Xcel comes knocking
You’ve probably seen one of us walking around your neighborhood. We’ve been knocking on doors, handing out literature, and maybe we’ve even talked to you. We are paid canvassers, henchmen, nothing more than political mercenaries. We care little about your utility bill or what happens in your community. All that we care about is that you vote “NO” on Boulder Ballot Measures 2B and 2C.
We may look like concerned community volunteers, but we aren’t who you think we are. Some of us don’t even live in Boulder. Many of those who do just moved here, and all of us are being compensated, rather handsomely, for our efforts. Our responsibilities include knocking on about 100 doors a night and keeping detailed records about your responses to our questions. We are required to repeat the same script over and over again. We tell people we are “educating” them about the “risks” of 2B and 2C.
But after a time, I began to wonder, aren’t my colleagues and I really just indoctrinating people with an expensive misinformation campaign?
We were told it was “concerned Boulder citizens,” but it became quite obvious rather quickly it’s just Xcel Energy and a handful of other interests with big money. The company is on track to spend millions to stop Boulder from voting to explore municipalization, and a couple of those dollars came back to me.
Of course, they don’t make the paper trail very easy to track, but it’s not hard to figure out. As far as I can tell, here’s the scheme: I worked for a door-to-door canvassing firm, Rocky Mountain Voter Outreach, which was contracted by Boulder Smart Energy Coalition to perform door-to-door canvassing. Craig Eicher, a “regional manager” at Xcel, came to one of our morning meetings and happily answered our questions. He even went out canvassing with one of my co-workers for an afternoon and reported happily on the results the next day via email.
When I started the job, I thought the Boulder Smart Energy Coalition was something real. I entertained their message and thought their points were valid. Now, after walking the streets of Boulder and talking to hundreds of residents, I’m not so sure. I’ve heard a lot of great arguments about why exploring municipalization could be good for Boulder and why the scary points Xcel wants us to make aren’t completely credible.
I know I’m not alone. Some of my friends on the canvassing crew even expressed concerns to me about what they were doing, but ultimately decided to stay on “for the money.” Some even quit after a few days because they felt they were being asked to spread lies to help Xcel to continue making profits off of Boulder.
Honestly though, it doesn’t matter much to me — seeing as I live in Denver.
Editor’s note: Bain volunteers and writes for New Era Colorado, which supports the municipalization effort.
Problems with Prop 103
While I signed the petition to get Proposition 103 on the ballot, I will not vote for it. Here are the problems I see: Has the proposition been written in such ironclad terms that 1) not one penny will ever be allocated to a religious school or charter school? That 2) no tax money collected under Prop. 103 will ever be redirected to other unrelated purposes? Politicians often attempt to finesse regressive taxes to areas far removed from their original intent. 3) Why did Rollie Heath and his neo-liberal pals and palettes formulate a regressive tax policy for Proposition 103? Why didn’t they propose a progressive tax based on personal and corporate pre-tax assets and income? 4) Will corporate wealth be taxed under Prop. 103? If not, why not? And then there is the matter of the five-year duration to the tax. Why not just a one-year or two-year maximum duration as a stopgap measure? I would vote for that option.
Politicians have a tendency to institutionalize long-term regressive taxes in order to avoid dealing with existing massive tax inequities such as currently exist in America. The entire question of taxation has to be dealt with on inclusive federal, regional, state and local levels. The impetus behind Proposition 103 is laudable — I have no problem with its intent. But as I interpret it in its current form, it only begs the question for a finite time period. It doesn’t solve the long-term problem. Vote Proposition 103 down, and then inundate the state Capitol with protesters until a solvent, long-term, viable and rational funding policy for Colorado’s K-12 and higher education is adopted.
There is plenty of money floating around this benighted nation to solve this specific problem. Redirecting the $1.1 trillion annual American compelled “donation” to the military/industrial/anti-terrorist/intelligence complex to useful civilian purposes would go a long way to stabilize our internal economic needs, not to mention a more just, more civilized way for Americans to live their lives.
I was noticing the display at the Sacred Heart of Mary church on South Boulder Road, where it seems they’ve taken it upon themselves to plant more than 3,000 small white crosses on their front lawn along with a group of signs that read in succession, “Over … 3,000 abortions … in the U.S. per day.” With the debate over “Pro-Life” and “Pro- Choice,” I have to ask: 1) If a fetus has no brain function in the womb, what gives the Catholic Church the right to designate the religion of an unborn “Jane Doe” by marking its grave with the symbol of Jesus Christ? And 2) If a fetus has no brain function to choose a religion, perhaps the Catholic Church should put a more neutral grave marker to represent the unborn.
I recently came across a similar display in Littleton on W. Bowles Avenue at The Light of the World Church, where they’ve posted the exact same signs along the side of the road, but instead of using 3,000 crosses, they chose a more “neutral approach” of non-denomination by using tiny pink and blue neon flags to make their statement. I don’t know which is worse. On one hand you have these obnoxious neon flags that flicker in the wind demanding attention, and on the other, tiny white crosses to get the point across that abortion is not only considered wrong by the Catholic Church, but is also a chance to add in a classic “Catholic guilt.”
I think the message Sacred Heart of Mary should spell out isn’t so much “over 3,000 abortions performed in the U.S.,” but should say what they’re really trying to say, as only Catholics can: “If you get an abortion, God will be very mad at you, and when you die, you will go to hell.”
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