Disconcerting

The Senate narrowly defeated a bill calling on the President to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  While the bill was introduced by Democratic Senator, Mary Landrieu, it got the vote of all the Senate Republicans and only a couple of Democrats.  But one of them was none other than our own, Michael Bennet.  Is this website going to even mention that fact?  Are you going to take a position on Sen. Bennet's vote.  I anxiously await your response.

Where are Udall and Bennet?

Twenty-nine senators signed a letter to President Obama recently urging him to leave Social Security and Medicare “off the table” when dicussing  budget cuts and deficit reduction with Republicans.  Their concern is that Obama will try to strike some kind of “bipartisan grand bargain” in an effort to avoid going off the fiscal cliff.  This sounds troublingly familiar and I hope the President does not go there.  But so far two important  names have not been affixed to that letter:  Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.  So, I’m asking the two of you here to sign on now.  If you can’t do that, then please have the good sense to know that voting in favor of any kind of “hard-fought compromise” will be met with a huge backlash that will not be pretty for your political futures.  Just saying……

Union Busting in Douglas County

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



On Sept.5, the Douglas County Board of Education passed a resolution to no longer negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union, the DCF. This is just one more example of the nationwide Republican plan to break public employee unions. Some time ago the union asked the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute, but so far they have done nothing.  So the time has come to tell Gov. John Hickenlooper to direct the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute as the union has requested.

That’s why I created a petition to Governor John Hickenlooper, which says:

“Gov. Hickenlooper, It is time for you to take a stand for workers’ rights by ordering the Colorado Dept. of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute between the Douglas County School Federation of Teachers and the DCSD Board of Education, and put an end to their union-busting tactics.”

Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:

http://signon.org/sign/stop-th…  

Douglas County Teachers Need Our Help

I made a call on Wednesday to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  I wanted to ask Executive Director, Ellen Golombek, whether she plans to involve her office in the dispute between the Douglas County Board of Education and the teachers’ union, the Douglas County Federation.  The Federation has formally asked for their help.  This is how far I got:

Recording:  ”You have reached the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment general information line.  If your call is regarding an unemployment insurance claim, please hang up and call 303-318-9000.  For all other questions, please press 1 now.”  (The message is then repeated in Spanish.)

I press 1.  It rings once, twice, three times, four times.  Oh boy, I’m finally going to get to talk to a live person!  My palms are sweating in anticipation.

Recording:  ”You have reached the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  If you are trying to reach unemployment, please hang up and call 303-318-9000.  You will not be able to leave a message at this time.  Please try your call again later.  Thank you.”

That was it.  So much for my input as a citizen.

But I was undaunted in my mission.  So I called the Citizens’ Advocate office in the Governor’s office and explained what happened to the nice person who answered the phone.  He took my name and number and promised that someone from the Citizens’ Advocate’s office in the Department of Labor and Employment would get back to me with a number to call.  Sure enough, Thursday morning there was a message waiting for me.  It was the phone number I was waiting for, 303-318-8020. With great anticipation I called it and this is what I heard:

Recording:  ”You have reached the Executive Director’s office of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  If your call is related to an unemployment insurance claim, please listen to this message in its entirely.  Otherwise you may bypass this greeting by pressing the ‘pound’ key now.”

Since my message was not related to unemployment insurance, I pressed the “pound” key.  This is what I heard:  

(BEEP…………………………..Silence).  Finally I realized that I was supposed to leave a message.  So I quickly gave my name, address and phone number and stated that I had two questions.  First, why can’t the Department of Labor and Employment have at least one person in their office who can pick up a telephone and answer a question?  Second, I want to know if Executive Director Golombek is going to involve the Department in the dispute between the Douglas County Board of Education and the Douglas County Federation since the Federation asked for her office’s involvement.

That was at 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

4:00 p.m.: Still waiting for that call back.

Friday, 4:00 p.m.:  Still waiting for that call back.

I guess you get my point.  They won’t be calling me back, today or any day.  And I find that very troubling for a couple of reasons.

The first is that this is a department of our state government that evidently doesn’t think it’s important to communicate with its citizenry.  Leave a message and we’ll get back to you (just kidding – we really won’t) is not my idea of being accountable to the public.  They can’t assign one person in the office to answer the phone?  Give me a break!

The more important question, however, has to do with the subject matter of my inquiry.  In the past few months, the Douglas County Board of Education has totally turned its back on any serious negotiation and interaction with their officially recognized employee union, the Douglas County Federation.  Most recently they have dropped their support of funding the DCF leadership positions and collecting union dues from employees.  The Federation has asked the Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in this dispute and has been met with as much silence as I have when I leave my telephone messages.

I don’t understand this.  Ellen Golombek, the Executive Director of the DLE is a former SEIU president and past president of the Colorado AFL-CIO.  She’s a union person.  She was appointed by a Democratic governor.

Ah, yes, the “Democratic” governor.  That would be John Hickenlooper, right?  Do you suppose he has something to do with Ms. Golombek’s silence on this issue?  Like his predecessor, Gov. Hickenlooper doesn’t appear to be a big supporter of organized labor.  Has he made a decision to just duck this issue, stay out of the limelight, and let the Republican school board in Douglas County break the back of this union?  Does he think that that’s the politically expedient thing to do?  It sure looks that way.

On Monday, I’m going to attempt to speak with Ellen Golombek in person in her office in downtown Denver.  I’m going to ask her if she plans to honor the request of the Douglas County Federation.  We’ll see how it goes.  In the meantime you can go to the Facebook page entitled, “SPEAK for DCSD” and read what folks in Douglas County are saying about the state of this once great school district.

Gun Control Not A New Issue

The issue of gun control is in the news a lot right now.  But gun control is not a new issue.  It’s been around a long time.  For example, in 1881, Tombstone, Arizona had an ordinance that prohibited anyone from carrying weapons within the town limits.  One day a group of cowboys, looking for a fight, flaunted their weapons openly around town, essentially daring the town marshal to take them away.  The town marshal at the time was a guy named Virgil Earp.  He took the bait and deputized his two brothers, Wyatt and Morgan, as well as an alcoholic gambler by the name of Doc Holliday, to join him in disarming the cowboys.  They found them loitering in an empty lot behind a local livery stable.  When the cowboys wouldn’t give up their weapons, the shooting began.  It became known as “The Gunfight at the OK Corral.”  Just thought you ought to know.

President Obama’s Call for Tax Fairness

President Obama just made his pitch to Congress and the American people to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, but not for folks making $250K a year.  Mitt Romney and the Republicans promptly countered with their call to extend the Bush tax cuts for “all Americans.”  To which I say, “Wait a minute.”

Aren’t Republicans always whining that 49% of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes?  If that’s the case, then “all Americans” will not benefit from extending the tax cuts across the board for everyone.  As I see it, a tax cut for people who don’t pay any federal income taxes is no tax cut at all.  I remember when the Bush tax cuts went into effect.  I joked that I was going to take my family out for a pizza with the amount of money I “saved.”  So if the cuts expire, we’ll have to do with a frozen pizza at home.  But letting those cuts expire for people making over $250 a year will do a great deal to bring down our budget deficit.

My guess is that Congressional Republicans are scheming at this minute to come up with a way to sabotage the President’s plan rather than find a way to compromise of this issue.  They will claim that his plan will raise taxes on the “job creators.”  To which I say two things.  First, one must learn how to speak in Republican code.  Whenever you hear them say, “job creators,” substitute the words “rich people.”  Then you get their real message.  Secondly, if the Bush tax cuts were supposed to create jobs, where are they?  Oh yeah, Mitt Romney and friends created them alright – in China and India.

As I understand it this plot is only going to thicken in the coming months.  Unless Congressional Democrats and Republicans can come up with a budget/deficit compromise in the next few months, there will be hell to pay come January 2, 2013 – at least if you’re a Republican member of Congress.  A so-called “sequestration” budget will kick in automatically.  The Bush tax cuts will expire and massive, automatic spending cuts will kick in.  The defense budget will be particularly hard hit with almost fifty percent of the cuts while Social Security and Medicaid would be spared entirely.  So my question to Democratic legislators is, “Who needs to ‘give’ the most in this situation?”  It seems to me it’s the Republicans for one very simple reason.

When the automatic spending cuts take effect in January, the biggest bite will come out of one of the Republicans’ most sacred cows, the defense budget.  Lots of useless projects will be scuttled and thousands of war profiteers will be out of work.  They may even have to cut back on their lobbying budgets and and their campaign contributions.  Oh, well.  As it stands right now, Republicans in Congress won’t even cut programs that the Defense Department doesn’t want, so let the automatic cuts do the work for them.

Finally, the most positive outcome of the sequestration will be to our growing budget deficit.  The deficit will shrink.  President Obama and Democrats in Congress can take credit for being the fiscally responsible ones in Washington.  And Republicans will face the prospect of some very unhappy constituencies back home.

So where is the pressure for any compromise in Congress when it comes to  the Bush tax cuts?  It doesn’t seem to me that it rests on the Democrats.  Let’s hope they stand their ground.

Mitt, Republicans and Medicare

I went on Medicare yesterday.  You know Medicare – the single-payer healthcare system for America’s senior citizens.  I like Medicare.  I gives me peace of mind – not just because I know I  won’t have to file for bankruptcy if I should someday get really sick and not be able to pay for treatment.  More importantly, I don’t have to worry that someday my kids won’t have to possibly choose between helping me pay for that treatment or helping their kids pay for college.  Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress want to do away with Medicare as we know it.  They have already voted to approve the Paul Ryan budget in the House of Representatives which does just that.  Fortunately it couldn’t pass the Senate.  But Mitt Romney has said that as President, he would approve the Ryan budget.  If that happens, it’s good-bye Medicare.  I’m not rich enough to live in Mitt Romney’s America.  I hope more people realize that they aren’t rich enough either.

Let’s Stop the Legalized Bribery


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I don’t know about you, but I am extremely concerned about the corruptive influence that campaign contributions are having on our political system.  As I see it, our current campaign finance system amounts to nothing more than legalized bribery.  So I am writing with a question, and perhaps a suggestion, about another way to approach the problem.

What I see happening right now is a battle between those who think there need to be limits placed on the donors and the recipients of campaign donations.  The idea is to stem the flow of cash going to politicians.  This is countered by those who think that such limits represent a curb on their “freedom of speech.”  And, in light of the recent Citizens United decision, it appears that they are winning the debate.

My question to you is, has anyone tried approaching this problem from a different direction – as a matter of ethics?  It seems to me that when a politician accepts campaign donations from a group or individual and then turns around and votes on issues that directly affect that group or individual, that represents unethical behavior.  So my proposal would be this.  Through the ballot initiative process, pass a law that requires a politician to recuse himself from voting on any issue that would have a direct impact on the interests of a campaign donor.  In fact, I would go so far as to make it a felony if they don’t.  This would immediately dry up the amount of special interest money pouring into campaign coffers and pave the way for public funding of elections.  It’s a simple idea that would be very effective in curbing the corruptive influence of money in politics.  In fact, just this week I watched as our own senator, Michael Bennet, someone who has taken large amounts of campaign money from Wall Street banks, vote to continue to allow banks to charge excessive debit card fees that ultimately hurt middle class Americans.  Had such ethics legislation been in effect, he would not have been allowed by law to do so.

I would appreciate hearing from you about this idea.  Please understand that I have absolutely no experience in these matters.  I’m simply a retired guy with time to think about the terrible direction that I see our country heading and would like to do something about it.  It seems to me that we may not be able to limit the cash going into the system, but we can limit the votes going out.

Whether you tend to lean to the left or to the right, I look  forward to hearing from you.

What do you think about this idea?

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Douglas County Votes for Vouchers

Sometime in the near future, the Douglas County School District is going to ask the State Board of Education for about $2 million in addition to what they would normally be allocated for next year.  ”And what are they going to do with this extra money?” you ask.  They’re going to turn around and give it to parents, in the form of a voucher, so they can send their kids to pricey private and parochial schools.

Where Douglas County thinks the state is going to get this money is anybody’s guess, especially since Gov. Hickenlooper just announced that he will recommend that the state cut  $322 million to the K-12 education budget next year.  I personally find it outrageous that, at a time when districts everywhere are scrambling just to make ends meet that the wealthiest district in the state decides to put greed ahead of need.

I hope that ColoradoPols readers from around the state will ask themselves one question.  What could our school district do with an extra $2 million next year?  Do you really want to see tax money, or should I say your money, spent in this way?  I don’t think so.  I urge you to call on your elected representatives in the Colorado legislature and tell them to put a stop to this misguided, wasteful, and irresponsible effort before it starts.

When Will the Denver Post Get It Right?

I don’t understand why the Denver Post editorial board insists that Governor Hickenlooper repeal Governor Ritter’s decision to allow state workers to organize and collectively bargain.  

It sounds as though they are saying that state workers are the reason for the fiscal mess that we’re in right now.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Why don’t they go after the true cause of our problem and insist that President Obama order the justice department to begin investigations into the Wall Street bankers who stole hundreds of billions of dollars from our treasury and left middle class workers, including public employees, stuck with the tab?  Maybe they should shine a little light on the politicians who take their money and do their bidding before they talk about taking away collective bargaining rights.  I’d like to see a few of the real culprits frog-marched out of their thief dens with the cameras rolling.  It was their criminal behavior that was the source of this problem.  There were many things that Gov. Ritter did (or didn’t do) that I didn’t agree with.  But he got it right on this issue.  The Post just doesn’t get it.

It’s Time to “Walk Like an Egyptian”

I opened my paper this morning to read that Governor Chickenlooper has decided to take the easy way out of our budget mess and dump it on  the backs of our kids.  Why not?  They can’t vote and they don’t have any money to make campaign contributions.  Can you imagine if Governor Tancredo or Governor Maes had made such a suggestion?  Progressives from around the state would be all over them like white on rice.  But what do we hear when Governor Chickenlooper does it?  The silence is deafening.  My hope is that the silence is only temporary and only because people are still in shock that a Democrat would propose a budget like this one.

Where was the governor’s spine in this proposal?  I grew up in a time when Democrats were fighters who stood up for the poor and the middle-class.  They worked to see that all kids could count on a strong educational system as their ticket to a better life than what their parents had.  They stood up to powerful, monied interests and expected that those who were fortunate enough to prosper in this country paid their fair share, and maybe even a little more, to help the less fortunate have a chance.

But I didn’t see that today.  And it isn’t like the Governor didn’t have any choice.  He could have paired his budget recommendations with an endorsement of the ballot measure put forth by the Colorado Center for Law and Policy for a graduated state income tax.  Their proposal would drop the rate for the bottom 72% of Colorado residents and raise them for the other 28% on a graduated basis based on their means.  Or he could have been really brave and took the opportunity that this draconian budget presented to suggest that it’s time to finally repeal the Tabor Amendment and give responsibility for spending and taxation back to the state legislature where it belongs.  But instead he took the “chicken” way out.

This guy’s only been in office a month and I already really don’t like him.  From what I’ve seen so far, he’s a rich, opportunistic Republican masquerading as a Democrat who snuck into the governor’s mansion when two right-wing wackos combined to make him look like a good choice.  Shame on me for getting suckered.  But I guarantee I won’t be suckered again.  I won’t vote for this guy again unless he reverses his course.  And I don’t see that happening.  If I’m lucky, a good progressive will step up and challenge him in the next primary.  In that case, I will even re-register as a Democrat so I can vote him out.

But until then, I  think the time is quickly approaching for the people to take to the streets.  I think it’s time for public employees, especially teachers, to start staging sit-ins, sick-ins and slow-downs.  I think its time for high school and university students to walk out of classes and take to the streets in front of our state capitol so our legislators and our governor can see, graphically and personally, just how fed up people are becoming with the greedy, me-first, screw-everybody-else attitude that has pervaded our political system for the last thirty years.  As an old, draft-dodging, former hippie I remember when taking to the streets and sitting in government offices got people’s attention and produced positive changes.  It’s time to resurrect some of those methods.   It’s time to “walk like an Egyptian.”

Republican Shenanigans in Douglas County

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



I’m wondering how many ColoradoPols readers have heard about the effort by the Douglas County Board of Education to adopt a school voucher program known as the Option Certificate Program.  It appears that the school board is intent on putting this program into practice next school year in spite of its dubious legality and over the concerns and objections of a large segment of the population in Douglas County.  You may be asking yourself what this has to do with you if you don’t live in Douglas County.  The answer is, plenty if you pay taxes in Colorado.

This move by the Douglas County School Board is not just a local Douglas County issue.  According to the plan, parents who want to send their children to private or parochial schools in Douglas County will apply and receive an Option Certificate (voucher) to help them pay tuition at a participating school.  The voucher would be equal to 75% of the per pupil revenue that the district receives from the state, currently about $5000 per student.  If, next school year for example, one thousand students participate in the program, Douglas County would receive approximately $5 million from the State in addition to its normal allocation.  What that means is that people who live in Holyoke, Holly, Hayden or Hermosa or anywhere else will pay taxes (income, sales, excise and more) to the State of Colorado and some of that money will eventually make its way to Douglas County where wealthy parents will use it to send their kids to private schools.    When I say “that money” I really mean “your money.”

Last year, four members of the Douglas County School Board were elected as a self-declared Republican slate and had the official backing of the Republican Party.  School vouchers have always been a key piece of the Republican agenda.  Now a determined effort is underway to put that piece into place in Douglas County at the expense of every taxpayer in the state.  And, since the incoming Speaker of the Colorado House is both a Republican and a resident of Douglas County, don’t be surprised if the program should get some support from the legislature.

I hope Pols readers will take an interest in this issue and consider what it means to them.  What could your school district do with an additional $5 million?  Do you really want to see your tax dollars being funneled to one of the wealthiest school districts in the state and given to parents so they can send their kids to pricey private schools at a time when families are struggling just to make ends meet?  I don’t think so.  I urge each one of you to call your state legislators and pressure them to put a stop to this misguided effort.  Also feel free to to forward a link to this article to anyone who you think should know about it.

In a Quandry Over Michael Bennet


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( – promoted by DavidThi808)



I’m really struggling with what to do about Sen. Michael Bennet.  Nine months ago, before I learned where he was getting his money and how that was influencing his votes, I was a Bennet supporter.  I even attended a caucus training session for Bennet.  Then, when I came to the realization that he was a corporate sellout and that his call for a public healthcare option was a nothing more than a cheap political ploy, I switched my allegiance to Andrew Romanoff.  Then came the primary and Bennet won.  ”OK,” I said to myself, “I won’t work for Bennet and won’t give him any money (he gets enough from the banks and the oil companies anyway), but I’ll hold my nose and vote for him in November.

Then yesterday Sen. Bennet announced that he would not support President Obama’s plan for more stimulus spending on infrastructure improvements.  But he would support the myriad of business tax breaks contained in the plan.  In other words, forget about putting people back to work, but make sure your corporate donors get their share of the pie.  And I thought to myself, “That’s it.  I’m not voting for this schmuck!”  That’s where I was when I went to bed last night.

Then this morning I thought about it some more and decided that I am really in a quandry about what to do about Michael Bennet.  As I see it, right now I have three choices: a) hold my nose and vote for Bennet; b) write in Andrew Romanoff or somebody else, or: c) not vote for anybody (since there’s no way in hell I would ever vote for Buck).

I consider myself a progressive, but I’m not sure that I consider myself a Democrat any longer.  I’m thinking seriously about changing my party affiliation to Independent.  And I am of the belief that Sen. Bennet is assuming that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is going to vote for him no matter what because they really don’t have any other choice.  And I really hate to think that my vote is being taken for granted.

So right now I am undecided about what I am going to do come November.  And I am hoping that somebody out there will offer me some bit of wisdom that will help me make  a decision about what to do.  I’m really fed up!

What are you going to do in November?

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Harry Reid Needs Your Help

Harry Reid has a serious problem on his hands.  He is up for re-election in 2010 and he isn’t faring very well in the polls in his home state of Nevada.  A recent Rasmussen poll (12/11/09) shows him trailing all three of the potential republican challengers for his seat next year.  Interestingly, his “unfavorable” rating, compared to his competitors is a strikingly high 49%.  What could cause so many people to look so unfavorably on the mild-mannered Senator Reid?

While I can’t speak for the voters of Nevada, I can speak for myself.  And when I think of Harry Reid, when I activate my “stream of consciousness,” the following words just kind of jump out of me: milktoast, weenie, pussy, spineless, and pacifier.  That’s my impression of Harry Reid.  And I have a strong feeling that that’s also the impression he leaves with a lot of people, including progressives like me who saw him kissing (instead of kicking) the asses of people like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Rahm Emanuel this past week.

Let’s face it, folks.  Harry Reid has a huge image problem, brought on largely by himself with some really bad advice thrown in by those in whom he confides.  And if good ‘ol Harry doesn’t fix his problem fast, I predict that a year from now he’ll be cleaning out his desk and preparing to hand over his gavel to his successor.  And I would truly hate to see that happen for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, I think that at his core, Harry Reid is truly a kind and compassionate man who puts his country first.  He wants to help our young President succeed and he tries his damnedest to do a good job.  But he’s just too nice.  I also want to see him get reelected because even a wuss of a Democratic senator is better than any “compassionate coservative” Republican asshole who would replace him.  Remember, Obama has a long list of agenda items and court appointments ahead of him.

So here’s what I’m going to do first thing Monday morning.  I’m going to call Senator Reid’s office and suggest that he do two things.  First, he needs to strip Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  That alone will not only be doing what’s best for the country, it will be good for the Democratic party by making the Lincoln’s, the Landrieu’s and the Nelson’s think twice about bucking the majority leader.  But it will also do a lot to promote a new image for Harry Reid as a tough, no nonsense leader.  My second suggestion will be that Senator Reid introduce a change in the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to end debate (known as “cloture”).  After all, the Republicans are abusing it terribly.  There have been more filibusters in this session of Congress than in any other Congress in U.S. history.  And just like one would deal with a spoiled teenager who abused a privilege by taking it away, Harry Reid should take away the “privilege” that Republicans are abusing by trying to stall or kill every important piece of legislation that comes before them by using the filibuster.   I would prefer that 51 votes be used to end debate, but could live with a compomise of 55 votes.  That again would be doing what’s best for the country, for the party and especially for Harry Reid.  It would overnight disempower the intransigent minority and it would get things moving.  We would no longer have a “do nothing” Congress.  And Harry Reid’s popularity in the polls, as a consequence of doing not only the right thing, but also the courageous thing would quickly rise.  So if you feel like doing your part to help Senator Reid, why don’t you join me tomorrow?  The phone number for his Washing office is (202) 224-3542.  Give him a jingle and help him out.