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Friday, October 08, 2004

I’d love to be able to get around Denver without a car, wouldn’t you?
So I want to be for FasTracks.
But after spending lots of time researching it as part of my campaign (I’m on the ballot for House District 5), what becomes clear is that FasTracks won’t really help the average person like me get around, it help traffic congestion, and it certainly won’t help the poor. And it continues the upward spiral of our out of control sales tax. “I’m with Daddy Bruce,” someone said to me. “If they are going to put on more for FasTracks, they should have to take something off.”
Gov. Bill Owens recently came out against FasTracks. The Rocky Mountain News has called it “an ugly tax-and-spend initiative…the Regional Transportation District’s plea for a major hike in its sales tax.” Everyone from my barber to my former finance professor at D.U. is against it. Any objective person who takes a close look at the facts will vote no.
If it is such a bad idea, why is it ahead in the polls? Because those supporting FasTracks are highly motiviated by the economic or political payoff for themselves. Landowners along the proposed lines, developers, financers, consultants, government bureaucrats and politicians, along with those who like to go to their parties, have pumped big-money and time into a slick campaign.
Unless we citizens become energized, this kinds of sledge-hammer, direct democracy cons will keep getting pulled.
One-sided initiatives like FasTracks are no different than robbing a 7-11; the criminals just dress better and they use TV commercials instead of pistols.
I helped fight back against one of these cons a couple of years ago, and perhaps my experience then will be useful to us now.
Here is what I learned in the elections of 2002:
Colorado’s unique caucus-assembly system, one of the ways we Coloradoans nominate to the primary ballot, has a long and distinguished history.
One of the most interesting episodes, at least to me, was in the fall of 2002 when a power-grab to destroy it was thwarted by a group of our finest citizens.
I’ve been given far too much of the credit for the defeat of Amendment 29. An editorial in the Rocky Mountain News said, “Despite having virtually no money to spend, John Wren helped lead the successful opposition to a well-funded Amendment 29, which would have abolished Colorado’s caucus system.”
Here are the facts about how that citizen effort, Save the Caucus started and how it beat back the forces that tried to Squash the Caucus. For information about what some of us from that effort are doing today, see
Jo Anne Gray, a former Republican National Committee Woman, called me soon after the Denver County convention in May, 2002.
She and Sharron Klein, then and current Denver Democratic Chair, had both written letters to the editor about the initiative to squash Colorado’s neighborhood caucus. This was the initiative Rutt Bridges was then threatening to get on the state-wide ballot, and that he ultimately did in the form of Amendment 29. Jo Anne and Sharron both had written letters to the editor after seeing Bob Ewegen’s editorial in the Denver Post April 20, 2002. (To see the text of their letters and the editorial, go to
After seeing Sharron’s letter, Jo Anne had called her and they had agreed something would need to be done to stop the Rutt Bridges’ initiative if it made the ballot.
With that conversation fresh on her mind, Jo Anne took note of a flier I distributed. The flier was a reprint of the same Bob Ewegen editorial in the Denver Post in support of the caucus with the question, “Should we do anything about saving our Colorado caucus system? Read this, and if you think we should, contact John Wren” and it gave my phone number.
When Jo Anne called me we conferenced on Sharron, and the three of us agreed to have an organizational meeting. At the first meeting Polly Baca and Jo Anne agreed to act as temporary Co-Chairs as we got started along with Frank & Sylvia Sullivan, Phil Perington, Darryl Eskin, and Dick Wadhams.
After our first meeting Amendment 29 made the ballot.
We quickly had a second meeting and decided to call ourselves Save the Caucus. Committees were formed, and we began our work. Darrell Eskin agreed to create a Save the Caucus website which I really do believe was one of the keys to our success. Phil Perington and myself were the media contacts, and we made a news release announcing the formation of the group. The Colorado Statesman featured the release in the issue that was distributed to the State Assemblies of both the GOP and Dems on June 1st, 2002.
Under Phil Perington’s and Ruth Prendergast’s able leadership, and with a very strong core of volunteers including Jo Anne and Sharron, Frank & Sylvia Sullivan, Dick Sargent, and many many others, the committee was able to engineer the ultimate defeat of Amendment 29 60% to 40%, a crushing victory against the overwhelming disadvantage of being outspent 1400 to 1!
With today’s technology, common, everyday, ordinary citizens like me and you can fight back. If fax machines could bring down the Berlin Wall, we can bring down FasTracks! Contact me today if you’d like to help! It is only too late if we don’t act now! (Clip, photocopy and distribute this to your like-minded friends and neighbors!)

John Wren is the GOP nominee for Colorado House District 5. He recently helped start the Socrates Café that meets each Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at Heidi’s, 32nd & Lowell. Contact him at, (303)861-1447, or 960 Grant St. #727, Denver, CO 80203.

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