Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Current Watch: City of Glenwood Springs, Ordinance #12, Series of 2010 authorizing a city governed Tourism Promotion Board

On the 15th of July, 2010 the Glenwood Springs City Council approved Ordinance #12, Series of 2010.  Placing control over the largest public revenue base the citizens of the 81601 and 81602 zip codes have; back into the hands of the people.

smalltown7, privately thanked City Council after this unanimous vote. 

We also expressed our thanks at the obvious upbeat feeling shown by council at this meeting.  The energy and tone of knowing that a historic impact was being made by their vote, was noted.  Unified with an underlying current of hope and excitement; council moved Glenwood Springs forward.

smalltown7 then made a conscious choice, to stand down and let a community torn apart and somewhat shell shocked after the past year; begin the healing process.  That was a good choice. 

Also a very wise one, as it turned out. 

True to form, just as soon as one or two others, with tentative voices,  began to speak up and encourage individuals to sit the new board; they were viciously attacked in public print media.  Accused of everything from being false to conspiracy.  And worse, they were not protected by this local publication.

smalltown7 defended those voices in public.  In private, we have given them a safe haven to voice should they ever choose to do so again.  is now another SafePlaceBlog, launched last weekend.

It is noted, by smalltown7,  that  behind the scenes,  the excitement and creative plans for the new board seem to be thriving.  When the application comes out on August 2nd in the Current Council Packet (can be found at , in the News In A Flash box and right under animated kayak guy); it goes in front of council for approval on the night of August 5th, 2010.  Schedule for appointments will be set that evening.  The application ready for immediate release to the public once approved.  We've been hearing a lot of names being dropped out there and are really pleased at the caliber of individual talent potential.

This is the people's board now.  Glenwood Springs can only thrive from this point forward.

It is also noted by smalltown7 that we have received seriously concerned mails and calls from citizens who would like to either publically support this board or sit this board,  and are beginning to again feel intimidated to do either.  We have passed our concern about this forward to council.

Our public statement about this unfortunate turn, is this:

Keep talking.  If you want to sit this board and feel you can bring something of worth to the table, then go get an application, fill it out and take it to council.  If you do not feel safe or experience any backlash from any source; take it to authorities, who are aware of the problem.

There's a lot of work to be done to pull us out of the hole we're in financially.  

smalltown7 notes that the City of Glenwood Springs has not posted sales tax revenues for either 1st or 2nd Quarter as of yet.  Tourism revenues remain down 30% from 2009 and are reported in now as down another 5.4% for a total of 35.4%.

Over one third of our accommodations tax needs to be recovered before we can even hope to begin to build again.

Budgets, immediate 2011 RFP to be crafted, issued and awarded, audit of resources owned, forensic audit of all monies to date.  Creative workshops for future goal setting.

And the list goes on.  This is an exciting opportunity for Glenwood Springs.

smalltown8 congratulates the City of Glenwood Springs and publically extends their thanks to City Council.

Many times now, we have tried to move on past the "Current Watch on the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association".

Each time, the energy of what we have been up against has not let us do that.  With  the city's hands on the wheel and fully alert; we feel we can finally move on to other Current Watches and other endeavors.

We've decided to change this site to simply "Safe Place to Whistleblow" in order to accommodate the wide variety of topics and needs being sent to us.

Until this board is seated and there is a good flow of movement with no more backlash to individuals, we'll keep this site as it is, for now.

That good flow should be in place by this Fall.

smalltown7 looks forward.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Current Watch: GSCRA: Local Newspaper Censors Citizens. Blocks Voices Since Creation of New Tourism Board Ordinance.

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s “Full Court Press” was exposed on Friday for an old but favored tactic.

One that is very familiar to locals. Especially former whistleblowers on the Chamber.

Censorship or blocking completely, of voices and the publically linking of articles, blogs and commentary elsewhere, that shares any information whatsoever that the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce does not see as favorable light on their organization.

Using the influence of long standing power and control, a dying era has resorted once again to manipulation and spin of the internet and media.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado is a fairly small town. Two grocery stores, one post office and only one parent newspaper that holds a monopoly on local town newspapers.

Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Aspen Times, Citizens Telegram, Summit Daily, Vail DailyGJ Free Press are all owned by Swift Communications, which serves a number of communities in California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. Corporate offices located in Carson City, Nevada.

We have only one independent and strong local newspaper that has been around for a long, long time that is not held by the monopoly of Swift Communications. The Aspen Daily Newsremains free from "corporate news media" and is owned by Dave Danforth.  Business offices located in Aspen, Colorado.

The differences between the two newspaper companies is easy to see.

Logistics level sees the Glenwood Post Independent filled with advertising in it’s print edition and SPAM filled pop ups in it’s online edition.

We also have “up valley” and “down valley” views of our newspapers. Over the years, politics in our corridor  has given strong class distinctions that distinguish between the two.  The Daily is read by “billionaires” and “workers” alike. The “ghetto elite/wannabe elite” surf between the two. A growing number of citizens making a rising and impressive surge into social and political scenes are none of the above and use the Daily as the grounding point and the Post for a quick skim to catch up on buzz.  The Post is the “down valley” for Swift. The Aspen Times is Swift’s “up valley” with both papers rarely in a war with each other over content as their content is the same. The Citizens Telegram, also owned by Swift, is the “real down” valley paper and is located in Rifle. Rebellious when it can to it’s parent and serves the seat of our big oil and gas industry.

For those not familiar with the demographics of our town, Glenwood Springs sits in the middle and is considered the gateway to three influential and powerful commodities: big oil and gas to the west, public owned Vail Ski Resort and private held Aspen Ski Company. From the Summit Daily to the Grand Junction Sentinel, our news is followed all over the world.

Politically, the Swift family is mostly blue but does once in awhile pander to the red, depending on which community it’s sitting in.

With the recession, folks cut back on the Post’s paid subscriptions and deliveries, instead picking it up free at newstands and walking the few blocks to do that. The Post and Times are larger in size and there are more pages.

Logistics level with the Aspen Daily, shows less advertising and the folks still pay for subscriptions. It’s also the favorite of the estimated hundreds of blue collar workers who come from “down valley” to “up valley” and most locals throughout. Also holding the earned claim of being the paper absent second and third home owners subscribe to by mail.

Politically, it’s hard to tell if the Aspen Daily News is blue or red.

On journalistic levels, locals know if they want to read the full story, they go to the Daily. To get the gossip or juicy spin, they go to the Post or the Times. The Daily is also a free paper as well and can be found not only at news stands but piles delivered to local businesses, such as professional offices where one has to wait to meet an appointment.

A “Good Morning” to another local hitting the newspaper stand at the same time, often holds a little eye contact and partial smile of knowing from each, as they nod politely and then reach for the symbols of what they support and believe in.

The shock waves running up and down “The Valley” each time whistleblowers come forward on the Chamber, has never been more palpable than the past 19 months, with an emphasis on the past 6 months.

Those courageous whistleblowers in the late ‘90's kept talking to locals throughout the years after being fired from the Chamber. Widely known now that the smalltown7 group are some of those locals.

More attention in all the local papers was visible in the 2005 era of whistleblowers on the Chamber. As a result, local workers and small businesses began connecting and watching for patterns.

In our era of whistleblowing, the no oversight and zero transparency on our public held funds that fuel the Tourism Marketing Contract has seen the Post’s completely over the top inflamed reporting and heavy standing bias,  in favor of the sole source vendor Chamber of Commerce.

A choice being starkly compared locally to zero coverage from The Aspen Daily News.

Openly admitting, at the July 1, 2010 City Council meeting, that she has an “unhappy....shocked...” Chamber Board of Directors pressuring her by “calling”; Marianne Virgili, President, CEO and Executive Director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, has now aimed her Full Court Press to retain the tourism marketing contract at the current sitting Tourism Board and few remaining, yet powerful, community supporters and Chamber board members .

Openly admitting, at the July 1, 2010 City Council meeting, that she had been on the phone and gathering support, one of the more poignant moments of the evening for local viewers was a local hotel owner obviously rounded up at the last minute, lay her hand comfortingly on the shoulder of a Chamber employee as she stepped down from the podium.

Locals watching the subsequent series of three articles, in the Glenwood Post Independent as they covered this historic Council session, recognized “canned” press information released by the Chamber. They began to speak. Once again raising voices in protest. smalltown’s recent postings, here at a safe place to whistleblow on non profits,  were shared in online format of the Post and unfolded alongside those voices raised in protest.

Content has ranged from the now 12 year old cry of a “conspiracy” against the Chamber (to) our release again of commentary ability on this blog (to) the now wounded bellows and outcrys  of one or two offshoots, of the lion’s share holders, benefitting strongly in the past from no oversight in place.

Publically pounding the keyboards, locals have hit the forums all over the region and safeplace has continued to post. The result is a valley wide spread of awareness that whistleblowers and whispered words, for over a decade, have been dead on accurate.

This choice of caving to the pressure of advertisers and social power is a familiar one to locals where local media is concerned.

One of the patterns, of this decades old issue, began to develop in 2005 out of the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce.  A now proven and verifiable online harassment and slander to whistleblowers, combined with a burst onto the web of glorification of the head of the Chamber.

A second pattern developed. Tom Jankovsky of Sunlight Ski Resort and Steve Beckley of Glenwood Caverns created the current Tourism Board. Then put that board under the power of the Chamber. A Chamber which has been the sole source award for tourism marketing for 22 years, with an estimated 14 to 18 million dollars flowing through it’s coffers during that time. The Chamber's immediate burst into Swift Communications media and onto the world wide web, in a quest to become a Destination Resort, filled the coffers of the City of Glenwood Springs Accommodations Tax. The strategy of that marketing campaign is blatantly obvious when one looks at the range of advertising and marketing coverage that it pays for. We did become a Destination Resort. The less than a handful of companies that benefit the most are called locally the “Lion’s” of our tourism sector. In the years since, small business that are offshoots supporting the infrastructure of the Tourism Lion's have resorted to developing their own marketing entities in order to attempt to keep pace and stay alive as they carry that weight. In the boom hit of this recession, no focus of change has come to our tourism marketing.  Our revenues in accommodations tax dropped 30% in 2009 and decreased another 5.4% to date in 2010.  Downtown small businesses closing rapidly, findings that our marketing vendor in the Chamber dipped the locals Tourism Grant Fund until it ran dry.  The pattern of continual climbing to the top while refusing to provide accountability and transparency to the citizens has grown stronger since 2005.

The sleeper in this story are the small voices of the whistleblowers. Behind the scenes, in the sub communities of our valley and region they kept talking and grew stronger.

Today, being so strong they have managed to give their voices of reason, fairness and balance a courageous physical presence.

One strong enough to bring the upcoming oversight to the largest and most influential public revenue base our region has in our Accommodations Tax.   Ordinance #12, Series of 2010, City of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

 smalltown7 takes the win.

Another big change here at safeplace is our being picked up by politcally powerful non profit watch dog feeds. is now approaching over 50,600 views.

smalltown7 keeps talking.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Current Watch: Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. SafePlace answers Local's Call

You are asking.

That asking is growing in fever pitch, now that word is out we are releasing comments again on this blog.

We have decided to give you what you want.

Straight talk, no holds barred, smalltown7's view on what’s left to deal with on the Current Watch on the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. Just like our investigative period used to do, prior to your win of getting oversight on the Tourism Marketing Contract in place.

In process:
• Final approval of minor changes to language in your new City Ordinance #12, Series of 2010. City Council should have that on the agenda for final read and pass on July 15th, 2010. We are highly confident it will pass, all council members seemed to be in favor on 1st read. There did not appear to be any nays coming, with maybe the exception of Councilwoman Kaup and Councilman Sturges; who may be susceptible to pressure from the full court press. We hope there are no nays.

Accountability from the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, for the return of the funds depleted from city discretionary fund when the Tourism Grant Fund ran dry this Spring. The chamber openly admitted, at council on the 1st, that they sit on a cushion. The chamber openly revealed no replacement for Kate Collins has been done after her recent resignation. Kate’s salary for an entire year has already been paid to the chamber, with less than 5 months of that salary depleted. The chamber attempted to state they have the contract for 2011. In reality, they do not. One of the first pushes, by this now diverse board, is being watched to be one of the first ever RFP (Request For Proposals) being issued on the Tourism Marketing Contract. smalltown7's vote is Kate Collins and her new firm, Write Brain Left, Inc. to bid that RFP. By our calculations, the return of the balance of Kate’s salary for the year 2010, combined with the release back to the city of a cushion that was never to have been in place without City Council’s awareness; returns to the people what we shelled out for bail-out to the Grant Fund. There should be ample remaining, in addition to, that would fund all of the worthwhile grant requests that are currently doing without. We are hoping that our very vocal push to point these items out to council gets this item back on agenda quickly so the folks can benefit. Full accountability for that dip by the chamber this year, walks hand in hand with getting an RFP in place for 2011. RFP construction itself is more a function of the section below.

Issues we feel the new Tourism Board can and should cover:
• Secure our still down, accommodations tax base, by issuing an RFP for the 2011 award. Kate Collins could walk right into that and pick up stride quickly.That may be the fastest, wisest choice for 2011.   Kim Doose, Snap Smart Media is another huge favorite of our community. She could do same. No, smalltown7 does not support any bidding by the chamber to be allowed until all questions from the past are answered and transparency is in place. We do see the need for political stroking in having a member of the Chamber sit on the new Tourism Board. We strongly suggest that be a member of the Chamber Board of Directors rather than any Chamber employee.

• Inventory immediately what our resources are in Tourism Promotion.    For years, each time noise has been made to remove the chamber, the chamber and it’s board have countered with their statements and implications that they “own” all creations paid for by marketing funds, to date. For years, only the tourism elite, who were hand picked by the chamber to sit on the old Tourism Board, have seen the lion’s share of promotion. A very conservative guesstimate of 85% of all promotion done for decades has benefitted the Hot Springs Pool and it’s offshoot spas. Sunlight Ski Resort and it’s affiliations. Glenwood Canyon Resort and Glenwood Caverns and their offshoots. Hotels and restaurants coming in behind. This new and diverse oversight board holds more seats and demands diversity. Small business representation, private citizens, limited lodging and financial institutions.

 At this time, smalltown7 apologizes to our City Council for our comment in an earlier post. We stated that this new ordinance was a piece of milk toast and set up for making politicians in the current have an easier row, all the work to be done by the future. We also went on to call their work on this ordinance a “public disgrace”. We do not redact the milk toast. It is. But after watching, on July 1, 2010, only one of you come very close to caving to the Chamber’s Full Court Press; we do see your sincerity and your commitment to becoming stronger and more accountable. smalltown7 does not believe you are a public disgrace and respectfully apologizes.

Let’s find out what the city owns. Let’s find out what we have of substance in draws , events, gimics and promotions.

• Citizens who are small business owners, do know what a landing sheet is, Kate. What we want is a budget that is not short sighted and suiting an assumption that the ATM known as the Accommodations Tax will never shut down or run dry. Let’s get fresh blood, new ideas into a few work sessions so that hard looks at how the numbers add up to bang for the buck. The 2011 budget and landing need to be performing back to at least 2008 standards, no matter what “the economy” does. True resources like Glenwood Springs don’t slump this much when any outside influence kicks in.

• As our new board settles in, address the issue of Strawberry Days. Civic event or Chamber event? Get 2011 Strawberry Days dialed in to meet whatever our current City ordinances require for one of the biggest annual draws we have.

• Start looking at long term goals. The potential merit of awarding a performance based Tourism Promotion Contract, major and at least semi-permanent draws such as an expansion of the water park, para gliding infrastructure, major and sustainable with high revenue draws such as World Kayak and what we can put together to compliment Vail when they host the next Winter Olympics and smaller draws that could hold focused funding to Tourism Grant Fund so it can get off of accommodations tax revenues.

Issue we feel your new Tourism Oversight Board and our City Council should work hand in hand on. At this time, we also make the call for our County Commissioners to join in as the property the Chamber is housed in belongs to Garfield County:
• 22 years worth of forensic transparency on all public money flowing through the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

There you go, mostly local asking peeps. You asked, we delivered. It’s up to you to make this new board all you want it to be.

In response to the call out to hammerandnails to sit this board: (“I may be at a loss for words and humbled hearing all this. But actually would like to sit this board.   Especially if some of our nominees join me. Steve Swanson of Good Health Grocery. Stan Rachesky, old War Horse. rukdng, a common man with common sense and a fair hand. Jason Carey, and need I say more. Sharrill Hawkins, just a really good woman. Dave Heyl, a logical and savvy businessman with keen eyes who does not back down when needed. Yep, I would like that. But, after all this hard work to get our original question answered on “where’s the money?”, there’s been too much blood shed to get your new board in place only to have it get weakened by what is sure to come in manipulation and opposition now. None of us will be the ones to give that opposition a target mark.  "Conspiracy against the Chamber" days are over now.  Time to do better things with all our time.  We want you not just flying out there, we want Glenwood Springs soaring. I’ll keep my friends in low places until we get you there. Thanks, though. May need to get a bigger hat.”)

Comments remain moderated on this blog.  34 of 42 comments on our last post have been released.  6 of the 8 that are held back; contain positive content that assists our latest whistleblower's legal  needs.  The remaining two of the 8 have been cataloged as evidentiary.  We encourage your comments and rarely strike.  Please also remember we all have day jobs and this is volunteer work.  At the present time, it takes 9 of us devoting around 15  hours a week to all the posting on nationwide forums for  all the political offshoots  this blog has brought us, for all the research time it takes to keep track of the fast moving run of this Current Watch. We also have  a number of organizations that watches have been asked for and we still need to pull together some decisions on.  Thank you for your patience.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Current Watch: Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce. City Council Stands Firm and Moves Swiftly to Get Oversight Board in Place

...either uninformed or simply being misled.."

"...has been on table for a year..."

"...not appreciative of the fear mongering.."

"...we have a moral and ethical need to act.."

"...yes.  We are ready to move this forward tonight.."

And so they did.  The comments above are all from sitting council members.  Not from the visibly shaken current President and CEO of our Chamber of Commerce.

In a historic first time ever show of firm resolve, our City Council held firm last night and pushed into a long session to make minor changes in language to the new ordinance designed to protect the money flow of our Accommodations Tax revenues.

Very minor changes to language in the new Ordinance #12, Series of 2010 were decided upon and authority given by council to the city attorney to have rewrite in place for the next council meeting's approval.

smalltown7 remains wanting answers to all questions in our summary post below. 

We also feel completely confident that never again will the loopholes that have allowed for only in house oversight of themselves by the Chamber/Marketing Vendor be allowed to surface.  Future accountability is going to be in place.

This is a major win for the citizens of Glenwood Springs.

The fact that it was blatantly obvious the usual full court press was visibly shaken and highly uneffective in swaying council; did escape our local press coverage.

Again, smalltown7 takes the win.

The future of the largest revenue base Glenwood Springs has will now be in the hands of a diverse board. 

It is up to the citizens of Glenwood Springs to empower themselves now and make it a strong and autonomous from the marketing vendor, board.

Where will our Chamber of Commerce and it's Board of Directors end up as the now empowered city and citizens rise? a very good question, indeed.

After the display we watched last night, our guess here at smalltown8 is a continued attempt at more full court pressing to keep the Chamber's stranglehold on the revenues in place.

With a Chamber President and CEO under investigation, a very poor showing of gimics and flashy power point presentations on the quarterly marketing report that was completely lacking in actual numbers and returns for our money,  and a visibly missing show of physical supporters of old in the room; our guess is the new Tourism Board will be looking hard for answers and asking some very tough questions.

Thank you, sitting council of 2010.  You have a clear path ahead of you now and have done as asked.  Awakened and taken charge.

It will be very, very interesting to watch the next two weeks unfold for our council and our citizens as the end of an era dissolves.