April 11 , 2013
A strange thing happened on the way to the City of Cody Master Plan public forum…
It’s time to sandbag the teabaggers. If not by Cody Coyote, then who ?
The dubious rabble of Cody Wyoming and Big Horn County teabaggers have gone on the offensive here of late. They mistakenly beleive they are still relevant and have broad support in northwest Wyoming. The Primary Election of August 2012 taught them little, and the General Election come November taught them nothing at all, as they summarily got their gluteus maximi soundly pulped.
On April 10, 2013 the Tea Party crashed the party that was a public meeting called by the City of Cody , attended by the Mayor and President of the Council , a quorum of city councilmen , the Planning & Zoning board, City Planner, and planning assistant. It was City business in an open forum to explain, discuss, and take public comment on the Cody Master Plan , attended by a robust crowd of citizens numbering north of 100. Several members of the local cabal of teabaggers appeared, some of whom were not residents of the city of Cody , some not even from Park County. They came with an agenda, or two, and usurped the business and purpose of the Master Plan meeting . To Wit: the Tea Party attempted to mutate the hometown garden variety Cody Master Plan process into a demonization of the ” Agenda 21 “ global domination conspiracy . Further, they had the unmitigated gall to circulate a petition to gather signatures for a statewide referendum to repeal a piece of legislation passed in the Wyoming Legislature this past winter that they take umbrage at. That Legislation—known as Senate File 104 or colloquially as the ” Hill Bill “ effectively demoted the duties of Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill ( hence the moniker ) and repurpose the goals of the state Ed department.
REFERENCE:- here is a link to the Legislature’s own ” White Paper” which explains in full detail why SF104 was needed, and why Cindy Hill was demoted by her own party by an overwhelming majority of the Wyoming statehouse, which is 85 percent Republican, after being given months of latitude to change her modality, forthwith. http://www.sheridanmedia.com/news/white-paper-debunks-hill-bill63575.
Cindy Hill is a Tea Party darling. A case could be made that although she was unqualified to serve as state school department head and this was well known by the electorate beforehand , she got elected for two distressing reasons: she had that tiny ” – R ” after her name , and she had some frothing tea party voter support. Cindy is their girl; their hope; their maidenhead on the bow of the tea party barge sailing into the cold rough seas of Cheyenne to reform the capitol to reflect Tea Party ideology . As was said, the teabaggers of Cody , Park and Big Horn County still think they are relevant and a political force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately , that is somewhat true, but not because the teabaggers are in fact a relevant political force hereabouts, but instead due to Politics abhorring a vaccuum. Incredulously , about three weeks ago the teabaggers took over the Park County Republican Party central committee. A malaise of mainstream GOP who took themselves for granted, an appalling apathy within the local GOP ranks actually willing to do party work and develop issues, combined with some general dysfunctionality and infighting in the Park County GOP these past two years created a perfect Storm where the Teabaggers were swept into power. Gravity and suction are relevant- forces to be reckoned with.
ANALOGY: Think hard brown turds flowing down the sworling vortex in the bottom of your porcelain stool after pumping the handle, and you will have a good analogy of how this GOP perversion actually happened. Excrement happens…that we all know. It’s not that the Tea Party deserved the reins of the Republican draught horses and hay wagon so much as the real Republicans in this long standing GOP bastion took themselves for granted and simply didn’t show up in sufficient numbers to stand and be counted. There are about 11,000 registered Republican voters in Park County Wyoming, four times the number of registered Democrats. It is presumed the bulk of the GOP base were homing watching the NCAA basketball tourney or dining at the country club instead of taking care of political party business on a Saturday night in March in upper Wyoming , because a few dozen teabaggers sacked them . The cabal of disgruntled faux patriots wrapped in the American flag and flailing a tattered US Constitution in grey skies are now running the Park County Republican apparatus. We all know what they say about lunatics being in charge of the asylum. It really does happen…
Back to the Cody Master Plan Meeting last Wednesday night at the Cody Clubroom , standing room only . The teabaggers were accosting people— quietly so, but accosting them nevertheless— one among them working the crowd to garner certifiable voter signatures for the petition to repeal the SF-104 ” Hill Bill ” while the rest were generally sowing discontent amid the crowd , asserting that this community Master Plan gathering was just a revolving gear and shaft in the global Agenda 21 planetary transmission or something.
City Planner Todd Stowell explains the nuances of the Cody Master Plan to citizens.
You can read the draft of the City of Cody Master Plan here: http://www.cityofcody-wy.gov/DocumentCenter/View/945( PDF file ; 24 mb )
The ” Hill Bill” petition muster as a sidebar was wholly inappropriate to the goals and intent of the meeting. If not outright illegal given that the venue was official City business at a public forum with a defined purpose, it certainly was immoral or unethical to interrupt people trying to plan the future of their community with a petition advancing a dubious Tea Party agenda. Stated colloquially , the attempt to gather these kinds of signatures at this kind of meeting was at crosspurposes to the evening’s stated agenda . It was completely off in the weeds. If genuinely concerned attendees thought they were going to a citywide public gathering to work thru the crucial Cody planning process at the Cody Clubroom April 10, they were also attending a Tea Party circle jerk. It’s no fun when the jerks have you surrounded.
The petitioner stopped short of getting in people’s faces – present company excluded . But he was very assertive about working the whole room. The Petitioner came up to him and began his schpiël without either immediately recognizing the other , but your reporter immediately deduced what was going down. This guy was working the crowd at crosspurposes to a City planning forum. One glance at the petition made it abundantly clear what was happening here, and it had nothing to do with City of Cody Master Planning in a community atmosphere. It reeked of local Tea Party.
Having observed them in action for four years now, even attending some of their ad hoc meetings and events , and following news accounts of others, a pattern has emerged. Outside their own gaggle the local teabaggers are nothing if not a very disrespectful lot . They claim to represent ” pure” Constitutional democracy while holding up the Philadephia Experiment of 1789 as their example , claiming to restore freedoms and libterties to all. But truth be told , when the talk turns to actions it seems to be a partial truth in To be Tea Party is to agree to a specific doctrinal thesis of their own , exclusively , no differently so than the ideologies of the other parties given form. Far from inclusive and universal , to be contrarian to that and you will recieve their wrath. Their way or the highway. TIme and time again from the locales to the national stages the Tea Party has been seen and documented going from a standing start of ” Liberty and Freedom ” to a rush of hate speech and divisiveness without passing thru moderation or compromise. It happened in Cody in late March – they bullied their way to wrenching control of the Park County GOP pulpit by subverting the process. Those who attended that ill-fated county GOP caucus three weeks earlier agreed the ‘baggers were just such an unruly disrepectful pushy bunch . They had a mob mentality according to some present.
Given that political thoroughfares run in both directions there was some precedent for calling them out on this despicable behavior , vis-a-vis. Your reporter has always been of a proactive mind to give as good as he gets. When presented with an off-topic petition at a City planning meeting by an identified teabagger directed at a superfluous agenda , he detected that subversion of process and those teabagger tactics.
The teabagger Petitioner was an ex-Cody police officer, Vince Vanata . He departed the Cody PD under a cloud … Vanata was finally fired by the City of Cody for reasons along the lines of ” conduct unbecoming an officer ” after several known public incidents, and probably a few more incidents that remained behind the blue walls of internal affairs at the Cop Shop . Vanata was warned, but still went over the line once too often.
Vince Vanata gets signatures for the petition not related to City planning.
It is widely rumoured in Cody that Vanata had a grudge against the Publisher-Editor of the local newspaper whose pulp semiweekly dutifully reported his transgressions as proper news material, rightfully so. One morning Vanata pulled the editor over for speeding in a school zone, which was almost certainly justified given that the editor was and remains a known leadfoot with a long rapsheet of speeding violations. This routine traffic stop seems to have escalated to another higher level, however, and the editor pushed back. Not long after Vanata’s knees were rashed on the Chief’s carpet, and some time further down the road he was off the force. A wrongful firing lawsuit was intimated , filed, then went off the public screen The author has no direct knowledge of any of that except to say Vanata was not hired back. That was about three years ago.
Suffice to say that when this author responded to Vanata for panhandling a petition at the planning meeting this week, he honestly had no idea who he was talking to at first , having not knowingly seen Vanata in many many Moon ( a good thing ). But here he was, face to face. And Vanata’s face looked ten years older, had grown a whole new chin, was stubbled and had an overall mean look to it. A step back and it was obvious he’d gained considerable weight in those off years. It was some time later before his identity was brought to light, and frankly startling to learn, though the author had no problem stereotyping this guy as ‘ typical teabagger ‘ right off the bat. ( To be fair, Vanata probably had some of the same subliminal physical impressions of your reporter , who is also no longer a svelte virile middle aged adult with only one chin . )
Vanata attempts to brush off author by raising his hand in threatening manner
The disgraced demoted discharged cop Vanata had re-emerged as a local teabagger. It honestly felt good to get in his face —and your reporter most certainly did—- to chastise him for abusing the democratic process by usurping the City Master Plan meeting by turning it into a tea party civics mosh. There was no physicality… no contact between Vanata and the reporter , just words an dueling cameras…a Nikon CP 5100 going mano-y-mano with Vanata’s smartphone one eyed wonder. Flashes exchanged fire. [ Please note that the Petitioner approached the Reporter first and foremost, not the other way around .]
Vanata demanded that his photo quit being taken. The measured response to his stubbled face was ” No way , so long as you are carrying that petition around in here”. Vanata was reminded this was a public meeting in a public hall in the presence of more than two people and the Photographer was not harassing him at all when accused by Vanata as such . Rather that in the realm of photojournalism and under the protection of the Constitution and state laws , actionable photography is allowed without restraint. It’s a tenent of journalism , Vince. First Amendment made tangible. Yer reading it now.
Several folks nearby witnessed all this.
Cody City Councilman Stan Wolz and Vince Vanata
At this point, the two parted and your reporter sought out the Mayor and informed Her Dimness some guy was working the tables to collect signatures for a non-City related political petition. The Mayor seemed shocked at this. But did nothing. The three Councilmen present were similarly advised of the petitioning interference with their public discourse , as were several other folks including the local radio station News Director , David Koch of KODI-AM who was taking interviews during the Master Plan session. Koch attempted to get Vanata on the record. The enterprising radio reporter has been a thorn in the side of the local Tea Party movement by telling the truth about them. They hate that. Koch was also a catalyst in the statewide journalistic statewide that brought the whole sordid Cindy Hill situation into the spotlight, because he is not afraid to ask tough questions.
Radio reporter David Koch attempts to get Vince Vanata on record
As far as your reporter knows , Vanata was not told to cease and desist the petitioning, but maybe should have been. After getting no response from City officialdom on a request to escort Vanata to the lobby or outside the building to do his petitioning away from the actual meeting room, your reporter left the hall at 8:10 pm, somewhat disappointed in both the lack of dealing with the overt tea Party incursion into the meeting, and the meeting itself which had become an exercise in chaos theory. Your reporter arrived home at 8 :15 pm and settled in for a nice episode of NOVA on PBS.
Also attending this Master Plan meeting from the tea party cabal was archdeacon and Keeper of the Tea Bob “Tex” Berry and his sidekick Bob Ruckman , who is himself a real piece of reactionary political work by way of a political circus he ran in Las Vegas Nevada before coming back to Cody to be the local tea party’s henchman and strategist. Their recent biographical actualities woujld be good compost for a modern tale of political fiction based loosely on reality, or vice versa. These two guys are straight out of a Tom Robbins- Ed Abbey- Tom Wolfe novella not worth writing. Giving both more credit than either deserve or have earned since helping churn the Cody teabaggers into a collective , both above and below boards , Ruckman and Berry were also quietly working the room and confronting the City staffers. The ‘ baggers have previously descended on City Hall staff on at least one surreal occasion to express their concerns with some vigor, as is allowed. At least they did not bring any livestock with them , or wore sidearms , it was reported.
I wished I knew more about the gentleman apparently named ‘Paul’ (?) who was canvassing the room on behalf of the teabaggers with a sidearm strapped to his hip and a GoPro video camera to document this alleged Agenda 21 hive. Several other obvious teabaggers and their wives were present to stir the trough. Any tome the local tea aprtiers choose to coagulate at a local civic function or a fete of their own doing, readers should attend for the entertainment value if nothing else ( there is nothing else ). It is good street theater; audible mime. Costumery.
Bob Ruckman, center, and Bob ” Tex” Berry , right, with City staffer Utana Dye while ex-City Councilman Lowell Anderson looks on.
Everybody around Cody and Park County knows Bob ” Tex ” Berry too well — his legacy from last year’s demented Republican primary race for state senate from Park County , and the even more demented write-in campaign he ran after losing that primary to Hank Coe, who was a chief sponsor of the aforementioned SF-104 Hill Bill. Berry almost pulled off the upset of the decade by nearly defeating the apathetic Coe in the primary last August in a race with a slim 113 vote spread. By the time the General election came around , Coe had cowboyed up and actually had to campaign and do some gladhanding, which does not come natural to Prince Henry . He whipped Tex hands down by a 3-to-1 margin in the rematch . Not a fair fight since Berry had one arm tied behind his back in running a write-in campaign with strict voter rules about that , which is never easy. Your reporter cannot recall where that has ever worked in a statewide race, only in very minor races closer to the dog pound or contested elections for cemetary district and such. Coe has served in the Park County Courthouse for 8 years and the Wyoming statehouse for 22 years. This was Berry’s first run at anything important this far north of the Pecos. The takeaway lesson here might be ‘ Never overestimate the intelligence of the Wyoming voting public ‘.
Berry is nothing if not 6 foot 1 inch of sour grapes with a San Antonio drawl. It’s wafting in the Cody wind that Berry’s next thrust into local politics is a run against incumbent Sam Krone for the State House seat in 2014. Berry says Krone is ” too liberal ” , which is laughable, since Krone is a hardwood orthodox conservative Republican . But by Berry’s yardstick your reporter must be a thermonuclear flaming liberal communist socialist Afro-American Jewish homosexual Anti-Christ set on global domination , and an advocate of strong community planning. Some of that is true: the last six words. Berry lives a hundred yards away from this reporter. We almost never talk.
Turns out Vince Vanata had the gall to phone his old friends at the Cody PD dispatch center at 9:09 PM according to police rolling logs, and claimed he had been harassed and wanted to make a Complaint, which he apparently did. I’m sure they w ere glad to ehar from him. That was phoned in nearly an hour after the author left the meeting and was long gone, and some 20 minutes after the meeting itself had broken up. Perhaps this was done after consulting the brains of the outfit, Ruckman and Berry .
An officer responded, got some names, and spent the next day ( Thursday April 11) taking statements from attendees. As of this writing, noon Friday , April 12, no uniformed officer of the Cody PD has contacted your reporter but has been diligently investigating the circumstances of Vanata’s percieved harassment. The applicable statute regarding Harassment is written so broadly and vaguely that nearly anything can be construed to be a harassment for legal purposes. If you can stretch a condom to cover a fire hydrant, you can probably foist a harassment complaint as far as the Municipal Court stoop . Just not sure that Vince can stretch this one out very far.
It’s been a full day and then some…a great deal of the officer’s valuable time and expense to the City constabulary could have been saved if he’d only contacted this reporter early on for his perspective and a look at the photos. Vanata has no case. He of all persons should know that streets and political channels and coyote trails run both ways.
Having noted that , it’s worth saying that Teabaggers are nothing if not paranoid and delusional. Exhibit A.
Remember this if nothing else: Everything in Wyoming is political, except politics , which is personal. ( A statement attributed to Al Simpson’s brother Pete that could not be more true…)
SIDEBAR: Here’s the unbelievable aspect. The teabaggers were also “documenting ” the City of Cody officials in attendance in an attempt to prove they are part of the vast global conspiracy known to the Paranoid Right as ” Agenda 21 “. Yup—the Cody-Big Horn Basin Tea Party was there to prove that your sweet but dim Mayor and her Merry Men of average Joe Citizen councilmen and serfs are actually frontline soldiers in the world domination conspiracy of Agenda 21. The local teabaggers are certain of this. Or as a politically astute friend of mine who was a beat reporter around here for years succinctly put it , ” establishing bicycle paths in Cody is the first step in confiscating your pickup truck …”.
I just thought you should know all this ( he says, mentally glaring at apathetic Republicans who allowed the teabaggers to swoop in and squat and squawk like a pack of Crows )
This is a field report , then , on two political phenomenon. The first is the City of Cody Master Plan process, which seems to be opaque and chaotic outside the City Hall bureaucracy proper. It’s more like a Groundhog Day movie, not a new frontier or a long needed policy direction change. Same process, just different faces. Inefficient at best . Besides, when has a sitting City Council ever followed their own playbook around here ?
The other is the alarming success of the Tea Party activists in spite of them having a deficit of democracy and a dearth of decency , which when coupled with their desire to regress the entire nation back to horse and buggy days pre-19th century and eliminate the federal government in doing so, is downright dangerous. Yes, the people may be of a national political mood to fix everything from City Hall to the US Capitol and therefore be ripe for change via the ballot box, but the Tea Party is not the answer. Rather , it exacerbates the problem , exponentially if given their head. America is broken. The Tea Party is not the crusader and champion that will save it. Except in their own minds. And what a scary place those minds must be, if l’il ole Cody ‘s town hall is a staging area for the vast Agenda 21 global domination conspiracy, and the log cabins and aluminum housing of the unincorporated Wyoming sagebrush steppes are the new Concords and Lexingtons of an American Re-Revolution. Not ! The Tea Party is h-u-g-e in Emblem just across the Big Horn County line, by the way.
Two dysfunctional political processes scrumming head to head do not make for a rightful democratic process.
This is your reporter’s takeaway from the Cody master Planning meeting of April 10. We the People of Cody have a lot more work to do in planning our community’s long term growth and development , and that future had better not include any of the faux patriot wingnuts from the local Tea Party. Think global…act local. Read those tea leaves, then toss them into the Stinkingwater River where they belong.
Bottom Line: The community needs to keep an eye on these teabagging yahoos going forward , and quit letting them get away with this disruptive disrespectful divisive crap. Otherwise, we all get what we deserve.
April 12, 2013