Thursday, August 26, 2010

Connections between DPS refinancing and Parker Lofgren

There was a big New York Times article about Michael Bennet, running for the Democratic senatorial nomination in Colorado, on August 6, 2010. It discussed the vote by three Denver Public Schools Board of Education candidates in 2007 to put the pension fund into "exotic investments" which benefit only the banks, and are now costing DPS an arm and a leg. Bennet was hired, without any experience or qualifications in education, as the superintendent of DPS by these three boardmembers, and then repaid the favor by campaigning for their re-election in 2007. The Times article didn't mention that one of these DPS board members, Bruce Hoyt, is, in fact, an investment banker himself. Hoyt ran a joint campaign with Theresa Pena. I remember not voting for either, because they sent around so many glossy brochures I knew a lot of money was behind them (and if you look at their 2007 campaign contributions, you can see that was indeed the case).

One of Hoyt's and Theresa Pena's campaign contributors was Parker Lofgren, an investment banker who turns out to have been Bruce Hoyt's partner at St. Charles Capital. This fact has never been mentioned in any press I've seen. Lofgren and his wife Carolyn also show up on the donors list and at functions of the Denver Public Schools Foundation.

The connection is startling. Parker and Carolyn Lofgren and their two children were the tragic victims of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in Thanksgiving 2008. They had bought a stay at a mansion in Aspen at a fundraising auction at their children's school (ironically not a Denver public school, but St. Anne's Episcopal).

There is very little information available on the web about how this particular prize ended up in this particular auction. The Lofgrens split it with another couple at their church, whose identity has been omitted from every article I have found online, who are the ones who found the Lofgrens' bodies when they arrived in Aspen the day after the night the Lofgrens died. The house was rented out for functions like this, and otherwise stood vacant; however, several other groups had stayed there without any problem, including one which left only a day before the Lofgrens arrived.

The house was for sale. The owner had had some other properties sold for taxes in 2009.

I have wondered whether Parker Lofgren might have been a critic of the refinancing scheme possibly about to voice a negative opinion to the school board. He obviously knew about the plan, as a partner of one of the school board members pushing for it and an expert in investments. The DPS vote was taken right around that time.

Maybe St. Charles Capital even worked on the refinancing, although that certainly would have been a conflict for Hoyt. I don't know. The name "St. Charles Capital" is interesting, too, since the name of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's real estate development company is "St. Charles Town Company." I haven't been able to find any connection between them, but why "St. Charles"? Is there some connection to the parish? (There's another "St. Charles"--Wendy St. Charles--who was convicted of felony cocaine trafficking. She was nevertheless admitted to the bar in Colorado, where she worked for MDC Holdings; and then George W. Bush pardoned her! She went on to work for Brownstein, Hyatt, and then Holland & Hart in Vail.)

I am compiling a list of "accidental deaths" in Colorado. In fact, since I've talked about a few already, I'm going to create a "sub-blog" just to deal with that! They look less accidental when all the circumstances surrounding each one are taken into account.

Benson and the closing of the CU Journalism School

I sent a shorter version of this letter to the Denver Post on August 26, 2010:

So is Bruce Benson, as CU president, starting to do what everyone feared he might when he was appointed, by closing the CU Journalism School? Sure, closing the school will save money, but what is a University for?

Perhaps one would close the school to forestall investigation into the frauds of public officeholders, which journalism students might be trained to do. These students might, in fact, do well to investigate Benson himself, who gave $45,000 to three Denver Public Schools candidates in 2007, the same three who invested the teachers' pension fund in "exotic instruments" which solely benefit the banks. One of these candidates, and now a DPS board member, Bruce Hoyt, is, in fact, an investment banker.

Bruce Benson's contributions to these three were not reported until after the election. Other oil companies, banks, and developers also gave big bucks to them. What could their interest be in a school board race if not to get their mitts on the pension fund? Well, it's clear their primary goal is to dismantle public education generally. They start with the school closures and progress to looting the teachers' pension fund.

And now Benson and his buds have gone to work on CU. Lots fewer eyes on the pension fund if no journalism students around.

Coda, March 10, 2011:  I was criticized by someone after I published this piece, who said, oh, the Journalism School is only being restructured to keep up with technological developments, and the intention is they'll be back soon, and do a better service to their students.  Turns out that's not correct:  a couple weeks ago, it was reported the Journalism School is staying closed.  Kaput.  Total blackout, even in the schools.  There's not going to be any news coming out of the black hole of Colorado, by golly!