Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Nov. 25)

MoreSmarter-ThanksgivingIf you can make it to the break room and back without seeing another person, you have our permission to go home (after you read this). 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).


► State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County) has been fairly quiet since he began campaigning for U.S. Senate a few months ago. Yesterday, Neville took time off from dialing for dollars to join the fear-mongering parade on Syrian refugees with a scary fundraising email. Perhaps Neville is taking a cue from Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who said over the weekend that the Paris terrorist attacks were a “positive development.” Sure, a lot of innocent people were killed, but it’s not all bad if it helps you raise money for your campaign!

BTW, if you had any concerns that Neville might get squishy on his fervent anti-choice beliefs…well, you need not worry. Nobody is going to be flanking Neville on the right when it comes to abortion.


► You may have heard of the (cough-cough) “bipartisan” group of former Colorado lawmakers pushing for changes in Colorado’s reapportionment/redistricting process. What you haven’t been hearing from some of the cheerleading media outlets in Colorado is that Initiative 55 is a jumbled mess of a policy proposal. Colorado voters shouldn’t be asked to vote on a crayon drawing.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Slow Down! Initiative 55 (Redistricting) Is a Rough Draft, Not a Real Policy Fix

Pump the brakes!

Pump the brakes!

Redistricting. Reapportionment. Gerrymandering. Big words that create big problems.

There is no political or policy issue that is not affected by the re-drawing of legislative and congressional districts every 10 years. A truly representative democracy requires that we regularly adjust local “boundaries” in an effort to create a responsive and responsible government that reflects our ever-changing demographics.

In an ideal world, these boundaries would always be drawn in a competitively-balanced manner so as not to give an unfair advantage to any particular community, interest group, or political party. In the real world, this is akin to trying to take “politics” out of politics.

A new group of current and former lawmakers is pushing for a change to Colorado’s political map-making process. The proposal – known already as Initiative 55 – has some bipartisan support but is largely backed by Republicans such as former Governor Bill Owens (R), former Secretaries of State Donetta Davidson (R) and Gigi Dennis (R), and former House Speaker Frank McNulty (R). In fact, Initiative 55 should look pretty familiar to partisan Republicans: Much of the map-drawing requirements in Initiative 55 is comparable to a Republican redistricting attempt in 2004 that was ultimately repealed in 2010.

The primary talking point for the Initiative 55 group is that their proposal will hand over the map-making process to “nonpartisan experts,” which (in theory) would put a stop to gerrymandering. This smells like a good idea that has gained traction in other parts of the country, but what are the other ingredients that make up this political sausage? We don’t disagree that our current map-making process needs to be adjusted, but as we read through the draft language for “Initiative 55,” we found ourselves pumping the policy brakes on numerous occasions. For example:

♦ Initiative 55 would essentially make it impossible for minority groups to increase their voting power. In fact, the language specifically prohibits crafting district boundaries “for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.” This is one of several sections that would appear to be unconstitutional from the start.

Initiative 55 upends some critical redistricting criteria in a way that actually makes it more difficult to craft competitive boundaries. The draft language outlines a few specific redistricting factors in a very specific order; the result is that “competitiveness” and “communities of interest” would become the least important considerations in redistricting. Initiative 55 supporters say that map makers would be “required” to draw competitive seats under this plan, but it would appear that they missed their own fine print.

♦ Metropolitan counties with large populations will still be carved up into several districts, but under Initiative 55, counties can be split even if they divide minority communities or other communities of interest.

♦ One of the stranger quirks in the language of Initiative 55 is related to the tie-breaking process for the Redistricting Commission. If the Commission cannot agree on a particular map and becomes deadlocked, the default solution is to go back to the first map presented by Commission staff – no matter how flawed or misguided it may have been. If the Commission can’t agree on later versions of a redistricting map, the law would require that they formally submit the first draft to the Colorado Supreme Court for approval.

♦ Here’s another weird quirk: In the event that staff “is unable to present initial plans to the commission,” Initiative 55 would allow the staff to draw district lines and directly present them to the Supreme Court for approval (Initiative 55 doesn’t explain what kind of “event” would prohibit staff from meeting with the Commission). In other words, a handful of unnamed “staff members” could somehow skip this entire process and do the map-drawing by themselves. 

Colorado could certainly benefit from a change to its reapportionment and redistricting process, and there may be some seeds of thought in the draft language of Initiative 55 that should be examined further. As it stands currently, however, Initiative 55 is more of a rough first draft than a carefully-considered policy proposal. When you skip the details and rush past the fine print, you risk enacting a policy that ends up doing the opposite of whatever was intended.

Colorado can absolutely lead the way and show the rest of the country how best to deal with re-drawing legislative boundaries…but let’s slow down and get this right, first.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:



So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?


That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Oh, You Mean THAT War on Women

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports from yesterday’s standing-room-only “hearing” (parentheses explained below) held by the Republican Study Committee of Colorado at the Capitol. The announced subject of yesterday’s all-day public event was something they called “fetal tissue trafficking,” but the event quickly devolved into a free-for-all anti-abortion speechification exercise:

Colorado Republicans on Monday held a listening session at the state Capitol that quickly turned into a trial of Planned Parenthood.

The Republican lawmakers who spearheaded the six-hour packed listening session said the purpose of the event was strictly “informational” in an effort to guide future policy decisions. It followed similar hearings on the congressional level.

Republicans are considering legislation for next year in an effort to crackdown on Planned Parenthood, though such measures would face a tough climb in a Legislature split between Republicans and Democrats.

As CBS4 reports, yesterday’s “hearing,” which was a completely nonofficial event that, as Sen. Chris Holbert took pains to note yesterday, will not result in any state staff time or legislator per diem pay, is nonetheless a prelude to what we can expect to see in the 2016 legislative session:

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado met at the state Capitol to discuss video tapes and legislation in response to them. Eight Republican state lawmakers met for what they called an “informational hearing” on fetal tissue trafficking.

“There’s a problem and we’re trying to get down to the essence of what the facts are here in Colorado,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Larimer County.

The meeting comes after a secretly recorded tape showed a doctor from Planned Parenthood of the Rockies talking about fetal tissue donation. Republicans say it shows the doctor trying to sell fetal tissue for profit, which is against the law. But the attorney general and state health department declined to investigate, prompting Republicans to launch their own investigation.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader writes, GOP lawmakers busily working on gratuitous Planned Parenthood troll-bills for 2016 are shocked, shocked mind you, that nobody wants to have anything to do with this:

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, has pulled a bill title to defund Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides abortions in Colorado along with other family planning and health screening services. Hill was not at the meeting, but Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he had spoken to Hill about the bill.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned about the testimony he heard and had questions for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the research facilities at CSU that procure fetal tissue. He said he was surprised that both organizations declined an invitation to participate in the event.

From Planned Parenthood and their liberal allies, while obviously condemning the entire spectacle, an enthusiastic response that signals a willingness, even eagerness to take Republicans head-on:


BREAKING: Ex-Rep. Larry Liston Primaries Rep. Janak Joshi

Larry Liston.

Larry Liston.

An interesting piece of scuttlebutt just brought to our attention out of Colorado Springs today: former Rep. Larry Liston, who gave up his House seat to unsuccessfully run against Owen Hill for Senate District 10 in 2012, hopes to mount a comeback bid with a primary challenge against his successor in HD-16, Rep. Janak “Dr. Nick” Joshi.

A Liston vs. Joshi primary would represent an interesting clash between two wings of the Springs-area Republican Party, with Liston presumably able to hold down “elite” Republicans and Joshi retaining his popularity among the “Tea Party” grassroots. Joshi’s checkered past as a doctor who lost his license to practice medicine hasn’t hurt him up to now, but that could change if Liston chose to make an issue of it. On the other side, Liston’s occasional bouts of verbal diarrhea, like infamously calling unmarried parents “sluts” on the floor of the Colorado House, are enough to give long-term strategic types pause as well.

At this point it’s tough to predict the outcome, but this could be one of the more lively red-on-red primaries of 2016.

Planned Parenthood Declines To Waste Your Time

komen-planned-parenthood4-1As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

Planned Parenthood of Colorado told a group of conservative state legislators last week to take a hike over its planned hearing on fetal tissue trafficking.

The group, called the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, announced plans to hold a six-hour “informational hearing” Nov. 9 on the so-called practice of selling fetal tissue, and invited several people and groups to testify on the matter.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

The response from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is…well, it’s more polite than we would have been:

Planned Parenthood told the unofficial legislative committee that it was declining its invitation to appear before the panel, which is made up of 21 of the most conservative Republican representatives and senators in the Colorado Legislature.

“Their so-called hearing is nothing but a political sham to boost the profile of politicians like Sen. Tim Neville, who had the worst record in the Legislature last year on women’s reproductive rights, and Laura Woods, who has almost as extreme an agenda as Neville,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

The problem is, this Republican-manufactured “committee” has no mandate or authority to investigate Planned Parenthood–let alone enforce any judgment that might result from their “investigation.” Ashby reports that the only people who have agreed to “testify” before this “hearing” are usual-suspect pro-life groups like Mike Norton’s Alliance Defending Freedom. Because both the Colorado Department of Public Health and even anti-abortion Attorney General Cynthia Coffman have refused to humor legislative Republican demands for an investigation into throughly-discredited allegations that the organization “sells baby body parts,” a kangaroo court to self-injuriously reaffirm the Republican Party’s opposition to abortion is all that’s left.

And no, our local Planned Parenthood is under absolutely no obligation to dignify that with a response.

Set Your Clocks Back Sunday, Says GOP’s Rep. Kit Roupe

GOP Rep. Kit Roupe of Colorado Springs doesn’t want you to forget that Daylight Savings Time ends at 2:00AM this coming Sunday:


Hey, wait a minute! That’s Texas high school student Ahmed Mohamed, who built a clock for a high school science project that made national news after being not-really-but-sort-of mistaken by school officials for a bomb–mostly because the kid’s last name is “Mohamed.” President Barack Obama praised Mohamed’s science project, and even invited him to bring it to the White House, but that hasn’t stopped talking heads on the right from theorizing that the whole thing may have been a “dry run” test of security.

We could give this Colorado Springs Republican lawmaker the benefit of the doubt, but that would be better than poor Ahmed got from…well, lots of her fellow Republicans! In the absence of an explanation, you’ll just have to speculate about her punchline.

Who knows, maybe there is one.

EXCLUSIVE: Is David Balmer Done with the Legislature?

UPDATE: The Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela confirms, but as usual you heard it here first:

Republican state Sen. David Balmer will soon resign from office to spend more time with ailing family members and to start a new career opportunity, the Centennial lawmaker told The Colorado Statesman on Friday.

Balmer, who is well regarded for his animal welfare legislation at the Capitol, will work as the political director of state campaigns for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. The fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit wing of the Humane Society.


Sen. David Balmer (R-SD37)

Sen. David Balmer (R-SD27)

Republican state Senator David Balmer is up for re-election in 2016, but the rumor mill is churning with news that the longtime legislator may be about to walk away from the State Senate altogether.

As you can see from his latest campaign finance report with the Colorado Secretary of State (below), Balmer Terminated his current campaign committee on Oct. 7, 2015. We haven’t heard whether or not Balmer might resign from the Senate (SD-27, Centennial-ish) or just decline to run for re-election, but rumor has it that he has grown tired of the GOP infighting and would like to focus his energy on his new job with the Humane Society (the connection seems to fit, because Balmer has spent a good amount of time in recent years sponsoring legislation around dog ownership and adoption programs).

Whatever Balmer decides, we hear that freshman Rep. Jack Tate (R-HD37) is poised to make the jump to State Senate as Balmer’s replacement, which would then make HD-37 an open seat in 2016.


Barbara McLachlan Takes On J. Paul Brown

Barbara McLachlan.

Barbara McLachlan.

A press release late yesterday announced the launch of a new challenge to GOP Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio, whose swing HD-59 seat is considered a major pickup opportunity for Democrats hoping to grow their Colorado House majority in 2016:

Barbara McLachlan, celebrated former English and journalism educator and Teacher of the Year at Durango High School, announced her candidacy for state representative in House District 59, which includes Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Ouray and San Juan counties.

“I am excited to be running for State Representative because I believe in a brighter future filled with opportunity for our Western Slope community,” she said. “I will use my experience as a teacher and educator to tackle the major issues facing our district: fighting for our fair share of school funding, working to bring more jobs and opportunity to Southwestern Colorado, and protecting our clean air and our water, which are central to our local heritage, culture and economy.”

“As a teacher in this district for 20 years, I have dedicated my life to ensuring a high quality education for the students in our community, and I’m running for state representative to continue that work,” Barbara said. “Our Western Slope school districts deserve our fair share of funding; I’ve seen firsthand the impact of shrinking budgets in our classrooms, and I know that when our schools have the resources they need, students learn and achieve more. We can do better, and we need to do better for our students and families in Southwestern Colorado.”

Barbara is also committed to bringing her experience to bear on other important issues impacting our community.

“A major focus for my campaign will be bringing more jobs and opportunity to House District 59,” Barbara said. “While the rest of Colorado has been feeling the effects of the recovery, our Western Slope community has lagged behind. Many families are still having a hard time making ends meet and being able to save for retirement and a higher education. We need to focus on policies that will help create good jobs for hardworking Coloradans and build a stronger regional economy.”

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

HD-59 has swung back and forth between narrow Democratic and Republican wins in recent years, with victory as much a function of how the respective parties are faring as anything else. With 2016 a presidential election year, past performance would indicate a good chance for Democrats to retake this seat. Rep. J. Paul Brown, who is defending this seat after beating Rep. Mike McLachlan in 2014 by a mere 168 votes, has tried hard to live down a bad reputation from his first term in 2010-2012–mostly by keeping his mouth shut instead of popping off with no regard for tactfulness about whatever politically unsightly notion pops into his head. Brown earned the nickname “64 and Brown” after being the only legislator in either party to vote against an uncontroversial homeless youth prevention program.

Mike McLachlan’s considerable health problems while serving in the General Assembly in 2013-2014 are what’s presumably keeping him on the sidelines for 2016, but Barbara McLachlan by all accounts will be more than capable of making her own case for election as an educator with deep ties to the district. McLachlan taught English and journalism at Durango High School for 20 years, and was made Teacher of the Year for the Durango school district in 2012. Some of the votes she’ll be asking for are from former students.

On the upside for Brown, 2018’s midterms are only three years away.

Fake Reporter Art Kane Back With Another Bogus Story

Art Kane.

Art Kane.

Local freelance “journalist” Art Kane came under heavy criticism last year after writing a series of news articles for the Denver Post that inaccurately disparaged the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, in Colorado. And these weren’t small inaccuracies, either, but wild factual exaggerations and totally unsubstantiated hearsay horror stories that fell apart under casual scrutiny.

Since then, Kane has taken up with a “news” outlet much better suited to his particular brand of hackery: the conservative website run by the Franklin Center for Public Integrity. The stories may not be any more accurate–but Kane’s new bosses aren’t concerned with, you know, accuracy.

Today’s Art Kane feature story on per diem pay for Colorado state legislators at Colorado Watchdog is an excellent case in point:

Colorado lawmakers who live outside the metro area will get a bump in their per diem next session, making that state’s reimbursements the second highest in the country and costing taxpayers an additional $35,000 next year…

The per diem rate for lawmakers living outside the metro area will go up to $195 a day next session; state law sets it at 85 percent of the federal government per diem for the Denver Metro area, which also increased this year. The cost to taxpayers is an additional $35,000 a year, legislative staff wrote in an email exchange with

Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky said he was upset when he learned from last week’s story the per diem expenses cost taxpayers so much money, and that raising the costs next year isn’t appropriate.

Gregory Golyansky.

Gregory Golyansky.

Setting aside Colorado Union of Taxpayers president Gregory Golyansky’s major credibility problems, with which our readers are very well acquainted, there’s a very large part of the story of this increase in per diem that Art Kane isn’t telling you:

National Conference of State Legislatures data shows the increase will skyrocket Colorado to the second highest per diem after Alaska, which pays lawmakers $235 a day if they live outside the capital area…

This year, Kentucky, Alaska and Tennessee had higher per diems, but Colorado will surpass those states unless their per diem rates increase. Expensive states such as Hawaii, New York and California reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado, NCSL data shows. [Pols emphasis]

As we read this story claiming that “expensive states” like Hawaii, New York, and California “reimbursed their lawmakers less than Colorado,” we remembered something very important: in Colorado, legislators don’t even make enough to survive. Here’s what the National Conference of State Legislatures really says about the salaries of lawmakers in the states listed above:

Base Salary

California: $90,526 per year
Hawaii: $57,852 per year
New York: $79,500 per year
Colorado: $30,000 per year [Pols emphasis]

This list doesn’t take into account which of these legislatures are “part time” versus “full time,” but that really doesn’t matter: Colorado legislators routinely draw per diem pay for events they attend throughout the year. Most of our lawmakers in either party will tell you that serving in the Colorado General Assembly is very much a full-time commitment. And that means except for the very young and very rich, it’s a huge financial hardship.

And in terms of their total compensation, which is of course the bottom line, Colorado lawmakers earn a tiny fraction of what legislators in these other states make. And that makes Art Kane’s latest big story…well, another steaming pile of bullshit.

Back in 2012, we were critical of a bill to raise per diem pay for legislators, mostly because at that time state employees had not received a raise in several years due to recession-forced pay freezes. Then-majority House Republicans rushing the bill through with no debate didn’t help the optics either. With that said, there’s no question that pay for lawmakers in Colorado is, at this point, a major disincentive to public service.

If Art Kane would like to write a factual story, perhaps he should start there instead.

Colorado Republicans cancel 2016 presidential caucus vote

Move makes Colorado only state to date to opt out of early nomination process

Colorado will not pick a Republican candidate for president in its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that is likely to diminish the swing state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.

The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins.

The move makes Colorado the only state so far to forfeit a role in the early nomination process, according to experts, but other states are still considering what to do.

“It takes Colorado completely off the map” in the nomination process, said Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman.

More at

Wonder why… Are they 1) broke? 2) Afraid of Trump or 3) or still infighting in the Colorado Republican Party to care about their own caucus?

It Wouldn’t Be a Secret Society if you Talked About it, Kent Lambert


Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? We do, we do!
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the Martians under wraps? We do, we do!
Who holds back the electric car? Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star? We do, we do!
Who robs cavefish of their sight? Who rigs every Oscar night? We do, we do!

        – “Stonecutter” theme song, via The Simpsons.

On Tuesday the environmental group Center for Western Priorities released a new report underlining the “anti-government extremism” behind renewed efforts to move federal public lands under state control. According to a summary of the report:

Last week, armed members of the Oath Keepers and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. 

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Reporter Joey Bunch picked up on the report for the Denver Post, and he caught up with Colorado Springs state Sen. Kent Lambert for his response:

“They aren’t just supporting similar goals — they’re trying to pass legislation that goes directly to the demands and ideology of the Oath Keepers and Bundy Ranch supporters,” Aaron Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities, responded in an e-mail about the state-control advocates.

“When Kent Lambert mentions ‘posse comitatus’ during a floor debate, that’s a dog whistle to the Oath Keepers — there’s a tiny group of people who even know what the term means, much less cite it during the legislative session.” [Pols emphasis]

Lambert said he hadn’t heard of the Oath Keepers before Tuesday [Pols emphasis], so it wasn’t a dog whistle but a reference to the “Federalist Papers, No. 29,” a letter from Alexander Hamilton to the people of New York in 1788 to the clarify the role of state militia in enforcing provisions of the Constitution. Further, the often-cited 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limits the federal government’s role in domestic police matters. Lambert’s unsuccessful Senate Bill 39 would have recognized that state and local governments already has jurisdiction over U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

We don’t know if Lambert is a card-carrying member of the Oath Keepers, but we have trouble believing he’s never even heard of this group before. Lambert is a well-documented supporter of usurping federal control over lands (and borders), and has openly consorted with militia leaders like accused child molester Chris Simcox in Arizona (photo right). The Oath Keepers have been in the news quite a bit lately for their bizarre attempt to “defend” Ferguson, Missouri from…black people, or something. Here’s what Mother Jones magazine says about the group:

Oath Keepers is one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.

Hard to imagine these guys not being right up Lambert’s alley–Lambert or any number of other GOP Colorado legislators in both chambers. You might start with legislators who tag along for the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s annual border “fact finding” junkets. But there’s at least a possibility that without the right secret handshake, you’ll never know for sure!

Might be worth keeping this angle in mind next session just the same.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Aug. 13)

Get More SmarterYou’re not the only one who fell asleep before the meteor shower last night. 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).



Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), visited Durango on Wednesday to take arrows over a massive minewater spill in the Animas River. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, joined by her counterparts from New Mexico and Utah, is making not-so-subtle threats to sue the EPA over the the spill.

The river seems to be returning to pre-contamination levels, however. Colorado’s top gross-water tester, Gov. John Hickenlooper, drank directly from the Animas River on Wednesday to prove that the water is safe, contacting the Durango Herald 24 hours later to prove that he wasn’t dead.

► The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled — unanimously — that business owners do not have the right to discriminate at will. The court says that a Lakewood bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple violated state anti-discrimination laws. We still need a court to make it illegal to put disgusting fruit filling between cake layers.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


“Dr. Chaps” Says Drown Gay Boy Scout Leaders (Yes, Really)

UPDATE #2: The Colorado House LGBT caucus weighs in strongly:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt is inciting physical violence against scoutmasters for their sexual orientation, plain and simple. This type of language is hateful and certainly below the station of any elected official, especially in 2015.

“Moreover, Rep. Klingenschmitt has a history of using his platform as an online minister to spread vitriol and violence, especially against members of the LGBT community. Sadly, it is no longer a surprise to hear this type of sentiment from Rep. Klingenschmitt, but that history of hateful speech does nothing to blunt its effect in this particular instance. If House Minority leadership does not act, then they are condoning this type of conduct from one of their caucus members; House GOP leadership’s actions will speak volumes.”

In March, Rep. Klingenschmitt was stripped of his post on the House Health, Insurance, and Environment committee after saying, “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open,” after the brutal attack on Michelle Wilkins of Longmont.


UPDATE: Colorado LGBT advocates react angrily to Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s latest remarks, a statement from One Colorado moments ago:

“After making numerous comments over the past year attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, Representative Klingenschmitt just can’t seem to get enough. He recently called on the Boy Scouts of America to drown all gay leaders in its organization. Gay adults are involved in scouting for the same reasons everyone else is; to serve youth, and to help them grow into good, strong citizens. These comments are reprehensible – and he should be ashamed of himself for making them.

“One Colorado calls on the leaders of the Colorado Republican Party, and Republican leadership in the State House, to condemn Representative Klingenschmitt’s comments and affirm that no one should be targeted for violence just because of who they are, or who they love.

“While experience tells us we shouldn’t hold our breath for an apology from Mr. Klingenschmitt, an apology is exactly what is owed – not just to gay scouts and leaders across the state, but to the countless friends and family members who are tired of seeing their loved ones attacked just for being who they are. Simply put, Representative Klingenschmitt – the fair-minded people of Colorado deserve better.”

Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado takes it a step further, calling (again) for Klingenschmitt to resign–and for House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso to step up and take some responsibility for his caucus:

“Just how far is too far?” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “After Rep. Klingenschmitt claimed that a sitting member of Congress from our state wants to ‘behead Christians,’ and that the tragic attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont last March was ‘the curse of God,’ ProgressNow Colorado called for him to resign. Instead, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso restored Klingenschmitt to his committee assignments as soon as the media stopped paying attention, and swept the matter under the rug. That was a huge mistake, and today Republicans are paying the price as Klingenschmitt once again brings shame upon the entire state of Colorado.”

“It would be easy to dismiss Klingenschmitt’s statements as the ravings of a deranged lunatic, except for the fact that he is an elected Republican legislator in the state of Colorado,” said Runyon-Harms. “By not acting to distance themselves from Rep. Klingenschmitt, Colorado Republicans are validating what he says. Every day that goes by with Klingenschmitt continuing to serve as a Republican legislator, his hatred speaks for them. It has to stop, and the only ones who can stop it are Klingenschmitt’s Republican legislative leaders.”

“It is months past time for Colorado Republicans to ask Rep. Klingenschmitt to resign,” said Runyon-Harms.


Raw Story’s David Edwards reports on the latest over-the-top emanations from the mouth of GOP Colorado Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt–and this one can fairly be described as a doozy. In all our time discussing Klingenschmitt’s wacky declarations about demons possessing President Barack Obama or Rep. Jared Polis wanting to “behead Christians,” we’re pretty sure he has never actually called for the various agents of evil in the world he identifies to be, you know, physically harmed.

Until now:

Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R) said on Monday that it would be “better” for the Boy Scouts of America to drown its gay scoutmasters in the “depths of the sea” instead of lifting a ban on them…

“If your boy is in one of those organizations, you need to get him out of there,” he warned. “Because what they’re going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and camping with your boys in the woods. And it will lead to child abuse… The children are in danger. It’s not about the sexual pleasure of the adults.”

Klingenschmitt pointed viewers a verse from the book of Matthew: “Whoever causes one of these to little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

“This is what Jesus said about child molesters,” the Republican lawmaker insisted…

Klingenschmitt goes on to say that gay Boy Scout leaders being drowned would be preferable to the wrath of the Almighty God “when he throws them into hell.” Klingenschmitt himself says he would rather be drowned than face God’s judgment for the molestations that must surely follow if the Boy Scouts let gay scoutmasters come out of the closet.

Got that? According to the elected Republican representative of Colorado House District 15, who never misses the chance to pose with big-name Republicans for a photo, and who was reinstated to his committee assignments by House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso after calling a vicious attack on a pregnant Longmont woman “the curse of God upon America,” murdering gay Boy Scouts would be doing them a favor.

To be honest, we weren’t sure how “Dr. Chaps” could ever top his previous outrages–but it looks like he just did.

Aurora Victim’s Parents Face Bankruptcy After Suing Online Ammo Dealers, Vow To Change Colorado Law

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi.

Back in May, we took note of a particularly troubling development in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shootings at the Century Theater in Aurora. The parents of Jessica Ghawi, one of the theatergoers killed when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater on July 20, 2012, are facing dire financial straits after their lawsuit against online ammunition and body armor dealers who sold Holmes items used in the Aurora shooting was dismissed.

Under a Colorado law passed as a Republican “backlash” against stricter gun control measures following the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, House Bill 00-1208, requires the immediate dismissal of any lawsuit brought against firearm or ammunition dealers, and further requires (using the term shall as opposed to may) that the judge order the plaintiffs in that lawsuit to pay the gun dealer’s legal fees. The problem in this case is that the suit filed by Lonnie and Sandy Phillips was not frivolous, investigating legitimate questions of liability arising from the online sale of ammunition and other dangerous products. Critically, the suit also sought no monetary damages–just a change in business practices by online gun and ammunition dealers.

Following another shooting incident at a theater in Louisiana last week, the Phillipses appeared on MSNBC’s News Nation with Tamron Hall, and disclosed that they now face bankruptcy over the $200,000 judgment against them. For all the publicity surrounding the Aurora shooting and trial underway now, the plight of the Phillips family has received very little press attention, and Hall expressed shock at learning the details of their case:

The main argument from supporters of the gun dealers seeking money from the Phillips family is that they were given legal assistance by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. They assert that the Brady Center should pay the gun dealers, since obviously it would not be very good press for said gun dealers to start seizing assets of the parents of someone their products were involved in killing. At the end of the segment, Sandy Phillips addresses this question with Tamron Hall directly, asking “would you be willing to pay one penny to the people who helped murder your daughter?”

Because further appeals of the judgment dismissing their lawsuit would only expose them to further liability, the Phillipses say they are dropping their appeal to seek a legislative remedy. Repealing Colorado House Bill 00-1208, or at least modifying its punitive “shall award” language to allow for the possibility of a legitimate case against gun dealers at some point in the future, could perhaps be called a happy ending.

With the obvious caveat that there are no happy endings to this tragic story.