2014

23 July 2014: Life lessons can be a rude awakening

Life lessons can be a rude awakening

he other day a friend asked me how I come up with ideas about which to write, and I told her the problem isn’t coming up with them as much as deciding upon one.  That’s my pleasant problem this week, so to wit:

I had fun with my satirical piece about Republican senatorial nominee Cory Gardner in last week’s Courant, but by far, the more timely and powerful read was the single letter to the editor submitted by Sandy Russalesi.  In it Sandy told about the rude man who handed American flags to her grandchildren at the Georgetown 4th of July Parade and then snatched them back when he spotted the Mark Udall stickers they were sporting.

In addition to the impropriety, rudeness, and poor adult modeling the man exhibited, the scary part is the awareness he likely votes as so do thousands of other similar mean-spirited, self-righteous, judgmental persons.  It is due to individuals with attitudes and values such as his and a Supreme Court dedicated to playing sycophant to corporate interests one can become despondent about the future of our republic.

On the other hand, they should serve as rallying points for those who believe in a free and diverse America.  We have a choice: Be toadies and roll over or stand up and call down such behavior and decisions.

Thanks, Sandy, for not allowing the indignity to pass and for publicly addressing his outrageous behavior.  That’s true patriotic courage, something our Founders would be proud of.
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As a gay man who’s also a student of and intrigued by political movements with constitutional implications, it’s fascinating to take in the rapid unfolding of the same-sex marriage issue here in Colorado and across the nation.  By the time these words are published, part of my question below might be answered.

I asked our county clerk Pam Phipps what her position is given how clerks across the state are suddenly finding themselves dealing with the potential for same-sex couples asking for a license.

Pam said that after consulting with the county attorney, her office is opting to “follow current law” and not issue same-sex marriage license requests.

“In the future, we will of course make whatever changes may be required to comply with the law,” Pam wrote.

In response I wrote, “I think most county clerks are taking the same tact, though the ones in Boulder, Denver, etc. believe they are proceeding legally.  [State Attorney General John] Suthers, of course, disagrees.  So besides the particulars of the issue, there is the legal back-and-forth that’s fascinating to observe.”

The question to be decided: What is the law?  A state constitution provision that violates the U.S. Constitution is illegal, and several county clerks including Boulder and Denver have concluded the ruling by Tenth Court of Appeals that Utah’s, and by implication Colorado’s, ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection under the law” is the law.

The Court stayed its ruling but that expired on July 21, and if the US Supreme Court hasn’t granted Utah’s attorney general’s request to extend it, it would seem Colorado’s ban is kaput.  Then what?

As I wrote Pam, I love this sort of stuff because it’s not hypothetical or theoretical.  It’s human drama unfolding in most intriguing ways.  William Shakespeare and Mark Twain are licking their chops from their graves.

I wonder who will be Clear Creek’s first lucky couple.

BTW: Thanks, Pam for all you do.
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Finally, education.

First, my apologies to Sen. Michael Bennet for not following up yet in a column on the use of student testing to assess teachers and rate schools.

“What we need is smarter tests, not more tests,” said Sen. Michael Bennet in an email to me.  “We need high and clear standards for all our kids, with a strong accountability system that holds all schools to those high standards and includes measures of student growth year to year.”

I couldn’t agree more, I a long-time critic of the “test-until-they-drop” mentality of public school bashers, naysayers, and curmudgeons.  More on this in a couple of weeks

Second, there still remains the issue of the disgraceful way in which former Superintendent Todd Lancaster was shown the door.  I’m sure Board of Education members and the District’s current leadership would like the issue to go away, but it won’t.  What happened has long-term consequences for Clear Creek schools and until this is fully aired and accountability had, trust no longer will be given.

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