Immigration Reformers Await Gardner, Coffman Votes Today

UPDATE #2: Salon.com's Luke Brinker:

Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted…

It turns out that maybe Gardner didn’t really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign — voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.

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UPDATE: Rep. Mike Coffman one of only seven Republicans to vote against today's bill symbolically chastising President Barack Obama for his immigration executive order, while Cory Gardner votes yes–FOX 31:

Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations.

Coffman, who pummeled Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn and newly diverse 6th Congressional District largely on the strength of his outreach to Latinos and other immigrant communities, was one of just seven House Republicans to vote against Yoho’s bill.

Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall…

“I voted against H.R. 5759 because, although I strongly believe that it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without the consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama’s overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriation’s process,” Coffman said.

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Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A press release from local immigration reform advocates and the Service Employees International Union challenges Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman to align their votes with their campaign rhetoric this year, as the House prepares to vote in symbolic opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order later today:

After two years of failing to take up any attempt at meaningful immigration reform in the House, now Republicans have announced that in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they’ll be voting tomorrow to undo the action. While the vote is largely symbolic as it would not pass in the US Senate, it’s a gesture that Republicans see as a way to express their anger at the President for taking steps within his authority to fix the immigration system on his own.

However, the bill is a direct attack on millions of immigrant families and DREAMers whose lives changed because of this new program and the President’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The bill set to be voted on tomorrow was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and it would undo both the programs initiated by the President that have and will allow millions to come out of the shadows and apply for legal status and work permits…

Juan Carlos de la Cruz, SEIU Local 105 Executive Board Member, said “Tens of thousands of undocumented Colorado immigrants have lived here for years, worked hard to provide for their families and do their part. With the President’s new program, they’ll finally be able to get papers and contribute more to this state that’s become their home. I can’t believe that Republicans are already trying to take this away and subject them to deportation all over again. I call on Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans to reject this extremist bill and stand up for immigrants and their families.”

“President Obama just stepped up to begin solving a problem that Republicans have been refusing to address for years. And, he’s improved the lives of millions by taking action. If Republicans don’t like what he did, nothing is stopping them from passing the bipartisan bill sitting on their desk that would solve this problem once and for all,” said Patty Kupfer, Denver-based Managing Director of America’s Voice. “Cory Gardner has said he’s a new kind of Republican. Well, these are the same old Republican tactics to do nothing and then blame Obama. Tomorrow we’ll see whether or not he’s willing to stand up to his party and do the right thing.”

We haven't heard anything from either Gardner or Coffman on how they intend to vote today, but Gardner's previous statements about President Obama's executive order are not encouraging. Most debate over the legality of Obama's order is among conservatives, including 17 red states that filed suit yesterday–this despite persuasive arguments from legal experts that the executive order was not just legal, but in line with similar actions taken by Republican presidents.

We'll update after today's vote. Did Gardner and Coffman's newfound support for immigrant rights survive November 4th? We're about to get our first indication.

Thursday Open Thread

"The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie."

–Shannon L. Alder

Mike Coffman’s ENDA Convictions Wither Post-Election

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

A letter from several Republican members of Congress today urges House Speaker John Boehner to immediately allow a vote on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar discrimination in hiring decisions based on sexual orientation:

As the 113th Congress draws to a close, we respectfully encourage you to support inclusion of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), a commonsense piece of legislation to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as part of any available legislative vehicle including the National Defense Authorization Act.

Here in the United States we value the quality of an individual’s work over who they are. We already protect individuals from discrimination based onrace, color, religion, sex, or national origin. ENDA is necessary for fellow Americans who do not enjoy these same protections. In 29 states, an estimated four million workers can be legally fired because of their sexual orientation. Standing up for the individual liberty of workers is the right thing to do. No one should be denied a job denied a promotion or fired because of whom they are…

As Justin Snow of Washington, D.C. LGBT news publication Metro Weekly reports, this letter was signed by six of the eight Republican co-sponsors of ENDA in the House of Representatives:

The letter was signed by six of ENDA’s eight Republican cosponsors in the House. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fl.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Charlie Dent (Penn.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Jon Runyan (N.J.) attached their names to the letter…

For more than a year, ENDA, which would prohibit most employers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, has been blocked by leadership of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Boehner himself has voiced his opposition to the bill, which he has said is unnecessary. In November of last year, the Senate approved ENDA 64-32 with the support of ten Republicans — the most Senate Republicans to ever vote for a piece of gay rights legislation, let alone one that protects transgender Americans.

…Despite long odds, several LGBT-rights organizations, particularly those focused on winning support among Republican lawmakers, are continuing lobbying efforts on ENDA until the 114th Congress is sworn in next month.

It's simple arithmetic that ENDA would be much easier to pass in the present lame-duck session of Congress than after January, when Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate and expand their House majority by several seats. That's why these Republican ENDA cosponsors are pushing as hard as they can to get the provision attached to anything they can–including the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Congress is working hard to pass before adjournment for the holidays.

But as Snow reports, only six of the eight GOP sponsors of ENDA signed the letter. Who didn't sign, you ask?

Reps. Michael Grimm (N.Y.) and Mike Coffman (Colo.) did not sign the letter.

Now, Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island is facing a criminal investigation over campaign finance violations and tax fraud despite winning re-election last month. So you could reasonably see how Grimm might be indisposed to make waves within the GOP caucus. But what about Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado? Coffman's decision to cosponsor ENDA last April was a major surprise after his longtime stand against any protection for LGBT Americans. Prior to that, Coffman had campaigned strongly against marriage equality in Colorado, voted against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and even served as state chairman for notoriously anti-gay Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign. Coffman's change of heart of ENDA was, as Politico reported at the time, easily attributable to political motives:

The Colorado Republican has reversed positions on immigration and abortion in recent months as he tries to fend off an challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s competitive sixth district.

And…that election is now over. We don't yet know what reason Coffman may have given to refuse to sign this letter calling for an ENDA fast-track, but the effect is the same whatever his excuse: legislation that Coffman claims to support, and earned him significant political credit for supporting, will become much harder to pass when the next Congress convenes in January.

And that appears to be just fine with Mike Coffman.

East High Students Walk Out In Ferguson Protest

UPDATE #2: Four Denver Police officers were injured by a motorist suffering "medical issues" while they were escorting students from downtown Denver back to East High SchoolDenver Post:

The officers and the driver were transported to Denver Health. One officer in critical condition was taken into surgery, Police Chief Robert White said. Another officer had serious injuries. The two other officers were treated for "minor injuries," White said.

White added it is "not our best day."

Four mangled bicycles were seen on the north side of Colfax Avenue between High Street and Williams Street. A nurse on the scene was covered in blood, and a wide area was cordoned off by police.

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UPDATE: FOX 31:

The Denver Post reported about 1,000 students took part in the march.

As they marched, students chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Justice for Michael,” according to several accounts on Twitter.

After reaching Civic Center Park, the crowd moved toward downtown along the 16th Street Mall.  They mostly spread out and dispersed after that.

Around 11:30 a.m., the students regathered at Colfax and Broadway, where they held a 4 1/2-minute moment of silence, marking every hour Brown was in the street. The group then began a march back to the high school.

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Just getting word of this, apparently a huge crowd of students from Denver's East High School have walked out of class this morning, shutting down Colfax Avenue near the Colorado state capitol in protest over the shooting of African-American teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri:

We'll update with coverage once available–looks like a pretty big event.

Another Fake “Concerned Citizen” Celebrates Fracking

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

A press release from energy industry advocacy group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development yesterday discusses a pro-fracking ad (above) that's been playing for a couple of weeks in Colorado:

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) has released a new television commercial featuring Michelle Smith, an organic based farmer from Elbert, Colorado, who relies on income from oil and natural gas development to help sustain her family farming operations. In the advertisement, Smith shares with viewers: 

“Mineral rights make all the difference to our small organic based farm.  Like many Colorado farm-to-table businesses, if we can’t offset operating costs with our minerals, then we’re out of business. Organic operations are expensive. People like us rely on those payments for their family’s healthcare or their kids’ education. An attack on fracking is essentially an attack on landowners like us. Those who would ban fracking ignore our rights, and that just gets my goat.”

…Beyond her message in the commercial, Smith has shared that “as a rancher in Elbert County, Colorado, my family’s livelihood relies on the quality of the pasture that our livestock grazes on. That’s why every decision I make, I make with my ranch’s future in mind,” she says.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post gave this ad favorable treatment in a blog post last month:

A new ad promoting fracking in Colorado features an Elbert County couple who raises goats and farms organically.

The idea of pairing organic farmers and fracking comes from Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

But there's more to the story of Michelle J. Smith, registered Republican of Elbert County, than either CRED or Bartels saw fit to explain:

The Quiat Companies is an innovative investment company, which is comprised of approximately fifty real estate and oil & gas holdings throughout the United States…with over 33 years of professional experience in the oil and gas business, Ms. Smith has been with The Quiat Companies since 1992 focusing on acquisitions, divestitures, and coordinating successful drilling joint ventures. [Pols emphasis] As Land Manager, she is instrumental in managing the nationwide assets of our fifteen oil and gas limited liability companies.

Ms. Smith’s professional experience includes Davis Oil Company (Denver, Colorado) and Anderman Oil Company (also in Denver) as well as acting as an Independent Land Negotiator. She is the president of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Rockies chapter, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Landman (AAPL), Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen (DAPL), board member of Vital for Colorado and a graduate of Cypress College (California).

Just a salt-of-the-earth Colorado farmer–an organic farmer at that–trying to hold down the farm, right? Wrong. Much like the Republican political activists trotted out by Americans for Prosperity to tell their dubious "Obamacare horror stories," "organic farmer" Michelle Smith is about as unbiased a source on fracking as an oil and gas industry lobbyist–which makes sense, since she basically is one.

Your friends seeing this ad on TV probably ought to know that.

Gumming Abortion To Death, Part II: Joke’s On You, Ladies

Abortion-Rights

One of the central issues of the 2014 elections in Colorado was the battle over abortion policy–both at the federal and state levels, where GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner outlasted months of withering attacks on the issue, and voters again rejected a "Personhood" abortion ban ballot measure. Colorado has a long history of support for women's reproductive rights, and the lopsided margins by which Personhood has been defeated here in recent years have made the issue toxic for Republican politicians who used to proudly campaign on their support for banning abortion.

In 2014, however, Republicans successfully blunted the issue of abortion in Colorado–more than that, they managed to turn the debate back on Democrats, successfully countering that liberal "social issue warriors" were wrongly obsessing about a non-issue. Conservative go-to foil on women's issues Laura Carno wrote an op-ed suggesting that the entire question of abortion rights in this year's elections was overblown–declaring flat-out, despite the many avowedly pro-life GOP candidates on the ballot, that Colorado womens' "right to an abortion is not in jeopardy." In the Denver Post's endorsement of Cory Gardner, they claim with no supporting evidence whatsoever that "Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights." Next month, one of the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate's top priorities is a 20-week abortion ban.

In 2006, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez promised to sign an abortion ban in Colorado that would make no exceptions even for cases of rape or incest, and was happy to explain in detail exactly why he thought that was the right thing to do. This year, Beauprez's message on abortion was a complete about-face: "I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice."

Because Beauprez was defeated, and Democrats retained at least partial control of the state legislature, the question of what Republicans in full control would do on abortion isn't going to be tested here. But what's going on elsewhere, in the wake of the GOP's huge gains in state legislatures across America? As Politico's Paige Cunningham reports, all that stuff you heard before the election about abortion rights not being in jeopardy–it's simply not true.

The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion…

Abortion rights advocates have had setbacks in the states for several years, with a surge of legislative activity since 2011. [Pols emphasis] Women seeking abortions may face mandatory waiting periods or ultrasound requirements. Clinics may face stricter building codes or hospital admitting privilege rules they can’t satisfy. Dozens of clinics have shut down in multiple states. Texas, for instance, has fewer than 10 abortion clinics now. A year ago, it had 40.

Republicans now hold two-thirds of the state legislative bodies, after winning control of 11 more chambers. They completely control the legislature in more than half the states, adding Nevada, New Hampshire and West Virginia to that list earlier this month. And they gained two more governor’s seats, so they will hold 31 next year.

Steady Democratic control of Colorado in recent years means we haven't seen the same kinds of proposed restrictions on abortion that have passed in many other states, and the ones that have been introduced have been defeated with enough fanfare to render them political liabilities for Republicans. Despite this, 2014 marked the greatest challenge to Democratic control by Republicans since Democrats took the legislature in 2004–and before the ballots were fully counted, Republicans had a few glorious moments when control of the Colorado House, Senate, and Governor's Mansion were all at least hypothetically in reach.

Today, even with Republicans only in narrow control of the Colorado Senate after last month's elections, a program credited with reducing teen pregnancy by 40% is already in jeopardy. Without more power, there's not much that Republicans in Colorado can do legislatively to further restrict abortion and contraception access–but now that the election is over, it's time to recognize that the downplaying of abortion by the GOP and accommodating local media was enormously deceptive. The truth is, restrictions on reproductive choice are passing across the nation–and if Republicans had taken control of this state as they did so many others in the last two midterm elections, restrictions on abortion rights could well become law in Colorado too.

In that event, a lot of local pundits and media types would owe you an apology.

Tuesday Open Thread

"Any general statement is like a check drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it."

–Ezra Pound

Navy’s Discharge of “Dr. Chaps” Upheld

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Our friends at Right Wing Watch have the latest update today in the continuing story of Colorado's nuttiest Republican Representative-elect, Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt of Colorado House District 15. As followers of a story that has made the trip from fringe sideshow to poster child for the incoming Republican Class of 2014 know, Klingenschmitt is a former Navy chaplain who was discharged after (among many other things) wearing his service uniform to a political media event in contravention of specific orders. Klingenschmitt's discharge from the Navy became part of his campaign message, claiming it was the result of his "praying in Jesus' name" at a demonstration across from the White House in 2005.

Except it wasn't.

Gordon Klingenschmitt, the right-wing televangelist who recently won a seat in the Colorado General Assembly, built a career out of making wildly inaccurate claims about anti-Christian persecution in the U.S. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Klingenschmitt’s entire career as a conservative activist is also based on a persecution story that is completely made-up.

Klingenschmitt, who goes by “Dr. Chaps,” has based his political activism on his own personal story of persecution, claiming that the military censored and fired him because he said the name of Jesus in his prayers as a chaplain. He filed a lawsuit to protect his First Amendment rights and has used his story to win persecution points from the Religious Right and raise lots of money for his group, the Pray In Jesus Name Project.

But as Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State reports, Klingenschmitt lost his lawsuit last week…because the incident never happened.

As we’ve known for several years, Klingenschmitt was not dismissed for using the name of Jesus in a prayer, but for wearing military garb at a political event, in violation of military regulations, among other reasons that had nothing to do with the fact he delivered Christian prayers.

The ruling is worth a read all by itself, including an unflattering description of a Klingenschmitt fire-and-brimstone memorial service while serving aboard the USS Anzio, horrible reviews from fellow sailors–"worst CHAP I have seen in 17 years" reads one–and the details of Klingenschmitt's defiance of orders prohibiting him from speaking to the media in his military uniform. The court concludes:

[T]he Court finds unpersuasive Dr. Klingenschmitt’s argument that his First Amendment right to practice his religious beliefs was infringed by Captain Pyle’s Order that he not wear his uniform to the media event held in Lafayette Park in March 2006. Captain Pyle’s Order was based on Navy regulations that prohibit the wearing of a uniform in connection with political activities…

In short, the record fails to support a showing of any causal connection between any protected activity and Dr. Klingenschmitt’s separation. For that reason, and because his other challenges to the lawfulness of the recertification process are without merit, the Court concludes that the Navy’s decision not to recertify Dr. Klingenschmitt, which resulted in his administrative separation from the Navy, was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor contrary to law.

Klingenschmitt's troubles, based on our experience in the past years or so, would seem to have more to do with his own extreme combative ramblings than anything else. This is a man who claims that both Barack Obama and defeated Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis are "demons," and that only people who are "going to heaven" deserve equal rights from government. Klingenschmitt claims that "Obamacare causes cancer," and before apologizing suggested that Rep. Jared Polis wanted to "join ISIS in beheading Christians."

We always assumed stuff like that was coming out of "Dr. Chaps'" mouth in his Navy days, too.

The upside? Klingenschmitt's story should pair well with another Republican from Colorado Springs, Rep. Janak Joshi, who lost his license to practice medicine before being elected to the legislature in 2010.

Take pride, El Paso County! "Dr. Chaps" looks forward to representing you next.

For If It Prosper, None Dare Call It a “War on Women”

waronwomen

AP via the Denver Post, a familiar 2015 Colorado legislative battleground already taking shape:

Democrats who credit a drop in teen pregnancy to expanding access to long-acting birth control such as intrauterine devices have to persuade Republicans to use state money for contraceptives…

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has provided low-income women access to birth control like IUDs and hormone implants for free or low cost at 68 clinics in the state. But state officials say $5 million is needed to continue the program.

The problem, of course, is that Democrats no longer have full control of the Colorado General Assembly. And that means the decision of whether to continue a program credited with reducing the rate of teen pregnancy in Colorado by 40%, in addition to reducing the number of abortions, is at least partly in the hands of Assistant Senate Majority Leader-elect Kevin Lundberg.

"We are talking about the most critical issue of protecting life or abortion," said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican from Berthoud who will chair the Health and Human Services Committee. Lundberg said he doesn't oppose the use of condoms or pills. But he said IUDs are "abortifacients," meaning they cause abortions.

"That is not medically correct," countered Dr. Larry Wolk, the state's chief medical officer and the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

The thing is, we already know it's not medically correct, we just dealt with the incorrect assertion that interuterine devices (IUDs) are "abortifacients" when failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said as much during a debate against Gov. John Hickenlooper this year. Beauprez was drilled by reproductive health experts for claiming IUDs are "aborifacient" after Hickenlooper cited this same program a successful policy. Other Republican candidates, like U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner desperately trying to convince undecided voters that the whole idea of banning birth control is "crazy," watched in horror as Beauprez at least morally validated the idea of doing just that.

Perhaps the biggest triumph of the 2014 elections in Colorado for Republicans was successfully "gumming to death" the issue of reproductive choice, which had cost them dearly in previous years as Colorado's electorate rejected abortion bans over and over. Led by Cory Gardner's deliberate campaign to "muddy up" the issue enough to blunt Democratic attacks, the GOP's insistence that the "war on women" is fake eventually suckered enough pundits, reporters, and editorial boards to sway conventional wisdom–at least through November 4th.

But as we'll all learn again next month, the "war on women" simply takes a break during election years.

Ferguson Protests Spread Across America, Colorado

A quick roundup on a story that has dominated national headlines since Monday evening and resulted in two consecutive days now of protests in Denver, Colorado Springs, and elsewhere–CNN:

Like Ferguson, outrage over the grand jury's decision escalated from coast to coast, with protests in about 170 cities nationwide.

From New York to Los Angeles and dozens and dozens of cities in between, protesters flooded the streets to denounce the grand jury's decision. Some demonstrations blocked bridges, tunnels and major highways. But the protests were largely peaceful.

"They have given us no justice! We will give them no peace," protesters chanted as they massed in front of the Underground Atlanta shopping mall.

In the New York area, they briefly blocked one of the entrances to the Lincoln Tunnel.

As the Denver Post's Anthony Cotton reports, protests yesterday evening downtown almost got out of hand, with a handful of protesters arrested, but overall stayed peaceful and law-abiding:

Besides the Brown protest, there were banners decrying the July shooting death of Ryan Ronquillo. And after an hour of marching, the protesters ended up at the front doors of the Denver jail, where they repeatedly shouted, "Marvin Booker, Marvin Booker," recalling the inmate who died at the facility in 2010…

Although there were no obvious signs of discord, things did get a bit tense when three armed sheriff's deputies, perhaps disquieted by the size of the gathering, stood on alert just inside the front doors of the jail.

Organizers had planned for the march to conclude at the jail, but a large group continued the protest, moving west on West Colfax Avenue and blocking the viaduct over Interstate 25…[p]olice formed a line to prevent protesters from moving onto the interstate about 8:10 p.m.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports a robust protest there Tuesday:

Hundreds of protesters, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Whose streets? Our streets," marched through downtown Colorado Springs on Tuesday, demanding police reform after a grand jury opted not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teen in Ferguson, Mo…

Clutching a megaphone while blocking Cascade Avenue, Trina Reynolds-Tyler, a Colorado College senior, read a list of demands from FergusonAction.com, which has often helped support protests in Missouri.

Among the demands: Police departments nationwide need to stop using military equipment and weaponry and a U.S. Department of Justice review on racially biased policing across the nation. She said money going to law enforcement needs to be redirected toward community-based alternatives to incarceration.

Other events around the state related to the protests over the police shooting of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown included an apropos forum on race relations in Boulder and a protest in Pueblo organized by the Colorado Progressive Coalition. Also fueling debate locally over police violence and race relations is a new report from Rocky Mountain PBS I-News highlighting racial disparity in Denver police shootings:

At a time when the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has brought tensions between police and minority communities to the forefront, Rocky Mountain PBS I-News has found that racial disparities persist in police shootings in Denver.

Seven of the 33 people shot by Denver police and sheriff’s deputies in the past five years were African American, according to data collected by the Office of the Independent Monitor, a city watchdog. That’s about 21 percent, compared with an overall black population in Denver of 9.7 percent during roughly the same period, according to Census data.

Thirteen of those shot between 2009 and 2013 were Latino, and 12 were white. That means about 39 percent of the shootings involved Latinos, who comprise 32 percent of the population, while 36 percent involved whites, who account for 52 percent of the population.

Whether we like it or not, this is an issue that we need to be talking about in Colorado. So, please do.

Wednesday Open Thread

"Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?"

–Will Rogers

Hick Picks Kathy Green as Communications Director

From the office of the Governor:

Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced that Kathy Green will become communications director and official spokesperson, effective immediately. Green has served as interim communications director since July 2014.

"We were fortunate that Kathy Green joined our team as a interim communications director and during that time we realized we’d be fools to let her go,” said Hickenlooper. “Kathy is a remarkably skilled communicator and meshes seamlessly with our team. She helps bring out the best in all of us.”

Most recently, Green directed marketing and communication efforts for the Colorado Tourism Office and Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT, helping the state integrate media, public relations, and business-to-business marketing programs while supporting consumer-based public relations. Her work earned the agency top recognition from the Business Marketing Association and the global Communicators Awards.

Prior to joining the state, Green worked at the City and County of Denver supporting special media projects under then-Mayor Hickenlooper including the Better Denver Bond program, the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic National Convention and public safety issues. Before joining the public sector, Green owned a consulting firm offering multi-discipline services to clients across industries in both public and private sectors. She holds a journalism degree from Iowa State University.

Maximillian Potter, who took on the dual roles of Communications Director and Senior Media Adviser, will continue on in his Senior Media Adviser role reporting to the governor and will craft overall messaging of the governor’s office. 

This announcement brings some formality to the Communications office, which had been manned (somewhat) by Max Potter following the departure of Eric Brown last summer.