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​Comments made by Bruce baker during discussion about approving the minutes of the February 13, 2017 City Council meetingType your paragraph here.

Remarks by Council Member Bruce Baker to the Westminster City Council planned to be made on February 13, 2017 in response to the comments during the January 23rd City Council meeting.  Unfortunately Councillor Comments were not allowed during the Ferbuary 13, 2017.

I must preface my remarks this evening by stating the reason for my use of this voice recorder.  Because I stutter, I am not always fluent in conversation.  I use crutch words to overcome the lack of sound when easily spoken words unexpectedly transform into complete stops.  My mouth remains open, my face contorts, but no words can be forced out.  However frustrating it is for me, for my listeners it is even more distracting.  Should they wait in silence, or laugh?  Why should they listen at all? 

I know my limitations.  The ideas I wish to share tonight I feel are of great importance.  I do not wish to place obstacles in the way of my listeners hearing me.  Consider this recording as my speaking aid.

 

 

 

Wow!  Our last city council meeting was really something.  I ask my colleagues, how much work did it take to organize the flash mob?  A mob to demonize and vilify me.  How long did you spend on your comments to call me the most hurtful and ugly names you could find? 

And you really hit the mark.  You scored a direct hit.  It hurt.  The words you shot did not hurt me nearly as much as the sense of betrayal I felt.  I really thought that you meant all the words you have said about inclusive communities and valuing diversity.

The fact that you could not recruit enough Westminster citizens to attack me did not lessen the power of your attack.   You activated people from Thornton, Commerce City, Denver and other places to bulk up the attack.  The Flash Mob speakers were more fierce than Landlord Mandate proponents, or the Park 1200 citizens, or any other speakers that I can recall.

But why attack me?

Is it because my life history is so different than yours?  I see situations differently than you do.  But instead of asking me to discover the reasons why behind my different view, you ascribe to me the most vile and hateful reasons.  I know you fear and distrust people that do not parrot your ideas, so is that why you had to get me? 

Look at our council’s history. I was elected to council with openly stated ideas that opposed the choices of previous councils.   Is it because I don’t fit in and I won’t conform that you hate me?  You have never been able to entice me into your club.  Swell titles and offered, all–expense paid trips could not seduce me.  Worse for you is instead of retreating into corner and keeping quiet, I keep finding ways to spread my non-group-think ideas.  I keep exposing the wasteful and foolish projects that are squandering millions of public dollars.   How many times have you wondered amongst yourselves “Will no one rid us of this meddlesome councillor?”  You know I will continue to speak out unless somehow stopped. 

So how can you silence me?  You’ve tried bullying me, that doesn’t work.  You’ve tried shunning me, that doesn’t work.  Do you think by calling me names I will run away?  Your angry flash mob with their passionate stories and hurled insults, has rallied people to my side.

For a council that claims to celebrate diversity and strive for inclusion, your actions show you to be hypocrites.

 

And why hurt me?

Do you thrill in seeing other people hurt?  Was the flash mob there to watch, and mock and jeer?  As your councilor comments landed left jab, right hook and body blow on me, was the mob there to watch in anticipation and scream as my blood gushed out? 

Beating up a person in private is meant to intimidate them.  You know I won’t be intimidated.  So you beat me up in public, to hurt me and to intimidate anyone that might follow my example.

 

Integrity demands that I take ownership of the charges leveled against me that are true.  Do I choose my words carefully?  Yes I do.  Moreover, I spend as much time as necessary to consider my words.  I call that being prepared.  

I look at the connotation and denotation of my words.  I look at the subtle shades and nuance of my words.  I strive for the balance between a word that precisely conveys my thoughts and one which will be better understood.  I also know that sometimes something I thought was crystal clear has been heard completely differently by others.  That is a risk I gladly take.  That is a possibility to which I offer dialogue to correct.  I will spend time to clarify misunderstandings.  But I have meant every word I have spoken.   I am not ashamed of a single word I have spoken.

My purpose in using the phrase “clumsy words and awkward examples” was to give my partners in dialogue a way to save face.  When you finally change your minds and join me on the right side, instead of admitting you were wrong, you can push some of the blame onto me.  But you are not ready to come to the right side.  You have chosen to raise the cost of your mistake.  You are making even louder your vow be a welcoming community to law breakers.

 

 

And then there is the flash mob.  How did you get their passion inflamed to the point it overwhelmed their decency? Did you tell them a half story or a big lie?  Many spoke of their appreciation for their immigrant ancestors.  But where in my comments have I demeaned or denigrated or demonized immigrants?   In my comments I identified lawful immigrants as being some of the victims of people unlawfully present in the US.  The most probable answer is that the defenders of immigrants where deceived.  To say or imply that I ever demeaned lawful immigrants is a lie.

But even more emotionally powerful was the lie that using the Its on Us template for dealing with people unlawfully present in the US minimizes sexual assault.  Were my several examples of using the sexual assault template for reducing shoplifting, or robbery, or fraud, or embezzlement not heard?  Or does calling attention to those crimes minimize sexual assault?  Do you think a person that has been swindled out their life savings would think fraud is a minor crime?

Moreover, the important point that I was making is the exact point that I hear It’s on Us making.  All of society must join together in making the conduct of breaking our laws unacceptable.   For example, Crime Stoppers encourages people to report potential law breakers to law enforcement.  Whistle Blower Act protections encourage reporting when it is the powerful breaking the law.  Society will never completely prevent law breaking, but making law breaking unacceptable will certainly deter a majority of crimes. 

 

We make laws in our Society to prevent harm being done to our people.  There is great harm done by having people unlawfully present in the US.  Let me share with you some of the harms I see.

1-      It reduces the value of every American citizenship.  Citizenship is the greatest asset I have.  Citizenship is the most wonderful gift my parents ever gave to me.  Citizenship is the proudest gift I was privileged to give to my children.  Citizenship is the rights and opportunities I risked my life to defend.  I feel every level of government has a responsibility to assist in defending our citizenship.  When governments do not cooperate in the defense of people’s citizenship, we have failed as government.

2-     Citizenship is the very real bond that should hold all Americans together.  It is that asset of equal value that we all share and lets us care about each other, from the richest Warren Buffet to the poorest, homeless man.  It is the bond that should make us care about the safety, but even more so, the success of our fellow citizens.

3-     Citizenship is the right of participation in the American Free Market.  A free market requires willing buyers and willing sellers.  But the wealthy among us refuse to pay wages adequate to hire a willing American worker, so they cheat.  They break the law and con eager, rarely complaining unlawfully-present workers to take low wages.  So free market priced American human capital sits abandoned and idle by the millions in cities and towns across our country. 

4-      The people unlawfully present are made victims.  We heard the advocate with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.  She knows and sees the harm being done.  She understands the exploitation in the current phony system.  She plainly said how the undocumented immigrants are being victimized, by us.  Here are identifiable flesh and blood victims.  While some unlawfully present people willingly become victims, many do not.  They are caught in fear and bondage.  Fear of being discovered.  In bondage to coyotes and human traffickers. Governments, by turning a blind eye to unlawfully present people, enable this exploitation to continue.  

5-      Our lawful residents are suffering great harm.  The unlawfully present increase the number of people needing services. If the unlawfully present were not her, there would be fewer housing seekers and it would lower the rents that landlords could charge.  Fewer unlawfully present people could change the per-person funding for many public programs:  from schools to medical support to social services.

6-     The foolishness and evil of minimizing the value of American Citizenship was illustrated at our last council meeting a when member of council proclaimed he could tell native Americans by how their faces look.  That is an amazing skill and an enormous lie.  In reality he was trying to guilt people into feeling there is hardly any difference between lawful residents and the unlawfully present.  He was cleverly blurring the definition of Americans.  If we follow his logic, the facts of history would insist that all human beings are Africans, the continent where humanity arose.  The facts of history are the existing Nations and Peoples on the North American continent were not the builders of the United States, they were casualties to it.  But he chose to ridicule and demean Americans.  An honest view of America is that in spite of the wrongs we have committed, we should be proud of the blood and toil and treasure and hope that Americans have sacrificed to achieve this wonderful place.  We must fearlessly and vigorously guard our citizenship.

I believe that law breaking – whatever kind of law breaking - must not be minimized; especially by those in government and those with the power to do something about it.  Victims of sexual assault had to fight the preconception that the victim was in some bizarre way responsible for their assault.  Victims would be asked questions that showed a complete disinterest in the crime and the harm that was done.   Why did you wait to report the assault?  Where are your physical injuries?  Did you use drugs or alcohol?   When authorities and the Society they represent minimize the law breaking that is happening, the problem will not be addressed, much less solved.

This entire conflict is over the insistence that one sentence had to be omitted from Westminster’s Welcoming community statement.  That removed sentence was “The Westminster Police Department does, however, continue to work in cooperation with Federal authorities and communicates when appropriate on cases.”  By omitting that sentence it gives the impression to me that we do not faithfully cooperate with Federal authorities.  It gives the impression to me that Westminster will actively participate in the obstruction of Federal Law.

In my December 7, 2016 appeal to reconsider and in my comments on December 12, 2016 I specifically told my colleagues what I understood our Welcoming Statement to mean.  I then challenged them make this statement a City policy.  That would have meant an open, transparent, publically recorded vote.

But holding a vote on this would expose the true cause of the conflict.  Holding a vote would show respect for the citizens of Westminster.  Holding a vote would show respect for me.  It would recognize my voice as legitimate regardless of how minority it might be.  It would recognize me as part of our community.  But you have no respect for me.  You have clearly told me that you do not want me as part of the community.

In my comments of Dec 12 I said “This Council has far higher integrity and ethics than to sink to the level of arrogance and self-righteousness of George Wallace”.  Then on January 9th I said “I still have faith in the sleeping integrity of my colleagues.  I still believe that my colleagues can move beyond their fears and find the courage to live up their best values”.  It appears that I was wrong.

Your actions are those of frightened despots.  You want to boss other people around and insist they follow the law, while you pick and choose which laws you will follow.  In your arrogance you think you know better than other people.  This trash hauling situation in Westminster illustrates your arrogance. There was and is nothing wrong with trash hauling in Westminster, but you think otherwise.  So now we are on the verge of using the power of government to force many of our citizens to buy something they do not want.

I am left with a great sadness.  At the start of my term, I truly believed you, my colleagues, were focused on building a better city government for all our citizens.  I do not have that belief any more.

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