Gitmo Town Hall in the Canon City Record

Friday, July 8 2017

Source: http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/ci_30108160/gitmo-town-hall-attendees-voice-concerns-over-decision

More than 120 people filled the dining hall Friday night at the Golden Age Center for a town hall surrounding the controversial issue of Guantanamo Bay detainees being transferred to one of the prisons in Fremont County.

The people who showed up were clear about how they felt as the consensus was a resounding no.

The town hall was hosted by the Americhicks, Molly Vogt and Kim Monson, radio personalities based out of Denver. However, Friday night, the two were accompanied by a camera crew who was working with ABC World News.

More than 120 people filled the dining room at the Golden Age Center on Friday night for a town hall discussing Guantanamo Bay detainees possibly being

More than 120 people filled the dining room at the Golden Age Center on Friday night for a town hall discussing Guantanamo Bay detainees possibly being transferred to a prison in Fremont County. (Sarah Matott / Daily Record)

Monson said ABC had approached them wanting to do a story after ABC saw video from the previous town hall they had completed about nine months ago.

“We thought people needed their voices heard,” Monson said, adding that ABC’s story is giving the people here in Fremont County that opportunity.

The concerns many people voiced at the town hall surrounded the safety of the community, the economy and the legality of the issue.

State Sen. Kevin Grantham said in one of the opening comments that the entire issue surrounding Guantanamo Bay detainees is simple because the transfer of GITMO detainees is illegal.

Rob Fountain of Colorado Springs attended the town hall because the concern about the issue seemed obvious.

“When we have a pathogen…we keep them isolated. These are the hardened, well versed, well practiced guys. To give them the opportunity to infect the civilian population, even the jail population, is unacceptable,” Fountain said.

Others present also spoke about how the community could become dangerous if GITMO detainees were brought here.

Some pointed out that it would not be the detainees in the prison who were necessarily dangerous, but the families, friends and advocates of the detainees who would follow that would be the danger to the community.

Others discussed what the transferring of GITMO detainees to our community could do to the local economy.

“This is a tourist town,” Ethan McClaugherty said.

McClaugherty questioned what would happen if these detainees and any who follow, particularly those who would want the detainees free, would dare to attack the city.

He said people would not want to come here for fear of their safety.

Others in attendance posed questions, such as if those detained at GITMO are considered military prisoners, should they be guarded by the military.

And the end of the town hall, Vogt said that the issue being discussed is an emotional one.

“It’s because it’s our community,” Vogt said.

Sarah Matott

 

Keep Our Neighborhood Library

When I was a child, I loved to read. I traveled with Nellie Bly, learned courage from Booker T. Washington and solved mysteries with Nancy Drew. I rode my bike to the library and spent hours there.

Our library was a “Carnegie” library, one of 2,509 libraries worldwide funded by Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. Carnegie, a self-made businessman and one of the wealthiest 19th-century Americans, was born in Scotland. At age 13 he moved to America. As a young boy, working long hours, earning $1.20 a week, he had no access to education. A retired merchant, Colonel Anderson, started a small library of 400 books with his personal collection. On Saturday afternoons, Anderson lent books to local children. This is how Carnegie educated himself.

Carnegie believed that building libraries was the most productive use of his wealth. He wanted to provide opportunity to young people who “who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it.” Carnegie believed that libraries added to the meritocratic nature of America … anyone with the desire to learn could educate themselves and be successful like he had been.

While Carnegie’s story exemplifies the value of local libraries for the soul, here are some pragmatic points that you should consider.

First, a walkable library creates intrinsic value for a community. You need look no further than the numbers to understand “vintage” Lone Tree’s value of our library. According to the Douglas County Library Building Development Plan, annual circulation of Lone Tree’s 10,000-square-foot library is 800,000. Comparatively, Highlands Ranch’s library is 42,000 square feet with an annual circulation of 1.7 million. In order to achieve that same ROI (return on investment), Highlands Ranch would need to have circulation numbers in the range of 3.36 million a 97 percent increase. Why change something that is working well?

The director of operations of one of our premier preschools confirmed their little ones walk to the library at least twice a week during the summer. She said walking trips would no longer be organized if they have to cross Lincoln. Bottom line, these young children will no longer have access to a local, community library.

A successful local real-estate broker confirmed that buyers value walkable, community parks, schools and libraries. When asked if buyers value a community center as much as a library, his response was “no.” At the end of the day, a local, community library adds value to your property.

Keeping the Lone Tree Library and building a library in RidgeGate are not mutually exclusive. We can do both, and as a taxpayer it should not cost you any additional money.

  • According to the Douglas County assessor’s website, the library receives 4.07 mills on all taxable property in Douglas County, which raised $18.5 million for libraries last year.
  • RidgeGate’s new development increases Douglas County’s taxable assessed valuation, significantly growing tax revenue without a cost to current residents. This creates an automatic raise for schools, libraries, roads and bridges.
  • Currently 3.8 percent of Douglas County residents live in Lone Tree, while Lone Tree accounts for 9.85 percent of the county’s assessed valuation. Continued growth in assessed valuation will contribute to maintaining the quality of life throughout all of our communities.
    New development plus the generous donation of land by RidgeGate’s developer certainly warrants a library in RidgeGate. But not at the expense of other residents.

Closing Lone Tree’s library and opening a community center is not a net zero for you as a resident. It will cost you money. The number bantered around is $1.5 million. Currently, the mills you pay to the library district, pay for your library services. If the city buys the building, the funds come directly from our budget. Additionally, the cost of maintaining and staffing the building will become an ongoing expense of our city.

If you value your local, walkable library, here are your action steps.

  • Email your elected city government representatives.
  • Attend the city council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Civic Center, 8527 Lone Tree Parkway, voicing your support for both the “vintage” Lone Tree library and a library in RidgeGate.
  • Lastly, encourage your neighbors, friends and family to take action as well.
    Kim Monson is the city councilwoman representing Lone Tree’s District 2.

This article was originally posted as a Guest Column on the Lone Tree Voice

“Finding Hope Again”

Hello and welcome to Monson’s Musings. Kim Monson’s weekly topic blog.

How is it, that in America today, programs that rhetorically promote “hope” really take it away?  And, how can we, as Americans, let this continue?

Last Sunday, on our radio show “Heart of the Matter,” my fellow Americhick, Molly Vogt, and I talked about “Empowering Promoting the General Welfare.”  “Promote the General Welfare” is one of the six things in the Preamble of The U.S. Constitution that “We the People” entrust to government.

The term “General Welfare” has been hijacked by professional politicians and bureaucrats to support their taxation, spending and consolidation of power.  They care not about the individual, the poor nor the down-trodden.

Per John Eastman from a Claremont Institute paper dated March 27, 2014, “For the first eighty-five years of our nation’s history, under both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, the language of “general welfare” was viewed as a limitation on the powers of Congress, not as a grant of plenary power.”

On Sunday, we interviewed a friend of ours who grew up in really tough circumstances.  He postulated that people on welfare do not really want to be there, however, they have no hope nor belief that there is any way out.

How can this be in America, the land of opportunity?  How can we, as a nation spend over a trillion dollars on education and have any child think that their only hope is a government program, hand-out or subsidy?  Why is each student not taught that they are an individual, who is special, treasured, valued?

How can we spend another half trillion dollars on welfare programs that take away the dignity and satisfaction of working to take care of oneself?  Taking a hand-out when one is able to work degrades one’s soul.  This has got to stop!

Many of the bureaucrats and politicians who promote these programs are padding their pockets and consolidating power for their own benefit.  Others think they are protecting the poor.  They do not see the poor child languishing in underperforming schools, the young adult incurring student debt for a no-nothing degree nor the dependent citizen who cannot even fathom a way out of poverty.

I do not believe for one minute that this is how it has to be.  We are letting our fellow Americans down and we are abdicating our responsibility to empower the American Ideal in each individual.  It is nuts to imply that, fill in the blank with the flavor of the day identifier, i.e. black, gay, woman, etc., that we, as an individuals, cannot go after your hopes and dreams.

Our friend did not come to know his true value because of some government program.  He stepped out of the cycle of dependency and dis-belief in himself because of three individuals, a Young Life leader and two teachers.  These people knew he was more than even he believed he could be.

This is the story of America, the idea that each individual is unique and treasured, and given the opportunity to do so, we can be all that we can hope to be.  We as Americans, must no longer support government programs that take away hope.  We must work together to “Empower the Hope of America,” for the general welfare of each individual.

What Defines Us

It’s a new day, a new year, Congress is convening and legislatures are meeting throughout the country. As these new legislative sessions begin and as an elected official myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about what government is supposed to do. I’m realizing that what describe us: man,woman, black, Hispanic, Asian, white, gay, straight, rich, poor, democrat or republican, etc., is not what defines us. What defines us and what brings us together is what iswritten on our hearts.

The True American heart believes that all individuals are Created equal and that each individual has Rights, not guarantees, to Life, Liberty and thepursuit of Happiness. In order to achieve these three outcomes, “We the People” entrust six things to government to focus on:

  • Form a more perfect Union
  • Establish Justice (True Justice does not show partiality)
  • Insure domestic Tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote the general Welfare (General not partial)
  • Secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity

That’s it. Simple. Three outcomes and six marching orders. These are the guiding lights for each elected official, whether man, woman, black, Hispanic, Asian, white, gay, straight, rich, poor, democrat or republican, etc. Each decision that elected officials make must stand this test. If it doesn’t, the solution must be found amidst “We the People,” not government. Deep down, the American heart knows this to be True. This is what defines us…what is written on our hearts.

Just Say No To Those Federal Funds

Great societies care about how they treat their neighbors and are concerned about the legacy they pass on to their children.

Recently, Lone Tree City Council voted on three intergovernmental agreements to help fund the Southeast Light Rail Extension. The overriding issue is accepting federal money for regional projects. America was founded on the idea that projects benefitting a certain region be paid for by that region. It isn’t fair, just or sustainable to saddle the next generation with an ever-increasing federal debt or to ask citizens in neighboring states to pay for regional projects that do not benefit them.

John Eastman, a well-respected constitutional attorney, has written an excellent piece, “Why General Welfare Limits Spending.” The left has hijacked the phrase “general welfare” found in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution to justify spending countless trillions of federal tax dollars on questionable projects. In reality, “general welfare” means that the federal government is to use tax dollars only for things that benefit all of us.

The interstate highway system benefits all of us, enabling us to freely move about the country as individuals, to transport oranges from Florida, produce from California and beef to New York. It provides for our common defense with infrastructure to move troops, supplies and people in the event of disasters or attacks. This too is a critical responsibility of the federal government.

The federal government’s allocation of our tax dollars for projects is a sacred responsibility, not to be taken lightly. The gas tax was created to pay for the interstate highway system and was “sold” as monies to build and maintain our roads and bridges. This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is politicians and bureaucrats shaving anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent off gas tax funds for other projects, like public transit, bike paths and walk paths. Federal grants are given out like candy to kids for these projects while our interstate roads and bridges crumble.

The federal contribution of $92 million toward the $207 million (or $233 million depending on the source) for the construction of the 2.3 miles of additional track for the Southeast Light Rail Extension is an example of federal funds for regional projects. It’s not fair that someone in Ohio pay to build light rail in Colorado.

There are two popular rebuttals from those who lobby for and accept federal monies. The first is “if we don’t take the money, someone else will.” Secondly, I hear, “we pay income tax, therefore, we are just getting back some of what we paid in.”

In reality, not only are we misappropriating tax dollars, we are spending more than we have. Within the past few years alone our federal debt has ballooned from $10 trillion to more than $18 trillion. This is irresponsible. The federal government is spending money that does not exist.

Hard choices need to be made and city government is in the position to make them. As elected officials at the local level, we have a responsibility to say “no” to the federal dollars being offered to us for our regional projects. If all of us across the country — mayors and city council members alike — rallied together and said “no”’ to the sweets being offered to us by the feds, we would be doing our part to stop the unhealthy hand out of tax dollars to projects that are not for the “general welfare.”

Our children and grandchildren are the ones who ultimately suffer from this irresponsible taking of “taxpayer funds” that don’t exist and is ratcheting up the federal debt. Our only hope to address the deficit is to cut spending and free up the economy.

Kim Monson represents District 2 on the Lone Tree City Council.

This article was originally posted as a Guest Column on the Lone Tree Voice

Refugee And Asylee Resettlement – Follow The Money

Refugee & Asylee Resettlement is a big money business and it’s YOUR MONEY that funds it.   Let’s connect the dots.  I served on the board of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFSRM) from 2006 to 2012, ultimately as the vice-chair of Program Services.  LFSRM is one of the largest resettlement organizations in the region.  My heart became troubled as I came to understand how big government bureaucracies and the United Nations have incrementally coopted charities.

Today, agencies such as LFSRM pay staff salaries & benefits to assist refugee’s applications for food stamps, healthcare, rent assistance, energy assistance, cash assistance, TANF (formerly Welfare) and more.  This is a far cry from the stories of immigrants that I heard as a kid.  “Individuals wanted to come to America because it was the land of opportunity.  They knew that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they would make a better life for themselves and their families.  They did not expect a hand-out.”  A friend recently recommended a book, Lili’s Story, My Memory of the Holocaust by Lili Susser.  Lili notes when her family immigrated to America after WWII, they received two weeks rent, a week’s groceries and were then on their own.  With hard work and perseverance they built successful lives.

Over the years, LFSRM has done good work for our vulnerable and that is why I donated my time & money to the organization.  However, as government money got involved, I realized that LFSRM was no longer a charity and had become a quasi-governmental non-profit.  Per the 2013/2014, 990 (the IRS document non-profits file) $11.5 million of LFSRM’ $13.6 million budget was comprised of government grants.  Additionally, the CEO was paid $209,000.00 and the vice-president of Refugee Services $122,596.00 plus benefits.  The Denver Business Journal ranks LFSRM the 19th largest Human Service Organization in Colorado.  With a current budget of $16.18 million that’s a cool $2.58 million increase in a year.  And nearly half of the budget goes to salaries and benefits.

We must ask ourselves, how is giving tax money and benefits to refugees fair to our young people who are struggling to find jobs and pay off student loans?  How is this fair to our seniors living on fixed incomes?  And how is it fair to the single mom who is working to get ahead?

Governor Hickenlooper is indicating his willingness to import refugees from Syria and the Middle East to Colorado.  In light of what’s happening in the world, it defies reason that he not pause and take a breath in regards to the refugee resettlement program.  With limited documentation and potential for fake passports, it is not possible to properly vet these individuals.  Until we, as Americans, are 100% assured that no terrorists are included in the estimated 70,000 refugees slated to come to the U.S., the refugee resettlement programs must be suspended immediately.  It only takes one or a few to hurt our children, our communities and our wellbeing.  The risk is too great!  A South Africa Today article refers to a U.N. report that 72% of these refugees are men.  We must ask ourselves, what is the character of these men who leave women and children behind in war torn areas?  What is their motivation to abandon their vulnerable?  Governor Hickenlooper must say “no” to the Administration’s request.

What can you do?  Contact Gov. Hickenlooper and the board of directors of LFSRM  and ask that they suspend the Refugee Resettlement and Asylee programs until fool-proof vetting procedures are in place and demand that no tax dollars be used for these programs.

No Toilet Paper For You

My heart hurts as I hear reports that Venezuelans have no toilet paper, coffee or food.  Last month, Latina Magazine reported that hundreds of hungry Venezuelan women stormed across the border with Columbia in search of basic necessities and foodstuffs which are hard to find in Venezuela.

This is what happens with centralized government and Socialism.  Venezuela was once a thriving, prosperous society.  Today, moms, sisters & daughters are standing up to guards with guns, just to find basic items for their families.

This is what happens when politicians pass laws and ordinances that tax creativity, innovation and hard work while unelected bureaucrats institute rules and regulations that stifle and penalize small businesses and the American Dream.

This is what happens in a society based on envy, divisiveness and self righteousness.  Food shortages, lack of toilet paper and disruption of hopes & dreams are the tried and true results of socialist, centralized, progressive policies.  These are the tried and true results of Hillary Clinton’s vision for America.  As Maggie Thatcher opined, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”  Then there is nothing left; no food, no hope and no toilet paper.

Donald Trump has it right on most aspects of the economy.  Lower taxes, reduce rules & regulations and get rid of the death tax.  These three things alone will jumpstart the “new norm” sluggish economy that we have been living with the last eight years.  Bigger economy, bigger pie, more tax revenues.

When the 1% consists of individuals who have gotten rich because they provide goods and services that make people’s lives better and for which individuals freely trade their hard earned dollars, we should applaud the 1% and thank them for their service.  There may be outliers in this 1% model that have gotten rich by nefarious means, however, they are just that, outliers.

If a politician is using government policies, rules & regulations, to her advantage, to join the 1%, then we must question the character of the politician.  If a politician has joined the 1% by selling access to the U.S. government, thereby hurting everyday hardworking Americans, then we must question her motives.  If a politician rails that the 1% and corporations must “pay their fair share” while using her non tax paying, non-profit to create her own personal wealth, then we must question her objectives.

Actions speak much louder than words.  Hillary Clinton says that the 1% and businesses need to pay more while her foundation/business pays nothing.  She is using the politics of envy to buy votes.  She wants to use government to steal from one person to give to another.  As Lincoln said, “you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.”

The American Dream is based on the Idea that individuals, rich or poor, should be able to keep most of the fruits of their labor.  Everyone must have “skin in the game” for an equal and just society.  Government, all in (local, county, state & federal), should take no more than 20% of people’s earnings.  This American Idea of small government, freedom to choose how to live one’s life and rule of Constitutional law created a vibrant middle class where everyday people like us can thrive and prosper.  The American Dream has brought more people out of poverty than any other political system known to man.  Each of must do what we can to preserve it.

We have a choice this political season: no toilet paper Clinton or bigger economy Trump.