All over the internet, on newspaper opinion pages, over coffee with friends, everywhere in America these days we speak or hear the charge: our politics has been corrupted by special interests, big money, and insiders taking care of themselves and their cronies.
Well, here in Arvada, too.
Candidates for mayor and city council have been summoned to participate in an October 6 forum sponsored by the city government's cable television station, KATV channel 8, and hosted by the Arvada Chamber of Commerce.
Now, I participated as a candidate for city council in the very first of these KATV forums back in 1995. There was controversy then about the appropriateness of the city government involving itself in the conduct of election campaigns. But as I recall the argument was accepted that a government broadcast was okay for the benefit of informing voters -- but of prime importance would be the principle that such a forum would be run by an impartial, fair, open, and unbiased host.
That is not happening in 2011. The Arvada Chamber of Commerce is the host and the Arvada Chamber is categorically compromised and cannot in anyway be deemed to be in a postion to conduct an impartial, fair, open and unbiased event.
It is this simple: Chamber board member Ted Terranova and family/business have contributed $1,750 to mayoral candidate Marc Williams; Chamber board member Franke Barone and relatives have contributed $2,250 to Marc Williams (Barone is also Williams's campaign manager); a member of Williams's law firm is a board member of the Chamber and that law firm has contributed the maximum $750 to Williams; and chair-elect of the Chamber board, Brett Haigler has given Williams $150.
These are not small sums that have been contributed, at least in relation to the family finances of most Arvadans I know. This is big money, a lot of money on the line for the movers and shakers of a powerful faction of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce leadership. One almost need not say it ... but these big contributors are the ultimate bosses of Chamber staff who are arranging the forum.
Now you tell me that there isn't a conflict of interest and the appearance of bias.
More disturbing is the next logical question: was there any due diligence on the part of government KATV in the first place to find out if the Chamber could be an imprtial host of a candidate forum?
There is an odor of machine-type politics arising from this government-private organization partnership. Is this the "business as usual" kind of politics that good citizens of our community should tolerate?
I am running for mayor of Arvada in large measure because I want to give voters the choice whether or not to kick out of office the special interests, big money, and insiders taking care of themselves and their cronies that we are sick and tired of in this country.