Monday Open Thread

"How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him."

–Frank Herbert

Buck’s vote with Boehner screws talk-radio hosts

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

How you like me now?

How you like me now?

In standing with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday to avert the shutdown, albeit temporary, of the Department of Homeland Security, Colorado's new Republican Congressman Ken Buck apparently had second thoughts about his pledge to shut down DHS if necessary to stop Obama from allowing some immigrants to avoid deportation.

Asked by KLZ's Randy Corporon in January whether he would resist "public pressure and media assaults" and refuse to fund DHS along with Obama's immigration program, Buck said, 

Buck: "I can tell you this: Ken Buck will. I will make the case, and I will make sure that we are not funding those portions of his executive action that are so repugnant."

In another interview, delivered to KFKA guest host Nancy Rumfelt in January, Buck pledged stand firm against any moderating winds that might emanate from House Speaker John Boehner:

Buck: “Speaker and the leadership team know that they cannot count on me when they move to the middle, that I will be voting against leadership’s efforts in certain areas, especially is true when it comes to the fiscal issues, the appropriations bills and the regulatory issues. And I include Obamacare in that. But absolutely. The people in the 4th Congressional District can count on Ken Buck to be with the conservative votes when it comes to the bills that are coming up in the future.” 

Colorado Springs' Doug Lamborn did what Buck said he'd do, when Lamborn voted against temporary funds for DHS.

Lamborn: “I cannot support funding, even for a short period of time, the President’s unlawful executive action that violates the Constitution,” Lamborn said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post.

BREAKING: Palacio Re-Elected Democratic Party Chairman

SUNDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Palacio won after one round of balloting during the Democrats’ reorganizational meeting Saturday at the downtown Denver Marriott. With 468 Democrats voting, Palacio received 248 votes to Sabados’ 182 votes. Former congressional candidate Vic Meyers received 38 votes. In other words, Palacio received 53 percent of the vote, Sabados 39 percent and Meyers 8 percent…

The race received national attention after Palacio announced Thursday night that the make-up of the committee that was going to do the voting did not meet party requirements for gender equality and he needed to appoint 46 more men. Sabados accused him of trying to stack the deck, but Palacio pointed out the rule has been in place since the 1970s. He also appointed Sabados and Meyers to the committee.

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Coverage coming soon, but that's the word from the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning:

We'll update.

Weekend Open Thread

"Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible."

–George Pierce Baker

BREAKING: House Fails to Support DHS Funding as Deadline Looms; Now What?

SATURDAY UPDATE: Congress passes one-week extension of DHS funding last night setting up a fresh battle for next week, while the immediate story continues to revolve around House Speaker John Boehner's crushing defeat at the hands of conservative House Republicans. Politico:

The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by President Barack Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.

The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.

Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.

Are these the final days of Boehner's speakership? Is the GOP-controlled House totally incapable of carrying out basic responsibilities? All these questions and more will be answered next week! Stay tuned as the embarrassing spectacle that is the 114th Congress continues after a word from our sponsor.

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UPDATE #3: Via the Associated Press: "You have made a mess," [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi said to Republicans as debate neared an end on the measure.

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UPDATE #2: Twitter is abuzz. Republicans have the largest Congressional majorities since the New Deal…they just can't govern.

Plan B? Looks like Plan B is for Republicans to get slaughtered in 2016.

 

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UPDATE: Click here to see the voting live on the House floor.

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It appears as though House Republicans may not pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in time for the midnight deadline tonight. Voting is happening as we type — we'll update when the final tally is available.

Here's what the Washington Post wrote a few hours ago, when it still seemed as though Republicans would do something in the House.

House Republicans are hoping to pass a stopgap funding bill Friday that would avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at midnight, as the Senate passed its own bill that would fund the agency through September.

The House GOP plan is a fallback proposal Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) put forth to rank-and-file members in a Thursday meeting. He did so because a House-passed funding bill that takes aim at President Obama’s executive actions on immigration has been blocked in the Senate.

The new measure would fund DHS for three more weeks. If approved by Congress, it would continue a standoff between the House and the Senate over more lasting agency funding. The Senate bill to fund DHS through September that would not touch Obama’s immigration directives passed on a 68-31 vote Friday morning.

At Least He’s Not Your Governor

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a darling of conservatives since his campaign to weaken public sector unions after winning office in 2010, has been working to raise his profile lately in advance of a possible run for the presidency in 2016. We took note last week of Walker's comments in response to Rudy Giuliani's statements about President Barack Obama's "love" of America. Yesterday, Walker was asked about his credentials to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and his response is drawing a lot of criticism today:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday said his experience undermining labor unions in Wisconsin has prepared him to take on the threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker told a packed crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in response to a question about how he would fight the terrorist group, which has killed thousands in Iraq and Syria.

Walker was referring to protesters who led an unsuccessful recall effort against him in 2012, after he proposed a budget that stripped Wisconsin's public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights. The protests lasted for months and catapulted Walker onto the national political stage.

Likening a vicious terror group currently the target of American airstrikes to the teachers and public employee union members who protested against Walker in 2011 might sound good to attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but for everyone else it's evidence of either extreme cluelessness, or a malice toward fellow Americans who just happen to be union members that many would call disqualifying for higher office.

And ISIS/union comparisons aren't the only way Gov. Walker is failing to put his best foot forward:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) nearly $70 billion budget proposal deletes language requiring colleges to report their sexual assault statistics to new students and to the Department of Justice, Jezebel reported on Friday.

Well sure, after all, that rape story in Rolling Stone was a hoax! So the kids don't need to know about rape on Wisconsin campuses.

It's early, but Scott Walker is not off to a presidential start here–more of a Rick Perry start.

And we all remember how that ended.

Former Colorado Springs PERA Members Sue City.

From Plan Sponsor: "Hospital Employees Sue Colorado Springs for Colorado PERA Pension."

"A lawsuit claims the City of Colorado Springs’ termination of Memorial Health System’s affiliation with the state pension system violated state law."

"Employees of Memorial Health System, owned by the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, have sued the city, claiming they were unlawfully removed from the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and subsequently not given promised benefits."

"Prior to termination of the City’s administration of Memorial, Memorial employees were repeatedly told that when PERA affiliation was terminated, their pension plan would be replaced by another plan that would be at least as good as the PERA benefit plan."

"The lawsuit alleges the new employee pension benefit plan for Memorial employees after October 1, 2012, is inferior to the benefits they would have accrued under PERA."

"For Memorial employees (except the Children’s Hospital sublease employees) the retirement benefits accrue at the rate of only approximately 1% of the average of the highest five years of service per additional year of service, instead of 2.5% of the average of the highest three years of service under PERA."

(This rate of accrual of PERA benefits is called the pension "multiplier." In 2010, rather than PROSPECTIVELY reducing this PERA pension multiplier from a 2.5 percent level for PERA benefits not yet accrued, the sponsors of SB10-001 sought a RETROSPECTIVE reduction of Colorado PERA pension [ABI] COLA benefits that had already accrued, that is, PERA pension benefits that had already been earned by Colorado PERA retirees. SB10-001 was challenged in court [Justus v. State] and ultimately blessed by a Colorado Supreme Court that: disregarded 50-year old Colorado public pension precedent, ignored federal case law [US Trust,] ignored ubiquitous evidence of the contract, and failed to conduct a "contract analysis" . . . all of this to summarily eliminate legal Colorado governmental debts. The plaintiffs, Colorado PERA retirees, had exchanged years of labor and pension contributions for this ABI benefit. How did the Colorado Supreme Court justices reach the conclusion that Colorado PERA members do not exchange their labor and contributions for the ABI benefit? In their superficial, state-serving review, the justices did not address this question.)

Plan Sponsor:

"In addition, as newly minted private-sector employees, these employees now must contribute to and qualify for Social Security. They have not accrued Social Security credits because previously they did not contribute to Social Security."

(The Colorado PERA pension system is theoretically a replacement for Social Security. The Colorado PERA pension system is theoretically a "qualified" public pension plan under the Internal Revenue Code. "Qualified public pension plans" must have "definitely determinable" benefits under the Internal Revenue Code. The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled in [willful?] ignorance of this federal requirement. Evidence and law are much easier to bury when no trial or discovery are allowed.)

Plan Sponsor:

“'These differences amount to tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per employee, in lost retirement benefits,' the lawsuit says."

"The lawusit is filed on behalf of all affected employees, and the city has acknowledged that approximately 4,000 or more such employees of Memorial Hospital existed as of October 1, 2012."

Complete article at PlanSponsor:

http://www.plansponsor.com/Hospital_Employees_Sue_Colorado_…

The complaint, Romstad v. City of Colorado Springs:

http://www.plansponsor.com/…/RomstadvCityofColoradoSprings.…

http://coloradopols.com/…/the-colorado-supreme-court-politi…

"Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1

The dress is definitely bluish-brown. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today is the deadline for Congress to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so what should we expect of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner? If you guessed, "punt the issue for three more weeks," you win the door prize. But as Politico reports, Republicans are merely delaying an answer on a budget problem that is about to get much, much worse:

First the good news: Congress appears to have found a way to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for the next three weeks.

Now the bad: March is beginning to look awfully grim for the new Republican Congress that had lofty expectations for legislating in 2015.

GOP leaders appear set to win approval of their short-term solution to the DHS impasse on Friday, hours before the money runs dry. But that will leave the House and Senate just three weeks to bridge their fundamental differences on funding the department for the long term and blocking President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration policy.

On top of that, Congress must update a complicated Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors. And it needs to pass a budget.

This is where we remind you, again, that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS and they still can't figure out how to govern.

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

(more…)

Denver TV reporter goes too far in saying Obama “doesn’t like America” and has “contempt” and “disdain” for U.S.

(Yikes! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Julie Hayden.

Julie Hayden.

It's obvious to me that journalists should no longer be expected not to express opinions, even on the topics they cover.

But, sometimes, if journalists have opinions that are so extreme, so rude or out-of-step with everyday sensibilities, they should refrain from expressing them. And if they do throw out such opinions, reporters should recuse themselves from covering anything related to their extreme/rude/bombastic utterances.

To my way of thinking, Fox 31 Denver reporter Julie Hayden's repeated comments that Obama "doesn't love," doesn't even "like America" and, in fact, has "disdain" and "contempt" for our country, fall into the extreme/rude/bombastic category. And Hayden shouldn't be covering any story related to Obama, federal political issues, and, to be safe, any partisan political topic.

Hayden, who says she once voted for Obama and doesn't cover the president, has been trashing him on her Saturday morning radio show, "Wake Up with Chuck and Julie," which she co-hosts with hubby Chuck Bonniwell, on KNUS 170-AM.

On her radio show last Saturday, in the wake Rudy Giuliani's comments that Obama doesn't love America, Hayden even presided over a debate on the topic of whether Obama likes America, with Hayden and Bonniwell taking the side that he does not.

"To me, it just seemed so obvious he doesn’t like America, and, you know, I think has disdain for it and contempt," said Hayden a typical comment (Listen below at 20:50).

(more…)

GOP’s Self-Injurious Abortion Ban Bill Up Today

FRIDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS reports on the bill's eventual death Thursday on a 7-6 party line vote:

Thursday's bill was the second of three anti-abortion bills introduced this year. A bill to increase the regulation of abortion clinics was defeated in committee earlier this year. The third bill, banning partial birth abortions, is scheduled for committee debate next Tuesday.

HB15-1041 would make abortion unlawful with violations resulting in a class 3 felony. An exemption is made for the life of a woman, though exemptions for rape and incest are not included.

Testimony before the house judiciary committee was limited to three minutes due to the number of supporters and opponents signed up to testify…

When pressed by committee chair Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) about cases of rape and incest, supporters of the bill defended the non-exception saying that abortion often hides incest or causes the women affected to feel victimized twice.

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Photo courtesy NARAL.

Photo courtesy NARAL.

The Colorado House Judiciary Committee is set to debate (and barring unforeseen circumstances, to kill) House Bill 15-1041 Thursday afternoon, the bill sponsored by a number of House and Senate Republicans to make abortion in Colorado a class 3 felony. It's the same essential language that Republicans introduce in most legislative sessions, including and preceding now-U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's bill to impose the same penalty on doctors who perform abortions in 2007.

A press release from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado recounts the effort that organization is making, as in previous years, to ensure that the bill not only dies, but politically damages Republicans who sponsored and enabled it:

For the second time in two weeks, anti-choice legislators are wasting time in the General Assembly with HB 1041, yet another “personhood” bill that would ban all abortion and many forms of birth control. This comes after Colorado voters defeated a personhood measure by landslide margins in 2014 for the third time. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon…
 
In 2014, the voters of Colorado overwhelmingly reiterated a belief that they had previously declared in 2012, 2010 and 2008: they believe women have the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions about abortion and that abortion bans are wrong. This is a mainstream value held by the vast majority of Coloradans for decades.
 
The will of Colorado citizens is clear: they want to focus on the economy and other  issues currently affecting our state. Colorado voters appreciate the work being done to reduce the numbers of teen and unintended pregnancy by over 40% and in turn reducing the number of abortions by over 30%, but access to safe and legal abortion is still a necessity for many women.

As everyone knows, this legislation has absolutely no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee today, nor would it pass the House if it made it to the floor–and maybe not even the GOP-controlled Senate, where we have to think there is a moderate Republican vote left to stop a felony abortion ban bill. And of course, Gov. John Hickenlooper would veto it in the worst case. These simple realities have made even some Democrats complacent about opposing–and as a result, publicizing–continuing Republican efforts to ban abortion in Colorado.

Morally and politically, that's a huge mistake. In last year's elections, the principal response to Democratic attacks over reproductive choice from Republicans was that the "war on women" was overblown. Cory Gardner morphed from the sponsor in the Colorado legislature of the same felony abortion ban up for debate today to a supposed "champion" of access to birth control who had only voted for hypothetical abortion bans. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who in 2006 had promised to sign a total no-exceptions abortion ban as governor, tried to claim last year that he would not do anything of the kind. Republican surrogates and the Denver Post's editorial board told voters flat-out not to worry about abortion rights.

Well folks, what if Bob Beauprez had won? What if Republicans had picked up just a couple more House seats, and 2014 abortion ban co-sponsor Brian DelGrosso was now Speaker of the Colorado House? We're not talking about big margins in either case. If Democrats aren't out there every day extracting maximum damage from the GOP for these bills, reminding voters every time how close last year's elections were, and pushing back on the GOP's insistence that the "war on women" is mythical with this irrefutable proof that it is not mythical at all…if they're not doing that, they're not doing their jobs. And they'd be missing a priceless opportunity.

Because in addition to being politically expedient, making these bills costly for Republicans at the ballot box is the only way to make them stop.

Friday Open Thread

"The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn."

–David Russell

Susan Shepherd’s Re-Election Problem: It’s Worse Than You Thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 

A Feb. 24 fundraising email from Susan Shepherd, the embattled rookie City Council member for Denver’s District 1, blames widespread opposition to her re-election on “disgruntled folks in our community who don’t believe in smart development and growing our communities.”

 

Talk to District 1 voters though and they paint a starkly different picture: Opposition to Shepherd has galvanized because of her outsized advocacy for property developers who have clashed at times with local residents, compounded by what many see as an unseemly Shepherd grab for campaign dollars from those same developers.

In what rapidly is becoming the most closely watched 2015 Council race, residents of the Northwest Denver district point out how developer interests in District 1 projects dovetail with their spending on Shepherd. Opponents also describe Shepherd’s open opposition to local residents — through Council votes and in numerous public statements — on occasions when they have faced off against her developer benefactors over sometimes contentious property ventures in neighborhoods such as Sloan’s Lake, West Highland and Berkeley.

To be fair, a District 1 Council member must work closely with property-related businesses. The Northwest Denver district is home to booming redevelopment on West Colfax Ave. and at the old St. Anthony hospital site by Sloan’s Lake. It’s a hotbed of residential scrapeoffs. And not suprisingly Shepherd’s strongest opponent, Jefferson Park architect Rafael Espinoza, has worked directly with developers both professionally and as a community advocate. As a result he likely will attract some of their campaign support.

But what typically stuns residents who review Shepherd’s campaign finance reports of the past two years (here, here and here) is the magnitude of developer largesse. More than a third — nearly $15,000 — of Shepherd’s TOTAL campaign donations from 2013 to January 2015 came from businesses and people whose current or planned District 1 projects she has advocated in Council votes, public statements and meetings with residents. And that was even before her planned Feb. 26 kickoff event where envelopes were ready again to be stuffed with checks and cash.

Payments through January included: A $500 payment from a construction company CEO in Houston, Texas, who is building a large apartment building at 38th Ave. and Lowell Blvd. in West Highland. Another $1,000 came from the Austin, Texas-based restaurant chain that Shepherd helped to get tax increment financing for a project on West Colfax. There was $1,000 from EnviroFinance, the lead redeveloper at St. Anthony; more than $2,000 from a property manager with restaurants speckling District 1; and more than $2,500 from entities related to Red Peak Properties, which in 2014 lost a heated battle vs. West Highland residents to plop three five-story apartment blocks next to the 100-year-old Victorian houses near 32nd Ave. and Lowell Blvd. A more detailed donations list is here.

To paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen: $2,000 here, $2,000 there…pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Compounding the ill will that the appearance of a major conflict of interest has created: Shepherd’s typically prickly demeanor when engaging large, organized groups of local residents that have sought her help in mitigating traffic problems and other impacts from various local projects. Some 500 residents petitioned against an upzoning to increase the allowable building size on some blocks in the St. Anthony project to 12 stories from the 5 stories originally promised. Shepherd voted "yes" on the upzoning, as requested by NAVA Real Estate Development. NAVA co-owner Brian Levitt is a Shepherd campaign funder.

Residents also cite Shepherd’s behavior during the multiyear battle with Red Peak, which among other things saw her promote as “compromises” design elements the developer already had in its original plans predating the rise of community opposition. More recently, residents reported that Shepherd glowered from the sidelines at a Feb. 17 community meeting staged by Houston-based Trammell Crow Residential — whose CEO Kenneth Valach gave Shepherd $500 — to promote a planned apartment project for Shepherd donor Gene Lucero.

In contrast with her smiling photo ops such as marching in the Martin Luther King Day Marade, many District 1 residents characterize Shepherd’s personal interactions with them as “disdainful” or “unhelpful,” and point to her lack of any significant initiatives on CIty Council. During this month’s near-record snowfall in Denver, Shepherd showed astonishing tone deafness when she posted a Facebook entry admonishing residents — in a district with numerous elderly residents — to clear their sidewalks because “the snow won’t remove itself.”

Clearly the rookie councilwoman faces an uphill battle to retain the seat she won by just a 5% margin in a 2011 runoff election.

 

John Boehner is Losing It

UPDATE: It's been animated, because of course:

boehnerkiss

Sorry, folks. It can't be unseen now.

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Via NBC News, here's House Speaker John Boehner blowing kisses at a reporter who asks a question about funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Watch the video:

“Dr. Chaps” Laments Death of His Bills (In Song)

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman captured this remarkable moment on the floor of the Colorado House today, featuring the endlessly entertaining Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt belting out a procedural motion to the tune of Paul McCartney's Yesterday:

Now I'm in the well, asking why they killed my bills.
Must we read? The journal reminds me of my ills.

What words can we add to this? None, folks. We've got nothing. But we kind of love it.