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On Natural Education

Review of “Educated” by Tara Westover

April 18, 2018 in The Rockies,U. S. Politics | Comments (0)

By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY (c)

“Educated” is an ironic title for a memoir by a young woman, Tara Westover, who showed up at Brigham Young University from rural Idaho at age 17 without any education at all, not even home schooling. All she knew was the mountain where she lived and the personalities of her extended family and the beauty of the seasons and animals and junk cars and how to ride and tame horses and how to cook and identify herbs and their healing properties, and how to sing before an audience and how to trust her own instincts. The meaning of “educated,” then,  must lie in her flyleaf quote from John Dewey that “education is a reconstruction of experience.” 

At 27 Tara Westover received a PhD in history from Cambridge University in England. Her story, published in March, is sure to provoke public schoolers and believers in Jeffersonian democracy. They will have explanations and investigations. All I have is the suggestion that you read this book.

If it were simply about “another young person who left home for an education. . . and isn’t going back,” as the New York Times review concluded, then her memoir would not be a best seller, despite her skillful story telling. The success is in the setting, the surrounding, which is a mystery to most Americans. Most of the book takes place in what is being called The American Redoubt, by fringe writers and their followers. This is the mountainous spread of the interior northwest (Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and parts of eastern Oregon and Washington).

The survivalist culture of the Redoubt (a fortified refuge) involves severing dependance on government, its schools, its police powers its health care requirements, its systems of water, power, and transportation, and its distribution of goods. The culture involves preparing for the political-economical system’s collapse by stockpiling guns, food and fuel and other necessities. Culture is the business of anthropology and this memoir, along with its literary virtues, is anthropological.

Her father is a tyrant, a doomsday prepper who has dozens of guns and a thousand gallons of fuel wrapped and buried. He draws his absolute family authority from random biblical passages. He supports the family with his junkyard salvaging and barn building, in which the seven children as they grow are expected to help. He ignores safety as a matter of crazy religious faith — the angels of the Lord will protect them — and Tara is slashed, impaled and twice nearly crushed to death by his frenzied junkyard sorting. “Dad lived in fear of time. He felt it stalking him. I could see it in the worried glances he gave the sun as it moved across the sky, in the anxious way he appraised every length of pipe or cut of steel,” she writes.

Still, as the novelist Anna Carey wrote in, alas, the Irish Times (American reviews are routine commercials):  “Westover never demonizes him, or her mother, a midwife and herbalist who facilitated his delusions. She doesn’t even demonize her violent brother, whose behavior provided a further impetus to get away from her stifling environment. She recounts her experiences with a matter-of-act lyricism that is extraordinarily evocative and which makes the emotional impact of the inevitable rift between herself and some members of her family even more powerful.”

Tara Westover’s values are expressed in literary conceits, such as her description of her half-trained gelding by contrast with the mustangs being broken by the violent brother, Shawn. She writes of her horse, “He had accepted the world as it was, in which he was an owned thing. He had never been feral, so he could not hear the maddening call of that other world, on the mountain, in which he could not be owned, could not be ridden.” 

She lost the reins when her horse panicked during a training ride. Her instinct to hold on to the saddle horn instead of trusting her brother snag the reins as she slid off the bucking horse saved her from being dragged. “All my life those instincts had been instructing me in this single doctrine — that the odds are better if you rely on yourself.”

Self-reliance distinguished her from other teenage girls obsessed with finding a future husband and settling down after high school to raise children, in conformity with the expectations of local society. Shawn, two years older than Tara, enjoyed taunting girls in town who were attracted to him. He seemed perfect. His father’s right-hand assistant in the junkyard, he could drive an 18-wheeler, operate heavy construction machinery, break horses, maintain firearms, hunt, fish and fight. He would do things like ask a mooning girl to go buy him a Milky Way and when she came back with it, complain that he had ordered a Snickers and send her back. The patriarchal tradition demanded they accept this treatment.

Tara softly narrates his similar acts of domination over her — describing her clothing as whorish, holding her head in the toilet bowl while screaming “slut!” crashing into her room and grasping her neck, and as things progressed, threatening her life in various ways. His behavior was denied by their father and ignored by their mother, and her accounts were dismissed as lies by others in the family. She was thought to be possessed.

The book begins with the disclaimer: “This story is not about Mormonism.” Yet Idaho is as Mormon as Utah, and her family went to LDS church on Sundays. Her father and his likeness, Shawn, are vested with patriarchal authority, which is a tradition of the Mormon church (and some other religions). But this is not the male dominance of survivalists, white nationalists or simple militant racists because it comes from religious faith, not from the American secular-consumerist culture gratified by the non-print media and its cast of reasoning politicians. 

There are many others up there in the refuge who have nothing to do with the political exploiters or the self-styled militias. I have friends deep in the geography of the Redoubt who have lived quite well for 50 years on 40 acres in an artful house hand made from used materials, with a shallow well, a fertile garden, freezers full of Alaskan salmon, three cords of bartered sawmill scraps for firewood, and a carefully home maintained VW bus. They depend upon electric power and gasoline, but there are backups. They are neither religionists nor politicians. They are not afraid. They know the best defense is community. They have good friends. Their children went to public school and college.

They represent an American tradition, mostly secular, going way back. A Economist report using the term Redoubt came under the headline: “The Last Big Frontier” and concluded, “The Old West is alive and well.” For a long time, Americans were inspired by Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis, which said the constantly receding frontier, with its requirements of  communal skills and cooperation, defines American history. 

So what’s wrong with the modern frontier picture? Nothing, except, as the Economist reported, the demand for safe autonomous dwelling places exceeds the supply. One real estate agent in northern Idaho shows properties by air. He flies his own plane and keeps cars ready at several small airports. The historian Turner called the frontier a “safety valve.” But now the cost of escaping urban hopelessness might be beyond the means of most Americans. 

And the picture here encourages resentment, the tyranny of the majority, which under some political conditions can be dangerous. The first chapter of Westover’s book begins with the enduring foundation image — she was only five — of her father gathering the family to tell about the Weavers of Ruby Ridge not far away. She personalized it, imagining for the rest of her childhood gunfire and shouts as the family hides in the kitchen and her mother holding a baby when, “a shot echoes like the lash of a whip and she falls.” Tara, the youngest of the family, always identified with the baby in her dead mother’s arms.

She reproduces her father’s chilling narration as the siege of the Weaver cabin was still going on:

 “They’re freedom fighters. They wouldn’t let the Government brainwash their kids in them public schools, so the Feds came after them.” Dad exhaled, long and slow. “The Feds surrounded the family’s cabin, kept them locked in there for weeks, and when a hungry child, a little boy, snuck out to go hunting, the Feds shot him dead.”

 No one spoke. Eventually Luke, who was twelve, asked if we could help. “No,” Dad said.

 “Nobody can. They’re trapped in their own home. But they got their guns, you can bet that’s  why the Feds ain’t charged in.”

The story of the siege by FBI agents and others is told in many versions, but the principle in all of them is you must prepare to defend your family against the government. The famed Wyoming trial lawyer Gerry Spence, who successfully defended Randy Weaver in a notorious trial, was compelled by his outrage at continued police shootings around the nation 20 years later to retell the story as Chapter 1 of his 2013 book, “Police State.”

“The Weaver case demanded change. It demanded that we remain vigilant and dedicated to restoring America to the land of the free and the home of the brave. But nothing has changed,” he says. The new rule of engagement became: “Kill any armed person, and Vicki (the mother) was armed, remember, armed with a baby. It is merely how one interprets the rule,” he says.

In its prolonged prosecution, Spence wrote, “the government lost no opportunity to broadcast its toxic propaganda—that the Weavers embraced religious beliefs that would be offensive to most of the jurors who’d be trying Randy Weaver. Never mind our constitutional right to freedom of religion. That right is mostly extended to those whose religion is substantially the same as mainstream America’s. Hanging out in a minority religion in America has been dangerous from the beginning. Ask the Indians.”

To which I would add, Ask the Mormons.

In the way Notre Dame is a Catholic university, BYU is a Mormon University. A bishop in that community, Provo, Utah, was the first to counsel Tara Westover when, due to intimidation in classes and lack of support from her hostile father, she considered dropping out. He got her a grant. Faculty members encouraged her unusual abilities. “My teacher said I had a knack for writing but that my language was oddly formal and stilted. I didn’t tell her that I’d learned to read and write by reading only the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and speeches by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young,” she writes.

If educators are to disregard her story as an anomaly that does not refute the proposition that in order to learn everybody needs to be taught in a formal manner by competent people, then they will have to discard this too:  of the three Westover children who left home after the same unschooled upbringing, one brother earned a PhD in mechanical engineering and the other earned a PhD in chemistry. Tara Westover’s Cambridge doctoral thesis is entitled: “The Family, Morality, And Social Science in Anglo-American Cooperative Thought, 1813-1890.”


Puma, Panther, Cougar. . . Lion!

“Close enough to hear them purr”

December 10, 2017 in Rio Grande West,The Rockies | Comments (6)

 

National Park Service photo

By Larry Joseph Calloway

Mountain lions live here in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado. So you’d think Ron Garcia would not be surprised to see one. He’s the longtime manager of the Baca National Wildlife Refuge five minutes from Crestone, and lions are, of course, wildlife. They are unmistakable, with adult males about eight feet long from nose to tail tip and females a foot shorter.

Yet, one evening a few years ago as he left work at the historic ranch headquarters of the refuge Garcia was very surprised. First he noticed a barn door was open. He got out of his truck to close it. The winter shadows were long. Suddenly he saw something move in the dark at the base of a barn wall. It was a full grown lion lying in wait.

Ron Garcia

Not waiting for Garcia, who instinctively reached for a pistol he wasn’t carrying. He knew mountain lions eat deer almost exclusively, and this one likely was waiting for the deer that wander into the cottonwoods at the headquarters — and nowhere else on the flat, watery refuge. It has an over-population of about 3,000 elk, but they are not the natural prey of lions, whose normal habitat is higher ground — beginning with the pinyon-juniper belt where most us live.

There is no record of fatal attacks on people here. And though occasionally a lion will kill a small mammal, in Garcia’s view pets are safe. “Taking a small dog is rare. If they attack one it’s more from fear or hunger.” With all the deer wandering in the Baca subdivision and in town, there shouldn’t be starving lions around.

Anyway, the shadowy lion by the barn that evening padded softly away. (Like this: Garcia showed with his hands like paws.) It was not seen again, and lions are seldom seen on the refuge generally. “Typically when you see one in the flats there’s an issue with the animal — usually a health issue — because the animal is out of its element. It’s the same thing with bears,” he said. (more…)


The Builder Governor

Remembering Jack Campbell

December 10, 2016 in New Mexico Politics | Comments (1)

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By Larry Joseph Calloway

 

Jack M. Campbell / The autobiography of New Mexico’s first modern governor: as told to Maurice Trimmer with Charles C. Poling, University of New Mexico Press, 2016.

 

I was lucky to arrive in Santa Fe before its style, real estate and cultural conflicts went commercial and while Jack Campbell was still governor. The city has changed, and people like Campbell usually decline to run.

 

I also was lucky to meet Maurice Trimmer on that first day as a New Mexico political reporter. After working for UPI in several big city bureaus, I had requested this transfer to a smaller pond, but now I was totally lost. Santa Fe looked foreign. The Bataan Building did not look like a state capitol. The governor’s office looked deficient with a staff of only seven, including Trimmer, the press secretary.

 

Perhaps because he too had been the new UPI guy eight years earlier, Maury sympathetically began some on-the-job education. He invited me to accompany the governor to El Rito. The state under Campbell had started a vocational program there to make use of what was irrevocably designated as a teacher’s college in the state constitution. We saw young men and women learning hair styling and construction and auto mechanics.

 

On the drive back to Santa Fe in the limo the director of the new Board of Educational Finance said it would be logical to move the school from the rural village to the town of Espanola. The governor said, “Bill, your problem is you try to apply logic to Northern New Mexico.”

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HILLBILLY SYNCHRONICITY

My Fellow Americans. . .

November 9, 2016 in SOUTHERN JOURNAL,U. S. Politics | Comments (2)

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By Larry Joseph Calloway ©

 The networks were so unprepared for Donald Trump’s win that my election night switching caught only one panelist who could speak with authority for the key voters euphemistically called “white – no college degree.”  He was J. D. Vance, the black-haired concise-speaking author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” an immediately personal story of his poor and violent family from Appalachian Kentucky.

I was reading it in October along with another pre-election bestseller, the radical history “White Trash” by Nancy Isenberg. These books are cultural not political, but they explain something about the “populist uprising,” as Vance termed it in an interview while adding that Trump understood the anger behind it but offered no solutions.

Apart from politics, my research represented an obsession with my father’s hardwood Appalachian roots. He was always wanting something far away. His sisters talked of North Carolina when we visited their farms near Lyons, CO. They were pretty and spoke in sweet accents. My father drank. He died. I was about to set the periodic ancestry project aside when, suddenly, up popped an email from a total stranger in Longmont, Colorado. I’ll get to the deep synchronicity* of it in a few minutes.

Writer-lawyer Vance’s family moved from Jackson, KT, to Middleton, in southern Ohio, so his grandfather could work in the Armco steel mill. It rusts away now under a Japanese name. His grandfather died as an out-of-work alcoholic. His mother, pregnant at high school graduation with his older brother, was more in love with drugs than any of her half dozen husbands.

His elegy is for his grandmother, who raised him. She was a heroic exemplar of the lost mountain culture of pride and toughness. She disciplined him relentlessly to pursue self-improvement through education and even, among other folksy wisdoms, learning golf because “that’s where rich people do business.” (Trump is an international developer of golf courses.)

Mamaw, as he called her, represents the culture lost when the families of several generations were uprooted by economics and dropped dead by economics. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” as my father used to say. I had his brother-in-law minister, a chaplain of the Arizona National Guard, read it at his graveside ceremony. Vance does not mention churchgoing in Middleton, but I suppose religion was a part of the lost culture because in every North Carolina hollow where I searched for Calloways there was a church — usually Baptist — often looking forsaken. Vance observes out of nowhere, “I wasn’t surprised that Mormon Utah — with its strong church, integrated communities, and intact families — wiped the floor with Rust Belt Ohio.”

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“Spotlight” At Telluride 2015

My last Telluride Film Festival review

September 11, 2015 in T-ride Film Fest | Comments (6)

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t-ride aerial

September: Telluride

 

By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY

NEWSPAPERS, the first drafts of history, also used to write the loglines of movies. The logline for “Spotlight,” debuted at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival and my hope for a lot of awards, goes like this: A quartet of Boston Globe investigators, publishing under a “Spotlight” logo, shames the Catholic Church, the legal profession and journalism itself in a year of stories about the systematic burying of cases of sexual abuse of children by parish priests. The 2003 Pulitzer Prize panel called the work “courageous,” and the screenplay by director Tom McCarthy (“The Station Agent”) and Josh Singer portrays that courage with artful intelligence.

We all know the general story, but this telling is new. It unfolds like a thriller. The reporters discovered a pattern of concerted reaction in contradiction of the “just a few rotten apples” p.r. strategy of the Church. When an activist group supporting the victims, mostly kids from poor Boston parishes, would manage to get a case to court, a conspiracy of silence descended like a dark curtain. A pedophile priest would get some time off and a transfer. The family of the child or children would get a patronizing visit by the archbishop and $20,000 (a limit set by a strange Massachusetts statute). The case would then be officially sealed and the victims, not the defendants, would be abandoned to live in shame.

The Spotlight reporters led by Walter Robinson saw the pattern and were the first to expose it after diligent research. Robinson is played by Michael Keaton, who is not the star because the ensemble including him, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian James is the true star. They repeatedly attempt to interview lawyers who say they can’t talk because they would be disbarred for violation legal ethics. When Robinson ridicules this, a lawyer responds that he was just doing his job. Robinson asks, then, whose job was it to look after the victims?

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Get Cam, Find Cab, Make Film

Documentary Films At Telluride

in T-ride Film Fest | Comments (0)

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By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY

To get started on a documentary film you don’t need documents or film. Just take a camera – it doesn’t have to be expensive – to an interesting situation and the world will provide, if you wait long enough. The devil is in the editing. These new possibilities for non-fiction production were delightfully demonstrated in Jafa Panahi’s “Taxi” at the Telluride Film Festival.

He was in big trouble with Iranian security, and if he was seen filming he would be arrested. So he came up with a plan. Masquerading as a taxi driver, he rigged a cab with small cameras and hit the streets of Tehran. The resulting ride is, well, great taxi theatre. We see the actual humor and humanity of a country depicted by our politicians, who have never been there, as a bleak and dangerous enemy.

A loudmouth passenger sits in front complaining that a neighbor in a hurry hopped in his car and it would not go. Then the guy saw all the wheels were gone and it was sitting on blocks. If a couple of these thieves were hanged in public that would stop this car stripping, he says. A diminutive passenger in the back seat, a teacher dressed in black and covered, says, “I can’t believe what I just heard.” An argument ensues at a pitch that would make an American talk show host proud, and the loudmouth gets so mad he orders Panahi to stop and let him off.

And that’s just the first scene. There is a smuggler with a selection of DVD movies, another with banned CD albums. The taxi is flagged down at a traffic accident and Panahi rushes him to the hospital. A film student argues about the rules against depicting reality. A flower lady is going to visit political prisoners. A mugging victim spots his mugger but declines to do anything that would subject him to police interrogation. . . . If you film it, they will come.

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A Long Time On The Colorado Plateau

What happened there anyway?

July 27, 2015 in El Turista,JOURNEYS,Rio Grande West | Comments (1)

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By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY

                            

Anasazi,

Anasazi,            

tucked up in clefts in the cliffs

 growing strict fields of corn and beans

 sinking deeper and deeper in earth

 up to your hips in Gods. . . .

 

–Gary Snyder

 

They are long gone, of course, eight centuries gone, but I always think they still own those crooked canyons and sunny alcoves where they built in sandstone and wrote on walls and signed their strange writs with hand prints. After the summer heat we drove to the Colorado Plateau looking for the goners, the absentee owners. We walked their intermittent ways in the sun and sat and read or talked by the lantern in the moon. Like good journalists and good tourists we came back with stories and pictures. There was a house on fire.

 

House on Fire Ruin, Mule Canyon

As if something still raged. As if it were telling us something.

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The SHOW Goes On, Toronto

My comments on the Telluride Film Festival, 2014

September 3, 2014 in T-ride Film Fest | Comments (4)

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By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY

The threat by the Toronto Film Festival to put a partial eclipse on films that premiered a week earlier at Telluride did not dim any lights on the old mining town’s opera house “SHOW” sign. The 41st Telluride Film Festival directors got everything they wanted for the Labor Day weekend program, according to volunteers who heard it from them.

Harvey Weinstein, adept at Telluride premiers that go on to win best picture Oscars, did not withhold his “The Imitation Game.” Gary Meyer (call him top dog, though he does not even appear on the programs) personally introduced “Escobar: Paradise Lost,” as a sneak preview that “we wanted immediately” and got.

The SHOWs that I saw in the four shining days included those two features; artful documentaries on the photographer Sebastiao Salgado and Roger Ebert; angry dramas against the background of complicity of the courts and local police in corrupt evictions of homeowners in Russia and — same, same — The United States (“Leviathan” and “99Homes”); a Jon Stewart special (“Rosewater”); a peripatetic chick flick (“Wild”); two costume dramas (“Madame Bovary” and “Mr. Turner”); and an enlightening documentary on Russian hockey players (“Red Army”).

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Stories From Telluride

My Review Of A Festival Of Films

September 5, 2013 in T-ride Film Fest | Comments (5)

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The 40th Telluride Film Festival opened unceremoniously with the first North American screening of “ALL IS LOST” in a fine new high-tech theatre. Robert Redford stood out of the light as director-writer J. C. Chandor told us: “This film is about YOU.” He paused, or faltered, continuing: “About you and the end of your life.”

redfirdAs the lights went down I wondered if a solo passage on a doomed sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean is truly a good way to die.  About 107 minutes later I caught on. It’s a parable.

As Ernest Hemingway (I’ll explain the connection later) might have said, a man must die alone. And, courage is grace under pressure. The man is Redford, playing his usual manly role and playing it very well at about age 75. He is the only person in the nearly wordless film and, Chandor calculated, he is in 98 per cent of the shots.

We know nothing about the character, not even his name. But we don’t need to. He is Redford. Why confuse a pure and simple parable with a back-story? Redford is already, as Chandor put it, “part of everybody’s experience.”

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Self Government, Subdivided

First Of All, Eject All The Lawyers

June 27, 2013 in Rio Grande West | Comments (0)

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The subdivider land rush on Western ranches in the 1970’s, stopped after  a few years by environmentalists, left behind conglomerates of lot owners governed under covenants written by the subdividers. The rule of law — and influence of lawyers — elsewhere does not often apply to these non-profit corporations any more than democracy applies to business corporations. The Baca Grande, carelessly platted on an old ranch in southern Colorado’s arid San Luis Valley, is one such subdivision. But there are many others, such as the more prosperous Eldorado near Santa Fe and Rio Rancho near Albuquerque.

Of about 3,500 lots owned by about 2,900 parties in the Baca Grande, at least half lie undeveloped and hundreds of these are perpetually up for resale or under tax liens. A heavy majority of owners live out of state due to original mass marketing or even out of the country due to sales at military bases in Asia.

Law enforcement depends upon the county sheriff at Saguache, 30 miles across the dry valley (many residents like deputies at a distance), and fire fighting is up to private entities (a slim majority of voters have blocked taxation to fund the local fire district).

Governing has become so variable that the Baca Grande Property Owners Association (POA) is a sort of fight club that cannot even come to agreement on how to elect a representative board of directors. This was the issue at a contentious meeting on the first evening of summer. After two hours of watching the left jabs and right crosses I became more interested in watching for the moon to rise from the astonishing Sangre de Cristo Mountains through the smudged steel-framed windows of the old and often painted association hall.

Confronting each other at a long table were some complaining property owners and the POA board members they have sued, alleging unlawful procedures in the board election last November. A professional parliamentary moderator from the other side of the mountains had been brought in, but the civil exercise accomplished nothing tangible except to clear the way back to district court.

The lawyerless homegrown lawsuit had been dismissed (“without prejudice,” the plaintiffs kept emphasizing) by Saguache County District Judge Martin Gonzales on the basis that it was not timely. One reference must have been something, one of those non-binding statements of purpose, that the Colorado Legislature inserted in the uniform code called the  Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA). It says, “The general assembly finds and declares that the cost, complexity, and delay inherent in court proceedings make litigation a particularly inefficient means of resolving neighborhood disputes.” It goes on to say the associations are “encouraged” to adopt mediation rules such as the one under which the June meeting was called.

Diane Dunlap, the leading plaintiff, declined at the outset of the meeting to give away their case because their lawsuit, in her words, “is very much alive.”  She also objected to the board’s hiring of the moderator, Mary Anne Tebedo of Colorado Springs, who served 18 years as a Republican in the legislature.

But Dunlap was not shy about asserting the main point:  that the election of three board members at the annual membership meeting last November was invalid for numerous reasons and, therefore, the three should step down and acknowledge everything out of the ordinary that they have done since taking office last January is null and void.

The three are Russell Schreiber, Matie Belle Lakish and Diana Moats. But it was board member Treat Suomi, elected previously, who emerged as their  spokesperson.  He said most participants agree that the election procedure “is something that needs to be fixed.” He invited everybody to work together “so the next election we have will not have all these problems and not cost all this money.”

Bruce MacDonald, a plaintiff, responded, “We have three board members that were not duly elected, and that’s the primary dispute. I don’t hear anything about what is to be done about it.” Repeating this several times later, he said it wasn’t enough just to say “we’ll get it right next time.”

The problem here, as elsewhere, is the lack of clear legal guidance in how to elect people to take the heat of governing an unincorporated rural subdivision. The association bylaws say: “Any vote for the election of directors shall be by written ballot in a form to be prescribed  by the board.” But they go on to say, “The vote allocated to a lot may be cast under a proxy duly executed by the lot owner. All proxies shall be in writing.”

The CIOA says, “Votes for contested positions on the executive board shall be taken by secret ballot” and that the ballots shall be counted by uninvolved and objective volunteers.

Most of the votes in the November election were by proxies — Dunlap called them “hybrid proxies” — submitted  directly by mail or indirectly through people attending the annual association members meeting. The plaintiffs argued in the special June meeting that the election process was flawed by lack of respect for the secrecy of the ballot and transparency of the counting, but they were not specific, except to point out that the Colorado Springs company to which most operations of the association have been outsourced took the ballot box home. Suomi said the company, Hammersmith Management Inc., merely examined the paper for “alterations” and found none.

Another objection mentioned by the plaintiffs was that board members arrogated to themselves the authority of a nominating committee. Association bylaws say candidates “must have been nominated by the nominating committee or by petition with 25 signatures.” Schreiber said the problem here was that nobody in the community wanted to serve on a nominating committee despite numerous requests for volunteers.

Tebedo intervened often, sometimes telling Dunlap to hush up and Schreiber to speak up, but her greatest challenge was the plaintiff Nigel Fuller. Standing and pointing an angry finger at a man in the audience, he said, “Why is Bill Short here?” Fuller said his target was not a property owner and was, in fact, a lawyer.

Tebedo said, “Why does that make a difference? I’m not sure I’m going to recognize him.” She suggested Fuller should confront the man at recess. But Fuller persisted, saying, “Why is Bill Short allowed?”

Tebedo said there was no provision for questioning anybody in the audience. Lakish said, “It’s a public meeting.” Fuller remained standing. The man still did not respond. Tebedo said, “People here are allowed to listen.”

Dunlap entered the fray, saying, “He’s a lawyer for the defense.”

Tebedo said, “Why does it disturb you?”

Dunlap said, “He’s only here because he’s the lawyer for Treat and Russell.”

Tebedo called a recess, during which there were no fist fights. The meeting resumed, covering the same ground as before. The moon eventually rose.