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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Firefighters story shows why Truth to Power is here

            Anyone who wonders why Truth to Power exists need only look at what has happened in Cheyenne’s media in the past several days.
            On Saturday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle took it upon itself to slap this city’s firefighters in the face. Why? Because they dare to hold Cheyenne’s officials to the contract they signed with those same firefighters. The WTE essentially called the firefighters babies for filing a grievance over work schedules and duties.
            Is City Hall required to follow the negotiated and signed contract between itself and a legitimate union? Of course it is. But the WTE, which is clearly in the pocket of the
Saturday's "Thumb" from the WTE.
city’s controlling forces, including Mayor Marian Orr, chooses to ignore that the city must follow the law. Instead, it belittles firefighters’ concerns as simply the “shuffling a few duties” and essentially tells them to sit down and shut up.
            Making matters worse is that the WTE didn’t even bother to talk to the firefighters or mention their position. Rather, it took the word of Orr that this is much ado about nothing. 
But wait. Isn’t this the same mayor who has been beating up the city’s firefighters ever since they opposed her in the 2016 election? And isn’t this the same mayor who went to the Legislature earlier this year and tried to decertify the firefighters’ union? Yes, and yes.
            And the WTE editorial board asks Orr to provide clarity on her dispute with firefighters? Really? Apparently the paper has so lost its way that it chooses propaganda over digging to get to the real truth.
Meanwhile, Truth to Power this week published a dynamite column by former City Council member Richard Johnson which shows – in stark detail – how Orr and her sycophants are making city firefighters’ lives unbearable. Johnson spoke to more than 30 sources to confirm his facts, and his article was reviewed by more than a dozen people who are close to the issue. 
            On this blog, Johnson tells of a naked effort by city officials to go after the firefighters.  ( And anyone who doesn’t think this is about payback for firefighters’ support of candidate Amy Surdam in 2016 election is fooling themselves. This mayor has shown a shocking level of arrogance. That she and her officials would turn that on the firefighters union is no surprise.
            Please note that this column is not intended to be an outright endorsement of the firefighters or their union. Their contract is problematic for the city in a number of ways, including a growing impact on the city budget. But that is not solved by abusing them and destroying their morale.
            No, this is about this city’s only printed editorial voice failing to do its job of investigating the underlying problems with the firefighters rather than accepting Orr’s word as gospel. Why not call the firefighters before slapping them down? Because you are not interested in what they have to say. Orr speaks, you believe. And the people of Cheyenne are blinded to the truth by their newspaper.
            But no more. Truth to Power is here – and we will continue to be here. It is time someone step up and speak out to this city’s overbearing leadership since that is not happening anywhere else. 
            Right now, it is Richard Johnson’s turn to speak Truth to Power. Recently our Dani Olsen did the same, pointing out corruption in the state's Republican leadership. And Rod Miller has shown how far this state's right-wingers have strayed from what true conservatism is all about.
Others will follow here. If we don’t do it, no one else will.

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

Wyo. conservatives would sadden Goldwater

“Where Do You Stand, Sir?”  
That was the title of a column Barry Goldwater wrote for several Arizona newspapers back in the 1960s. As a U.S. senator, he performed one of the most admirable acts of political courage in American history when he convinced President Richard Nixon, mired in Watergate, to resign to avoid a constitutional crisis.  
Goldwater was also the first politician to move the fulcrum of political power in America west by several meridians of longitude. I have always revered him as the father of modern
U.S. Barry Goldwater (left) and President Ronald Reagan.
conservative thought, and it is vitally important for anyone who self-identifies as conservative to know and understand his political philosophy.  
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the man himself had to say about important issues of the day. (These quotes are harvested from his book, “Conscience of a Conservative” and from his published speeches and articles.)
“Politics (is) the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.” Goldwater’s political ethos was always to value the individual over the group.
“To my mind, the single essential element on which all discoveries will be dependent is human freedom.” Anything that thwarts individual human freedom, such as large organizations that demand conformity – be they governments or political institutions – run counter to the ethos of the man who defined Republican thought.
“The people’s welfare depends on individual self-reliance rather than on state paternalism. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” If that statement needs explanation, you have no business calling yourself a Republican or a conservative.
“Every man, for his individual good and for the good of his society, is responsible for his own development.”  Again, res ipsa loquitur. That speaks for itself
“The legitimate functions of government are actually conducive to freedom. Maintaining internal order, keeping foreign foes at bay, administering justice, removing obstacles to the free interchange of goods and ideas – the exercise of these powers makes it possible for men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum liberty.” The notion of a limited and circumscribed government is central to Goldwater’s political thought, and indeed, should be to that of every Republican and conservative.
“The framers of our Constitution were well aware of the dangers posed by self-seeking demagogues, that they might persuade a majority of the people to confer on government vast powers in return for deceptive promises of economic gain.” Both political parties are patently guilty of this, to their shame and to our shame as citizens for allowing it to happen. It’s going on now. What will you do about it?
“(The Republic’s potential will be realized) when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given.” Goldwater offers a suggestion about the above.
“Nothing could so far advance the cause of freedom as for state officials throughout the land to assert their rightful claim to lost state power; and for the federal government to withdraw promptly and totally from every jurisdiction which the Constitution has reserved unto the states.  But if ‘states’ rights’ are so asserted as to encroach upon individual rights that are protected by valid federal laws, then the exercise of states’ rights is a nullity.” The best definition of “states’ rights” I’ve ever seen.
Goldwater rigidly opposed welfare, whether individual or corporate. He believed profit should be earned by individual initiative or corporate competency, not by legislation. A “nanny state” for either the individual or the corporation leads ultimately to loss of freedom: “The power to confer or withhold unlimited benefits is the power to coerce or destroy.”
“In order to achieve the widest possible distribution of political power, financial contributions to political campaigns should be made by individuals and individuals alone. I see no reason for labor unions – or corporations – to participate in politics. Both were created for economic purposes and their activities should be restricted accordingly.”  He wrote this 50 years before “Citizens United”, and it’s still true today as a cornerstone of conservative political philosophy.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say most Wyomingites who call themselves conservative Republicans will agree with what Barry Goldwater has said so far. Let’s see if you’re still with him when you read the following.
“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” Being a Westerner and an acclaimed outdoor photographer, Goldwater had a lot more in common with the early environmental movement than people realize.
“The great decisions of government cannot be dictated by the concerns of religious factions. We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now. To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the Framers built this democratic republic.” Goldwater later expanded on his views of the separation of church and state by saying, “Every good Christian ought to kick (the Rev. Jerry) Falwell right in the ass.”
“The big thing is to make this country quit discriminating against people just because they're gay. You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. They're American citizens.” Individual liberties, once again. Good conservative doctrine.
“A woman has a right to an abortion. That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.” Again, the rights of the individual prevail over organizational dogma, whether that organization is political or religious.
Much of what Goldwater said is in direct contradiction to what many self-styled conservatives in Wyoming espouse. He would question their motives. He would doubt that their dogma is good for the Republican Party he loved.  
He also would warn citizens to be on their guard against this current caustic brand of alt-right, neo-con extremism.
“Where do you stand, sir?”

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

Sunday, July 28, 2019

City Hall is abusing Cheyenne's firefighters

The controversies, unfulfilled promises to and exploitation of Cheyenne Fire and Rescue is like Cheyenne Superday on steroids. In a nutshell, leaders purposely make their department fail, and the mayor constantly tells them to "kick rocks." 
The fire chief will have been in Cheyenne and leading this circus for two years in September. Upon his arrival, he was immediately notified that the biggest issue was the balance of qualifications among the three shifts. One shift had 14 paramedics, another had six. It
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the people working the six-paramedics shift accumulated tons of overtime when shift mates were on comp time, vacation, sick or hurt. 
This poor management cost the city thousands upon thousands of dollars. The shift size inequities were finally resolved after about 15 months.
Not only did changes happen with paramedics, but they also occurred for those who had stepped up into driving and leadership roles. So one shift would have paramedic overtime, another would have driving overtime, etc. 
Firefighters made good money on the extra hours worked, but those lead to burnout and other issues. While many members work 100, 200, 500 extra hours in a year, the mayor had the nerve to tell City Council members, the Legislature and others, "OMG! Look at these paychecks! Look at what these guys are making!" 
Oh, but she forgot to include the data on all the extra hours these folks worked. 
Only the best for the second-most important CFD in the city. Yeah, Cheyenne Fire Department. 
This year started off as a shit show when the mayor spoke in front of the Legislature to get rid of the firefighters union two weeks before negotiations got under way. Nothing says "collective bargaining" like a Monday night meeting at the Jonah Building with a prison shank approach.
The next game was to destroy all the ranks, including those applying for the positions.
When engineers try to promote to lieutenants, and lieutenants to battalion chiefs, certain books have always been used to test them on their abilities. Well with 30 days’ notice to the exams, about 1,000 pages of study materials were added. Not a single person passed the battalion chiefs’ test, and only one the lieutenants’ test. 
So how would they screw with firefighters wanting to be drivers (engineers)? Simple. The International Fire Service Training Association’s driver operator book that Wyoming uses to certify drivers – a book that was also used to test firefighters on the promotional exam – was mysteriously retired. You read 900 pages of IFSTA to be Wyoming certified, but a different 900-page book to get promoted. 
The engineer list always had 8-14 people on it, now it has four. 
The saddest example of this mess was setting up the entrance exam for failure. In the past decade, Cheyenne Fire went from 140 to 44 people signing up to join its team. The test was advertised hardly at all. The only way you were going to see it was to have liked their Facebook page, which is managed by firefighters.
The administration put zero effort into getting recruits to test. Even though a list of 44 interested and qualified local fire volunteers, veterans, paramedics, nurses and college athletes existed, the fire chief made comments like, “Do we even have five qualified people on the list?”
So why are they stalling on recruits, promotional exams, etc.? Because the chief and his puppet of an “acting chief” have pulled Cheyenne Fire and Rescue from the Front Range academy and have no plans in place to train new hires. 
A battalion chief told the administration in June of 2018 that he was having surgery that month and then would be retiring immediately afterward. He retired last September, and he still hasn't been replaced. By the time they get a firefighter in that empty spot, it will be nearly Christmas – 18 months after his forewarning. 
That also means somebody off the previous hiring exam missed their fair chance to become a firefighter. The acting chief said there “just wasn't enough time.”  I guess there isn't when you don't care enough to think about, or care about, recruitment. 
When the suppression chief left the department in August of 2018, an exam was set up for his replacement. Only a lieutenant in prevention passed. But he was never given the position. It was given to a "yes man" who never took the test or even signed up. 
The chief and acting suppression chief have run things into the ground ever since. Faults in the promotion exams, going against the contract and policies, telling the union one thing and battalion chiefs something different to cause heartache, missing managing hires and budgets, and the list goes on and on.
Cheyenne Fire and Rescue has a system of calling in a rotating order for overtime. If everyone declines the offer, then someone is forced in. This might happen once or twice a year, in years past, but it has happened over a dozen times this year. Firefighters don't even want to work at a time-and-half rate due to low morale and bad leadership. 
The constant hatred from the mayor and absent leadership style of the chief and acting chief has run its course and cost Cheyenne enough.
Some other quick fun facts:
1 – The mayor has tried to prevent the firefighters from going to local events on duty. For years a fire engine was sent to Friday Nights on the Plaza to show the truck to kids and be in the area of a crowd that might need their assistance. 
The mayor has recently requested they don't do that, that they just go down and hang out with their friends. I guess good PR is only reserved for the chief executive,  not the life-saving foot soldiers.
2 – Until this last year, Fire Station 6 had carpet that was about 37 years old and had never been professionally cleaned. These guys work around nasty chemicals, blood, vomit and many other disgusting things, and their carpet gets walked on 24-7-365. As far as I know, that 37-year-old shag was only vacuumed daily by a firefighter. 
Donations came in to resolve this embarrassing issue, but the new hodgepodge of carpet and tiles looks a lot like the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard.
3 – The Cheyenne Fire Department administration was caught up in a 45-minute debate over what shirts to wear in the Frontier Days parade. Yet it still didn’t know what radio signal to use in case of emergency at the event. 
4 – The mold and decay resulting from the hot, putrid air exhaled during the mayor's 2016 campaign tour still haunts Station 3. And choking exhaust is still blowing into the living quarters in Station 5. 
We all knew things were going to be awful for the firefighters when they endorsed Amy Surdam for mayor in 2016. The current mayor believes in payback – and she follows through. It’s not like past mayors helped. They were whispering in the ear of Cheyenne's first female mayor about the firefighters union faster than the fresh chip seal oil and rock separate on their namesake street. 
To the men in red who read this piece, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have hundreds more stories than even the ones mentioned here. 
You deserve so much better. Maybe if you’re lucky, the city will subscribe you to the failing newspaper or mow the grass like they do in front of other city buildings. 
If the new hot shot car dealer really wants to impress folks in this town, how about donating some funds toward a new fire truck? All it takes is a zero-dollar bid when Purchasing sends out the request. 
It’s going to take a bit more than Black Dog Rescue calendars and appearances in parades to raise the morale of Cheyenne's first responders. 

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

Friday, July 26, 2019

No, Cheyenne drivers, you don't own the streets

The streets of Cheyenne are not safe.
No, I’m not talking about the potholes or the rotted-out portions of the cheap chip seal.
And no, I’m not talking about the propensities of this city’s drivers to speed and run through every red light at every opportunity. 
That is not the kind of danger that I am talking about.
Rather, try walking a dog on downtown streets on a busy Friday afternoon. 
Or try biking to work.
It truly can be about taking your life into your own hands.
Consider. I was walking my two dachshunds this morning, crossing Carey Avenue near Pershing. One was dragging behind, taking his sweet time. Approaching was the typical
Bicyclists and pedestrians are in danger on Cheyenne's streets.
Cheyenne pickup truck, and the driver, who clearly saw us, refused to either brake or slow down. Instead, he barreled toward us, and I was forced to drag the slower dog up the curb.
And when a friend and I considered biking to work earlier this year, we had to plot a course that would take us, as much as possible, out of the way of the city’s drivers. That included long stretches of sidewalk for fearing of being in the streets.
This ought not to be. 
The mindset here continues to be that motorized vehicles own the streets and that everyone – and everything – had better get out of the way.
This has to end if Cheyenne ever hopes to become a magnet for young professionals. These people simply do not get around like the old-school residents of the Capital City.   Consider just a few findings from the study “Transportation and the New GenerationWhy Young People Are Driving Less and What It Means for Transportation Policy.” ( In 2009:
·     16 to 34-year-olds as a whole took 24 percent more bike trips than they took in 2001, despite the age group actually shrinking in size by 2 percent. 
·     16 to 34-year-olds walked to destinations 16 percent more frequently than did 16 to 34-year-olds living in 2001. 
·     Many of America’s youth said they prefer to live places where they can easily walk, bike and take public transportation. 
Among the report’s conclusions: The trend toward reduced driving among young people is likely to persist as a result of technological changes and increased legal and financial barriers to driving.
If you talk to any of the young people you work with – even those who were born and have lived their lives here – you will find this to be true. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule; that was no oldster bearing down on me on Carey Avenue this morning. But the trend clearly is away from that, and it is up this city’s leaders to work on changing the culture here.
It can be done. Consider how bicycle friendly Fort Collins, Colo., has become. Or try failing to stop for a pedestrian in Boulder, Colo. He or she will tell you in no uncertain terms that they have a right to the street too.
All of this is not to say that the rights of Cheyenne’s pedestrians or bicyclists should be given precedence over the rights of motorists. But there seems to be a belief by too many motorists that pedestrians and bicyclists do not have any rights at all when they are in the roadway. 
The argument is that vehicle drivers pay taxes for the streets while bicyclists and pedestrians do not. But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of that the matter is that most roadwork in Cheyenne is funded by the fifth- and sixth-penny salestaxes. Everyone pays those, not just those at the helms of pickup trucks the size of boats.
It is time that city officials begin to address these issues. Not only should this be done to avoid injuries and even deaths, but also to begin altering this driver-centric culture. If you expect young professionals to feel welcome here, allowing drivers to run their bikes off the roads or blow black exhaust smoke on them – yes, coal rolling still persists here – is not going to get that done.
Some possible actions:
·     A safety campaign that explains pedestrian rights and drivers’ responsibilities. This would not have to be costly, but it should be high profile and long term. It should emphasize pedestrian safety over drivers’ rights. It could include “Pedestrian Safety Month” with targeted events and other marketing efforts.
·     A similar bicycling safety effort could be instituted. Brochures could be printed and handed out by police when they see drivers violating the law. Tickets should be issued in particularly unsafe incidents.
·     Moments of emphasis by the police department. Set a week or month aside during which officers are especially mindful of pedestrian and/or bicyclist safety. It would be no different than those times when police focus on drunken driving.
              It must be said that these programs should cut both ways. Bicyclists or pedestrians who violate the law set bad examples for the rest and only emphasize the misbeliefs of those who think they own the streets.
But regardless, the driver-centric culture has to change if Cheyenne ever expects to move forward. I should not have to fear for my life every time I step off the curb or try to bicycle my way to Lions Park.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

So, just where are we going, Cheyenne?

Twenty-five years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill
Of hope for a destination
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood
Of man for whatever that means

And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed
Just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs,
“What’s going on?!”
             --“What’s Up” 4 Non Blondes

I have been off of Facebook for some months.
It was my source of local relation and information about the microcosm I live within.
It was my way to know about social happenings and city evolutions.
It was the place of the updates about my up-and-coming 20th high school reunion.
I wonder if I threw away a useful network.
Now it’s just me and the people who are in direct contact with my daily life with no pretense.
Now it is me and animals and vegetation and GMA.
These recent days have been full of insight that comes in sparingly in regard to outside parties. But it hasn’t stopped the insights I have been pulling in and building since before the FB exodus.

What the hell is happening in my town?
Oh, just The Story of Old in a New Digital Era.
I am on Twitter @MadgeMidgely. My local newspaper, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle,
Madge Midley wonders: Whither goest the Capital City?
posts on Twitter. Almost every published article is behind a paywall. Why then use Twitter? 
I don’t think more than a handful of people follow them. Many of these published pieces are basic AP wire reporting from other places across the map yet still behind a paywall.
The most worthwhile reporting in the aforementioned periodical are obits and police blotters. It is generic and lacks substance when it comes to the content of local reporting.
A few of the things I want to know, as of recently, is in regard to the magnanimous money drops made in our downtown area. I want to know what the hell is happening under our noses through developing backdoor deals. I want to know how the “good ole boys” club is adapting to the digital age by funding the progeny lines of wealth and what it means to the regular Cheyenne resident in the long run.
I don’t want to pay $14 for a cocktail downtown to impress anyone. Look into the scam of alcohol pricing.
I like to go to my favorite hole-in-the-wall pub when I get the chance to have a reasonably priced adult beverage while having a conversation with old-timer locals who work hard for people who have the money and tend to abuse their help. Sounds like a good time, right?
My attention toward them is like a rainbow during a storm, and each time I see these people, these residents of the city I live in, I see how time and lack of appreciation are taking their toll.
If anyone shows up to a memorial for them, it will be because of the potential for free drinks or to brag about what a good job they did for businesses. That will be the end of it until some night down the line a patron gets drunk and sentimental and maybe says something out of line or provocative.
These are the type of people who live downtown but will never be able to enjoy what it has to offer as the money dumps and changes proceed without consideration to the local community.

It kind of sounds like gentrification.
Those with money are not asking what Cheyenne needs as a city with a variable in demographics. However, they are putting their money where their desires are, and these aren’t “passion projects” – these are investments.
Of course, a person can invest in their own passion project, but this usually comes later, once an entrepreneur type is more established. Investments require only a passion to make large amounts of residual income. Something that pays for itself over and over again. Something the investor finds useful to their own vision and benefit.

Why does it feel like my city has no planning?
Because it doesn’t it seem to with any legitimacy. This is a town that once was segregated by the direction of the roads, where “colored people” couldn’t purchase property in The Avenues.
It mostly appears to be a hustle and shuffle behind closed doors between people with money and vision over drinks outside of government regulation. The government is complacent in just trying to find streams of income without actually planning the city based on its needs and developing a unique personality. 
Oh and some of these money streams hold government positions.

I live in a town of nepotism.
We are like the old Western town fronts that were just pieces of boards propped up and painted in some sort of nostalgia that wants to shift on a dime and become “hip.” But it has no foundation for such a broad jump.
Just because it “wants to be” something doesn’t mean that it is or is ready for what it means for a dramatic personality shift in a drastic and different direction.
I want to think that the younger entrepreneurs in my city mean the best and are using their wealth in that direction. But I sense they are connected to the streams of wealth that are unrealizable for the average Joe and that connection alone is going put them in places of authority that they may or may not actually deserve.
Politics is interesting as it is one of the few ways a supported individual can make insane strides by blowing hot air up innocent asses just by spouting a vision that most likely will never come to fruition in the way the average person expects. It sets people up to become accustomed to that kind of loose delegation through promises with little argument.

It’s time we look beyond the excitement that appears with the hope of the “next new exciting thing” and to start building something that has longevity and value to the people who call this place “home.”
We need to ask ourselves as a community: “What do we actually need? And what do we actually want?” 
And that is what we need to petition for and realize – even if it means finding ways around the common construct that we take for granted to provide us infrastructure.
If those who are in tight with the acquisition of property and moving large dollar sums really want to “help” their community, they will ask those questions and listen carefully to answers of the people.

It is fine if Cheyenne decides to be a modest but interesting destination.
We don’t need to compete if we find our own voice and integrity.  
Sadly it is becoming evident that we will not be able to rely on our governing parties and their networks to ring lead that kind of mission when they have the best and easiest connections to resources.
It is going to have to be a community of people who demand transparency and who are willing to call out corruption and malfeasance then disseminate that information to the residents to decide for themselves about.   
That in and of itself is a battle of interest vs. disinterest.
Life can be hard enough without investing in politics. Most people want to live and let live and hope they have enough to fund their lives with a little left over or for that unexpected expense. These won’t be the people in the $425,000 condos that are the gateway to the “up and coming” art district for interest.
No, the people who would actually do best in an art district are not the seeds the city wants to be planted in that area, and they couldn’t afford it anyway. Those people would flip the investment on its head with new ideas that don’t necessarily pop dollar signs in the eyes of investors. But those ideas could be the rejuvenation this small city needs.
Now is the time to make it known that we want certain things to happen unless we settle and let go of the reins just to see how it unfolds as we continue to complain about the outcomes.
Your move, citizens of Cheyenne. Your move.

Madge Midgley is a local writer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Human trafficking is in Wyo. -- including at CFD

No matter how often locals want to deny it, human trafficking happens in Wyoming. It has occurred for decades, and it continues in not so subtle ways. 
Many of these denials are expressions of naivete. Others are from those who do not want to admit to any stain on our community. Instead of denying the existence of this
heinous crime, we should seek it out and shout it out from the rooftops.  
Only when we admit a problem can we begin to eliminate it.
Facts, statistics and plain old common sense tell us human trafficking occurs in Wyoming. Consider the following:
1 – Two major interstate highways make it easy to move victims from city to city and state to state.  Just look at some of the human trafficking crimes that have been prosecuted in Wyoming with victims originally from other states – many of them runaways.  It is estimated that 1 in 6 child runaways will be a victim of sex trafficking.
2 – A rank of the 7th highest state in terms of the percentage of missing persons.Law enforcement statistics show missing persons of 7.8 for every 100,000 people in Wyoming. Many of the missing are young runaways or teens taken in nefarious circumstances.  It is estimated that 28 percent of the youth living on the street have survival sex – most of it falling in the category of sex trafficking. 
3 – Oil and gas development.Texas and North Dakota oil and gas industries, as well as government officials, have admitted there is a problem with increased sex workers in their drilling areas. And many of those are victims of sex trafficking.  Do we think Wyoming is any different? 
4 – Cheyenne Frontier Days.  It is not the rodeo itself that creates the problem. Rather, it is found at any large event where money from illicit activities is to be made – major sporting events, large trade shows or conventions, major motorcycle rallies. With tens of billions of dollars made each year from human trafficking, there is a motive to go where the crowds go. The total money made worldwide from sex trafficking is ranked third in criminal activities. It is exceeded only by that associated with drugs and arms trafficking. 
5 – Craigslist ads for afternoon delights. Many were relieved when Backpage (a major website for sex ads) was shut down. The presumed that human trafficking would become harder. Yet take a look at Craigslist. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what people are buying and selling – throughout Wyoming. 
6 – Calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.  In about a 10-year period, calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline about activities in Wyoming identified more than 56 cases of sex and labor human trafficking. That included an estimated 60 to 100 victims. For a crime that is significantly underreported, this is a lot. One is too many. 
Human trafficking in Wyoming exists. It is OK to admit it. The next step is to give up complacency and acceptance. Bring it out of the shadows.  
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect human trafficking is occurring, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, available 24/7. Help is available in English or Spanish and many other languages. 

Denise Parrish is a Cheyenne resident and a member of the Zonta Club of Cheyenne which, with other Zonta volunteers, has focused over the past few years on raising awareness about human trafficking in our community. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Civic Center director David Soules is KILLING IT!

Lately people have come up to me and said I used to motivate them with the positivity of what I did for the community. 
They say they like these articles, but they worry that everything is so negative. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with me getting tagged in every pothole, busted curb, mayoral truck, flower pot, “bad thing happening in Cheyenne” post.
It has become a real challenge for me to find something good in Cheyenne. But I did.
The Civic Center. 
I was one of the leading antagonists of the Civic Center when that other guy ran it.
Sir Mix A Lot brought thousands to Cheyenne's Downtown Plaza.
When I heard he turned down Marilyn Manson to play here on a Sunday, and that Manson was paying to play here, I had had more than enough, 
That was one more bad apple story to the orchard of bad stories. 
Enter David Soules. The man with a smile and a laugh that is contagious. Who never gets off his phone because he is seeing if he can book every artist who is still alive.
That’s right, David has a spreadsheet of bands people send him just in case their agents ever email. He knows when there is someone is interested in seeing them.  
You should email him with bands you like. I’ve done it tons of times. My friend Thomas said he hoped Lyle Lovett would come. He was so stoked when I messaged him that it was a reality. 
The first show from the Civic Center after Soule got here that I remember seeing on Facebook was Trombone Shorty. The videos were electric. I couldn’t believe this was a Wednesday night in Cheyenne. It looked like a real city and a real concert!
Here’s how things stack up over the last two years. 
Highest grossing:STYX, Avett Brothers, Norah Jones.
Most profitable: Avett Brothers, STYX, iLuminate.
Most tickets sold:Mannheim Steamroller, Norah Jones, Avett Brothers.
Most talked about: Bareknuckle Fight, Avett Brothers, Trombone Shorty.
I have my own stats. Peter Frampton. I was so miserable about my former employer closing shop that I forgot had I bought tickets to Frampton on Valentine's Day.
David Soules
That show was so sick. I said to myself, “Did Peter Frampton just kill it?” The answer was yes. 
I’ve been to the symphony, ballets, even a ballet where Rush Archives was the backup music. 
I really wanted to see Three Dog Night and ZZ Top. 
And let’s not forget the Downtown Plaza and the Botanical Gardens.
David brought Patti Fiasco, Marchfourth, Black Lillies, Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band and Red Bush to the Plaza, and he snagged Sir Mix A Lot. That’s right, Sir Mix A Lot. Free. To the public.
In the words of a fellow Cheyenne music promoter in regards to Sir Mix A Lot, “David hit this show so far out of the park, I can’t believe it. If you compare where Cheyenne is with live entertainment and community events to, say, 2014, it’s truly a bit of a renaissance at play.”
If you’re writing Facebook comments like this, “With Sir Mix A Lot and later Sugar Hill, all I have to say is: If Cheyenne is now on the hip hop nostalgia circuit, we need das efx to do a show somewhere here.”
If you need to, send an email to get the act to his spreadsheet:
The vibe at Sir Mix A Lot was local and appreciated. Many posts reported how Mix A Lot brought huge crowds, and it wasn’t Cheyenne Frontier Days related!
Cheyenne wants and needs more things besides CFD.
I am super-stoked that David took the job and about what he has done for music and culture in Cheyenne. Maybe this column will get me on stage at The Price is Right.? Just kidding. Or am I? 
I would give a standing ovation, but some season ticket holders would turn me into security. 

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