Three terms as Pitkin County commissioner followed his initial ideas: preserve, conserve, collaborate
George Newman’s 12-year tenure as a Pitkin County commissioner started and ended in crisis.
“It’s interesting,” the 69-year-old said in a phone interview Thursday, his second official day out of office. “I was talking to a friend of mine recently and I hadn’t thought about that. I started at the time of the Great Recession and then COVID (struck).”
But the crises between January 2009 and Tuesday, when he stepped down, have bookended a political career that Newman said he thinks lived up to the slogan on the yard sign from his first campaign he still keeps in his garage: “Preserve, Conserve, Collaborate.”
“I’m definitely bittersweet about leaving,” he said. “I will miss the interaction with the other commissioners, the staff and the public at large, as well as being at the table making decisions that improve the quality of life for our citizens and keeping Pitkin County the special place it is.
“But I think it’s time to sit back and smell the roses.”
His colleagues on the board and at the county said their goodbyes at a work session Tuesday.
“While George and I may not always agree, regardless of who won or lost the argument, we never held a grudge,” Commissioner Patti Clapper said. “We got over it and we moved on.”
Clapper said she will miss Newman’s humor, body language and facial expressions that never failed to wordlessly give away his true feelings.
“In closing, I have one bit of advice for George,” she said. “… If you need to supplement your retirement income, you should not do this by playing poker.”
Commissioner Greg Poschman praised Newman’s candor.
“George has always said what he thought,” said Commissioner Greg Poschman, “and I really appreciate that, even it might not have been the popular sentiment. I’ve certainly learned a lot from him to speak your peace and be OK with it.”
Newman grew up in New York state, went to college in New Hampshire and upon arriving in Aspen in 1974 promptly went to work as a ski patroller at Aspen Highlands. After that he worked at Colorado Outward Bound as an instructor and course director, then helped found and run Leadership Aspen before being elected to the county board.
“I think I changed careers every 10 years,” he said. “The main focus has been the outdoors … and somehow tied to skiing, which is one of my loves and passions.”
That love of the outdoors informed Newman’s campaign slogan 12 years ago and, looking back, he said he feels he held true to those ideals.
Pitkin County’s rural character has been preserved through the Open Space and Trails program, numerous conservation easements the county has negotiated and purchased, a program that leases county open space to agriculture and protection of water resources, he said.
Conservation also has been addressed during Newman’s tenure through an overhaul of the energy codes, investment in renewable energy and approval of a solar farm near Woody Creek, he said.
“The greatest threat not only locally but globally is climate change,” he said. “We’re doing a lot to mitigate climate change locally. We had to collaborate to accomplish our goals.”
Newman said he is proud of collaboration efforts that have come through his service on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Board, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency Board and regional transportation planning efforts, while also citing the county’s multi-year effort to extinguish oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide as a major accomplishment.
However, none of those things rank as the most important accomplishment of his three terms on the board, he said.
“If you ask me, the best decision I ever made was hiring (county Manager) Jon Peacock,” Newman said. “He’s been able to do such tremendous things for this community.”
Peacock – hired almost exactly 10 years ago – has helped start the Valley Health Alliance, ably steered the county through the COVID-19 pandemic and reorganized the county in ways that benefit residents, among other accomplishments, Newman said.
“As elected leaders, we can put forth goals, but it requires leadership and staff to put them into place,” he said. “And I think that under Jon Peacock’s leadership, staff has been able to do all this.”
Newman said he will miss serving on the county commission but harbors no other political ambitions, for the time being at least because “you never know what life will bring.” He declined to say exactly what he might do next but said he will “stay engaged and volunteer in areas that interest me.”
And while Newman may slow down a bit now that he’s no longer a member of the county board, don’t expect him to abandon the passions of skiing and the outdoors that brought him to the Roaring Fork Valley 46 years ago in the first place.
“I’ve got a pretty large quiver (of skis) here,” he said. “From alpine to Nordic to A-T, I enjoy all aspects of being on the snow.”
Not surprisingly, on his first full day as a regular citizen in 12 years, Newman skinned up Tiehack on Wednesday and didn’t care one bit about the bimonthly regular commissioner meeting going on down below.
But there’s also biking and hiking in the summer, a 6-month-old grandson with his daughter in California, and his wife of 41 years, who also recently retired, and their home in “historic Emma” to take up his time. He said he was always a bit worried about retiring and spending so much time around the house, but the pandemic has provided a nice adjustment period and he’s ready for it.
“You know, we live in such a beautiful place,” he said. “I’m still healthy and, at a young 69, I’m still able to enjoy the outdoors.”
Dr. King’s speeches have particular resonance today amid a year of sickness and death, Black Lives Matter protests and the storming of the Capitol.
- Jan. 18, 2021
He lived and died in a time of tumult and a racial awakening, so perhaps it is no surprise that the 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory: A raging pandemic. Protest and civil unrest after the killing of Black people by the police. A momentous election. And an insurrection.
Even the title of his final book — “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” — seems ripped from today’s headline.
“I think it’s still an unanswered question,” said Clayborne Carson, a history professor at Stanford University, referring to the title of Dr. King’s book.
“I think the most important word in that question is ‘we’ — who are we, and until you figure that out, it’s very hard to tell where we are going,” said Dr. Carson, who is also the founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which is publishing a collection of Dr. King’s papers.
Amid the change and upheaval, the words of Dr. King, both those celebrated and the less familiar, feel more urgent then perhaps ever before, both as a guide and a warning. From oft-quoted speeches to the words he never had a chance to deliver before his assassination, Dr. King talked about his vision of a just world, about the power of peaceful protests, and about disruption as the language of the unseen and the unheard.
We asked Dr. Carson and others from across the country to choose words from Dr. King and reflect on how they resonate today. Here’s what they had to say.
“Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through”
— from the last speech given by Dr. King, on April 3, 1968, in Memphis, the day before he was assassinated.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, said Dr. King’s words spoke to the daunting challenge that civil rights leaders faced helping the poor and marginalized. He drew a parallel to today’s challenges of systemic racism, ecological devastation and a lack of access to health care.
The election of a Democratic president, he said, is no reason to slow down.
“It’s not enough to have an election and put new people into office,” Dr. Barber said. “We must push and continue to push for the kind of public policy that really establishes justice.”
“We really must now go about the business of lifting up those who are poor and those without health care,” he added. “That’s the only way we can heal the nation — we have to heal the body.”
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
— from Dr. King’s speech at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968.
Connie Field said Dr. King’s quote had guided much of her work as an award-winning documentary filmmaker. RACE/RELATED: A deep and provocative exploration of race, identity and society with New York Times journalists.Sign Up
“Dr. King presented a vision of an equal, multiracial society,” she said. “He presented a vision of economic equality. And he presented a vision of a political struggle that’s nonviolent. Those are three things that we can all try to live by and strive for today.”
She added: “What’s going on in the United States, what we witnessed on Jan. 6, all has to do with a backlash to the fact that our world is changing. It’s going on here in America; it’s going on in Europe. We’re becoming a more intertwined world, a more multicultural world. That’s the trajectory of history, and there’s no going back on that. That quote completely underscores everything I’m talking about — a just world is an equal world, equal no matter what our race is.”
“Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
— from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
After a week of Trumpist mayhem, white evangelicals wrestle with what they’ve become.
By David Brooks
- Jan. 14, 2021
“Over the last 72 hours, I have received multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry. I have been labeled a coward, sellout, a traitor to the Holy Spirit, and cussed out at least 500 times.”
This is the beginning of a Facebook post from Sunday by the conservative preacher Jeremiah Johnson. On Jan. 7, the day after the storming of the Capitol, Johnson had issued a public apology,asserting that God removed Donald Trump from office because of his pride and arrogance, and to humble those, like Johnson, who had fervently supported him.
The response was swift and vicious. As he put it in that later Facebook post, “I have been flabbergasted at the barrage of continued conspiracy theories being sent every minute our way and the pure hatred being unleashed. To my great heartache, I’m convinced parts of the prophetic/charismatic movement are far SICKER than I could have ever dreamed of.”
This is what is happening inside evangelical Christianity and within conservatism right now. As a conservative Christian friend of mine put it, there is strife within every family, within every congregation, and it may take generations to recover.
On the one hand, there are those who are doubling down on their Trump fanaticism and their delusion that a Biden presidency will destroy America.
“I rebuke the news in the name of Jesus. We ask that this false garbage come to an end,” the conservative pastor Tim Remington preached from the pulpit in Idaho on Sunday. “It’s the lies, communism, socialism.”
The violent Know-Nothingism, which has always coursed through American history, is once again a torrent, threatening more violence in the days ahead.
On the other hand, many Trump supporters have been shaken to the core by the sight of a sacrilegious mob blasting Christian pop music and chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” There have been defections and second thoughts. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at the Trump inaugural, told his congregation Sunday, “We must all repent, even the church needs to repent.”
The Trump-supporting Texas pastor John Hagee declared: “This was an assault on law. Attacking the Capitol was not patriotism, it was anarchy.”
After staying basically level for four years, Trump’s approval ratings dropped roughly 10 points across several polls in a week. The most popular piece on the Christianity Today website is headlined, “We Worship With the Magi, Not MAGA.” In the world of secular conservatism, The Wall Street Journal editorial page called on Trump to resign. Addressing Trump supporters, the conservative talk show host Erick Erickson wrote, “Everything — from the storming of the Capitol to people getting killed to social networks banning you to corporations not giving you money — everything is a logical consequence of you people lying relentlessly for two months and taking advantage of American patriots.”
One core feature of Trumpism is that it forces you to betray every other commitment you might have: to the truth, moral character, the Sermon on the Mount, conservative principles, the Constitution. In defeat, some people are finally not willing to sacrifice all else on Trump’s altar.
The split we are seeing is not theological or philosophical. It’s a division between those who have become detached from reality and those who, however right wing, are still in the real world.
Hence, it’s not an argument. You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts. You can’t have an argument with people who are deranged by the euphoric rage of what Erich Fromm called group narcissism — the thoughtless roar of those who believe their superior group is being polluted by alien groups.
It’s a pure power struggle. The weapons in this struggle are intimidation, verbal assault, death threats and violence, real and rhetorical. The fantasyland mobbists have an advantage because they relish using these weapons, while their fellow Christians just want to lead their lives.
The problem is, how do you go about reattaching people to reality?
David French, the conservative Christian writer who fought in the Iraq war, says the way to build a sane G.O.P. is to borrow a page from the counterinsurgency handbook: Separate the insurgents from the population.
That means prosecuting the rioters, impeaching the president and not tolerating cyberterrorism within a community or congregation.
Others have to be reminded of the basic rules for perceiving reality. They have to be reminded that all truth is God’s truth; that inquiry strengthens faith, that it is narcissistic self-idolatry to think you can create your own truth based on what you “feel.” There will probably have to be pastors and local leaders who model and admire evidence-based reasoning, wrestling with ideas.
On the left, leaders and organizations have arisen to champion open inquiry, to stand up to the cancel mobs. They have begun to shift the norms.
The problem on the right is vastly worse. But we have seen that unreason is a voracious beast. If it is not confronted, it devours not only your party, but also your nation and your church.
Expanded access to world-famous geologic feature in the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
ST. GEORGE, Utah – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced it has approved a proposal to expand visitor access to the world-famous geologic feature known as the Wave, located in the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on the Arizona Strip. Under the new decision, the number of hiking permits issued for the Wave will increase from 20 to 64 people and/or 16 groups per day, whichever comes first. The BLM could implement further increases or decreases in the future based on monitoring of resources and social conditions.
“The stunning beauty of the Wave is part of every American’s public lands heritage, and we’re honored to protect and manage it for generations to come,” said Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor. “This effort provides for additional safety for visitors, access to our nation’s veterans, and ensures that in times like the COVID-19 pandemic, the American people have expanded access to recreational opportunities on their public lands.”
“The Wave is one of the world’s most incredible and visually stunning natural wonders,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond. “We’re pleased to be able to expand options for public viewing of this amazing landscape in a way that’s consistent with its preservation.”
“We conducted robust environmental analysis and worked in collaboration with partners and interested stakeholders in an effort to allow more visitors access to the Wave, while maintaining wilderness character,”said BLM Arizona State Director Ray Suazo. “I appreciate the close collaboration with Coconino County in Arizona and Kane and Washington Counties in Utah in managing this important natural area.”
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Arizona Strip District on all aspects of the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness and Wave management. The Kanab Field Office will continue to run the next day lottery in an efficient and respectful manner,” said BLM Utah State Director Greg Sheehan. “This decision provides additional safety for visitors and will hopefully decrease the workload on Kane County’s already-busy search and rescue personnel.”
“The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has been working closely with our federal partners at the Bureau of Land Management to improve the safety of visitors at the Wave. As visitation and interest has dramatically increased, the permit process has become more complex. We appreciate the leadership shown by the BLM on this safety issue. Improving the safety and overall experience of visitors here is clearly a shared priority. As the Kane County Sheriff, I feel very fortunate to have such a positive cooperative relationship with the Bureau of Land Management. We share a sincere love of public lands and a responsibility to those that visit. A big thank you from my office to folks at the BLM for recognizing this issue and working to solve difficult problems,” said Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover.
“Coconino County supports this decision to increase visitor access to the Wave in a manner that will preserve and protect the natural and scenic wonders of this landscape,” said Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler. “We are excited about the opportunities for economic growth in our local communities that comes with this increase in recreational tourism.”
“The Wave has become one of the most iconic and recognizable destinations in the world. Increased visitation and associated tourism is a vital part of the Kane County economy. The desire to visit The Wave has created some complex management concerns. These concerns have required a great deal of coordination between Kane County, the DOI and local BLM managers. Kane County sincerely appreciates the efforts put forth by key DOI and BLM officials who took interest in this issue and worked hard for a rapid resolution. Because of these efforts, visitors will be safer and have a better overall experience as they enjoy the beauty of public lands in our area,” said Kane County Commissioner Andy Gant.
The decision supports Secretary’s Order 3347, Conservation Stewardship and Outdoor Recreation, and Secretary’s Order 3366, Increasing Recreational Opportunities on Lands and Waters Managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It strikes an appropriate balance by responding to the public’s increased interest in visiting the site while minimizing environmental impacts and maintaining wilderness values. This will be accomplished though an adaptive management framework that is outlined in the Final Environmental Assessment. The framework provides the BLM the ability to make adjustments to meet desired conditions based on monitoring at the site.
Public interest in the Wave has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2018, more than 200,000 individuals applied for the 7,300 hiking permits available annually to access the site. With only 20 people allowed each day through both the online and walk-in lotteries, only 3.6 percent of applicants were able to obtain a permit to access the Wave. This prompted the BLM to explore options for expanding visitor access in a manner that protects the character of the site and its unique natural features.
While the increase in visitors at the Wave (a feature which is less than half the size of a football field) will be apparent to hikers, there are ample opportunities for solitude that are available away from the main route and outside of the Wave within the more than 112,500 acres of the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Additional wilderness values including primitive and unconfined recreation, natural sights and sounds, remoteness, freedom, risk, and the physical and emotional challenges of self-discovery and self-reliance can be enjoyed on the route to and at the Wave.
The BLM’s Final Environmental Assessment and Decision Record approving the change are posted on BLM’s ePlanning website at: https://go.usa.gov/xyxtK. Learn more about visiting the Wave or the online permit system on our website at: www.blm.gov/TheWave.
The high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law used her first tumultuous week in office to cement her far-right and extremist credentials while also setting off a widespread roar of criticism
Nancy Lofholm Jan 14, 2021
As she barnstormed across the 3rd Congressional District last year with a pistol on her hip and a steady stream of Democrat-aimed insults rolling off her tongue, Lauren Boebert promised to make a big, loud splash in the nation’s capital if voters sent her to Congress.
Colorado’s newest U.S. representative has delivered on that – in spades – and in just one week.
Since she was sworn in on Jan. 2, Boebert has been the focus of more ink and air time than she ever racked up at Shooters Grill, her Rifle restaurant where she first took her star turn in the media for serving burgers and fries with a holstered gun and having all her waitresses do the same.
The high school dropout with a history of minor run-ins with the law has used her first tumultuous week in office to cement her far-right and extremist credentials while also setting off a widespread roar of criticism that includes calls and petitions for her resignation, her expulsion from Congress and her prosecution for alleged “sedition” connected to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Critics now include fellow congressional representatives — including Republicans — and Democratic elected officials throughout the 3rd District.
Anti-Boebert letters-to-the-editor have been piling up in newspapers across the district. Letter writers have called her “a nut job,” “a national security risk,” “a disgrace,” “a domestic terrorist” and “the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to Colorado.”
Protests have occurred at all of her Colorado offices. On Twitter, #ResignBoebert has gone viral as opponents call for her immediate resignation, along with that of her fellow Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, for “helping to incite last week’s deadly violence.”
Across the district she represents, where her constituents are struggling with the burdens of the pandemic and with perennial issues related to the land and water, residents either want to give a brand new congresswoman a break and time to get her feet on the ground in D.C. or they want her expelled now because they view her as dangerous and worthless when it comes to representing their interests.
Controversy started on Day One
The controversy began on Boebert’s first day in office, when she released a slick, campaign-fundraising video that starts with her holstering her Glock and then shows her striding down streets and alleys in Washington D.C. – a city that bans the open carrying of guns and requires concealed-carry permits. The video came after she had vowed to carry her weapon in the halls of Congress and convinced a cadre of Republicans to push for a change allowing for that.
Two days later, as the Electoral College votes were set to be tallied and a marauding mob, whipped up by President Trump’s speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally, broke into the Capitol, defaced and damaged the building, defecated in the corridors and searched menacingly for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Boebert was criticized for her controversial behavior.
The morning before the mob attack, Boebert tweeted “Today is 1776,” referring to the American revolution. Then, she made her debut on the House floor with a shouted, hand-waving tirade about why she was voting to overturn the results of the presidential election and try to keep President Trump in office. She referred to her need to support her constituents who were in the crowd outside.
“I have constituents outside this building right now! I promised my voters to be their voice! ”
During the siege on the Capitol, Boebert live-tweeted that Pelosi had been removed from the chamber, which some critics took to be a message to the mobs.
In the wake of the riot, Boebert issued a lengthy news release this week in which she defiantly asserted that Democrats and “Hollywood elites,” including Robert Deniro [sic], Madonna and Johnny Depp had called for mob violence on other occasions, including during the BLM demonstrations this summer.
Boebert wrote that Democrats act as if “the bravery or upholding the Constitutional oath is criminal, which says a whole lot more about them than it does about me or any other Republican.”
“Their hypocrisy is on full display with talks of impeachment, censure, and other ways to punish Republicans for false accusations of inciting the types of violence they have so frequently and transparently supported in the past,” her statement read.
On Tuesday, Twitter labeled as misleading a tweet by Boebert that falsely accused the Democratic National Committee of rigging elections — but not before she railed about the crackdowns on misinformation on Twitter, Facebook and Parler. Her complaints came two days after she blocked a number of her critics on her own Twitter account.
Her latest controversial action in a week of snowballing controversy came when she refused to open her bag for Capitol police after it set off a metal detector Tuesday evening as she was attempting to enter the House chambers.
Criticism is coming fast and furious
Across the 28 Western Slope and southern Colorado counties that she represents, opinions about Boebert’s incendiary beginnings in Congress are flying as fast and furious as Boebert’s storm of anti-Democrat, pro-fundamentalist-religion and pro-Second Amendment tweets.
“She is a loose cannon,” said Democrat Bruce Bartleson, a retired Western State University geology professor who lives in Gunnison. “She ran as a law-and-order candidate, but she has no respect for the law.”
“I think she is doing pretty good at standing her ground. She is a strong little fighter,” said Vicki Cook, a Republican retiree from Hotchkiss who added that those criticizing Boebert are “full of baloney.”
Sam Rushing, a veteran and retired Ouray businessman who is a 30-year fixture on the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team, called Boebert “just a dangerous person.”
“I have been in the service. I know what sedition is,” the longtime Democrat said. “This has gotten a lot more serious than her parading around the capitol with her sidearm.”
In Durango, where Boebert opponents took to a park with signs last weekend, Benjamin Waddell, a 38-year-old criminology professor at Fort Lewis College, was among them. He grew up in the conservative western Colorado ranching town of Norwood but said he felt compelled to grab a portable microphone and speak up about Boebert.
“What draws me into the streets is a genuine fear that Representative Boebert pulls us away from the American ideal,” Waddell, a Democrat, said.
He cited her “unwillingness to support stimulus support” for her constituents who are reeling from the effects of the pandemic as being the opposite of what the area she represents needs.
He said he believes she was put in office by voters who feel like mainstream politicians had left them behind, but that Boebert will prove to be ineffective in representing them because “she is not capable of reaching across the aisle.”
He doesn’t support expulsion for Boebert. He thinks it is too much of a long shot.
Instead, he said Colorado’s 3rd District needs to take a page from the playbook in Georgia, where far-right candidates were recently bested by Democrats who reached out to disenfranchised voters. He said the district needs to come up with good candidates to run against Boebert in 2022.
Claudette Konola was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for a Colorado Senate seat in 2014 and has continued as a civil rights and environmental activist as a registered Independent in Mesa County. She has been a strong critic of Boebert since she first announced her candidacy.
“She announced from the very beginning what kind of representative she was going to be.”
“She is immature. She is irresponsible. She is uneducated. She is in over her head. She is poorly informed, and she does not qualify to represent us,” Konola said. “I wish she would resign or be found guilty of sedition.”
Boebert supporters were not as forthcoming with their opinions, either not returning phone calls, emails and Facebook messages, or declining to comment.
Edward Wilks, a friend and adviser of Boebert’s who owns a gun shop near Boebert’s Shooters Grill, said he would not comment because he didn’t like how The Sun had characterized a group he belongs to in a past article. Wilks is a member of the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary organization made up of current and former law enforcement officials and military veterans. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the country.
Wilks and fellow Oath Keepers have come out in the past to serve as protection for Boebert during her campaign and reportedly were part of the crowd that turned into the mob storming the Capitol.
Boebert’s mother, Shawn Bentz, did not respond to a Facebook message asking for comment about her daughter’s first week in office. Bentz, who is an open supporter of QAnon on social media, went to Washington with Boebert for her swearing in ceremony. She was pictured with Boebert at that ceremony and mentioned that she had gone on detailed tours of the Capitol buildings with her daughter. She was staying with Boebert in her D.C. apartment that first week, according to her social media posts.
Prior to the Jan. 6 riot, using the Twitter name Shawna Roberts-Bentz, she retweeted White House political advisor Dan Scavino: “See you soon PATRIOTS.”
Days after the Capitol riots she posted — and later deleted — a link to a violent, dystopian YouTube video portraying the country’s military might under Trump, from rifles to nuclear bombs, and asserting that the military would stand with the president to keep him in office.
“Just when y’all thought My President was hiding out…He will not give up on us! In The End We Win!!” Bentz wrote after first commenting about the post: “If That Ain’t America I Will Kiss Your Ass!!!”
Bentz wiped all QAnon-related and extremist-supporting posts from her public Facebook page, leaving only family photos, medical fundraisers and links to her daughter’s official posts.
When Boebert was confronted during her campaign about expressing support for QAnon in a recorded interview, she backed off that statement and said that it was “more my mother’s thing.”
But her links to QAnon and other far-right extremist and racists groups persist on the internet with photos of her surrounded by bikers and armed supporters displaying patches and logos of these groups. In some, the heavily armed men behind her, are flashing a white-supremacist hand signal.
Some of her fellow congressional representatives are now voicing their beliefs that she is a proponent of extremism and asking for an investigation into any part she might have played in the Jan 6 riot. Nearly 70 elected officials in her district, all of them Democrats or unaffiliated with any political party, or serving in a nonpartian position, have sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for an investigation of Boebert’s alleged ties to white supremacist groups.
Mainstream issues in the district are worrisome, too
While Boebert makes waves for that extremism, her more mainstream constituents back home are expressing fears that a district beset by water woes, drought, a scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines, food pantry shortages and other pandemic-related economic problems will not have any representation from a congresswoman who appears to be focused only on gun rights and on vows to protect their “freedom.”
Cindy Cyphers, a Grand Junction retiree and Democratic activist, said she hasn’t seen any movement on Boebert’s part to actually start learning the job of being a U.S. congresswoman. “It’s Second Amendment over and over and over with her,” Cyphers said. “She has shown absolutely no interest in governing. There has not been one word out of her mouth about water or things that are important to our district.”
Cyphers said the Second Amendment and MAGA grandstanding needs to stop. “She needs to get to work.”
In Hotchkiss, Cook said she thinks 3rd District residents need to give Boebert time to grow into her new role.
“I think she will learn and improve with time. We can’t know everything up front,” Cook said. “I think if the issues are put before her, she will learn about them.”
Rushing, who said he moved to Colorado from his Mississippi Delta birthplace because he wanted to raise a family in a progressive state, said he worries because Boebert has never said that she plans to represent all the people in her district. Thus far, he said, she is only representing the extremists, and the extremists are listening to her.
“I have always been an optimist,” he said. “But I have big fears about this.”
Investigate Rep. Boebert’s ties to white nationalist groups.
Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader, Representative Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy
FROM: Constituents of the 3rd Congressional District of Colorado
As constituents of Representative Lauren Boebert (CD3), we respectfully urge you to investigate Rep. Boebert with regard to her connections to the white supremacist groups that instigated the insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
We are alarmed by statements made by Rep. Boebert prior to the insurrection which surely served to help pro-Trump extremists feel justified participating in the violent and racist events of that day. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned by the fact that Rep. Boebert has continued to post content which undoubtedly incites the fury of dangerous white nationalist groups.
Below are just some of Rep. Boebert’s public statements on the days surrounding the insurrection:
“The Founding Fathers did not back down when people told them what they could and could not do.” (Jan. 5, Twitter)
“Today is 1776.” (Jan. 6, Twitter)
“I have constituents outside this building right now. I promised my constituents to be their voice.” (Jan. 6, Address to Congress)
“The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.” (Jan. 6, Twitter)
“I want you all to know how proud I am to have taken a stand on the Electoral College certification.” (Jan. 8, Twitter)
“Hillary must be pissed it took the DNC until 2020 to successfully rig an election.” (Jan. 9, Twitter)
During the insurrection, despite the directive from the Sergeant of Arms for legislators to refrain from posting on social media, Rep. Boebert posted information on Twitter regarding the whereabouts of Speaker Pelosi, a known target of the insurrectionists.
Two days later, Rep. Boebert posted a video encouraging people to go back and watch her Jan. 6 address to Congress. It is in this speech that Rep. Boebert refers to those rioting outside the Capitol building as her “constituents” to whom she has promised “to be their voice.”
The fact that Rep. Boebert encouraged people to go back and watch her floor speech–even after she had a full account of the events that occurred on Jan.6–indicates that Rep. Boebert has no regrets about promising to be the voice for the right-wing extremists on the Capitol grounds that day.
As constituents of Rep. Boebert, we appreciate your leadership on this important matter.Start a petition of your ownThis petition starter stood up and took action. Will you do the same? Start a petition
There still will be a place for principled Republicans.
- Jan. 12, 2021
When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”
That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind his being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.
My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.
First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.
If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.
Second, if the principled Republicans split from the Trump cult, the rump pro-Trump G.O.P. would have a very hard time winning a national election anytime soon. And given what we’ve just seen, these Trumpers absolutely cannot be trusted with power again.
Think about what they’ve done. All these Trump-cult lawmakers willingly promoted Trump’s Big Lie. And think how big it was: Trump took the most heroic election in American history — an election in which more Americans voted than ever before, freely and fairly in the midst of a deadly pandemic — and claimed it was all a fraud, because he didn’t win. And then, on the basis of that Big Lie, eight Republican senators and 139 House members voted to nullify Joe Biden’s electoral victory. That is sick. PAUL KRUGMAN: A deeper look at what’s on the mind of Paul Krugman, a world-class economist and opinion columnist.Sign Up
That is why I hope the party splits. And here is why a still noisy Trump could be so helpful in breaking it.
What is it that Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were dreaming of when they went full treason and tried to get Congress to reverse Biden’s win on the basis of the Big Lie? They were dreaming of a world of Trumpism without Trump. They thought that if they cravenly did Trump’s bidding now, once he was gone his base would be theirs.
Hawley and Cruz are so power hungry, they would burn America to the ground if they thought they could be president of its ashes.
But they’re fools. As Trump and his kids made clear at the rally that inspired some of his supporters to ransack the Capitol, the Trumps are interested only in Trumpism with Trumps.
Or as Donald Trump Jr. explained to the soon-to-be rioters (whom Ivanka called “patriots”), the G.O.P. needed a wake-up. All those Republicans in Congress, said Don Jr., “did nothing to stop the steal. This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
You tell ’em, Donny. The more you insist on that, the more principled Republicans will have to leave. And since a recent Quinnipiac survey showed that more than 70 percent of Republicans still support Trump, you can be sure he will keep insisting it is his party and keep saying vile things that will constitute daily loyalty tests for all Republican lawmakers, forcing them to answer if they are with him or not. That stress will be enormous.
Check out the video of what happened when some Trump cultists ran into Senator Lindsey Graham at Reagan National Airport after last week’s riot. They mercilessly cursed him out as a “traitor” because for weeks he was telling them that Biden’s victory was not legitimate and then, after the sacking of the Capitol, he declared it was legitimate. Graham needed police protection from the Trumpers just to get to his plane.
As Don Jr. might have told Graham: “Didn’t you get the memo? The Trump family puts its name on EVERYTHING we own. It’s no longer the G.O.P. — it’s the T.R.P.: The Trump Republican Party. You sold us your soul. You can’t reclaim it now from a pawnbroker. We still own the base, which means we still own YOU.”
Or not. This is a time for choosing for Republicans. The old straddle — “I would never let Trump coach my kid’s Little League team, but I love his tax cuts, Israel policies, judges or abortion position” — won’t work anymore. Trump has gone too far, and the base is still with him. So it really is his party. Every Republican is going to have to ask himself and herself: Is it still mine, too?
If you look closely, there are actually four different Republican factions today: principled conservatives, cynically tactical conservatives, unprincipled conservatives and Trump cultists. In the principled conservatives camp, I’d put Romney and Murkowski. They are the true America firsters. While animated by conservative ideas about small government and free markets, they put country and Constitution before party and ideology. They are rule-abiders.
In the cynically tactical conservative camp, which you could call the Mitch McConnell camp, I’d put all of those who tried to humor Trump for a while — going along with his refusal to acknowledge the election results until “all the legal votes were counted” — but once the Electoral College votes were cast by each state, slid into the reality-based world and confirmed Biden’s victory, some sooner than others.
“I call them the ‘rule-benders,’” explained pollster Craig Charney. “They are ready to bend the rules but not break them.”
The unprincipled Republicans — the “rule-breakers” in Charney’s lingo — are led by Hawley and Cruz, along with the other seditious senators and representatives who tried to get Congress to block its ceremonial confirmation of Biden’s election.
Finally, there are the hard-core Trump cultists and QAnon conspiracy types, true believers in and purveyors of the Big Lie.
I just don’t see how these four camps stay together. And for America’s sake, I hope they don’t.
But Democrats will have a say in this, too. This is their best opportunity in years to get some support from center-right Republicans. Be smart: Ban the phrase “defund the police.” Talk instead about “better policing,” which everyone can get behind. Instead of “democratic socialism,” talk about “more just and inclusive capitalism.” And tone down the politically correct cancel culture on college campuses and in newsrooms. While it’s not remotely in the league of those trying to cancel a whole election, it’s still corrosive.
I know, it looks real dark right now. But if you look at the diverse, high-quality center-left cabinet that Biden has assembled and the principled, center-right Republicans who are looking to be problem solvers, not Trump soldiers, maybe that light in the tunnel isn’t a train coming at us after all.
Officials unanimously voted to protect the $50 million artwork after the San Francisco Art Institute threatened to sell it to cover debts.
By Zachary Small
- Jan. 12, 2021
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 to start the process to designate a beloved Diego Rivera mural as a landmark after the San Francisco Art Institute, which owns the $50 million painting, said that selling it would help pay off $19.7 million of debt.
Designating the mural as a landmark would severely limit how the 150-year-old institution could leverage it, and public officials behind the measure say that selling it is likely to be off the table for now. Removing the mural with landmark status would require approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, which has broad authority.
“There’s a lot of money in this town,” said Aaron Peskin, a board member from the district where the institute resides and a sponsor of the proposal. “There are better ways to get out of their mess than a harebrained scheme of selling the mural.”
During a public hearing on the resolution on Monday, officials of the Art Institute objected to the idea. Pam Rorke Levy, chairwoman of the Art Institute board, said, “Landmarking the mural now, when there is no imminent threat of it being sold, without sufficient consideration of S.F.A.I.’s position would deprive S.F.A.I. of its primary and most valuable asset.”
The 1931 work, titled “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” is a fresco within a fresco. The tableau portrays the creation of both a city and a mural — with architects, engineers, artisans, sculptors and painters hard at work. Rivera himself is seen from the back, holding a palette and brush, with his assistants. It is one of three frescoes in San Francisco by the Mexican muralist, who was an enormous influence on other artists in the city.
Years of costly expansions and declining enrollment have put S.F.A.I. in a difficult financial situation made worse by the pandemic and a default on a loan. Last July, a private bank announced that it would sell the school’s collateral — including its Chestnut Street campus, the Rivera mural and 18 other artworks — before the University of California Board of Regents stepped in to buy the debt in October. Through a new agreement, the institute has six years to repurchase the property; if it doesn’t, the University of California would take possession of the campus.DEALBOOK: An examination of the major business and policy headlines and the power brokers who shape them.Sign Up
Faced with the threat of foreclosure, school administrators have searched for a suitable buyer, although Ms. Levy has said that the school’s “first choice would be to endow the mural in place, attracting patrons or a partner institution that would create a substantial fund that would enable us to preserve, protect and present the mural to the public.”
Last month, Ms. Levy floated two possibilities with board members and staff. One involved the filmmaker George Lucas’s buying the mural for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. (The museum said it would not comment on speculation about acquisitions.) Another would have seen the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art take ownership of the mural but leave it on campus as an annexed space.
But a museum spokeswoman said that nothing came from early discussions. “We have no plans to acquire or endow the S.F.A.I. mural,” Jill Lynch, a communications officer with SFMOMA, told The New York Times.
The school’s Chestnut Street campus has been a designated landmark since 1977, but it was possible that, as part of the interior, the mural could have been sold or removed.
In recent days, former students and faculty members have organized to oppose any sale of the mural. They included the celebrated artist Catherine Opie, who published an open lettercondemning the school board’s actions and announcing the withdrawal of a photograph she had planned to sell at a fund-raiser for the institute.
“I can no longer be a part of a legacy that will sell off an essential unique piece of history,” she wrote.
After hearing that the mural was likely to receive landmark status, Ms. Opie breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m thrilled and relieved,” she told The Times. “I’m tired of seeing art leveraged as an asset in the first line of defense for institutions.”
By Teo ArmusJan. 13, 2021
Weeks before a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, right-wing activist Ali Alexander told his followers he was planning something big for Jan. 6.
Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.
“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight, an investigative nonprofit. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”
After riots inside the Capitol left five people dead — and Alexander and his group were banned from Twitter this week — those three GOP lawmakers are now under increasing scrutiny over their role in aiding the right-wing activist.
In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesman for Biggs said the congressman had never been in contact with Alexander or other protesters and denied he had helped organize a rally on Jan. 6.
“Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” the statement said.
Neither Brooks nor Gosar responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post. But in a lengthy, defiant statement on Wednesday, the Alabama lawmaker insisted he also bore no responsibility for the riot. Brooks added he would not have promoted any action that could undermine GOP efforts to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
“I take great offense at anyone who suggests I am so politically inexperienced as to want to torpedo my honest and accurate election system effort I spent months fighting on,” Brooks wrote.AD
Videos and posts on social media suggest links between all three Republicans and the right-wing activist.
Alexander, a felon who has also been identified in media reports as Ali Akbar, gained a large following by live-streaming monologues in which he professed his conservative views and support for Trump. Speaking to Politico Magazinein 2018, he called himself an “interpreter of energy for this period.”
In June 2019, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Alexander’s false claim that Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris is not an “American Black.” The following month, Alexander attended a “social media summit” at the White House, alongside a number of far-right figures who had accused companies of anti-conservative bias.
After Trump lost in November, the Daily Beast noted, Alexander positioned himself as a leading voice behind the movement to support the president’s challenge to the election results. He was labeled “a true patriot” by Gosar on Twitter, and on Dec. 19, the two both spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Phoenix.
“We will not go quietly. We’ll shut down this country if we have to,” Alexander told the crowd, later leading them in a chant of “1776.”