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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Don't let Cheyenne's "can't do" mayor ruin Superday

“Our staff rocks! Complainers can kick rocks.” – Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr to those who dared challenge her on Facebook about the city's recent handling of Superday

            There is so much that might be said about those seven words from the Capital City’s “can’t do” mayor. 
Marian Orr’s attitude toward those who pay her salary is outrageous. But it also is not anything new. It was on display even before she took office: She used every dirty tactic she could think of to win her 2016 election. The haughtiness. The pettiness. The arrogance. Her recent effort
Superday attracts thousands  to Lions Park each year.
to dump members of the Downtown Development Authority who stood up to her when she tried to slash that agency’s budget is more proof of all that.
But that is not the subject of this column. Rather it is about Ms. Orr’s “can’t do” mentality that continues to hold Cheyenne back. Rather than adopting a vision of greatness for the Capital City and then finding the means – any and all means – to execute it, projects and ideas are cast aside because, well, they just can’t be done.
Listen to the mayor complain to the local newspaper about Superday, which has been in place for 37 years and has been one of City Hall’s greatest gifts to those who live here:
“The tents at the events don’t set up and take down themselves. It takes (city) staff, just on that particular day, an extreme amount of time, not to mention the planning that goes into it for months beforehand. It really takes a lot of manpower.”
Oh boo hoo. The city has to spend some money and use its personnel to create an event that brings Cheyenne together in ways that no other event does, not even Frontier Days, because it is free and does not try to milk every cent out of residents. (Or at least it has been free until it started charging for armbands. More on that in a moment). Superday truly is a great event that helps bind City Hall to the people of Cheyenne. That Orr is even considering shutting it down shows how small her vision truly is.
Orr’s complaints about Superday have no merit – except perhaps to those local naysayers who do not want city government to use its funds for anything except streets. There always is money when city leaders want to do something – like spending $16,000 on flowers for downtown pots, right mayor? So complaining about the costs of Superday isn’t a reason, it’s an excuse not to do something Orr doesn’t want to do.
Similarly, the complaint about the time it takes to put up and take down the event is just so much political hot air. Getting the personnel in place is simply a matter of budgeting and paying employees for their work. Schedules can be maneuvered to keep overtime to a minimum, and money can be set aside in advance to pay for the work. Again, it’s amazing how funds can be found when City Hall wants to do something. When it doesn’t, well, the whining begins.
Similarly, charging $30 per person (that’s $120 for a family of four) for armbands at Superday is a slap in the face of the everyday people of Cheyenne, and again it shows Orr’s disdain for them. Perhaps to someone who makes $95,000 a year and surely salted away the big bucks when she was lobbying for corporations and others in the Legislature, $100 is nothing. But to the people of Cheyenne – whose pay is depressed here by the very people Orr lobbied for – that is not nothing. And to take an event that was once free for all and turn it into an elitist happening is scandalous.
At least the president of the City Council has his mind in the right place. Rocky Case told the local newspaper:
“This thing has grown into a fantastic one-day event every summer. … I think the Community Recreation and Events Department should do their best to break even, but they should not be in the business of striving to make money.”
Mr. Case and the rest of the council should send a firm message to the mayor that they will, in no way, allow her to kill or cheapen Superday. The large number of comments on local Facebook pages regarding Orr’s plans should tell the council that their constituents have no interest in seeing Superday go away. Council members also should stand tall against any and all efforts to turn Superday into an event that only those with money can afford to attend.
Perhaps council members could encourage Orr to grow her volunteer corps or develop more sponsorships. Of course, a “can do” mayor would think of those things herself.
No doubt, Her Honor won’t like the City Council dictating to her what she can or can’t do. But that’s just too bad. 
Maybe she should just go kick rocks.

D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Don't let candidates for office dodge debates

We’re at great risk of losing one of our oldest and most cherished political traditions, folks.
By that I mean honest, legitimate debate among candidates. The kind with real give-and-take, questions and answers, point and counterpoint, intellectual jousting among candidates who are doing their best to convince us to vote for them to go to Cheyenne or Washington and, well, debate.
The instructive mano a mano and tete a tete that characterized political discourse from Lincoln/Douglas to Nixon/Kennedy to Bentsen/Quayle has been replaced
Debates like Lincoln-Douglas are being lost from our political landscape.
by (if we’re lucky enough to get even that) glorified sound bites presented in sterile settings in front of a tame media and complacent audiences.  
Voters are being cheated out of opportunities to see how candidates can think on their feet, how they command facts, how they respond to rhetorical attacks with rational counter-argument. In short, voters are being cheated out of a chance to see how a candidate would perform if her or she is elected to debate the great issues of the day on the floor of our representative bodies.
We, as citizens, should be much more demanding of our candidates. We should insist that anyone seeking office present themselves as something more than domesticated parrots who have memorized the party line and who fall back upon glib party slogans when challenged.
We alsoshould demand that candidates show up for real debates, prepared to defend their positions with civility and intelligence. And we should publicly shame any candidate who avoids this responsibility. (Incumbents, this means you particularly.)
Voters should hold the feet to the fire of our news media and political organizations so that they step out of their comfort zones and safe places and organize and conduct political debates that deserve the name.
Wyoming is a small enough state that no candidate should get a free pass for political cowardice. 
If we, as voting citizens, are unwilling to demand this of our candidates, then we have abrogated our responsibilities and we deserve to be represented by people who are afraid to debate in public. We will end up with elected representatives who rely upon massive media buys funded by out-of-state corporations and PACs instead of relying upon their own intelligence, political courage and willingness to stand on their own two feet in front of us.
So here’s a challenge. This election cycle, let’s not be satisfied with what candidates for office spoon-feed us from their policy books nor with their attacking their opponents from a safe distance.
Let’s let them know, in no uncertain terms, that if they don’t climb into the ring, put some skin in the game and duel it out in legitimate political debates in front of their friends and neighbors, that we won’t give them our vote nor even the time of day.

Rod Miller is a citizen, father and grandfather and a proud former Wyoming Outlaw living in Cheyenne.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Legalizing marijuana would lift Wyoming

I started this article with facts and reasons why cannabis needs to be legalized.
But I’m also going to tell you why you should think outside this box you have been given.
For too long people have been painting this picture full of false images for us. When you hear cannabis, what do you think of? 
You probably think of that old hippie dude with a long hair and peace sign, right? Well, when I hear cannabis, I think about the little boy who needs CBD (cannabidioloil so he can go to school without fear of seizures. I think of the farmer who was about to lose everything before turning to hemp to save his farm. I think of that breast cancer victim who has finally found relief.
I also think about all the wonderful things cannabis can do for our Wyomingites
The truth is this, whether you are pro or con, cannabis legalization will benefit you. 
We are entering 2020, and science already has told us the facts. It’s time for us to listen.
It’s also time for you to take a stroll around Cheyenne and the other Wyoming cities. Look at Cheyenne schools like Baggs Elementary, McCormick Junior High and a few of the others. Potholes so big you could
lose your car in them; programs being cut due to low funding. Did you know that Wyoming is ranked 13th for education?
Now imagine what we could do for our children with the funding cannabis legalization will bring us. No more fighting over pools or cutting out extracurricular activities.
Now let’s also look at some other positives. 
Like our farmers. Our farmers face harsh weather constantly. Hemp is called nature’s perfect plant, and I can see why. You don’t need any herbicides, and it actually nourishes the soil it grows in. Crazy right? 
This one plant can make paper, biodegradable plastic, clothing, Hempcrete (a concrete substitute) and so much more. You can even use the hemp seeds to make flour, cooking oil and cattle feed.
So not only can you grow 10 tons per acre within four months, but you can feed your livestock and better your life. Hemp could even be turned into a highly proficient fuel-producing crop. Can you imagine what that could mean?
Our police force will no longer have to waste its time on something that should have never been illegal to begin with. Now maybe that jackass that just ran the red light and almost caused an accident might actually get a ticket. We’ll see crime go down because the actual criminals will be dealt with instead of ticketing the single mom of four who just needs a little help to sleep at night.  
Cannabis users are not criminals. They are doctors, farmers, teachers, sisters, nephews and neighbors. Billions around the world enjoy positive benefits from mind-altering drugs without even realizing it. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and cannabis -- they all chemically effect our brains. We use them as crutches, which we all need in one way or another. 
It’s our choice how we use or misuse it. At least with cannabis there are no fatalities or overdoses. 
Right now, hemp and CBD are legal in Wyoming. So you may be asking: Why do we even need THC, which is the chemical that causes that marijuana “high”?
Well, CBD isn’t the only part that has amazing medical advantages. Did you know THC stimulates and grows brain cells as well? 
Cannabinoids have been discovered to naturally exist in our bodies. There are these cannabis-like substances in the human body that activate these so-called cannabinoid receptors. This discovery has opened up so many possibilities for new medicines from the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. These receptors are not just in the brain. They can also be found in many other parts of the body, including the immune, endocrine and reproductive systems.
FUN FACT: Cannabinoids are also found in human breast milk. Its these cannabinoids that tell newborn babies they need to eat and suck.
Cannabis, CBD, THC, etc. are effective medicines. There’s overwhelming evidence that cannabis helps with various diseases and afflictions.
These include cancers, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD (post-traumatic distress order), arthritis, migraines and anxiety.
Right now, things like food stamps (SNAP) and other state programs are getting funding cuts while billions are spent trying to stop adults from using cannabis, a plant, that grows naturally and has never caused a death.
The only doorways cannabis open are the doors you choose to open. Most patients and users find those doors that lead to a better way of living and wellbeing.
One last thing before I leave you to think: 
We are the Wild West, take-no-shit Wyomingites. To live here you need thick skin and a big heart. 
Prohibition denies us our most basic human right. Prohibition takes away our right of sovereignty over our own bodies and gives this power to the government. 
An average of $2.4 billion is spent annually on the “War on Drugs.” That means billions in potential taxes are going to drug cartels. That’s money we can tax and regulate like alcohol to better our state, our home.

Dominique Lyon is president and founder of Legalize Wyoming.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Charging for Superday ruined the spirit of the event

This is to those running Cheyenne Superday as well as to Mayor Marian Orr:
I am writing to convey my deep disappointment with the way the event went this year. 
I love Superday. It has the potential to bring a small bit of magic the Capital City,
Hundreds turn out every year for Superday in Cheyenne.
yet you're pricing us out! You advertise a free event, yet you're charging for parking and $30 for an armband.
I know you received $50,000 from a sponsorship by Holly Frontier as many other large businesses’ sponsorships. I have previously been on the board for Freedom Has a Birthday in Laramie, an event with 10,000 plus people in attendance. So I do understand the scope and know exactly what it costs to host a community event such as this. 
The city of Laramie provides or makes darn sure everything is sponsored, so it remains a free event. It does not sit well with me that the city of Cheyenne was unwilling to provide even one free bounce house for the children and families who came.
Yes, there were other free activities. But they were sponsored by other organizations who also paid to be vendors there.
Even if one long-lined, big attraction could have been provided, it could have made a positive difference. Every child who came to the event saw the bounce houses, ropes courses, petting zoo and trampolines and, naturally, wanted to participate.
The lines every year are atrocious, and I've always wondered why more attractions aren't budgeted and more sponsors organized to cut down on the lines. But it was free, so no one complained. Year after year people returned and children stood in horribly long lines with smiles on their faces. 
This year it was not free, and the advertisements you provided were misleading. There were children standing in horribly long lines with smiles on their faces and tickets in their hands and then there were other children not holding tickets and not smiling. These children were not able to pet the animals or scale the climbing wall, only able to wish they could.
We already have Cheyenne Frontier Days and an armband. There, it cost $30. Did you feel your attractions are on the same par with carnival rides? I don’t.
In my opinion, your event wasn't even priced fairly! The pricing took advantage of our community. CFD provides a lot of fancy, top-notch entertainment and it's also cost prohibitive for many families. Superday has historically been something that everyone could look forward to without breaking the bank. 
Cheyenne needs a SUPER day. We need an affordable day to unite and be grateful for our community. 
I grew up in Cheyenne and knew children who had nothing else to look forward to besides this. Not much has changed. There are still children in our community who need this day! 
An expensive armband has separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” There are so many children in our community who grow up without the advantage of travel, camps and enrichment classes. Shame on City Hall for not coming through for that demographic this summer. This event has, in the past, accomplished this. It has the potential to do so in the future!
I am writing as someone who believes in this event, someone who is grateful for the extreme number of work hours that go into it. I know the impact an event like this has for a community. It can be a significant morale boost, a day in the sunshine we all can share.
The sponsors, the volunteers: They deserve credit. They worked hard to make it a fun day. The criticism doesn't fall to them. We need more volunteers, more sponsors, more city investment. The event has the potential to be SUPER again We just need the right leaders behind it. 
Charging for everything, including parking, tickets/armbands, vendors, artists for the chalk walk, what is the purpose of this event? And where does the money go? Is the budget for this event public? Is there a public board for this event, and how are members selected? 
How can the city work to get more volunteers and more sponsors? Is there a strategic planning meeting following the event that the public could take part in that might lead to better outcomes?
Is the mayor aware of the structure of this event? If so how could she allow this to happen? 
Who is accountable to hearing my complaints and answering my questions?

Natalia Johnson is the owner of Abundance Creative Arts in Laramie. She is an educator dedicated to serving children and families in Wyoming. She grew up in Cheyenne and currently lives in Laramie.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Legalize gambling to dodge tax increases

Listen. Listen closely and you can hear the rumblings.
We hear this sound every once in a while. Some are bothered; others are not.
This is not the rumblings of a spring thunderstorm or of the hooves of the cattle drive for Cheyenne Frontier Days. It’s not the rumbling of hundreds of Harley Davidsons headed
Central City, Colo., has gambling. Why not Cheyenne?
to Sturgis, S.D. Nor is it the sound of a giant Union Pacific Train pulling into the depot.
The rumblings I am talking about come from those talking about corporate and a personal income taxes being voted in by the Legislature in the 2020 budget session.
It appears Wyoming could be facing a budget deficit of close to $1 billion by the end of 2020. The cause appears to be out-of-control spending. No matter what you do or how much tax revenue government collects, out-of-control spending will wipe out any budget.
I consider myself as an independent when it comes to politics. I probably lean a little more to the Democratic Party, but by no means do I identify with either party.
Like most of you, I don’t like more taxes. But I also have no problem paying more if I am getting something back. 
Now, the business side of me says: “If I can create more value, I will make more money.” I feel the same way here. Instead of mandating more taxes, is there a way we can add value to Wyoming and create more tax revenue? 
We have the best national economy in 50 years, and the lowest unemployment in 50 years. How good does the economy have to be and how low does the unemployment rate have to be before we don’t have budget problems?
We have to cut spending; that’s a given. But is there a way we can create more revenue?
Well, I’m glad you asked. 
Yes, and it all starts with repealing the McGill Act of 1901.
Repealing that act would allow every county and every city to vote on legalized gambling.
Now hear me out. I would never vote to legalize gambling if we just allowed every gas station to have slot machines. But I would if we did it in an organized, balanced way.
Legalized gambling has to be done with a balance of gambling and entertainment. 
If it’s just gambling, you get another Deadwood or Central City. DO If you want to put in a casino, there has to be a percentage of live entertainment. More like a Las Vegas or Reno, Nev. This way we have more of a draw to bring people to Cheyenne as opposed to just people who want the thrill of gambling.
If we can attract concert goers and capitalize on Cheyenne's amenities, this would be a win/win for the Capital City and the state of Wyoming. We finally would start to diversify the economy and become a destination for more than just 10 days in July. 
Will there be a small percentage of people who have a gambling problem? Yes. But no more than those who have drinking problems, and gambling would bring in more revenue for treatment.
The key is to have gaming and entertainment, balanced and controlled. There has to be regulations or else you will have just the gamblers, which will become corrupt.
Will we legalize gambling? I don't see it happening because we are too afraid to evolve. But wouldn't it be nice to have people flying into Cheyenne for long weekends that include some shows and some gaming and spending money?
It took a lot of work to get an airline to look at us without knowing they are going to lose money by being here. Can you imagine five flights a day to and from multiple airports? 
Stretch your mind and imagine having family and friends coming to see Sawyer Brown during their week’s stay at the Little Bear Casino and Resort. Or to catch one of the two nights of the Kenny Chesney Blue Rocking Chair Acoustic tour. 
How many people would come to see Sammy Hagar at the Hard Rock High Plains Casino and Resort? 
All of this would be left up to the voters as gambling would remain illegal until it is passed by the voters.
Every person, every relationship, every product, every service and every business has to evolve. It’s the same with every community. The question is: How do we evolve? 
Legalized gambling is a concept Cheyenne and Wyoming can handle. Yes, there will be some obstacles, just like every concept that moves one forward.
But keep in mind: Gambling is a part of our history too. It was legal until the passage of the McGill Act of 1901.
Doc Holiday seldom visited places that didn't involve a spirited game of poker. And Cheyenne, and many other Wyoming communities, have all the amenities and history and culture between our Western heritage and the railroad to make this work and work successfully.
Let’s do our research and see if we can create more revenue instead of legislating more taxes. All it takes is some vision, and a lot of courage.
This will not replace the need to control spending, but it will diversify the local and state economies enough to make it easier to weather the rough spots.

Steve Sears is a small businessman and entrepreneur in Cheyenne. He recently opened Elevate Group Training Studios at 1408A E 13th St.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bring back "The Strip" to energize downtown

         “I live my life a quarter mile at a time." -- Dom Toretto, “The Fast and The Furious” (2001)

It’s always the million-dollar question for every hack Cheyenne media source during election season: “What are you going to do about downtown?” 
What if a candidate came out of the chutes and said, “I’m going to bring back ‘The Strip’”? 
You know, south on Central and north on Warren?
During a recent unscientific poll, a question was posed, “Do you know why people
quit cruising the strip?” The answers varied from, “Because they started smoking meth” to the closing of the Owl Inn. 
As far as I could narrow it down, “The Strip” faded away between 1999 and 2002. So what do the people surveyed believe led to the demise of a four-decade Cheyenne tradition? 
Out of the hundred or so people who the question was posed to, nearly 80 percent said the police killed “The Strip.” 
Whether it was hot rodding, drinking, getting high, playing CB tag, showing off your project car or trying to get laid, across the board everyone said they were sick of getting hassled by the police. 
These are two examples answers that were sent. Here’s the first:
“You know, I'm not entirely sure.  I know in the early ’90s it was still popular.  But around ’92-93 the property owners on corners where we would hang out started complaining to the police. So they started coming around and kicking everyone off the private property.
“We used to cruise the parks in ’93-95.  My hick friends and I hung out by the boat ramp/peanut pond in Lions Park. The police started hassling us there, too, even when we weren't doing anything wrong. By the time I was in college, cruising the strip wasn't a thing.”
And the second example:
“But really I think it's the cops. Harassing for a missed turn signal. And I don't like cops pulling me over and approaching my car with three cars deep and all of them with hands on their pistols. I'd rather stay inside my home and not get shot.”
Tough police harassment was the top spot, cellphones ranked second. 
In the words of one responder, “Teens had cellphones by then, so they could communicate with each other out of the reach of parents without having to go to a central location in town.” 
It’s true. Who needs go stand on the street looking for people you know when they are at your fingertips?
Loitering enforcement was in third place. 
Section 9.16.060 of city code focuses on juveniles from curfew to the following:
“Public place" means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities and shops.
"Remain" means:
1 -- To linger or stay; or
2 -- To fail to leave premises when requested to do so by a police officer or the owner, operator or other person in control of the premises.
This type of ordinance seems contradictory to current political jargon that says we need to bring more youth and vibrancy to downtown. Twenty years ago, you had it, and you killed it. You have no one to blame but yourselves. 
History repeats itself and soon those young people downtown will be in the scariest gang, selling drugs, selling their bodies, breaking private property, playing that loud music and probably taking part in human trafficking. 
After 40 years, could it just be something as simple as a generation thing? Did it run its course? Could it return and bring activity to a 20-year atrophic area of the community?
Maybe those competing downtown agencies could team up and bring back “Strip nights.” Cars, loud music, loitering, “The Rat Hole" and most of all fun.
Who am I kidding? They’ll probably say something like, “Were the youth downtown frequenting businesses or making purchases?  It sounds to me like they hung out on the street corners. I’m not sure that it contributed to vibrancy." 
Food for thought! Unfortunately, businesses downtown aren’t open past 6 p.m., and it’s kind of hard to buy from closed stores.

Richard Johnson is a former member of the Cheyenne City Council from Ward 3 on the city’s east side.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Seize the Hynds Building and pull it down

This is the second of two columns on the downtown “hole” and the neighboring Hynds Building. The first, published here June 14, was headlined: “Business leaders created “nightmare” at “The Hole.” 

The article in the local newspaper doesn’t say whether car dealer and Cheyenne Planning Commission member Brian Tyrrell was joking when he responded to a plan by
the City Council to subsidize the development of the Hynds Building downtown.
According to the story, dated July 10, 2018, meeting, “Developer John Volk … called the subsidy ‘a handout’ … Tyrrell agreed (and said) it was perhaps time to consider razing the structure.”
Now there was a man with a plan, even if he didn’t know it. 
Only one strategy makes sense for the both “The Hole” downtown as well as the neighboring Hynds Building. It is time that the Hynds come down and both sites be put to good use for the community.
Face it: The people of Cheyenne have stood on the sidelines for decades
and watched as the Hynds has gone empty while hogging up prime downtown space on West Lincolnway. The latest effort by developer David Hatch was pure snake oil: He wanted the government to pick up most of the tab. As if.
As for “The Hole,” the best of all options was scuttled by downtown business leaders, now-Mayor Marian Orr and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. They wanted the space for their buddy, Hatch, and their ouster of the Children’s Museum
The Hynds Building in downtown Cheyenne.
of Cheyenne from the site has again left an empty hole in the ground and a still undeveloped Hynds.

So, separately “The Hole” can’t go it alone, and neither can the Hynds. It is time for radical action that might get downtown kickstarted again.
Here is what has to be done: Local government should initiate procedures to use its eminent domain power to seize the Hynds and raze it, a la Tyrrell’s proposal. Government officials then should begin plans to use the property for an arts and cultural center. It could harbor working artists as well as include practice rooms for musicians and perhaps even a small performance venue.
Before you say the city can’t do that, please review Wyoming House Bill 125. It passed the Legislature and was signed into law on Feb. 28, 2007. 
While state lawmakers at that time were opposed to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the seizure of private property for private economic development efforts (Kelo v. City of New London, 2005), they did permit that same seizure for public purposes. That is defined as “the possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land by a public entity.”
So if the City Council decided to end the problems of the Hynds and “The Hole,” they could do it, provided they could put together the money to pay for the seizure. The price for the Hynds: Hatch was asking $2.2 million a year ago, but he paid $1.6 million. And given that it is virtually impossible to develop, the price for the Hynds surely is less than that.
As for the land’s future use, an arts/cultural center makes perfect sense. Downtown has added several art galleries in recent years, and the downtown plaza has proven a boon for musicians. It is time that this city continues that trend by making a bold statement that it is about more than cowboys and Frontier Days, both of which hog up way too much of this community’s mindset.
Dying cities across the nation are using the arts to springboard into their futures. One such community is Thomas, W.Va. It recently was featured in an article in May 15 issue of Yes! Magazine, “How an ‘Arts and Culture Economy’ Rebuilt a Former Coal Town.” ( The arts have turned a lifeless downtown into a locale with great enthusiasm and growth.
The article also mentions Montana’s Atrtrepeneur Program, which trains rural artists in the best practices of business development, and Virginia’s “Crooked Road,” a heritage music trail with sites for traditional gospel, mountain and bluegrass. And it points to a publication from the National Governors Association, “Rural Prosperity Through the Arts and Creative Sector.” (
I already can hear the voices of the naysayers and their city leaders, like Orr: “That will never happen here.” “How will you pay for it?” “We would never support using taxpayer funds for (harrumph!) ‘art.’” Blah, blah, blah.
When did the “we can” spirit of Westerners turn into the “we can’t” of too many of Cheyenne leaders? The Capital City must stop letting circumstances dictate its depressed spirit and dictate to circumstances instead. This is an idea that can turn downtown around. If you doubt it, read the documents cited above.
To say that the City Council lacks vision for Cheyenne would be an understatement. They have done nothing to advance downtown as an engine that could drive a successful future. 
It is time somebody step up. Stop whispering “No, we can’t” and begin shouting, “Yes, we can!” Pull down the Hynds and create an arts/cultural center that will do this city proud. 
You don’t like “The Hole” and the empty Hynds? Then, by God, do something about it.

D. Reed Eckhardt is the former editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Local newspaper tried to gag me. It won't work.

          “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.” -- Frederick Douglass, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, American Slave,” 1845

So, for those few of you Dear Readers out there who may have noticed my absence from the editorial pages of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle since last September, the explanation is quite simple: I got fired.
Well, “fired” might not be the best word to use, as I was never an actual paid employee -- simply a freelance commentator. But I was certainly told

by Managing Editor Brian Martin, in a phone call a couple of days after my last WTE rant ran back on Sept. 2, that my words were no longer desired for WTE publication.
When I asked Martin about the reason for the termination, all he would tell me was that he had received a “large” number of complaints about my most recently published columns. As a consequence, the item came up to a vote by the WTE’s Editorial Board. A vote which I lost.
“Did I misquote somebody or get my facts wrong?” I asked Martin after he conveyed that information.
“No, nothing like that,” he said. “No one challenged your facts. They just basically expressed that they were tired of what you have to say.”
“No problem, Brian,” I told him. “If the WTE is not interested in my columns any longer, then that’s your right, as a private company, to make that choice.”
More than one person suggested to me, in the weeks following the WTE’s decision, that by refusing to run my column any longer, the WTE was interfering with my First Amendment rights.
Sorry, but while I appreciate the sentiments, I’d respectfully disagree.
The First Amendment guarantees that we cannot be persecuted by government for our statements or beliefs. It does not mean that we have to be provided with newspaper commentary space, bullhorns or university lecterns by those who disagree with our views. Nor does it mean we’re above being challenged on our statements. 
It means: Freedom from government persecution. PERIOD! As a privately owned company, the WTE can run anyone’s opinions as it sees fit. Or not. Finis. End of story. The “Big 30.”
But just because I would never legally challenge the WTE’s right to run whatever commentary swill they find palatable does not mean I don’t have thoughts about how those selections are made. Nor does it take much imagination to figure out what actually happened behind the scenes regarding my weekly rants.
Consider, to begin with, as anyone who has ever read me regularly can attest to, that the fundamental thrust of all my columns has always been to combat government overreach, waste and ineptitude wherever it might be found. I also am ready to challenge government’s unconstitutional involvement in the myriad sectors of our society and economy best left, in both reason and morality, to the workings of the free market.
Then let’s add to the mix the fact that the most oft-frequented target for my  exposés was: the “economic development” schemes always being hatched, presented and engineered by local “leaders,” whether they be attempts to force county taxpayers to fund children’s museums (shot down in 2016) or the corporate welfare handouts distributed by the Wyoming Business Council. 
Such adventures are always cast in the light of “development” for our economy (“We created 13 jobs with this subsidy!”) But none of the proponents of such schemes ever tell us how they intend on producing wealth by stealing it first. Nor do they ever bother to explain the role in actual wealth-creation those forcibly extracted tax dollars would have played had they been left alone to do their work in the private sector instead.
Then, let’s also point out that I spent most of the summer of 2018 beating up on all the political hacks running for the Wyoming governorship on the Republican ticket. Most of them claimed to be “free-market conservatives,” but they were getting taxpayer-funded handouts of one kind or another instead (such as now-Gov. Mark Gordon’s USDA farm subsidies for his Merlin Ranch).
So roll it all together and what do you get? A lot of people, with both political and economic interests in maintaining and expanding government control over such “economic development” boondoggles, who wanted me to SHUT UP
Yep, I’m quite sure that the local “Good ‘Ole Boy Network” was “tired of what I had to say” all right!
So, do I have to be a fly on the wall to figure it out? No, at least a few of the good ole boys got together, obviously, and decided to launch a complaint campaign against me. And, given the WTE’s spine status as that of a wet noodle, once such a “large” number of complaints were received, the WTE acted to excise my opinions from their pages. 
Notice that no one bothered to actually pen a commentary themselves and refute, publicly, the facts I’ve always pointed out about such fascistic “economic development” schemes (schemes the WTE generally supports editorially, by the way). No, that would require work, consistency and integrity, and the fascists would much rather simply shut me down instead. 
(Sidebar: Remember, Dear Readers, that “fascism” is actually a precisely defined word, not just a generalized name to call someone and hurl about. What it actually means is: “a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.) ..."
Observe that Mussolini and the rest of his Italian fascists did NOT nationalize factories or advocate the abolition of private property, They merely controlled such property instead, manipulating the marketplace for their own ends with handouts to their boot-licking cronies and further controls on their enemies. And all of it was paid for by prior plunderings of the productive members of the population they ruled.
So to the extent to which our local “leaders” advocate the same type of “economic development” schemes for the same reasons, and act to fund them in exactly the same manner -- well, then, they qualify as “fascists” as well.)
Well, to Martin and the rest of the WTE’s Editorial Board, as well as the “economic development” fascists who decided they couldn’t tolerate my opinions any longer: Yes, you can silence my voice in the WTE, but that doesn’t alter the facts of reality by one atom or erg of energy.
Your schemes still conflict with what’s real. You can’t take money you haven’t got from people at the point of a gun then hand it out to your cronies, and then call that “economic growth.”
Even more telling, however, is the fact that instead of rebutting the charges I’ve made repeatedly over the years -- which you are all apparently unable to do -- you sought to gag me instead. 
You people seem to think that muzzling my public voice means muzzling the facts of reality as well. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world operates; blank-outs never work.
Nor, speaking strictly now to the Editorial Board of the WTE, does your cave-to-so-called-public-opinion approach speak well for your journalistic integrity. Whatever happened to objectively analyzing the facts? Or to acting out on the media’s role as a watchdog over out-of-control government’s constant meddling in our lives? Rather than challenging such practices, you advocate and encourage them instead.
No, instead of courageously acting on such principles, you WTE folks prefer to declare that they don’t exist, or are irrelevant in our lives. When you could have stepped up to the plate and actually done your job, you chose to allow public opinion polls to become the barometer of your soul -- a soul which now, in the words of Ayn Rand, is little more than a “shapeless piece of clay stamped by footprints going in all directions” (“Philosophy and Sense of Life,” 1966).
The WTE constantly claims that it supports a “diversity of viewpoints.” But firing me makes the reality clear: That “diversity” only occurs within the framework of the mixed-economy systems so prevalent in the United States today. Challenge that model, Dear Readers, and you’re in big trouble down at the WTE.
The surprise, quite frankly, is that I was allowed to rant in the WTE as long as I did. I have always known my approach to socio-politico-economic issues has flown in the face of both conventional “wisdom” and WTE editorial philosophy. So whatever run I was ever able to get away with was “good to go” with me. And I’ve always known that that ride would be cut off eventually.
Neither the Editorial Board of the WTE nor the local “economic development” fascists control this blog, however. So, Dear Readers, be on notice that -- after a much-needed break -- we’re about to resume our exposés on government graft, manipulation and corruption. 
And you can just call that “doing the job the local news media refuses to do." Are you people ready for another ride?

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. He blogs at Reigniting Liberty’s Torch,  Reigniting Liberty's Torch Email: He also is the co-founder of this blog, Truth to Power.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Let's make downtown Cheyenne a destination

A story appeared in the local media recently about the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce working to bring commuter rail service to Cheyenne.
First of all, let me say congratulationsto Chamber CEO and President Dale Steenburgen and his group for their hard work. 
There is two ways to look at this. 
One is this is a way to take money out of our local economy
as this will be an easy way
A map outlining contributor Sears' plan for downtown
for those weekend shoppers to leave and spend their money elsewhere and bring them and their purchases back home safely. 
As of now, you have to ask yourself: Does Cheyenne have the attractions and the infrastructure, outside of those 10 days in July for Frontier Days, to sustain people coming to Cheyenne for the day of shopping and dining? 
I don't think so. But I like the forward thinking of Steenburgen and the Chamber. 
The second way to see this, and the way I choose to see it, is as a positive, although a little premature. But it is still a positive, pointing to this as an outstanding time to create something special in Cheyenne. 
It's time to start discussing the option of making downtown Cheyenne a destination. 
This could tie in beautifully with Mayor Marian Orr last year announcing a study to close off streets to create a Capital Complex. I like her thought process, but I would adjust it to stimulate more economic growth. Why not make downtown Cheyenne a destination for our neighbors to the south?
This is the concept I would execute if I were a part of the powers to be:
n Close off 15th and 17th Streets with the exception of the north/south streets through 17th.
n Any event on the plaza would be expanded down 15th Street. 
n On 15th Street you should have theme weekends. Street Musician weekend, where every corner has a different street musician with a main stage. Founders weekend with actors telling stories of how Cheyenne use to be. That would be a great weekend to utilize the Gunslingers. On parade days during CFD, 15th Street should be lined with chuckwagons cooking their best. This keeps people downtown shopping. During the winter months we could have a chili cookoff, and closer to Christmas have a Kettle Corn and Carolers weekend. 
n Set up "Pre-Trip" and a "Post-Trip" weekends to bookend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and bring in more of that traffic. You would need to incorporate WYDOT and SDDOT and keep a focus on the bikers traveling safely while having fun during their stay in Cheyenne. 
n The Capital Complex would not have any closed-off streets, but it would be an important element in the overall project with three large lots for events. 
n This also should be tied into the West Edge project. Provide trolley or hay rides to connect all three projects.   
Again, I am not a part of the City Council or the Chamber. I own a few businesses in city limits, but my home is in the county. There would be lots of obstacles to this plan, but they all are possible to overcome. 
I hope this conversation continues about whatever direction Downtown Cheyenne and the Chamber decide to go. This could happen, and it would change the trajectory of our economy and community. 
I believe in the philosophy of Napoleon Hill, "Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” 
Let’s get started now.
Steve Sears is a small businessman and entrepreneur in Cheyenne. He recently opened Elevate Group Training Studios at 1408A E 13th St.