Mike Coffman and the Aurora VA Hospital: Coffman’s Part of the Problem

(Right back at ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Rep. Mike Coffman appeared in Aurora today to grandstand at a U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee field hearing about the troubled VA Hospital project in Aurora, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, released a new report documenting Coffman’s own oversight responsibility over the project, and failure to take action for years despite knowing that massive cost overruns were occurring.

“We all know the situation with the VA hospital in Aurora,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms, “a project that will drag on for years beyond its target completion date and is currently estimated to be a billion dollars over budget. But there are some key facts in this situation that have been conveniently overlooked.”

“Representative Mike Coffman, who represents district where the hospital is being built, has recently become very outspoken about this issue,” said Runyon-Harms. “Coffman can be outraged. He can be frustrated. But he cannot be shocked or surprised when as Chair of the Oversight Committee, he had known this information for years–and until recently has done almost nothing to fix the problem.”

In a report summarizing Rep. Coffman’s statements and actions in response to the Aurora VA Hospital’s cost overruns, ProgressNow Colorado finds that Coffman knew that the price of the new hospital would exceed a billion dollars, hundreds of millions over its original budget, since at least 2013. Coffman participated in the drafting of legislation to address problems identified in early 2013 by the General Accounting Office, but admitted delaying the bill for 16 more months.

Read the report in full here.

“As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Oversight Committee, it has always been Coffman’s responsibility to do something about the problems at the Aurora VA Hospital project,” said Runyon-Harms. “But up until this point, all we’ve gotten is finger pointing, grandstanding, and even attempting to fundraise off of this catastrophe for his re-election. There is plenty of blame to go around for this budget-busting debacle, but Mike Coffman has spent over 5 years on the Armed Services Committee, and over 2 years as the Chair of the VA Oversight Subcommittee. So instead of political grandstands, we call on Coffman to take some responsibility for this problem, and offer real solutions instead of slogans to get it fixed.”

“Coffman is fond of the words ‘lead, follow, or get out of the way,'” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for Coffman to take his own advice.”

Call For Politicians To Boycott Western Conservative Summit

As controversy erupted over the decision by organizers of the Western Conservative Summit to exclude the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans from this year’s conference, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on prospective attendees to cancel their plans to attend.

“At a time in our history when discrimination against gays and lesbians is finally being repudiated, the decision by the Western Conservative Summit to exclude the Log Cabin Republicans is simply unacceptable,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Even many Republicans are shocked by this decision and dismayed by what it means for the party’s future viability. When will the right wing finally understand that bigotry no longer has any place in American society?”

A press release from the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans Wednesday announced that the organizer of the Western Conservative Summit, former Colorado Sen. John Andrews, had “disinvited” the Log Cabin Republicans. Questioned by reporters about this decision, Andrews claimed that the Log Cabin Republicans “exists to redefine the family” and “advocate contrary to our agenda and our core beliefs.” [1]

“If Republican presidential candidates want to be identified as supporters of discrimination just as the 2016 elections are getting underway, the Western Conservative Summit is the perfect venue,” said Runyon-Harms. “If Republicans truly want to succeed in 2016, it’s time to set aside the religious right’s agenda of intolerance and show the voters they can stand up to the bigots in their party. The best way to do that today is to boycott the Western Conservative Summit, where organizers have made it clear they are not ready to give up their prejudice.”

“Colorado Republicans from Congressman Mike Coffman to Colorado Sen. Laura Woods have all claimed they oppose discrimination against anyone,” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for them to walk their talk by boycotting the Western Conservative Summit. Unless the Western Conservative Summit reverses course and allows the Log Cabin Republicans to participate, anyone who attends is legitimizing intolerance–and will pay the price in the next election.”

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Equal Pay Day 2015 In Colorado: We Are The Front Line

As women across America participated in Equal Pay Day 2015 commemorations, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, reflected on the challenges faced by Colorado women even as conservative lawmakers voted to kill our state’s Pay Equity Commission this year.

“The data is clear: in Colorado, women face greater pay inequity than the national average,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “In the last decade, America overall has made some progress close the pay equity gap, but in Colorado the gap has actually grown over the same period.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in late January that women in Colorado earn a median weekly full-time wage of $762, compared to a median weekly wage of $978 for men. Since 2002, the pay equity gap has worsened in Colorado while improving slightly nationwide. [1]

“The choice by conservative lawmakers to kill Colorado’s Pay Equity Commission makes no sense in light of the facts,” said Runyon-Harms. “Closing the pay gap between men and women would mean huge benefits for working families and Colorado’s economy as a whole. Instead of ignoring this problem, Colorado should be leading the charge to solve it. That’s why so many people, including hundreds who signed our petition in support of pay equity, were outraged by the votes this year to kill the Pay Equity Commission. And it’s why voters will hold conservatives accountable at the polls in 2016.”

Help us protect homeowners from shoddy construction

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: 7NEWS’ John Ferrugia with a hard-hitting report last night:

Jennifer Seidman is a lawyer with a major national law firm that has filed many suits against builders for defective work. While conceding that changes in the law affect her business, she says homeowner sometimes have no alternative to suing.

“With arbitration, the homeowners have to pay a private judge and the person that they are paying often times has a relationship with the building industry,” she said.

That’s because the bill makes it clear that people, such as Harris, would not only be prohibited from suing for defective work, they would be limited in the hiring of experts to advise them about defects.

And, they would have to accept the builder’s arbitrator, and pay for the proceedings.

Original post follows.

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I need your help to stop what may be one of the worst bills of the year in the Colorado legislature. Today, a bill will be heard that will weaken the ability of homeowners to hold developers accountable for construction defects.

Contact your senators right now to tell them to vote NO on this bill.

Senate Bill 15-177 would force homeowners and homeowners associations into arbitration over construction defects to multifamily construction. We’ve all heard horror stories about new condo projects in Colorado, like the Beauvallon in Denver, where avoidable defects in construction hurt homeowner property values, caused public safety issues, and turned the condos into money pits. In the case of the Beauvallon, the only way homeowners were able to get help was to have access to the courts to fight the developers of this shoddy construction.

If Senate Bill 177 had been the law when the Beauvallon started leaking, those homeowners wouldn’t have had the power to get justice. The fact is, for most middle class Colorado families, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make. Why would anyone want to give up their rights to hold developers accountable for negligence in the construction of their home?

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Cory Gardner and the #47Traitors

(Cory Gardner’s first mushroom cloud – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Outrageous. Destructive. Beneath contempt. Treason?

Those are the words being used to describe a letter sent by 47 Republican U.S. Senators to the government of Iran in an attempt to undermine negotiations over its nuclear program.

Our new senator, Cory Gardner, signed this letter. Tell Cory Gardner right now to remove his name from the GOP’s Iran letter.

We all know Washington is regularly mired in partisan gridlock, but this is different. By interfering with the diplomatic efforts of the United States and our allies to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Cory Gardner is risking both American lives and the lives of millions of people in the Middle East–and all to score political points. Is this what we want from the Cory Gardner who claimed to be “a new kind of Republican?”

Send a message to Gardner now: let our President do his job. Stop putting lives at risk. Stop embarrassing our country before the eyes of the entire world. Sign on now–and then ask your friends to do the same. We’ll make sure Cory Gardner gets the message loud and clear.

Take action now to protect Colorado’s land, water, and people

A task force of experts, industry representatives, and citizens appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to study the conflicts between local communities and oil and gas drilling submitted their final report Tuesday. Unfortunately, industry representatives on the task force stalled any attempt at real reforms to give local governments a say in oil and gas permitting decisions. This issue is becoming critically important for more and more Coloradans each day as hydraulic fracture drilling, or “fracking,” pushes oil and gas development closer to homes and schools along the Front Range.

Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, one of our state’s foremost progressive leaders, is disappointed that the task force failed to recommend meaningful reforms and has said in news reports that the legislature may need to take action on its own. Take a moment right now to send a message to Speaker Hullinghorst–tell her you’ve got her back as she fights for local control over fracking in Colorado.

This isn’t a fight over “banning fracking.” This is about giving local communities a voice in regulating a heavy industry operating within their boundaries. This is about preserving the rights of homeowners and families to safeguard their health and property. And it’s past time for our elected leaders to get serious about solutions.

Tell Speaker Hullinghorst you’ll stand with her as she takes the next steps to sensibly protect Colorado’s land, water, and people. We’ll share your names and comments with the Speaker’s office, the press, and other public officials.

Colorado Week in Review: February 20th, 2015

Colorado Week in Review

Colorado Week in Review for February 13th, 2015

Colorado Week in Review

Colorado Week in Review for February 6th, 2015

Colorado Week in Review

Not a good start

The 2015 legislative session in Colorado got off to a slow start–but yesterday, the new right wing majority in the Colorado Senate showed everyone their true colors.

In just one day, conservatives in the Colorado Senate did a shocking amount of damage. The state's Pay Equity Commission, which was working to outline best practices to make sure women and men receive equal pay for equal work, was effectively killed in a senate committee. Conservatives also killed a study looking into election modernization systems, another step in their long campaign to make it harder to vote. Another common-sense bill to make sure Colorado's civil unions law works was killed by anti-LGBT Senate Republicans.

Neglecting basic responsibilities and pandering to the far right is not what Senate President Bill Cadman promised he would do. Sign our petition now demanding the Colorado Senate majority stop killing legislation vital to Colorado's economy, voting rights, and basic fairness.

It could get worse. Dozens of great bills are set to be debated in the Colorado Senate in the next few months: relief for credit card holders, student borrowers, families who need child care, and many more. These bills deserve a fair hearing, not to be killed in committees stacked with conservatives before ever reaching the floor of the Senate.

Sign our petition now: tell Bill Cadman and the Colorado Senate Republicans to give every bill a fair hearing.

Three years ago, we watched as another slim Republican majority in the Colorado House broke the rules to kill the 2012 civil unions bill. It took another election, but they lost their majority and civil unions became the law of the land.

If that's what Bill Cadman wants for the Senate, so be it–but here is their chance to do the right thing. Tell Cadman now: give every bill a fair hearing in the Senate.

Thanks for standing up. If we work together instead of against each other, we can make the voters of Colorado proud. That's all I want this legislative session.

Sincerely,

Amy Runyon-Harms

Records Request Reveals Investigation of Pueblo GOP Chair For Election Document Theft

(Nothing up her sleeve! Not sneaky enough – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post's editorial board weighs in:

Chostner's letter says the "evidence would support filing a misdemeanor election offense," but he declined to do so. Why? Undermining election security is a serious matter, and DAs need to impress that upon everyone.

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POLS UPDATE: The Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports:

Becky Mizel, chairman of the Pueblo County Republican Party, received a stern letter from District Attorney Jeff Chostner last month that said video evidence showed she took confidential election records from a Nov. 18 county election canvass board meeting — a misdemeanor charge that Chostner said would not be filed against her because Mizel argued it was inadvertent.

Chostner's letter, dated Dec. 10, acknowledged that Mizel insisted the episode was an accident, but the letter clearly challenged that, citing video records of the meeting…

Chostner's letter said Ortiz provided the canvass board with a "direct recording election" report and an abstract report of results to review. Ortiz advised those at the meeting that those reports could not leave the room.

Chostner's letter said video showed Mizel later putting the documents in her satchel, attempting to leave by a different door than the rest of the people at the meeting, only to find that door locked.

—–

ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, today called on Pueblo Republican Party Chair Becky Mizel to publicly apologize and explain her apparent theft of a confidential election document. ProgressNow Colorado obtained video and documents in an Open Records Act request regarding elections procedures and meetings in Pueblo County.

According to video [1] and documents obtained from the Pueblo District Attorney and Clerk & Recorders offices, available from ProgressNow Colorado upon request, Mizel only narrowly avoided criminal charges related to the disappearance of a document from an election certification meeting on November 18, 2014. The document contained confidential information from ballots cast in person on voting machines.

"The kind of shenanigans we're learning about in Pueblo are shameful and unacceptable," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "As an elected official representing the Republican Party, Mizel should be held to a higher standard. At the very least, Mizel is guilty of juvenile nonsense unworthy of any legitimate stakeholder in our elections. At worst? The Pueblo GOP is not above cheating to achieve their goals."

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What the Lame Duck Session Means to our Federal Courts

After the 2014 Midterm elections in early November, the Senate will return to work for what is commonly called a “lame duck” session. While a “lame duck” session sounds…well…lame, this winter, it must not be an excuse for inaction. Among other pieces of business, there are many judicial nominees that must get confirmed to fill vacancies on our nation’s federal courts and keep the wheels of justice moving. 

The Senate has a constitutional duty to advise and consent on the President’s nominees to serve as judges on our Nation’s federal courts. Going into the 2014 lame duck period, there are 64 current judicial vacancies and 34 nominees pending in the Senate. It is vital for the Senate to stay in session until every judicial nominee on the floor gets a yes-or-no vote. If these judges are not confirmed, our federal courts will not be able handle the issues – from marriage equality to voting rights to health care to immigration – that affect all of us.

Click here to tell our Colorado Senators to make judicial nominations a priority during the lame duck session.

Although Senators may want to get home for the holidays, Senators from both parties should stay in DC and put aside political differences to confirm needed judges. There is a historical precedent for this: In 2010 and 2012 lame duck sessions, a total of 32 judicial nominees were confirmed. Senators should apply a similar focus this session. In the 2002 lame duck session, Democrats controlled the Senate. In a spirit of bipartisanship, even though they were the opposition party, they nonetheless confirmed 20 of President Bush’s judicial nominees. Republicans today should put aside politics and get to work to get nominees waiting for a vote confirmed. 

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Equality at last: but don’t forget

What happened yesterday was a very big deal.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the appeal of Utah's same-sex marriage ban. Because Colorado is part of the same group of states as Utah in the federal appeals court system, this means that Colorado's same-sex marriage law has also been struck down as unconstitutional.

After years of struggle for equality, committed same-sex couples in Colorado are finally seeing their fundamental rights acknowledged once and for all. Today is a day to celebrate.

But as we celebrate this historic victory for equality, not everyone is celebrating. Here in Colorado, politicians who have fought against marriage equality don't have much to say today. Bob Beauprez, who once claimed that "proponents of gay marriage want to tear apart the institution of traditional marriage itself," has yet to release a statement on yesterday's ruling. Cory Gardner even voted against allowing same-sex couples to have joint custody of children, which has been a settled matter in Colorado for years.

While we congratulate our LGBT friends, neighbors, and family members on their historic victory, it's important to remember that two politicians vying to represent Colorado are on the wrong side of history–and we won't forget.

Years from now, it will be considered bizarre that anyone would have opposed the right of all committed couples to marry. I'd like to believe that those who opposed marriage equality will apologize some day to the Americans whose rights they refused to acknowledge until the courts forced them. Until that happens, though, we have to hold them accountable.

Send a message right now to Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner: they were wrong about marriage equality, and it's time to admit it. We'll share your names and comments with Beauprez, Gardner, the press, and other public officials.

And today, take a moment to reflect on how far we've come as a nation. Times like these make me so proud to be an American. The American Dream is big enough for every family, and that should give us all hope. Thanks for being on the side of equality when it mattered most.

Beauprez’s Shame

Just when you thought you knew everything about Bob Beauprez, it gets even worse.

During Beauprez's last run for governor, he proved himself to be hopelessly out of touch on issues that matter to women voters. Beauprez was even forced to apologize for claiming in a Colorado Public Radio interview that 70% of African American pregnancies end in abortion–a claim which is ridiculous, offensive, and bigoted in the extreme.

Another portion of this same interview was published this week. Here is what Beauprez says about abortion, even in cases of rape:

RYAN WARNER: A sixteen-year-old girl is raped. She and her parents want to get an abortion for her. They would pay for it, it wouldn't be state dollars. You would support a law preventing her from getting an abortion under those circumstances?

BOB BEAUPREZ: Yes, and I'll tell you very simply why.

WARNER: Please.

BEAUPREZ: I don't think it's the child's fault. And I think we either protect life — all life, especially the most innocent of life — or we don't. The situations of rape or incest, and pregnancies resulting from, are relatively few…

Tell Beauprez right now: this is totally unacceptable.

Not since Todd Akin said that rape victims "have ways" of preventing pregnancy have I heard such a sickeningly offensive comment from a politician. This morning, I hosted a press call with Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an OB/GYN doctor and Family Planning Fellow, as well as a brave survivor of sexual assault to respond to Beauprez's horrifying remarks. You can listen to the recording here.

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No Means No: Fight Colorado’s Amendment 67

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 

All across the country, women are fighting for control of their own bodies, to make their own choices. Access to birth control, safe, legal abortion options, the ability to decide when, and if, to have children—these rights seem to be under constant attack.

Nowhere is the fight fought harder than here in Colorado. Personhood USA, the leading group in the country working to ban all abortion by giving rights to a fertilized egg, is based right here in Colorado.

The polling has shown that if Amendment 67 were voted on right now, it would pass and Colorado would face the harshest restrictions on women’s rights in the country.

Personhood USA has gotten more savvy each year they bring their “Personhood” measure forward. They only talk about “protecting the life of a pregnant women”. The ballot language is confusing and misleading and right now it is working. Polling shows Amendment 67 would pass if it were voted on today.

Which means we MUST reach each and every voter in Colorado and educate them about what Amendment 67 would really do. Ban all abortions. Outlaw common forms of birth control. Criminalize women.

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