One Boulder, the group formed to fight ballot measures Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote (300) and Development Shall Pay Its Own Way (301), has raised $96,121 as of Oct. 6. In contrast, the issues committees for 300 and 301 have raised $25,953 as of the same date. What’s most disconcerting about this wide discrepancy in money raised is who supplied the money that One Boulder received. A group of 16 developers, realtors, architects, high-density zealots and other corporate interests have donated $72,500. They are as follows: National Association of Realtors, $16,000; LJD Enterprises (developer), $5,000; Boulder Area Realtors, $10,000; Phil Day (Realtor), $2,500; Bruce Dierking (Baseline Zero development), $2,500; Leanin’ Tree Inc., $2,000; Better Boulder (Will Toor’s group), $5,000; Lifestyle Publications, $3,000; Foundry Group, $5,000; Southern Land Co., $5,000; Tebo Properties, $5,000; West Baseline Investors, $2,000; Circle D Holdings, $500; Southern Lumber Company, $5,000; AIA (American Institute of Architects) Colorado, $2,000; and The Colorado Group Inc. (real estate company), $2,500.
Of those names, four out-of-state corporations donated $29,000: National Association of Realtors from Chicago, Southern Land Company from Tennessee, Sutherland Lumber Company from Missouri, and Lifestyle Publications from Kansas.
The Oct. 6 filing is the second filing after the initial filing, which was three days after the issue committees’ formation against 300 and 301. In other words, this represents just part of the corporate money that will pour into One Boulder’s bank accounts up through the election. Ironically, many of the leaders of One Boulder have stated they are appalled by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing the Koch Brothers and other billionaires to buy our politicians. Yet, they are leading a campaign for corporate and business interests that is the equivalent of Citizens United on the local level. But instead of buying politicians at the federal level, they are buying the votes of Boulder citizens at the local level.
With a slush fund of money, One Boulder sows discord and fear in the citizens of Boulder. They wrongly claim that 300 pits citizen against citizen when it is their negative campaign that is creating citizen discord in our city. In fact, 300’s requirement that a majority have a vote on land-use regulation changes in a neighborhood does the opposite, bringing citizens together to discuss any changes. It’s called democracy. They claim that 300 and 301 will lead to lawsuits, yet when the city attorney gave an analysis of both initiatives to the City Council he did not mention potential lawsuits in his analysis. They claim that they want a united Boulder when in fact the corporate and business interests are a small segment of our population. They claim that we should trust the City Council because it will protect our interests. Trust City Council? We know how that’s turning out. Citizens’ charter amendments for the blue line and height limit have helped make Boulder what it is today. The open space tax approved by Boulder citizens cannot be rescinded per the charter. A long successful history exists of citizens actions such as 300 and 301.
So when you hear the attacks against 300 and 301 by One Boulder, an umbrella group for Open Boulder, Better Boulder and the Chamber, think of Citizens’ United coming to Boulder. All you have to do is follow the money. Just type Boulder Campaign Finance in Google, click on 2015 Election Information, scroll down to campaign information and filings and reports, click committee filings and you can see who is donating to whom. (https://bouldercolorado.gov/elections/election-committee-filings) As a retiring councilman said in a recent interview, development’s “return on investment is high” in Boulder and developers do it because “they know the golden ring at the end is big.” No clearer explanation is needed as to why out-of-state developers and other big-money interest groups are bombarding Boulder.
We all remember the description of Goldman Sachs as the Vampire Squid that sucked the life out of the American economy. Well, we now have our own Vampire Squid in our city. It’s called One Boulder. One Boulder seeks to suck the life out of our city, filling the developers’ pockets with profits from what we have spent decades creating and protecting. Don’t let them. Vote yes on 300 and 301 and tell One Boulder we are not for sale!
Don Barshay lives in Boulder.