New witnesses needed at impeachment trial

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 2/5/20

While most of us have had our fill of the Trump impeachment proceedings, I cannot figure out an answer to the most fundamental question which keeps nagging me. The President and the Republican …

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New witnesses needed at impeachment trial


While most of us have had our fill of the Trump impeachment proceedings, I cannot figure out an answer to the most fundamental question which keeps nagging me.

The President and the Republican Senators keep saying that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong. Furthermore, they say there was no proof of any wrong doing and the whole intent behind the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives was politically motivated.

However, it is the same President and Republican Senators who refuse to assist or allow the flow of documents and the testimony of key witnesses. In any trial to determine innocence or guilt, verification of facts is critical.

If Mr. Trump is innocent of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, then why have he and his Republican cohorts rejected such opportunities to help prove his innocence?

These tactics don’t reconcile or make any sense!

Survey results show Americans wanted impeachment witnesses

In addition, surveys show that the American public favorws calling new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.

For example, in a very recent Reuters Poll, 72% agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify.”

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 66% of respondents favored more witnesses. A Monmouth University poll recorded three of every four Americans questioned favored inviting Trump Administration officials, as well as the President, to testify.” Even the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports poll showed that 55% of those citizens polled favored new witnesses being allowed to testify. Only 35% said they wanted to stick with the testimony already given in the House of Representatives’ proceedings.

Bolton’s book is a bomb shell

To further bolster support and justification to have new witnesses testify, former National Security Advisor John Bolton just set off a bomb, so to speak, when damaging information was revealed in his forthcoming book. Specifically, Bolton is to have stated that President Trump had told Bolton he wanted to keep $391 million in Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine frozen until the new Ukraine administration agreed to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.


No wonder Trump and Senate leader McConnell are refusing to allow new witnesses. Who ever believed it would be a straight-up, non-partisan trial? By the way, let’s include Hunter Biden as one of the witnesses.

Hopefully, there are enough Republican Senators who feel compelled to seek the truth and vote with Democrats to approve hearing from additional witnesses. Senator Gardner — we need to hear from you! Your silence is duly noted which does not bode well for you this coming November.

An opportunity to “weigh-in”
on westminster survey

Attention, Westminster citizens take note: As part of the standing practice of the City of Westminster, a formal opinion survey has been mailed at random to 4,000 Westminster addresses to garner their thoughts and opinions on a host of topics and issues. The survey is conducted every two years by National Research Center in Boulder which has expertise in crafting and processing scientifically valid surveys. If you did not receive a survey in the mail, the city will be offering the rest of us an opportunity to participate via completing the survey via the city’s web site starting in early February. It’s important to let the City Council and city administration know of your thoughts on current issues as well as rating the various city services and facilities. Keep an eye out on the city’s web site for the survey.

When it rains, it pours

Remember the old cliché when it rains; it pours? Well, this saying seems to be applicable to RTD and its series of woes.

I cannot recall of a public agency which has had so many negative impacts crash down on them in such a short period of time. However, I must say that these different factors did not simply spring up overnight. Their leadership problem, both elected and managerially have been there since Phil Washington left the General Manager’s position to take on the Los Angeles GM position.

Financially, the organization has been slipping incrementally for the past few years — as has its ridership. The lack of adequately trained personnel to drive the buses and operate the light rail/commuter rail lines has been building on the back of forced overtime and the ensuing high rate of turnover of staff.

Next stop: A crisis

The January 26th article in the Sunday Denver Post hit the nail on the head: RTD has collectively hit a crisis point.

When so many separate, key factors hit an organization in a relative short period of time a crisis is likely to ensue. No single action will turn this around. It will take a combination of fairly bold actions and decisions to alter the downward direction of the institution.

Does the RTD Board of Directors have the knowledge, wisdom, guts and vision to achieve this Herculean task? Certainly, there will be a lot of pressure on Paul Ballard, selected as the Interim General Manager for up to a year before a permanent appointment is made.

Fundamental problems

Fundamentally, RTD has some key factors working against it.

First, it has the largest land area of any public transportation organization in the United States. The district is in part or totally in eight metro Denver counties with more than 2,000 square miles to serve. Are you surprised to learn that there is RTD bus service to Lyons as well as Nederland?

Plus, the Denver metro area’s accelerated urban sprawl has exacerbated the problem, with new residential developments but without the funds to extend bus services.

Secondly, the district has been underfunded for years. Even when I served on the Board of Directors from 2002-2010, we were coping with unfunded federal mandates like ADA’s para transit requirements.

Re-configure the RTD board

Another fundamental weakness that has evolved is the 15-member elected governing body, supposedly is elected on a non-partisan basis. There is no requirement for knowledge or experience in the fields of public transportation management, financial oversight or personnel selection expertise in the selection of the General Manager and legal counsel.

It’s like herding cats, and that requires a strong and dynamic personality to lead the organization.

I think the time has come to re-configure the RTD Board into a seven or nine member group of appointed board of directors. Whether it is the governor, a group of mayors or county commissioners or some combination, individuals who are transportation-savvy and have the political strength to carry out tough decisions are needed. The current state legislation which would add two more board members to represent special interests. That is not even a Band-Aid to solve the problem.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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