We Support Andrew Romanoff

Rita and I have known Andrew for many years and have the highest respect for him. We agree with the policy positions he has adopted. We heartily endorse him for U.S. Senate. 

Andrew’s performance in debates with his opponent has been really impressive. He has such a command of the facts and speaks so easily about issues and about his policies without hemming and hawing. We liked him before, but now we like him even more!

It Seems That We All Have Racism on Our Minds. Here Are My Thoughts.

It has certainly been an interesting and emotional two weeks since the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Rita and I have been happy to add our voices, and are impressed at the longevity and the worldwide spread of the demonstrations.

On Sunday afternoon, there was an event in downtown Golden, which the two of us attended.  (See the picture  by Chris Davell of Goldentoday.com below.) It was followed by a march through downtown Golden, although Rita and I didn’t stay for that.

The event was organized by a group called Golden United. I have attended several prior events by this wonderful organization, headed by Golden resident Ron Benioff. You will probably read about it elsewhere in this newspaper since I met the reporter covering it. Several hundred people attended the event in Parfet Park, most of them wearing masks and all socially distanced.

It was, of course, very peaceful. After all, this is Golden, a college town that is majority liberal, majority white, and my home for the past 23 years. A city councilor, JJ Trout, emceed the event, giving a very thoughtful speech of her own. Mayor Laura Weinberg also spoke.  Both displayed great introspection and deep thought on the topic of racism. Ron Benioff spoke, stressing that being non-racist is no longer enough. We all have to be anti-racist.

The police chief, Bill Kilpatrick, was there with one other officer and received generous applause at the mention of his sensitive letter to the community which he wrote shortly after the death of George Floyd. (That was followed this week by a lengthy posting on the city’s website outlining police practices and training related to implicit bias, the use of force and other topics raised following George Floyd death.)

I have a couple thoughts to share beyond my sincere appreciation for Golden United and our city’s political leaders.

First of all, I feel that we are overlooking anti-Hispanic racism, which is just as pervasive as anti-black racism. It was the first and remains the greatest expression of racism by our current president, who opposes even legal immigration from people of any color other than white. (Remember his comment about Norwegians being more desirable than Hispanics?)

It’s my perception, and perhaps yours, that whites and the police are not as fearful of Hispanics as they are of African-Americans, but they still don’t view Hispanics as equally valuable human beings.

I certainly value and appreciate our Hispanic population and especially the Mexican-Amercans and their undocumented cousins who work tirelessly and with seeming contentment at so many jobs which other Americans are unwilling to perform — picking our vegetables and fruits, repairing or replacing our roofs, and collecting our trash alongside African-Americans.  (It was heart-warming last week to read a post on NextDoor urging neighbors to tape dollar bills to the lids of our trash carts as a way of thanking our trash collectors.)

Not only do we as a white society insufficiently appreciate our black and Hispanic population, our regressive laws work to keep that population impoverished. We need to address our anti-poor policies — which are really pro-wealthy policies, such as the Trump tax bill of 2017 — which have widened the gap between rich and poor in America.

Real estate, at least in the Denver market, is a majority white industry, not representative of the racial diversity of the metro area. I can say with confidence that it’s not reflective of any anti-black discrimination in hiring.  My first partner in real estate with whom I co-listed properties was an African-American woman who I miss working with. She remained with Coldwell Banker when I moved to RE/MAX Alliance before starting Golden Real Estate.

My seven broker associates are all white, but they and I would welcome with open arms one or more African-American and Hispanic agents to join our ranks.  It is hard to say why our industry has not attracted more African-Ameri-can brokers, but I’ve noticed a large contingent of Hispanic agents, who even have a highly active association.  I’ve attended their events.

For this column, I interviewed two of the three blacks who serve on the 18-member board of directors of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. That ratio, it should be noted, is better than the ratio of blacks who are members of DMAR.

Milford Adams, managing broker of Lyons Realty Group LLC in southeast Denver, told me that economics are the primary reason there aren’t more blacks in the industry, since it’s hard for a new agent to get established in the business without significant cash reserves. (I know this personally, since it was two years of expenses exceeding income before I myself started making a living in real estate.)  And, yes, he said he has experienced discrimination, much of it subtle, at every turn as he himself rose through the profession.

Lori Pace, of Kentwood Real Estate in the City Properties office in downtown Denver, has been an activist within the profession and operates a strategic consulting business, offering training to real estate brokerages (see her website, www.LoriPace.com) in the area of recruitment and diversity training.  On that website you can also watch her TEDx talk “Philanthroperty,” which was about inspiring women, not just minority women, to invest in “real estate, not purses,” to grow in wealth and power.

The following was submitted by Lori Pace regarding the program she teaches on diversity:

Everyone’s experience matters and how we live, make a living, and lose lives. There is no such thing as a stupid white question, but there is certainly are intellectual black answers. The Diversity Difference is an essential wellness program illustrating how real estate and health equity impact everyone’s ability to breathe or exhale. 

The Diversity Tool Kit is THE ventilator allowing everyone the opportunity and right to exist and not resist.  It is designed to develop a multicultural, multi-generational mindset. The live and virtual keynote address combines a training series with first-hand accounts and stories on doing business while being Black in America.  It is more than a call to action. It is a collaborative, result-driven process tackling multi-layers of problems and resolutions examining metrics, business strategies, and tools for real-life situations.  Passive conversations become proactive actions.

This is a resource to ensure strategic, proactive, and sustainable ACTIONS that can be implemented immediately.  The agenda is based on an inspirational and REAL approach providing new perspectives for all industries, organizations, and institutions ready to implement a blueprint from a black perspective.

Participants gain a new outlook and opportunity to breakdown and understand how systematic racism in businesses and communities continues to be influenced by the power of segregation and money. Transparency and trusting safe cultures are non-negotiable in order to move forward. The experiential learning deals with Fair Housing and intentional and unintentional Unfair Business Practices. It is time to invest in business, social and emotional “Black and Blue Print” to change your PACE unapologetically with a high return on your investment.

The Real Estate industry and brokerages are major players influencing ALL communities, neighborhoods, business, and institutions.  There is a new demand for answers to awkward questions and circumstances requiring a no-judgment solution. Now more than ever, the world is aware of the negative impacts of silence and ignoring the blinders that have been abruptly removed.

My Cable News Viewing Recommendations

As a follow-up to last week’s item about our “Post-Factual Era” coming to an end, I have two cable viewing recommendations for readers wanting to understand current political events.

1)   Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.  Although CNN is my weekday viewing choice, I record this show for viewing on Sunday. I’m impressed with Chris’s fair questioning of guests from both parties and his choice of panelists for political discussions.

2)  Reliable Sources. This Sunday morning program on CNN is all about the media and is essential viewing in this error of “fake news” claims from both sides of the political divide. I recommend subscribing to this program’s daily email newsletter, which you can do at www.ReliableSources.com

The Crackdown on Hispanic Immigration Is Hurting the Construction Trades

Like any homeowner who has lived in Colorado for a long time, I have experienced roof replacements due to a hail storm more than once, and have observed that the roofing industry, like many construction trades, is particularly dependent on Mexicans and other Hispanics for their work force.

So I’ve been wondering how the President’s unrelenting (and increasing) crackdown on immigration from Central American countries has been affecting construction trades, including roofing.

Fortunately, my last big hail storm requiring roof replacement was in May 2017, before the crackdown on such immigrants had matured into what we are seeing today.

Googling the topic and surveying the many roofing companies with which I’ve dealt over the years, I find that what I suspected is indeed the case.  Roughly 20% of that industry’s work force has been lost directly or indirectly. It makes me wonder how we will fare in the event of another widespread hail disaster.

The problem is that few non-immigrants jump at the offer of earning minimum or higher wages climbing on roofs in the hot sun and doing the back-breaking work of removing and replacing a roof.  The same is true in the farming industry where migrant labor has been essential to getting seasonal work done.

I remember Elliot Eisenberg, the “Bowtie Economist,” telling Realtors at a 2017 event that immigration is essential to growing the economy, and that we need at least 1 million immigrants every year to achieve the kind of growth which President Trump was promising. (He also pointed out that cutting taxes while the economy is doing as well as it was in 2017 was not smart and could only have a short-lived effect, which is now evident.)

I was reminded of all this on Sunday night, watching a 60 Minutes segment on the Japanese economy hurting because of its historic limitation on immigration in addition to its declining birth rate.

Immigration is good, and it’s necessary to maintain and grow our economy.  The effect of restricting immigration and terrorizing immigrants by raiding businesses with immigrant work forces ends up hurting us all.

According to one website I Googled,

> A U.S. Department of Labor study prepared by the Bush Administration noted that the perception that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is “the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought” because it is based on the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy.    

> Experts note that immigrants are blamed for unemployment because Americans can see the jobs immigrants fill but not the jobs they create through productivity, capital formation and demand for goods and services.  

> Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare. Without their contributions to the public treasury, the economy would suffer enormous losses. 

Personally, I think we should welcome, not shun, immigrants.

‘Preferential Voting’ Is a Great Method for Dealing With Primary Elections With a Dozen or More Candidates

With over a dozen candidates now vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, I have a modest proposal. Let those states holding primaries do what Australia does for most of its elections and employ a preferential voting system.

Under such a system, voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the second choice of that candidate’s voters are counted. If that doesn’t produce 50% or more votes for any candidate, the candidate with the now lowest vote count is eliminated and those voters’ next favorite candidates receive their votes. And so it continues until one candidate receives at least 50% of the votes.

In 2016, there were 17 Republican primary candidates. If a preferenttial voting system had been utilized, Donald Trump probably would have won far fewer primaries and not won the Republican presidential nomination.

If done for the general election, this could encourage third-party candidates. Such a candidate couldn’t function as a spoiler, because if the top candidate does not get at least 50% of the votes, the third-party candidate is eliminated and his/her voters’ second choices are counted.

The State of Maine used this system, which they call “Ranked Choice Voting,” in the 2018 mid-term election and it caused the Republican incumbent, who got the most votes but not 50%, to lose to the Democratic candidate after a third candidate with the lowest number of votes was eliminated and his votes redistributed to his voters’ second choice. Not surprisingly, the Republicans in Maine’s legislature are now pressing to have the law repealed. Here’s a link to a TV news report on the controversy:

https://wgme.com/news/local/ranked-choice-voting-up-for-debate-at-state-house