Colorado GOP Congressional District & State Assemblies

April 15th, 2012

For some of my Boulder friends, this may come as a bit of a shock, but I, Sarah E. Welch, am a Republican. I’m an active one at that. No, I don’t like everything about the party, but I’m still with them–trying to move the party towards something more palatable. This weekend, I participated in the Colorado Congressional District 2 Assembly and the Colorado GOP State Assembly & Convention as a delegate to both. If you’re not familiar with our caucus system here in Colorado, this is it in a nutshell: Folks show up at their local precinct caucuses and elect people to represent them at the next level. For us, that’s our county assembly. There, we elect more people to represent us at congressional district and state. From those assemblies, we elect people to represent us at the national convention. In this system, showing up matters–a lot. This is how things went–and why I’m proud to be a Ron Paul supporter & a member of the Boulder delegations to these assemblies.

Congressional District 2 Assembly

The Congressional District 2 Assembly Chairman made me wish we could have our Boulder County Chairman Joel Champion again. He’s a man of honor who didn’t let his personal politics color the process. (For the record, Joel Champion is a Romney supporter.) Our CD2 Chairman Kaye Ferry is not made of the same stuff. She had two major party fouls:

  1. Ms. Ferry spoke for the Romney slate while in her role as chair (which she was on).
  2. While giving balloting instructions, Ms. Ferry said that voting for unpledged delegates was like throwing your vote away.

This might sound insignificant, but due to bad behavior four years ago towards Ron Paul supporters, many Ron Paul delegates were running for national delegate unpledged. So, in effect she was saying not to vote for Ron Paul delegates. She further compounded the problem when she was called on this via a point of order (Robert’s Rules of Order term). She was asked to take back her statement since this type of electioneering was against the assembly rules. She refused. At this point, there was a call for the election of a new chair, which she again refused. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, this is a call that cannot be ignored or refused. The point must be discussed. At this point, the crowd was booing her, and it wasn’t just Ron Paul supporters. By my estimate, two thirds of the crowd was involved.

In addition to her unethical and incorrect behavior at the assembly, she was simply disorganized as a chair. She didn’t remember what needed to be done. In fact, she almost closed the assembly before getting an acclimation vote on one of the non-contested races. She only completed this after one of the delegates offered a point of information on this fact.

I publicly call for Kaye Ferry to step down from this post in order for someone who is able to respect the process to take her place. Furthermore, she should step down from her alternate delegate role to the national convention. She abused her powers as chairman to influence the vote, and the state of Colorado and CD2 deserve better representation.

State GOP Assembly & Convention

This is part business meeting, part pep rally & fundraiser. Before I get to some of the unsavory aspects of the day, I need to give kudos to Chairman Ryan Call. From things I had heard about Chairman Call before the assembly, I was nervous about how the day would proceed, but all outward behavior was polished and ethical from my observations. Now, onto the very, very bad behavior…

When we arrived at the convention and began to make contact with members and supporters of the Ron Paul campaign, we were alerted to something quite alarming. The Romney campaign was circulating fake Ron Paul slates that they had filled with names from their own slate. Note, the real slate has the logos of the Paul & Santorum campaigns, along with the signatures of the state leadership of those campaigns. The fake slate looks much like the real slate but is filled with Romney supporters. The one thing that the Romney camp did not count on is the Paul campaign changing the color of the slate. The slate we used on Friday is white, which is what this fake slate was patterned upon.

Conservative Unity Slates Front (left - real, right - fake)

Unity Slates Back (left - real, right - fake)

Unity Slates Back (left - real, right - fake)

It wasn’t just the Paul/Santorum unity slate that was copied, either. The Romney campaign did the same with the Christian Coalition of Colorado slate and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners slate. Unfortunately, I misplaced my copies of the pair of Christian Coalition slates. I’m working to get copies of these slates and will update this post when I get them. Update: I have the Christian Coalition slate & the fake! Thanks to Alyson Boyce Stanton & Todd King for these photos.

Christian Coalition Slate - real

Christian Coalition Slate - fake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do however have copies of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners slate along with its fake. Thanks to Ken Stanton for giving this fake slate up so that I could include it in my post!

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Slate (left - real, right - fake)

If you want to compare the names on the fake slates with the official Romney slate, I’ve provided this below as well. I wanted to give the Romney campaign the benefit of the doubt on this, but no one else had access to their slate prior to the convention. So, this despicable deed had to have been done by someone that is part of the official Romney campaign.

Official Romney Slate

Father Kemberling’s Invocation

Yesterday, I had a first that I wish I could have avoided my entire life. I booed a man of the cloth. Father Kemberling provided the invocation for the assembly, which was fine. He asked for guidance for us and for God to help us know right from wrong. I had no problem with that. What I did have a problem with was when his invocation quit being an invocation and turned into something much uglier.  He started talking about the assault on religion in the country. That was fair territory for a priest. Then, he went somewhere that both stunned and disgusted me. He said that civil unions are socialism. I have no idea how he took this (il)logical leap, but he did. And this is when I booed and sat down, because this was no longer an invocation.

Log Cabin Republicans

Early in the day, I noticed that the Log Cabin Republicans had a table in the hallway in the assembly. If you’re unfamiliar with the Log Cabin Republicans, they are the LGBT organization for Republicans and their straight allies. Yes, they do exist. I was happy to see them represented and made a point to shake their hands and thank them for being there. I didn’t say much more, but I fully support the Log Cabin Republicans and complete equal rights for everyone–regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Republican party’s attack on gay rights is one of my most clear divides with the party. The warm feeling that I had about their participation in the state convention was overshadowed by the bad behavior of many of my fellow delegates later in the day. You see, affiliated organizations were given a chance to address the attendees of the convention. Very shortly after the very brave gentleman from the Log Cabin Republicans began his prepared remarks, the crowd began to boo. It wasn’t just a normal boo. It was vile & hateful. Seeing the man about to break down in front of 7,000 people, I stood and clapped. My husband joined me shortly. Thankfully, the Boulder County delegation was either clapping or remaining respectfully silent as far as I could tell. But still, out of 7,000 people only Rich and I were brave enough to stand. That’s very, very sad to me.  I will also point out that it was pretty clear where the Ron Paul sections of the arena were and where the Romney supporters were. You know where those boos were coming from? Romney supporters. For those of you that booed (regardless of who you back), shame on you.

To put my money where my mouth is, I will be joining them & donating $108 to the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans in lieu of the suggested donation amount requested by the Colorado State GOP for their own coffers. I will also be reaching out to the Log Cabin Republicans to offer my time, including standing on stage with them at events like this and telling other Republicans why they too should support gay rights and fully welcome the Log Cabin Republicans into the party.

Behavior & Decorum

Ron Paul Clean Up Crew

During this entire process, starting a few months ago, I’ve seen something different both from the Boulder County Republicans and Ron Paul supporters in contrast with other counties and Romney supporters. At the Boulder County Assembly, Joel Champion asked us to clean up after ourselves so that we could show that the Boulder Republicans didn’t leave a place trashed. We cleaned up after ourselves. At the Congressional District 2 assembly, a group of Boulder County delegates stayed afterwards to clean up our area of trash and debris. We were the only county to do so. At the end of the state assembly, approximately 100 Ron Paul supporters stayed behind to clean up after the convention. We picked up trash and helped the tear down crew put the folding chairs away. You’d be amazed at how quickly our little army swept across the floor. We were not joined by supporters for any other candidate. By the way, the tear down crew thanked us for our help.

Finally, our Boulder County Ron Paul supporters taught some Romney supporters a lesson in decorum. During the candidate speech for Ron Paul, a group of Romney supporters seated behind us very loudly booed and heckled. Two of our delegation turned around and said ‘watch us respect your candidate’. Talk about stunning someone! Guess what? We sat very respectfully when the Romney speech was given, even offering some light but supportive clapping on points we supported.  While I don’t think that they all learned something, one of the group came up and apologized afterwards. Beyond the issues and philosophy, this is why I’m proud to be a Boulder County Republican and Ron Paul supporter.

Boulder, Colorado, politics, Uncategorized

Techstars Class of 2011 Roundup, Part 2

August 7th, 2011
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And…the next third of the class (not in preference, just order of appearance :) ).

Meal Ticket @mealtickets I missed Meal Ticket’s BDNT presentation this week, but I had heard it was hard to grok. From what I can tell, these guys made a huge effort in the last few days to refine their pitch, and from the final pitch, I’d say it paid off. Meal Ticket attempts to tackle the problem of customer acquisition and poor customer retention for the food distribution business. It’s not an industry many of us tech folk know a lot about, but these guys seem to have food and tech covered. Their distributor product allows distributors to create promotions for the restaurants they serve that will help them clear excess inventory. The distributor gives the restaurant a deal on a product, and the restaurant can in turn use this product as a promotion or deal for their restaurant. It’s quite clever really. They have aligned the interests of food distributors, restaurants, and consumers by reducing waste and increasing profits. This also makes the food distributor more than just a supplier to the restaurant–they become a marketing partner, which creates much more of a barrier to switching than exists today. Meal Ticket already has paying customers and a pipeline that is poised to expand their reach to distributors servicing 50K restaurants in the next 90 days. Interested? You can download their consumer-facing app for IOS and Android now.

Mocavo @mocavo Mocavo is a genealogy search engine. When I heard this, I wasn’t impressed. Uhm, doesn’t Ancestry.com already do this? Yes and no. Mocavo’s offering is different. While Ancestry allows users to search through birth, death, and marriage records, Mocavo indexes the free web for the 250K genealogy sites and forums that Google largely ignores, because as one of the founders stated, “dead people are neither fresh nor popular.” Mocavo is also social, meaning that you can build and share your family tree and link it in to your Facebook family connections. When you search for an ancestor, Mocavo tells you who else has been searching so that you can connect with likely family members. Most exciting of all, Mocavo’s subscription model will automate your search of their database of 4.1 billion names, which is projected to be at 9 billion by the end of the year. My take? I expect Mocavo to be receiving a buy offer from Ancestry any day now. Mocavo would be a powerful addition to their already strong offering.

Go Spotcheck @GoSpotCheck Go SpotCheck wants to send you on a mission to check inventory, product placement, and displays in merchandise, maybe even take a photo and report back. Why? Brands pay big money for better shelf placement in stores and suffer when product isn’t stocked properly or is out of date. Right now, they rely on sterile and outdated data found by merchandising auditors. It’s expensive, weeks too late to solve many problems, and it’s simply not very rich. Go SpotCheck uses crowdsourcing to gather data from smartphone-armed consumers who are already in the stores. They pay consumers a couple of bucks for a minute or two of work and Go SpotCheck for the platform. It’s win, win. One early client, a local chocolatier, learned that a local business had merchandise on the shelf that was 6 months past its expiration date. That’s not good for the consumer, store, or manufacturer. With Go SpotCheck, suppliers can learn this information quickly and inexpensively, and most importantly, make corrections before weeks worth of damage is done.

Report Grid @reportgrid ReportGrid makes it dead simple (looks like two lines of code) to add incredibly insightful analytics to your service offering, even if you’re dealing with really, really big numbers of data points. ReportGrid is the product that I want the services I’m already using to buy. Instead of spending months and months and tons of cash to have a solution that might work, companies can spend an afternoon to setup analytics on their site using ReportGrid. Better still? You get the expertise of a serious mathematician built-in, which most companies don’t have hidden in cube land. I expect to see this product used on my favorite sites over the next year. If not, they may not be my favorite sites anymore ;)

 

Coming soon–Part 3 and my overall thoughts on Techstars Demo Day 2011!

Boulder, startups, technology

Techstars Class of 2011 Roundup, Part 1

August 4th, 2011

I spent my morning at the Techstars Demo Day for the Class of 2011 in Boulder. It was my first time at the ‘big show’, although I did watch practice pitches both this year and last at Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup (BDNT).  For the uninitiated, Techstars is arguably the top startup accelerator on the planet, and it was started right here in Boulder. Each year, they give about a dozen teams $18,000 to start their own business, but even more valuable, they get 90 days with top minds in tech to guide them, all while working out of the Bunker together with the buzz that comes from so many smart and ambitious people in one place. Over the last couple of years, Techstars has expanded into a few other cities and now gets a few dozen companies started each year. They are a big deal, and Techstars is one of the reasons that I now live in Boulder. It’s the heart of this entrepreneurial mecca that I call home.

Now, onto this year’s class!

Simple Energy @simpleenergy This customer engagement platform for utility companies was an obvious crowd and local favorite. It’s the company that I heard the most buzz about leading up to Demo Day. Simple Energy has built a platform to engage utility customers where they are already–Facebook, mobile, email, and more. It’s a huge step away from the antiquated snail mail engagement campaigns that currently dominate the industry. When I first saw their practice pitch at BDNT on Tuesday, I wasn’t all that impressed, honestly. Much of their demo focused on the overlay of the social graph, basically putting friends into competition with each other on Facebook to save energy. It’s just not something I’m personally interested in, although it’s very Boulder. That’s what worried me. I was afraid that they were making assumptions based upon Boulder’s very skewed demographics. However, after today’s pitch and further reflection, it’s clear to me that they don’t need the level of engagement that they would be likely to get in Boulder to be successful. Current utility customer engagement is 1%. Out of one hundred people, I’m sure there are at least several that would be interested in making utility consumption a game. Even if it’s just three, they’ve increased engagement by 200%. That’s a win. Furthermore, the email campaigns and mobile application have a good chance of engaging me. Pair that with the deals with large utility companies that they have already secured, and I believe this team is set up for huge success.

FlixMaster @getflixmaster After an apparently large pivot and name change, this team has come out of their Techstars summer with a very sexy product. Their product is a web-based tool for creating what they call branching video. From inside the video player (on your website, youtube, etc), a user can have a choose your own adventure experience. Their HTML5-based platform allows content creators to drag and drop video, stills, websites, forms, and more to create a variety of paths for the user. These types of videos exist today, but they are created by high end web development companies, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and can still only connect to other videos. So why is anyone doing this now? These videos get sixteen times the views of non-branching videos. Even better for users of FlixMaster, they use  Techstars Class of 2011 grad ReportGrid (more below) to deliver analytics about the path that the users take through the experience. Note, I called it an experience rather than a video, because with FlixMaster, it’s so much more than video. I do have a couple of concerns for these guys, though. 1) I’m worried about copy cats. 2) I’m also concerned that for smaller producers and companies that do this work in house, there won’t be a lot of demand. Sure, they’ll want to use it, but it will probably only be a couple times a year. It feels like they should be targeting mid-size to large marketing agencies. Even with the huge cost savings of this product over using a web development team, the cost of video production for multiple paths through a video feels like a barrier for smaller companies.

Creative Brain Studios @bookergames This is one of the products I want to get my hands on–like now-ish. Creative Brain Studios has built a game engine. You build it once, it’s published and deployed on all of the most popular platforms, both desktop and mobile. The game engine looks like it’s easy to use and will help you through the entire process from design & development through publishing & monetization. Gaming is exploding, especially the types of games that can be built with this engine. This team is well positioned to help new game developers into the market, as well as speeding up time to market for those already there. I’m excited for their future, and I really do want to play with that game engine. Guys, are you listening? ;)

Truant Today @truanttoday I’m going to be honest here. When I saw that the youngest Techstars team of 16 & 17 years old had built an app to cut down on school truancy, I thought ‘how cute’. I need to apologize to these two young men. They did what all entrepreneurs should do, build what they know, and it looks like they’ve done their research and built a great product. Truant Today automatically texts and emails parents when their children are absent from school. In a test they did earlier this year, they had a 50% rate of same day return and 75% increase in attendance. That’s wonderful right? But how are they going to make money from already cash-strapped schools? That school I just mentioned? They reclaimed $800K in funding due to increased attendance. That’s win, win. With more kids in the seats and more cash to work with, these schools will be much more successful. And if TruantToday doesn’t help the school reclaim more funds than its price, TruantToday will give the school a credit on the next year’s subscription. Considering that schools lose $30-50 per student per day missed, I don’t think that TruantToday will have to make good on that promise very often. While I so wrongly didn’t take these two entrepreneurs seriously at first, if I had the cash, I’d be happy to invest some of the several hundred thousand dollars they’re seeking.

 

That’s the first third. Keep watching for Part 2 and Part 3 to learn more about this year’s class!

 

Boulder, startups, technology