Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 30)

Get More SmarterS-I-E-M-I-A-N. It’s going to take some practice to spell that name correctly on the first try. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard and a major Republican donor (not to mention a former GOP candidate for Governor in California), is in Colorado today to help raise money…for Democrat Hillary Clinton. From the Denver Post:

Whitman will meet with Colorado business leaders for breakfast at the Crawford Hotel to discuss Clinton’s jobs plan, which includes investing in technology companies and helping small businesses succeed.

“As a proud Republican, casting my vote for president has usually been a simple matter,” Whitman said in a statement. “Not this year. The reality we face is that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. And that is why more and more Republicans are doing what I did and supporting Hillary Clinton”…

Whitman ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in 2010 and was a finance co-chairwoman for Mitt Romney’s presidential run in 2012. Like Romney, she has been one of Trump’s chief critics within his own party, likening him to a fascist who lacks the temperament to be president.

 

► Two proposed ballot measures dealing with fracking have failed to qualify for the November ballot. Measures to set mandatory drilling setbacks and to allow for more local control in oil and gas drilling decisions did not meet the necessarily signature threshold to be included on the ballot.

Proponents of the fracking measures are still considering potential legal challenges, but it would appear that the number of statewide initiatives this year will remain at seven (along with two additional measures referred to the ballot by the state legislature).

 

► Make sure to check out the newest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an interview with Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Anti-Fracking Measures Fail To Make Ballot

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

A press release from Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams announces the unsurprising news that Initiatives 75 and 78–measures that would have clarified local control rights for communities seeking to regulate oil and gas drilling and mandates large setbacks from existing development for new drilling–did not obtain the necessary signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot:

Two proposed ballot measures aimed at adding more limitations on oil and natural gas drilling in Colorado failed to make the November ballot because supporters didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.

Citizens who are trying to get an issue on the ballot must submit 98,492 voter signatures. Supporters of the two measures collected more than that for each proposal, but not enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during the random sample. Initiative No. 75 would have given local governments the authority to regulate oil-and-gas development, including banning fracking. Initiative No. 78 called for a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around oil-and-gas operations.

The proponents have 30 days from today to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court.

The energy proposals were among nine citizen-initiated measures that were submitted for the November ballot. The other seven efforts were successful.

After the failure of the task force created in 2014 to address these issues, which resulted from a deal to pull similar measures off that year’s general election ballot, the failure of the groups pushing Initiatives 75 and 78 to make the ballot is a huge (pun not intended) setback. There will be more to discuss in the coming weeks about the tactics employed by the oil and gas industry against this petition drive, specifically what appears to have been a very aggressive “decline to sign” campaign disrupting the efforts of individual signature gatherers.

But the fact remains that proponents submitted far fewer signatures than other ballot measure campaigns this year, and it was therefore always unlikely that they would be able to meet the margin of sufficiency with only a few percentage points’ worth of signatures over the threshold. To proponents credit they do appear to have a pretty decent validity rate, estimated around 80% for both measures by the Secretary of State. But it wasn’t enough, and in the end the pro campaigns must own their failure.

This certainly isn’t the end of the debate over oil and has drilling in residential areas of Colorado. As the Front Range continues to urbanize over mineral rights considered as sacrosanct as surface dwellers’ rights to peace, clean air and water, the issue will continue to bedevil the state until a better deal for local communities is brokered–in the legislature and/or at the ballot box.

For today, the industry and their allies have scored another big win for the status quo.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 26)

Get More SmarterWe’re still waiting for the day when pigs fly, but now we can all say we were alive for the moment when pizza took flightIt’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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took the gloves off in a speech in Reno on Thursday. As CNN reports:

The speech that Hillary Clinton delivered on Thursday was the one that many Democrats had been waiting for.

It was a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric that left no gaffe or alleged dog-whistle unmentioned, framing him as a vessel for hate speech, a champion of conspiracy theories, and a representative of the far-right fringe of the Republican Party…

…There was little subtlety in Clinton’s speech. In a moment that drew gasps and jeers from the Reno audience, she read a series of recent headlines from the Breitbart website. Among them: “‘Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.”

► The campaign for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump announced a bunch of new made-up “coalitions” in Colorado. This isn’t particularly strange on its own, but it gets weird when you consider whose name is included as a co-chair of the Colorado Education coalition for Trump: Former Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

 

► Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) referred to Trump as a “fraud” not long ago; now, Buck is endorsing Trump for President!

 

► Make sure to check out the newest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an interview with Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Rep. Clarice Navarro Celebrates Her Love For Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has nosedived in popularity since claiming the party’s nomination last month, the vocal and very public support Trump has received from a particular Republican state legislator in Colorado, Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo, has struck us as a potential major liability in her own re-election campaign. House District 47’s population is about 35% Hispanic, after all, and Trump has worked so hard to aggrieve Hispanic voters–and most everybody else, but especially Hispanic voters–that it’s almost like it was a deliberate goal.

We took note last weekend of a photo that Rep. Navarro in fact sent to us of herself with Trump, the second such picture she has distributed publicly, with a note reaffirming how she is proud to support Trump so there. Today, Rep. Navarro tripled down with a guest op-ed in USA TODAY:

Latino voters are American voters. They want the laws followed, a safe America and a future of hope. While we may not have loved the delivery of some of Mr. Trump’s comments, his vision for “making America great again” is what matters.

We have over 70 days before the election, and there is so much more to come. I don’t believe that this election has even started until the debates begin…

Again, after a recent meeting with Mr. Trump, I found him to be consultative, compassionate, and a man who understands the challenges we face, not just as Latinos, but as Americans. We are desperate for a new direction, and a Clinton presidency will only offer a four-year extension of the Obama administration. We deserve better now, and our children deserve better for their futures. That’s not solely a Hispanic or Latino vision; that is an American vision and hope.

And there you have it, folks! Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo is now one of Donald Trump’s biggest apologists. Also, “consultative” is a stupid word.

In terms of Navarro’s political career, this either ends miraculously well…or very, very badly.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 25)

Get More SmarterIt was darn near…chilly this morning. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence is apparently a big supporter of “Official English.” When he was a Member of Congress, Pence was a frequent co-sponsor of legislation designed to make English the “official” language of the federal government. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has also regularly co-sponsored “Official English” legislation.

 

► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump will stop in Aspen today for a fundraiser hosted by prominent Colorado Republican Larry Mizel. Meanwhile, new polling from Pew Research suggests that the majority of Americans are not big fans of Trump’s immigration policies. From the Washington Post:

Large majorities of those surveyed said they believe that undocumented immigrants fill jobs U.S. citizens don’t want, are as honest and hardworking as U.S. citizens and are no more likely than U.S. citizens to commit serious crimes — sound rebukes of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.

Even some of Trump’s own supporters reported positive views of undocumented immigrants on some issues. They expressed negative views of undocumented immigrants on other issues, including whether undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than U.S. citizens.

A majority of those surveyed also rejected one of Trump’s signature policies: building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has vowed to get Mexico to pay for the wall, and the proposal has become such a big part of Trump’s presidential campaign that supporters chant “build the wall” at his rallies.

It’s no wonder that Trump is sorta kinda walking back some of his rhetoric on immigration reform.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Trump Surrogate To Big Oil: Just Kidding, He Loves Fracking!

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

The Denver Post reports from the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit underway now at the Colorado Convention Center:

Donald Trump’s top energy adviser on Tuesday sought to play down the Republican presidential candidate’s recent comments in Colorado that he could support local efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Harold Hamm, chief executive of Continental Resources Inc., said in an interview with the Journal that Trump did not fully understand the question when he was asked about local control over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by a reporter at 9News. He said Trump was a strong supporter of the industry.

“Donald Trump did not understand that concept at the time in my opinion,” Hamm said in an interview at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference. “He does now.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump raised eyebrows in his interview with 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman at the end of July, in which Trump asserted that voters should “have a say” in decisions about oil and gas development–noting (correctly, we might add) that “there are some areas maybe that don’t want to have fracking.” Now, it’s entirely possible that Trump said this completely ignorant of the battle over fracking in Colorado, in particular the environmentalist position that local communities should have more control over oil and gas drilling within their boundaries than they do now.

In short, Trump was siding with the dreaded “enviros” and he didn’t even know it.

But not to worry, as the Post continues:

Hamm said he hasn’t spoken to Trump about the comments, but emphasized that he is confident the GOP nominee does not support local bans on fracking. A request for comment to the Trump campaign by the Journal was not immediately returned Tuesday…

Hamm said Trump got caught up in the term “local control.”

“I think he was pulled into that with the term local control, which is a magnet for Republican thoughts,” Hamm said. [Pols emphasis]

Why, yes it is! Modern conservatives in fact view the abstract concept of “local control” as an article of faith, on a broad range of issues from education policy to civil rights laws. “Local control” has been a battle cry for decades for Republicans against remote, aloof federal (or state as the case may be) governments that “don’t understand” the interests of the local community they’re interfering with.

But as we know in Colorado, not for oil and gas! Trump obviously wasn’t aware that in Colorado, the conventional wisdom regarding “local control” has been turned on its head. In Colorado, “local control” is the slogan of neighborhood activists who persuaded cities along the Northern Front Range to pass moratoria and bans on fracking within their boundaries. They contend their hand was forced by a state oil and gas authority that proved ineffective at protecting their communities. On the other hand, it’s the oil and gas industry who favors statewide “one size fits all” policymaking on oil and gas–not least because they’ve got a highly accommodating partner in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

For as often as Trump is accused of abandoning “conservative values” so as to not be constrained by them on the campaign trail, in this case, Trump was actually defaulting to a conservative position when asked about fracking.

Unfortunately, in Colorado “conservative values” come second to what’s good for the oil and gas industry.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 23)

Get More SmarterOn this day in history…it turns out not much happened. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Congressman Mike Coffman’s re-election campaign is mashing the panic button. On Monday, Coffman’s campaign started attacking Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll with bizarre claims that she is not a supporter of immigration reform; in 2013, in fact, Carroll was a co-sponsor of the ASSET bill in Colorado, also known as “Colorado’s DREAM Act.” Of course, it is Coffman who has been wishy-washy on immigration issues throughout his entire career, and Monday’s blatant attempt to confuse the issue was another indication of Coffman’s political worries this election cycle. 

Perhaps Team Coffman is lashing out in anger over the fact that former CD-6 Rep. Tom Tancredo — a man Coffman once called his political “hero” — is making a point to dump on Coffman whenever possible. On Monday, Tancredo clarified earlier statements that he might consider voting for Carroll (though he doesn’t actually live in CD-6 anymore) while making sure to rip Coffman again. “I don’t think there’s anything sincere about Mike Coffman,” said Tancredo in an interview with Jason Salzman.

 

► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is sorta-kinda taking a new approach to the issue of illegal immigration. As the Washington Post reports:

After spending a few days reflecting on his immigration stances and consulting with Hispanic supporters, Donald Trump on Monday detailed how he would deal with the millions of immigrants illegally living in the United States: Enforce laws that are already on the books and continue to do what President Obama is doing, although “perhaps with a lot more energy.”

This strategy marks a sudden change for the Republican nominee, who has presented himself as a politically incorrect outsider who is not afraid to take extreme measures to combat illegal immigration, such as deporting 11 million people or constructing a massive wall along the Southern border. For more than a year, Trump insisted that all illegal immigrants “have got to go” and that he would create a “deportation force” to carry out the task.

Trump struck a starkly different tone during an interview with Bill O’Reilly that aired on Fox News on Monday night. Trump said he would separate the country’s undocumented immigrants into two groups: The “bad ones” who would be kicked out of the country as soon as he takes office and “everybody else” who would go through the same process that the Obama Administration is currently using.

On Monday, Trump told O’Reilly that the first thing he would do as President would be to “get rid of all the bad [illegal immigrants.]” That sounds so easy! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?

 

► Trump is expected to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in Aspen on Thursday, but contrary to national media reports, Trump will not make a separate appearance in Colorado to deliver a big speech on his immigration reform proposals.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Rep. Kevin Priola Doubles Down on “Family Values” Gaffe

priolakidsOne of the more significant messaging problems for Colorado Republicans this year during the legislative session was a gaffe committed by Rep. Kevin Priola, now a candidate for the Colorado Senate in closely-divided Senate District 25 in Adams County. Priola was part of a committee debating a bill to expand family leave rights for employees to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola voted no on the bill, but not before requesting a delay of the vote so he could take his own children to a doctor’s appointment.

The issue is expected to loom large in Priola’s closely-watched race for the Senate against Democratic opponent Jenise May–and as the Colorado Statesman’s John Tomasic reports, Priola seems eager to tackle the problem head-on:

This year at the Legislature, progressive groups pilloried Priola for voting against a parental leave bill after asking for time off from the committee that was considering the bill in order to take one of his kids to the doctor. Priola’s critics called him a hypocrite.

Priola said the flap actually says something positive about how he goes about his work at the Legislature.

“Honestly, it was going door to door that colored my decision on that bill. I’ve probably knocked 45,000 doors through the years. Not once, not one time, has one person ever said, ‘You know what, I really wish I had time off to go to my kids parent-teacher conference. [Pols emphasis] That’s a problem in my life.’ That never happened, not one time. And that’s because people live in the real world. They have good relationships with their employers, and employers know that if they’re too harsh, employees will just call in sick to go to the conference, or they’ll say their aunt died…

“It’s having that real world experience. I’m a small business owner. I work with people. I have lots of conversations. Too often, people run legislation that sounds good but that just clutters up the statutes, and no one is really coming to say this is a real problem. So you sometimes say, ‘C’mon, maybe this is just silly.’” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, or at least we hope it isn’t needed, this is a really horrible answer. The truth is that working parents of school-age children do need leave from work from time to time to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola “never heard about it” knocking on doors because he didn’t ask. But if you ask parents if they think they should be able to take leave from work for their kid’s school functions, they’re going to say yes in overwhelming numbers.

And that’s why downplaying parents’ need for parental leave, and especially calling the issue “silly,” is a huge mistake for Priola. Democrats have already signaled an intent to attack Priola on this issue, and this dismissive response proves the point they are trying to make. Sure there are a lot of good bosses, but Priola’s assumption that everybody has a good boss just doesn’t hold water in middle-class reality.

To have made the original mistake during the legislative session is one thing. To crassly double down like this as a candidate in a tough race? That’s a sign of real hubris.

The Saddest Vacancy Committee in Colorado

Cameron Forth

Cameron Forth

Cameron Forth is the new Republican candidate for State House in HD-18 (Colorado Springs). You might not know Cameron Forth, which is okay, because he probably doesn’t know you, either. And he’ll tell you that.

As of Thursday night, Forth is the new Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Pete Lee, who was first elected in 2010 and has been comfortably re-elected ever since (this is not your typical conservative Colorado Springs district; about half of HD-18 voters are registered Unaffiliated). Republicans had already nominated Sonya Rose as their candidate, but Rose decided that she didn’t want to run after all, so the GOP needed to quickly convene a vacancy committee.

The Colorado Independent covered the events at last night’s vacancy committee, and the result is one of the more unintentionally-hilarious stories of the 2016 election cycle. You really need to read the entire story, but in the meantime, here’s a fun excerpt to get you started:

Speaking from a lectern, Rose nominates local land surveyor Cameron Forth for the post. His previous political experience included running for Congress in Iowa as an independent a decade ago.

“I don’t even know anyone in this room,” Forth says to the assembled local Republicans when he accepted the nomination. [Pols emphasis]

But, to Forth’s apparent surprise, he’s quickly challenged.

Forth ended up (kinda) winning the vacancy committee, which wasn’t totally official because Republicans didn’t have enough people show up to qualify for a quorum (State Party Chair Steve House had to formally appoint Forth as the candidate later). Forth emerged as the choice of the vacancy committee after two rounds of voting, despite the fact that nobody knew who he was.

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 19)

Get More SmarterThe Rio Olympics come to a close this weekend. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Get More Smarter Show is back today, featuring an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County). Watch the interview and find out if Rep. Perlmutter will be going to Mars (no, really).

 

► Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s Presidential bid, just two days after Trump made significant leadership changes at the top of his organization that appeared to leave Manafort on the bench. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” Manafort’s departure confirms the obvious:

Campaigns never, ever like to admit they are making a change as a result of problems within their operation. It shows weakness, they theorize, and weakness is bad when you are trying to get someone elected president of the United States.

Which brings me to this week and the insistence by everyone affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that the addition of Breitbart News boss Stephen Bannon and the elevation of pollster KellyAnne Conway to the two top jobs within the organization was DEFINITELY not a shake-up.

Conway said Wednesday that calling it a shake-up was a misnomer. Rather, she said, this was an effort to “expand the senior team that allows us to meet the needs,” adding: “I think Paul Manafort as chairman and Rick Gates as deputy have done a phenomenal job building our campaign over last five or six months to put it in a competitive place going into the fall. So I look forward to continuing to work with both of them.”

Or not.

On the plus side, perhaps we have seen the last of Trump legal counsel Michael Cohen making a fool of himself answering questions on TV.

 

► Meanwhile, Trump expressed something similar to actual remorse in comments Thursday in Charlotte. Politico ponders the question of whether or not this signals an actual shift for Trump, or just an out-of-character blip on the radar:

The Republican nominee on Thursday night delivered one of his most surprising speeches yet, expressing “regret” if his past inflammatory rhetoric had caused personal pain. It was a stunning statement coming from a candidate who has said “to apologize for me is very difficult” and that his last sorry was “too many years ago to remember.”…

…But this isn’t the first time Trump has been reeled in only to return to his explosive ways. Following the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the elevation of Manafort in June, Trump delivered a scripted and targeted speech on the stakes of the election and the importance of defeating Clinton…

…The pivot didn’t stick, however, as Trump made a series of inflammatory statements after the convention that sent his poll numbers into free fall.

If you’re holding your breath…you should probably stop.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Air Quality is Being Harmed by Oil And Gas Development

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sometimes it seems that a headline should be too obvious to write, a title too trite and true. The “Dog Bites Man” story.

But there it is. And here we are–policy-wise–debating as if it is actually a question whether Colorado’s air quality is harmed by industrial development known to spew methane and volatile compounds.

Such is the power of money and slick PR. And it doesn’t just buy opinion and confound the public, it seems to buy congressmen too.

Congressman Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s Third Congressional District, home to America’s largest concentration of methane pollution from oil and gas development.

Earlier this month a new NASA study put to rest any doubt that America’s largest cloud of methane pollution was tied directly to oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin, the Durango Herald is reporting.

A two-year study released by NASA on Monday confirmed suspicions that energy extraction practices are largely responsible for the methane hot spot in the Four Corners.

“The argument that most of the emissions are from natural seeps, definitely, we can put that to rest,” said Christian Frankenberg, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Most of the plumes we observed were directly related to industrial facilities.”

Shortly after the study was made public, a coalition of local and regional oil and gas associations in Colorado and New Mexico decried NASA’s findings, calling it limited in scope.

“They did not fly the entire outcrop,” Christi Zeller, executive director of the La Plata County Energy Council, said of the area where methane naturally escapes from the Earth’s surface. “We disagree with it (NASA’s study) wholeheartedly. We know and believe the largest sources are that outcrop.”

And this past Tuesday the state health department issued a pollution alert for the Front Range according to the Denver Post:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 18)

Get More SmarterBack to school, back to school; to show my dad, that I’m not a fool. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► According to polling results released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is really starting to get away from Republicans. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) leads Republican Darryl Glenn 52-38 in a head-to-head matchup. These numbers are similar to those reported by NBC/Marist last week, in which Bennet was leading Glenn 53-38.

Quinnipiac has a strange history of polling in Colorado, however, and they added to their weird reputation in a press release announcing the poll numbers. Here’s a quote from Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac University: “There is still time for Darryl Glenn to summon enough support to win a Senate seat the GOP sorely needs.”

Um, no. There may not even be time for Glenn to get this race to within single digits.

On Wednesday, Quinnipiac released polling numbers in Colorado for the Presidential race, showing Hillary Clinton with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump.

 

► Speaking of Trump, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says that her plan moving forward is to “let Trump be Trump.” In other words, Donald Trump has apparently given up on the idea of being elected President.

 

► The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that it will no longer employ the use of private prisons, citing evidence that they are less safe and less effective than government-run prisons. From the Washington Post:

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical reportconcluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report. Yates said there are 13 privately run facilities under the Bureau of Prisons purview.

There are several private prisons in Colorado that house criminals convicted of state or local crimes; it is unclear how this announcement might affect these facilities.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 17)

Get More SmarterHappy Flag Day…in Bolivia. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has made some major changes at the top of his campaign as the candidate pledges to increase his level of Trumpiness in the final months of the election cycle. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

“I am who I am,” Trump said. “I’ve gotten here in a landslide and we’ll see what happens.”

What that quote — and the subsequent staff moves — should tell you is that Trump believes he made a mistake in bowing to establishment pressure and bringing in a veteran hand like Manafort to oversee things. Trump sees his current problems in the race as deriving not from being too much of himself but from not being enough of himself.

What moving out Manafort and elevating Conway and Bannon should tell you is that Trump has decided that he is going to run the last three months — or so — of the campaign on his own terms. Win or lose, he is going to go out being himself.

If you come across a Republican weeping quietly in the fetal position today, try to give them an encouraging pat on the back or something.

And if you see Sen. Cory Gardner, it’s probably best that you just not use the “T” word. Gardner quietly announced his support for Trump on Friday, but the lede was so buried that the original story didn’t get widespread attention until Tuesday.

 

► New polling results from Quinnipiac University show that Hillary Clinton maintains a  double-digit lead over Donald Trump in Colorado. Quinnipiac has Clinton up 49-39 in Colorado; 47-44 in Iowa; and 50-38 in Virginia. Quinnipiac’s numbers in Colorado are in the same ballpark as the Real Clear Politics polling average of Clinton +11.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Just Go Away, Eric Nelson–Pretty Please?

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Quincy Snowdon reports on the ongoing embarrassment over ex-Democratic House candidate Eric Nelson, who remains on the Aurora Public Schools board despite revelations of lies about basically everything related to Nelson’s past:

Former APS Superintendent John Barry, who moved on from the district three years ago, reiterated Tuesday what the majority of the school board and several community members have already made clear this summer: Nelson should cease his work on the school board because of his fictitious resume and falsified military record.

“Mr. Nelson, veterans in Aurora ask for your resignation,” Barry, who is a retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, said before the meeting. In an initial report published by The Colorado Statesman earlier this summer, Nelson was accused of falsifying several points on his resume, including academic degrees, military decorations and affiliations with multiple professional organizations. An investigation solicited by APS for a fee of about $18,000 substantiated those initial claims.

During the public comment section of the regular board meeting, Barry read a letter penned by U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, that called for former U.S. Attorney John Walsh to investigate whether Nelson violated federal law. Specifically, Coffman — and now Barry — asked the prosecutor’s office to determine if Nelson was in violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, a federal law intended to punish anyone who misrepresents receipt of military decorations.

It’s anybody’s guess how long this charade is going to continue. The APS board has no authority to remove Nelson from the board, though they have censured him and relieved him of basically all of his responsibilities besides attending meetings and voting on proposals.

Whether Nelson finally puts an end to the distraction or serves out his term in disgrace, he’s a lesson to everyone in politics on why you vet all candidates. Yes, even for the school board.

Because, well, you just never know.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 16)

Get More SmarterDid you remember to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal on Monday? 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has asked former Interior Secretary and longtime Colorado politico Ken Salazar to lead her White House transition team. From the Denver Post:

As head of a lineup that includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Salazar will be in charge of meeting with Obama administration officials and preparing for a smooth handoff between presidents.

The role has become more official in recent years; transition staff will meet regularly with White House officials and use workspace provided by the General Services Administration.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was tapped by Donald Trump in May for a similar assignment. “Once Hillary Clinton makes history by being elected as the nation’s first woman President, we want to have a turnkey operation in place so she can hit the ground running right away,” Salazar said in a statement released Tuesday by the Clinton campaign.

By leading Clinton’s transition team, Salazar is in prime position to nab a key role in a potential Clinton Administration. This is a significant development for Colorado, as well, as Salazar has long been rumored to be preparing a bid for Governor in 2018. If Salazar were to land a top job in the Clinton Administration, it would likely preclude him from running for Governor.

 

► Republicans are adopting a strange new strategy when it comes to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte rolled out the newest talking point on Monday, saying that she will be voting for Trump for President, but vows to “stand up to him” if elected.

 

► It may not qualify as the first rule of politics in Colorado, but it should definitely be in the Top 5: Never use pictures of non-Colorado mountain ranges in literature or video campaign advertisements.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)