Americans Die, @ColoSenGOP Yucks It Up

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk.

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk by Hurricane Joaquin.

NBC News reports on the increasingly desperate search for the SS El Faro, an American-flagged cargo ship lost at sea during Hurricane Joaquin somewhere between Florida and the coast of Puerto Rico:

A cargo ship missing since Thursday with 33 crew members board was believed to have sunk 15,000 feet in the teeth of Hurricane Joaquin, which began strengthening and moving closer to its path almost as soon as it set to sea…

The Coast Guard planned to focus on findng “people in the water,” Fedor said. “We are not looking for the vessel any longer.”

The 790-foot ship, the El Faro, was likely swallowed by the Category 4 hurricane two days after it left Jacksonville, Florida for San Juan, Puerto Rico. When it set off on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Joaquin was just a tropical storm with wave swells of 7.5 feet and sustained winds of 65 mph.

Hurricane Joaquin.

Hurricane Joaquin.

The Chicago Tribune reports on damage assessments just beginning to take place in South Carolina, after moisture from Hurricane Joaquin collided with a cold front headed southeast across the United States to create a “1,000-year flood event.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he’s never seen flooding as bad in his 40 years as mayor.

“This was a record storm,” he said. “You know the amount of rainfall that we have experienced is unprecedented. I feel very fortunate that we were able to get through this as well as we have.”

At least seven weather-related deaths have been reported since rains began spreading over the Eastern Seaboard, which appeared to dodge the full brunt of Hurricane Joaquin as it veered out to sea.

It’s an horrific situation for the families of American merchant sailors awaiting word on the fate of the El Faro, and the citizens of East Coast states who have lost their lives in this massive storm. Coloradans still recovering from 2013’s devastating floods along the Front Range have some idea of what folks down there are going through today.

But unfortunately, the Colorado Senate GOP Majority Office is rather short on empathy.

While most of America, especially official America is expressing condolences to the families of the dead, the official Twitter account for the Colorado Senate Republican Majority is laughing it up–about a supposed “hurricane fizzle” that they think discredits those darned “climate alarmists.” Never mind that the storm appears to have killed several dozen Americans, on the El Faro and on the East Coast. To the Colorado Senate GOP, that the hurricane’s most damaging winds have moved away from the coast after sinking an American ship and killing Americans in South Carolina “rains on [the] parade of ‘extreme weather’ hucksters.”

In short, the Colorado Senate GOP’s desire to score political points via Twitter has now trumped common decency at a very basic level. Does Senate President Bill Cadman approve of this? Because it surer than hell reflects on him.

And in an objective, nonpartisan sense, it’s really disgusting.

CU GOP Prez Debate Limited Seating Liability Grows

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder has joined the growing dogpile of complaints over the highly limited seating available to University of Colorado students at next month’s on-campus Republican presidential debate:

Congressman Jared Polis on Monday called the limited number of seats available at the Republican presidential debate being held at the University of Colorado next month “insulting” and urged debate organizers to make more room for CU students…

The debate venue, the Coors Event Center, can hold more than 10,000 people. Last week, a university spokesman said the limited seating is due to the setup of the stage, lighting and camera equipment.

In his letter to CU, CNBC, and GOP officials, Rep. Polis makes clear that he finds that excuse as laughable as we did:

This isn’t about politics – whether you’re right, left, or center, if you’re a member of the University community you should have every opportunity to meaningfully participate in one of the biggest political debates of the past four years. That’s why I’m urging you to work closely with the RNC and CNBC to allocate drastically more tickets for the University community. I know this is something the University is capable of, as demonstrated in 2012 when your campus hosted a campaign rally for President Obama that was attended by more than 13,000 students and community members.

I’m no expert, but I’ve never seen video cameras so big that it requires taking up thousands of seats in an arena to get good shots from multiple angles. [Pols emphasis]

7NEWS ran a story (video after the jump) about CU students organizing to demand more seating be opened up in the mostly-empty Coors Events Center–this coming after the CU student government passed a resolution last Thursday calling for a “drastic” increase in tickets made available to CU students:

A group of students have formed an online social media campaign called ‘Student Voices Count,’ with the intention of pushing for more student representation.

“This event was initially announced as a really good opportunity for students to be involved in something huge and as it turns out, we’re not,” said Julian Taranow, who is part of the movement.

Students tell 7NEWS they are puzzled why the Republican Party would hold a debate on a college campus and then not connect with the students.

As we fully expected and predicted weeks ago, this situation is rapidly deteriorating for both CU and the Republican Party. Where hosting a GOP presidential debate in the liberal stronghold of Boulder, Colorado might have seemed in a brainstorming meeting to be a stroke of genius, today it increasingly looks like a fool’s errand. Lurking just beneath the excuses is an obvious fact that no one can deny: the current slate of Republican presidential candidates are highly unlikely to resonate with the average CU student. The problem isn’t with the students, either, though your state of denial view about that may vary on partisan lines.

The problem is with the candidates. The problem is Jeb! Bush telling voters that black people vote to get “free stuff.” The problem is Ben Carson saying a Muslim can’t be President. The problem is Carly Fiorina making crazy stories up about harvesting live fetal brains. The problem is…well, more or less everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

Attempting to benefit from CU’s reputation as a leading center of scholarship while simultaneously preventing GOP presidential candidates from getting close enough to the CU student body to offend them may never have been a workable proposition. We have to attribute some of that hubris to longtime GOP kingpin and CU President Bruce Benson personally, given Benson’s near-obsession with fostering a “politically inclusive” climate at CU. It’s not much of a stretch from Benson’s eager foisting of a “visiting conservative scholar” on the university, which if you didn’t hear ended rather badly, to imagining that this clown car of GOP presidential candidates could come to CU and not face major embarrassment. Especially when you have to essentially hide them from the student body.

At this point, the damage from the story of excluding CU students from this debate is at real risk of overshadowing the debate itself. If this continues, by the day of the debate we expect a very large and news-cycle captivating protest outside the Coors Events Center. If we were in a decision-making position at the Republican National Committee, we would honestly consider throwing open the doors and filling this arena with every student who wants to be there. If there is any chance of a reasonable Republican presidential candidate emerging from this pack, there’s an argument that a crowd of non-GOP party faithful is better equipped to recognize and respond to that than a hand-picked conservative audience.

Unless, of course, nobody wants that. In which case maybe this is a train wreck that can’t be stopped.


Jeffco School Board Majority Shuts Minority Out

UPDATE: A fresh report from the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland has us wondering if major recall opponent group Americans For Prosperity is preparing for a loss in the Jefferson County school board recall elections?

Regardless of the outcome of the recall…

The politicians, school board candidates and conservative education reformers at an Americans for Prosperity Foundation education-reform strategy session Sunday repeated this mantra.

Two conservative Jefferson County Board of Education members whose jobs are on the line in the November recall, board Chair Ken Witt and Vice-Chair Julie Williams, heard this short-term-grim/long-term-hopeful message repeated again and again…

“We’ll be here on November 4 (the day after the election), regardless of what happens in the elections,” [Recall opponent Sheila] Atwell told the audience, which included Williams and Witt. “That’s what parents need to understand – this is a year-round effort. We always have to be vigilant.” [Pols emphasis]

Great long-term bravado, but for the three board members up for recall right now, maybe not the best message.

Or maybe it’s the only realistic message.


Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

As reported by Support Jeffco Kids, relations between the conservative Jefferson County school board majority–presently facing a recall election–and the outgoing minority members have broken down to a degree that appears to be affecting the body’s basic responsibilities. Here’s outgoing minority member Jill Fellman describing the latest incident of red-on-blue bad faith:

There is an Agenda Setting Meeting with the Superintendent and his Cabinet a week or so before every board meeting. The purposes of these meetings are to determine how much time agenda items might take and to give appropriate direction to Cabinet members to ensure agenda items meet the needs of the Board.

According to practice, Mr. Newkirk and I alternate going to these meetings. Today was my day to attend the meeting – so, I drove to the Ed. Ctr. Mr. Witt arrived at the meeting with Mr. Newkirk and informed me (in the presence of several staff members) (1) I was not needed and (2) Mr. Newkirk would be attending the Agenda Setting Meetings until the election.

I’m a big girl, and I can deal with the lack of respect that I see every day from this Board majority. At the same time, our District deserves elected officials who treat each other and the public with respect, even when they disagree on policy…

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Obviously, there’s tension on the Jeffco school board today as a recall election targeting the conservative majority rapidly approaches. But that’s hardly an excuse for those majority members to exclude the minority from an official meeting setting the agenda for school board meetings. The high drama that has regularly erupted at Jeffco board meetings in recent months seems most unlikely to abate if the minority is shut out of the planning for those meetings. In fact, that seems like a sure way to further aggrieve the standing-room-only crowds who turn out month after month.

Staring down the barrel of a recall, it should be obvious that you shouldn’t make things worse for yourself with avoidable bad press. There’s nothing we can think of to be gained by shutting Fellman out of these meetings that isn’t outweighed by the negative impression this action gives the voters about to decide your fate. This is the kind of nasty anecdote field campaigns depend on to win undecided votes.

So yes, it’s a big mistake, committed out of what appears to be pure spite.

CU Student Government Revolts Over GOP Debate Access

CU-Boulder's Coors Events Center.

CU-Boulder’s Coors Events Center.

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta reports:

University of Colorado students are frustrated that they won’t be able to attend the Republican presidential debate being held on their campus and are banding together this week to demand that more tickets be made available.

Late Thursday night, the CU Student Government passed a special resolution chiding the university, the Republican National Committee and CNBC, the cable news channel that’s broadcasting the debate, for making just 50 tickets available to the university community.

The Oct. 28 debate is being held at the Coors Events Center, which can seat more than 10,000 people. But the audience will be capped at roughly 1,000, with a small fraction of those seats going to university students, faculty and administrators…

The CU Student Government resolution calls for a “drastic” increase in the number of tickets available to students and the community and states that if the Republican National Committee and CNBC refuse to do so, the university should no longer be involved with the event. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve been watching the controversy over the highly limited seating available for the October 28th Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus build over the last few weeks like a ticking…on second thought, let’s go ahead and avoid that analogy. But as soon as it was announced that only a small fraction of the available seats at CU-Boulder’s Coors Events Center would be filled at all, and that of those few seats only a token number would go to CU students, we predicted that decision would result in much more controversy than it was worth to the GOP’s image.

That is, unless having an open and accessible debate full of CU students really would be a disaster for the GOP’s slate of presidential candidates. That’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the foremost reason this budding controversy is so bad for Republicans is that everybody knows why they’re not letting CU students attend in any significant numbers.

“We have requested more, but we anticipate that few, if any, will be forthcoming,” wrote CU-Boulder spokesman Ryan Huff in an email. “We understand that this is primarily a television event and CNBC has limited the audience of the 11,000-seat Coors Events Center to about one-tenth of capacity due to the set-up of the stage, lighting, camera equipment, etc.”

He said the university will soon be releasing information about a student watch party on campus.

Sean Spicer, chief spokesman for the Republican National Committee, reiterated on Friday that the debate is a televised event not meant for a live audience… [Pols emphasis]

Obviously, if the event is “not meant for a live audience,” why hold it in a stadium? Why have 1,000 mostly hand-picked people there at all? This excuse just plain doesn’t make sense, and the idea that the stage and broadcast equipment for the debate is going to fill up 10,000 seats in the Coors Events Center is silly on its face.

The Donald and Jeb!

The Donald and Jeb!

The real problem, as we all know, is that putting the current slate of Republican presidential candidates in front of anything other than a hand-picked audience of Republican Party loyalists risks demonstrating how out of touch many of them are–simply by hearing the audience’s reactions. As we’ve said, we don’t accept the argument that students would be inappropriately rowdy. This is about fully appropriate gasps and boos that would come in response to any number of recent on-record statements by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb! Bush, and the rest of the crew.

The need to preserve a veneer of respectability for a group of presidential aspirants more of less devoted to embarrassing themselves, their party, and the entire nation in the eyes of the world–and folks, that is really what’s going on here, no hyperbole–is putting the University of Colorado in an ugly exclusionary position with their own students. The best choice would probably have been for CU President and GOP kingpin Bruce Benson to have passed altogether on bringing these clowns to the “People’s Republic of Boulder” under terms dictated by the Republican National Committee. Somebody in a strategy meeting had the super-crafty idea of holding a GOP debate in Boulder, and didn’t think through all the things that would mean.

But it’s too late now. The train wreck is underway.

Ken Witt Presents: How to Make the Case for Your Own Recall

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt

Temperatures have been rising on the Jefferson County School Board ever since three right-wing members were elected to take over the Board majority in November 2013. As Colorado Pols readers are no doubt aware, these three Board members — Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams — are now facing a November recall election for a variety of reasons that we won’t rehash here (check Jeffco Pols for a more in-depth background into the Jeffco School Board controversies).

If you aren’t familiar with the controversies and issues that led to the November recall election, there was a moment at Thursday evening’s Jeffco School Board Meeting that perfectly encapsulates why the entire Jefferson County community has been in an uproar over the actions of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams. You can see the video yourself below, which better conveys the emotion of the exchange as Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper is nearly driven to tears out of frustration and anger in response to an incredibly disrespectful display from Board President Ken Witt.

“I am fed up with the way we are running this Board.”

— Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

The back-and-forth discussion in question followed the introduction of a resolution proposing changes to the District Accountability Committee (DAC) Both Dahlkemper and Board Member Jill Fellman voiced their concern that Witt was forcing a vote on an item that the Board had not yet discussed, which is explicitly against the Board’s own policies. The resolution in question was sent around to Board members on Thursday afternoon — mere hours before the meeting was called to order — so Dahlkemper and Fellman asked Witt to schedule the vote for the following week so that the item could be discussed first.

“I don’t know how we can have a conversation and vote on something I saw for the first time 4 hours ago,” said Fellman. “I’m not willing to do that.”

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Jeffco School Board Member Lesley Dahlkemper

Dahlkemper also noted that a discussion was pertinent because a volunteer committee of parents, teachers, and administrators had been working for months on changes to the DAC. Here’s what happened next:

LESLEY DAHLKEMPER: “At the very least, give us the time to read this, digest it, contrast it with what we have also been given by a committee that has spent more than three months analyzing state law and having conversations about this, to determine whether this is a good resolution moving forward. All I’m asking is that we follow board policy, we ask questions about this if we have any tonight, and then we put it on the agenda for the next Board Meeting to approve it. That’s all. That’s all I’m asking.”

KEN WITT: [Sarcastically] Ms. Dahlkemper, this has been read to you twice, but we can continue to go over it until you feel like you understand all of the terms. [Pols emphasis]

LD: Mr. Witt, don’t you dare speak down to me or disrespect me.

KW: I’m not…

LD: Yes, you have. And I’m sorry you don’t understand the difference between those two things…because I am done with it. [VOICE CRACKS] I can’t believe this…because I do not want to do this. But I will tell you – the mistake that you are making right now is that we have a policy on the table about how we govern. You are throwing governance right out the window because you have some agenda that you feel so critical that we have to vote on tonight…that even a simple request that is to say, “Look, our policy says we review it, and then we vote on it.” And don’t you dare insinuate that I don’t understand this policy. And stop talking down to people on this board, and also people who come forward. Enough. [Pols emphasis]

Policy disagreements are to be expected in any group of elected officials, but it’s inexcusable for Witt to a) Ignore Board policy at his own whim, and b) Display such blatant disrespect to a fellow board member. Witt’s behavior isn’t the primary reason why he, Newkirk, and Williams are facing a recall — but it’s near the top of the list.


Check out the video after the jump…



My son deserves a school without hate

A banner hangs in the entrance to Pomona High School, where my son is a freshman this year: “A school without hate.” It’s a basic value he and his friends believe in.

In Jefferson County, those values are under attack. Click here now to find out how you can be part of the solution.

Right now, my neighbors in Jefferson County and I are working on recalling members of the Jefferson County school board who don’t believe in schools without hate. Each year, Jefferson County schools participate in a “Day of Silence” protest against bullying on campus. In response, board member Julie Williams posted a link to a protest against the Day of Silence, which referred to this important anti-bullying awareness event as “perverse indoctrination.”

That’s not who I want in charge of my son’s high school education.

It’s time for a school board in Jefferson County that truly cares about every student. Over the next few weeks the campaign to inform voters about the upcoming recall election is kicking into high gear. And we need your help to ensure success.

Click here to visit Jeffco United’s website and volunteer to help the recall campaign. The campaign needs volunteers for a variety of important jobs, from knocking on doors to answering phones. And of course, please donate whatever you can today.

The eyes of the nation are on Jefferson County today, but for me, it’s personal. This recall is about my son’s education, and over 85,000 kids who attend Jeffco public schools with him. This is about my son’s good teachers in Jeffco who are being driven out by a board that doesn’t value their work. And it’s about making sure that far-right political ideology doesn’t dictate what’s taught in our classrooms.

Thanks for standing up when it matters most. Right now.

GOP To CU Student Body: Be Seen But Not Heard

yourmoneyyurvoteAs the Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness reported this weekend, requests to allow more University of Colorado students to attend next month’s Republican presidential debate at the Coors Events Center have fallen on deaf ears:

The Oct. 28 event in Boulder, titled “Your Money, Your Vote” and televised by CNBC, will be held in the 11,000-seat Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus, but the audience will be capped at about 1,000, and nearly all those chairs are already spoken for.

“One of the things people need to keep in mind,” Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief spokesman, said Friday, “is that this is a television production more than anything else. It’s a major, major event, but it’s mostly focused on being seen by the tens of millions of people who are watching.”

…Though CU is hosting the event, the school will only squeak in a few dozen of its own.



Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado, who led calls last month for more debate tickets to go to CU students, is predictably unhappy:

“It’s outrageous that the Republican Party has chosen to shut University of Colorado students out of the October presidential debate on their own campus,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “The Republican Party is partnering with the University of Colorado to host this debate, co-opting the good name of Colorado’s flagship university to provide a forum for Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the GOP’s out-of-touch presidential candidates. Now we know that the GOP is afraid to let anyone but a hand-picked audience see them.”

“What is the Republican National Committee so afraid of that they have to lock the CU student body out of this debate?” asked Runyon-Harms. “A hand-picked audience clapping politely at the Coors Events Center while Donald Trump insults women and Ben Carson insults Muslims would be an insult to the intelligence of every University of Colorado student. The millions of viewers watching this debate deserve to see and hear how real people respond to these presidential candidates. Anything less is worthless political theater, and a misuse of the University of Colorado’s reputation for open and accessible dialogue on the issues.”

There are two ways to look at this situation. On the one hand, as the RNC claims, the debate is arguably about the televised audience, not the crowd in attendance. And the Daily Camera reports that the last two GOP presidential debates only utilized a small fraction of the available capacity of the venue they were held in. You might even go a step beyond a logistical benefit of the doubt, and say defensibly that the RNC has the “right” to invite anyone they want to “their” debate.

But is it good politics to only give out tickets to a tenth of a venue’s capacity, when thousands of CU students would gladly fill those empty seats? That’s where this gets a lot trickier for the RNC, especially with liberals making an issue of those empty seats. We don’t buy the argument that college students would necessarily be disruptive of the debate, though their reactions even within a permitted range of applause and other vocalizations might indeed be something Republicans would want to avoid. Either way, we don’t believe a full Coors Events Center would create any technical problems for the televised broadcast.

Once you get past those objections, there’s really not much left except things the RNC doesn’t want to discuss. Like why those students would be repelled by things the candidates might say.

“There’s no fee paid to reserve the venues, but the publicity value is going to be quite substantial,” [CU spox Bronson Hilliard] said. “The PR value of having the campus continually referred to, the exterior shot that will start the debate, the sustained coverage inside the venue — if you were to pay for all of that in terms of advertising value, it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

And that’s where this becomes tricky for everybody, including the University of Colorado. On the one hand, the university freely claims a six-digit PR value for hosting this debate on the CU-Boulder campus. For Republicans, hosting a debate on this historically liberal college campus has a much higher value in terms of legitimizing their field of candidates.

Once voters realize that the picturesque CU-Boulder campus is being used strictly as a backdrop, and that the students and faculty who make the place what it is are being excluded from attending the debate when they could easily be accommodated, we’d say the “PR value” drops substantially for both CU and the GOP.

Will Woods and Neville attaboy fellow anti-vaxxer Trump?

(A good question – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

The Denver Post made a good point today about Donald Trump’s idiocy on vaccines:

It may have gotten lost in the welter of headline-grabbing moments in Wednesday’s Republican debate, but Donald Trump managed to add to his list of idiotic claims.

It seems he suspects vaccines cause autism and at the very least ought to be spaced out over a longer time period. As it is, he claims, the syringe of vaccine is so big that it “looks just like it is meant for a horse, not for a child.”

The idea that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly debunked, but why should Trump care when his rhetoric on everything is so sloppy?

The serious question for us here in Colorado is, will some of our important local politicians attaboy Trump?

You’ve got, for example, Sen. Tim Neville, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run, and Sen. Laura Woods, a top target of Democrats. Both have sponsored legislation affirming that parents can opt their children out of getting recommended vaccinations.

Are Woods and Neville worried that kids might get autism from vaccines? Maybe, for them and Donald Trump, the threat of autism outweighs the risk posed by the fact that Colorado ranks last in the U.S. for measles vaccinations among kindergartners?

Donald Trump’s media magnetism, along with his real popularity and out-there beliefs, continues to offer an opportunity for us to educate ourselves about what our local politicians think. Trump makes talking about vaccines and autism fun, especially because he’s not in power. Let’s air out his ideas here in Colorado.

Jeffco School Board Member Apparently Thinks Baseless Whining Will Help Him

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

From the beginning of the uprising by Jeffco parents and students, conservative Jeffco school board members and their allies (like failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez) have said directly or implied that community members are pawns of teachers’ unions.

Even now, facing a recall election and massive criticism that again demonstrates the power of the grassroots movement opposing him, board member John Newkirk continues to whine about unions and outsiders–and their foul play–without coughing up evidence of such nefariousness.

On KNUS 710-AM Monday, Newkirk spewed out a list of grievances, vilifying unions and others, and, in the process, demeaning the community.

Take a look below. It’s hard to feel sorry for Newkirk when he says stuff like, “I’ve had numerous constituents call me up saying, you know, there’s folks in the schools that are really crossing the line, now.” Hmm.

He provides none of the specifics you’d hope to hear from a responsible person who makes such accusations. This leaves listeners, even ones who are sympathetic to Newkirk, with no choice to but to conclude that Newkirk is mean, desperate, or worse.

Here’s an exchange from KNUS Sept. 14:

HOST KRISTA KAFER: It’s been a difficult couple of years as a board member pushing for reform. Of course, they have a right to do the recall. That’s the law, and they’re doing it. Or trying it, I should say. But some of the things they’re doing to raise support for it, I have concerns, are not legal and certainly not ethical. What are you hearing?

NEWKIRK: Well, I think some of them have crossed the line. There are a lot of c4 groups, and I think by law, only 40% of c4 activity can be political. Which of course doesn’t have any place in our schools, and of course electioneering doesn’t – so I’ve had numerous constituents call me up saying, you know, there’s folks in the schools that are really crossing the line, now. You know, at back-to-school nights – they’ll have aggressive people there, some of them from out of the district, actually pursuing parents down the halls as they’re going to their conferences or back-to-school nights, pushing literature on them that they don’t want. I’ve also heard constituents complain that they’ve actually had people showing up at local high schools trying to register 16-or-17-year-olds to register to vote and even to the point where if they check that they’re conservative, then they’ll belittle them in certain ways. So, you know, that’s not part of our educational goals here, to embroil our children in partisan politics. I’ve also heard reports that teachers are wearing their pro-union signs—uh, t-shirts and buttons and even sticking signs up in their classrooms. So, no, that’s not appropriate.

Kafer didn’t ask what in the world Newkirk was talking about. Where’s the backup for these rumors and strange utterances, or fpr any specific info about these alleged activities. This leaves Newkirk sounding like a gossipy teenager with Kafer lapping it up.


Lundberg supports Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank asked Lundberg Friday whether he’d back a Colorado clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses. “I believe that they have that responsibility as an elected official to ask themselves, am I fulfilling my job or not,” Lundberg told The Post. This comment may have led, in part, to the Post’s editorial today pointing out that Lundberg “appears confused about whether state officials can ignore laws they don’t like.” The Post called Lundberg’s stance “disturbing.”


In a string of Facebook posts beginning Sept. 3, Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg hasn’t been shy about his support for Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who landed in jail after giving marriage licences to some loving couples but not others.

Who would expect Lundberg to be shy, given his uncompromising stances on social issues in the legislature? But he is a state senator, which is why his fringe view should be aired out by reporters and others. To wit:

On Facebook, Lundberg wrote that Davis is “abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.”


Good for Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is refusing to issue “marriage” licenses on the grounds that it violates God’s law, and her conscience.

Have the Federal judges become kings and queens who can fabricate law out of thin air and then throw state government officials in jail for daring to oppose their plans? What Constitutional authority does the Federal Court have to jail this elected official for exercising her best judgement in fulfilling her duties as county clerk? If the people who elected her want her to change, they can speak through any recall procedures the State of Kentucky allows, or vote her out at the next election for county clerk, but the Federal Courts should stay out of areas of law clearly reserved for state jurisdiction.

The courts have certainly seized this power and demonstrated their autocratic intentions long ago, but they do not derive this authority from the Constitution, which is the law of the land.

In my opinion the clerk is abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.

In a post last week, Lundberg addresses the question of why Davis shouldn’t just resign:

Additionally, many are saying that the clerk is not following the “rule of law.” I submit it is more accurate to say she is not following the rule of the Court. If anyone is actually following the rule of law, it is clerk Davis.

Rep. Joe Salazar Eviscerates Trump (And Mike Coffman)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

It’s not often that we cite an opinion piece published on another site, but Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton penned an op-ed for today’s Aurora Sentinel that’s prompting a lot of discussion–certainly enough to earn a mention in this space.

The subject? Donald Trump, naturally–and Trump’s record’s similarity to that of “moderate” Rep. Mike Coffman. Excerpts:

Congressman Mike Coffman was a loud supporter of the extreme anti-immigrant agenda long before Donald Trump rode his xenophobia to the top of the Republican polls. Trump may be hogging all the attention and crowding out his rivals, but his outrageous views towards immigrants and Latinos are common in the Republican Party. In fact, it is fair to say that Trump is Tancredo/Coffman 2.0.

Unlike Trump, within the past few years Mike Coffman has been awkwardly running/stumbling away from this anti-immigrant legacy as fast as he can. In fact, he started learning Spanish – I know because he attempted to speak with me in Spanish during an event we both attended in 2013. But, despite his newfound bilingualism, the truth is that Coffman is alarmingly similar to Trump… [Pols emphasis]

Although Mike Coffman believes that learning Spanish would endear him to immigrant communities, his rhetoric and record only demonstrate that he is now effective in offending good, hard-working people in two languages. Let us not forget that he also fought to change the Voting Rights Act to ban multilingual ballots in areas with large populations of non-proficient English speakers (telling people they ought to grab a dictionary).

Redistricting threw Coffman into a Congressional district where he had to face the same people he stoked xenophobic fears against. Since then, Mike “Tancredo is my Hero” Coffman has been bottling up his true positions, leaving minority communities in the 6th Congressional District feeling concerned that his xenophobia will soon uncork itself.

In today’s op-ed, Rep. Salazar cites a number of similarities between Trump and Mike Coffman–like Coffman’s recommendation that non-English speaking voters “get a dictionary,” Coffman’s past support for building a wall across the Mexican border, and Coffman’s infamous 2012 assertion that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” As Salazar points out, redistricting into a diverse and competitive new district, stripping Tom Tancredo’s old base of support from Coffman’s electorate, is the only thing that has prompted even a superficial change of heart.

As we expect Salazar will be telling CD-6 voters from now until November of 2016, it’s superficial as hell. The proof is in Coffman’s own words: far too many words to take back or flip-flop on. All that’s lacking is the will to hold Coffman accountable to that black-and-white record, something our gutless local media and previous Democratic challengers have so far not demonstrated.

Well folks, it really looks like that may be happening in 2016.

Fake Reporter Art Kane Back With Another Bogus Story

Art Kane.

Art Kane.

Local freelance “journalist” Art Kane came under heavy criticism last year after writing a series of news articles for the Denver Post that inaccurately disparaged the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, in Colorado. And these weren’t small inaccuracies, either, but wild factual exaggerations and totally unsubstantiated hearsay horror stories that fell apart under casual scrutiny.

Since then, Kane has taken up with a “news” outlet much better suited to his particular brand of hackery: the conservative website run by the Franklin Center for Public Integrity. The stories may not be any more accurate–but Kane’s new bosses aren’t concerned with, you know, accuracy.

Today’s Art Kane feature story on per diem pay for Colorado state legislators at Colorado Watchdog is an excellent case in point:

Colorado lawmakers who live outside the metro area will get a bump in their per diem next session, making that state’s reimbursements the second highest in the country and costing taxpayers an additional $35,000 next year…

The per diem rate for lawmakers living outside the metro area will go up to $195 a day next session; state law sets it at 85 percent of the federal government per diem for the Denver Metro area, which also increased this year. The cost to taxpayers is an additional $35,000 a year, legislative staff wrote in an email exchange with

Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky said he was upset when he learned from last week’s story the per diem expenses cost taxpayers so much money, and that raising the costs next year isn’t appropriate.

Gregory Golyansky.

Gregory Golyansky.

Setting aside Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky’s major credibility problems, with which our readers are very well acquainted, there’s a very large part of the story of this increase in per diem that Art Kane isn’t telling you:

National Conference of State Legislatures data shows the increase will skyrocket Colorado to the second highest per diem after Alaska, which pays lawmakers $235 a day if they live outside the capital area…

This year, Kentucky, Alaska and Tennessee had higher per diems, but Colorado will surpass those states unless their per diem rates increase. Expensive states such as Hawaii, New York and California reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado, NCSL data shows. [Pols emphasis]

As we read this story claiming that “expensive states” like Hawaii, New York, and California “reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado,” we remembered something very important: in Colorado, legislators don’t even make enough to survive. Here’s what the National Conference of State Legislatures really says about the salaries of lawmakers in the states listed above:

Base Salary

California: $90,526 per year
Hawaii: $57,852 per year
New York: $79,500 per year
Colorado: $30,000 per year [Pols emphasis]

This list doesn’t take into account which of these legislatures are “part time” versus “full time,” but that really doesn’t matter: Colorado legislators routinely draw per diem pay for events they attend throughout the year. Most of our lawmakers in either party will tell you that serving in the Colorado General Assembly is very much a full-time commitment. And that means except for the very young and very rich, it’s a huge financial hardship.

And in terms of their total compensation, which is of course the bottom line, Colorado lawmakers earn a tiny fraction of what legislators in these other states make. And that makes Art Kane’s latest big story…well, another steaming pile of bullshit.

Back in 2012, we were critical of a bill to raise per diem pay for legislators, mostly because at that time state employees had not received a raise in several years due to recession-forced pay freezes. Then-majority House Republicans rushing the bill through with no debate didn’t help the optics either. With that said, there’s no question that pay for lawmakers in Colorado is, at this point, a major disincentive to public service.

If Art Kane would like to write a factual story, perhaps he should start there instead.

Sign the petition: CU students deserve to be there

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

AP GOP 2016 CPAC A USA MDYou’ve probably heard by now that the whole gaggle of Republican candidates for President will debate at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus in late October.

We’re asking debate organizers to promise that at least 50% of the tickets to the debate will be made available to CU students. Sign our petition now.

The Republican presidential debate at CU Boulder is a chance to hear first-hand the positions of over a dozen presidential candidates. It’s a great opportunity to be involved with our political process that CU students have come to expect from their world-class educational institution.

But it’s critical that students be given the chance to attend.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that no decisions regarding the distribution of tickets have yet been made. The Coors Event Center on the CU Boulder campus seats over 11,000 people.

The Republican Party is partnering with the University of Colorado to host this debate, and enlisting the credibility of Colorado’s flagship educational institution to elevate the GOP and the participating candidates. That’s why it’s so important that the audience for the debate include students of the University of Colorado. Anything less would be a deception.

Sign our petition: tell organizers of the October presidential debate at CU to make at least 50% of the tickets available to CU students.

Thanks for your quick response to this important petition. Let’s make sure that CU’s reputation is protected by making this debate open and accessible to CU students. It’s only fair.

Local GOP Operative Steps Down From The Gifted Class

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

GOP operative Caleb Bonham, who is somewhat less creepy than this photo suggests.

Folks in the business will recognize the name Caleb Bonham, a local conservative activist and graduate from Colorado State University, who made the jump from the bush leagues of our local Revealing Politics blog to the quasi-big time of the conservative online ranks with his work for the Campus Reform project of the D.C.-based “Leadership Institute.” Campus Reform has spent a great deal of time in recent years attempting to police college campuses for what they see as “liberal bias,” as well as raging against such terrible burdens placed on strapping young college men as the University of Minnesota’s new affirmative consent policy for sexual relations between students.

Because obviously, real men know when no means yes! We digress.

Today, Bonham announced his last day with the Campus Reform project, and the launch of his new Denver-based consultant business with fellow local Republican usual suspects Kyle Forti and Lee Hopper. Hopefully this isn’t a demotion, but you never know when folks decide to join the consultant class:

Friends, today is a big day for me. Today I get to close a wonderful chapter in my life as Editor-in-Chief of Campus Reform.

It was a fun and hectic ride. We accomplished so much. I am especially proud of the leaders we assisted along the way – over 60 correspondents nationwide – activated, trained, and empowered to bring change and better equip themselves to thrive in life…

Kyle and Lee Hopper have done amazing things in Colorado and together, the three of us, are excited to bring our creativity to a new venture servicing the corporate and political space.

As a startup local business, we’re happy to give DCO Consulting some free promotion. And we’ll say in all honesty that Bonham is a true asset to the conservative activist industrial complex. Just last weekend, he spoke on a panel at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Columbus, Ohio–and the subject was “How To Talk To Millennials.” As you can see from his photo of the audience,

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 1.18.21 PM

AFP really benefits from Bonham explaining “how to talk to millennials.”

Because apparently they don’t have any.

Welcome home, Mr. Bonham. You’re going to fit right in.