Response to Richard Skorman's Love Letter to Integrity Matters
(Talk about negative -- the hypocrisy, misrepresentation and inflated sense of self is stunning.)
On Monday, April 3rd, the day before the vote, Richard Skorman wrote a love letter to Integrity Matters featuring a gigantic pile of baloney. We immediately responded to every thread of misinformation (and there was plenty), but the Gazette deleted our response (they do like to use their power -- speaking of comments, did you know that they have turned off comments in the main page while the mayoral run-off is happening? Wonder why that is? We have seen this movie before in Strawberry Fields). Below is a quite detailed response to Skorman's nonsense as we never want to let a good love letter go without response as that would be rude, and we do sincerely believe in integrity, respect, honesty, and decency - you know that "Be A Good Human" stuff. We sincerely mean it.
Integrity Matters response to Richard Skorman's duplicitous letter to the Editor of the Gazette:
April 3rd, 2023, Colorado Springs, CO - We are obligated to our volunteers and supporters to respond to Richard Skorman's duplicitous letter to the Editor of the Gazette as well as provide additional background information about which the general public is wholly unaware.
First, we will methodically reply to every important charge Skorman made:
1. "They put yard signs all over the city that read one Mayor candidate’s name with the words “Developer’s Dream.” But then they promote another candidate on their website who has also received large contributions from developers too. Aren’t they both “Developer’s Dreams” or just the one they don’t like?"
OUR RESPONSE: There is no candidate in the mayoral race who has been backed by developer funding more than Wayne Williams. Additionally ,we do not necessarily oppose developer-funding, depending on who the developer is. The problem with Wayne Williams, and the reason we did the recall, was because he votes for his land baron donors' interests against the public interests and public safety repeatedly. We stated this in the recall petition language quite clearly. Actions matter, and Williams' votes were predictably awful for the public - like clockwork. Regarding "promoting" another candidate on our website. THIS IS FALSE. We promote no candidates on our website. We do not want to be in the business of endorsements, unlike Skorman, as we find it to be a troubling position. We don't support using peer pressure or perceived influence or power to persuade voters; rather, we raise red flags where they exist to avoid the problem children from gaining office.
2. "Many of us were disappointed by the loss of Strawberry Fields to the Broadmoor because we wanted to keep it all as city open space. Although that ship has long since sailed, It seems to still be a really important City issue for Integrity Matters — 6 years later."
OUR RESPONSE: You bet we still strongly oppose that land heist that took historic, iconic Strawberry Fields from the people. In a 110 minute conversation which Ms. Talarico asked to have with one of our founders, Dana Duggan, Ms. Talarico informed Ms. Duggan that she had erroneously said she supported trading away Strawberry Fields because both Jack Damioli, GM of the Broadmoor, and Richard Skorman praised the fire mitigation (most of which was done by FEMA, before the Broadmoor Land Swap was even announced) and the trail work. After numerous D3 residents expressed outrage (not just Integrity Matters people), she called to explain and ask to change her answer. You can read about that here and here. She also contacted other residents via phone to try and walk that back. In terms of trying to answer our survey questions, you can read that exchange here towards the bottom of the page. In sum, this is absolutely an important issue and forever will be. It is especially egregious that Skorman dismisses this given he approached Save Cheyenne founders Dana Duggan and Kathy Meinig and asked to be the "front man" for the organization as they were getting lots of media attention (national, in fact). Save Cheyenne had a former KKTV news anchor as their spokesperson who graciously agreed to share the camera with Skorman who ended up always rushing to the television cameras first making her involvement unnecessary, and she resigned from the board over it. Save Cheyenne founder Dana Duggan, prior to accepting Skorman's request to be the front man for Save Cheyenne and join the board, asked Skorman if he was running for office which he denied. He benefited greatly from this role and proceeded to win office and drop Save Cheyenne claiming he now had conflicts-of-interest. The board was not happy. Interestingly, he didn't drop his business which many have argued has conflicts-of-interest. It's lovely, isn't it?
3. "If so, then why does Integrity Matters vigorously oppose the TOPS extension on April’s ballot? How were we going to pay maintaining and building trails on Strawberry Fields if it remained in City hands. How would we have purchased the Broadmoor properties we wanted in the swap? TOPs of course. But Integrity Matters say vote no because this extension doesn’t spell out how much money can be spent for open space maintenance and stewardship versus acquisition. But they fail to mention that all the open space advocates and the TOPs originators (I repeat all) enthusiastically support this extension because we (they) went to many meetings and successfully lobbied for those very acquisition versus stewardship guarantees. No one heard from Integrity Matters during our efforts then. Why are they weighing in so strongly now? With the sunset of the current TOPS in 2025, and if this simple extension fails, what are they proposing next?"
OUR RESPONSE: Who cares who supports it? Peer pressure is never a reason to support any issue or candidate. If it's bad, it is bad; and, it is our opinion that it is, indeed, bad. We believe that the ballot language is misleading, the parameters will not stick and the intended use will be to reclaim the unreclaimable Pike View Quarry. We did ask, repeatedly, for proof, in writing, from Cory Sutela that the parameters would not change. Mr. Sutela never was able to provide this from the City attorney, and we believe the reason is because they cannot put that in writing. Only Charter Changes require a vote of the people. We also believe voters should understand it's really 40.9 cents on the dollar not 75 cents for open space acquisition as they language reads. You can read more details here. To this claim that we are "weighing in so strongly now"? We wrote our objects on a website page and shared those via Facebook. This is hardly "so strongly". We didn't do signs and a full campaign; we just believe voters should know the truth. We certainly don't have the developer donations that poured into pushing the TOPS Tax. In terms of the solution, we do provide a solution. Let the new mayor do this properly and honestly to reflect what the voters originally intended. We have time.
4. "How about their unsuccessful recall effort against Councilmembers Wayne Williams and Stephannie Fortune?
Fortune was too new to the District to be appointed, they said, before they even knew how she felt about issues or how she would vote. And oh my, she was friends with Chief of Staff Jeff Greene. For Williams, he agreed too much with Mayor John Suthers. That’s it. Recall them. But what Integrity Matters didn’t tell you when they were collecting signatures was that their effort, if it had been successful, would have cost taxpayers $400,000 by forcing a special election two months before both Fortune and Williams were going to leave office anyhow. Now that made a lot of sense."
OUR RESPONSE: Skorman was the one who gave us Ms. Fortune. "Too new" is irrelevant to unqualified and the developer's pick. Ironically, Talarico's campaign manager, Sarah Jack, witnessed that "anointment circus" firsthand as her partner, Senator Bob Gardner's daughter interviewed for the job. When numerous people confronted Jeff Greene about this, we are told he said it was "Suthers' pick". So, that Skorman would try to defend Ms. Fortune's appointment is utterly appalling. Regarding his charge that the recall would have cost the taxpayers money, we have corrected this numerous times directly to Skorman as well as publicly. This was misinformation Wayne Williams put out in the beginning of the recall to dissuade participation in the recall. Here's the truth, again: the recall would have only cost money IF Williams refused to accept the will of the people and called for an election. So, it was on Williams not on Integrity Matters. Lastly, it was a good decision on both principle and outcome. Williams repeatedly votes against the public safety and public interest of the people. Williams' poll numbers are abysmal. You can bet that recall was of no help to his popularity - justly so.
5. "Finally, their anti-Michelle Talarico campaign yard signs say: “Vote No for Michelle Talarico, Be a Good Human.” Or their posts tout “You can’t make this stuff up about Michelle, she’s a liar and a plagiarizer. “ Yes, Michelle did make a few minor communication missteps during her hectic campaign. She took responsibility for them. But Integrity Matters never mentions anything about how Michelle feels about city issues (with one exception) or how she differs from her opponent. Just personal character attacks on someone that has given a huge amount as a volunteer and a generous contributor to her city for over 30 years."
OUR RESPONSE: Many people on social media have made those claims, and we understand why. Skorman needs to do a better job of reading as we did not characterize her behavior this way. That said, we would not call copying/pasting entire paragraphs of others' words, three times that we found, "minor communication missteps". Kids are kicked out of school, flunked and lose their jobs for this behavior. If you want to really dig, go look at the "Road Dieting" question to the Springstaxpayers' question on our site and compare. She changed one word. We do not believe this was an "oopsie, I copy and pasted and accidentally hit send". Regardless, even if that were accurate, the responsibility rests with the individual submitting their answers as their own. The fact that it happened 3 times that we saw seems to contradict the "minor communication missteps". Regarding the charge we never mention how she feels about city issues, that is ABSOLUTELY FALSE, we published her answers and then republished them after she sent changes to THREE of her questions in our Presidents Day Candidate Survey. We did the same thing for every single candidate. If one calls pointing out conflicts-of-interests, not responding to questions with her own thoughts and words, and repeatedly mischaracterizing her college degree or lack thereof, "personal attacks", then guilty as charged. We call it informing the public so they know what they are buying if they foolishly vote for this unqualified, compromised candidate.
In closing, we believe it is important the press understands exactly how deeply involved Skorman has been in the race. We have known for some time that Skorman was trying to influence Scott Hiller's participation. We learned that he reached out numerous times to Scott Hiller. Here's summary of just a few of those attempts to convince Hiller to withdraw his candidacy:
On January 21st, Skorman contacted candidate Scott Hiller to ask him to withdraw from the race explaining there was "big money" behind Talarico, and he had no chance. Hiller agreed to meet with Talarico to see if he was comfortable withdrawing. What a good human. Most of us would have justifiably told Skorman where he could shove it. It's a free country - who made him king of who can run for office? After that meeting, he realized that Talarico had many conflicts-of-interest with her catering business which included a $100k contract for the Norwood holiday party.
On 2/3, Skorman called Hiller again asking if he intended to go through with the campaign to which Hiller informed him he was. Skorman went on to say that, "Michelle was the demographic he wanted on the council" and told Hiller again to drop out because "campaigns are hard" and he "has no chance of winning". Hiller informed Skorman that he believed Talarico had many conflicts-of-interest including a $100k/year with Norwood. Skorman's response was, "Holy sh*t!" and then proceeded to say that she will have to recuse herself. He mentioned that when he ran big money made up lies about him and warned campaigns get "really nasty". Hiller viewed this as a veiled threat and explained he expected the campaign to be "intellectually stimulating only". Skorman also noted that "they" did not want to have to raise money, set up a website and go through the brain damage of campaigning.
On March 4th, Skorman left Hiller a 2 minute and 31 second voicemail apologizing for telling people Hiller was a "homeless" person as also reported in Tim Leigh's Market Report dated 3/6/2023. In that voicemail, Skorman blamed Wayne Williams as the source of the homeless misinformation. He also blamed others for misinterpreting his comments but apologized profusely that the message had gotten out. He then stated he was sorry for supporting Michelle so early on, and said Hiller would be a good councillor. He went on to say he was only supporting her because he promised her he would when she and Richard thought she was unopposed and ended, again, claiming "campaign season is not fun".
Integrity Matters, and most people, find this behavior to be as troubling as the candidate he is promoting in this inaccurate smear on Integrity Matters. We encourage the media to ferret out this nonsense so the people see how many backroom shenanigans are driving these races. We believe it's wrong to behave this way -- both for Talarico, Skorman and Williams who appear to be on the same team. Oh right, the 1.62 billion odds, Gazette/HBA/Suthers endorsements. How could we forget?