Ferguson Protests Spread Across America, Colorado

A quick roundup on a story that has dominated national headlines since Monday evening and resulted in two consecutive days now of protests in Denver, Colorado Springs, and elsewhere–CNN:

Like Ferguson, outrage over the grand jury's decision escalated from coast to coast, with protests in about 170 cities nationwide.

From New York to Los Angeles and dozens and dozens of cities in between, protesters flooded the streets to denounce the grand jury's decision. Some demonstrations blocked bridges, tunnels and major highways. But the protests were largely peaceful.

"They have given us no justice! We will give them no peace," protesters chanted as they massed in front of the Underground Atlanta shopping mall.

In the New York area, they briefly blocked one of the entrances to the Lincoln Tunnel.

As the Denver Post's Anthony Cotton reports, protests yesterday evening downtown almost got out of hand, with a handful of protesters arrested, but overall stayed peaceful and law-abiding:

Besides the Brown protest, there were banners decrying the July shooting death of Ryan Ronquillo. And after an hour of marching, the protesters ended up at the front doors of the Denver jail, where they repeatedly shouted, "Marvin Booker, Marvin Booker," recalling the inmate who died at the facility in 2010…

Although there were no obvious signs of discord, things did get a bit tense when three armed sheriff's deputies, perhaps disquieted by the size of the gathering, stood on alert just inside the front doors of the jail.

Organizers had planned for the march to conclude at the jail, but a large group continued the protest, moving west on West Colfax Avenue and blocking the viaduct over Interstate 25…[p]olice formed a line to prevent protesters from moving onto the interstate about 8:10 p.m.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports a robust protest there Tuesday:

Hundreds of protesters, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Whose streets? Our streets," marched through downtown Colorado Springs on Tuesday, demanding police reform after a grand jury opted not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teen in Ferguson, Mo…

Clutching a megaphone while blocking Cascade Avenue, Trina Reynolds-Tyler, a Colorado College senior, read a list of demands from FergusonAction.com, which has often helped support protests in Missouri.

Among the demands: Police departments nationwide need to stop using military equipment and weaponry and a U.S. Department of Justice review on racially biased policing across the nation. She said money going to law enforcement needs to be redirected toward community-based alternatives to incarceration.

Other events around the state related to the protests over the police shooting of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown included an apropos forum on race relations in Boulder and a protest in Pueblo organized by the Colorado Progressive Coalition. Also fueling debate locally over police violence and race relations is a new report from Rocky Mountain PBS I-News highlighting racial disparity in Denver police shootings:

At a time when the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has brought tensions between police and minority communities to the forefront, Rocky Mountain PBS I-News has found that racial disparities persist in police shootings in Denver.

Seven of the 33 people shot by Denver police and sheriff’s deputies in the past five years were African American, according to data collected by the Office of the Independent Monitor, a city watchdog. That’s about 21 percent, compared with an overall black population in Denver of 9.7 percent during roughly the same period, according to Census data.

Thirteen of those shot between 2009 and 2013 were Latino, and 12 were white. That means about 39 percent of the shootings involved Latinos, who comprise 32 percent of the population, while 36 percent involved whites, who account for 52 percent of the population.

Whether we like it or not, this is an issue that we need to be talking about in Colorado. So, please do.

Marble invites Tea-Party radio host to report from Senate chambers

(This is certain to end well - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

criticized conservative KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark yesterday for spreading misinformation about undocumented immigrants, but one thing Clark and I agree on is that the Colorado General Assembly should figure out a way to be more open to non-journalists who report or comment on the happenings there.

And it looks like the new Republican leadership in the Colorado Senate may be planning to shake things up, and help guys like Clark get more access.

I'm not sure what the fairest way to handle access and/or press credentials is, but whatever Senate Republicans do, I hope it's even-handed.

Judging from this interesting conversation on the topic (below), there are hints it will be fair (a promise to give everyone a "even shot" and hints that it won't be (a personal invitation to Clark to report from the Senate "chambers").

The discussion occurred Nov. 19 on KLZ's 560-AM's nooner show, Freedom 560, among Clark, Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Assistant Majority Leader, and Sen. Vicki Marble, GOP Senate Caucus Chair. The topic was Clark's desire to have more access at the Capitol:

CLARK: Well, and I’m going to ask you one more question, and this is on a personal note, because as you are both painfully aware, I have been personally kicked off the floor of the House. I’ve been personally kicked off the floor of the Senate, and I was denied press credentials, because — whatever. They came up with a whole bunch of different excuses, and the press credentialing is controlled through the Senate. So, I guess I can assume that you guys aren’t going to kick me off the floor of the Senate this year.

LUNDBERG: [laughs] Ken, I have no intention of doing that. We need that transparency that allows everybody on, including incredibly popular radio hosts who talk about political issues every day of the week.

CLARK: Senator Marble?

MARBLE: I agree. I think you should have a seat right next to the [Senate] President, Bill Cadman.

CLARK: [laughs] We’ll see if Bill goes for that!

LUNDBERG: Well, I’m just going to give you an even shot with everybody else, Ken.

CLARK: Well, Senator Lundberg and Senator Marble, it was you two that went to bat to make sure that that [ban] was revoked, and it didn’t last very long. I think on the floor of the Senate, it was maybe a fifteen minute ban. That was it, because you guys raised holy hell and got that reversed. So, I appreciate that, I really do. I’m not holding out any hope for what might happen to me on the floor of the House. I will wear Kevlar. I will make sure that I am well protected. So, that will be good.

LUNDBERG: [laughs] Say no more.

CLARK: I think it’s going to also be imperative—and I’ll leave you with this, and I’ll give you each the last word. Senator Marble, I’ll start with you. It is going to be imperative that when you guys have bills that are coming through the Senate that you let people like me, Rich Bratten, Randy Corporon, Kris Cook, John Rush, —people know what is coming through. And I will be down there, fighting the battles with you guys on a daily basis. but it’s imperative that you reach out to us and make sure that we know the good things that you guys are doing so we can spread the word. And Senator Marble, how are you going to do that?

MARBLE: By keeping in very close touch with you, which, having you down at the Senate — you know — chambers, and having you at the Capitol everyday isn’t going to be very hard. If you don’t have the information, then it’s our fault. And I definitely can’t wait for the people of the state of Colorado to have a front and center seat with you, right there, giving the play by play. It’s about transparency, and believe me, we could not applaud your efforts of making everything transparent more. I thank you so much.

CLARK: Well, you know, that’s just kind of what we do. I go down there to watch how the sausage is made, and it ain’t pretty. It’s not. Senator Lundberg?

LUNDBERG: Ken, you’re right! It’s a pretty ugly process. And, as it Winston Churchill observed, it’s the worst form of government except for everything else. And so, it’s got it’s wrinkles and warts that we have to look past and work beyond. But my goal is to —as it always has been— to make sure people can see as much of what is happening as possible. I continue to publish during session, a weekly email report that if anybody goes to my website — KevinLundberg.com —they can sign up directly, there. And of course, Ken, any time I can be on the air and talking with you, I’d be glad to, as well as everybody else there at KLZ. And I’ll admit, I talk on a few other radio stations as well, because I want the entire state to know what we are doing.

Listen to Clark, Marble and Lundberg talk about about press access at state Capitol 11-19-2014

Wednesday Open Thread

"Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?"

–Will Rogers

Hick Picks Kathy Green as Communications Director

From the office of the Governor:

Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced that Kathy Green will become communications director and official spokesperson, effective immediately. Green has served as interim communications director since July 2014.

"We were fortunate that Kathy Green joined our team as a interim communications director and during that time we realized we’d be fools to let her go,” said Hickenlooper. “Kathy is a remarkably skilled communicator and meshes seamlessly with our team. She helps bring out the best in all of us.”

Most recently, Green directed marketing and communication efforts for the Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT, helping the state integrate media, public relations, and business-to-business marketing programs while supporting consumer-based public relations. Her work earned the agency top recognition from the Business Marketing Association and the global Communicators Awards.

Prior to joining the state, Green worked at the City and County of Denver supporting special media projects under then-Mayor Hickenlooper including the Better Denver Bond program, the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic National Convention and public safety issues. Before joining the public sector, Green owned a consulting firm offering multi-discipline services to clients across industries in both public and private sectors. She holds a journalism degree from Iowa State University.

Maximillian Potter, who took on the dual roles of Communications Director and Senior Media Adviser, will continue on in his Senior Media Adviser role reporting to the governor and will craft overall messaging of the governor’s office. 

This announcement brings some formality to the Communications office, which had been manned (somewhat) by Max Potter following the departure of Eric Brown last summer.

Sen. Marble delivers falsehood that immigrants bring eradicated “disease”

(Your Senate majority leadership in action - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Warning: KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark tells me the following blog post is a "hit piece consisting of lies and deceit in order to continue to manipulate the public and your readers at the expense of an elected official who is simply tying to protect her constituents." If only this were true….

The elected official Clark refers to is Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble. At issue is a searing falsehood Marble delivered to Clark on his nooner Freedom 560 show on KLZ 560-AM Nov. 19:

Marble: “Those illegals infiltrate into the system, of the United States, and they bring the disease. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

A lengthy search (still in progress) for a factual basis backing up Marble yielded nothing, and I asked Clark why he didn't correct her on air:

Clark: The evidence is overwhelming that we are facing a health risk due to our administrations failure to protect our boarders and as a result are continuing to put our citizens at risk. Senator Marble is 100% correct when she states this fact and by failing to accept the truth and the evidence you are simply attempting to attack a public servant rather than seek the truth. She has been briefed by the Colorado Center for Disease Control as well and is privy to information that is not public, maybe you should try to get some information from them. [BigMedia emphasis]

I asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment if there was any evidence that undocumented immigrants are bringing any disease, much less ones that we thought were eradicated, into Colorado.

"CDPHE is not aware of any such evidence," was the simple answer from Mark Salley, CDPHE spokesperson.

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GOP Majority’s Priority One: Killing Colorado Jobs!

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

As the Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports, a story with great significance to Colorado's economy:

The federal wind power tax credit, which Vestas and other windturbine producers rely on to support sales, is back in the cross hairs of conservative energy groups that want it eliminated…

The wind credit was one of the high-profile issues President Barack Obama campaigned for in 2012, the last time it was set to expire, and bipartisan supporters in windpower states extended the tax credit through 2013 after that election.

That extension allowed Vestas and other windpower companies to enter multiyear production contracts that are still fueling production at their factories, including the Vestas plant south of Pueblo.

The Hill reports that national conservative organizing group Americans for Prosperity, which has a large budget in Colorado, is leading the charge against the renewal of the wind production tax credit:

The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is publishing advertisements pushing individual Republicans to oppose tax credits for wind energy.

The ads launched Monday in the hometown newspapers of 15 GOP representatives in eight states who have not given clear positions on the wind energy production tax credit since it expired at the end of last year…

“It’s important that these members go on the record to let their constituents know that even during the little-watched lame-duck session of Congress, they’re committed to opposing needless corporate handouts at taxpayer expense,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s top federal lobbyist, said in a statement Monday.

Americans for Prosperity played a significant role in get-out-the-vote operations for Republicans this year, and funded a lavish ad campaign in support for Sen.-elect Cory Gardner. With that said, at least on the issue of renewing the wind production tax credit, Gardner is not quite giving this Koch brothers-funded organization their money's worth:

A spokesman said Gardner noted the congressman backed the 2012 extension and still supports extending it again — but ramped down over time.

At least not yet! This isn't the first time that Gardner has had to thread the needle between supporting Colorado's renewable energy industry, which he is obliged to do as any kind of responsible representative of the state, and conservative dogmatic opposition to any kind of "government subsidy" of this or that particular energy source. Groups like Americans for Prosperity say they're for eliminating all tax credits and so-called subsidies of energy production and "letting the free market decide." It's a convenient position to take as long as actually stripping the traditional energy industry of its many tax credits and subsidies remains politically impossible, which it of course is. In the meantime, AFP can make their hypocritical case against wind power tax credits without appearing so colossally hypocritical.

All of which works fine in states that do not have thousands of jobs tied to the wind power industry. Here in Colorado, these tax credits have a direct, tangible value in high-paying manufacturing jobs–the kinds of jobs that support many more jobs. Jobs we can't afford to lose.

That is why Gardner wants to "ramp down" these tax credits to keep his benefactors happy–just not right now, for the sake of pesky constituents back home who depend on them. That might make mortgages and college educations harder to plan for, but now that he's Colorado's junior U.S. Senator, Gardner can straddle this issue without conseqeunce for at least a few years.

And that appears to be what the voters want, folks.

Colorado’s BEST Political Ads (2014)

Here's our list of Colorado's BEST Political Ads in 2014. Click here to get back to the introduction page.

Colorado's BEST Political Ads (2014):

1. "Joe Neguse for Colorado First Ad," Joe Neguse (D) for Secretary of State [30 Seconds]
If there was a better political ad in Colorado in 2014, we didn't see it. The first campaign spot for Joe Neguse was a simple affair, with the candidate speaking directly to the camera about making his first-ever political advertisement. Rather than asking for your vote in the ad, Neguse talks about his desire to improve the voting process for everyone in Colorado. There isn't much in the way of fancy production value in Neguse's ad — it wouldn't have been necessary, anyway — but this straightforward approach really worked because the script is well-written and Neguse has the natural charisma to grab the viewer's attention. While not "technically" complex, this type of spot is much more difficult than it looks; some candidates either don't speak well in front of a camera or are working off of a script with too many buzzwords and rhetoric to make a connection with the audience. Neguse handled this one perfectly.

 

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Colorado’s Best and Worst Political Ads: 2014

Back in late October, we asked you for suggestions for the Best and Worst political ads in Colorado this cycle. We took your suggestions and combed through YouTube searching for more candidates for Best and Worst political ads of 2014, and we've come up with finalists in both categories. We'll put the finalists to a vote to see which TV ads Colorado Pols readers think stood out the most this year.

Click here for Colorado's BEST Political Ads in 2014.

Click here for Colorado's WORST Political Ads in 2014.

How do we distinguish a "Good" advertisement from a "Bad" ad? There are a lot of different approaches for this kind of thing, but we decided to keep it simple and visceral. Our criteria:

► INSTANT IMPRESSION: A good political ad should stand out immediately in your mind — if you need to watch a particular ad a dozen times to make your decision, then it wasn't that good, and it certainly wasn't memorable.

PRODUCTION VALUE: Does the ad look like a 6th-grader made it with cheap movie-editing software? On the other hand, does the ad look over-produced and too melodramatic?

► MESSAGING: Is the ad clear about the candidate or issue it hopes to influence? Is it easy to understand without trying to cram too many talking points into 30 seconds?

► IMPACT: Rarely is one political ad responsible for determining the outcome in a particular race, and we didn't want to limit the discussion to candidates and campaigns that were victorious on Election Night. The Secretary of State race is a good example here; Democrat Joe Neguse was responsible for our favorite ad of the cycle, while Republican Wayne Williams (the winner in the SOS race) starred in some truly terrible spots. In this category, we also consider any negative effects from the ad in question — did the ad backfire and end up harming the candidate or issue it was designed to promote? Finally, we judge impact based on how we think the ad influenced an average voter; if a voter knew nothing else about the candidate or issue, would this ad be enough to get that voter leaning in the right direction?

► ONCE, TWICE, THRICE: We look at each ad three times, using the time-honored tactic of watching once with the sound off and once without looking at the screen (for an audible-only impression). This can be a critical test for a TV ad, and you can always tell when somebody got sloppy and didn't run through the proper tests before they released the spot to the networks. Going through this process is intended to help catch any potential problems before the ad was finalized. For example, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's infamous 2006 ad, which features the candidate standing next to the rear end of a horse, looks a lot different when you turn off the sound. To anyone watching the Beauprez ad at home without being able to hear the full audio, the visual takeaway is: Bob Beauprez = A Horse's Ass. Certainly not what they intended.

Follow the link below to view our list of the BEST and WORST political ads of the 2014 cycle:

Colorado's BEST Political Ad (2014): Finalists

Colorado's WORST Political Ad (2014): Finalists

Tuesday Open Thread

"An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot."

–Thomas Paine

Colorado’s WORST Political Ads (2014)

Here's our list of Colorado's WORST Political Ads in 2014. Click here to get back to the introduction page.

Colorado's WORST Political Ads (2014):

1. "Neighborhood," Bob Beauprez (R) for Governor [30 Seconds]
We never understood the decision by Bob Beauprez's campaign to start attacking Gov. John Hickenlooper on public safety issues by making the absurd argument that Coloradans are in harm's way because of Hickenlooper. Beauprez's late strategic change reeked of desperation, but this was a bad approach regardless of the timing. The message is ridiculous and over-the-top, earning a rebuke from the Denver Post editorial board ("Beauprez dives into gutter with new ad.") and almost certainly backfiring on Beauprez to some extent. For the cherry on this turd sundae, this ad also failed the "Watch it Three TImes" test; if you weren't looking directly at the television, you would glean nothing from this ad because there is no audible narration.

*Note: The ad below is the original version. This link shows the "corrected" spot following complaints from the Post.

 

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Lamborn’s Bad Idea is Kind of Ironic, Though

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R).

We wrote last week about a new piece of legislation to be introduced by Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, which would disallow federal contracts from being awarded to companies who engage in boycotts against any nation with which the United States maintains a free trade agreement. This would have the perhaps-unintended consequence of making it harder for some Americans to protest against bad things that happen in a number of countries around the world, like Middle Eastern monarchies that brutally put down their local Arab Spring revolts, but in his announcement Rep. Lamborn kept the focus squarely on Israel and potential boycotts in support of the Palestinians.

Which leads to, as the Colorado Independent's Susan Greene reported on Friday, an ironic twist:

Lamborn touts Israel as “the only true democracy in the Middle East, a place where all men and women enjoy freedom regardless of their faith or ethnicity. In fact Jewish owned factories and companies in Israel and in Judea and Samaria are among the chief employers of the Palestinian community. Palestinian workers get equal pay and equal treatment and enjoy benefits.”

The question of whether Palestinians are treated equally in Israel is a matter of much debate.

But Lamborn has it right about Israel’s broad and progressive workplace protections. [Pols emphasis] That country’s 1988 equal opportunity law says an employer “shall not discriminate among his employees or among persons seeking employment on account of their sex, sexual tendencies, personal status or because of their age, race, religion, nationality, country of origin, views, party or duration of reserve service.”

Closer to home, Lamborn’s views on workplace protections are vastly less progressive. He has voted against several key worker-protection bills, including the 2007 Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

We've never really thought of it this way, but it's true: workplace discrimination protections in Israel include protections that Lamborn has voted against, and which many conservatives staunchly oppose as "special rights" for a "lifestyle choice" that doesn't deserve protection. Now, we're hopefully past the era of Amendment 2-style overt anti-LGBT activism in Colorado–and whether we are or not, it's a fact that things have changed since 1992. Either way, it's instructive to keep in mind that Lamborn's bill would make it harder for anyone with a vocational or even potentially family tie to a federal contract to protest policies they don't like in other countries via a boycott–in Israel, Mexico, Bahrain, or anywhere else America has a free trade treaty with.

And yes, we get that a religious conservative boycott of Israel over gay rights is not found in the Book of Revelations, and therefore rather unlikely. We are, you know, hypothesizing. And it's a point worth making.

Monday Open Thread

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance."

–Robert Quillen

About Ken Buck’s Super Classy Obama Sighting…

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Last Thursday, Rep.-elect Ken Buck described to his social media followers an encounter with President Barack Obama at the Washington, D.C. pizza joint We The Pizza. As you can see above, Buck had a pretty negative reaction to the mere sight of the President, which can be reasonably interpreted as not encouraging partisan gridlock-wise. You might also reasonably ask what exactly about the nation's first President of color elicits such a physical reaction from Rep.-elect Buck, to which he and his defenders will respond indignantly. Why should Buck even dignify that with a response?

Judging from just this Tweet, we expect most will have a reaction based mostly on their pre-existing view of Ken Buck. If you like him, you'll be inclined to interpret this charitably. If you don't–maybe you remember from the 2010 Senate when he said being gay is like alcoholism, or the story about that rape victim's "buyer's remorse"–you're probably doing to assume the worst.

On Facebook, it should be noted that Rep-.elect Buck elaborated a little more:

Perry and I were having lunch at We The Pizza near the Capitol before catching a plane. Secret Service shut down the restaurant and Pres Obama joined us for lunch. Obama was preceded by 20 Hispanic students for a photo op. Lost my appetite [Pols emphasis] but got a great story to share. Obama needed 35 Secret Service agents for a piece of pizza. I hope Michelle doesn't find out the Pres was eating bad food.

So, we're going to be as charitable as we feel we possibly can be, and give Buck the benefit of the doubt that the "20 Hispanic students" had nothing to do with his loss of appetite? Let's leave that at "we hope so." Some of our readers will not, and we honestly don't blame them. 

Unfortunately, there is a more basic problem here.

As the AP reports, those "20 Hispanic students" were not Hispanic.

Hours before addressing the nation on immigration, President Barack Obama left the White House for lunch.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama were taking in a midday meal with young people from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannonball, North Dakota. [Pols emphasis] They were dining on pizza and burgers at adjoining restaurants on Capitol Hill; We, The Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery.

That's right, it's the age-old pitfall for the racially insensitive, the brown skin=Hispanic fallacy! Knowing this little detail makes the charitable interpretation of Rep-elect Buck's comments we theorized above, about losing his appetite at the sight of Barack Obama and/or whatever relationship his loss of appetite may have had to those 20 Hispanic Native American students, substantially more difficult. There's really no way Buck comes out of this without some kind of ugly side in plain view–it's just a question of how ugly.

And he hasn't even been sworn in yet, folks.

Weekend Open Thread

"The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones." 

–Cheryl Hughes