PERRY: NOTES TO SELF — Saving some of the best of 2020 news for last

Councilmember Francoise Bergan talks with demonstrators who protested at her home in southeast Aurora Sunday Sept. 13, 2020. Protesters demanded Bergan back the firing of three officers implicated in the death of Elijah McClain in August 2019. SCREEN GRAB FROM FACEBOOK LIVE.

I am a fraud.

No, I’m not an “enemy of the people” as so many have labeled me and other journalists. We check our facts and do our best to get out accurate, fair and meaningful news and opinions as we explain the world and call out BS when we need to.
I’m an impostor in that despite claiming to be all about living a greener, more accessible paperless life and career, I actually collect and harbor letters, press releases, adverts, magazines and a gazillion envelopes that I write snippets of quotes, notes and passwords I can never seem to remember nor find with it matters.

Hi. My name is Dave, and I’m full of sheath.

And about this time every year I dig through the piles of paper I’ve accumulated with every intention of making something happen with each scrap and note.

Digging through the 2 feet or so of accumulation, I now have no idea who “Dan — big problem” is or why I wrote only part of his phone number down. And “7% under budget” underlined twice with a red Sharpie? Looks important. I might hang on to that and see if something turns up.

Here, however are a couple of gold nuggets that never made it into print, until now.

I never had the chance this year to write about Aurora Councilwoman Francoise Bergan’s encounter with protesters at her house. Dozens went to her neighborhood and home in September to draw attention to city council’s role in reforming police after the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

Very public protests had become a part of everyday life in Aurora and Denver during the summer. Activists took it to another level on occasion, surprising people at their homes.

For a couple of hours, protesters, armed with Facebook live and placards, marched in front of Bergan’s southeast Aurora home.

At one point, she came and tangled with the protesters for at about a half hour.

Despite the purposely intimidating maneuver by Community E activists, Bergan totally held her own, answering their questions while they staged the rally at the end of her driveway.

The protesters were pushing Bergan to openly condemn Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema, and Jason Rosenblatt, the three APD officers who stopped and subdued McClain last year with a now-banned carotid hold.

She wouldn’t do it. She said she wouldn’t make any judgment until new state and Aurora investigations were finished and she was able to get “both sides of the story.”

I may not agree that anyone needs much more information than they already have to render judgment against police and fire officials implementing choke holds and injecting innocent and distraught people with tranquilizers. In fact, the city council and state legislator pretty much already have, banning both those things, at least for now.

But Bergan deserved a loud shout out for handling the unsavory surprise attack at her home with courage and dignity. As a victim of similar intimidation and doxxing, I’ll admit my heart goes out to victims of “activists” pulling these scams in the name of gun rights, right to life, rights for immigrants or to refuse vaccines.

There is not a fine line between these “protests” and terrorism. It’s total terrorism intending to intimidate people.

On the back a letter from a reader telling me, over the course of 6 pages, front and back,hand-written, how wrong I am about President Donald Trump, I jotted down notes at the end about Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Scott Siegfried.

“No substitute for being in the trenches,” I scrawled.

I wrote that as I was talking with Siegfried during the summer, as the school district was bringing kids back to classes and it was beginning to look like the region was going to be able to manage the pandemic and keep schools open-ish.

I watched and listened to Siegfried Facetime-ing on his cell phone. He was impressively making sense and driving at the same time, pointedly making eye contact with his phone camera like a TV pro. It’s a skill I never learned. I’ve seen recordings of my own Zoom meetings. I look like a dog mystified by a cat-food commercial on TV.

Partly because I ask people questions for a living, but mostly because I’m the nosy type, I asked where he was going.

“Sub-ing for a class,” he said. Cherry Creek, like all local school districts, is excruciatingly short of substitute teachers. The shortage can become critical not only to make sure classes are able to meet, but because each school must have a certain number of adults to students or the entire school must close.

Over the years, I’ve had friends leave journalism for what we lovingly call “the dark side,” working as a public information officer for the government or industry. From my pals who’ve gone to work with public schools, I know how over-the-top busy large-school-district superintendents are. For someone like Siegfried to stop and go substitute teach a social studies class, even during the best of times, would be unusual. During a pandemic when you’ve turned the entire school district upside down? It says a lot about how dire the need is, and how committed Siegfried is.  And since I know you’d wanna know, his temporary class assignment was going to involve a real lecture to students who then had to do real writing. Yup, he’s one of those substitute teachers.

Getting to the bottom of my pile of precious papers, there are several times I jotted notes to self about, “What’s with the road trash?”

You can’t help but notice that, especially on interstates, the trash and debris in the medians and along the road shoulders is astounding. Coming back from Ft, Lupton a couple weeks ago we saw no less than 3 abandoned sofas and large chairs, endless broken and open bags of trash and a landfill worth of quality human refuse.

With President Trump still being Trump, a roaring pandemic and this pile of paper I’ve still got to get through, I can offer only the short answer I got from assorted state and local officials. Paid and “volunteer” crews who pick up what you leave behind on the state’s roads are curtailed because of the pandemic. And, in case you haven’t seen, there are a lot more of “them” moving in to become “us” here in the metro area. More people. More trash.

That sounds like a story. I’ll add it to my pile.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter or Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]