Tancredo’s Tea-Party Position on Education Aligns with Jeffco School Board

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that "GOP power-brokers" are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn't get into whether Tancredo, who's currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo's views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He's not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America's children.

Tancredo: "Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining."

Where's the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn't tolerate it. They don't want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo's views, as expressed here:

(more…)

GOP Caucus Crackup? Anti-Priola “Coup Attempt” Fails

UPDATE: Here's a clip of Rep. Kevin Priola from yesterday's debate over Rep. Jim Wilson's amendment to House Bill 14-1292. The tension then brewing over Priola's opposition to this mostly GOP-supported amendment is clear in his voice:

​—–

GOP Reps. Kevin Priola and Chris Holbert.

GOP Reps. Kevin Priola and Chris Holbert.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports this afternoon:

House Republicans met for 30 minutes Thursday morning after Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, called a meeting with the goal of replacing Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, as the caucus whip.

Priola had alienated many of his fellow GOP colleagues a day earlier when he declined to support an amendment to the Student Success Act sponsored by Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, that most Republicans supported.

Priola hadn’t paid Wilson, one of the more popular members in the caucus, the courtesy of informing him ahead of time that he wouldn’t be supporting his amendment related to a transparency website to show how school districts spend public money.

The Denver Post's Anthony Cotton has a little more reaction from Republicans:

According to the Republicans, part of Priola’s job as Whip is to determine where the membership stands on the issues and help align support within the party–on Wednesday, party members say, Priola not only failed to do that, he argued on the floor in favor of Hamner’s amendment over Wilson’s.

When Hamner’s amendment was passed in a close vote, it led to Thursday’s move by Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, to have Priola removed.

“We were shocked and disappointed that happened,” Holbert said. “He should have let us know his position and we could have made adjustments.”

In the end, despite the push from Rep. Chris Holbert to remove Rep. Kevin Priola from his Minority Whip position on the spot today, minority caucus chair Rep. Kathleen Conti scuttled the move by ruling the motion out of order–as Priola hadn't resigned, the position technically wasn't "vacant." This would clearly indicate that Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso  was not on board. Originally, as Stokols reports, an angry GOP caucus was prepared to oust Priola, as indicated by an initial vote against adjourning the meeting of the caucus. After Conti ruled the whole business out of order, a second vote to adjourn passed.

So what really happened today? For the best clue available, we turn to Rep. Frank McNulty:

The attempted coup, whatever vote precipitated Thursday’s meeting, has been a long time coming, according to several House Republicans who describe a widening gap between the caucus’s moderate and conservative wings.

“This isn’t about the amendment yesterday,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch. “This is about personalities.”

By all accounts, this has been a very frustrating legislative session for the conservative wing of the GOP House caucus. After the success of last year's recall elections against two sitting Senators and the resignation of a third, conservatives expected to vigorously oppose Democrats at every step, setting the stage for a clear election season distinction. Instead, as we've recounted in this space, the base GOP outrage they hoped to sustain into this year has fizzled, and the GOP caucus took heavy criticism for dead-end ideological flights of fancy like the abortion ban bill. This incident over a relatively obscure Democratic amendment supported by Priola–which apparently didn't even pass on clean party lines, with several Democrats voting against along with most of the GOP–appears to ripped the scab off of a much larger intra-caucus disagreement.

Judging from the unsatisfying end of today's blowup, we've probably not heard the last of it either.

The “Great Social Experiment” or “Leadership”?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"This is going to be one of the great social experiments of this century"
~Governor John Hickenlooper

 

Yesterday's senate hearing on SB14-177 and SB14-178 drew a standing-room-only crowd; one that ultimately demanded an overflow room for the observers and witnesses.  The attendees were a broad swath of Colorado citizens: mother and child, medical refugees desperate to find a remedy for their child's condition; attorneys, social workers, business owners, political activists, lobbyists, and myself as the sole farmer in the room. It was an afternoon of passionate testimony by medical marijuana activists who see the bill as a subtle, some may say "backroom" attempt,  to recriminalize the use and or possession of cannabis under section 18-18-102 of the Colorado statute.  The vague language of the proposed bill caused confusion even amongst the law enforcement and social workers who provided testimony for both the proponents and the opposition. 

I'm forever in awe of the breadth and depth of the human and social capacity that Colorado possesses.  The testimony by Jeri Shepard, a Greeley attorney, was compelling.  Jeri went point by salient point, deconstructing the myths around legalization, she offered to the members of the Judiciary Committee they read the book, "The New Jim Crow", an exercise she had participated in as a group Lenten exercise.  If one was measuring the prudence of Coloradans ending prohibition in 2012 by Jeri's testimony, you wouldn't describe our efforts as "a great social experiment".  You would call it "leadership".

(more…)

Banning Red Light Cameras, Anyone?

red-light-camera

As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, a bill to prohibit red light cameras in Colorado is gaining some bipartisan momentum:

A proposal introduced in the Senate late last week would bar cities and counties from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers committing traffic infractions.

Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, has introduced similar legislation the past two years, though unlike in previous sessions, he has strong support this go-round from House and Senate Democratic leadership.

"These cameras just create revenue for cities and don't actually increase public safety at our intersections," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the bill's prime House sponsor. "I think we should be focused on making people safe, not raising money." [Pols emphasis]

As Lee reports, local governments are raking in millions in fines from relatively low-overhead automatic camera enforcement at intersections. Not surprisingly, the Colorado Municipal League doesn't like this bill one bit–though they cite the public safety considerations, not the revenue. At the end of the day, money talks: and the badly needed revenue these cameras provide may prove reason enough to keep them with no further debate needed.

What say you, Polsters? Red-light liberty, public safety, or cash?

Immigration Rights Activists Rally in Pueblo – and Everywhere

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican and Democratic politicians alike were denounced by the 50 activists rallying at Bessemer Park in Pueblo on April 5, 2014, as part of a national Day of Action on Immigration. Barack Obama has deported more immigrants than any other President; Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, and Mike Coffman have all voted to defund programs to make it easier for undocumented "Dreamers" to stay in the USA, and have repeatedly voted against comprehensive immigration reform.  Ken Buck and Tom Tancredo were also called out for their unrelenting history of opposition to not only immigration, but immigrants. All of the Republicans have opposed a path to citizenship, calling it "amnesty".

In Denver, activists rallied in Civic Center Park and on the 16th St. Mall (below): (Photo by Ray Rodriguez)

Elsewhere in Colorado, Summit County, and  Durango, saw rallies,waves of protests, support for youth and families facing deportation proceedings. On Saturday, the call across Colorado and the United States was  "Not one More Deportation!"

 

Under the Obama Presidency, more than two million people have been deported, most of them for low-level crimes, such as traffic offenses. Sunday talk shows debated whether or not Obama really is the "Deporter in Chief" On  Steve Kornacki's show, "UP", the focus was on how Obama's high deportation numbers may affect Latino voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Victoria De Francesca-Soto posited that the immigration numbers may be exaggerated statistically, as now everyone who is caught near the border, but turned back immediately,  is counted in deportation numbers. De Francesca also pointed out that immigration reform may not necessarily be the top issue among all Latino voters; for most, jobs and health care reform are higher priorities.

Yet, Gabriella Domenzain, another guest on Kornacki's show, said. "Four out of ten Latino voters have a personal relationship with someone who is being deported, and that changes you." People point to the unequal enforcement of immigration law – Canadian citizen Justin Bieber was convicted of driving drunk; yet he is not being deported, and, every year 400,000 Latinos, with similar or lesser convictions, are formally deported, for a total of two million under Obama.

(more…)

Abortion? Gun Control? Genghis Khan? It Must Be Holocaust Week Resolution Time!

Today, the Colorado General Assembly debated and gave initial passage to House Joint Resolution 14-1015, the annual resolution designating the last week of April as Holocaust Awareness Week. Each year, the debate over this resolution gives Republicans an opportunity to score rhetorical points on a variety of their favorite issues. Last year's memorable tag team on abortion from Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Scott Renfroe was a notable example.

This election year, CD-4 primary candidate Renfroe was muzzled, and Lundberg was a bit more subtle–though the abortion/Holocaust reference is still unmistakable:

LUNDBERG: And I ask all of us, are we still too conveniently numb? I see human life taken, that I believe is immoral and injust, am I too conveniently numb to speak out? [Pols emphasis] I pray that we will all re-evaluate our moral standards in each and every step we take…

Lundberg is known for a lot of things, folks, but failing to speak out about abortion is not one of them.

Not to be outdone, here's Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, making a not-so-subtle reference to the gun safety legislation passed in Colorado in 2013 as he invokes the Rwandan genocide of 1994:

(more…)

Wingnut Jeffco School Board Controversy Escalates

Last night, a marathon public session of the Jefferson County Board of Education illustrated the controversy being stoked by three new conservative board members, Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams, who are forging ahead with a stridently ideological agenda–and perhaps doing major harm to the district's reputation in the process. 9NEWS reported on events last night:

Charter schools have to take money out of the classroom budgets to pay for building expenses. Charter schools have to pay the Jefferson County School District fees for various services taking away from the estimated $7,000 per pupil district schools typically receive to use for classroom expenses…

The school board is considering adding an additional $100 per pupil to charter schools to help make up the difference in funding between charter and district schools.

[Parent Nicole] Dominic says this is an exciting new direction proposed by newly elected school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams.

As this story explains, charter schools are obligated to pay for a variety of services provided by the district. That makes sense given that those services cost the district money, and doesn't mean that a net difference between neighborhood schools and public schools is "unfair." For one thing, charter schools commonly receive lucrative grants to offset their expenses that neighborhood schools can only dream of. But there's a much more basic reason not to divert this estimated $3.5 million from neighborhood schools to charter schools: it breaks the promises the district made in 2012 to persuade voters to raise property taxes.

(more…)

New Coffman® Triangulates Off Best Buddy Steve King

UPDATE: Democrats work to deny Coffman any room to maneuver on immigration, The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe:

The House Majority PAC ad, shared first with The Hill, highlights the fact that Coffman has not yet signed a discharge petition aimed at forcing a vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. 

Though nearly every Democrat in the House has signed the discharge petition, no Republicans have, and many in the GOP have indicated no desire to tackle the controversial issue in an election year…

Democrats see the issue as potent in the district, which is about 20 percent Hispanic, especially against Coffman, who was previously staunchly opposed to immigration reform before shifting early last year.

—–

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) left.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) left.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Congressman Mike Coffman called out a fellow Republican for opposing his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship by serving in the military on Thursday.

Coffman, R-Aurora, called out Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, a noted illegal immigration firebrand who Democrats have tried to sought to portray as a Coffman ally in an appeal to Hispanic voters.

“With all due respect, Steve King is dead wrong on the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act,” Coffman said in a statement, responding to King’s contention that his bill amounts to “amnesty.”

…Coffman, who faces a tough challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn 6th Congressional District that now includes Aurora, supported a King proposal last year that would have ended deferred action, President Obama’s executive order sparing young people in the country illegally from immediate deportation. [Pols emphasis]

The context for this public-facing "disagreement," which Stokols notes embattled Rep. Mike Coffman's re-election campaign was quick to publicize, is a group of conservative House members who have announced their opposition to any "immigration riders" to the National Defense Authorization Act. That's the larger bill being debated, which Rep. Jeff Denham of California, supported by Coffman, hoped to amend. Politico:

“I oppose using the NDAA to push any immigration agenda,” [Rep. Mo] Brooks wrote in the letter asking colleagues to join his effort. “That is why I ask you to sign a letter to House leadership informing them that you oppose using the NDAA to push an immigration agenda of any kind.

“If immigration legislation is addressed by the House, it should be done so via the proper process, not by attaching it to must pass legislation,” the letter continues.

As you can see, the opposition to this amendment allowing some illegal immigrants who enlist in the military to gain citizenship is made up of a lot more Republicans than Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Congress' foremost anti-immigrant hardliner after Tom Tancredo left the building. The moderate California Republican Coffman is siding with in this dispute, Rep. Denham, is also a co-sponsor of the Democratic comprehensive immigration reform bill (H.R. 15)–which Coffman opposes.

With all of this in mind, it's quite clear that Coffman is using this intra-Republican disagreement to manufacture daylight between himself and unsightly erstwhile allies like Rep. King (see photo). The policy change Coffman is making a stink about, a path to citizenship for immigrants who join the military, is really quite narrow. Coffman's vote last year with Rep. King against the President's temporary reprieve granted to "DREAMer" undocumented students would have affected many more people, and stands in stark contrast to the impression Coffman wants this latest spat to leave. That vote was a major stumble for Coffman in his quest to reinvent his conservative image, and we don't see how his support for this much narrower proposal rights that wrong.

Especially since Coffman's friend Steve King, and lots of other Republican colleagues, mean to scuttle it.

Field of Candidates for Jefferson County Offices (Almost) Set for June Primary

With both the Democratic and Republican county assemblies behind us, the field is set for the slate of races in Jefferson County. Here's the rundown for every race and candidate that will appear on the June Primary ballot, with a few notable exceptions (SD-16 and HD-23)…

STATE SENATE
SD-16 (Republicans will hold the SD-16 assembly this weekend)
Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D), Incumbent
Tim Neville (R)
Richard Wenzel (R)

SD-19
Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D), Incumbent
Laura Waters Woods (R) — top line on GOP ballot
Lang Sias (R)

SD-20
Sen. Cheri Jahn (D), Incumbent
Larry Queen (R)

SD-22
Sen. Andy Kerr (D), Incumbent
Tony Sanchez (R) — top line on GOP ballot
Mario Nicolais (R)
 

STATE HOUSE
HD-22
Rep. Justin Everett (R), Incumbent – top line on ballot
Loren Bauman (R)
Mary Parker (D)

HD-23
Rep. Max Tyler (D), Incumbent
Nate Marshall (R), expected to resign as candidate; Republicans have until April 17th to choose a replacement.
 

HD-24
Jessie Danielson (D) — top line on ballot
Kristian Teegardin (D)
Joseph DeMott (R)

HD-25
Jonathan Keyser (R)
Janet Heck Doyle (D)

HD-27
Rep. Libby Szabo (R), Incumbent
Wade Norris (D)

HD-28
Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D), Incumbent
Stacia Kuhn (R)

HD-29
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D), Incumbent
Robert Ramirez (R)
 

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
CD-1
Taggart Hansen (D)

CD-7
Jane Goff (D), Incumbent


BOARD OF CU REGENTS
CD-2
Linda Shoemaker (D)
Robert Weverka (D)

CD-7
Irene Griego (D), Incumbent
 

COUNTY COMMISSIONER
District 3
Don Rosier (R), Incumbent
John Flerlage (D)


ASSESSOR
Louis DAurio (R)
Ronald Sandstrom (R)
Andrew Hassinger (D)

 

COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER
Faye Griffin (R)
Michael Snow (D)

 

TREASURER
Tim Kauffman (R), Incumbent

 

CORONER
John Graham (R), Incumbent

 

SHERIFF
Jeff Shrader (R) — top line on ballot
Jim Shires (R)
 

Stay Classy, CU “Visiting Conservative Scholar”

Dr. Steven Hayward.

Dr. Steven Hayward.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Sarah Kuta reports, the University of Colorado's "visiting conservative scholar," Dr. Steven Hayward, who we've discussed a few times in this space, is indeed giving CU students badly-needed exposure to political opinions not generally found on traditionally liberal college campuses. That was the purpose, after all, in GOP kingpin turned CU President Bruce Benson and Republican CU Regents creating the "visiting conservative scholar" program to begin with. To expose college kids to conservative views.

If anything, it appears that Dr. Hayward is doing his job a little too well:

Student leaders at the University of Colorado are speaking out against Steven Hayward, the university's first-ever visiting scholar in conservative thought, for statements he made in a recent interview and in a blog post…

The student leaders pointed to a post Hayward wrote on the blog PowerLine in October titled "Off on a gender-bender," in which he described his discomfort and confusion after attending an orientation for new faculty members about gender identity.

Hayward poked fun at members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the same blog by writing: "LGBTQRSTUW (or whatever letters have been added lately)." [Pols emphasis]

He also wrote that he doubted any students had ever told a professor about their preferred gender pronouns or asked to be called by a different name.

If turning the acronym "LGBT" into a gratuitous alphabet soup, a slur which seems more at home on the Rush Limbaugh radio show than the work of a professor at our state's flagship university, isn't enough for you, it gets even better. Check out how Dr. Hayward recommends CU philosophy professors deal with that department's recent sexual harassment scandal:

Hayward suggested that victims should deal with their harasser directly.

"Well, I don't know, my mother and my mother-in-law both said, 'You know when those kinds of things happened to us, usually a lot worse 40, 50 years ago when they were in the working world, they slapped people,'"  [Pols emphasis] Hayward said in the interview. "Maybe we ought to get back to that."

Because, you know, slapping people in the workplace goes over so well! Why follow the laws that allow victims to hold their harassers accountable when you can just slap them and be done with it? Despite the superficial allure, something tells us that an outbreak of harasser slapping in workplaces around the country would not be greeted well by Dr. Hayward's financial backers.

Again, Dr. Hayward was brought to the CU campus to help supplement a perceived lack of "conservative thought."

Mission accomplished, though he may result in CU creating more liberals.

“Moderate” Republican Endorses…Tancredo?

Norma Anderson.

Norma Anderson.

We wanted to make note of a blog post from the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels last Friday:

Former lawmaker Norma Anderson, known for wielding clout during her days at the legislature, said today if former Congressman Tom Tancredo makes the ballot for governor, she’s voting for him in the June 24 primary.

“Right now Tom is the best candidate,” she said, referring to the seven-person field of GOP hopefuls who want to unseat Democrat John Hickenlooper in November…

That former Sen. Norma Anderson, one of the more moderate elder statespersons in the Colorado GOP ranks, would endorse Tom Tancredo, one of the most polarizing hard-right politicians in our state's politics, is truly a fascinating development. Just as one example, Anderson is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit underway against the 1992 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, arguing that it unconstitutionally undermines legislative power–most likely not a message Tancredo wants attached to his campaign in a Republican primary. But perhaps strangest of all?

Anderson, a Lakewood Republican, added she disagrees with Tancredo on immigration, a subject that defined him in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail in 2007. [Pols emphasis]

That's right, folks! Norma Anderson is endorsing a single-issue candidate, while "disagreeing" with said candidate on that single issue. The best explanation we've heard is that this odd move is legacy protection for Anderson and her family from the taint of being a so-called "RINO" (Republican in name only). The fact is, Tancredo is irrevocably linked to his hard-line stand on immigration. By endorsing Tancredo while disagreeing with him on his principal issue, this seems to be an attempt to make voters think that Tancredo's view on other issues matters.

To which we can only say, good luck with that.

Limited Immigration Reform May Be A Go – Nativists Have Already Conceded That It Would Not Be Amnesty

According to Alex Nowrahsteh of CATO, bipartisan immigration reform of the infamous 3/10 year bar may still be passable this year.  As described in the linked article, the three and ten year bar:

"requires that any immigrant who stays in the United States illegally for more than six months but less than one year may not leave and reenter for three years. Any immigrant who illegally stays for more than a year may not leave and reenter for 10 years. Also known as the 3/10-year bar, any immigrant who violates it triggers a twenty-year ban from reentering the United States – for any reason. Some unauthorized immigrants, mainly the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, can currently apply for a green card. However, they can only do it after leaving the country. Since most unauthorized immigrants have been here for more than a decade and leaving would make the 3/10-year bar apply to them, this legislative catch-22 prevents current law from legalizing many of them."

So one would expect the anti-immigrants to immediately start crowing about this.   However, they have a small problem: one of the chief restrictionists, Mark Krikorian of Center for Immigration Studies, has already conceded that drastically reforming this bar would not be amnesty.  I have attached linked audio from the Spring of 2010 when I had the chance to get Krikorian on the record on Ross Kaminsky's radio show.  In it you can clearly hear Krikorian declare that allowing the spouse of a US citizen to stay in the country after a very minor penalty for overstaying would not be amnesty and also that he is not a "big fan" of the bar in the first place.  In fact, Krikorian stated he would support replacing the 3/10 year bar with a 6 months/1 year bar.

So how will the anti-immigrants handle the latest proposal?  My prediction: they will pretend Krikorian never conceded that it would not be amnesty.  Any bets on whether I am right?

This was originally posted by me at the Colorado Independent

Tim Neville’s Statement Does Not Make Suspicions Of Link Between Him/RMGO And Nathaniel Marshall Unfounded

(Worse and worse – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Independent has been investigating the circumstances that led to Nathaniel Marshall, a person with significant ties to white supremacism, to enter the race for Colorado HD-23.  As an early result of that investigation, the Independent's John Tomasic reported yesterday that signs had emerged indicating that Tim Neville – a person with significant ties to Rocky Mountain Gun Owner's Association ("RMGO") - recruited Nathaniel Marshall to run for HD-23.  The signs relied on by Tomasic's article consisted of the following:

1) Rick Enstrom, a prominent candy business executive and onetime Republican House candidate, specifically claiming that Marshall admitted he was recruited by Neville at the Jefferson County Assembly ("Enstrom's Statements")

2) Dudley Brown, RMGO's Executive Director, admitting that per RMGO political director Joe Neville, Tim Neville spoke with Marshall at "an event" ("Brown's Statement")

In response to Tomasic's article, Tim Neville last night put forth the following statement on Facebook (accessible here):

"Regarding the leftist hit piece published today posing as a news story in the Colorado Independent:  I spoke with its author John Tomasik [sic] and told him I had no connection with Mr. Marshall's campaign- not as an endorser or financial donor or supporter.   I suggested Mr. Tomasic retract his story because it’s false.  Then he asked me if I ever met Mr. Marshall and I had to explain to him that I meet hundreds of people each week on the campaign trail.  Then he hung up on me.  Shocked?  No, but I'm very disappointed that a Republican like Rick Enstrom would spread such a story without even a phone call to me.  I believe he knows my number, since his campaign had no problem finding me when I helped him as a volunteer to walk his precincts in 2012.     These types of attacks only embolden me to fight even harder for you.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your calls and emails of support tonight.Iron sharpens iron. Together I look forward to taking back Senate District 16 this November and winning a Republican majority.   Game on!" (emphasis added)

While Tim Neville may wish that his mere claim that a story is false is sufficient to demonstrate that a story is in fact false, that is not the case.  Here, there is evidence to indicate that Neville – and through him potentially RMGO – recruited White Supremacist Nathaniel Marshall to run for HD-23.  The first two pieces of evidence are the Enstrom and Brown Statements.  In addition to those statements, last night Nathaniel Marshall revealed that he had been invited to an RMGO fundraiser as a candidate and that now they were throwing him "under the bus".  Moreover, recruiting Nathaniel Marshall would fit within a perceived pattern of RMGO supporting candidates who repeat its party line but who are poorly vetted – the chief example being former pornographic novel writer Jaxine Bubis.

(more…)

RMGO-Backed Candidates Win GOP County Assemblies

Lang Sias, Tea Party endorsed no longer.

Lang Sias, “Tea Party endorsed” no longer.

​As the Colorado Independent's Sandra Fish reports:

Jefferson County Republicans set the stage Saturday for two potentially divisive state Senate primaries.

Disagreements over which candidates are the strongest supporters of gun rights, “liberty” and the pro-life movement simmered just beneath the surface during an afternoon of speeches and voting.

Democrats have an 18-17 majority in the state Senate, and Republicans hope to take it back. The JeffCo seats, currently held by Democrats, could be key to that effort…

Saturday, Lang Sias and Laura Woods faced off in Senate District 19 for an opportunity to face appointed Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, while Mario Nicolais and Tony Sanchez competed in Senate District 22 where one of them will face incumbent Sen. Andy Kerr.

Sias, a former fighter pilot, took direct aim at Woods and her supporters, who include Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a conservative gun rights group. Sais lost to Sen. Evie Hudak by fewer than 600 votes in 2012…

“My opposition thinks I should be disqualified because I didn’t participate in the Hudak recall,” Sias said. “I did not feel it was right for the to stand up and ask for a do-over.” [Pols emphasis]

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

Tony Sanchez in SD-22 and Laura Waters Woods in SD-19 are the prohibitive favorites of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the hard-line gun rights group foremost responsible for the drive to recall two sitting Colorado Senators last year while forcing the resignation of a third.

But even as RMGO flexes its muscles in the Republican primary, evidenced by both Woods and Sanchez winning top lines on their respective primary ballots this weekend, there is desperate establishment pushback underway against this post-recall attempt to install more RMGO friendly legislators in the Colorado General Assembly. RMGO overall does a fantastic job getting their candidates through the GOP primary process, recent examples of their work including Sen. Vicki Marble.

Unfortunately, once these RMGO-endorsed primary candidates become legislators, they have a tendency to severely harm the Republican brand as a whole (see: Vicki Marble). Sometimes they don't even make it that far, like brief SD-11 "RMGO endorsed" recall successor candidate Jaxine Bubis. The fact is, you've got a lot of Republicans out there who would like nothing more than to wash their hands of Dudley Brown and his ilk forever.

At the same time, how can any self-respecting Republican cheer when Lang Sias runs away from those same recalls in his county assembly speech? For us, this epitomizes the cognitive dissonance at work among Colorado Republicans today. On the one hand, the recalls are the Colorado GOP's rallying point for this year's "comeback." On the other, they reveal perhaps the greatest weakness in today's Colorado Republican Party–embarrassed by its own "success," out of touch, at war with itself.

As we've said, we don't know what the GOP's solution is, but the problem becomes more obvious every year.

Rivera / Crowder Town Hall Heats Up, Democracy Thrives

 

 



 

 


When Colorado Senators Larry Crowder (left) and George Rivera convened a town hall in Pueblo on Wednesday, March 19, they probably hadn't planned to be confronted, interrupted, and corrected by dozens of Pueblo citizens of various political stripes. But that's what happened.

Over the course of a two hour meeting, Rivera and Crowder discussed wage theft, the proposed SouthWest Chief Rail expansion to Pueblo, PERA, TABOR, minimum wage and the rights of workers to organize, with about fifty vocal and opinionated constituents.

Senator Rivera came out swinging as the hard-right conservative he is- he explained that he is a "right to work" guy, that he is "not a believer in… the whole concept of the minimum wage", that he would like to privatize PERA (change it from a defined benefit to a "defined contribution" model).

He does not support the  lawsuit challenging TABOR, and he would rather see people paying fuel taxes than using public transportation, a dig at the proposed SW Chief rail line, the signature issue of his opponent for SD3, Represenative Leroy Garcia.

On SB14-05,  the "wage theft" legislation passed out of Committee  and into Appropriations with no Republican support, neither Senator took a strong position.  Both Senators agreed that it is a shame to steal a day's pay for a day's work, expressed some caution about costs of the measure, and moved on.


Senator Crowder, the more experienced politician, took softer stances, or tried to avoid taking stances altogether. He did not agree with privatizing PERA. He also does not support the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of TABOR, does not support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and seems to be somewhat ignorant of what would be required to dismantle TABOR.

On the minimum wage issue, Crowder advocates for raising the "median wage", a proposal which got quite a few baffled looks from the town hall attendees. Crowder stated  that only 2% of workers receive minimum wage, when, in actuality, 59% of workers, mostly women, are paid at the minimum level. 


When directly challenged by Yesenia Beascochea (left) of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: "How are people supposed to buy groceries on $7 an hour?" Crowder waffled until he was rescued by George Rivera's daughter, (left center) who ranted for three minutes, questioning  why anyone should support poor folks on Medicaid.

So, Crowder never answered Beascochea's question.  Crowder is also the more moderate of the two southeastern Colorado Senators; Crowder was the only Republican to vote for Colorado's Medicaid expansion and Health Exchange. Lamar's Crowder is also a co-sponsor of the SW Chief rail expansion legislation, and did not agree with Rivera on the need to "privatize PERA".


Excerpts from the Town Hall discussion:

PERA

Rivera supports a “defined contribution” plan, not a “defined benefit” plan. Rationale: it will save money.

Carole Partin, a teacher, challenged him: Privatizing PERA will change it, and those are benefits that we worked for.  A defined contribution plan goes out to the hedge fund managers.

MINIMUM WAGE:

Barb Clementi, another teacher,  schooled the Senators on how we subsidize Walmart because of minimum wages. Rivera argued that low wages, low taxes are what brought businesses in.

Rivera argued that minimum wage legislation is a "slippery slope." He wondered, "Why would it stop at $10/hr, why not $25 hr?", and predicted that businesses would pass costs to the consumer, or close down. When confronted with examples of businesses such as Costco and others which pay $10.10 an hour, and are thriving, he changed the subject.

Question: What’s your opinion on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour?

Rivera: "Well, I’m not a believer in the minimum wage. The whole concept of the minimum wage.  Because, OK, you raise it up to ten dollars and ten cents. What’s the business going to do? Are they gonna sit there, and say, OK, we’re gonna pay out that ten dollars and ten cents? And all of a sudden, we’re in the red, and whereas before we were paying seven dollars, seven-fifty, and isn’t that three dollars…more?. What are they gonna do? They’re gonna raise the cost of their goods to make up that three dollars and ten cents. So all of a sudden that ten dollars and ten cents…you’re right back where you were, a year or two later, you’re chasing your tail."

"Now let me give you another, for example….why stop at $10.10?  Why not go to twenty-five? Because twenty-five dollars an hour…Heck, we’ll all agree is good money, and everyone will be happy. No, that’s not gonna work, again, because they gotta raise the cost, raise the price of whatever goods they’re selling. They gotta make up for the cost of that pay raise, whatever it is."

Q: Do you think that Walmart’s going to go in the red by paying the minimum wage?

Crowder: Here I thought I had a chance. I can wait outside. (laughter)

"Here’s the thing about the minimum wage. 2% of the people rely on the minimum wage. (he’s 57% off, according to the Dept of Labor- 59% of American workers work for minimum wage)

What we ought to be talking about is the median wage. (Audience murmurs, puzzled) We’ve lost so much ground in the middle class. That’s what we ought to do. ….we need to work legislatively to stay out of the middle class’s way, so that they can continue…I think if we take care of the median wage, that the minimum wage will take care of itself. One of the things we can do is we can look at the employment percentage right now. "

It’s 9%. What we can do is get that employment percentage down here (gestures), and

Q: Yesenia Beascochea: Can I interrupt real quick, because I hear the both of you talking about the minimum wage.  Pay the people seven dollars an hour, minimum wage, and they have to buy the groceries, as the prices rise. The prices are rising. So how are you guys expecting…and I’m talking about poor people, that can’t afford to buy groceries at seven dollars an hour?

Crowder: (doesn’t answer her question) Would it benefit the working poor if a certain percent lost their jobs?

(Rivera's daughter complains for three minutes about how health care for the poor costs money to middle class people because: Obamacare).

TABOR:

I asked both Senators about their positions on TABOR.

Crowder: "My position on TABOR is simple. Voters voted it in. It’s up to the voters to vote it out. I do not agree with the lawsuit on TABOR that’s in the courts right now. I think what it does, it…undermines the voters…If people, truly, do not want TABOR, which I believe is….you hear both sides, you know? But I do believe that, to go through the court system, when the people of Colorado voted for it, undermines them.  So if someone wants to bring a petition, and convince the people of Colroado to get that back on the ballot,  then I would support that."

Barb Clementi (left): You recognize that it would take six or eight initiatives to actually do that?

Crowder: No, no, that can’t be true.

Barb Clementi: Yes, it would take many different initiatives to undo TABOR.

(Rivera interrupts)

Rivera:  "Well, I’ll be honest with you. If we have the low taxes that you’re talking about, ….you don’t think that TABOR had something to do with that? Look at all of the fees we pay…the fee you pay when you get your license plates. What do you think that is? That’s a tax by another name, that’s all that is."

UNIONS and ORGANIZING

Ron Greenwell, (left), chair of the Pueblo Democratic party, questioned Senator Rivera about how he felt about unions in general.

Greenwell: What do you know about the Colorado Peace Act? What do you feel about unions in general? And, would you support organized labor in the future?


Rivera: On the Colorado Peace Act, I'm not sure what you're referring to.

Greenwell: The Colorado Peace Act is legislation, that, when you're going in to organize, it's not a 50 plus 1, ….it's a 60 plus 40, something like that. And so, to make it fair for those who are organizing, they have to get 60% of the vote, rather than 50% plus 1.

RIGHT to WORK (for less): Rivera: Well, I believe in “right to work”. Let’s put it that way. …

(loud disagreement, chatter, laughter, comments from audience.

Rivera: …I don't think it's anti-union, whatever…I believe in right to work.

Rivera: I think if the government just keeps out of the way of people….(interruptions by several audience members) "Government is people! ”Government is in the business of helping the common people."


GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE OK IF IT'S WOMEN'S BODIES?

Kiera Hatton-Sena countered with a pointed question: So,  the “government shouldn’t interfere” with my body?"

Neither of the Senators answered Hatton-Sena's question.

The town hall finished with Rivera proclaiming that he was happy that so many people had attended his town hall, although they were clearly not in agreement with him. Colorado Progressive Coalition had informed its members about the town hall. 

I personally found it disturbing, not that there was conflict and disagreement, but how uninformed both Senators were. Rivera did not know the provisions of the Colorado Peace Act, although he proclaims that he believes in "Right to Work". Crowder had no clue that 59% of the population, not 2%, receives minimum wage. Neither Senator knew how much work it would take to undo Tabor; when they advocated for voter initiatives, to "Let the Voters Decide," they were effectively advocating to let TABOR continue to wreak harm in Colorado indefinitely. Rivera was seemingly not aware that a "defined contribution plan" effectively privatizes people's retirement benefits.

Senators Rivera and Crowder are out of touch with the majority of their constituents who are in favor of raising the minimum wage. They don't "get" women's complaints about the hypocrisy of proclaiming that government should not interfere with people's lives, while the government aggressively interferes with women's reproductive choices over their own bodies. In pro-union Pueblo, in which most people have a family member who worked or works for a union, Rivera's hard anti-union stance will also not win friends and influence constituents.

This is what small-d democracy looks like, and it is indeed a positive thing. It remains to be seen if the Senators will follow up with conversations with, and allow themselves to be educated by their disaffected constituents, or merely heave sighs of relief: "That's over."


 

Video from 3/19 Pueblo town hall More videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/socoteacher

 

All photos and videos of this event by the author.