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January 12, 2013 06:04 AM UTC

Weekend Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Much is forgiven anyone who relieves the desperate boredom of the working press.”

–William Weld


20 thoughts on “Weekend Open Thread

  1. One of Big Green’s biggest outfits, the Nature Conservancy (2011 revenue $997 million; assets $6 billion), is once again under fire. The new accusation is that it used improper influence over an elderly landowner to get her to donate her family property.

    This time it’s the 16,500-acre Roberts Ranch in Larimer County, Colo., owned by a 92-year-old woman. TNC allegedly influenced her to donate the land and cattle operation to the county, where it would be run as open space at taxpayer expense — or, if the county declines the donation, the ranch would go to “a conservation group,” according to county officials.

    The real kicker is TNC’s questionable part in cutting off inheritance rights of three living descendants of 1874 homesteader Robert O. Roberts, Derek Roberts and his two sons, Burke and Benjamin. That’s brewing up a storm of protest from hundreds of locals who know the heirs.

    Colorado taxpayers should continue to be very concerned that more and more private property is being transferred to the government, effectively removing it from productive tax generation. Worse these growing government land holdings further burden the states cost structure, thus drawing down available resources that need to be targetted at education, healthcare, another social safety nets.

    One thing I’ll say about Hick, he understands that before we go to the taxpayers for additional diversion of private sector capital to the public sector we need to assure government is focused and running at a high utilization rate.

    I doubt he’ll engage to protect this specific family, but media should question him on the general premise of such matters that burden the state and draw down on its ability to give a hand up to our most needy fellow Americans.

    1. The Nature Conservancy began working with Catherine Roberts (the elderly lady) and her late husband, Evan (father of Derek, grandfather of Burke and Ben) back in the 1990’s to create a conservation easement for the ranch. In 2006, GOCO, TNC, local residents, and Catherine Roberts concluded that agreement, which left the land in the hands of Mrs. Roberts.

      Under the new agreement, the land would go to the county – except for the family house and a small amount of property where Mrs. Roberts would continue to live.

      There is little information available to support your linked Opinion article’s claims. In an interview with the paper that shall not be named, even Derek and sons seemed to indicate that they weren’t sure they had a claim. Since that article (back in December), their position has hardened – a recent claim by one of the sons said “it could turn ugly”.

      In any event, the Larimer County Board of Commissioners has postponed a decision on acquiring the property until the 24th – it has never acquired a piece of land that large, nor does it have experience running a working cattle ranch (which the property will remain); and it wants to verify the ownership of the property…

        1. many families are able to keep the home place and a parcel of land around it by making these kinds of contributions when they could not afford to keep the ranch or farm in the family otherwise.  We have  friends who have done this.  They still get to enjoy the home in which they grew up, the little lake  on the property, enough land for some livestock that they lease to a neighbor and beautiful rural surroundings that will never be developed.  They all went into various professions and live in the ‘burbs but love the home place and use it for weekend get aways, family parties and vacations and for their kids to have wonderful experiences.  

    1. Was it mental sickness driven depression …. At least an AR-15 or Glock didn’t force itself into his hands and direct him to a gun free zone?

      Was it general depression that accelerated itself due to efforts by a certain US Attoney and it’s Assistant USA’s?

      I won’t delve deeper into his personal demons, the net is they took him and we lost him.

      What remains?

      1. Webaccess to academic journals full of educational material and generally in the public domain remain frozen behind a non profit pay wall.

      2. Big Hollywood, big content, big Internet, big publishing, …. continue to restrict your IP life, deny Americans the true efficiencies of the IP assets we’ve paid for and assure their weekend lives in Snowmass and Woody Creek are protected.

      3. Come on bloggers … feel free to add to this list because there is a reason that SOPA/PIPA and Net Neutrality bills failed in Congress.

      1. It’s easy to blame the US Attorney’s office for this, but it’s not right to do so. This is a young man who knew that he was doing something controversial when he committed his JSTOR hack. Just as many non-violent protesters have done in the past, he had to know that there could be consequences, and that he committed himself to that path.

        Apparently that wasn’t a wise idea for him, because it brought him to this point where whatever stresses he had in his life piled up on him until he felt that he could no longer hold out.

        Aaron was a brilliant man, grown up from a brilliant boy. His insights will live on beyond him – in the little orange icons scattered around most news sites and hopefully in reform of academic journal publications.

        1. I think the response of the feds was totally disproportionate. Weren’t you one of the ones that said while David Gregory broke the law showing the high capacity magazine on Meet the Press, that the appropriate response was no action?

          1. I did note that Gregory broke the law, and that nothing was likely to come of it. The issue in that case IMHO was that any potential charges would run afoul of a well-funded First Amendment rights defense and that it wasn’t worth the time or the publicity.

            I think the Swartz case had the potential to invoke changes for the better either in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or at least in its interpretation. He had a solid defense team, JSTOR wasn’t pressing civil charges, and the Obama Administration had previously declined to appeal a Ninth Circuit ruling that narrows the scope of the CFAA – within the jurisdiction of the 9th, anyway.

            OTOH, what Swartz did was a classic “inside job” computer hack. Why he did it, I won’t dispute – he was interested in freeing information that should be in the public domain already, just as he had when he abused a trial PACER account to free up court documents. But that doesn’t change the fact that the law is the law, and those in the position to enforce it couldn’t let such a large data theft go uncharged as a matter of upholding the law.

            Don’t like it? Change the law – and I’d suggest changing the law regarding the disposition of documents that should be in the public domain rather than gutting the CFAA for no particular reason. But the Attorney’s office was doing their job, and Swartz knew that he was potentially breaking the law by grabbing the JSTOR docs.

          2. Sometimes life is a bit unfair – sometimes more than a bit unfair. We have to deal with those troubles as they come along. Millions of people do that every day – and many of them have troubles every bit as severe as Aaron’s were – without the friendship and support that Aaron had in the computer and legal communities. Aaron’s situation at least showed rays of hope here and there.

            The ultimate cause of Aaron Swartz’s suicide was his medical depression, and as with the mental illness component of gun violence, we would be doing an ongoing disservice to the state of our mental health awareness and care to put all of the blame on the prosecutor and not on his depression. We can offer some sensitivity training to prosecuting attorneys – and I do hope there’s an internal review of the handling of this case for Aaron. But clinical depression is a real problem that deserves real treatment and real stories to make it more approachable…


    Thom Hartman had some interesting history on the 2nd Amendment on his show yesterday on 760 am (1-4 pm weekedays). When the constitution was being promoted to the states, southern states insisted on the 2nd amendment because they had armed militia that were always on high alert to capture run away slaves. They didn’t want to ever lose this ability by having guns somehow controlled, so slaveholders insisted on the 2nd amendment.

    1. was to assure that states could maintain militias as a counterweight to the federal standing army.

        There was, in fact, a sharp argument at the constitutional convention about whether the federal government could maintain a standing army.  In England, there was no standing army, since it was seen as a threat to liberty.  In the end, the feds were allowed to have one but passage of the second amendment assured the states of a counterweight.  

      1. But, more specifically, so that the states could maintain them in the event that the Federal government didn’t.

        It isn’t the only reason for the 2nd Amendment; there were four or five states with right to keep/bear arms amendments in their constitutions, and each had its own wording. Two of them listed an individual right for self-defense.

        The language was a compromise – of what, we don’t really know because the discussions that led from Madison’s original wording to the final version were not recorded for posterity. The starting point was Madison tempering with his own views what was requested from the Constitution ratification discussions in Virginia – definitely a state’s rights discussion. But the final amendment was more loosely tied to the militia.

        Thom Hartmann was discussing the other day a 1998 paper that argued that the Virginia reasoning – and the reason why gun rights were so important to the states generally – wasn’t really States’ rights, it was a sop to the slave holders who needed force of arms to keep the slaves from revolting, assuring them that the Federal government couldn’t disarm the militias. It was an interesting paper. Had a link to it but it’s not available at this computer.

    1. the sun is shining bright,

      The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

      And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

      But there is no joy in DENVER – mighty Peyton has struck out.

  3. C.U. & Mines have both signed up for our Code War. But we’ve tried and tried to get CSU to look all to no avail. And my CEO graduated from CSU and wants them in.

    So if anyone here is in the CSU administration – get signed up! It’s a blast – I promise. And this year’s problem is pitch perfect for the contest.

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