun would be so ferocious.
                Such beliefs mirrored the warlike culture of the Mexicas.  Depending on war for their economy, they saw everything in terms of battle and fighting – even the progress of the sun, moon and stars across the sky.  In more peaceful cultures, the sun, moon and stars were not believed to be engaged in battle. Some of these more peaceful cultures even believed the sun, moon and stars to be friends, chasing each other in friendship or play.  And in some other peaceful pre-scientific cultures, the sun, moon and stars were created by a friendly God to help people by giving light, heat and direction.

               In our scientific age, we don’t use mythology.  We study the sun, moon and stars through the science of “Astronomy.”  We study their movements through the science of “Physics.”  And we have even constructed scientific implements to land upon the moon – and some of the “stars” which we now understand are other “planets” in our solar system.  People have even stood upon the moon, to look back at earth – and bring back moon rocks for study!
                Even though today few people believe that the sun is a hummingbird, or that the angry God of war is chasing his sister and brothers across the sky, the stories are important to learn if you will understand human nature – these stories are natural expressions of our species when confronted with things we do not understand.
                The Mexicans are no longer warlike because their profound faith in the God of war was shaken. They adopted new scientific beliefs.  Through “astronomy,” Mexico learned not only that the sun was not a hummingbird, but learned war is not a good way to sustain a civilization.  Through a study of “economics” the Mexicans learned new ways to get their food, their tools, their materials. Over hundreds of years, the Mexicans have used science to learn new ways of living, adopting Democracy, and an economy based upon manufacturing, mining and agriculture – not war. 
Now, when Mexicans need food, materials or tools, they do not take then by war - they make them. And when they have disagreements with their neighbors, they use diplomacy to talk about things. 

                Many famous scientists have come from Mexico.  Most notably, in 1995, the Mexican chemist Mario J. Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.  And Mexico is investing heavily in astronomic observatories – to learn more about our sun and other stars.


     After several Jefferson County School Boardmembers decided the district needed to rewrote history textbooks to present a fictitious, generous and partisan presentation of American history, a recall effort was begun.  But Board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams have gained the ire of their constituents for other reasons, as well.
Michael Blanton, father of two Jeffco students and an attorney out of Evergreen, was one of the organizers of the recall.  He explained that the violations of open meeting laws and privacy laws, combined with a waste of taxpayer money and broken campaign promises motivated his participation. 
     Tina Gurdikian, an Environmental Compliance Specialist, joined the organization of the recall due to concerns about limitless class sizes, lack of sufficient transportation of children to schools and confusing policies on how children are assigned to a particular school.
     The Jefferson School District has seen a 50% increase in the number of educators leaving the district.  Some teachers have reported that partisan pressures from the School Board on their curriculum motivated their decision to seek employment elsewhere.

This partisan behavior is what motivated Wendy McCord, another of the organizers, to join the recall effort, “We must send the message that our kids’ education and fiscal responsibility of the district come before politics. In fact, politics has no place in the education of our children! This isn’t about politics. It’s about doing what is best for our students.”


Denver, Colorado - - - The Herald reported last month that Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland was acquitted of several violations in a secret court (“SECRET COURT ACQUITS COMMISSIONER ROWLAND”).  The readers responded generally to the fact the State’s Administrative Court deliberates secretly upon secret evidences at a secret time and location here in Colorado, apparently for the political purposes of defending corrupt partisan cronies from their accountability to the law, with shock. 
So did the State Judiciary.
On July 21st, Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones undertook oversight of this secret court and forced them to hear evidence of corruption and unethical practices – specifically regarding the outrageous actions of Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland. 
Judge Jones’s order ( denying Independent Ethics Commission's Motion to Dismiss in Colorado Ethics Watch v. Independent Ethics Commission employed uncharacteristically strong emotional language to express the sentiments of the Judiciary, calling the behavior of the Administrative Court “Orwellian.”
Striking down all claims of confidentiality and secrecy by insulting the Administrative Court’s knowledge of Colorado law and custom, Judge Jones recalled that “under article XXIX, section 5, “any person” may file a complaint with the IEC. The  purpose of the article is to promote respect and confidence of the people in its public officers and employees.”
“This purpose is broader than merely providing ethical guidance to public officers and employees,” said Judge Jones. “The intended effect of article XXIX would be diminished if a complainant could not challenge a dismissal, whether deemed frivolous or otherwise. Public respect and confidence would be lessened, not promoted. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s alleged injury was to a legally protected interest under the constitution.”
Robert Rowland, who was found guilty of elections violations, has audaciously defied the power of the Courts to levy a punitive fine against him, and at the time of publication, has still not paid the sub-minimal $1000 fine for his violation.  He subsequently was accused of the abuse of public funds for personal gain – and it was this allegation that the Administrative Court defended him against through secret proceedings.
The Administrative Courts in Colorado are not actually parts of the Judicial Branch, but exist in the Executive Branch largely to oversee the activities of and between the various Executive branches of the State of Colorado.  During the Constitutional reforms of the 1960’s, the Courts were transferred from the Judicial to the Executive branches as a “type 2” transfer of power.  In 1996, the executive director of the department of personnel was given authority over all the Administrative Courts.  In 2012, the Director appointed a “Chief Judge” to direct in their place.
The Personnel Director (or, now, the Chief Judge) appoints all the judges in the Administrative Courts.  The Director can also assign a particular Judge to a particular case.  The decisions of the Administrative Law Judge can either be appealed to the Governor’s Board of Ethics, or to the Denver District Court (part of the Judicial Branch).
The Director has appointed Chief Judge Matt Azer to Direct the Administrative Courts.  Judge Azer was appointed in 2012.  Prior to this appointment, Matt worked in the Department of Regulatory Agencies as the program director for the Colorado Board of Accountancy, the Office of Barbers & Cosmetology, the Office of Outfitter Registrations and the Office of Boxing.  He has 20-plus years of legal experience including serving as an attorney with the Office of the Attorney General from 2001 through 2004. He was in private practice from 1997 to 2001, and represented clients for the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office from 1993 through 1997.
            Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro said that the Ethics Commission "has no authority to conduct a secret investigation, determine on the basis of that investigation that a complaint not frivolous on its face is somehow frivolous, and then hide from the public the reasons it chose to exonerate the public official."