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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 22, 20172min640

You could call Mark Garcia a serial problem solver for Colorado’s city halls. One city hall after another, in fact.

There was the San Luis Valley town of Center, where Garcia stepped in as town clerk and administrator in 2009 after the town’s previous clerk went to jail for tax fraud. There was Silverton, where Garcia filled in as town manager after the town board fired the previous manager and public works director. Most recently, he has been serving as a part-time, interim town manager in Ignacio, taking over after the town fired its manager in 2015.

All of which is recounted by the Durango Herald’s Mary Shinn in a telling illustration of how small municipal governments get by when facing upheaval:

Garcia began his sort of peripatetic life of civic service in 2008 after he resigned from the town of Pagosa because the town board asked him to.

“My family didn’t want to move, my children were born and raised there and dug in, so I looked at various options and one of them was to start consulting with small to mid-size communities,” he said.

It evolved into serving as an interim leader in places that endured unsettling circumstances, and sometimes that meant he had to work in contentious situations.

Talk about low government overhead; this guy offices out of his suitcase. A great find by Shinn at the Herald, and a good read. Here’s the link again.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 22, 20176min810

Et tu, Dana Perino? When Fox News reported last week that “Legalized marijuana turns Colorado resort town into homeless magnet,” regarding Durango, it was Douglas County’s Dana Perino in the video atop the page.

Durango leaders, however, didn’t think much of the reporting beneath the video by Fox News’ Joseph J. Kolb, who was in town for a soccer tournament, Shane Benjamin reported for the Durango Herald on Friday.

Kolb’s lead source on the speculative relationship between pot, homelessness and Durango’s downtown? A homeless guy.

“Legalized marijuana has drawn a lot of kids here from other states and the impact has not all been good,” said 58-year-old Matthew Marinseck, who Kolb reported was holding a cardboard “help” sign.

Kolb said some panhandlers just straight up ask for pot.

Official sources, even in Kolb’s piece, however, don’t back up the premise that pot and panhandling are partners in southwest Colorado.

“Panhandlers like Marinseck may not exactly pose a threat to pedestrians shopping at the boutiques, souvenir stores or microbreweries in downtown Durango,” Kolb reported. “But they don’t exactly evoke the wholesome image the business district wants to project.”

The Durango Herald on Friday had a damning headline of its own, “Fox News story draws ire from Durangoans.”

Kolb, also a blogger for the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, also published the article on the conservative news radio host Laura Ingraham’s news website Lifezette under the headline “The Town That’s Going to Pot.”

Another conservative website, The Daily Caller, also took a hit off Kolb’s story in a staff-written piece titled “Legal Weed Blamed For Transforming Colorado Town Into Panhandler Haven.”

Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango Business Improvement District, spoke about homelessness in the Fox News piece, but made no mention of marijuana’s role in the prepared statement he gave Kolb.

So the lead source in a national story connecting pot to panhandling is a homeless guy in Durango.

Walsworth said folks who give money to homeless people are more of the reason than pot, along with the cities inability to enforce laws to combat it, after a scrape with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Benjamin continued:

“The reporter had an angle, and he took the information he got to fit his angle,” Walsworth said. “I told him I did not believe marijuana was the cause, and that was not quoted at all.”

What’s more, the reporter barely identified himself as a reporter, Walsworth said. He left a voicemail that may have included “something Fox,” but he really presented himself as a concerned citizen who was in town for the soccer shootout and wanted to learn more about the panhandling issue, he said.

“(He) certainly never said I am doing a story for Fox News, which just calls into question his credibility,” Walsworth said.

On second thought, let’s cut Perino some slack here.  The video atop the article taking pot shots at her home state was unrelated, apparently a report connected to the 4/20 marijuana observance in April.

The former White House spokeswoman for George W. Bush said she never tried pot.

“I was a Just Say No kid, right, Nancy Reagan’s program Just Say No,” she said of the former first lady’s initiative. “I was 8, 9, 10. I believed if my brain was an egg that would be my brain on drugs, so I never did it.”

Well, she’s not homeless.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 3, 20176min1513

The world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization is coming out swinging against a bill sponsored by state Rep. Joe Salazar to cancel Columbus Day as a state holiday in Colorado. The Knights of Columbus — named in honor of explorer Christopher Columbus — is opposing House Bill 1327, saying the legislation is based on “fake history” that originated with the Ku Klux Klan’s animosity toward Catholics.



Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 19, 20174min70
A fight over fluoride in Durango is nothing to smile at. It’s gotten pretty gnarly, judging from the excellent coverage of the Durango Herald. Next month the City Council is expected to decide whether to put a yes-or-no question on the ballot in April to let voters decide whether the city should continue to add […]

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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinJanuary 13, 201714min61

The smaller, rural counties of Colorado often experience a different - many would say less healthy - economic reality than most of the state's population in the more heavily populated Front Range counties. While that may not be news, a recent study details what residents of those smaller counties have found helps them be economically resilient. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado - Boulder and the state demography office developed the "Rural Economic Resiliency in Colorado" study. Funded by Anschutz Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, and Telluride Foundation, the primary purpose was to study why some rural communities in Colorado grow and thrive while others struggle.



Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 11, 20172min59
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez is supporting a bill that lands close to home for rural Colorado: a fast connection to the world wide web. Tipton, a Republican, backs the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, introduced last week by Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon. The U.S. House passed the bill unanimously to the Senate […]

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