5 local business owners express indignance
Owners of five area businesses, including two on the Westside and one in Manitou, took a stand at a July 30 press conference against the recent “You didn't build that” comment by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The two from the Westside were Dave Leinweber, owner of Angler's Covey (where the press conference was held); and Sallie Clark, co-founder/owner of the 26-year-old Holden House Bed & Breakfast. In Manitou, Tim Haas is part of the family-owned, multiple-generation Garden of the Gods Trading Post. The other two speakers were Steve Kanatzar, owner of the 10-year-old Airplane Restaurant that he started on the city's east side; and Vera Ortegon, whose husband, Dr. Anthony Ortegon, started an internal medicine practice in Pueblo after the two of them immigrated to the United States from Colombia in 1980.
In the president's speech, while making the point that business owners are not the only people who work hard and that government plays a big role in financial success, Obama said at one point, “You got a business, you didn't build that; somebody else made that happen.”
At the press conference, all five speakers described long hours and hard work to get their businesses going.
“I take personal exception to what the president said,” Clark said, “Because really I did build it [the bed and breakfast], with my husband.”
“I never saw the government next to me, helping,” Haas noted.
Leinweber, who has owned his fishing store since 1999, described mortgaging “everything we had and spending countless hours here to build it” (the current store site) at 21st Street and Highway 24 in 2005. His only direct involvement with government was dealing with its regulations, he said. For example, construction of the building was delayed in part because Leinweber insisted on keeping several cottonwood trees along Fountain Creek as natural amenities despite the city's wishes to cut them down. “We create the jobs,” he said. “I've doubled the workforce here and it wasn't through some government program.”
The event was organized with the help of the statewide office supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Each of the speakers held up a sheet of paper noting the Romney website in small letters and, in big letters, “We did build that!”
One media entity afterward implied hypocrisy in regarding the press conference participants, reporting that two of them (Leinweber and Kanatzar) admitted taking out loans on their businesses that had been insured by the government.
However, Clark responded the next day that it's hard to avoid government involvement with any loans and, in any case, “the government isn't responsible for paying them off.” Also, she said, “it's my understanding that no one from yesterday's press conference has taken any government grant funding, including us.”
Westside Pioneer article