Senate Close to DHS Budget Deal; Republicans are Screwed

kenbuckonthebutton

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is probably a little less enthusiastic about pressing these buttons this week.

As Politico reports:

The Senate is moving quickly to break a weekslong impasse that has threatened funding for the Department of Homeland Security and paralyzed the Capitol, putting pressure on House Speaker John Boehner on the brink of a shutdown of the national security agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday afternoon that they would move forward on a “clean” $39.7 billion DHS-funding bill — free of provisions targeting President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. McConnell agreed to relent after Reid’s caucus filibustered a House-passed bill on four separate occasions, demanding that Republicans strip the immigration provisions or risk a shutdown of the department.

The Senate voted 98-2 to open debate on the House bill, setting the stage for a last-ditch scramble for Congress to act before DHS funding expires on Friday.

Politically-speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell basically just punted the ball back to House Speaker John Boehner. The story of this funding bill has largely been about dissention among Republicans than about anything Democrats have proposed, and it's hard to see any scenario where the GOP doesn't lose on this one. The House can hold firm on Tea Party principles and refuse the Senate version, but if they do that and refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for political reasons related to immigration reform, they will hand Democrats the undisputed title of "Party that gets to say it cares more about protecting Americans from terrorism."

And for what? It's not like Congress is just going to stop funding for DHS forever. Republicans have majority control of both chambers of Congress, which limits the number of fingers they can point, and even trying to toss this onto President Obama's shoulders isn't going to save them; Obama is in his seventh year in office and his approval ratings are starting to rise as he nears the end of his stay in the White House.

Whatever happens, this isn't going to end well for Republicans. The only question yet to be answered is this: Just how bad will it get for the GOP?

Localvores, Pick Up Your Forks! Oil and Water Don’t Mix.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

By @ColoFarmFood, crossposted at ColoradoFarmFood.org 

Attention has been focused on Denver, as Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force finishes its work, mostly avoiding the contentious issues that surround the industrial realities of oil and gas—noise, pollution, traffic, and impacts to land and existing uses—which led to its formation 18 months ago. 

Many of Colorado’s farmers, and the farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, wineries and sundry other businesses along those lines, meanwhile, were thinking instead of the weather.  Glad for snow, and the hope for a decent water year.

But watching the weather on the advent of spring does not mean many were not also watching what came out of the Task Force, and paying attention to oil and gas development generally, especially where it impacts or threatens business and operations.  And they always have an eye on their water.

Earlier this month concerned valley residents packed the Paonia High School to learn about and comment on the proposed Bull Mountain natural gas drilling and fracking project planned in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Gunnison River, and the source of most of the area’s irrigation water. 

GRAND JUNCTION SENTINEL 2/11/15

PAONIA — North Fork Valley residents are rallying again to try and stop oil and gas development involving tens of thousands of acres, but in this case face a daunting challenge because the land already is leased.

Some 200 people turned out at a Bureau of Land Management meeting at Paonia High School regarding SG Interests’ plan to drill up to 146 natural gas wells in the upper North Fork Valley, with many in attendance indicating their concern about the project.

…Residents Tuesday voiced concerns including possible air and water impacts, heavy truck traffic on Highway 133, the potential for harm to the Paonia area’s burgeoning organic farm industry, and whether the local economic benefits are enough to justify the risks. 

…“There’s no reason to use clean water for dirty energy extraction,” Jere Lowe, who owns a local organic farming supply company, said Tuesday.

 

The Bull Mountain Master Development Plan proposes almost 150 new natural gas wells.  In addition to their potential impacts on the valley’s water supplies, they would lie along the world-famous West Elk Scenic Byway in the heart of its aspen country.  

From there, public lands—many that could face future oil and gas development—stretch across Clear Fork Divide, Springhouse Park, Mamm Peak, and over into the Battlement Mesa area, where residents are raising similar concerns. 

GRAND JUNCTION SENTINEL 2/24/15

Among those concerned about both her water and the earthquake risk are Williams’ mom and Gardner’s aunt, Alberta Payton. She lives on a ranch that has been in her family since 1892, and uses her well for drinking and domestic uses. It’s also used to provide water for cows on her property.

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Did Ryan Call abandon two GOP candidates who could have won close races?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ryan Call, Steve House.

Ryan Call, Steve House.

It's not easy to fact check some of the allegations flying around in the contest between Ryan Call and challenger Steve House to become chair of the Colorado Republican Party. But it's worth a try, especially when the salvos appear in the media.

On public television Friday, for example, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel reported an “allegation” that Call could have put two state legislative candidates “over the top” if he’d helped them pay for advertising during the “last couple weeks” of their campaigns, as they were "fighting hard" for a victory. But Call refused, and they lost.

Kopel (Watch at @1:30 here): House’s particular claim against Call is that Call refused to provide the support for two candidates who ended up losing very close state legislative races, Tony Sanchez, who was almost elected to the state senate, and Susan Kochevar, who almost won a house race, and her win would have put the House in Republican hands. So the argument is that they were close. They were fighting hard, and Ryan Call wouldn’t do a mailer for them in the last couple weeks that could have put them over the top. I don’t know the details of that. But that would be the allegation. Certainly, any chair of major party has to be able to work with all the groups of the party, the sincere moderates, the squishy moderates, the hard-core ideological people—and then have strategies to help them all get elected. [BigMedia emphasis]

Yes, you’d want a major party chair to work with all sides, but is the allegation true? Did Call screw his own party up?

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

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BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 24)

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Put down the snowman and get back to work. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss regulating "unmanned aerial vehicles," more commonly known as "drones." Don't tell Vice Chair Kevin Lundberg, but staff at the Capitol expect to be regaled by testimony from tiny little pilots.

No Homeland Security funding for you! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to do after the Senate voted for a fourth time to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because Republicans are still mad that President Obama tried to do something about immigration. Congress has until Feb. 27 to approve appropriations to continue funding DHS. From the Durango Herald:

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has warned that an agency shutdown would result in 75-80 percent of staff members being forced to work without pay, as their jobs are deemed vital to national security. An additional 30,000 would be furloughed.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Huge loss for Denver as Stokols departs from Fox 31

(We'll miss him – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

Denver journalism sustained a body blow yesterday, when Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols announced he's leaving for a job at Politico in Washington DC.

Quoting a memo from Fox 31 news director Holly Gauntt praising Stokols, Westword's Michael Roberts reports:

Contacted via e-mail, Stokols confirms the move while stressing the difficulty of the decision to take the leap.

"For a political reporter, Colorado is fertile soil," he writes. "I've been lucky to have had strong support from Peter Maroney and my bosses at KDVR Fox31 to focus on that beat year round, even when it wasn't campaign season and a lot of producers would probably have preferred to have me chasing snowstorms or shootings."

He also makes reference to his hosting duties on #COpolitics: From the Source, a public-affairs show that launched last year; to read his preview of the program for Westword, click here.

"I couldn't have asked for more in this job: opportunities to launch a weekly show that has devoted serious air time to serious, substantive conversations about politics, policy and broader issues; opportunities to anchor newscasts five nights a week, something I've actually had a blast doing alongside Aristea Brady on KWGN Channel 2; and opportunities to write longer pieces about Colorado politics for other outlets," he points out.

Stokols covered the day-to-day grind of politics like a newspaper beat reporter, producing daily stories, often about political developments that are seen as too boring for television news. This quickly earned Stokols the admiration of attention-starved partisans on both sides of the aisle.

He pushed out large volumes of information on multiple platforms, making Fox 31 easily one of the go-to sources of political news in Colorado. On top of that, he freelanced long-form pieces for 5280 and op-eds for Politico.

During the last election, Stokols earned the respect of his peers for his direct questioning of Cory Gardner regarding his support of a personhood bill at the federal level but his rejection of personhood amendments in Colorado.

New Jersey Court: Pension ARC Must Be Paid. Colorado PERA: Unnecessary.

Coverage of today's New Jersey Superior Court Decision:

"(New Jersey Governor) Christie has said the pension cuts (failure to pay public pension 'actuarially required contributions, ARC') were necessary to balance the state’s budget and that 'there are no alternatives' to such reductions. At the same time, he has backed record amounts of new corporate tax subsidies — some of which flowed to Republican campaign contributors. He has also vetoed legislation to increase taxes on income above $1 million. That legislation was projected to raise $1.1 billion, which proponents said would have allowed the state to make its required pension contribution."

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66484/colorado-pera-fiduciaries-severely-underfunded-but-see-no-problem

http://www.ibtimes.com/chris-christie-court-overturns-new-jersey-governors-pension-cuts-1825710

Today (2/23/2015), the Superior Court of New Jersey forced the State of New Jersey to abide by a recently enacted statutory requirement that public pension ARCs be paid. In Colorado, the issue of the payment of the Colorado PERA pension ARC isn't even on the table. Colorado PERA's Executive Director recently testified to the Colorado Joint Budget Committee that the PERA ARC need not be paid, i.e., he stated that, although the PERA ARC has not been paid for thirteen years in Colorado, and is not currently being paid, the PERA pension fund needs no additional contributions. As far as I can tell, Colorado PERA is the lone public pension system in the United States taking the position that public pension ARCs need not be paid. See the following article for Greg Smith's testimony:

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66484/colorado-pera-fiduciaries-severely-underfunded-but-see-no-problem

Link to the complete New Jersey court opinion:

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/pension_payment/FINAL%20decision%202-23-2015.pdf

A few interesting excerpts from the New Jersey Court's opinion:

"And, history has shown that the public pension system and its members routinely have been targeted by administrations of both parties when budget problems arise."

"See Berg v. Christie . . .describing a 'series of Executive and Legislative policy decisions' that 'resulted in underfunding of the pension systems' and deciding whether a legislative act suspending cost of living adjustments for current and future retirees violated the contract clause."

"Now, for the first time, Chapter 78 expressly provides that members of the public pension systems 'shall have a contractual right to the annual required contribution amount being made by the member’s employer or by any other public entity.'”

"The Legislature directed that the required contributions be made annually on a timely basis 'to help ensure that the retirement system is securely funded and that the retirement benefits to which the members are entitled by statute and in consideration for their public service and in compensation for their work will be paid upon retirement.'”

"Indeed, the Governor himself characterized this pension legislation as constituting 'historic reforms' that 'bring to an end years of broken promises and fiscal mismanagement by securing the long-term solvency of the pension and benefit systems.'”

"Under the statutory framework requiring employer contributions, the State is required to make an 'annually required contribution' (ARC) which is composed of the 'annual normal contribution' and the 'annual unfunded accrued actuarial liability contribution' (UAAL)."

"The State has failed to pay its full ARC every year from FY 1997 to 2012."

"The State’s continued failure to make the full ARC payment results in exponential growth in the UAAL through both lost contributions and lost expected return on the investment of the contributions."

"Courts in New Jersey have consistently viewed pension payments as a form of 'deferred compensation' that an employee earns for prior service. ('Deferred compensation benefits have been earned by an employee and are no longer considered a gratuity.”)

“Pension statutes should be liberally construed . . . because they represent deferred compensation for a government employee’s service.”

"Despite the broad reach of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, there are several exceptions to the doctrine. For example, the doctrine does not apply if a plaintiff seeks relief from state laws that violate the Federal Constitution."

"This court and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey previously held in a similar suit brought by the NJEA, challenging Chapter 78’s suspension of the COLAs and seeking enforcement of plaintiffs’ contracts with the State, that these types of claims essentially seek specific performance of their contracts with the State."

"As these two decisions explain, actions seeking specific performance of a contract do not fall under Ex parte Young’s exception from the doctrine of sovereign immunity, largely because they seek retroactive, rather than prospective, relief."

"Notably, both the Federal and the State Contract Clauses speak of a violation of the Clause’s guarantee as an 'impairment.' Consequently, when the Legislature chose to use the term 'impairment' in Chapter 78, it did not intend to limit plaintiffs’ constitutional protections to the New Jersey State Constitution."

"Like any private party to a contract, then, the State may repudiate a contract, as long as it is willing to pay the damages resulting from the breach."

"Consequently, although plaintiffs’ Federal Contract Clause claims are not necessary to the outcome of this case, the court concludes that plaintiffs have properly asserted claims arising under the Federal Constitution, which support their parallel claims arising under the New Jersey Constitution."

"The court is unwilling to rely on what has now become a succession of empty promises. Defendants’ assertions about the health of the fund also do not take into account the fact that the State’s failure to make its payments in a timely fashion results in the loss of interest on the investment of money that otherwise should have been put into the pension funds. The continued failure to make timely payments therefore causes the unfunded liability to increase exponentially."

"Further, after a State binds itself in a contract, 'a State is not completely free to consider impairing the obligations of its own contracts on a par with other policy alternatives.U.S. Trust Co."

"Although a state’s asserted justifications for impairing private contractual obligations are typically given significant deference by the courts, less deference is accorded to a state in regard to public contracts because a state’s self-interest is at stake."

" . . . a contract impairment will be considered unreasonable if the State considered impairment of the contract right “on a par with other policy alternatives. U.S. Trust"

"The court cannot allow the State to simply turn its back on its obligations to New Jersey’s public employees–especially in light of the fact that the State’s failure to make its full payment constitutes a substantial blow to the solvency of the pension funds in violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, and due to the fact that the terms of the UAAL payments were set forth–and even publicly endorsed–by the Governor himself."

"The complaints raise a number of other claims that were not argued by plaintiffs either in the moving briefs or in the reply briefs. For example, the complaints allege estoppel, unconstitutional taking, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing . . ."

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/pension_payment/FINAL%20decision%202-23-2015.pdf

"Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook. Put an end to official deception by Colorado governmental agencies.

Um, That’s Not a “Policy,” Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn military

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was the first official Republican candidate to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. He'll always have that to remember, we guess, since it's not likely that he'll be the last remaining GOP candidate. So enjoy him — and his bizarre campaign logo — while you can.

Here's Glenn's latest email to supporters, titled "My Policy Statement on Use of Force." You may notice, as we did, that Glenn's "policy statement" doesn't…actually contain…a policy. The full email text is available after the jump, but here's the heart of the non-policy policy statement (bold text is how it originally appears):

The politicians in …Washington DC and other nation’s capitals do play a necessary role in providing funding, resources, and intelligence to their military commanders. However, a politician fighting a war through policy dictates thousands of miles away has never been successful as history teaches time and again.

The rapid advancement of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East is a significant threat to national security interests of the United States and other nations. My policy is to create the dialog among the politicians, military leaders, and US citizens to examine and decide the best use of military operations against Islamic jihadists. We must clearly define our goals and operational objectives, the scope of the radical Islamic threat and then give our military commanders the flexibility to complete the mission.

Sounds good! Er, whatever.

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Patricia Arquette Oscar Speech Timely for Colorado

Patricia Arquette Oscar

This is the face we imagine Patricia Arquette would make after listening to Colorado Republicans dismiss pay equity concerns.

In case you missed it last night, actress Patricia Arquette gave a rousing acceptance speech that put equality issues front and center. As The Daily Beast explains:

"It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" the actress proclaimed.

It was the Oscars moment that caused Meryl Streep to jump out of her seat, jab her finger in the air, and scream, “YES!” over and over again.

The 87th annual Academy Awards had reached a critical lull in the proceedings. But the snooze-worthy broadcast was momentarily salvaged by journeywoman actress Patricia Arquette, who delivered a rousing speech upon accepting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood.

First Arquette thanked her fellow nominees, the cast and crew of the 12-year project Boyhood, and her friends and family, “who all work so hard to make this world a better place.”

Then she brought the house down.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

The entire place—Streep and seatmate Jennifer Lopez included—rose to their feet for the night’s biggest standing ovation.

Last month, Senate Republicans effectively killed off the Colorado Pay Equity Commission when they used a Party-line vote to prevent renewing the Commission. Senate Republicans' skill for poor timing brought more attention to the issue; the vote against the Commission came one day after new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women on average will earn about 77.9% of what men earn. State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat RIdge) has since announced her own legislation (HB-1133) to continue the work of the Pay Equity Commission.

If you're wondering why anyone would be opposed to pay equity for women, well, you're not alone. But by 11:00 this morning, conservative activist Jessica Peck had already published an Op-Ed in the online version of the Denver Post in which she said…this:

Time and again, studies and data and antecdotes show that we do have gender equality in the United States. That is, when women act like men, we make as much or more money than men. Here's what we have to do: leave our babies in the hands of others and immediately return to work post-birth; leave our elderly parents in the hands of others to age — and die — so we can work; and aggressively negotiate salary and wage increases…

…Now, let's negotiate wages like the boys and we've got the rest covered. I run my own business. It's tough at times, but never have I ever had a male client suggest I should demand a lower wage just because I'm a girl. [Pols emphasis]

Uhh, come again? Does Peck want to be paid a lower wage because she is a woman?

Arquette's speech should only bring more attention to Rep. Danielson's legislation, and it's going to make a House vote on HB-1133 pretty interesting. Democrats can pass this bill out of the House on their own, but how could any Republican in an even halfway competitive district go on the record with a 'NO' vote now?

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 23)

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Snowy enough for 'ya? The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicted snowfall totals somewhere between 2 inches to 17 feet, so we were right on target. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado Legislature is out today due to inclement weather and poor road conditions. In Washington D.C., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will push for another budget vote in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown that could have broad impacts across the country. As Politico reports:

The Kentucky Republican could cave to Democrats’ demands and abandon the GOP’s attempt to tie the Department of Homeland Security’s funding to an attack on President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. But pushing through a short-term continuing resolution for DHS would bring howls from the right, postpone the immigration showdown for only a couple of weeks or months, and most likely fail in the House. McConnell would gain nothing even if he could pass such a CR, which is far from a sure thing.

Or, as some conservatives outside the Senate want, McConnell could employ the “nuclear option” to abolish the filibuster on legislation, allowing Republicans to pass the $39.7 billion DHS bill with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than 60. But that would mean destroying the Senate traditions he’s vowed so loudly over the years to protect — and Obama would still veto the bill.

► State Governors are also in Washington D.C. today to blame their problems on President Obama. The Associated Press reports on the annual winter gathering of the National Governor's Association (NGA), where a showdown over the $40 billion Department of Homeland Security budget should be the main topic of discussion. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is the Chair of the NGA, and will try to steer conversations at the White House in a positve direction. Says Hickenlooper, "When we go to the president our goal is to try to be more constructive."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Former GOP State Rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jared Wright.

Jared Wright.

The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that's loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed  a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright,  former state representative from Mesa County.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.

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Former Olympian Throws Himself into GOP Madness

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

bremerx

The mud wresting is so intense in the battle to lead the state GOP that Republicans may now think that candidates with brute strength, rather than intelligence, are needed to put down their opponents and win.

Enter former Pentathlete Eli Bremer. Pointing to his he former Olympic prowess, the former El Paso Republican Chair announced today that he's running for vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Unfortunately, Bremer is probably too weak to overpower current vice chair, Mark Baisley, a tea-party candidate who shocked his talk-radio supporters when he aligned himself with current GOP chair Ryan Call, who's seeking his third term.

But who knows? What we do know is the craziness of the characters involved in the race, no matter who wins, has probably already scared big-time GOP donors to such a great extent that they'll be sending their money to outside 527's, forsaking the state party altogether and relegating it to irrelevancy.

In a letter formally announcing his long-rumored candidacy, Bremer wrote:

I spent 12 years competing at the international level representing the United States around the globe and at the Olympic Games.  One of the greatest lessons I learned is that success takes years of preparation and hard work.  It took me over a decade training at an elite level before I qualified for the Olympics.  It was a difficult journey and required constant dedication and sacrifice.  In the same way, the next five years will be incredibly important for Colorado Republicans; but we will work together to achieve our goal of unifying for conservative governance of our great state and nation….

Four years ago, I was elected GOP Chairman in El Paso County.  My prior political experience was as a grassroots organizer founding a Young Republican club that rapidly grew to one of the largest grassroots clubs in the state.  I was the youngest chairman in the state, and I was tasked with overseeing the largest party in the state, serving roughly 20% of all Republicans in Colorado.  I took over an organization bruised by a difficult election, torn by conflict, and sitting on the verge of collapse.  

 In two short years, I got our party out of debt, standardized and professionalized our operations, overhauled our IT system, and grew our fundraising by nearly 10 fold.  Because of our success, I was asked by and assisted numerous other local county parties with fundraising and organizational development.  When my successor took office, he assumed control of an organization ready to perform and grow which it does to this day….

Politics are also about results, and it is important to always see if actions lead to results. Despite nationally abysmal showings by Republicans in 2012, El Paso delivered strong numbers for all our Republican candidates. The true organizational strength was demonstrated the following year when we successfully recalled State Senator John Morse. In a carefully choreographed effort, El Paso County Republican Party played an enormous role in electing Bernie Herpin to replace John Morse and showed that the campaign machine my staff and I created was working as designed. In recognition for our efforts in the recall and the turnaround I conducted in El Paso that helped breed a culture of success, Bernie Herpin has enthusiastically endorsed me.

 

Colorado PERA: Forcing Retirees to Eat 90 Percent of Pension Reform Costs was “Sensitive” and “Equitable.”

Yes dear reader, in 2010, a juggernaut of 27 Colorado statehouse lobbyists "sensitively" forced the PERA reform bill (SB10-001) through the legislative process.

The propaganda produced by our Colorado state pension administrative agency, Colorado PERA, simply boggles the mind. It is boundless . . . and unconstrained by normal human decency.

Allow me to translate this recent Colorado PERA propaganda piece: Colorado PERA officials recently argued, on their website, that using PERA trust funds (in part, the property of PERA retirees) to pay for public relations, lobbying, and legal campaigns to take the retirees' accrued statutory PERA benefits (benefits that PERA officials have, in legislative testimony, confirmed as PERA contractual obligations) and thus push 90 percent of the cost of the 2010 PERA reform bill onto the backs of these elderly PERA retirees, was "sensitive," and an "equitable distribution of costs."

Elderly PERA retirees eat 90 percent, PERA employers and taxpayers, who actually owe the debt, bear ten percent of the burden. This is the Colorado PERA definition of "equitable"?

In my opinion, Colorado PERA officials are now capable of writing anything, even the most outrageous lies, without compunction. No other Colorado state agency can approach the Colorado PERA talent for propaganda.

http://coloradopols.com/diary/64487/the-colorado-supreme-court-politicians-in-black-robes-as-it-turns-out

A few days ago this statement was posted on Colorado PERA's website:

"The goal of the General Assembly’s reforms enacted in 2010 was for PERA to achieve fully funded status – thus ensuring retirement security – WITH SENSITIVITY TO THE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF COSTS AND BURDENS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REFORMS." (My emphasis in caps.)

https://www.copera.org/about/pera-on-the-issues/conversations-about-colorado%E2%80%99s-public-employee-retirement-system-should

Implicit in this Colorado PERA statement is a belief that accrued Colorado PERA ABI (COLA) benefits ARE NOT a Colorado PERA contractual obligation. Surely, Colorado PERA officials do not believe that the breach of a public pension contract can be "equitable," or "sensitive."

But, if Colorado PERA officials believe that the statutory PERA ABI benefit is not a Colorado PERA contractual obligation, then why did they provide this perfectly contradictory legislative testimony in 2009?

December 16, 2009

Colorado PERA officials in written testimony to the Joint Budget Committee: “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

http://www.kentlambert.com/Files/PERA_JBC_Hearing_Responses-12-16-2009_Final.pdf

COLORADO PERA OFFICIALS AND SB10-001 SPONSORS: PERA RETIREES WILL EAT 90 PERCENT OF THE COSTS OF THE 2010 REFORM:

January 22, 2010

SB10-001 co-prime sponsor Senator Josh Penry and bill sponsor Senator Greg Brophy: “Fully 90 percent of the PERA fix comes from benefit cuts to current and future retirees.”

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_14242354

January 26, 2010

"The difference between the past approach and SB1, Penry said, is that the new plan boldly tackles benefit reductions, which he said will constitute 90 percent of the PERA fund's recovery and generate plenty of opposition along the way."

http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/legislators-pera-changes-will-be-painful/article_b82cee28-328f-59ba-91c0-a480e5f719c8.html

October 26, 2011

Colorado PERA Executive Director Greg Smith, at the “Fall 2011 PERA Shareholder’s Meeting,” (thirty-six minutes into the video):"‘Only ten percent of the fix” of the [SB10-001] reforms in 2010 came from additional employer contributions."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8LB7t5HMBo

April 17, 2011

Senator Brandon Shaffer, co-prime sponsor, SB10-001, Denver Post: “I sponsored last year's legislation, known as Senate Bill 1, to protect PERA. The bill required shared sacrifice, but frankly most of it — 90 percent of the burden — falls on the shoulders of PERA's current and future members and retirees.”

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17858107

May 29, 2011

Colorado PERA Executive Director Meredith Williams, Pueblo Chieftain:

“In fact, about 90 percent of the changes enacted by Senate Bill 1 are falling on the shoulders of current and future PERA members and retirees — not other taxpayers.”

http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/ideas/legislative-changes-have-put-pera-fund-on-a-solid-footing/article_3080a01c-88cd-11e0-ad01-001cc4c03286.html

We see above that Colorado PERA officials have testified that the PERA statutory ABI (COLA) benefit is a Colorado PERA contractual obligation. (For the record, this evidence was conveniently ignored by the Colorado Supreme Court in its 2014 Decision in the case, Justus v. State.) In 2014, Colorado state government CONVENIENTLY forgave Colorado state government debt (violating federal case law, US Trust.)

"The Colorado Supreme Court: Politicians in Black Robes."

http://coloradopols.com/diary/64487/the-colorado-supreme-court-politicians-in-black-robes-as-it-turns-out

It is critical to the proper functioning of a democratic republic that truth be widely disseminated. "Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

Political Trivia – Presidential Last Names

Ok, here's another for you. Name all presidents that shared a last name. And for each pair, their relation, if any. Memory only – no searching!

Extra credit – name the first American born president (the first several were British citizens when they were first born).

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 20)

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The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicts anywhere from 2 inches to 17 feet of snow this weekend. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Denver Post editorial board thinks that Colorado Republican legislators are playing "a dangerous game that must stop" by using the budget process in an attempt to derail legislation they don't like but don't have the votes to defeat outright:

Republicans should keep in mind that history has a way of turning the tables, particularly when it comes to political power.

The tactics they are using to thwart policies they disagree with could well come back to haunt them.

Jefferson County students are not convinced that the conservative school board is really retreating on their attempts at rewriting history curriculums.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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