Friday, November 30, 2012

TANNER: Of cliques and clichés

original publication date:  october 7, 2009

a sloppy Tanner/Wingate mashup
Hello readers, and thank you for your patience while this page has been and continues to be under construction. I tell you factually that childbirth is both faster and easier than a self-study crash course in HTML coding; at times, I was certain that my brain had snapped in two. But I think I'll be fine...

Today, I shift my focus to the "where are they now" file. Let's see a show of hands: how many of you remember Charles Wingate?

I see. Well, please join me for a walk down memory lane.

In April 2001, Charles Wingate, a 34-year-old stockbroker and financial analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, was elected to the Colorado Springs City Council. Mr. Wingate, a Republican, ruffled some feathers during his brief tenure: for example, he was a supporter of the National Rifle Association, opposed to the Southern Delivery System, and cast one of five votes that defeated a zealously-fought measure to fluoridate our city's water (I use the term "our" loosely, since only those living on the city's northeast side would have been affected).

Mr. Wingate had also dared voice his discontent with the El Paso County Commission, who had recently decided to fund construction of the new jail with certificates of participation (COPS) after voters had rejected a new jail bond. "I'm not anti-county, but I believe it is my responsibility to wonder if being a part of the county is beneficial for the residents of Colorado Springs," he said at the time.

Wingate's tendency to swim against the tide may have helped get him elected, and certainly did not go unnoticed: a pre-election expose in the weekly Colorado Springs Independent noted that his desire "to shake up the status quo [had] helped steer the debate to niggling issues that aggravate the incumbents, including continuing allegations that the city too often operates in secret."

Six months into his term, Mr. Wingate was witness to an odd shoving and shouting match between two ranking members of the Republican Central Committee - purportedly ignited by allegations of sign-stealing. Local media downplayed the incident; even the peace-and-justice minded folks at the Independent simply shrugged. "Boys will be boys," was their blithe and expert conclusion, before abruptly spinning the story into an attack on Wingate, alleging that Wingate himself had stolen signs during his own run for office.

"He started saying things about my hands not being clean, but I don't move around my Republican opponents' stuff, and I sure as heck don't physically attack them," Wingate said. "I was dismayed and embarrassed."

Wingate would soon have more to be embarrassed about.

In March 2001, the Gazette reported on a recently-constructed but little-used $4.2 million, six-field grass and dirt "wheelchair softball" facility off of Powers Boulevard. The article quoted Wingate's opinion that the project - built specifically for the needs of the Colorado Springs Wildcats, a 15-person wheelchair softball team - had been a "colossal mistake." "I don't know what led our city staff to believe this would be a good idea other than political correctness."

This article ended with a similar, unrelated turn-about:

In July 2001, Colorado Springs City Councilman Charles Wingate, a financial advisor, bounced six checks and failed to repay two loans. His failure to respond to the civil action brought against him by the 4th District Court resulted in the magistrate issuing a judgement against Wingate in three cases involving bounced checks for food and gas ranging from $7.25 to $21.46. Mr. Wingate was also the respondent in a small claims court civil lawsuit over two unpaid loans totaling $240 owed to a check-advance company. Wingate claimed not to have known about any lawsuits filed against him until a Gazette reporter brought it to his attention.

The unspoken rules for adult life were taught to us in grade school. The power is in the clique, and you're either in, or you're out. Boys will be boys, and its no use crying over spilt milk; indeed, big boys and real men don't cry. I have no doubt that a very important segment of the real power brokers in this town are keenly interested in water, and disinclined to cry over it; I've not looked into it (yet) but I imagine its the same crowd who wants to ticket and/or prosecute radical rainwater collectors. Perhaps one of them lived out east and had a mouthful of cavities...and a nephew who happened to play left-field for the Wildcats, for whom this "political correctness" comment was simply the last straw.

It's easy to speculate in hindsight. The only thing for certain is what came next.

The news on August 8, 2002 blazed across the city like wildfire:

Charles Wingate allegedly obtained a Colorado Springs Utilities credit card number and ordered pizza delivered to his home four times, forging the cardholder's name. Police also allege he kept $190 given to him by the city-owned utility as an advance for a business trip, without returning it or turning in receipts for its use.

The investigation, during which Wingate was questioned and his home searched by five detectives, resulted in several felony and misdemeanor charges being filed against him. Wingate denied the allegation, and stated that he

"once had a pizza deliverer show up at his door with a pizza he hadn't ordered. Since he was elected in 2001, Wingate has been sued for bouncing checks and not paying bills, and investigated for allegedly looking at pornography on a city-owned computer. Four council members, including the Mayor, have called for his resignation. Wingate said that he is the victim of a conspiracy to get him."

Facing 16 years in prison over felony and misdemeanor charges that he embezzled public property, pawned city-owned equipment, bounced rubber checks, surfed for porn while on the city dime, and failed to repay his campaign debt of $2,500, Wingate resigned from the City Council - though he maintained his decision to do so was unrelated to the pending criminal matters. His seat came to be filled by Darryl Glenn.

We have reached the end of this true and not so long ago story of the public tarring, feathering and demolition of a man who did not properly toe the party line - a black man, who did not fit into the reigning clique. I remember thinking as this story unfolded that the evidence against Mr. Wingate seemed flimsy, even fabricated; and in researching this story, I was unable to find any reference to the disposition of those weighty court matters. But the damage was already done - reduced to a community laughing stock, Wingate quietly faded from public sight and memory.

Our walk down memory lane is over; welcome back to the present. Perhaps you are wondering why I took you there...but really, the answer should already be apparent.

I would be calling Jan Tanner's story "Pizzagate" had that title not already been taken by Mr. Wingate himself. Jan Tanner is the treasurer for her husband's pizza franchises, Cheezer's and Inflated Dough. She is also an elected member of the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Educators - you know, those stand up people who care about public education, because to them, "it's about the kids." Over the 2008-2009 school year, those two pizza franchises secretly pocketed $167,000 from the school district - that's our taxpayer money. Jan claimed to have donated the pizzas to five different schools; but who do you know that's got that kind of money, to where they're able to donate $167,000 of pizza? And why were those two organizations paid for the pizza, if indeed they were donated?

There are so many parallels between the Wingate story and Jan Tanner's story that I could keep writing forever. And that's kind of what bothers me now: in order to pin Wingate down, someone, somewhere, scraped together every little bit of dirt against him they could find or fabricate to come up with a contested amount of about $3,000 - not just someone, but a bunch of someones. At the time, the Wingate story was splashed across every media outlet in Colorado Springs - and in many instances, the media played a direct role in duping and smearing him. Where are those investigative reporters now, and why aren't they covering this story? To whom are they beholden, and why?

That's not spilt milk; nor is it water under the bridge. It's a horse of a different color, and the pot calling the kettle black. It's speaking out of both sides of the mouth, and it's one hand washing the other.

Perhaps Lady McBeth put it most succinctly:

"Out, out, damned spot."

School Closure Facebookin'

Charlene Cook · Audiology Tech at Fort Carson
Oh its declining enrollment....BS!

Kristina Iodice · Top Commenter · Works at The Gazette, Colorado Springs
What do you think the reasoning is?

Amber Escobedo
Crazy thats alot of schools.

Spydra Webb · Top Commenter · William J. Palmer High School
Kristina Iodice, one needs merely to go back and read about the 2009 school closures to deduce what's really taking place here; the District swore then that closing eight elementary schools and the Irving middle school would save tax payers $3 million -- but when all was said and done, the million$ purportedly saved were spent retro-fitting certain buildings to accommodate their changed occupancies.

Case in point was the West middle school building, which underwent extensive, expensive changes to make room for the new K-8 setup; now, the experts are re-recommending a West re-revamp to make it a K-5 elementary school -- does this make any sense? The District spent much of the purported "savings" on increased transportation costs to bus children past their now-shuttered neighborhood school; the beneficent-but-constantly "cash strapped" District also sold off or leased certain valuable properties for the outrageous sum of $1.00.

"There goes the neighborhood." See for yourselves how the primarily low-income areas directly impacted by that rash of school closures four years ago have benefitted from them since; you will find they HAVEN'T. Schools situated at the very nexxus of those neighborhoods were boarded up, vandalized, and left to decay like some vacant, concrete carcasses...passed by busloads of children on their way to and from schools that are far beyond walking distance of their homes.

The rationale behind school closures is to allow the District to make capital improvements and pet project changes at certain of its buildings without having to ask voters for a tax increase. It is also to allow the District to condense and confine its low-income student populations to schools that will eventually be closed due to lower test scores and "performance" issues. "Declining Enrollment" will be a catchphrase bandied about, supported by costly "Building Capacity Studies"; the public will be flooded with ever-changing forecasts, recommendations, and numbers designed to wash over and confuse us.

Concerned individuals will be permitted to work themselves into a lather, and to blow off their steam at "Community Engagement" events, where parents, students and teachers alike will pour out their heart-rending pleas to save their neighborhood schools from the chopping block; what those well-intentioned souls don't realize is that the school board members staring back at them blankly are all wearing earplugs.

The truth is that the decisions have already been made; the District is now merely setting the stage for the useless drama that's about to ensue. Board president Jan "Say Cheese" Tanner is directly complicit in every D11 school closure that's taken place over the past twelve years, as well as forcing the Gay-Straight Student Alliances and bully-proofing programs that have become part and parcel of our children's educational experience -- now *there's* a budget cut we'll *never* hear the leftist public school experts recommend. Think of the Mega-Rich, Interest-Conflicted Mrs. Tanner each time you bite into a slice of Dominos pizza...and be sure to tell her "thank you."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Memory Lane

As I alluded, I recently found myself in a funk that kept me from writing or anything else lately...

A writer's block can at times seem insurmountable...and then, comes inspiration -- ah!

I find myself once and again inspired by Colorado Springs School District 11, presided over by the one, the only Jan "The Plan" Tanner. 

It's seems like only yesterday, they were talking about school closures...and then closed them.  Yeah, as a matter of fact, the school closures of four years ago -- and specifically, Adams Elementary -- are what caused me to embark on some remarkable research concerning Jan.  Lots of people shouted and pitched fits about the recommended school closures, but it was all for naught...and lots of people then watched the very nexxus of their neighborhoods snuffed out and shuttered.  The one good thing that came from it all was that it ultimately resulted in my expose on the quiet, decade-long pizza contract with the District that earned Mrs. Tanner $160,00 annually...more than $1,000,000.. 

The shortness of the people's memories is a subject that recently had me feeling sore, and I meant to scold y'all about it; some contemplation, combined with inspiration, lead me to think that perhaps what's really needed is a good reminding.

A muse is someone who inspires an artist; somebody who is a source of inspiration for an artist, especially for a poet.  Strangely, Jan Tanner has become my muse...

As such, I''ll be re-posting all of my pieces on Jan, in chronological order.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A song for sweethearts

real music still lives -- good news! 
humanly voiced, with stringed instruments
absent electronic rap interludes

i love this song, more than i can say
gives me hope for tomorrow
helps me appreciate today

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanks, I needed that

haven't written since the election,
which left me despondent and morose...
just came across a facebook message sent to me October 19, 2012;
to the person who penned it:  thanks...I needed that.

You don't know me...I got so hooked on your blog this a.m. decided to not work today (and read instead)...I could bore you with a long story...but I won't...feel as if we are connected and yet have never met. I had a very odd string of coincidences over the weekend that led me to America the Beautiful Park...and have done some crazy research into the Olympics over the past couple of years and ...then I find your blog. Thank God I'm not alone in this. You are an amazing researcher! Thank you Thank you Thank you

Tuesday, November 6, 2012