Where is Michael Bennet on Tax Extenders and another Wall Street Insider at Treasury?

Colorado's soon to be only Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Michael Bennet, is going to have to make some tough decisions soon. By most accounts, the planning for 2016's election is already underway, with larger strategies that will have to be make public being dissected and fine-tuned. 

Bennet has played it fairly safe throughout his career and managed to win a not so easy election last time. He figured out the P.R. part of his job quite adeptly: a feint to the left on the public option (where he ended up doing nothing) was matched with a blatant give to the right on union "card check" legislation.

Playing the dispassionate "third way" type along with small-ball stuff for Colorado and consistent whining about DC's Republican-rooted dysfunction (both sides don't "do it", Michael. -z) rounds out a conventional term by a conventional politician subscribed to all the standard Democratic political conventions of the last several years.

I don't think those conventions will hold the last 2 years of Obama's presidency. I'm not the only one who thinks that way; and voters surely rejected those conventions in the election we just witnessed. How else to explain why progressive policies won while candidates who ignored them – Landrieu, Udall, et. al - didn't? (That's a rhetorical question, CPOLS. cheeky)

This makes Michael Bennet's next public pronouncements, on tax extenders for Big Corporations and (maybe) the Middle Class, and another Wall Street Insider nominated by President Obama, all the more important:

Only progressives are opposed to the rich-people's gifts. So, progressives — Merkley, Warren, Reid (are you with us?) and friends — why not play a strong game instead of a weak one? 

Instead of surrendering almost everything you care about to get the least bit of something, progressives should threaten everything the other side wants and frankly, call their money-loving bluff. The White House wants the rich to have these gifts in their stocking; all Senate Republicans agree; and so does every corporate-loving Democrat (like "sorry for playing hard" Michael Bennet). Make the other side fight for the money, and look like it.

Could progressives kill the whole deal if they don't get what they want? If you put me in charge of the Open Rebellion insurgency, I'd try. After all, the entire left press is on your side — consider that Volsky's source could already be Senate progressives. In addition, the issue is hugely visible. And even if you lose, you'll get the best deal possible, not the worst one available. Just say to the other three players:

"Progressives in the Senate stand for working people and those struggling with poverty. The deal on the table is unacceptable in every way. We would rather have no deal than the one on offer. If you want our vote, put the deal on the table in 2014 that we voted for in 2013. That way everyone wins. That or nothing from us."

The White House and less-progressive senators will play the kitten card and complain, "But what about the poor?" You then say: 

"We care as much as you do. In fact, we care so much about the poor, we want the best deal possible, not the worst."

"Triangulate this," in other words. The White House has already come out against the size of the "bonanza." This offers them a chance to look even better by siding with you (they've already promised a veto, your own bottom line) — and at the same time, shows them a corner and offers a paint brush if they don't. I think this is worth a test. 

Progressives who really care about people are always blackmailed — far too successfully in my opinion — with a "kitten held hostage" as I alluded to above. Here the kitten (and believe me, kitten lives are valuable) is a set of tax breaks for the poor and renewable energy credits, items of real value. But the only way to end blackmail is to walk away from it. "Do you love your kitten as much as we love ours? Let's find out. No kitten needs to suffer in this deal." 

Bennet can keep doing what he's done in the past, and start lining up his post-Senate gig, or he can come out like a proud, progressive Democrat, and start fighting for more than just the minimum that it takes to be called a Democrat these days………which hasn't been a whole hell of a lot up to now.

 

Landrieu’s Craven Keystone Clamor: Thank God That’s Over

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

USA TODAY:

The U.S. Senate defeated a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, delivering a blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., by members of her own party…

The bill failed to overcome a 60-vote threshold for passage by a narrow 59-41 decision. All 45 Republican senators voted for it, but Landrieu could not clinch the necessary last Democratic vote.

Thirteen Democrats voted with Landrieu, including outgoing Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and John Walsh of Montana. Additional Democratic votes came from Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Landrieu is locked in a Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. The pipeline vote has become a political issue in the race, where the state's oil and gas industry is supportive of the pipeline's construction and both candidates are avid supporters. The 1,200-mile proposed crude-oil pipeline would help connect existing pipelines from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols has more on the split vote by Colorado's two Senators, with outgoing Sen. Mark Udall cancelling out Sen. Michael Bennet's "yes":

“Senator Bennet voted in support of the Landrieu bill,” Bozzi said. “He would prefer that instead of focusing our political debate on a narrow issue that we develop a broad and comprehensive energy strategy to reduce carbon pollution and support renewable energy. He believes we should take aggressive action to curb climate change and support the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Bennet’s decision to vote with 13 other Democrats and all senate Republicans only strengthens his centrist credentials, which serve him well in a purple state like Colorado, although conservationist Democrats weren’t pleased about it.

“We applaud Senator Udall for opposing the pipeline and are disappointed that Senator Bennet supported this ill conceived project,” said Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith. [Pols emphasis]

As we've discussed in this space when the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has come up in Colorado politics, there's an enormous amount of hype surrounding this issue, most of it from the energy industry but a little from the left as well. The claims from Sen.-elect Cory Gardner this year that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs in Colorado were just silly–the pipeline never enters our state, and Colorado's fully employed oil and gas industry is short of qualified workers as it is. In terms of jobs across the country, the temporary construction jobs the pipeline would create give way to just a few dozen positions needed to actually operate the pipeline once it's built. As for economic benefit for Colorado from the oil to be shipped via the Keystone XL, there isn't any: we already have a pipeline from Alberta to Commerce City, and the routing of more Canadian supplies to the Gulf Coast for export (which is what the Keystone XL is actually for, in case you didn't know) is expected to result in an increase in gas prices in Colorado and the central United States.

We prefer to stick with these practical economic arguments as they're in our experience the most broadly accepted–but from here you can certainly get into issues like the environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska the pipeline is set to cross, or the role this vast supply of dirty Canadian tar sands could play in global climate change. The bottom line is, any way you slice it there's very little real incentive for Coloradans to support the Keystone XL pipeline. On the other hand, we don't see the Keystone XL as the end of the world, either–it's the fourth stage of a project that already connects Canadian oil supplies to American and export markets.

So why did Sen. Michael Bennet vote for the pipeline yesterday? He's come out previously as a supporter, but it needs to be kept in mind that the whole purpose of yesterday's misguided exercise was to provide political cover to endangered Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. Facing likely defeat in a runoff next month, Landrieu has unapologetically banked her political survival on getting the Keystone XL bill through the Senate, even though President Barack Obama had already promised to veto it. The political wisdom of this was always dubious in our view, but Harry Reid scheduled the vote–and as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), it's not like Bennet would have left her hanging.

The only thing we can add looking ahead is, Stokols' "Big Oil love is good Colorado politics" presumption is not something we would count on beyond the rare figures who have able to pull it off–Gov. John Hickenlooper comes to mind with some obvious caveats, or former Interior Secretary Ken "Land, Water, and People" Salazar. As polling over this year's abortive local control ballot measures showed, there is a great deal of concern about the issue among Colorado voters, and it's not going away. We're in no position to predict what will happen on energy in Colorado over the next two years, but this won't be the last chance for Bennet to weigh in.

Next time he does, we hope to see less defensiveness and more, you know, vision.

Stapleton Makes Call To D.C., Gets Courtesy Name Drop

coffmanpushup

The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports on the Colorado Republican bench looking ahead to 2016 and beyond:

Republicans might be newly optimistic about their success, but the brutal reality is their bench beyond Gardner wasn’t deep. [Pols emphasis]  

For 2016, political operatives in the state mention two names as leading the pack of potential GOP candidates with a chance to unseat Bennet: Rep. Mike Coffman and Walker Stapleton, the 40-year-old state treasurer who cruised to reelection this year. 

“After that, there aren’t any names that are immediately apparent right now,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado pollster and political analyst. 

Former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams acknowledged that neither Coffman nor Stapleton has the “presence” of Gardner, but he said they shouldn’t be so easily dismissed in the search for the next great GOP hope in the state…

This story makes some points worth considering, like the strength Mike Coffman showed in his bigger-than-expected win over Democrat Andrew Romanoff, and the vote-getting ability of Attorney General-elect Cynthia Coffman–who also gives the newly minted Coffman Dynasty a footprint in two congressional districts!

We digress, but you've got to admit that was a weird story. All told, though, we agree with Dick Wadhams that Coffman lacks the charisma and message discipline that powered Cory Gardner to victory in this year's U.S. Senate race. And without those qualities, Cory Gardner may not have won the close race it turned out to be even in a wave year.

dealinwalkerfin

As for Bush family scion and Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton…sorry, folks, but we just don't see it. Stapleton's family ties, represented in this story as his primary asset, have never resonated in his favor on the campaign trail, and his advertising has tended to put the label of "career politician" on his opponents without mention his membership in one of America's foremost political dynasties. Stapleton has the connections to get his name mentioned in national political press as a possible contender either in 2016 for the U.S. Senate or 2018 for governor of Colorado, but he's done nothing to prove that he could win either race so far beyond bringing his cousin Jeb Bush to the state to campaign for him.

You never want to be too judgmental about the ability of new candidates to rocket to high office (see: Obama, Barack), but we have to agree that the overall state of the Republican bench in the long term in Colorado remains quite bleak. Democrats have a wealth of talent, particularly young up-and-comers from years of dominance in the state legislature. Democrats may have underestimated Cory Gardner for 2014, but as far as the next white knight for Republicans in this purple state?

We'll be damned if we can tell you who that is.

Re-run: Ken Buck jumps back on personhood horse!

(Remember, the "war on women" is a myth! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

The GOP's newbie House members elected U.S. Representative (forthcoming) Ken Buck as their president Thursday.

If you follow Buck's history here in Colorado, you know his squeaker victory over establishment-backed Republican Jane Norton in the 2010 Republican primary was powered by a coalition of fiscal and social conservatives on the far right side of the party's base.

Buck's victory formula involved trotting off to Tea-Party shebangs and bragging not only getting rid of the 17th Amendment but also about his exuberant opposition to abortion even for rape.

And, of course, he went whole hog for Colorado's personhood amendments, until he didn't.

You might not think Buck would dive into the personhood rabbit hole again, given how badly it went for him last time, with the embarrassing flip flipping and all. I mean, for Christ sake! But no. He's on personhood again!

Last month, as he was apparently looking ahead to taking a Republican leadership role in Congress, Buck endorsed the infamous Life at Conception Act, which aims to ban abortion by giving zygotes (fertilized eggs) legal protection as persons under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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The Big Line 2016 is Up

BigLineFlag16PNG

The 2014 election cycle is about 10 days old, which means it's a perfect time to start talking about…2016!

We've updated The Big Line 2016 for your reading and complaining pleasure. A few notes to get you started:

► We are sticking with the percentages rather than returning to fractional betting odds. This is just easier for everyone, all the way around.

► Remember that the percentages reflect our suggested odds for winning a General Election matchup. For example, the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will likely all have longer odds at winning in 2016 until the Primary field shakes out more completely (after all, you have to win a Primary before you can win a General).

► Because it is a Presidential Election Cycle, we are including the candidates for President — but only to the extent of projecting their chances at winning Colorado in 2016. You know, because this is Colorado Pols and all.

On to The Big Line 2016!

 

Told Ya So Part III: The Elephant in the Room

(Discuss - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Colorado Pols continues to scour the election results for positive data points from a mediocre result they continue to miss the larger issue from last Tuesday's electoral dysfunction: Democrats did not have a coherent message to run on nor candidates that could create one of their own.

Harry Truman, Truth Teller

The most glaring example of this and the latest victim of ignoring Harry Truman is Mark Udall:

What about Mark Udall in Colorado, another Democrat who lost in a purple state that Obama carried? Udall built his campaign narrative around a war on women by his opponent Rep. Cory Gardner. He, like Braley, ticked off a list of progressive issues — from minimum wage to pay equity to protecting Social Security — without providing any framing story to link them together. He left out who the villains are in the story.

Udall also committed the ultimate narrative sin: delivering your opponent's story. Here's the closing line of a Udall ad: "I'm Mark Udall. No one — not government, not Washington — should have the power to take those rights and freedoms away." Voters who wanted the anti-government candidate chose the real thing!

Udall would have had a much broader audience for his "war on women" message if he framed it as part of a broader war on American families by the rich and powerful. It is easy to make opposition to pay equity or a woman's right to make her own decisions part of this broader story, which speaks to Americans' deep concerns about their families.

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UPDATE: Told Ya So, Part II – more calls for Bennet’s resignation

UPDATE: Another call for Bennet's resignation at DailyKos.

There are other contributing factors, including bright Red districts, but Betsy Markey and John Salazar's short lives as One Term Congresscritters/Congressional Blue Dogs evidently taught Colorado's state-wide electeds nothing. 

Both Michael Bennet and Mark Udall went the Blue Dog route at the start of Obama's presidency, and by doing so aided and abetted Republican Obstructionism and put a choke hold any number of progressive policies that have since been thwarted. I bemoaned their actions in real time at S2. Here, Howie at Down with Tyranny gives a bloody post-mortem:

Of the 6 utterly worthless challengers the Blue Dogs endorsed, 2 were elected: Gwen Graham (FL) and Brad Ashford (NE). Their candidates were heavily supported by "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel, who pushed them on his colleagues and backed them at the DCCC. Below is a list of the 6, including how much the DCCC spent on them directly and what percentage of the vote each wound up with: 

• Gwen Graham (FL)- $3,572,524- 50.44%
• Patrick Henry Hays (AR)- $1,760,339- 43.62%
• Brad Ashford (NE)- $1,432,187- 48.64%
• Nick Casey (WV)- $792,432- 43.88%
• James Lee Witt (AR)- $81,804- 42.59%
• Jennifer Garrison (OH)- $39,310- 38.59

So if everything holds after recounts, etc, the Blue Dogs have gone from 19 to 12– if the two conservatives they helped elect, Graham and Ashford – join the caucus. 

That's the situation in the House, which Howie tracks like a bloodhound. Here's a summary:

Wall Street is howling that they will only accept New Dems Vice Chair Jim Himes as the next DCCC chair. Get ready for an explosion from grassroots activists if Pelosi goes for it. In winning his reelection, staunch progressive champion, Jeff Merkley (D-OR), issued this statement: 

In 2008, we won very narrowly in a great year for Democrats. In 2014, facing millions of dollars of Koch Brothers attack ads, against an opponent heralded by Republicans, and amidst a national tidal wave, things could have gone very wrong.

Instead, we won big… Our victory sends a powerful message: when you stand up for working Americans, when you fight for a fair shot for everyone– a chance to work a good job at a living wage and go to college and retire with dignity– working Americans stand up for you!

We took on the powerful special interests and we won. Because our values are Oregon values and American values.

Bad election for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Generally, not so bad for the Democratic wing.

 

Still waiting for Colorado's Dems to start acting the part and quit being afraid of their shadows. Still waiting for congressional Blue Dogs to go extinct while Colorado's Dems insist on giving them life support.

Part I. Yes, there will probably be a Part III for those of you dying to know the thoughts of Zappatero.

Hate to say “I told you so”, but……

I told you so!

Michael Bennet should resign the DSCC chairmanship immediately and figure out how to truly represent Colorado and the Democratic values he ran on (but has not governed on):

This last election saw a stellar set of True Progressive Democrats elected to the US Senate.Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren will join Sherrod BrownBernie Sanders, Tom Harkin and others as key fights over the social safety net and the economy continue into 2013 and beyond.

With this distinctly progressive push voters provided Democrats the political capital to counteract Radical Republican Obstuctionists and Moderate ConservaDem Blue Dogsenators who prevented President Obama from acting fully on his mandate in 2008.

The biggest question for Obama's second term is whether he'll work to protect long-standing Democratic programs and principles and enact the more progressive policies that voters urged with his second resounding electoral mandate:

"If the president stands firm … he will have the overwhelming majority of Americans behind him," Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders says.

"And sooner or later the Republicans will catch on that they are in danger of becoming a marginal, fringe party unless they get along with the program and do what the American people want."

If the president stands firm. And if the United States Senate maintains steady movement towards more progressive policies that are possible with these new and unabashedly progressive senators.

Mark Udall, despite all the "6-year itch" talk and numerous other excuses coming from The Professional Left, could have done much better for Coloradans and Senate Democrats had he taken more substantive stands on the economy and other issues. 

His incessant harping on The Grand Bargain, his Blue Dog affinities (ref. Salazar, Markey), his stupid decision to join Third Way all got him nice little pats on the head from Lawrence Kudlow and his buddies, but were wrong politically and wrong economically. (Go ahead and check how BD/TW candidates did this year…..if you dare.)

At this point I tend to agree with Professional Political Curmudgeon Ralph Nader:

With House Democrats bracing for Election Day losses on Tuesday, Ralph Nader is calling on Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top party leaders to call it quits.

The prominent consumer advocate and perennial presidential candidate says the failure of those leaders to win the House gavel over three straight election cycle should means it's time for a new crop of lawmakers to take control of the party.

"Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel  (and MIchael Bennet. -z) should now recognize the wisdom of baseball’s 'three strikes and you’re out' … step down from their posts and invite fresh leadership who can save the country from the ravages of today’s Republican party," Nader said Tuesday in a statement. Hoyer (Md.) is the minority whip, and Israel (N.Y.) is chairman of the party's campaign committee.

Colorado will always be Red, or just Purple, if our elected statewide and national Democrats can't figure out how to support Democratic and Progressive policies without pissing their pants.

And if ColoradoPols (the Proprietors, not the Commenters and Posters) ever figures out that the issues they support actually deserve that support, and not only the fact that a candidate has a (D) after their name, then that would be a big help in the monumental job of rebutting Republican Lies and their Oligarchical policies.

Have a nice day, Polsters! yes

P.S. Don't kill the messenger. Same message here, here, here, here and here. And here. And here. describing Mark Udall to a 't':

Corporate America is not dumb; it's worked hard to sew up both political parties in its nefarious schemes to place their short-term economic interests before the health and well-being of the average American. One major party was more than glad to go along; the other one went along with all this angst and agita in the background perhaps, but it still went along.

And that's what did us in.

And describing DSCC Chair Michael Bennet to a 't'

The Republican corporatists are worse than the Democratic corporatists, but only to a degree. And Republican corporatists are at least true to their principles, however abhorrent those principles might be to some of us. The Democratic corporatists, however, are the real culprits here. Having sucked the soul out of the Democratic party, they have leeched out of it whatever moral authority it had left. Why weren't they able to activate the base?? Because they decimated the base!

And that's what did us in.

And here detailing the need for Dems to provide voters with a compelling reason to vote for them, not just against the other guy.

You don’t win elections with a depressed and discouraged base, and you don’t win elections without a narrative that explains to voters why we you should win. Democrats failed on both scores. What my party needs to learn is that our candidates need to tell voters why they have a D behind their name on the ballot, and our entire party- candidates, top elected officials, Democratically-aligned organizations, the grassroots and Netroots- needs to have a unified story about what the election is about.

P.P.S. Obama's "post-partisan" gambit, abandoning the 50-state strategy and removing Dean as Dem Party Chair also contributed.

P.P.P.S. But hey, maybe I'm just a Cheeto-stained loser and Colorado Pols and Michael Bennet are the geniuses.

2010 Redux? Two D-Leaning Polls Give Udall Small Lead

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The question of whether or not polling of Colorado voters is accurately sampling the 2014 electorate is perhaps the biggest unknown in the current election cycle. In Colorado's U.S. Senate race, polling has shown Republican Cory Gardner with a small but consistent lead since the beginning of October. The Real Clear Politics average of polling in the race as of now shows Gardner ahead by three points.

But is that really what's going on? History says very likely not. Almost exactly four years ago today in October of 2010, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed then-GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck leading appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by three points. In fact, every poll taken entirely in the month of October of 2010 showed Ken Buck leading or the race tied. At the end of the race, the RCP average predicted that Ken Buck would win by three points.

Michael Bennet is our junior U.S. Senator. So obviously, the polls were wrong. In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, the polling consistently got the sample of "likely voters" wrong, which proved to be their undoing. Polling underestimated the role of women voters in particular, who went for Bennet by a 17-point margin and in so doing decided the race.

Is it going to happen again? Democrats not prone to spin tell us there's a good chance.

benensoncrosstabs

Two Democratic internal polls made public this weekend, one from the Mellman Group and another from the Benenson Group, both show Udall with a three-point lead over Gardner. Mellman has the race at 44-41%, and Benenson has Udall up 47-44%. Both samples are similar on party breakdown: 38% GOP, 32.5% Democrats, and 29.5% unaffiliated/third party in the Mellman poll, and 38% R, 33% D, 29% U in the Benenson Group poll. The Mellman poll release included no crosstabs, but in the Benenson poll we can see a 17-point lead for Udall with women voters (sound familiar?) and a whopping 22-point lead with Latino voters.

Last week, we discussed the results of a survey of Latino Colorado voters that showed Gardner distantly underwater, by an even greater margin than is shown in this polling. That came just after the lead pollster at SurveyUSA very candidly admitted that his organization and most other pollsters don't know how to properly sample for Latino voters–a critical defect in a state where 21% of the population is Latino. If 2010's experience is any guide, the recent polls showing a paltry lead for Udall with women can straightforwardly be questioned.

Bottom line: these variables are enough to flip the race. Just like 2010. Right out from under the pollsters.

If that doesn't happen, we'll take our lumps. If it does, though, we expect the pollsters to take theirs.

Udall ignored (D) voters, will they ignore him in 2014?

Colorado Senator Mark Udall is up for re-election in 2014. As anyone who follows politics knows, that is right around the corner and the campaign has almost certainly begun. (We can thank Republicans like Karl Rove for the never-ending campaign.)

Riding Barack Obama's coattails 2008, Udall easily won his senate seat:

Obama took six of the 11 Western states, spreading the Democrats' apparent majority inland from the West Coast to include Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Here are the Colorado numbers from 2008:

Obama won with 54% and 1,288,576 votes.


Udall won with 53% and 1,230,994 votes.

(You'll note who got more votes than Mark Udall. This might be a standard occurrence in state votes, but it should not be disregarded in my humble opinion. A vote for Udall was mere millimeters away from a vote for Obama.)

Despite voters' clear mandate in 2008, and the obvious disgust with which they regarded Republicans nationally, our very wise Senator and his partner, both Udall and Michael Bennet, chose to use a tired, old strategy from the 90s: triangulation.

Triangulation has some logic behind it. And when wielded by the greatest politician of his generation, Bill Clinton, it seemed to work like magic. Democrats have been enamored of it since.

But there's a big "but" here that current Democrats in elected office haven't fully taken into account:

The 2008 move to the right by both Udall and Bennet immediately, and purposefully, hampered the ability of our newly elected president to act on his mandate and might've encouraged the historically belligerent behavior of Republicans.

The election is days away. Who will be this year's winner: Republicans, DC Consultants, or Democratic voters?

AFL-CIO LAUNCHES KOCH SISTERS CAMPAIGN

This morning the AFL-CIO launched a campaign to target the Koch brothers called the Koch Sisters. The campaign features the Koch sisters, two middle class women from union families who are a stark contrast to the right wing Koch brothers. The ads highlight the conversation around how these billionaires are influencing our politics for the worse.

The AFL-CIO would like to encourage you to check out the website and ads as well as to share news stories via social media.  

Website: http://www.kochsisters.org

30-second ad, which will begin airing today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7BbC5V8BAU

Link to the 60-second spot featured on the website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DXCAsqkecs

Klingenschmitt : ENDA Allows Bathroom-lurking Demons to Rape Females

(The "Dr. Chaps" crazy train rolls on – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most people do not go into a public bathroom worrying about the history or habits of the person in the next stall. Most people use bathrooms for the usual purposes, and move on with their lives. Not Gordon Klingenschmitt, House District 15 candidate. Mr. Klingenschmitt seems to be obsessed with the demons lurking in bathrooms.

In yet another of Klingenschmitt's jaw-dropping videos, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican candidate for House District 15 in El Paso County, Colorado, claimed that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) will provide an opportunity for demonic aliens to sexually assault females in bathrooms nationwide.

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

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


                                                                                                                                                   Stacey Jocim, CRPE

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

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

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

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

 


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

 

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg                                Boasberg and Senator Michael Bennet

                              


What is Turnaround?

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

 

                                                                                                                                       US Secretary of Education,                                                                                                                                                          Arnie Duncan

There are 4 Turnaround models in the federal guidelines:

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

Link:  http://tinyurl.com/prel32m

 

Translated into normal  English:  

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

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


What does this mean for DPS?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

What is the result?

 

The Achievement Gap Is Growing.

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

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

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

 

​​Articles:

 

Massive Layoffs and Firings of Effective Teachers.

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

Articles

 

Fewer Teachers of Color in Denver Schools

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

Articles:

 

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

 

2009

2011

​​2013

 

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

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

Perlmutter, Bennet Push for IRS to Waive Fee that Marijuana Businesses Cannot Avoid

Ed Perlmutter

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Whatever your opinion on the legalization of marijuana — both for medicinal and recreational uses — it's become increasingly clear that banking and tax laws need to be adjusted for the safety and security of both businesses and customers.

As David Migoya reports in the Denver Post, Rep. Ed Perlmutter continues his push to find some sort of fair middle ground for pot shops that are being forced to conduct most of their business operations entirely in cash:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Ed Perlmutter on Friday asked the Internal Revenue Service to stop assessing a 10 percent penalty on legal marijuana businesses that are forced to pay federal withholding taxes in cash for lack of banking services.

In a joint letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Bennet and Perlmutter, both Democrats, noted how pot shops in Colorado often have little choice but to pay employee withholding taxes in cash since banks won't take their business.

IRS rules require the taxes to be paid via the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, and businesses that don't comply face a 10 percent penalty on the tax.

News of the practice came to light when The Denver Post last week reported about a Denver dispensary's legal efforts to challenge the IRS…

…Another problem is that businesses willing to pay the IRS assessment — often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars — can't get an installment plan as other businesses do because they remain out of compliance and subject to additional penalties, according to the attorney who is challenging the fines in U.S. Tax Court. As a result, a legal marijuana shop's operating license is in jeopardy — despite paying their taxes on time — because state law requires them to be in compliance with all federal and state tax laws.

This problem seems particularly ludicrous — again, no matter your opinion on marijuana — because pot shops have absolutely no option for avoiding the 10% penalty they are assessed for not using banking services. The federal government still doesn't allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses, so how, exactly, are they supposed to comply with IRS rules requiring the use of banking services? We're not going to allow you to deposit money in a bank…but we are going to fine you for not having a bank account.

We wouldn't expect Congress to take action on this issue, since Republican House leadership has largely pledged not to take action on, well, anything beyond getting mad at President Obama for trying to govern while they race office chairs up and down the hall. But this is a pretty good issue for potential bipartisan support if there ever was such a thing. Republicans are normally jumping at the chance to prevent the federal government from infringing on state's rights; when you include the opportunity to complain about the IRS at the same time, this should be a slam dunk for the GOP. And again, this is a serious safety issue when you force an industry to carry around massive amounts of cash; why bother robbing a bank when you'll get more cash out of a pot shop that had a good weekend?

If and when federal law is finally changed to accommodate changes created by state elections, Rep. Perlmutter should get the credit he deserves for being at the forefront of a set of issues that really do affect Coloradans of all stripes.

 

700 Million Trillion Gajillion Jobs

100s of thousands

Many hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost…um, no.

Today's U.S. Senate vote on increasing the federal minimum wage brought out the best (or worst) arguments from opponents of the proposed legislation.

Many of those arguments, like the one you see at right, focused on the scare tactic of projecting massive job losses from a minimum wage increase. In this particular case, the Tweet at right says that "raising the minimum wage will cost Coloradans 100's of thousands of jobs."

Really? Hundreds of thousands?

Similar arguments have been made in Colorado regarding jobs and fracking.You can't restrict fracking!!! That will cost Colorado 500,000 jobs!!!

With all of these big numbers floating around, it made us wonder: Exactly how many jobs are there in Colorado? Is this kind of growth even remotely possible?

So, with those questions in mind, we took a little tour through the website of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and more specifically, the section on labor statistics. What we found is pretty much along the lines of what we thought we'd find: It is ridiculous to claim that anything specific could increase or decrease the number of Colorado jobs by 100,000 or more. We even made a graphic about it. Want to see it? Here it goes:

Colorado job statistics

This here is what they call a ‘graphic’ or ‘chart.’

As you can see from the aforementioned graphical chart thing that we produced, Colorado added a total of about 49,800 jobs in the last 6 years combined. That's every industry we're talking about — including the oil and gas industry.

With total nonfarm jobs in Colorado somewhere around 2.4 million, it would take an effort of gargantuan proportion to add or subtract many hundreds of thousands of jobs. You could argue with a straight face that 300,000 jobs will be added/subtracted over the course of several decades, but that's not really the implication in these talking points, now is it?

There are many arguments to be made for and against any subject, but once you start throwing big numbers around as casually as you might close important roads just to be a dick*, then you're really drifting into the land of imaginary facts. You're making shit up, in other words. 

 

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