2014 Colorado Legislative Conservation Scorecard

Today we were proud to release the 2014 Colorado Legislative Conservation Scorecard. Overall, the 2014 legislative session was pretty good for the environment.  The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels was the first one up with a story this AM, headlining our recognition of Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) for “reaching across the aisle.”  

 

Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood) joined us on our press teleconference and spoke of his pride in working to help clean up uranium contaminated groundwater for residents in Canon City and move innovative water efficiency measures. One of which was inexplicably vetoed by the Governor. Although in the end the Governor did end the bill signing session with a bang for the environment. Rep. Tyler’s House Transportation and Energy Committee did yeoman’s work on conservation issues this past session as Senator Ulibarri’s Senate State and Veteran Affairs Committee.

 

The future looks bright on conservation with up and coming leaders like Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder) while we salute conservation champions Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), Randy Fischer (D- Fort Collins) and Claire Levy (D-Boulder).  Conservation Colorado will work hard to defend our conservation champions this fall and we expect to move a progressive agenda next session to protect Colorado’s air, land, water and people.

Our press release below:

The 2014 Colorado legislature worked to protect Colorado communities, hold polluters accountable, and defend Colorado’s clean renewable energy leadership.

 

“The conservation community worked to protect Colorado’s unparalleled environment and our unique quality of life in the 2014 legislative session.  We worked with our legislative champions to protect Colorado’s air, land, water and public health while fighting back against big polluters and those who don’t believe in the value of our public lands,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado. “Under the leadership of conservation champions such as Senate President Morgan Carroll and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, the legislature successfully addressed cleaning up contaminated groundwater for Canon City residents, increasing fines on oil and gas violators, expanding access to water efficient fixtures, and safeguarding our public lands and outdoor heritage.”

 

This 16th annual scorecard consists of the key issues and votes considered during the 2014 legislative session.  Conservation community priorities this year included defending Colorado’s clean renewable energy leadership, creating a paint recycling and disposal program and increasing the efficient use and reuse of scarce water supplies.

The scorecard also recognizes the hard work of both Senate and House Committee members and key Chairs while honoring a number of termed legislators for their conservation legacy. Additionally, individual legislators are recognized for their bipartisanship, persevering through tough legislative hurdles to see bills signed into law, and for their emerging legislative leadership.

"I'm proud to sponsor bills and cast my vote for the environment," said Representative Max Tyler.  "Winning on oil and gas violations, water efficiency, protecting public lands and more would not have been possible without the advocacy and hard work of the Representatives and Senators recognized today. Legislators like these are critical to protecting our unique Colorado quality of life."

 

“It is important to honor the work of Colorado’s legislative committees which all too often go underappreciated.  But it is in our committees where Colorado bills are given their due, good laws are made better and bad ideas wither on the vine,” stated Pete Maysmith. “We are also pleased to recognize a number of termed limited legislative champions, up and comers at the Capitol and legislators who reached across the aisle to protect Colorado communities and our environment.”

Senate

The average score was 61%

15 Senators had a score of 100%

Senators Vicki Marble and Owen Hill were the lone Senators to score 0%

Senator Bernie Herpin had the highest score for a Republican at 60% followed by Senator Ellen Roberts at 50%

 

House

The average score was 63%

35 Representatives, over half of the state House, had a score of 100%

Representatives Jerry Sonnenberg, Lori Saine, Daniel Nordberg, Lois Landgraf, Stephen Humphrey, Justin Everett and Perry Buck all received 0%

Representative Jared Wright had the highest score for a Republican at 64% followed by Cheri Gerou and Robert Rankin at 36%.

Special Recognition:

 

Committed committees

House Transportation and Energy Committee, chaired by Representative Max Tyler, House Judiciary Committee chaired by Representative Daniel Kagan

Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Jessie Ulibarri                                                       


Leaving a legacy

Senator Gail Schwartz and Representative Randy Fischer

Representative Claire Levy

 

Reaching across the aisle

Representative Jared Wright

 

Tackling tough issues

Senator Mary Hodge

 

One to watch

Representative KC Becker

 

Colorado GOP Delegation All In For Suing Obama

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As the Los Angeles Times' Mike Memoli reports, GOP House Speaker John Boehner now has the "authority" to file an unprecedented and likely doomed election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama, in a move either considered a forestalling of impeachment proceedings or a prelude to them depending on who you talk to:

The House vote to sue President Obama is the first such legal challenge by a chamber of Congress against a president and a historic foray in the fight over constitutional checks and balances.

Wednesday’s nearly party-line vote followed a feisty floor debate and offered a fresh example of how the capital’s hyper-partisanship has led both parties into unprecedented territory, going to new and greater lengths to confront one another…

The House approved the resolution in a near party-line vote, 225 to 201. It authorizes House Speaker John A. Boehner to file suit in federal court on behalf of the full body “to seek appropriate relief” for Obama’s failure to enforce a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would penalize businesses that do not offer basic health insurance to their employees.

That provision’s effective date has been delayed by the administration twice and now won’t fully take effect until 2016. The GOP-led House has voted to repeal the law, even as it seeks to sue Obama for failing to enforce it. [Pols emphasis]

The legal analysis we've seen suggests that this suit will quickly be dismissed as a "political question." The constitutional remedy of impeachment already exists to deal with the GOP's alleged grievances, and the political contrivance of this lawsuit is plainly evidenced by the subject matter–suing to force Obama to "enforce" a law they want to repeal. Despite these questions, all four Colorado Republican members of Congress, Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton, voted to allow Boehner to proceed.

As we discussed yesterday, Boehner's lawsuit against Obama is happening as talk of impeachment in Republican circles ramps up dramatically. Democrats have used prominent Republicans like Sarah Palin calling for impeachment to great effect in the last couple of weeks raising money, while establishment Republicans like Boehner have insisted that no plan to impeach Obama is in the offing. Given Congress' abysmal popularity ratings and the public's cynicism over the gridlocked state of national politics, impeachment talk seems wildly irresponsible–unless you're in the target audience for it. For committed base conservatives who have been getting propagandized for six years about how Obama's presidency means the end of America as we know it, impeachment probably seems like a natural, even overdue development.

Outside the right wing's impenetrable bubble of self-reinforcing groupthink, it sounds like madness. And Republicans like John Boehner, who are tasked today with keeping the "Tea Party's" five-year-old rage productive while simultaneously winning votes from reasonable Americans, know it.

It's tough to say what happens next. Boehner's lawsuit faces very long odds, not just for success but even for public supportOutside the conservative coalition it's a nonstarter, and on the right there are those who say the lawsuit is useless and Republicans should be moving directly to impeachment. If the whole effort blows up in the GOP's face, Republicans in swing races like Gardner and Coffman could well be the ones who pay the price.

Why Federal Policy Matters to Rural America

On Tuesday of this week I had the opportunity to testify at the Regional Field Hearing on the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.  Here is the text of my testimony:

Thank you for this opportunity to testify today.  My name is Michael Bowman and I am a fifth-generation Coloradan.  I am testifying today in support of the proposed rules.

I'd like to talk today about the importance of federal policy and its effect on rural America.  128 years ago my great-great grandfather, Charles Moore, homesteaded in Phillips County, Colorado.  He was afforded this opportunity for a new life as a result of the 1862 Homestead Act.  He came west seeking this new life via railroad, thanks to the Pacific Railroad Act.  His great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and great-great-great grandchildren would be educated at Colorado State University, thanks to the Morrill Act.

His descendants endured the Great Depression, and then benefited from rural electrification that emerged from the New Deal and the Rural Electrification Act. 

In the decades that followed our family has enjoyed the benefits of a national farm policy that created the foundation for unprecedented wealth creation on the eastern prairies of Colorado and across all of rural America.  In my home county of Yuma alone, our 3,000 farmers have been the recipients of over one-half billion dollars in subsidy payments alone in the past 12 years.

Decades of federal policy have, indeed, created "the possible":  the full faith and support of our federal treasury encouraging the entrepreneurship and creativity of our fellow man.

From a Colorado perspective we now have a decade of proven leadership on the "power" of sound energy policy.  Amendment 37 set in motion our nation's first-ever citizens-initiated renewable portfolio standard.  An effort that was vehemently opposed by our rural electric community – yet an effort that has yielded billions of dollars in wind and solar investments in our rural communities.  Under the thoughtful leadership of then-Governor Bill Ritter we tripled the standard – to 30% by 2020 – to the second-most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation.  In 2013 Colorado raised the renewable standard on our rural electrics to 20% by 2020.  Even though that effort was met with a disingenuous, rural electric-funded campaign "The War on Rural Colorado", it is a standard that will be easily met.

We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones – and we won't leave the hydrocarbon era because we have mined our reserves to extinction.  We can and will transition for several reasons: the health of our fellow man, the demands for clean air and water for all our citizens, in the arid west, ever-shrinking fresh-water supplies – and because it is the most economical option before us.

For rural America, our farms and ranches, there is a natural marriage between the conservation goals embedded in our national farm policy and reducing carbon pollution.  Our vast soil inventory, managed for carbon sequestration, can become a carbon depository while simultaneously improving the production of our prairies and farmland.  Our vast biomass, solar and wind resources stand, waiting, to participate in the emerging opportunity.

But this will take bold leadership from our rural leaders – leaders who understand the power of their interdependence with their ever-increasing urban counterparts.

You will, no doubt, hear a lot of testimony over the next two days about the "War on Coal" and the "War on Rural America".  Let's be clear: the "War on Coal" is a geologic war, not a political one.  The only authentic "War on Rural Colorado" is the one that is self-inflicted.  One where we ignore the rich history that federal and state policy plays in our daily lives.

We have nothing but opportunity awaiting us; the chance to create a rural renaissance and fully participate in the Third Industrial Revolution.

To end I'd like to quote Maya Angelou:  "Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better."

It's time to "do better".

Coffman: “My Dog Knows What ‘Stay’ Means”

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Attorney General John Suthers and his chief deputy, Cynthia Coffman (who also happens to be the Republican nominee for AG in 2014) have been criticized repeatedly over the last several weeks for continuing to defend a "same-sex marriage ban" that is quite clearly doomed to be defeated by the Supreme Court (Colorado, U.S., or otherwise). Suthers' obsession with trying to prevent same-sex marriage bans from being overturned has seen his office organizing defenses as far away as Indiana (no, seriously), and it is a crusade that will likely prove costly to Coffman's efforts at winning her own election as Attorney General in November.

According to something called the Villager Newspaper, Coffman has taken these efforts to another level with some pretty ridiculous rhetoric:

At the recent Western Conservative Conference she was asked if she shared her husband’s opinions.

“We do not agree on everything. On social issues, I am a moderate,” Cynthia said.

“I respect John – he has not been political and held true to his charge. We have been in the news a lot lately and things are changing quickly on the judicial landscape. The hot topic now is same sex marriage and it’s no coincidence that the Dems love having this issue on the front burner. The job of the attorney general is to follow the Constitution of the state of Colorado and the United States, to follow the rule of law and enforce the statutes. Two disagree with me – the Democrat and Libertarian running against me. My dog knows what ‘stay’ means. The clerk in Boulder County does not. [Pols emphasis] It is sad when someone who takes an oath to uphold the law is inconsistent and unpredictable.  We are beaten up for defending the law – it’s not easy. There is still a battle by the AG’s over Obamacare and I want to join them.”

 

Hillary Hall

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall (not a dog)

Whoa.

Coffman's comments are a direct criticism of Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall, who until recently had been issuing same-sex marriage licenses under the belief that such a ban is "unconstitutional and unenforceable" after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Utah's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Hall to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses while it prepares its own decision.

Coffman's comments above were apparently made several weeks ago, at a point when numerous judges were telling Suthers and Coffman that their appeals were crap; if anybody could be accused of ignoring decisions from the courts at that point, it would be Suthers and Coffman. Regardless, this is a stupid and insensitive comment for Coffman to make — one that will surely be used against her campaign this fall. Remember, Colorado voters largely support same-sex marriage and equality issues, and Coffman's comments make it much more difficult to just say she is "only doing her job" as Suthers' chief deputy.

One Colorado PAC Officially Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper and AG Candidate Don Quick

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

HickQuick1

Today, One Colorado PAC – the statewide political action committee dedicated to supporting fair-minded candidates as part of One Colorado’s mission to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – endorsed Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick for the 2014 general election.

“Elections matter – and this November, full equality for our families is on the line,” said One Colorado Executive Director Dave Montez.

“Attorney General John Suthers has vowed to continue defending our state’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples, even as Republicans in other states have decided to drop their defense of similar bans and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to elect a Governor and Attorney General who will allow our families to share in the joys of marriage and stop defending the indefensible. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick are the team who will get it done as quickly as possible.”

(more…)

State Sen. King Charged with 3 Felonies & 2 Misdemeanors

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

THURSDAY POLS UPDATE: In a press release this morning, Colorado Ethics Watch calls on Republican Sen. Steve King to resign from the Colorado Senate.

Yesterday, Senator Steve King (R-Mesa County) was indicted on three felony and two misdemeanor charges related to alleged theft of public funds and falsification of records. Today, Colorado Ethics Watch calls on him to resign from the Colorado Senate.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint against Sen. King, alleging that he wrongfully took between $2000 and $5000 from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Mesa University, both part-time employers of Senator King. The article also states that the District Attorney is investigating Senator King for other possible criminal violations.

Although Senator King is not seeking re-election, he remains the Chair of the powerful Legislative Audit Committee. The Committee is scheduled to meet twice more before Senator King's term ends. [Pols emphasis]

"The people of Mesa County deserve better than a Senator facing felony charges for embezzlement from public entities," said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. "Senator King should step down immediately and allow a replacement to serve the remainder of his term."

—-

Sen. Steve King (R).

Sen. Steve King (R).

Grand Junction seems to have really poor luck with elected officials

The complaint alleges King defrauded the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Mesa University of $2,000 to $5,000 between July 2013 and December. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Wednesday that no affidavit explaining the basis for the charges was filed.

Today, in a turn of events not altogether unforeseen by political observers, State Senator Steve King was charged with a series of crimes related to apparent irregularities in outside work that he did during his time in the legislature. 

As ColoradoPols initially reported earlier this month, King was being paid for three different government jobs simultaneously. King was fired from the Mesa County Sheriff's office early in the summer for allegedly falsifying timecards. As the extent of the questionable behavior became public, King withdrew his candidacy for Mesa County Sheriff. Now, DA George Brauchler has filed a series of charges which include felony counts of embezzlement of public property, forgery and theft. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of forgery and official misconduct.

Thursday Open Thread

"Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves."

–Eric Hoffer

“The Ugly Politics of Being the Change” or “The Real Trouble w/ Jared”

I recently read the Eli Stokols hit piece on Jared Polis “The Trouble with Jared” and I thought  "the trouble with Jared?" How about the trouble with the Democratic Party. The “Trouble with Jared” is, he is a Democrat and it appears the rest of the Party has forgotten what that means.

While the Denver insiders fret about the fact that they still can’t control Jared, the rest of Colorado is cheering him on. Jared is a leader. Leadership was explained to me by my military father and my time in the military, I grew up understanding that leadership is sometimes lonely. Jared is always on the right side of being a democrat. Jared’s a disrupter, he always has been. He is out there being the change the Democrats wanted to see. And it appears he is always alone on the right side of history.

He was making the establishment unconformable when he started his schools for recent immigrants at a time when the Democrats in the state were campaigning on passing the toughest immigration laws in the country.

They were mad as hell when he proposed Amendment 41 to limit gifts and free dinner from lobbyist to law makers. That pissed off a bunch of the “buy me and my friends’ tickets to all of ball games, galas and expensive dinners in exchange for my vote on your issue” elected officials. (Yeah, you know who you are)

Then there was my favorite move by Jared, he supported the cannabis industry.

He honestly supported it. He did not give the behind the door cowardly response of, “Well, Wanda, of course we support not locking up minorities, but I have tough race and I am too much of coward to actually let people know what I think” crowd. Jared was upfront about his approach. And like all of his decisions, he was unwavering and on the right side of the issue and on the right side of history. He introduced a bill in Congress to legalize marijuana only to have his home state actually do it a few months later and now the NY Times is calling for Congress to take up his bill.

While Jared is making the political class “nervous” they might be wise to tune into what the people of Colorado are saying. We are in desperate need of bold leadership and a vision for the future. To be honest, can any of you give one example of vision from any of the elected officials? Supporting Oil and Gas is not visionary.

The trouble with Jared, is that he belongs to a party that is increasing out of step with Coloradans and they are spinning their wheels trying to take him down a peg. He is rich, he is gay, he is outspoken and he wears bow ties with polo shirts. They have no idea how to handle him. And I love it. And apparently, so do the voters of Colorado.

In municipal elections, nearly 100,000 Coloradans have already cast ballots to ban or place a time out on fracking. These voters are not radical environmentalist, they are our neighbors in Lafayette, Broomfield, Boulder, Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins that are feed up with the lack of action from our legislature and a Governor that is way more concerned about multinational companies that own mineral rights than homeowners and parents. They have taken matters into their own hands because the political leadership in this state has failed them. Except for Jared, he is listening.

I have never worked with a person I don’t believe in. When Jared and I discussed his campaign in 2008 for Congress, we decided to run on the fact he would be “a different” kind of congressman. One that is not beholden to the special interests. He continues to make me proud by proving that to not to be an empty political promise that changes his tune depending on who is writing checks.

Funny that the Democrats (and their staff hit squads) that are anti-Jared, are also the ones in the most danger of losing their seats. They appear to have no issue with selling their soul, their constituents and the person that paved the way for Democratic ideals in Colorado to continue to get a government check and free trips to meetings and dinners.

If the Democrats are in bed with oil and gas, the privatized prison systems and anti-immigration reform, then maybe we shouldn’t be voting for them in the first place.

Sorry Gun Nuts, Colorado Tourism Is Booming

guns

​After the passage of gun safety bills in the Colorado legislature last year, Republicans and their gun lobby allies predicted, we'd even go as far as say hoped for, a crippling boycott of the state's vital tourism industry. This prediction quickly proved unfounded, as the most likely indicator of a boycott by pro-gun tourists–a reduction in hunting licenses–didn't take place. In fact, Colorado issued some 18,000 more licenses in 2013 than in 2012.

And as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover reports, 2013 overall was a banner year for tourism in Colorado:

Colorado welcomed a full-year record 64.6 million visitors in 2013, experiencing boosts even in segments of travelers — such as business travelers — for which many other markets saw declines last year.

The Colorado Tourism Office announced Tuesday that a trio of studies it conducted on visitation found also that those travelers spent a record $17.3 billion in the state…

[T]he state bucked trends by welcoming a 4 percent increase in business travelers as well, despite an 11 percent decline in business trips nationwide, according to a study by Longwoods International. Those business travelers spent a total of $1.4 billion in the state — a 21 percent bump above 2012 levels.

Visitors came in larger amounts for a number of specific reasons, including trips to casinos, visits to cities, attendance at special events, relaxation at resorts and combined business-leisure trips, the Longwoods study found.

We'll say it again and again: the dire predicted consequences of the gun safety bills passed in 2013 never materialized. The new laws did not "ban gun ownership" as Sen. Kent Lambert ludicrously claimed would happen. If anything, the impact of the new laws has been exaggerated by both sides: recent news reports indicate that the estimates of how many background checks on private sales would be performed were significantly overstated by nonpartisan legislative staffers. And despite Jon Caldara's ridiculous scare tactics, you can still buy compliant magazines in Colorado for virtually any weapon–including Caldara's precious Glock pistol, for which he said he would "never be able to get a magazine again" if these laws passed.

When is the media going to revisit this story? Not so Greg Brophy can grandstand about good-faith estimates from nonpartisan staffers–but to explain to the public how all the crazy stuff the gun lobby predicted would happen if we passed these laws never happened?

If voters deserve one side of this story, they damn well deserve the other. Starting with Colorado's booming tourism economy even after "gun control" was signed into law.

Suthers Finally Gets His Way (Sort Of) In Goal Line Stand Against Marriage Equality

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports, the Colorado Supreme Court has put a stop to Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, finally delivering GOP Attorney General John Suthers a win after numerous embarrassing defeats in lower courts:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing an abrupt halt to gay marriages in the last Colorado county to allow them…

Jane Culkin, a communications assistant for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office, said Tuesday afternoon the office reviewed the file and has stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"We are not going to be issuing any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the time being," Culkin said.

Hall said in a statement Tuesday she was "disappointed" by the ruling, but she hopes the stay will be brief.

"Given the avalanche of recent cases determining that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, I am hopeful the stay will be short-lived and that we will be able to resume issuing licenses soon," she said.

In the aftermath of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling striking down the state of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, Boulder Clerk Hall took advantage of admittedly strained legal ambiguity–claiming that the stay immediately issued by the court only applied to Utah–to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After Suthers' first attempt to stop Hall was rebuffed, Denver and Pueblo joined in issuing licenses–and Suthers' next several attempts to stop them in court were unsuccessful. The State Supreme Court's order to Denver to stop issuing licenses a little over a week ago, which Suthers used to force Pueblo to stop issuing licenses even though they weren't technically subject to the order, was the writing on the wall–the state Supreme Court's action yesterday was probably always inevitable.

These events are taking place against the backdrop of what most agree is the end stage of the national battle over marriage equality. With same-sex marriage bans being declared unconstitutional across the nation, the issue is set for final resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the broad emerging legal consensus on the issue strongly suggests the Supreme Court will rule on the side of marriage equality. In the interim, the unresolved court battles have created temporarily messy situations, like the last few weeks of "legal chaos" (Suthers' term) in Colorado.

Assuming that ultimate victory, marriage equality proponents will have the moral high ground–enough to transcend criticism of a legally questionable rationale, since it will be remembered as the right thing to have done. On the other hand, even though Suthers is on legally defensible ground today, he and his office–to include Republican AG candidate Cynthia Coffman–will be remembered as the ones who fought against marriage equality to the end.

Politically, we know which side we'd rather be on.

Ixnay on the Impeachmentay

MPeach

As our friends at "The Fix" report today, Congressional Republicans appear likely to commence the shooting of the feet before they head home for the August recess tomorrow:

They were doing so well. Right up until House Speaker John Boehner decided to file a lawsuit against President Obama for executive orders he maintained were unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, which the House is expected to authorize before heading home for a five-week August recess on Thursday, has opened up the Pandora's box of impeachment — with a large push from the White House– that now has the potential to undo much of the good political work Congressional Republicans have done this year.

Yes, Boehner has pooh-poohed impeachment as a "scam" propagated by Democrats to raise money and energize the party's somewhat lethargic base. (I'm not sure about the word choice of "scam" but Democrats quite clearly see political opportunity in the House lawsuit and are moving to take advantage.) The problem for Boehner is that while he has been adamant about impeachment never being on the table, there are others within the party — led by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — who have and will continue to call for Obama to be removed from office. And, the lawsuit — assuming the House authorizes it — provides, for this impeachment crowd, a news peg by which to promote their views…

The genie is out of the bottle for Republicans at the moment. They need to figure out a way to stuff it back in — and quick — or run the risk of making the election, at least in part, about them. And that's what they've spent the last seven months assiduously trying not to do. [Pols emphasis]

You don't need to see polling data to know that this is a disastrous move for Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner has been trying, meekly, to disrupt any talk of "impeachment," but filing a lawsuit against President Obama probably burned away the last bit of brake pad left on this runaway truck. If House Republicans authorize moving forward with Boehner's lawsuit tomorrow, as they are expected to do, Members will return home to their districts having to answer the question of impeachment over and over again.

For a Congress that is already dealing with historically-low approval ratings and a do-nothing image (remember, the Colorado legislature will have worked more days in session than Congress in 2014), attempting to impeach President Obama 16 months before the next Presidential election will only add to their image of ineptitude. While it probably won't be enough for Democrats to win back control of the House, the "impeachment" word may very well cripple the hopes of candidates such as Rep. Cory Gardner in 2014.

Americans already think that Congress doesn't do anything worthwhile — so, naturally, Republicans want to cement that image.

Debate Diary: Blogging the Secretary of State Debate

MaxHeadroom

Kids, ask your parents.

It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again.

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado. Yesterday in Grand Junction, Secretary of State candidates Joe Neguse (D) and Wayne Williams (R) took to the stage for the first SOS debate hosted by the Colorado Clerks Association. Colorado Pols was not in attendance at the debate (you wouldn’t drive to Grand Junction on a Monday, either), but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we’re watching the video and providing a blow-by-blow rundown of the action.

*NOTE: Unlike a regular “live blog” Debate Diary, we're posting the most recent update at the bottom of the page, so you can read like a normal person. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.

 

0:15
We’re looking at the stage at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams is to the left of the screen, while CU Regent Joe Neguse is on the right. Maybe it’s just a weird camera angle, or maybe Williams is standing on a couple of phone books, but he looks absolutely ginormous. Williams looks like Godzilla preparing to destroy the convention center.

Our moderator is Gary Harmon from the Grand Junction Sentinel, who is sitting at his own table between the two candidates.

0:20
Let’s get right to the opening statements. Each candidate is allowed 3 minutes to start, which seems kind of excessive. If either candidate is able to coherently talk about the Secretary of State’s office for 3 consecutive minutes, we should just let them have the job.

0:27
Neguse is up first. He’s wearing a dark suit, with a white button-up shirt and a white t-shirt underneath. That’s a lot of layers, but maybe he just likes to be prepared.

1:04
“My name is Joe Neguse, and I’m running for Secretary of State for a pretty simple reason. I believe the right to vote is sacred.” Neguse talks about how his parents immigrated from East Africa.

1:39
And…we have our first Scott Gessler mention. Neguse criticizes the current SOS and makes sure to mention that Gessler has endorsed Williams.

[SIDE NOTE: Is there a lightbulb shortage on the West Slope? Neguse looks like he’s speaking from a dark alley, with half of his face shrouded in shadow.]

2:16
Neguse says that Williams is the only county clerk in the state who is NOT a member of the Colorado Clerks Association. That’s really strange – it will be interesting to see what Williams says about this. Why would the El Paso County Clerk not be a member of the Colorado Clerks Association? Is there a competing organization in which Williams is the sole member?

3:24
Neguse finishes up his opening statement with a story about doing bipartisan work as a CU Regent.

3:42
Now it’s time for Williams to speak. He’s wearing a brown jacket, a shirt of indeterminate color, and Max Headroom’s tie from 1984. He also has a “Wayne Williams” campaign sticker on his lapel, just in case.

“I had an interesting conversation in 2011 with my wife. I explained to Holly that I would not be at our house for her birthday.” Seriously, that’s the first thing he said.

Williams says that the Saguache County Commissioners scheduled a recall for January 24 (the same day as Holly Williams’ birthday) and asked him to run the recall election. So he sacrificed his wife’s birthday for the greater good of Saguache County, or something.

“I have been committed for many decades to working hard to ensure that everybody has the ability to vote.” Good work on the English, Wayne. Maybe he really IS Max Headroom.

4:45
Williams is now telling a story about serving on the Canvas Board in El Paso County for the first time in 1997. This is going to be a looonnggg 45 minutes.

5:15
Williams criticizes the 2000 election process in Florida, which resulted in a team of lawyers making sure that Al Gore George W. Bush was elected President. Didn’t see that one coming.

(more…)

The Importance of the Colorado Water Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most politicians from the Western Slope run on a platform of “not one more drop.” That’s because 80% of Colorado’s water falls on the western slope, yet 87% of the population lives on the other side of the Continental Divide. To solve the problem and get more water to the Front Range of Colorado, in the 1930’s Colorado began building tunnels and water storage facilities that divert water from the Colorado River Basin to the Front Range. Over time Western Slope water users became concerned that too much water was being diverted, hence the mantra about not one more drop.

Today there are 30 completed water diversion projects in the State, most of which take water from the Colorado River Basin and deliver it to the other side of the mountains, although a few just move it from one river basin to another without the inter-mountain transfer. The 24 diversions that do change the flow of water from west to east currently deliver approximately 500,000 acre feet of water to farmers and municipalities on the Front Range annually.

In 2005, Colorado passed House Bill 1177, which created River Basin Round Tables. This was a bi-partisan attempt to get water policy out of the world of partisan politics. The bill was supported by two names you will recognize from here:  Josh Penry and Bernie Beuscher. Abel Tapia, running to unseat Scott Tipton, was in the Colorado legislature at the time and was also a sponsor of this bill. The short name of the bill was “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act.”

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