Friday, September 29, 2006
Supposedly working with Colorado's Senator Ken Salazar (D) on a bill that would provide the Rocky Mountain National Park with "wilderness" designation/protection, Colorado Senator Wayne "Potted Plant" Allard (R) and Colorado Representative Marilyn "Fear the Queer" Musgrave suddenly on Thursday submitted a separate bill that essentially provided for the same thing Salazar et. al. have been working on for over a year, thus probably guaranteeing that no bill will be passed in this session to protect this magnificent national park.
Why? Well, Senator Salazar opined that the second bill was presented so Ms. Marilyn could be noted as a sponsor to--Oh, tell me it isn't true--help her reelection bid.
Said Salazar: "When people start playing politics with Colorado's agenda and Colorado's crown jewels, it's wrong."
Seems also that Allard and Musgrave have refused to attach their names to the original bill which, as I noted, is essentially the same as the Allard/Musgrave version.
Final word from Colorado Congressman Udall: "A cynic might think that this timing is aimed at helping Mrs. Musgrave in her re-election campaign."
Spokesman for Musgrave, Aaron Johnson suggested that one of the differences between the two bills was that the Allard/Musgrave version would give wilderness protection to the park WITHOUT embracing that protection within the Wilderness Act. Thus (ho-hum) assuring that if the Wilderness Act happened to be modified, Rocky Mountain National Park's wilderness status would not be affected.
Said Salazar: "The chances of the Wilderness Act being changed are about the same as putting a human being on Jupiter in the next year."
GAWD don't ya'll love election years.
Bailey - The last communication between Emily Keys and her father was a simple txt message via cell phone. "I love you."From the Associated Press, not more than an hour ago:
A few hours later, she was dead.
Keyes was killed by Duane Morrison inside an English classroom at Platte Canyon High School on Wednesday afternoon — after the 53-year-old transient took six female hostages and before he shot himself about 4 p.m.
On Thursday, Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener was still grasping for answers even as clues continued to crop up — including a male student who reported that Morrison approached him prior to the shooting and asked for a list of female students.
"Agents are following up on that with the student and we'll let you know more about that," Wegener said. "Again, we're right back into the why and the mystery and everything surrounding that."
The text message between father and daughter was one of the more emotional revelations of the day — one passed along by a family spokesman with the bittersweet note that John Keyes, who created the Infohiway in 1994 that featured Web- based yellow pages and a search engine and had plenty of computer savvy, had to find someone "under 30" to show him how to text message.
Once he was able, said spokesman Louis Gonzalez, Keyes stood at the pedestrian overpass of U.S. 285 and sent the message, "R u OK?"
At 1:52 p.m., his daughter replied with these words, "I love U guys."
A follow-up question of "Where r u?" was never answered.
Keyes was shot in the back of the head trying to flee as SWAT team members stormed the classroom less than two hours later.
CAZENOVIA, Wis. - Sheriff's deputies confirmed that a principal was shot in a rural Wisconsin school, and they said a suspect is in custody. All the children were reported safe.Columbine, now seven years past, not forgotten.
WKOW-TV reported that principal John Klang of Weston School was shot Friday morning by a former student who entered the school armed with multiple weapons.
The district told WKOW that Klang was shot, but would not confirm his condition. The station reported that the school is in lockdown.
People who answered the phones at the Sauk County Sheriff's Department and the Weston School District did not immediately comment to The Associated Press.
Richland County Sheriff Chief Deputy Tom Hougan was at the scene outside the southwest Wisconsin school, but would not confirm the details because it was not in his jurisdiction.
"The students are safe," Hougan told the AP. "The scene is secure."
These times we live in: confusion, anger, irreconcilable grief. The question: Why? I don't know. I don't know.
Godspeed, Emily Keyes.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Suffice it to say, within any organization, public or private, there are and forever will be those who will not hesitate to take advantage of any opportunity to "beat the system;" to exploit any weakness in established process or procedure to protect the integrity of that system. I contend that the exploitation of such a weakness in a public sector system--specifically a public sector purchasing system--where public monies (local, federal or state taxes, fees, surcharges, grants, public/private co-op funding) are expended, is a crime of higher order than those perpetrated upon private sector entities. I contend that the fiduciary responsibility to protect the best interests of "the people," rather than the best interests of the corporation, is tantamount.
Part I of this post provided an overview of the alleged fraud that occurred at Denver International Airport, presumably within the Airport's Technical Services Purchasing Section. The alleged fraud, discovered by internal auditors, appears to have amounted to $50,000 in overcharges just this year. The alleged fraud has, apparently, been ongoing for up to seven years. One employee has been placed on investigatory leave and the currently known facts have been submitted to the Denver District Attorney's Office. A forensic accountant has been brought on-board to delve further into the matter and, hopefully, to determine the chain of failed responsibility that led to the breakdown in process/procedure; where, ultimately, the buck stops.
Part I also noted that the alleged fraud involved purchases from one or more of the companies owned by Richard S. Joselit who, in 2002, pleaded guilty to Petit Larceny in connection with a similar scheme perpetrated against (and with the assistance of some employees of) the New York Mets. The fraud against the Mets amounted to $2Million. Mr. Joselit, by the way, was sentenced to "Conditional Discharge," on October 15, 2003. I am not aware of the "conditions" related to Mr. Joselit's discharge. One would think, however, that one of those conditions was that he cease perpetrating or enabling fraud.
Since these kinds of posts seem to go on and on and on (who really has that much time to read this stuff) let me confine this post to some of the basics that, I suggest, need to be understood before one can make any conclusions about the chain of responsibility for what allegedly occurred at Denver International Airport.
The City and County of Denver operates under a codified central purchasing function, that requires all agencies (except those defined as "Independent" agencies by the City's Charter) to route requests (requisitions) for goods and services (excluding some "professional" services--the definition of "professional" remaining intentionally vague) through the Central Purchasing Division of the Department of General Services. The Purchasing Division procures--via requisitions, annual or term bids, "piggy-backing" on State, Federal or Cooperative contracts--in excess of $150Million in goods and services per year. Denver International Airport is NOT an "independent" agency, as defined by the Charter, and is subject to applicable law, policy and procedure as defined in the City Charter, the Denver Revised Municipal Code (RMC) and Executive Order(s) relating to the purchase of goods and services. (Note: Denver International Airport is further defined as an "Enterprise Fund" agency, which means--in general terms--that it's operational funding does NOT come from the City and County of Denver's General Fund. It is important to note also that Denver International Airport--most management and supervisory personnel--have been foaming out both sides of their mouths for years for the opportunity to become disconnected from the City and County of Denver and the oversight/control therefrom, by becoming a Port Authority, much like Denver Health and Hospitals became an independent authority (Denver Health Medical) in the mid to latter '90s.)
Mayoral Executive Orders can be described as documents which provide the essential detail, process and procedure for Charter or RMC mandates, imperatives. For those Charter and RMC sections that related to the purchase of goods/services, Executive Order No. 33 is applicable.
Part of Executive Order No. 33 relates to what is called "Delegated Purchasing Authority (DPA)." This authority is defined in XO33 as:
Delegated Purchasing Authority (DPA): The authority provided by the Director of Purchasing to agencies under the Mayor to conduct small dollar and contract-based procurements without the necessity to requisition through the Purchasing Division.The alleged fraud that occurred at Denver International Airport was, without a doubt, perpetrated under the DPA authority described above. Let me end Part II of this multi-part post by noting the chain of responsibility promulgated in Executive Order No. 33 with regard to DPA and the process/procedure set forth to safeguard the integrity of the DPA program:
6.1 Agency Head/Expending Authority DPA Responsibility:Part III of this ongoing post will, most likely, concentrate on the most likely breakdown of responsibility at Denver International Airport that contributed to and provided the opportunity for the alleged fraud.
Notwithstanding anything in this Memorandum, the Agency Head or the Agency’s Expending Authority shall be ultimately responsible for Delegated Purchasing Authority within their agency. DPA responsibility encompasses tracking, appropriateness of purchases, centralized documentation of purchases, reporting, due diligence reviews of all DPA purchases and the agency management and utilization of PCards in conjunction with the use of DPA . The Agency Head or Expending Authority shall be responsible for establishing clearly articulated internal processes and procedures to assure that DPA purchases at the agency are in the best interests of the City and in support of the mission of the agency.
It is the responsibility of the Agency Head to assure that utilization of DPA is administered and conducted with the utmost integrity. The practical application of that delegation of authority must adhere, without exception, to all legally mandated, policy and procedural rules and regulations established:
1. through legislative processes, or
2. mayoral fiat, or
3. established by the Director of Purchasing pursuant to this Executive Order.
Each Agency Head must develop, institute and maintain a formally documented and widely disseminated system of internal due diligence “checks and balances” for DPA. The Agency Head must assure that these processes and procedures are fully understood and faithfully followed by agency personnel who conduct or are responsible for purchasing activities.
6.2 DPA Authorization: Delegated Purchasing Authority shall be authorized for an individual only if the agency head or designee approves that individual by their signature on the Delegated Purchasing Authority document PURDIVDPA#1, Exhibit 1B. Requests for changes or deletions to those authorized to participate in Delegated Purchasing Authority must be made to the Purchasing Division by memorandum to the Director of Purchasing.
Prior to any individual being authorized to use DPA, that individual must successfully complete DPA training provided by the Purchasing Division or under the auspices of the Purchasing Division. Temporary approval of a DPA number may be granted with the written approval of the Director of Purchasing. Successful completion of DPA training shall require that the individual receive a score of at least 70% on a written examination given at the conclusion of the training session.
7.0 DPA Due Diligence:
The delegation of Purchasing Authority requires conscientious efforts by the user-agency to assure that misuse or abuse of that authority is prevented. If misuse or abuse occurs, it must be remedied appropriately. Whether an agency utilizes the traditional “vouchering” method of payment or the PCard program, the following suggested “best practices” are provided as guidance for establishment of internal Due Diligence processes and procedures.
7.1 Monthly Random Review of Transactions: Review of at least ten (10) per cent of all DPA purchases made at your agency to ensure they are proper. Some items you may wish to look for are:
a) Was the purchase of an item utilized in the purchaser’s area of responsibility?
b) Was there a second authorized signature (supervisor) approving the purchase?
c) Did someone other than the purchaser authorize payment for the purchase?
d) Did the purchase follow internal and city policy and procedure?
All persons at an agency who are authorized to utilize DPA must be made aware that a random audit can and will be conducted on their DPA transactions.
7.2 Non-Random Selected Transaction Review: Review transactions in specific area of the agency to determine if:
a) Is the purchase normally made in the purchaser’s functional (job-related) area? Example: It is expected that a mechanic will buy tires or car parts, while administrative or clerical support personnel will, most likely, not have a legitimate reason to purchase tires or car parts;
b) Is the purchase for consumables? If so, is there an Official Function Form included in the documentation? The purchase of coffee for the office, or donuts for the staff, or pizza for a retirement luncheon is not an appropriate use of DPA;
c) Does the vendor that was utilized provide what is typically needed in the DPA user’s area of responsibility. Example: A trades worker’s purchase from a hobby shop is more likely to be questioned than a Recreation Center Director making the same purchase;
d) Are the required/proper signatures on the documentation? If a PCard is being used, is someone other than the person to whom the PCard has been issued using the card?
e) Look for purchases that are consistently from the same vendor in a relatively short timeframe, with the same dollar amount. This is a good indication that the DPA user is “splitting” purchases or conducting “repetitive” purchases in violation of this Executive Order;
f) Did someone other than or in addition to the purchaser authorize payment for the purchase?
7.3 Audit of Agency Due Diligence Procedures and Transactions: The Auditor of the City and County of Denver has the authority and has been requested by the Purchasing Division to audit agency due diligence procedures and/or actual PCard transactions on a semi-annual basis.
7.4 On-Request/Quarterly Review of Due Diligence Procedures: Agencies shall be required to comply with any request for information or any request for documentation made by the Purchasing Division for the purpose of reviewing, clarifying or auditing agency due diligence procedures and/or actual PCard transactions. Additionally, agencies shall, on a quarterly basis, provide the completed Exhibit 3B to the Director of Purchasing to document their DPA Due Diligence procedures.
8.0 Suspension or Termination of DPA Authority:
If an agency has not developed, instituted and/or maintained an effective “due diligence” program to assure Delegated Purchasing Authority is being conducted according to all applicable law, policy and procedure, the Director of Purchasing may suspend or terminate the agency’s Delegated Purchasing Authority as provided in Section 12 of this Memorandum 33A.
9.0 Purchasing Contact Representative (PCR):
The Agency Head or Expending Authority shall appoint, per the requirements of this Executive Order, Memorandum 33A, Section 2 a Purchasing Contact Representative (PCR) who shall be the liaison between the agency and the Purchasing Division with regard to the administration of DPA at the agency level. The PCR shall report to the Purchasing Division any opportunities to incorporate DPA procurement of goods or services into annual bids and/or other competitive purchasing best practices. The PCR shall also be responsible for providing any necessary coordination between the agency’s PCard Coordinator and the Purchasing Division and/or the PCard Administrator. The PCR shall also be responsible for maintaining or coordinating the maintenance of justification documentation for audit review of categories of authorized DPA purchases that require a written justification as provided in Section 2.0.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Okay. So, Ms. Barnes-Gelt's perception of those not privileged to breathe the rarefied air of so-called "citizen's" committees or commissions, is clear: We--the rest of us, the taxpayers, just don't get it with regard to what's best for our city, our parks, our public buildings, our streets, our zoning issues... I could go on.
Actually beside the point, but let me point out that the old Skyline Park--which I actually liked--became the victim of city neglect and the virtually undisputed realm of the 16th Street mall rats, their skateboards, Goth nihilism, drugs, alcohol, garbage, begging. Interestingly, Halprin (the architect of the original Skyline Park) views/viewed his work as contributing to the rejuvenation of urban communities; designs that were/are, in his words, "...memorable, intense, passionate rather than pretty."
Forgive me, but I kind of like "pretty." The view of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains from Thirteenth Avenue and Grant--a high point on Capitol Hill--used to be "pretty." Now, from that vantage point, one sees Daniel Libeskind's big old beige phallic, scrotum and all, jutting through the view where once mountains reigned supreme.
Ms. Barnes-Gelt, writing in the Denver Post on September 9, 2006, (Playing all the angles - Art museum's twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity) tells us that, "The seed of the Denver Art Museum's new wing [the Libeskind abortion enshrined as the Frederick C. Hamilton Building] was really planted in 1965, when trustees of the the Denver Art Museum, at the urging of museum architect James Sudler, hired Italian architect Gio Ponti to work with Sudler on what they believed was a 'once-in-a-lifetime building project.'"
Ms. Barnes-Gelt continues:
Sudler persuaded the trustees that Gio Ponti was the right high-profile architect to use. ...[Art Museum] Board member Willaim V. Warren pointed out the advantages of hiring..."the glamour that a famous international name such as Ponti will add to our program. This should add greater saleability locally, and most certainly nationally, and could attract substantial figts from outside our immediate area."Again, okay. I really like the Ponti building. It's great. It's different. It's utilitarian and, forgive me, it doesn't really give rise to the regular guy/gal (folks who are not privileged to have received an appointment to a "citizens" committee or commission) standing there at Thirteenth and Bannock, studying the Libeskind "thingy" (as one person described it), scratching their head and wondering, "What the fuck!"
Ponti, Sudler and museum trustees were committed to giving Denver an iconic building, a museum very different from a more predictable classic Beaux Arts jewel box or modernist white cube.
Now, here's Ms. Barnes-Gelts description of how Libeskind's "vision" was chosen by "city committee" to be the architect for the Art Museum addition:
Libeskind--cerebral, articulate and a brilliant marketer--dressed his presentation team in black T-shirts with DAM [Denver Art Museum] emblazoned in bright white. He delivered a message everyone in the room could understand. With two markers, one bronze and one silver, he drew intersecting lines on a white board to illustrate his concept, describing it as "two lines taking a walk.""Two lines taking a walk." What the fuck! She continues:
Nearly everyone in the room nodded in understanding, as if thinking, "I get it. All this archi-babble really comes down to something quite simple--two lines taking a walk."
Perhaps it's time for Denver to concentrate its energies on strengthening the structure and character of the broader city to provide a worthy setting for the eureka moments of Libeskind, Ponti and other star architects."Eureka." What the fuck!
Ms. Barnes-Gelt is, I believe, infatuated with diadems like the word "iconic." If you wrap the concept, the person, the "vision," within the idolatrous cocoon of "icon," then no more needs to be said; no more needs to be studied; no more needs to be considered; regular folk need take a fucking hike, 'cause the politics of privilege have spoken.
Interestingly, shorty after the commencement of the Hickenlooper administration, I believe it was Denver Magazine that showcased hizzoner's mug on its cover with the caption--something like--"Instant Icon."
What this post is really about is Civic Center Park and the Libeskind "vision" for the rejuvenation of that space, that has become the rock upon which the city mothers and fathers--including those "citizen" commissions and committees--are making their stand.
In spite of immense and reasonable objections to shamelessly glitzing up (ala Libeskind) that venerated icon of an open space right smack dab in the middle of Denver, city mothers and fathers keep telling us to relax; the process will be transparent; citizen input will be considered but, BUT, the final decision on the fate of Civic Center will be left to the Manager of Parks and Recreation, Kim Bailey. (You remember Kim Bailey. One of the "stars" of Hick's administration who, in the name "City Beautiful" spent what was probably a veritable fortune on assuring park fountains (the kind you watch, not drink from) spew their pretty spray while the infrastructure of Denver's park system is so disgracefully neglected that it will probably take the next twenty years to even put a dent in dilapidated irrigation systems, not to mention bathrooms, recreation centers, walkways, trees, swimming pools.
I do go on.
Let me end with two lists that hint, oh, just a wee bit at the nature of the politics of privilege.
The Civic Center Conservancy (Those folks who hired Libeskind for $75,000 to provide his "vision." You might want to take a look from whence that vision comes, in Libeskind's own words.
Take a look a who makes up the Conservancy at this site. Nope, no regular folk there. But, then, us regular folk are artistically and probably intellectual lightweights who have no business being involved in this (winky-wink) public/private partnership. Oh,but Ms. Barnes-Gelt is there.
And, just for the fun of it, let's take a look at the task force that has been/will be redoing Denver's zoning code; you know, that codified mass of edicts that control the what, where, when, how; the cans and cant's that apply directly, intimately, at times oppressively, to what you may want to do with your property.
Appointed to the Zoning Code Task Force are:
Attorney/Partner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell; former City Attorney
Recently retired Attorney/Partner, Holmes Roberts & Owens
Real estate investor and developer
Former Denver City Councilwoman, At-Large
Principal, Buchanan Yonushewski Group; Member, Denver Planning Board
Zoning and Planning Chair, Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation
Member, Board of Adjustment
Board of Directors, Denver Board of Realtors; Broker, Keller Williams Realty
Program Director, Livable Communities Support Center
Manager of Community Planning & Development, City & County of Denver
City Councilwoman, District #10; Chair, Blueprint Denver Council Committee
Vice President/Denver Division., Gillis Thomas Company
Director of Governmental Affairs, Oakwood Homes
Principal, Walker-Dilworth, LLC
Land Use/Real Estate Attorney, Brownstein Hyatt & Farber PC
Principal, 68 West Engineering, Inc.Yeah, Barnes-Gelt is there, too. No, Joe the carpenter, Jake the electrician, Marene the plumber, Al the small shopkeeper, Jules and Norma the homeowners aren't there.
The masses are asses, ya'll. Plain and simple.
P.S. Susan Barnes-Gelt has a remarkable record as a public servant and civic activist. She is one of the brightest and most articulate persons ever to serve on the Denver City Council. That said, public policy should not, must not continue to be pretty much exclusively within the purview of good people who, somewhere along the way, have lost touch with the realities, the likes the dislikes, the everyday drudge of the common man/woman who have not been "blessed" with the ability to know what's best for the rest of us.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
This post is NOT about those good people.
Here's the story from the Rocky Mountain News of a week or so ago that caught my eye:
Audit shows DIA paid overcharges
Denver International Airport might have paid more than $50,000 this year in overcharges for toner and ink cartridges, according to initial results of an internal audit looking at discrepancies in inventory.
The airport said some purchase orders and receipts appear to have been falsified, and it has placed one employee on investigatory leave. The findings also have been turned over to the district attorney's office.
The airport said it doesn't know the full extent of the dicrepancies but that the activities may have spanned more than seven years.
DIA management said it was unaware that an employee had been transacting business with companies owned by Richard S. Joselit, who pleaded guilty to larceny in connection with a 2002 scam against the New York Mets.
In a news release from DIA on September 1, 2006, came the following information:
"'We discovered a problem. We stopped it, and took a number of appropriate actions to make sure it doesn't happen again,' stated Turner West (Manager of Aviation). 'We believe it is important that other organizations and governmental agencies be aware of the schemes and the questionable companies. To that end, we have created a watch list of these office supply companies. We will be sharing this list with other agencies and governmental entities in Colorado.'
"...In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, the City (City and County of Denver) will not be making any additional statements."
The Airport also advised that a "forensic accountant" had been hired to assist in the investigation of the alleged fraud. Additionally, it is axiomatic that the forensic accountant--simply given the nature of work he/she is hired to do (see link)--will provide the string of evidentiary data necessary to support litigation and, presumably, to identify the lack of accountability that, I believe, necessarily led to this shameful--possibly seven-year--breakdown in a segment of DIA's purchasing process.
The alleged purchasing fraud at Denver International Airport was, as is noted in the News story above, perpetrated by an employee of the airport in sync with the self-admitted larcenous machinations of one Richard S. Joselit who, in October, 2002 was indicted by the Queens County (New York) District Attorney Richard A. Brown as part of what was described by the DA as a "...$2.0 Million ripoff of [the] New York Mets. The news release of the Queens County DA reads, in part:
"Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced the indictment of six individuals--including the former technical services director and three other former employees of the New York Mets, as well as two vendors --on charges of stealing over a six-year-period between 1994 and 2000 nearly $2.0Million from Sterling Doubleday Enterprises (SDE), the baseball team's parent company, in five separate white-collar schemes involving bribes, kickbacks and other illicit payments of nearly $600,000, fictitious companies, fraudulent invoices, phantom merchandise and inflated prices.
"District Attorney Brown said, 'The defendants are alleged to have ripped off the New York Mets organization for almost $2.0 million over a six year period. The key player in the alleged ripoff was a trusted employee of the baseball organization who was responsible for approving purchases of data processing, telephone equipment and services, office supplies and printing services. He is alleged to have traded his insider position for a windfall of bribes totaling nearly $600,000.'
"The District Attorney said that his investigation began in August 2000 when the new York Mets discovered apparent purchasing irregularities during an internal audit..."
Suffice it to say, the recapitulation of the 2002 indictments in Queens County and the story coming out of DIA are eerily similar: Internal auditors scratching their heads when digging into the books (significantly, it is NOT higher authority, management at the institutions discovering the alleged fraud); trusted long-time employee(s) allegedly involved in the so similar despicable schemes.
Part II of this post will examine how this alleged fraud could have occurred at Denver International Airport and, additionally, where, in my opinion, the buck should stop with regard to the ultimate accountability in the public procurement process.
P.S. The comments attached to this post were copied from Haloscan which I utilized prior to moving over to my new format. I include these two comments because I think--as this will be a multi-part piece--they highlight important issues. The first comment was posted by "Roger M.," my comments follow Roger's.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
The cartoon, of course, makes that wildly shameful jingoistic leap; a leap that Dubya's neocon wingnut constituency blindly gobbles up like apple pie on the 4th of July; a leap that simply ignores false premises and celebrates invalid conclusions. The Rove-inspired Neocon revisionistic history represented by the cartoon, suggests that-all things being equal--Dubya stands tall with Abraham Lincoln.
All things are NOT equal. Before you lose your last meal (this is surely sickening stuff from this morning's Rocky) consider:
Lincoln's eloquence on November 19, 1863, in dedication of the battlefield of the American Civil War where over 51,000 soldiers--Union and Confederate alike--lost their lives, consisted of two-hundred and seventy-eight words.
Dubya's address to the nation on September 11, 2006, consisted of 2,623 words.
Which address, I wonder, will stand the test of time? Do I even need to ask such a question?
Dubya's address consisted of a recapitulation of the Neocon polemic with regard to the axis of evil and what Dubya's (Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) believe a "mission accomplished" will consist of against the evildoers...although, hmmm..., didn't we already celebrate "mission accomplished." Dubya's speech was (How stupid do you believe the American people to be, Mr. President) conceptualized, designed, written and delivered to play to an ever decreasing Neocon base; it was a shameful ad campaign that hitched onto, exploited the tragedy of 9/11 for the sole, unabashed purpose of propping-up Republicans for the November elections. The immense, dishonorable failures of Dubya's reign during these dangerous, destructive times cannot be ameliorated with a plethora of words from speechwriters.
From Abraham Lincoln Online.org:
"Of the five known manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address, the Library of Congress has two. President Lincoln gave one of these to each of his two private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay. The copy on exhibit, which belonged to Nicolay, is often called the "first draft" because it is believed to be the earliest copy that exists.
"Considerable scholarly debate continues about whether the Nicolay copy is the "reading" copy. In 1894 Nicolay wrote that Lincoln had brought with him the first part of the speech, written in ink on Executive Mansion stationery, and that he had written the second page in pencil on lined paper before the dedication on November 19, 1863. Matching folds are still evident on the two pages shown here, suggesting it could be the copy that eyewitnesses say Lincoln took from his coat pocket and read at the ceremony."
The Gettysburg Address ends with the words: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
I'm sorry, I've got to repeat: "...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Abraham Lincoln was desperately, quietly but powerfully, trying to pull a broken nation back together.
Dubya's jingoistic hoopla, his 2,623 words are rightly dwarfed by the heartfelt pleading of Lincoln's two-hundred and seventy-eight words; words that were meant to heal, not frighten, not hide the catastrophic failures of a "...bring 'em on..." cowboy who didn't ever and still hasn't got a clue what's embodied in those words: "of the people, by the people, for the people..."
And, shame on the Rocky Mountain News!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Two points emphasized in their "outcome" document read: First: "...Parks, the heart of the city, will become a focal point for Council in their efforts towards the development of a parks preservation plan to protect the City's green infrastructure." Second: "Recognizing the unique demographics of their citizenry, Council will also work towards policies that will serve to integrate all populations into the City and further develop their relationships with the Denver Public Schools, in recognition of the interdependence of the two entities in the development of a healthy, vibrant city."
I'll make this short.
Humbly I entreat, Denver's 4,000 acres of parks and parkways do not need another PLAN coming from a City Council which has yet to aggressively push for a means of funding for the implementation of the plethora of specific park Master Plans already extant. Those Master Plans have already been developed, have been placed on that top shelf--in some cases for years and years--where the dust weighs heavy. Hey, how's this for novel idea: There's really no need for another study, another plan. We've already got the studies and the plans. IMPLEMENT THE EXISTING MASTER PLANS BY INITIATING A MEANS TO FUND THOSE MASTER PLANS! Yes, I know, you, City Council, and your Mayor, John Hickenlooper, have chosen to submit to the voters this November a ballot issue that will impose a sales tax increase to fund pre-school education initiatives. No, there are no general obligation bond measures on the ballot that would fund the remediation of the disgraceful negligence of Denver's park's infrastructure, much less to fund park Master Plan initiatives. Instead, the Kumbaya mentality between Mayor/Council, has placed on the ballot a measure that is wholly outside the legal, codified responsibility of the entity, the City and County of Denver. Excuse me, but the Denver School Board--to which a substantial portion of Denver's property owner's property taxes are siphoned--is responsible for education initiatives in this city, not the Mayor, not the City Council--regardless of where, yes, your liberalistic multicultural humanistic (politically correct) leanings tend to lead. Excuse me but, SAVE WHAT YOU CALL THE "HEART" OF THE CITY BY PUSHING, FUNDING, SUPPORTING THE ALREADY EXISTING PARK MASTER PLANS!
Now, for the second issue: "Recognizing the unique demographics of their citizenry, Council will also work towards policies that will serve to integrate all populations into the City and further develop their relationships with the Denver Public Schools, in recognition of the interdependence of the two entities in the development of a healthy, vibrant city."
Okay, granted, a "...healthy, vibrant city..." depends, in part, on the quality of and citizen support for the city's education system. Resolutions from Denver's City Council supporting the Denver School Board and wunderkind, Superintendent Michael Bennett, is fine, appropriate, great stuff guys, Kumbaya for all. But, with the particular makeup of this Council, the words, "...further develop their [the Council's] relationships with the Denver Public Schools..." wreaks of the stuff that will see a ballot issue to increase Denver's sales tax to fund pre-school education. And, what else will be forthcoming from this Council which doesn't appear to understand their responsibilities under the Charter and Revised Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver? How much of Denver's General Fund will be earmarked for education initiatives that are indisputably solely within the purview of the Denver School Board?
Finally, the Council's intent to "...work towards policies that will serve to integrate all populations into the City..." is, for me, a winky-wink intent to (dare I mention this particular bugaboo) to further advance, support, probably fund the notion of SANCTUARY in this city. Having said this, and understanding the soulful, feel-good mantra of Kumbaya from this particular Council, I absolutely suspect the Denver City Council to create an additional seat in their august body for Denver's Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. Who better to articulate the specifics of what a SANCTUARY CITY (for illegal immigrants) should be? Of course, with Chaput on the Council, Kumbaya may be compromised in the area of a woman's right to control her own body and, oh my goodness, what about them pesky queers suggesting the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution should also apply to them.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
What the hell does this mean? It's either very, very profound (so profound that I am, in fact, having trouble digesting it) or is it so much bullshit from someone who likes to talk fast because, in doing so, he can just slipslide his way through the moment without really giving anyone an opportunity to contemplate what he's just said. I agree; it sounds good. But, what the hell does it mean? God is a product of the universe which is a product of architecture? I don't know...
It was instructive that both the the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post columnists, who usually write about historical preservation and parks and art and environmental issues, were less than enthusiastic with Libeskind's "conceptual vision" for Civic Center Park.
Voelz Chandler, News columnist, noted:
"You know you are in trouble when one of the first comments from the architect [Libeskind, during the unveiling of his 'vision'] is 'We left all the historic elements."
Forgive me, but did the epitome of architectural haute couture--Libeskind--actually believe the "...historic elements..." of Civic Center Park were available for removal; up for grabs?
Voelz Chandler continues: "That is true. The Greek Theater is there, and the Voorhies Memorial, and the balustrades. But they are obscured by so many other things that a statement like Libeskind's becomes as much apology as defense. ...This would be a busy, busy place -- not the serene ambience intended by a Beaux Art assemblage of buildings, sculpture and landscaping elements."
Let's look for a moment at Joanne Ditmer's column in the Denver Post: "Busy, busy, busy --and too much of a good thing.
"That was my conclusion after attending two presentations Wednesday on New York architecDanielle Libeskind's proposal for revitalizing 88-year-old Civic Center. Initially, his design -- with a major pondcontemporaryry fountains, glass house cafes, canopied walkways and a soaring bridge -- seemed fresh, exciting and imaginative. And it is. It would be a beautifulexhilaratingng park -- somewhere else.
"These amenities were not meant to enhance this cherished, historic public park and gathering place, tucked between Denver City Hall and the State Capitol.
"The look-at-me design is a showcase of a celebrity architect's fertile imagination, not a sensitive enhancement of a city park so special that it is on the Nation Register ohistoricalri Places, one of just 7 percent on the register with the rating 'site of national significance.' It [the Libeskind vision] is a frivolity superimposed on one of downtown's last green spaces..."
The Libeskind "vision" for Civic Center Park is an incongruous assemblage of disparate components that only do not enhance the preservation of the historical elements in the precious open space, but pose a kind of amusement park crassness to the space. (What on earth is the torqued extravaganza that Libeskindnd calls a bridge that spans from the park to Sixteenth Street? Was this inspired from a visit to Six Flags where the Sidewinder for the Boomerang--roller coaster type rides--bare a striking resemblance to Libeskind's "vision" for a bridge?) Ditmer, the Post's columnist, observes that the design of this pedestrian bridge looks something "...like a whale's skeleton."
One of the most curious comments with regard to the revitalization, remake, preservation, enhancement--whatever you want to call it--of Civic Center Park came from Mayor John Hickenlooper. When asked about the issue of all the homeless folk who tend to congregate in the park, the Hick said, "If we create a great park [shades of Federico Pena's, "Imagine a great city..."], people will fill it, and I guarantee you that the people who are struggling to get their lives together aren't going to stick around."
The comment is curious because the mayor'euphemism--"...people who are struggling to get their lives together..."--colors the reality that those folks who hang in Civic Center Park today are drug dealers, drug seekers, mall rats, homeless, mentally disturbed, criminals, crooks, crass cranks, and hopheads who--when, as the mayor says, Civic Center Park becomes "...great..." ain't gonna be goin' nowhere, your honor. You bring good, decent, hard-working decent folk into the park and guess who's gonna be hangin' around, hopin' for handout, hopin' for a transaction, hopin' to intimidate, plead, cajole or simply steal from the other half who most of these pitiful souls believe caused their problems in the first place.
There is a wee bit of comfort in knowing that I am not alone in wondering what the hell this Libeskind "vision" for Civic Center Park accomplishes. Indeed:
If you've got a little curiosity about contempo architecture and you take a peek at its coverage in the mainstream press (as well as the specialist architectural press), you're probably running into names like Daniel (WTC-site) Libeskind, Herbert Muschamp, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Coop Himmelblau. You're probably also running into a lot of photos of zigzaggy, blown-to-bits buildings that look a bit like an L.A. kitchen the morning after the big one.
Chances are that, unless you've gone to architecture school or have been otherwise marinated in contempo "theory," you probably have some variation on what I think of as the "Huh? What the fuck?" response. The writing and thinking seem almost incomprehensible and, when comprehensible, engaged with issues and ideas that seem of no conceivable human interest whatsoever. The designs themselves sometimes seem kind of cool and flashy -- but, lordy, imagine having to live in, or work in, or even have to pass regularly by such heaps of self-referential showboating.
I can hear their shrieks now: Libeskind's Denver Art Museum Expansion
Now calm down. It's not that I am immune to the spectacular. I like the Rockettes and I like Liberace and I like the movie theaters of the 1920s. And I even like this Libeskind design, as much of its interior as is shown anyway. But as an advancement of culture it's so irrelevant...so nothing-to-do with the daily texture of life...so striving, so arty. But I grant him an A for intention: Libeskind would like to be relevant. In fact he writes about the importance of architecture:
It seems to me that architecture is, in fact, the machine that produces the universe which produces the gods. It does so not fully through theories or reflections, but in the ever non-repeatable and optimistic act of construction. The qualities of its resistance, which are as pragmatic as the materials from which it is built, form an irascible and volatile field whose smile is not that of Buddha.
The only problem is that his words are too unclear to have any real substance. It would be nice if a (probably) talented fellow like Libeskind could get down from his high horse and just talk plain English.
One does not suffer lightly the machinations of someone, an architect for christ's sake, whose mantra includes the poo-poo of any further consideration of form/function in the design of buildings/landscapes that folks are going to live and/or work in or around. That's probably because I've not gotten an architectural degree in the last five or so years from a university where, I'm told, the form/function given is no longer a given and, well, let your imagination go, young'uns. It don't matter what the functional necessities of the rabble who have to live with, in or around your designs want/desire. What matters is that architectural design creates the universe which creates God...as Libeskind has imparted to us.
What more needs to be said.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
This pristine view, from the center of Civic Center Park (in Denver) would be compromised by Daniel Libeskind's "conceputal vision" for the park with a pedestrian bridge that would right-angle over Broadway directly within this current wonderfully pristine line-of-sight toward the east, toward the Colorado State Capitol. As a matter of fact, the Libeskind "conceptual vision" wouldn't even allow for a picture such as this to be taken from the middle of Civic Center Park, because there'd be a 72 foot water and light extravaganza centered in the park. Oy!!!!