CoorsTek Air Pollution Hearing Tuesday 7pm - City Hall

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has a hearing tomorrow (Tuesday) evening on CoorsTek’s air pollution operating permit. I realize that sentence may have already put you to sleep, but if you’re still with me it’s actually a pretty big deal.

 Air pollution stack at CoorsTek in Golden.

Air pollution stack at CoorsTek in Golden.

CoorsTek operates the ceramics factory between Washington Ave. and Ford St. just south of Highway 58 in downtown Golden. Their manufacturing operations produce air pollution, which requires a permit from the State of Colorado governing things like how much pollution they can emit and how effectively they have to monitor what they’re emitting. 

Although these operating permits are required every five years, CoorsTek is still operating on a 2009 permit - nearly a decade old. CoorsTek, thankfully, isn’t one of the larger emitters in the state, but the pollution they do emit is right in the center of town, near a lot of homes, Clear Creek, two of our main parks, and the Community Center, so the pollution it does push out can have a real impact on the air we’re all breathing. And as CoorsTek acknowledges in their permit application, they have frequently violated state and federal clean air requirements, so this isn’t academic.

The City of Golden submitted a solid comment letter on this, which hits four main points. Jeremy Nichols, a Golden resident who does a great deal of air quality and air pollution work also took the time to carefully review all of the paperwork and is pushing on the same four issues for the proposed permit renewal:

1) TRANSPARENCY. We know that the pollutants CoorsTek emits into Golden include probable and known carcinogens like benzene and formaldehyde, chemicals known to harm people’s lungs and breathing like hydrofluoric acid and nitrous oxides, and pollutants known to cause neurological harm like toluene. The chart in the document called CoorsTek Briefing (that Jeremy put together) has more details. But CoorsTek doesn’t let the community know what substances it is firing in its kilns, so there’s no way to really know what all the toxic chemicals are.

Recommendation: CoorsTek be required to let the community know what substances it is firing in its kilns. Without knowing that, it’s nearly impossible to ensure that we aren’t breathing harmful quantities of dangerous pollutants. 

2) MONITORING. Under the proposed permit, CoorsTek only has to monitor what’s actually coming out of their stacks once every two or three years (and only once every six years on some of the stacks). Unless they improve this, if something dangerous is coming out of the stacks it may be years before anyone realizes it, and even if something dangerous is coming out of the stacks at that one moment they actually monitor the emissions, they’ll have no idea for how long it’s been happening. They really should be monitoring continuously. And the proposed monitoring methods aren't necessarily rigorous enough to detect problematic pollutants

Recommendation: CoorsTek be required to more rigorously monitor what’s actually coming out of the stacks continuously or at least frequently.

3) HOW MUCH POLLUTION IS OK. Because the factory is so old (the first kiln was constructed in 1929), long before modern clean air laws, it isn’t subject to pollution limits. That is pretty disconcerting, especially given that they aren’t required to let the community know what they are burning in the kilns or regularly monitor their actual pollution levels. This proposed permit does include some pollution limits for the first time, which is a step forward, but they didn’t do any sort of analysis to figure out what those limits should be.

Recommendation: CoorsTek and the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission should first figure out what the appropriate pollution limits should be so we can make sure that the CoorsTek emissions aren’t harming Golden residents.


Recommendation: For all of these reasons, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission should look at "opportunities to further limit emissions at the facility, particularly emissions of potentially hazardous air pollutants," as the City of Golden letter states.

If you can swing by City Hall Tuesday evening around 7pm, please do so. You don’t need to be an expert on any of this in order to speak during the comment period - you can just express whatever your concerns may be.

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Where does Colorado's political left go from here?

I published a guest editorial a few days ago in The Colorado Independent about the future of progressive and Democratic party politics in Colorado.

The short version: Candidates that run on progressive values have been doing really well in Colorado, even in more conservative communities like Aurora (where I grew up). But the Colorado Democratic Party has to "offer a vision that more forcefully tackles the very real economic angst that so many across the state still face…” and has to mend the rift between the establishment left and the progressive left.

I think we're lucky that former State Senate President Morgan Carroll is the party chair right now - I think she gets these challenges and is capable of tackling them.

P.S. The Colorado Independent is a rare example here in the state of an independent newspaper that does solid reporting, including bona fide investigative journalism. Left-learning, for sure, but solid, credible journalism. I am a fan.


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Jacob's Golden Update: January 3, 2018

A New Year's greeting:

For starters: I want to offer my gratitude to Joe Behm, Marcia Claxton, and Pamela Gould for their service on the Golden City Council. It can be a tough and thankless job sometimes, and they all worked hard to make good things happen for the community.

There have definitely been some highlights here in Golden over the past year, including the completion of the new intersection at 6th Ave and 19th St. There is a lot more to do on the 6/93 corridor through Golden, and this was a critical initial project. To City Council, staff, and everyone else who contributed to fighting the beltway and fighting for the Golden Plan all of these years: nicely done!

We also enhanced transportation and mobility in 2017 with Bike Library improvements, Zip Car, and expanded Green Bus Circulator service. Our solar ballot initiative passed, enabling the city to negotiate new solar panels by the Rooney Road soccer fields. Our emergency services departments, especially Golden PD, have had a challenging couple of years, and despite that they all continue doing a fantastic job serving our community. And I want to offer a special call-out to our amazing dispatchers, who will soon be part of a single integrated countywide dispatch center. I'm sad to see them leave City Hall, but hopefully the change will work out really well for them.

Two things I’m hoping for in 2018:

  • I hope City Council will take a stronger role in guiding growth in Golden. I’m less concerned about the density per se, but we keep getting new buildings that just don’t fit with respect to character or architecture. Sometimes it feels like we are back to where change happens to us instead of Golden guiding change to serve our own vision for the future.
  • I would also love to see City Council up its game on communicating with community members. The outreach events are useful, but they only work for the small number who can attend. The Informer remains a key source of information, but mostly what I hear lately is a desire to hear more from individual council members on what’s going on, what issues are coming up that might be important or controversial, and what they think we should be doing. It's obviously more work for the City Councilors, but I think it's time and energy well spent.

I want to offer my congratulations to Bob Reed, Paul Haseman, and Jim Dale, all of whom won their City Council races and are about to start their terms as elected representatives. Campaigning is tough, and doing a good job on the Council is even more challenging. Thank you (and to all of the candidates) for being willing to step up and for putting yourself out there.

Finally, for everyone that’s been asking what I’m up to, I’m happily re-settled in my home here in Golden after my Washington, D.C. stint, and I wrapped up at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado in the spring and am now doing freelance consulting work for local and national nonprofits in addition to some filmmaking work.

I’m going to keep doing the Jacob's Golden Update email newsletter once in a while, but I’m changing the name slightly to The Golden Update. I'm also creating a separate email list (Jacob Smith’s Newsletter) for the non-Golden stuff, including the film work. If you'd like to subscribe to either, or change an existing subscription, just click on the STAY CONNECTED: JOIN MY LIST button on my home page. Or just ask me to make whatever changes you'd like.

And feel free to invite anyone else to subscribe to either list if you think they might find them useful. 

One last thought. These are challenging times. Although unemployment is dropping wages remain flat. Access to affordable health care remains an enormous source of stress for too many. The U.S. remains trapped in the longest war in American history, with terrible consequences for far too many American soldiers and their families. Violence by law enforcement against unarmed civilians (although thankfully not here in Golden) and violence against law enforcement continues. Mass shooting deaths are growing. Racism, sexism, and xenophobia all seem more visible and more aggressive than they have been in a long time. And politics in the U.S. feels more divided and acrimonious than ever.

My own pledge for 2018 is to slow down, listen more, and take the time to understand better folks who see the world differently than I do. I hope you all will join me in this.

Warm regards and best wishes for a healthy and happy 2018 –


P.S. For those interested in my film work, the new Jacob Smith's Newsletter is the list to subscribe to. You can do that by clicking on the STAY CONNECTED: JOIN MY LIST button on my home page. And if you missed my feature documentary Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution when it screened in Denver in June, we’ve got an encore screening at the Bug Theater in northwest Denver on January 12.

Waking the Sleeping Giant Returns to Denver

I'm jazzed to share that Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution is returning to Denver for an encore screening. It's at the terrific Bug Theater on Friday, January 12.

Tickets are still available but the screening at the Sie sold out. Tickets are also a bit cheaper in advance.

I'll be there for a post-film talkback, as well. Hope to see you there ...


Jacob's Golden Update: October 18, 2017 - Ballots Are Arriving

My ballot arrived today, and I imagine if yours isn't in your mailbox yet it will be within a few days. You won't receive one if you aren't registered to vote at your current address, but that's easy to fix! You can register online, (or, if you prefer at the Jefferson County Election Department, the Golden City Clerk’s office, and the DMV driver’s license examination facility). The deadline is Monday, October 30.

If you want to make sure you are registered at your current address, that’s easy to do as well.

And the deadline for your ballot to be received is 7pm on Tuesday, November 7. I would either hand deliver it to City Hall (911 10th St. in Golden) or to the Jefferson County building, or mail it by November 2 at the latest.

I know it's easy to ignore off-cycle elections, but it's not that unusual for our City Council races to be decided by a small number of votes, which means your vote in this election is probably much more influential than in the big Congressional and state races. In addition, we have some important school board races and an important local ballot measure.

If you aren’t sure what ward you live in, here’s the map (.pdf download). Here is some background info on the electionThis month’s issue of the Informer has candidate profiles as well. And in case you missed it, the October 5 City Council Candidate Forum is available online. 

Here are the candidates:

Ward 1
    • Robert W. Reed 
    • Micah Allen

Ward 2
    • Deborah Ann Deal
    • Paul Haseman
    • Daniel Sung
    • Josh Thompson

Ward 3
    • Jim Dale

Ward 4
    • Mikey Sheridan
    • Laura Weinberg

Finally, if my endorsements are helpful to you here you go:

Golden City Council Ward 4: Laura Weinberg
I happen to live in Ward 4 and am endorsing Laura Weinberg, our current Ward 4 representative, for a second four-year term. Laura is super smart, thoughtful, and takes her role on the Council seriously. In my experience she tries to find sensible solutions to some of our thornier challenges and she’s willing to hear people out and think through ideas she hadn’t thought of. And she’s willing to respectfully and professionally push back against city staff and other members of the Council when she sees things differently or thinks some concerns aren’t getting the attention they deserve. It’s really helpful to have a City Council that works well together, but it’s also important to have individual Councilors who have the self-confidence and gumption to ask hard questions.

I’m not endorsing anyone in the other wards, but I will say that I’ve known Jim Dale (the only Ward 3 candidate) for a long time. I respect him for his intelligence, his experience, and commitment to Golden, and I think he’ll work hard and do a good job as a City Councilor. I will also add that Rob Reed (running in Ward 2) reached out, and over coffee it seemed like he could bring a good mix of experience and thoughtfulness to the Council. While I've met some the Ward 1 and Ward 2 candidates I don't really know any of them. And I can’t encourage everyone strongly enough … take a little bit of time to research the candidates in your ward, email or call them with questions or just to hear about why they’re running, go to the candidate forum tomorrow night or watch it on Channel 8, and then vote.

City of Golden Ballot Measure Allowing Solar at Rooney Road Sports Complex: Support
This one is pretty straightforward. If this ballot measure passes, Golden (in conjunction with Jeffco) will be able to set up a community solar garden on some of the land at the Rooney Road Sports Complex that’s not currently being used for sports fields. There is no downside that I can see and plenty of upside. There is a bit more information on the city's website.

Jefferson County School Board: Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon, and Ron Mitchell
After a tough stretch, the Jeffco School Board is looking really strong. They hired a competent and widely respected superintendent and they’ve managed to guide Jeffco schools into a period of relative stability and progress. These three folks - all up for reelection - get a lot of the credit. This is a solid group of school board members and I’m supporting all three.

Jacob's Golden Update: October 4, 2017


Jacob's Golden Update: October 4, 2017

1) City Council Elections Are Just Around the Corner
2) If You Aren’t Registered to Vote at Your Current Golden Address … You Still Can!
3) City Council Candidate Forum: Thursday October 5 at 6:30pm

4) November 2017 Elections: My Endorsements
5) Update on the Federal Government Grant Funding Issue
6) Other Upcoming Events


1. City Council Elections Are Just Around the Corner
 Golden’s Council elections take place in odd-numbered years, which means they are coming up quickly: November 7. Voters in each of Golden’s four wards will select their ward representative. In one of the seats (Ward 4, where I happen to live) the current City Council member is running for reelection, and in the other three seats there is no incumbent.

City Council makes a bunch of decisions that impact everyone in Golden (which you probably already know or you wouldn’t be on this email list). It’s pretty easy to learn about the candidates running in your ward - you can check out their web pages and the Informer profiles, attend the Candidate Forum tomorrow night, and call or email them with questions. Here is the list of candidates:

Ward 1
    • Robert W. Reed 
    • Micah Allen

Ward 2
    • Deborah Ann Deal
    • Paul Haseman
    • Daniel Sung
    • Josh Thompson

Ward 3
    • Jim Dale

Ward 4
    • Mikey Sheridan
    • Laura Weinberg

If you aren’t sure what ward you live in, here’s the map (.pdf download). Here is some background info on the election. And this month’s issue of the Informer has candidate profiles. It’s an all-mail ballot election, and ballots are expected to go out the week of October 16.


2. If You Aren’t Registered to Vote at Your Current Golden Address … You Still Can!

If you are new to Golden, or changed addresses in Golden, or weren’t registered to vote in the last election, you have to register in order to vote. The deadline to register to vote through the mail, Jefferson County Election Department or the Golden City Clerk’s office, the DMV driver’s license examination facility, or online is Monday, October 30.

If you want to make sure you are registered at your current address, that’s easy to do as well.


3. City Council Candidate Forum: Thursday October 5 at 6:30pm)

Leadership Golden is hosting a Candidate Forum tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 5 at 6:30pm) at City Hall. This is a great way to meet candidates and see them side by side as they talk about who they are and what their vision for Golden is. It will also be broadcast live through the city’s website and on Comcast Channel 8.

4. November 2017 Elections: My Endorsements

Golden City Council Ward 4: Laura Weinberg
I happen to live in Ward 4 and am endorsing Laura Weinberg, our current Ward 4 representative, for a second four-year term. Laura is super smart, thoughtful, and takes her role on the Council seriously. In my experience she tries to find sensible solutions to some of our thornier challenges and she’s willing to hear people out and think through ideas she hadn’t thought of. And she’s willing to respectfully and professionally push back against city staff and other members of the Council when she sees things differently or thinks some concerns aren’t getting the attention they deserve. It’s really helpful to have a City Council that works well together, but it’s also important to have individual Councilors who have the self-confidence and gumption to ask hard questions.

I’m not endorsing anyone in the other wards, but I will say that I’ve known Jim Dale (the only Ward 3 candidate) for a long time. I respect him for his intelligence, his experience, and commitment to Golden, and I think he’ll work hard and do a good job as a City Councilor. I will also add that Rob Reed (running in Ward 2) reached out, and over coffee it seemed like he could bring a good mix of experience and thoughtfulness to the Council. While I've met some the Ward 1 and Ward 2 candidates I don't really know any of them. And I can’t encourage everyone strongly enough … take a little bit of time to research the candidates in your ward, email or call them with questions or just to hear about why they’re running, go to the candidate forum tomorrow night or watch it on Channel 8, and then vote.

City of Golden Ballot Measure Allowing Solar at Rooney Road Sports Complex: Support
This one is pretty straightforward. If this ballot measure passes, Golden (in conjunction with Jeffco) will be able to set up a community solar garden on some of the land at the Rooney Road Sports Complex that’s not currently being used for sports fields. There is no downside that I can see and plenty of upside. There is a bit more information on the city's website.

Jefferson County School Board: Brad RupertSusan Harmon, and Ron Mitchell
After a tough stretch, the Jeffco School Board is looking really strong. They hired a competent and widely respected superintendent and they’ve managed to guide Jeffco schools into a period of relative stability and progress. These three folks - all up for reelection - get a lot of the credit. This is a solid group of school board members and I’m supporting all three.

5. Update on the Federal Government Grant Funding Issue

You may recall that I wrote about how the Jeffco County Commissioners were considering rejecting some federal block grant money over the summer. These dollars (part of the HOME and Community Development Block Grant programs) help cover the cost of down payment assistance for 1st time homebuyers, improving sidewalks, affordable housing, home rehabilitation for seniors, health services, economic development activities, and more.

Well, a whole bunch of folks sent letters to the commissioners and a bunch of others actually attended the County Commission meeting to testify on behalf of these grant programs. The result: the county accepted the federal grant money. Thank you to everyone who made your voice heard!

These dollars come out of the tax revenue we’ve all already paid to the federal government and enable Golden and other Jeffco communities to voluntarily implement some good projects that otherwise would not happen.

6. Other Upcoming Events

Tuesday 10/17: Candidate Forum for Jeffco School Board
    • 7:00-9:00 pm
    • Jefferson Unitarian Church (
14350 West 32nd Avenue, Golden, CO 80401)
    • Sponsored by the
Jefferson County League of Women Voters

Tuesday 10/17: Jeffco Commissioners Telephone Town Hall
    • 6:30-7:30pm
    • Topics include county’s budget process & responding to questions from residents on the call
    • Jeffco is planning to robocall county residents right before it begins to invite residents to join
    • Or you can pre-register by texting JEFFCO to 828282 or online
    • For more info visit the Telephone Town Hall web page



  • 6:30-7:30pm
  • Topics include the county’s budget process as well as responding to questions from county residents on the call
  • Jeffco is planning to do a robocall to county residents right before the town hall begins to invite residents to join, or you can pre-register by texting JEFFCO to 828282 or online
  • For more info visit the Telephone Town Hall web page

My Choice to Represent Golden in Congress: Brittany Pettersen

For those of you planning to vote in the Democratic primary next year (I know, I know … it’s still a year away!) …

Yesterday I was part of Brittany Pettersen’s campaign kickoff. I was excited to announce my endorsement of Brittany and her bid to represent Golden and the rest of Colorado’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Our current Congressman, Ed Perlmutter, is giving up his seat to run for governor.)

And tomorrow night Tammy Story is kicking off her campaign to represent Golden and the rest of State Senate District 16 in the Colorado State Legislature. If you already support her, it’ll be a great opportunity to show your support, and if not it’s a chance to hear what she has to say. Tammy has been a tireless advocate for Jeffco Public Schools. I’ll be there!

  • Tuesday, June 27th, 5:30 - 7:00 PM
  • Willow Ridge Manor (next door to The Fort)
  • 4903 Willow Springs Rd. in Morrison

Coal Miners and the Carbon-Free Energy Transformation

The Denver Post published my op-ed yesterday on coal mining and the closure of the New Horizon mine in western Colorado. There are some good environmental groups doing good work on this. Groups like Conservation Colorado here in the state and groups like Sierra Club and Van Jones and his Dream Corps nationally are among those pushing hard to end the use of coal as an energy source while simultaneously hustling hard to make sure coal miners and their communities are treated as respectfully as possible during this transition. But we the environmental community can and should do better.

Re: “Colorado coal jobs drop to fewer than 1,000 as Tri-State New Horizon mine shuts,” June 8 news story

Last week, the Tri-State electric utility announced the closure of the New Horizon coal mine in western Colorado. 

From a climate change and environmental perspective, this is good news. One less coal mine (and the eventual closure of the nearby Nucla coal-fired power plant) will mean reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality for Western Slope residents, and fewer people dying in mining accidents or suffering long-term health impacts from exposure to coal dust. And if we in Colorado hope to remain economically competitive in the 21st century, especially as the federal government cedes global renewable energy leadership to China and Europe, Colorado must transform its energy system as quickly as possible.

But the closure also means some hard-working Coloradans will lose their jobs. It’s easy for this to seem abstract, but these are real people, with families and communities and hopes of a comfortable retirement after years spent doing dangerous work. Some may not find work at all, or not for a long time. Even those that do may have to relocate or accept lower wages or a reduced quality of life. The loss of these jobs may have real consequences for Nucla and other nearby communities.

The growth in clean energy jobs can help offset the loss of coal mining jobs. Here in Colorado, more than 62,000 people work in the clean energy sector (compared to 1,000 in the coal industry) including solar panel installers, wind turbine operators, manufacturing lines, and energy efficiency services.

But it’s too easy to celebrate the march toward clean energy without recognizing, and taking seriously, the impacts this is having on people trying to earn a living and provide for their families. 

In 1977, Barbara Kopple’s film “Harlan County, Kentucky” won the Oscar for best documentary. It depicts a bloody year-long battle between union coalminers and the Duke Power Company, which itself is a recapitulation of a nearly decade-long (and even bloodier) union-mining company war in Harlan County in the 1930s. Watching it, you can’t help but feel sympathy for the coal miners, who are struggling to ensure such basics as a wage they can live on, sick leave, and the opportunity to retire when they are too crippled by black lung disease to work anymore.

It’s time to recognize that the coal miners of the Harlan County wars and their families, like the coal miners of today, are and always have been American heroes. Many have worked decades, often underground under dangerous conditions, and suffer from debilitating diseases with a shortened lifespan. The coal they broke up and brought to the surface, and the cheap energy it enabled, has improved the quality of life for most Americans, enabled the evolution of a modern health care system, broadly expanded educational opportunities, helped free women from backbreaking domestic work, and facilitated the creation of a vibrant middle class. 

The U.S. coal industry is dying, a victim of global economic forces and the desperate need to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Nothing will change that, not Donald Trump’s empty promises to West Virginians, not the fantasy of “clean coal,” not the millions spent by the Koch brothers to elect fossil fuel friendly legislators. But that doesn’t mean that people and families and communities that have given their lives to this industry deserve to be discarded. It’s not enough to say, “don’t worry, we’ll fund some worker training programs and you can become a solar panel installer.” 

Even where there is disagreement on whether it’s time to phase out coal, or stop building new fossil fuel pipelines and export terminals, the environmental community needs to be on the front lines protecting miners’ pensions and demanding a powerful safety net to support those whose jobs are vanishing and whose communities are struggling. 


See. This. Film.

It’s an extraordinary movie, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and through some remarkable twist of fate (probably more than one was required) is now on the Academy Award short list. The filmmaker, Kirsten Johnson, has Colorado connections, so that’s a bonus, and she’s had an exceptional career as a cinematographer and producer (if you haven’t seen CitizenFour, Invisible War, The Oath, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, and Pray the Devil Back to Hell they are all very worthwhile). But Cameraperson is a truly singular work of reflection, meditation, and introspection about the nature of documentary filmmaking, the act of documenting while necessarily being pulled into the thing being documented, and the power of the camera.

I don’t know when it will play in Denver again, but if it makes the next cut for the Oscars - the final nominee list - then perhaps it’ll hit a few theaters early next year. And if it doesn’t wait with baited breath for the very first chance you get to see it on VOD.

Jacob's Golden Update: Election Edition 2016

Hi everyone –

Every year around election time I’ll do an email newsletter issue and blog post that are focused on the upcoming races and ballot measures. This is that.

A quick thought before I dive in: the vitriol and the violence of this election season has been terribly disheartening. For instance, just days ago someone firebombed a Republican campaign office in North Carolina. This stuff is insane.

Fortunately, we all live in Golden, and here in Golden there has long been a culture of neighbors-first-politics-second, earnest dialogue, and keeping our disagreements respectful. Down below I offer my recommendations on some of the candidates races and ballot measures, but what I care much more about is that here in Golden we continue to trust that everyone here truly does care about our community, even when we disagree about how best to protect our quality of life and small town character, and that we continue respecting and honoring our diversity of views even when they don’t align with our own.

So … please vote, and let’s all please keep being neighbors first.


Ballot Measures

Ballot Issues 3A and 3B: YES
There is no question to my mind that we need a permanent fix for our system of funding public schools in Colorado. Until we can figure out a permanent solution, though, I absolutely support 3A and 3B. The quality of our public schools is a critical factor in our quality of life here in Jeffco, in our property values, in the strength of our communities across the county, and in giving all of our kids a great education and the opportunities the follow. Ballot Issues 3A and 3B would result in a substantial funding boost for things like critical school repairs and building improvements, school counselors, improved hands-on learning opportunities, school security, Outdoor Lab, and expanded music, art, STEM, and vocational programming. I fully support paying a very small additional amount in property tax every year to benefit Jeffco schools and the kids they educate.

Amendment 70 (“State Minimum Wage”): YES
Amendment 70 would raise the minimum wage to a modest $12/hour over three years. I know that one concern I’ve heard is that doing this might actually reduce the number of jobs available. The good news is that most of the research seems to show that this doesn’t actually happen. As I understand it, most minimum wage jobs are in fast food, home care, retail, and other roles that can’t be exported somewhere else. And while it does sometimes mean the cost of goods goes up a little bit, it is more than offset by the increased income among the lowest wage-earners. They actually end up with substantially more income that they can spend on food, gas, clothes, school supplies, and everything else, which then drives job growth, which then benefits everyone in the economy. It also helps people at the low end of the economic spectrum transition away from safety net programs. To my mind, if you work full-time you shouldn’t have to live in poverty. But minimum wage in Colorado – $8.31 – works out to about $330/week with a full-time job beforetaxes. That’s a poverty wage. I doubt that $12/hour is enough to lift all minimum wage earners out of poverty, but it’s at least closer to a living wage.

Amendment 71 (“Requirements for Constitutional Amendments”): NO
I don’t think there’s any question that we could update and improve the process for amending the Colorado Constitution, but Amendment 71 isn’t the answer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever aligned with the Independence Institute on a ballot measure before, but this time I think they are spot on: “Amendment 71 is intended to keep you and me from petitioning the government by making the initiative process impossible for grassroots groups and activists.” The Independence Institute is concerned that if Amendment 71 passes we might never be able to strengthen TABOR, and I’m concerned about exactly the opposite – that we might never be able to fix TABOR. But the point is the same: as a practical matter, Amendment 71 would ensure that only large corporations and super-wealthy individuals have a chance to pass ballot initiatives. And because of its signature requirements, it would enable voters in a single State Senate district to prevent a proposed initiative from even getting on the ballot. This is as frustrating to conservatives (voters in left-leaning Boulder could prevent a conservative ballot measure from even getting a vote) as it is to liberals (voters in right-leaning Mesa County could prevent a liberal ballot measure from getting a vote). The ability to put initiatives on the ballot should be available to everyone, not just the uber-wealthy. (Incidentally, there are substantial coalitions on both the right and left opposed to Amendment 71. Lots of folks across the political spectrum recognize just how severely this would cut off access to the ballot initiative process.)

Amendment 72 (“Increase Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes”): YES
I support this partly because higher prices for tobacco products means lower rates of tobacco use, especially among children and young adults. Tobacco companies win big when they get kids addicted to cigarettes or other products, and I strongly support making it harder for tobacco companies to do that. In addition, the revenue raised through this measure goes right back into improving health care across Colorado, including health benefits for veterans, making it easier for health care professionals to work in rural Colorado or in other underserved areas of the state, improving mental health and substance abuse services for kids, and disease prevention and treatment.

Ballot Question 21 (Municipal Broadband): YES
I don’t know if it would make sense for the City of Golden to offer high-speed internet or other telecommunications services. I do know that virtually everyone hates Comcast (the crappy bandwidth, the inconsistent customer service, the high cost), and as long as Comcast has such enormous power over internet services in Golden we are stuck with whatever they decide to offer us. Passing Ballot Question 21 doesn’t commit Golden to doing anything, but it at least gives us the option. And at a minimum, passing Ballot Question 21 will force Comcast to take Golden’s concerns and interests more seriously, and if Comcast doesn’t step up its game the City will have the option of more seriously exploring other options.

Ballot Issue 4B (extending the Denver Scientific and Cultural Facilities District): YES
The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District tax is one of the smartest inexpensive long-term investments we make. For 1/10 of a cent of sales tax, the SCFD funds music, art, history museums, and a bunch of other scientific and cultural facilities all over the Denver Metro region, including multiple organizations in Golden. It’s part of what makes the Denver region such a remarkable place to live.



United States Senate: Michael Bennet
Like many people, I’m generally skeptical about members of Congress. The place turns even the most well-intentioned people into reelection-focused fundraising-obsessed political machines who care more about triangulating than about their own beliefs or the views of their constituents. Michael is different. He is as grounded and down-to-earth as they come (despite his high-profile background). He’s extremely intelligent. And he is genuinely pragmatic and approachable. On multiple occasions I’ve had the opportunity to talk through an issue with him, or make my case for a particular position, and he is remarkably open to those conversations in a way that’s truly rare among politicians (Ed Perlmutter is another member of Congress I would put in this same category). I for sure don’t agree with him on everything. He represents our entire – politically diverse – state, and he sometimes lands in places I don’t share. But he brings an integrity and thoughtfulness to the role that is incredibly rare among politicians.

7th Congressional District: Ed Perlmutter
It’s hard to imagine someone better suited to representing the 7th Congressional District than Ed Perlmutter. He enjoys enormous support here because of how well he understands the communities in the district (including Golden), how hard he works, and how seriously he takes his responsibilities as our Congressional representative.

U.S. President: Hillary Clinton
I’ll start by saying that I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and I wish he were the Democratic nominee. And I’ll point out that I’m not a huge Hillary Clinton fan. And I get, at least partly, why Donald Trump is so appealing to so many people. People across the country are frustrated with politics, and even aside from his policy positions (and of great importance to me, his apparent bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia), supporting Trump feels like a dramatic rebuke to the way politics usually happens. But for me, being “anti-establishment” isn’t enough. This is the White House. It’s not just about symbolism. And many of Trump’s positions seem truly dangerous, like his overt pandering to Vladimir Putin and his threats to launch a trade war. And while I know that “his temperament” is now a talking point, I find it genuinely frightening to think that we could end up with a President who is so easily goaded into lashing out at whomever just criticized him. I don’t want him anywhere near the nuclear codes, for sure, but his reactions – by all appearances rash and impulsive – could also wreck havoc on the economy, or unnecessarily escalate violent conflicts, or further weaken the tenuous balance of power in the Middle East, or any number of incredibly dangerous and harmful things. It may be that his temperament and attitude has served him well in the real estate business and in his reality TV career, but for all of Clinton’s weaknesses the idea of Donald Trump as the President is a much, much more frightening scenario.

And, despite her weaknesses, Clinton is unequivocally qualified and prepared for the role. I remember how dismissive people were when she first won her seat in the U.S. Senate (saying many of the same things we are hearing now), and within a couple of years she had earned deep respect from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate for her work ethic, her respectfulness, and her commitment to the office. It’s safe to say that if she wins she will make a lot of decisions I disagree with, but from my perspective Clinton is without question the better choice. And she is strong in all of the ways that Trump is weak. She is clearly thoughtful and deliberate (especially compared to Trump’s impulsiveness). She brings an impressive depth of knowledge and understanding about a wide range of critically important issues. I don’t know if Trump is actually as bigoted and sexist as he appears to be, but in sharp contrast Clinton clearly understands the importance of diversity and inclusion. And on and on.

For most of us here in Golden (and, if the polls are any indication, for most Americans), neither major party candidate is a perfect option, but for me Hillary Clinton is by far the better choice.

Jefferson County Commissioner (District 1): Marti J. Smith
I don’t know Marti personally, but the more I learn about the race and about her the more clearly she has become my choice for District 1. She’s got the right attitude about protecting Jeffco residents from overdevelopment and attracting good jobs to the county without undermining the very qualities that make Jeffco so special.

Jefferson County Commissioner (District 2): Casey Tighe
Serving on the county commission is often a thankless job, but the commissioners have a great deal of influence over important issues like open space, land use, and the criminal justice system. Casey has a good track record advocating for fiscal responsibility, smart economic development, and strengthening the county’s criminal justice system. I’d be happy to see him earn another term.

Regent of the University of Colorado: Alice Madden
I’ve known Alice for a long time and think very highly of her. She is super smart, thoughtful, and capable. I’d be thrilled to see her serve on the CU Board of Regents.

Regional Transportation District Director (District M): Dave Ruchman
Dave has been a stalwart champion for light rail and improving the transit system across the entire Metro region. He’s also been supportive of Golden’s efforts to protect our community from the many high-speed beltway proposals over the years.

State House (District 24): Jesse Danielson
I don’t know her very well, but it seems like she’s working hard and doing a solid job. Her bills in this last legislative session include the rain barrel bill (making it legal – finally – to collect and use rainwater for your lawn or garden), requiring that businesses competing for state contracts pay people fairly for their work regardless of gender or race, protecting senior citizens from abuse, and creating better job opportunities for military veterans.


How to Vote

You should receive your ballot within a few days (I just got mine today). There are 24-hour drop boxes at Golden City Hall (911 10th St.) and at the main Jeffco building (100 Jefferson County Parkway). You can also mail it – just be sure to attach postage. The key is that it must be received by Tuesday, November 8, so the sooner you drop it off or mail it, the better, plus the sooner you do that the sooner your name will drop off the political phone call lists.

If you have any questions, I suggest you contact the Jefferson County elections office (303-271-8111).

No Place Like Home

I’m very excited to share that my good friends Mary Anne Hitt and Anna Jane Joyner last week launched their new podcast: No Place Like Home (on iTunes, and also available on SoundCloud). Their goal is a human-centric, optimistic look at climate change and the climate movement, and so far I’d say they are pulling it off in spades.

The first episode features filmmaker Jesse Sweet of the Emmy-winning series Years of Living Dangerously (a project on which Mary Anne and Anna Jane both worked a bunch). I had a blast doing the second episode (which they just published) with them, talking about Bernie, the climate movement, and our film Waking the Sleeping Giant. And I know they’ve got more terrific episodes on the way.

Please check it out, and if you like it please subscribe and rate it on iTunes (that’s super helpful for Mary Anne and Anna Jane!).

Right-wing populism always punches down

Jonathan Smucker, on Medium:

“… despite its ostensible anti-elitism, right-wing populism always punches down, unifying ‘the people’ (some of them) by scapegoating a demonized other: blacks, Jews, homosexuals, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims — take your pick — depending on the opportunities available to the particular demagogue in the given context.”

Waking the Sleeping Giant: July update

It’s wild to think that after two years of working on this film, yesterday we began editing.

Jon and I spent the previous five days holed up at camp (his cabin in upstate New York) cranking on the script. Kathryn is deep into campaign mode now (she makes a living running campaigns) and couldn’t join us, sadly, but we were able to confer with her along the way. We’ve now got a solid script for most of the film and will fill in the rest over the next few days as Brad works through the first couple of acts in Premier.

There’s still a fair bit of filming to do … some important interviews, a few follow-up interviews later in the fall, the conventions, GOTV and the election (and we’ve got a crew filming at the GOP convention in Cleveland – more on that later), etc. But after all this time planning and filming it’s really cool to actually be assembling the story that’s been slowly evolving in front of our eyes and our lenses.

It’s also a bit strange, since we are now editing before finishing all the filming, but that’s a necessity for hitting key festival submission deadlines and our end-of-December completion date. This is a film and a story that really need to launch into the world early in 2017 after the election. Over the next couple of months we’ll finish as complete and polished a version of the film as possible for the initial festival submissions, and then complete a final version in December after the election and our final post-election reflection interviews are done. But we’ve got a really good handle on the stories and the arcs and how they all fit together, and it’s exciting to see Brad Johanson, our editor, actually start cutting the pieces together.

And now that we’re starting to put sequences together, it’s also just really cool to the images and story flow together on the screen.

Be Kind to the Uphillers

The early morning light and long evening light lately has been awesome for getting out on the trails around Golden, but as the numbers go up the potential for conflict predictably goes up as well.

  Chimney Gulch (one of Golden’s most popular hiking, running, and mountain biking trails).

Chimney Gulch (one of Golden’s most popular hiking, running, and mountain biking trails).

For years now, I think the mountain biking community has done a really good job of creating and enforcing a culture of responsible riding, at least in Jefferson County. The vast majority of riders I encounter when running are friendly and courteous, and pull over to let runners and hikers pass. The handful that barrel past, or don’t make room, or rip around blind corners (a few months ago I saw a couple of downhillers on Chimney Gulch take out a mountain biker going uphill), or are just otherwise rude still have a disproportionate impact on everyone else’s experience, which obviously fuels tension and controversy, so hats off to the community for continuing to do as much as they do to sustain that culture of respectful trail use.

I ride once in a while but mostly run, and in my experience the runners are usually friendly as well, but I’ve seen just as much rude behavior from runners toward mountain bikers as the other way around. Hopefully we runners can do just as a good job sustaining that same sort of respectful culture as the bikers do.

But even as a mostly-runner I disagree with Jeffco’s expectation that mountain bikers should always yield to everyone else. It makes sense to me that peds and bikers yield to horses, and on flats and uphills I for sure appreciate that bikers yield, but if I’m passing bikers heading uphill as I’m running downhill … I think it’s crazy to ask the bikers to yield. Uphill is tough whether you’re on foot or in the saddle, and the way I figure it the pedestrians and bikers traveling downhill should always yield to the pedestrians and bikers slogging their way uphill. That just seems like common sense.

If it were up to me I’d probably retain Jeffco’s approach with that one change. Call it the “Yield to the Sloggers” rule, or the “That Person is Working Way Harder Than You” principal, or maybe the “Be Kind to the Uphillers” mantra: if you’re heading downhill on a bike or on foot, make way for anyone heading the other way.

Golden Update: proposed annexation & other news

1) City Council Advances Plan for Large Annexation

2) Your Input Mattered: Street Giveaway Plans on Hold

3) A 2016 Election Endorsement: Ed Perlmutter for Congress

4) Golden Bike Library Arriving in June


1. City Council Advances Large Annexation Plan

At its February 25 meeting, City Council approved a resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement to annex more than 100 acres on the north side of town(the undeveloped land between Mountain Ridge and Golden Gate Canyon Road).

The point of annexation is to make it easier to develop a property by granting access to utilities and services the owners can’t easily access otherwise, so deciding whether to annex a property into the city limits is one of the more important decisions a City Council makes. And because annexation decisions are such a big deal, they deserve vigorous community input before the Council makes any decisions.

Instead, City Council seems to be doing exactly the opposite, formally expressing its support for this annexation without the benefit of a study session discussion, town hall meetings, discussion in the Informer, or taking advantage of our community email newsletters (like Judy Denison’s and mine) to solicit input.

This specific proposal would allow the property owners to build a few more houses clustered next to the existing homes while zoning the rest for agricultural use. That doesn’t sound so bad, except that the proposal includes no guarantees that the rest of the property won’t also get developed later. The owners of the property (the Brunel family) are friends, and when they say they don’t intend to develop the rest of the property I believe them.

The problem is that the annexation is permanent. If the Brunel family ever sells the land, or if some of the family members change their minds, or if new family members who want to sell and develop the land come into the picture, today’s promise of protected open space turns into the very thing I suspect most Golden residents oppose. All it takes is a development-happy City Council – at any point in the future – to change the zoning (and change the comprehensive plan if they feel they need to), and all of that property turns into houses or a strip mall. Much of Golden was agricultural, until it wasn’t.

I encourage City Council to make a serious, energetic effort to engage the community on this proposal, making sure to understand what our vision is for that part of town, and then making sure that if we do annex the property that it actually accomplishes that vision. I know there is some discussion about seeking permanent protection for the property by purchasing the development rights through a conservation easement after the city annexes it. A conservation easement is exactly the right strategy, since it will provide permanent protection, but doing the annexation and then attempting to the conservation easement makes little sense to me; the annexation will likely increase the property value, so the city would be negotiating with less leverage (after the property owner has already been annexed) for a property that would then be more expensive as a result.

Council’s formal support for the annexation is one step of several before the deal happens, and you still have an opportunity to weigh in. If you have any thoughts about Council’s declaration of support for this annexation, or the apparent lack of enthusiasm for soliciting community input, or the idea of requiring a conservation easement as part of the deal in the first place (as opposed to something we hope might happen later), I encourage you to email or call Council and express your views.

Kudos to councilors Saoirse Charis-Graves and Pamela Gould, incidentally. Both supported tabling the resolution to give the community some time to learn about the proposal and weigh in before the Council’s vote.


2. Your Input Mattered: Proposed City Street Giveaway on Hold

In my last newsletter (back in December), I wrote about a proposal for the city to give Arapahoe Street between 13th and 14th to the Calvary Church. Much like the annexation proposal above, street vacations involve the community permanently giving away an asset – one of our streets – to a private entity. I expressed two main concerns: a) maybe we shouldn’t be permanently giving away a street in downtown Golden, and b) that City Council was gearing up to give away this city street with barely any public input.

Well, a bunch of community members weighed in expressing their concerns, and before City Council got to the decision point Calvary Church withdrew its request. Your input – making a fuss about something that looked like it was about to go through without any real discussion – had a real impact on what happened in our community.

This proposal could return, and hopefully if it does City Council will make a more vigorous effort to let folks know it’s happening and to encourage input from community members.


3. A 2016 Election Endorsement: Ed Perlmutter for Congress

The Presidential election is getting all of the political buzz these days, and for good reason, but it’s worth remembering that the November ballot will include a bunch of other offices and issues. One person I’m proud to support early and enthusiastically is Golden’s long-time Congressman Ed Perlmutter.

Ed has always been thoughtful and fair, he’s always been a strong advocate for Golden, and he has always been straightforward with us about where he stands and why. He’s incredibly hard-working, genuinely friendly and accessible, and champions many of my own views and values: supporting public education and public schools, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, ensuring that veterans get the health care they deserve, and campaign finance reform (including reversing Citizens United).

I know there are some Bernie supporters mounting a primary challenge against Ed, and I admire their energy and commitment, but as a Bernie supporter myself I can say without qualification that Ed is the right guy for CD7.

4. Golden Bike Library Arriving in June

From the Department of ‘Hey, That’s Pretty Cool’ comes a new two-year pilot program set to launch in June: the Golden Bicycle Library. Thanks to grant funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation and Denver Regional Council of Governments, Golden residents and visitors will be able to check out one of 40 bikes from the Golden Visitor’s Center. In the second year of the program, the city plans to create an additional bike library location at Golden’s light rail station (at the Jefferson County building).

The winding road to the revolution

When we started filming Waking the Sleeping Giant a year ago, our plan for a documentary film was based on a straightforward premise: there is something really important and potentially monumental happening out there across the country, a deep frustration at the way the game is rigged in favor of the wealthy and at the expense of ordinary working Americans.

 My Waking the Sleeping Giant co-producer Jon Erickson passed through Golden over the weekend on an epic road trip from his home in Vermont. He’s now in Des Moines for a very long day of Iowa caucus filming.

My Waking the Sleeping Giant co-producer Jon Erickson passed through Golden over the weekend on an epic road trip from his home in Vermont. He’s now in Des Moines for a very long day of Iowa caucus filming.

When we started filming, the most exciting opportunities for movement building seemed to be around a growing economic populism on both sides of aisle. The left wing version was readily apparently in the political energy around people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but it was quite apparent on the right as well. Minimum wage ballot measures passing in red states and Republican presidential candidates opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership and rallying against the economic elite were just two of the most visible signs.

And there are people across the country that recognize the potential to build a new political movement rooted in this widespread political anger and love, to borrow a phrase from Zephyr Teachout. Bernie Sanders, for instance, explicitly called out the opportunity to create a political revolution by building alliances with strange bedfellows … working people on both sides of the partisan divide who understand how the billionaire class has taken over the political process and the American economy.

But a couple of interesting things happened on the way to the revolution. First, the terrorism/national security narrative has almost completely drowned out the economic fairness narrative on the right. GOP presidential candidates are saying very little now about these issues, and if there ever was the opportunity to transcend party lines with an appeal to taking on the billionaire and corporate class it is less clear now.

Second, a well-organized and highly motivated race-focused movement ran headlong into the class-focused campaigns of the left-wing standard bearers like Bernie. #Blacklivesmatter activists aggressively disrupted campaign ClintonSanders, and O’Malley events, protests against police violence have forcefully intruded into the politics of large cities and of Democratic politics writ large, and now all three Democratic candidates are aggressively incorporating racism into their political critique and policy positions.

Bernie’s campaign has offered an object lesson in the success of race-focused activists to force a shift in priorities. Although Bernie has always taken strong pro-civil rights positions, his most consistent and vigorous prescription for tackling inequity of all kinds had been focused on jobs and economic fairness. In the face of intense pressure from #BlackLivesMatter and other race-focused activists, Bernie now explicitly acknowledges that job creation, stimulating the economy, and reducing the power of corporate America are insufficient; his political agenda now overtly and prominently includes a broad range of attacks on structural racism and race-based violence.

Although our film has from the beginning been a story about the effort to build a 21st century movement built around economic and political fairness, over the span of a nearly 2-year production schedule (not to mention the nine months prior in pre-production) the story itself is changing. It’s exhilarating and slightly terrifying at the same time. Something important is happening out there – a rejuvenated political movement is afoot – and we’ll follow it wherever the story takes us.

Bernie's Socialism & the American voter

One of the stories I find most interesting about the 2016 presidential race is Bernie Sanders’ head-on engagement with his self-described identity as a democratic socialist. Most rational observers would have predicted Bernie would distance himself from the label as he launched and then ramped up his presidential campaign last spring. But like nearly everything else about Bernie’s campaign, he defied expectations and did exactly the opposite, leaning in to the label, and even going so far as to give a high-profile speech devoted to defining what he means by the label.

Here’s the fascinating thing: across a huge swath of Bernie’s positions, his views align with the majority of Americans. In other words, while most Americans don’t identify as democratic socialists (as Bernie does), and while the label itself might sound radical, most Americans actually agree with Bernie on a wide range of issues.

To wit:

This is obviously a snapshot, and the story is much more complex and nuanced, but I think one of Bernie’s most important insights is that more Americans than not genuinely believe much of what he believes. This is an insight that has carried him over the years from low single digits in his early statewide races in Vermont to reelection in the U.S. Senate with more than 70% of the vote. The extent to which he can communicate this to enough voters (and overcome the power of the party establishment) to win the primary and then the general election remains to be seen (although he has so far shredded every prediction about his ability to draw crowds, raise money, and earn support among voters). But if his policy and political views sound radical I think it’s largely because there is a sizable gap between how far rightward electoral politics has shifted (and the way the media reports on American politics) and the things that Americans actually believe.

(Big h/t to Fusion for pulling a bunch of these links together.)

Golden update: "Street vacation & sustainability"

Hi everyone –

I’m still thinking through how best to use this email list, but I got a lot of positive feedback after my election-related emails, and once in a while community issues come up that I want to make sure folks know about, so my plan for now is to send out an email every now and again flagging issues I think community members may be interested in.

Here are two:

1. City Council Considers Giving Away a Portion of Arapahoe Street

On Thursday night, City Council is slated to make a decision about the proposal to give Arapahoe Street between 13th and 14th to the Calvary Church. I haven’t decided what I think about it yet, but it does seem like the sort of issue that the community should know about and have a chance to weigh in on, and I don’t have the sense that many folks know it’s happening.

As the staff memo explains, “Calvary Church is now returning with a new proposal, which is a request to vacate the entire block of Arapahoe Street between 13th and 14th Streets, but without a private drive or improvements to Miners Alley. Calvary’s stated intention is to create a pedestrian and plaza space that would serve the needs of their planned “campus” environment, as well as create amenities, such as seating and landscaping, that is open to the public and establishes a better pedestrian link between CSM to the south and downtown and Clear Creek to the north.“

Calvary has proposed variations of this street vacation for many years. Unlike their 2014 proposal, however, the current proposal would simply give Calvary that stretch of Arapahoe without making any vehicle and pedestrian improvements to Miner’s Alley. This is one of several concerns with the proposal.

Another concern is the uncertainty about what the community’s future mobility needs will be. Planning Commission voted 5-2 against the proposal for this reason, specifically because they weren’t convinced that the public right-of-way won’t ever again be “necessary for public use or convenience.”

I’m a fan of Calvary and deeply appreciate their many contributions to the Golden community. But even so, I’m skeptical about street vacations since they basically mean the city permanently hands over a community-owned asset to a private entity. They are definitely a big deal, in any case, and deserve a lot of thought and scrutiny.

If you are interested or concerned, I encourage you to weigh in with Council either by email before Thursday evening, or in person at their Council meeting on Thursday night (City Council Chambers, 911 10th St., 6:30pm). You can download the staff memo to City Council if you want more details.

2. Golden Sustainability Summit in the Works

City Council and the Sustainability Advisory Board (I think it’s on the board’s agenda tomorrow night) are talking about pulling together a sustainability summit this spring. I like the idea … if it’s done well it could be a great opportunity to re-engage community members in this ambitious community-wide effort, celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far, and identify where we are falling short and how we’re going to get there. I’d love to hear your ideas about what the summit might look like and how it could be organized to make sure we get strong community involvement and that we give the Golden Sustainability Initiative a good boost. You can email me at I’ll compile all the ideas folks send and pass them on to the board members and city staff. Or feel free to email Theresa Worsham (, who staffs the board for the city.

That’s what I’ve got this time. If you’ve got any thoughts about how I can best use this email list – still 1,000 folks strong – and provide info that’s useful to community members, please shoot me a note. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Happy holidays everyone –


Why Golden should accept Syrian refugees

Here is the letter I sent to the Mayor and Council today:

To the Honorable Mayor and City Council,

I write to express my support for the City of Golden clearly expressing its openness to welcoming Syrian refugee immigrants along the lines of the Golden Relief Group proposal.

Our country has a long, complicated history with immigration. Although we are, truly, a nation of immigrants, wave after wave – Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Mexicans, and others – have faced fear, anger, and hostility from those already here.

Yet these very waves of immigrants have contributed in vast ways to our scientific and technological innovations, profoundly enriched our civic and cultural life, and have made extraordinary contributions to the economic health of our communities and of the entire country. This is as true in Golden – the Swedes, Chinese, Germans (including, for instance, the Coors family), Sherpas, and others that have contributed so much – as it is anywhere else in the country, and the vast majority of us in Golden are either immigrants ourselves or the descendants of immigrants.

We live in a time of economic and security uncertainty, to be sure, and the threats we face are real. But we shouldn’t let that fear cloud our generous spirit, our good judgment, and our values. Is it possible that someone who enters the country as a refugee does so with intent to harm Americans and undermine American democracy? Of course, but – according to our own national security experts – the real risks lie elsewhere, and the screening systems for immigrants are thorough and detailed (and if our screening system needs strengthening then let’s fix it rather than merely pretending to do something useful by grandstanding against Syrian refugees).

At a moment of rampant anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant demagoguery, when national politicians call for a national database to track Muslims, suggest that Syrian refugees are the equivalent of rabid dogs, and argue that we should accept only Christian refugees while banning those of other faiths – there is an opportunity for Golden to add some sanity and decency to the conversation.

These are the very people – refugees fleeing their own war-torn country in search of a better life – we should welcome into our communities, offer safe haven to, and create opportunities for becoming engaged and productive members of our towns and cities, as we have for so many immigrants before them.

As Governor Hickenlooper said just a few weeks ago, “We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.”

As a community built by immigrants, and one that has benefitted enormously from the ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity that results from their arrival and integration in the community, and as a community that genuinely values diversity and inclusivity (including the City Council’s 2006 affirmation of “our commitment to inclusion as a fundamental aspect of our community”), I believe it would be appropriate and laudable for the City Council to make clear we welcome Syrian refugees.


Jacob Smith
601 Cheyenne Street
Golden Colorado 80403