State Legislators: Today’s Foreclosure Scandal just the Tip of the Iceberg

LISTEN UP Colorado Legislators:  Today's Foreclosure Scandal News in the Denver Post: is the tip of the Iceberg.  I've been telling Democrats and anyone else who would listen about it for years.  Absorb this from the story:  "Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he was disturbed by what investigators uncovered, fostered largely by how the state's foreclosure system carried little oversight." 

Think about that sentence:  Our Republican AG is questioning the oversight of our laissez-faire foreclosure system!

 

Realize that Attorney Castle helped change the state foreclosure laws to his favor in 2006 and that there are homeowners throughout the state being unlawfully foreclosed upon with no documentation.  The banks are literally stealing homes from borrowers where they are not even the party of interest and have no skin in the game.  It is more difficult to repossess a car than a house in our state.

FIX THIS NOW!   

"Colorado is the only state in the country that allows an unsworn statement by an attorney for a foreclosing party — without any penalty — to say, 'Trust me, judge, these guys are the qualified holder for this deed of trust,' " Federal District Court Judge William Martinez said last year. "Is there another state that has lowered the bar for a foreclosure any lower?"

One former attorney who worked for Castle testified in 2012 when some foreclosure law changes failed to get to a state House vote, said he routinely signed foreclosure documents with limited but legal underlying documentation – at the direction of his boss.  He now works to defend homeowners in foreclosure cases.

It's time we quit listening to the Colorado Bankers Association," which is an accomplice in the foreclosure scam and pretends to represent banks in the state when in reality only 1% of assets represented by CBA are headquartered in Colorado (note Citigroup is a leading large-asset member of CBA who just cut a $7 Billion deal for a small part of their reported misdeeds in the mortgage securitization scam that should've been prosecuted under the RICO Act).  Ask why the "Colorado" Lobbyst Arm of the CBA has to bank at the JPMorgan Chase Branch in Baton Rouge.  (Pull up their actual filings on Tracer and click on View Filed Report at the bottom of this page).

Realize how the tables are being turned on MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, in some states that require all transactions of home ownership be recorded locally — not in an electronic database run by the banking industry who is complicit in the scam.  We should be able to go to our County Clerk and Recorders office to see who owns property, but MERS has undertaken a bloodless coup to hold half of the nations ownership records in the bank-owned system.  Colorado needs to require publicly recorded ownership documentation, just as Pennsylvania does.  Earlier this month a court ruled that MERS must stand trial to determine how much money it owes that state for avoiding recording fees and that should be a requirement here. Don't buy that garbage about how interest rates are lower because of MERS, and remember it when it becomes impossible to get a clear title to property down the road (Hint: Don't believe you'll be safe with title insurance either).

It's time to fix the system and demand we treat the largest asset most of us will ever have with respect before the banks turn us all into renters of "their" houses.  

FIX THIS NOW! Make it a Legislative Priority in 2015.  

– Dennis Obduskey, Co-Chair, Progressive Democrats of Colorado

 

Funding Schools With Expanded Gaming?

As the Denver Post's Yesenia Robles reports:

Organizers for an education group collecting signatures to place a question on the ballot asking to expand gaming at the Arapahoe Park horse racetrack say they have collected enough signatures.

According to a news release from the group, Coloradans for Better Schools, the group collected and submitted 136,342 signatures in support of the ballot measure…

That's a healthy pad of signatures over the required 86,000 to get this measure on the November ballot, so it's likely to make it. In addition to allowing casino games at Arapahoe Park, the measure would also expand gaming at racetracks in Pueblo and Mesa Counties. The measure is supported mostly by the owners of the Arapahoe Park track, and opposed by most of the rest of the gaming industry in Colorado due to the competitive pressure it would place on existing gaming towns.

Proponents forecast a return of as much as $100 million per year to K-12 education, though opponents dismiss that amount as unrealistic.

What say you, Polsters? Ordinarily we'd say a one-off gaming measure like this, based on experience, doesn't have much chance of succeeding. The existing gaming towns vigorously defend their monopoly, and spend lavishly to defeat any attempt to expand gaming beyond them. The only thing that raises a question in our minds is the experience of last year's elections, where a tax increase to fund education failed dismally, but taxes on retail marijuana passed overwhelmingly.

So maybe sin is the new model for raising revenue in this state? A poll follows.

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Corporate-Driven Education Reform Experiments Failing in Denver and Around the Country

I decided to add to my recent articles about the Colorado State Board of Education primary in Denver after reading an article today in Chalkbeat Colorado, a national non-profit education news agency. In the article "8 struggling schools opt in to Colorado's new turnaround network."  Ashley Jochim, research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Publication Education and one of the policy experts advising the states the following: 


                                                                                                                                                   Stacey Jocim, CRPE

"But Jochim said the resources will only be fruitful if principals are allowed to adopt the best ideas, even if they run counter to district policies – something that could be a challenge when it comes to personnel, budget, and curriculum. 

If Colorado stumbles, it won't be alone, Jochim said.

 "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right,"* she said.

*Bold added for emphasis.                                                                                       Link:  http://tinyurl.com/okb5gdp

 


Since the beginning of the now-Senator Michael Bennet's term as DPS superintendent, Denver Public Schools administration has pursued an aggressive approach to public schools that includes firing and displacing teachers, closing schools, and privatizing public schools by putting control in the hand of private companies that use public and private funds to run those schools. Bennet hired Mr. Boasberg to be the COO of DPS by attracting him away from his position as the VP of Corporate Affiairs at a multi-billion dollar corporation (a background much like Bennet's). In addition Boasberg chooses to reside and Boulder and will not send his own children to the District he oversees.  

 

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg                                Boasberg and Senator Michael Bennet

                              


What is Turnaround?

For a background on Turnaround, Turnaround is a status that is granted through US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan's landmark education policy, Race to the Top. Much of Race to the Top included money to backfill the budgets of states, districts, and schools who were suffering devastating cuts during the Great Recession. Another component was school turnarounds to be funded under the School Improvement Grants. In order to receive funding for Turnarounds, a school must be in the lowest 5% of rankings on high-stakes standardized tests like CSAPTCAP, and PARCC. The federal government promised $5 billion dollars over 5 years. It just happens to be that these schools are primarily. 

 

                                                                                                                                       US Secretary of Education,                                                                                                                                                          Arnie Duncan

There are 4 Turnaround models in the federal guidelines:

  1. Turnaround Model – Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the school’s staff, adopt a new governance structure, and implement a research-based vertically aligned instructional program. 
  2. Restart Model – Transfer control of or close and reopen a school under a School Management Organization (SMO) or school operator that has been selected through a rigorous review process. 
  3. School Closure – Close the school and enroll students in other, higher-achieving schools. 
  4. Transformation Model – Develop teacher/principal effectiveness (including replacing the principal), implement comprehensive instructional reform, extend learning and teacher planning time, create a community-orientation, and provide operating flexibility and sustained support

Link:  http://tinyurl.com/prel32m

 

Translated into normal  English:  

  1. Turnaround ModelFire or displace at least half of the staff and the principal.
  2. Restart Model – Create a charter or give the existing school a privately-run and publicly-funded charter school.
  3. School Closure – No need to explain. See Chicago Public Schools or DC Public Schools.  
  4. Transformation - Fire the principal and invest. Only model that doesn't fire and displace effective teachers. 

DPS most commonly chooses the Turnaround model. This is not the case nationwide. Once again, I want to reiterate the quote that "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right."


What does this mean for DPS?

According to this Colorado Department of Education website, DPS has used federal Turnaround grants at least 14 times over 3 years, receiving millions in federal money. 

Link:  http://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/tieredinterventiongrantresources

  1. Montbello High School (Close)
  2. North High School
  3. Noel Middle School
  4. Philips (Close)
  5. Rishel (Close)
  6. Lake
  7. Skyland (Close)
  8. Greenlee 
  9. Gilpin 
  10. Trevista 
  11. Charles M. Schenk 
  12. Smith
  13. West
  14. Bruce Randolph

 

The list above does not include schools that went through a similar process called "Redesign". These schools did not qualify for the School Improvement Grants, happened prior to SIG, or are outside of the CDE reporting. This following list may be missing additional schools, but the redesign and closed schools that I can recall outside of the SIG grants are:

  1. Remington Elementary (Closed)
  2. Smedley Elementary (Closed)
  3. Horace Mann Middle School
  4. Del Pueblo Elementary (Closed)
  5. Wyman Elementary (Closed)
  6. Gilpin
  7. Polaris (Closed)
  8. Manual High School (Twice:  resulting in many students, predominantly of color, never graduating high school)
  9. Kunsmiller Middle School
  10. Grant Middle School
  11. Oakland Elementary (Twice:  turned into SOAR Oakland charter school and then closed again)
  12. McGlone Elementary
  13. Green Valley Ranch Elementary
  14. Centennial K-8
  15. Fairmont K-8
  16. Ashley Elementary
  17. Smiley Middle School (Closed)
  18. Kepner Middle School (Coming in 2015-2016)

 

Denver Public Schools currently has two Turnaround networks of schools managed by their own Instruction Superindent, Deputy Superintendent, and support staff. The current networks are the West Denver Network (WDN) and the Denver Summit Schools Network (DSSN). They are in process of establishing a new turnaround network including Cheltenham Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Fairview Elementary, and Valverde Elementary. This network is flagged for Redesign or Turnaround if improvement is not made soon.  

 

 

DPS has already redesigned or turned around 17 schools on its own and 14 more with the support federal money to aid their programs. This makes 31 schools in Denver where students were displaced, teachers and other staff were fired. 

 

What is the result?

 

The Achievement Gap Is Growing.

Denver Public Schools consists of 77% minority students. 58% of those students are Latino, and 14% Black. As the District administration continues to fail to address the achievement gap, it continues to fail the majority of Denver students. Furthermore, these schools all predominantly serve or served students of color. Two of Denver's iconic schools that successfully served African American students, Montbello and Manual High Schools, have been tinkered with with little success. DPS eventually shut down Montbello and is trying to decide what to do with Manual. Similar Turnarounds and closures are happening at Latino schools like West High School and Kepner Middle School. Tom Boasberg has even admitted that while the achievement gap is shrinking statewide, it is getting worse in Denver, 

"While we're seeing significant gains across all demographic groups, we are not seeing our gaps close and this is very concerning," Boasberg said. "As we move forward, clearly we need to improve the effectiveness of our efforts to close the achievement gaps."

Citation:  "Latino students in Colroado Slowly closing gaps on achievement tests." Denver Post

 

​​Articles:

 

Massive Layoffs and Firings of Effective Teachers.

The vast majority of these schools implemented a process that either shuttered the school or required the staff to reapply for their jobs despite positive performance evaluations. The district is then able to displace or layoff teachers without any cause when they had been performing effectively. 

Articles

 

Fewer Teachers of Color in Denver Schools

  • It is a well-known fact that Denver Public Schools is losing more teachers of color than they are attracting. ​According to Colorado Public Radio reported Jenny Brundin in an article in February 2014, only 4% of teachers in Denver are black while 14% of the student body is black. The gap worsens with Latinos with a 17% Latino teachers and 58% Latino students. Link – "Race Matters in the Classroom:  Why are all of my teachers white?http://www.cpr.org/news/story/race-matters-classroom-why-are-all-my-teachers-white

Articles:

 

Major Funding for Politicians (Democrats for Education Reform) and Republicans Who Support this Model. 

 

2009

2011

​​2013

 

Maybe this will help explain why the NEA's body of over 8,000 education employee delegates vote in support of a request to ask US Secretary of State Arnie Duncan to resign. School boards are getting more and more funding from national corporate and special interests that are working to privatize public education and bust teacher and other public employee unions (one of the strongest checks on corporations and Republicans). 

We are now seeing this in Douglas County, Jefferson County, Big Thompson School District, and District 12 as well. It is time to get educated and get organized to preserve one of the major pillars of American prosperity. 

Not Another UN Conspiracy Theory Whackadoo

agenda21

Here's a report from the Western Slope Watchdog from late last month that we didn't want to slip through unmentioned. From time to time, we've had to contend with some of the fringier Republican candidates for the Colorado legislature–and the occasional Congressman–who is convinced that the United Nations is right on the cusp of executing some kind of evil secret plan intended to strip away our American liberties. In 2010, GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes made headlines–and punchlines–with his assertion that Denver's B-Cycle bike sharing program is part of a nefarious "United Nations program." J. Paul Brown, a former state representative defeated in 2012, said that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was "negotiating a treaty with the United Nations to take away Americans’ guns, which would spur a civil war."

Well folks, another midterm election year is upon us, so get ready for a fresh round of U.N. conspiracy theories–it must work or they wouldn't use them. Meet Donald Suppes, the Republican nominee running in Senate District 5 for the seat being vacated by outgoing Sen. Gail Schwartz:

Public lands issues, such as road closures, target shooting in Dominguez-Escalante canyons or federal water grabs targeting ski resorts and ranches, are another concern of the Republican candidate, who said he was “researching quite heavily” the Utah legislature’s resolution asking for their federal lands back.

“That’s going to be a battle that we’re going to have to fight,” Suppes said. “If they won’t back off, we will do this – we will take our lands back.”

Suppes said he saw the anti-fossil fuels movement and issues relating to control of public lands as part of the creeping influence of Agenda 21. He added that he saw evidence of United Nations influence when he visited Mexico. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s absolutely here,” he said. “The thing about Agenda 21 that the liberals didn’t expect is it gave the liberal playbook a name.”

Donald Suppes.

Donald Suppes.

​As we and other grownups have tried to explain in the past when this has come up, the United Nations' "Agenda 21 plan" consists of totally nonbinding recommendations on land use and economic planning. Like the U.N. Small Arms Treaty to regulate international arms trafficking, which conspiracy theorists imaginatively morphed into a "United Nations Gun Grab," these are recommendations meant mostly for the developing world–not for developed nations like the United States where solid land use policies (or in the case of guns, gun laws) already exist. In some countries, "Agenda 21" represents a first real attempt at any kind of land use planning.

In the minds of far-right Republicans and radio talk show hosts, however, "Agenda 21" has morphed into totalitarian plan to control more or less everything everyone in rural America does. It probably hasn't registered with Donald Suppes' target audience that the U.N. Small Arms Treaty has already been signed by the United States (it currently awaits ratification by a sufficient number of members), and gun confiscation in the neighborhoods of middle America has not followed suit. It's worth noting that the only nations to have voted against the U.N. Small Arms Treaty were Iran, North Korea, and Syria–what great company for the gun rights crowd to keep!

But that's the thing about conspiracy theories, isn't it? The next one is always the real one.

Beauprez favors Arizona-style action on immigration, if feds don’t respond to his demands, lawsuit

(Making best buddy Tom Tancredo proud! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

In wide-ranging thoughts on immigration policy delivered over the weekend on a Denver radio station, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said states should enforce federal immigration law themselves, in the absence of federal action, "as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona."

The Arizona law, backed by Brewer, allowing police to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's widely believed that the law would have led to harassment and discrimination of legal and undocumented immigrants.

Beauprez said that before he'd take immigration matters in his own hands if elected governor, he'd join with other governors and sue the federal government to "secure our borders."

Beauprez made the comments on KOA 850-AM, a Denver radio station, Saturday in response to a question from guest radio host Doug Kellet, who asked Beauprez about the young undocumented immigrants captured recently along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I was with a group of people the day before yesterday, and several of them were from our southern cities, Pueblo specifically," said Beauprez on air. "And they said, if buses show up, they will be in the streets to block them. I think you are going to see what happened in California start happening everywhere."

Beauprez also said: "It’s going to affect all the states out here, and the President is trying to gloss over it and tell us all the wonderful things we’re doing as a nation to accept all these people. He doesn’t tell us the impact on the people who are already here and are going to pay the bill."

Kellet didn't ask Beauprez if he'd participate in the street protests himself.

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When Koch Front Groups Collide

Americans For Prosperity, the big-spending conservative "grassroots" group already criticized this year for misleading campaign ads in Colorado, is out with a new TV spot this week attacking three Democratic Colorado Senators up for re-election. From the group's press release yesterday:

Colorado’s largest grassroots free market group, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, today announced a major expansion of its efforts to hold politicians accountable for ObamaCare. That effort starts today, when the group will use cable television spots, a direct mail campaign and neighborhood walks to hold accountable three Jefferson County lawmakers: Sens. Andy Kerr, Cheri Jahn and Jeanne Nicholson for supporting ObamaCare in Colorado.

The cable spots, which will run July 7 through 28, call out “The Obamacare Three” for helping President Obama’s unpopular health law take hold in Colorado, through expansion of the federal Medicaid program and creation of a state health exchange that’s already fraught with problems. The ads encourage their constituents to call their senator and tell them to stop supporting the failed policy…

What's interesting about this ad is that it goes all the way back to Senate Bill 11-200–the bipartisan legislation that originally created the Connect For Health Colorado insurance marketplace. SB11-200, as our readers know well, became known as the "Amycare" bill after its principal Republican sponsor in the Colorado House, Rep. Amy Stephens. Other Republican sponsors of SB11-200 included Reps. Tom Massey and Ken Summers. On final passage in the Colorado House, Republican "yes" votes on Senate Bill 11-200 included then-House Speaker Frank McNulty, Larry Liston, Cheri Gerou, Carole Murray, Kevin Priola, Robert Ramirez, among others.

So there's that, and for a lot of viewers, omitting the major Republican role in passing SB11-200 is enough to flatten AFP's credibility–assuming, of course, they ever hear the rest of the story. But here's perhaps an even more interesting twist for political junkies: AFP receives a large portion of its funding from influential conservative donors Charles and David Koch, known together as the "Koch brothers." One of the biggest conservative-leaning proponents of Colorado's health insurance exchange legislation, a big reason why there was bipartisan support for the exchange to begin with, is the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB supported the Colorado exchange because the exchanges were, at one time, anyway, considered a "free market" way of expanding access to health care:

NFIB supported the concept of exchanges long before Barak [sic--Pols] Obama was elected President. The exchange concept was not unique to the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act.

Do you think NFIB should tell that to AFP? Especially since they've both taken millions of dollars from the Koch brothers?

In all likelihood, the Koch brothers couldn't care less if these two organizations they fund are working at cross purposes. But the NFIB's support for the very thing that AFP is attacking these Democrats for, with no mention of the many Republicans who helped pass it, underscores what an illegitimate pile of crap this whole attack from AFP is. This one group, Americans For Prosperity, has accounted for a disproportionate share of the "Obamascare" mendacity we've seen on the air this year in Colorado–and so far, blistering fact-checks from the media haven't fazed them.

For anyone who knows the facts that AFP twists, it's outrageous. But how many will find out before the election?

Woods: Become a fake Republican and vote in GOP primary!

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

The day before the Republican primary, in which Republican Laura Woods triumphed over Lang Sias for the right to take on Democratic State Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Woods made the following comment on the KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado:

WOODS: “…tomorrow, if you’re an unaffiliated voter, and you don’t want more of the same, go down to the polling place, change to a Republican for a day or two, fill out a ballot, and then after the primary, if you don’t want to stay a Republican, you don’t have to stay. You can unaffiliate again. But you can be a part of the change right now by electing somebody who is going to stand up for the Constitution.”

Listen to Woods suggest unaffiliated voters briefly switch parties to help her win GOP primary 6-23-14

There's nothing illegal about Woods' suggestion, but the folks down at KLZ, including host Kristina Cook, are all about "principles."

How principled is it to try to win a Republican primary with the votes of fake Republicans? It doesn't appear that Woods' suggestion made any difference in the election, but if I were running the show at Grassroots Radio Colorado, I would have asked Woods about her idea that unaffiliated voters should join the GOP for "a day or two."

Or maybe Jon Caldara will invite her on his KHOW show and compare notes. In any case, it's done now.

Beauprez accuses Obama of dumping undocumented immigrants in Arizona for political revenge

(This is pretty gross. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

Undocumented children are literally dying along the U.S. border, in the desert, and radio-host Mike Rosen and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez are accusing Obama of dumping undocumented kids in Arizona, as a form of political revenge against Arizona governor Jan Brewer:

ROSEN: You suppose that there could be any spiteful motivations on President Obama’s part for dumping a lot of those unaccompanied—

BEAUPREZ: (sarcastically) Surely not. You’re not that cynical, are you?

ROSEN: — teenage immigrants into the state of Arizona because he doesn’t like [Republican Governor] Jan Brewer?

BEAUPREZ: [laughing loudly] Yeah, it’s perhaps more than coincidental.

ROSEN: Hmmmm. Hmmm

It's moments like this when you wish SuperTalker from above would float into the KOA studios, bop Rosen on the head, and say, "Shut up, Mike. And you, Bob, want to be governor? What kind of governor makes ugly and bizarre accusations, like this, based on no evidence at all. And you're laughing about it, at the expense of the poorest, most vulnerable kids? It doesn't get much worse."

Then SuperTalker would tell KOA listeners that he's placed Rosen in timeout for a few days and asked him to think about whether it would be right, on any planet, to say such things, as kids are caught in the immigration nightmare that we've created.

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Democrats Continue to Outraise Republicans in State Senate Races

With the Primary Election behind us, focus can now turn fully to the key General Election matchups that will determine control of the State Legislature. According to a press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), Democratic candidates in key State Senate races are significantly outperforming Republican counterparts in fundraising.

You can read the full press release after the jump, but take a look at the comparisons of some top races below:

SD 5
Kerry Donovan (D)
DEM COH: $45,840.31
Dem Total Raised: $59,473.00
Don Suppes (R)
R COH: $20,760.92
R Total Raised: $32620.63
Edward Mulcahy (Libertarian)
Lib COH: $1,430.95
Lib Total Raised: $1,475.00

SD 16
Jeanne Nicholson (D)
DEM COH: $62,653.88
Dem Total Raised: $103,445.10
Tim Neville (R)
R COH: $64,106.04
R Total Raised: $74,457.70

SD 19
Rachel Zenzinger (D)
DEM COH: $56,615.35
Dem Total Raised: $69,573.65
Laura Woods (R)
R COH: $2,596.67
R Total Raised: $45,644.00
Gregg Miller (Libertarian)
Lib COH: $0
Lib Total Raised: $0

SD 22
Andy Kerr (D)
DEM COH: $56,342.53
Dem Total Raised: $91,895.31
Tony Sanchez (R)
R COH: $15,122.16
R Total Raised: $39,651.52

 

These fundraising totals are certainly not all-encompassing in terms of the amount of money that will ultimately be spent by third party groups, but they nevertheless give a good indication of how successful candidates have been at appealing to supporters.

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Where does your state legislator stand on women’s issues?

 Women's Lobby of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.  See how your legislators are rated.

It's a ten page document, and posting pdfs is a pain, so you can look it up yourself. But you may find some surprises.

My SD3 candidate, and current HD46 rep, Leroy Garcia, has 100%.

My Senator, George Rivera, has 64%, which was higher than I thought he would have.

My current HD47 rep, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, is rated 36%. I guess that's what happens when one's market brand is being "business friendly".

By the way, "women's issues" are not just reproductive rights issues – economy, healthcare, education, and opportunity are also women's issues. Sorry, Laura Carno, larger magazine size on full auto guns didn't make the list.

 

 

Time’s Up For Two-Faced Immigration Pandering

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

​During the latest round of debate over the perennially hot-button issue of immigration reform, proponents of comprehensive reform have creditably given Republicans tremendous leeway to come around on the issue. This was a pragmatic decision on the part of traditionally Democratic-aligned immigration reform proponents, hoping that growing public support for their version of reform, which would include a sensible path forward for undocumented immigrants already in the county, would push enough Republicans to the table to make progress.

To this end, immigration reform advocates were elated to see Rep. Mike Coffman, the successor to anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo in Congress, paying newfound lip service to the idea of immigration reform. Coffman has continued to make what can be best described as "surgical overtures" to immigration reform proponents, in particular calling for a path to permanent residency for undocumented students who join the military.

“These are talented, hardworking DREAMers who will strengthen our military, boost our national security, and enhance our military readiness.”

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

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

Notice how Coffman even uses the term "DREAMers?" The way Coffman talks about immigration reform today, you might never realize that he voted to deport those same DREAMers. So did Rep. Cory Gardner, now Colorado's Republican U.S. Senate candidate–who just this week told immigration reform protesters occupying his Greeley office:

I will continue my efforts to convince Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor.

Like we said yesterday, this is the same Cory Gardner who helped kill bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that had already passed the U.S. Senate. Cory Gardner voted to deport DREAMer students right along with Coffman, and Gardner even objected to the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona challenging the constitutionality of that state's SB-1070 anti-immigrant law.

This is the emerging fact: the gap between Coffman and Gardner's words on immigration reform and their deeds is becoming so wide, that for anyone who understands the issue, it's simply not believable. You just can't reconcile their statements with their actions on immigration reform, which have done absolutely nothing to advance the issue. In fact, and there's no nice way to say this, their votes make bald-faced liars of both of them.

For reform proponents who gave Coffman, and to a lesser extent Gardner lots of time and space to do the right thing, this realization has of course been painful. It proves that reform advocates cared more about advancing the issue than partisan politics, and that is to their credit. But the net result has been that both of these politicians avoided attacks that could have done real political harm to them for many months. The unfortunate lesson in all of this is that sometimes pandering works: the time Coffman and Gardner bought themselves going into their hotly competitive elections this year was invaluable.

But as the AP's Nicholas Riccardi reports, reform proponents are done being pandered to, and mad as hell.

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Cory Gardner on Immigration: What Do You Want To Hear?

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

CBS4 reports on fascinating developments yesterday from a rally inside Rep. Cory Gardner's Greeley offices:

Dozens of immigration reform protesters packed Rep. Cory Gardner’s office calling for changes. They even brought a mariachi band.

“We have our rights. This is a public office. We’re taxpayers. We’re refusing to leave, everyone come in,” chanted the protesters…

They refused to leave until the lawmaker agreed to take action on long-debated measures that could improve the status of immigrants living in Colorado and throughout the U.S.

Here's more from the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Action Fund:

As Rep. Cory Gardner has now officially won the Republican nomination for Senate in Colorado, he will have to answer across the state for his votes to deport DREAMers and his blocking the best chance in decades to pass immigration reform. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Senate passage of a bipartisan immigration bill, one that Gardner would have voted against if he had been a Senator at that time. As a House member, Gardner has been a major force in the Republican caucus that has failed to pass a common sense solution to fix the broken immigration system this year.

After a protest at his office in early June, Rep. Gardner told the AP he supports citizenship for military service, but reform supporters aren’t satisfied. Leaders from his district submitted a letter to Gardner’s office on June 11, asking him to put articulate a solution for the 11 million immigrants currently in the US, but Gardner has been silent.

So yesterday, they showed up to "occupy" Gardner's office. And that's where it gets interesting, as CBS4's report continues:

Gardner released this statement: “I remain supportive of fixing our broken immigration system. I’ve met with many groups who support immigration reform, and each conversation I have paints a more vivid picture of just how significant of an impact modernizing our immigration policy would have on families and businesses across Colorado. I will continue my efforts to convince Speaker Boehner and the rest of the House to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor. It’s far too important of an issue for Colorado not to.”

Gardner "remains supportive" of immigration reform? Understand–this is the same Cory Gardner who helped kill the Senate's bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill the moment it arrived in the House. The same Cory Gardner who opposed the DREAM Act, who voted to deport DREAMer students, and who even objected to the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona over their much-reviled SB-1070 anti-immigrant law:

"The solution to the problem isn't for the Justice Department to file a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the Governor of Arizona for responding to a law enforcement crisis. It isn't giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or giving those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration. The time has come to enforce the rule of law and end illegal immigration."

Folks, is there anyone out there who seriously believes Gardner has been trying to "convince" Speaker John Boehner to take up immigration reform in the House? Because if there are, we'd like to sell you a bridge, a swamp, whatever. For anyone who knows what Gardner's actual record is on this issue, his statement to these immigration reform protesters is nothing short of preposterous.

That said, Gardner's audacious willingness to say anything to anyone is really beginning to amaze us. If it wasn't for our lazy local media, we'd be 100% certain he was headed for epic disaster. But in order for voters to be outraged, they need to understand how outrageous this all really is.

Koch-sponsored “GenOpp” wants you to know about Udall’s “War on Youth”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You remember Creepy Uncle Sam, who symbolized all that was unknown and scary about the Affordable Care Act. Sam had a fun few weeks to try to frighten consumers out of signing up on the health exchanges. Uncle Sam was everywhere  – on your favorite cable news shows  and web pages. Then, as suddenly as he had popped in, he disappeared, after the ACA signup deadline was over.

Generation Opportunity, or GenOpp, the organization which sponsored the Uncle Sam ads, is still going strong, and working harder than ever to lure young people away from the Democratic fold. GenOpp's media arm is called FreetheFuture, and it is mostly funded by the Koch brothers, via GenOpp, through the Freedom Partners LLC, which has funneled five million dollars into it during 2013, according to an expose by Viveca Novak on OpenSecrets.org.

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BREAKING: Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Colorado Gun Laws


Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun safety legislation, March 20, 2013.
Photo via AP's Ivan Moreno

UPDATE #3: From Gov. John Hickenlooper via AP/9NEWS:

The judge today offered a thorough and reasoned opinion and recognized that the state's new gun laws do not unduly burden anyone's Second Amendment rights. We appreciate the good work that the Attorney General's team did to represent the state and defend the law.

USA TODAY's Michael Winter recaps background our readers know well:

The state's Democratic-majority legislature passed the measures last year in reaction to the 2012 mass killings at a Denver-area movie theater and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a backlash by voters, two Democratic senators subsequently were recalled and a third resigned.

In her 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger wrote "evidence shows that large-capacity magazines are frequently used in gun violence and mass shootings, and that often a shooter will shoot continuously until a weapon jams or the shooter runs out of ammunition."

"Most experts agree that the size of a magazine correlates to the number of rounds that are fired in both an offensive and defensive capacity," she added.

But the plaintiffs — gun owners, advocates, manufacturers and sheriffs — had presented no evidence that someone's ability "to defend him or herself is seriously diminished if magazines are limited," Krieger declared. [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE #2: Read Chief Judge Marcia Krieger's decision in its entirety here.

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Latino Alienation: Ditching Tancredo Won’t Save The GOP

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An excellent story in today's Durango Herald from reporter Dale Rodebaugh, writing about a new report on the growing power of Latino voters nationally and in Colorado:

A fast-growing Hispanic population will have increasing importance in Colorado and national elections, statistics from a new report show.

The votes are there for either major party, but Republicans appear to be turning their back on Latinos, three commentators said during a call-in Wednesday regarding the survey prepared by America’s Voice and Latino Decisions.

The panelists were prominent Democrat Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado and secretary of the Interior; Gabriel Sanchez, director of research at Latino Decisions and professor of political science at the University of New Mexico; and Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota…

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

​In the days since Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob "Mexican Time" Beauprez defeated primary challenger Tom Tancredo, local press and political pundits have been quick to declare that the GOP "dodged a bullet" by avoiding a candidate for governor who would have fundamentally repelled Latino voters. Unfortunately for Republicans, given Beauprez's record and the continued push rightward away from engagement with Latinos by the GOP as a whole–whether they like it or not, as Eric Cantor can tell you–we can't say the party's prospects for engaging this rapidly-growing segment of the electorate are really any better today.

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