Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Federico Pena = Mitt Romney, says Jon Caldara about Obama for America co-chair

Federico Pena -- one-time state legislator, mayor of Denver from 1983-1991, and former director of both the federal Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy for President Bill Clinton -- is now in private business. But as national campaign co-chair for Obama for America, he'll join other Latino leaders this morning at a public kickoff for Hispanic Heritage Month, outlining why Barack Obama is the right choice for Colorado Latinos.

But while Pena campaigns for Obama, the Independence Institute has its own campaign, focusing on Pena and his work in private industry, rather than his decades of public service. Playing off a report by Todd Shepherd and that compared Pena's record at Vestar Venture Capital to that of Mitt Romney at Bain, Independence Institute head Jon Caldara has sent out this missive:

We believe in capitalism.

That means there are winners and losers in the marketplace. But competition makes all players more efficient, which is great for customers. Failing businesses need to radically change how they do things to become competitive again, or they go out of business.

Those business leaders who have the courage to make the tough -- and often very painful -- decisions, to re-organize in order to save a company from bankruptcy are often rewarded financially. But there are other winners when a business is turned around, including those who are still employed, the investors, the customers of that business, and lest we forget, the government. The taxes collected from employees, stockholders, customers through sales tax, and the business through property and income taxes help keep revenue for governmental services flowing.

While it has become trendy to lampoon venture capitalists who have successfully turned around failing businesses, I believe it is worth recognizing these people who have helped so many by risking their wealth to save a business. In fact, I wish to recognize and celebrate one such man.

Through his venture capital company, Vestar Venture Capital, this man was part of a team that closed a Del Monte Foods plant in California, sadly displacing hundreds of employees...but today Del Monte is still alive and thriving.

His venture capital firm laid-off hundreds of workers at Birdseye Foods...but hundreds are still employed because Birdseye did not fail.

His venture capital firm closed three domestic factories with the Solo Cup Company costing hundreds of jobs...But Solo Cup is still in business, supplying real jobs.

Who is this courageous and successful business man? It's the national co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign, our former Denver Mayor Federico Pena.

I believe this is a story worth telling. But the media in Denver, including the paper of record, the Denver Post, won't touch it. I am asking for your help in celebrating the venture capital success of Pena by helping raise the funds needed for a full-page announcement in the Denver Post. If we can raise $23,000 we will run a full-page "thank you" to the national co-chair of the Obama reelection campaign and help educate the hundreds of thousands of Post readers to the importance of capitalism.

If you believe this is a success story that should be shared, a story that should be in the Denver Post, please donate today...

Want to donate to that lost cause? Find out more here.

And if you'd like to see Pena in action, he'll be with state representatives Crisanta Duran and Dan Pabon at West Viking Park, Federal Boulevard and West 29th Avenue, at 10:30 a.m. today.

In 1983, Federico Pena was a definite dark-horse candidate for Denver mayor -- but after he challenged residents to "Imagine a Great City," he set out to build that city. Read about the origins of this effort in our post "Michael Hancock imagines a great slogan: New mayor credits city with making him who he is."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun