March 2011

Knockout Punch

Robert Sanchez’s typically solid work notwithstanding, it’s difficult to suppress snickers at an implied premise—however ironic—that Tom Tancredo is “Down But Not Out” [February]. Tancredo’s been “out” for ages, given the extensive public record of his irrelevant congressional service, laughable presidential campaign, and cringe-inducing gubernatorial run.

True, there apparently never will be a shortage of right-wing suckers to bankroll the likes of Tancredo and Jon Caldara, whose primary talents in recent years appear to have been the ability to completely vaporize funds directed to their litany of failed political campaigns and to the Independence Institute (which, as you’ll recall, Tancredo helped create). However, wishing relevancy on Tancredo, Caldara, and the rest of the fringe won’t make it so, no matter how much the shiny lure of their clowning draws media attention or how little actual or relevant work that shell organizations such as Rocky Mountain Foundation or academically impoverished “think tanks” such as the Independence Institute actually do.

As one with a more progressive point of view, I welcome any Tancredo attempt at creating a far-right knockoff of the Colorado Democracy Alliance as a new black hole for money from the Castle Rock Foundation, the Coors and Koch families, and the rest of that gang. They’ll find out soon enough what Tancredo and Caldara have yet to realize after their decade of consistent failure: The contemporary progressive movement in Colorado became ascendant not only because of money and organization, but also because it promotes fundamental ideas and ideals that have resonated again and again with Coloradans. On both counts—ideas and ideals—Tancredo remains as bankrupt now as he ever has been.
Bill Menezes

Money Matters

Jennie Dorris’ “Smack in the Middle” [January] paints a Pabst Blue Ribbon picture of the middle class. But it’s more cheap beer than championship. My dad’s dad and mom retired in 1962 from farming. They owned the farm, a house in town, and savings sufficient to sustain them into the 21st century. They left a substantial inheritance without once earning $75,000 in a year. My mom’s dad retired from Wonder Bread in the 1970s. His top union salary was $10 an hour. Growing up middle class American in suburban Sacramento on that baker’s wage, my mother’s family had four cars and a custom home paid with cash. They lived long and comfortably. What’s gone wrong? Dorris’ dollar buys less. In 1962 dollars, Dorris today makes $10,750, which bought a lot back then. Wasting value is a disease, not a natural condition. To wit, from 1800–1900 consumer prices declined 50 percent (yes, prices went down, not up). Members of Congress received roughly the same compensation, $3,000–$5,000 annually, from 1789–1906. That’s 117 years. But since then, it’s been a different story. Congressional pay is up 3,500 percent. The consumer price index rose from 25 (versus 50 in 1800) in 1900 to 650 in 2010. The cost of living skyrocketed by 2,600 percent. Why? Because we’ve directed our government to stabilize prices through “target inflation rates,” which vacuum about three cents from each dollar you earn. Every year. Compounded. So where $1 in 1800 was worth $1.50 in 1900, that same dollar is today worth $0.03. And that’s why “middle class” is PBR, not Chimay. Ms. Dorris, maybe you’ll be the political leader who returns wealth to America by restoring constant value to our currency.
Tim Quast

Truth Be Told

Your statement that the Denver Brown Cloud has dissipated [“Tall Tales,” January] in recent years due to “fewer smoke-spewing factories” is misleading because almost all the improvement has come from federal controls on automobile and truck emissions. “Good old-fashioned awareness” has made no measurable contribution to pollution reduction.
Carol E. Lyons
Project manager, 1987-88 metro denver brown cloud study

Mayhem on the Mountain

I was concerned reading “Long Arm of the Law” [December]. The last paragraph speaks of the need for speed. My ex-husband was skiing at Vail several years ago when a snowboarder collided with him, doing significant damage to his thigh. The snowboarder’s cronies came in, got their friend up off the snow, and hurried him down the mountain before ski patrol could arrive. Next time Kelly Bastone is on the road and has a car ram into her at high speed leaving her injured, I hope that she won’t be disappointed if the “fuzz” isn’t there. I found her article irresponsible and representative of the entitlement that so many feel today. I am also very disappointed in 5280.
Jane Cole
via e-mail

A High Priority

Natasha Gardner’s coverage of Colorado’s abysmal foster care system in “Unwanted” [December] was excellent. Such reporting adds critical balance to 5280’s reputation, which is normally centered on “the good life” of metro Denver residents. Many foster children will never experience more than a life of rejection, alienation, and broken dreams.

The article gave credit to Governor Ritter’s task force’s recommendations to improve the system, but it doesn’t sound as if we will see much improvement without tax increases. I hope that Governor Hickenlooper does more than create yet another task force. We desperately need attention right now to funding our state’s high priorities. In short, executive and legislative leaders need to start knocking heads and figuring out how this state’s needs, such as foster care, are going to be adequately funded before Colorado slips into Third World status without much “good life” on which to report.
Tom Carllon Lakewood

Picture Perfect

The photograph and lengthy caption of Denver Union Station [“Lighting the Way”] in the December issue is terrific. What wonderful exposure for this venerable structure in Denver’s central Platte Valley. It never looked so beautiful! I appreciate the time and effort you put into making this striking image pop right off the page. It’s bound to bring crowds of people downtown. Many thanks for featuring Denver’s historic train station and sharing it with your readers.
Peg Ekstrand

Details, Details

After finishing your article on Regas Christou [“The Annotated Gospel According to Regas Christou,” December], I have to ask, what was the point? It seems that the writer was more focused on poking holes in what Regas was saying than writing a feature article on Regas Christou. It is unfortunate that he focused more on verifying petty details than on the subject matter itself. I would have liked to seen him present more facts around what Regas has done to revitalize the city of Denver and the philanthropic work he has done. Regas is clearly an astute business person who has single-handedly created an entertainment district in an area where practically no commerce existed. It seemed the author was more interested in proving himself an astute checker of minute details. Would an article on John Hickenlooper, to whom Regas was compared, have been written with the same skepticism?
Karen Terry
Greenwood Village