Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 30)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Move over, Peyton, and make room for the Brockweiler. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missedsomething important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Robert Lewis Dear will make his first scheduled court appearance today. Dear is the domestic terrorist accused of killing three people and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the Planned Parenthood attacks “an act of terrorism” during a media appearance on Sunday, and his call for ending dangerous rhetoric is being widely repeated. From the New York Times:

Several other guests on Sunday talk shows called the shootings domestic terrorism, including Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is a Republican presidential candidate; the mayor of Colorado Springs; and the head of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Many, including Hickenlooper, also suggested that it was time to begin discussing how to tone down rhetoric that “is inflaming people to the point where they can’t stand it, and they go out and they lose connection with reality in some way and commit these acts of unthinkable violence.”…

…Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs, on ABC’s “This Week,” said the Planned Parenthood clinic appeared to be the target of the attack. In comments similar to Hickenlooper’s, Suthers, a Republican, said the country needed to better identify people with “mental health problems and prevent their access to weapons.”


► There’s a new effort to change how Colorado deals with its annual redistricting and reapportionment process, and as Colorado Pols reported last week, the proposed ballot language would probably end up making the process worseMarianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent has more on “Initiative 55,” which critics say could “destroy the Latino vote in Colorado”:

Under the proposed Initiative 55, a commission made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated members would oversee the General Assembly’s nonpartisan staff in redrawing boundaries for both legislative and congressional districts.

It’s neither the composition of the committee nor the nonpartisan staff assigned to do the redrawing that most concerns critics. It’s that the initiative, as written, would prohibit the staff from mapping districts to augment or dilute the voting strength “of a language or racial minority group.”

Some say the priorities Initiative 55 sets for redrawing districts would violate the Voting Rights Act.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


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.

Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.

Klingenschmitt says Gardner is doing the “Bob and Weave Dance”

(Finally some fireworks in the race to succeed Bill Cadman – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt likes to come out swinging at his various targets, including, now, his Republican opponent for state senate, Rep. Bob Gardner.

Showing off his media skills, Klingenschmitt posted an entertaining video today, labeling Gardner a “liberal” and featuring Gardner doing the “Bob and Weave Dance.”

Klingenschmitt: My opponent for the race for State Senate District 12, Bob Gardner, has just started performing this Bob and Weave Dance to perfection! Here’s a quick example. If you’re following this Colorado Springs election, you know we’re both Republicans. And I’m actually conservative and Bob Gardner is a liberal who pretends to be a conservative.

Klingenschmitt’s undercover video features Gardner saying he supports the principles of liberty, but Chaps points to the Principle of Liberty website, which lists Gardner as receiving an F in 2013 2014.

“Don’t believe ratings systems that are odd, distorted,” Gardner apparently says in Chaps’ undercover video.

Chaps calls that statement an examaple of the Bob and Weave Dance–and he wants an apology from Gardner for allegedly calling Chaps a liar.

Chaps concludes with, “Unlike you, Mr. Bob-and-Weave Gardner, I don’t dance.” (But we know Chaps does throw poop.)

Dems Take Aim At Laura Woods on Veterans Day

A press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund on a new ad (above) playing on cable in Senate District 19, the ultra-swing Jefferson County district held by hard-right Sen. Laura Waters Woods expected to play a central role in the Democratic strategy to retake the Colorado Senate in 2016:

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, launched an ad today highlighting State Senator Laura Woods’ hypocrisy on veteran’s issues. The ad was spurred by a recent Woods Facebook post about Veterans Day writing she supports veterans – “I am reminded I owe each veteran a debt I can never repay.” Woods can never repay because she repeatedly votes against veterans.

“Laura Woods does not get to call herself a patriot just because she posts a flag on Facebook or carries a sign in a parade. She’s playing politics with our veterans and it makes me sick to my stomach,” said Korean Era Veteran Dennis Larsen. Larsen explained, “I’m a veteran in Laura Woods’ district, and I want answers. Why has Laura voted against those of us who have put their lives on the line for our country?”

Beginning with Woods’ statement that she refers to herself as a, “liberty-minded patriot,” the ad outlines some of Woods’ harmful votes against veterans. This includes her vote against tax breaks for veterans (HB 15-1181), against in-state tuition for dependents of active duty military members who have attended school in Colorado (HB 15-1215), and her “no” vote on establishing employment services for veterans (HB 15-1030) seeking job training. The ad ends, “Laura Woods. What a hypocrite.”

“Laura needs to explain her record. Why did she vote against the majority of her party and against veterans? What would drive someone to vote for not taxing soft drinks (SB 15-274), but then vote to tax active duty service men and women (HB 15-1181),” said Andrew Short, Executive Director of the DSCF.

It’s a good ad that makes a number of hard-hitting points in rapid succession, and ends with a simple message: “what a hypocrite.” Taking advantage of the seasonal lull in political ads just after the election, it’s actually a very good time to plant messages on low-name ID downballot candidates like Sen. Laura Waters Woods–whose negatives Democrats hope will become her story ahead of 2016’s hottest state senate race.

As just these few votes demonstrate, they’ve got plenty to work with.

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:


Why do Colorado Senate Republicans think it’s a good idea to attack Jeffco voters?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Control of the Colorado Senate swings in the balance next year, with the Democrats hoping to pick up one itsy bitsy state Senate seat and the Republicans clinging to a majority of one itsy bitsy Senate seat. And that seat is most likely in Jefferson County.

With this in mind, after last night’s uprising against conservatives in said Jefferson County, you’d think the Republicans’ official Senate Facebook page would speak in a humble tone, with an eye on the not-so-far-away-longer-term.

Instead, the Colorado Senate GOP lashed out at the Jeffco electorate, which, did I mention, will be voting again in just 12 months (or, about 364 days).

Here’s what the Colorado Senate GOP Facebook page had to say, in a statement that deserved wide coverage:

Parents not willing to support school reform get what they vote for — reform-resistant status quo schools run according to union shop rules. If that’s good enough for their kids, so be it. It’s the students, not the parents, who will live with the consequences.

Do Colorado Senate Republicans hope to hold their Jeffco swing districts with this attack line? Do they think attacking the Jeffco parents is a winning strategy for 2016?  It’s a legitimate question for reporters to put to Senate Republicans, given what they said today on Facebook.

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.

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.


Americans Die, @ColoSenGOP Yucks It Up

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk.

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk by Hurricane Joaquin.

NBC News reports on the increasingly desperate search for the SS El Faro, an American-flagged cargo ship lost at sea during Hurricane Joaquin somewhere between Florida and the coast of Puerto Rico:

A cargo ship missing since Thursday with 33 crew members board was believed to have sunk 15,000 feet in the teeth of Hurricane Joaquin, which began strengthening and moving closer to its path almost as soon as it set to sea…

The Coast Guard planned to focus on findng “people in the water,” Fedor said. “We are not looking for the vessel any longer.”

The 790-foot ship, the El Faro, was likely swallowed by the Category 4 hurricane two days after it left Jacksonville, Florida for San Juan, Puerto Rico. When it set off on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Joaquin was just a tropical storm with wave swells of 7.5 feet and sustained winds of 65 mph.

Hurricane Joaquin.

Hurricane Joaquin.

The Chicago Tribune reports on damage assessments just beginning to take place in South Carolina, after moisture from Hurricane Joaquin collided with a cold front headed southeast across the United States to create a “1,000-year flood event.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he’s never seen flooding as bad in his 40 years as mayor.

“This was a record storm,” he said. “You know the amount of rainfall that we have experienced is unprecedented. I feel very fortunate that we were able to get through this as well as we have.”

At least seven weather-related deaths have been reported since rains began spreading over the Eastern Seaboard, which appeared to dodge the full brunt of Hurricane Joaquin as it veered out to sea.

It’s an horrific situation for the families of American merchant sailors awaiting word on the fate of the El Faro, and the citizens of East Coast states who have lost their lives in this massive storm. Coloradans still recovering from 2013’s devastating floods along the Front Range have some idea of what folks down there are going through today.

But unfortunately, the Colorado Senate GOP Majority Office is rather short on empathy.

While most of America, especially official America is expressing condolences to the families of the dead, the official Twitter account for the Colorado Senate Republican Majority is laughing it up–about a supposed “hurricane fizzle” that they think discredits those darned “climate alarmists.” Never mind that the storm appears to have killed several dozen Americans, on the El Faro and on the East Coast. To the Colorado Senate GOP, that the hurricane’s most damaging winds have moved away from the coast after sinking an American ship and killing Americans in South Carolina “rains on [the] parade of ‘extreme weather’ hucksters.”

In short, the Colorado Senate GOP’s desire to score political points via Twitter has now trumped common decency at a very basic level. Does Senate President Bill Cadman approve of this? Because it surer than hell reflects on him.

And in an objective, nonpartisan sense, it’s really disgusting.

Will Woods and Neville attaboy fellow anti-vaxxer Trump?

(A good question – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

The Denver Post made a good point today about Donald Trump’s idiocy on vaccines:

It may have gotten lost in the welter of headline-grabbing moments in Wednesday’s Republican debate, but Donald Trump managed to add to his list of idiotic claims.

It seems he suspects vaccines cause autism and at the very least ought to be spaced out over a longer time period. As it is, he claims, the syringe of vaccine is so big that it “looks just like it is meant for a horse, not for a child.”

The idea that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly debunked, but why should Trump care when his rhetoric on everything is so sloppy?

The serious question for us here in Colorado is, will some of our important local politicians attaboy Trump?

You’ve got, for example, Sen. Tim Neville, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run, and Sen. Laura Woods, a top target of Democrats. Both have sponsored legislation affirming that parents can opt their children out of getting recommended vaccinations.

Are Woods and Neville worried that kids might get autism from vaccines? Maybe, for them and Donald Trump, the threat of autism outweighs the risk posed by the fact that Colorado ranks last in the U.S. for measles vaccinations among kindergartners?

Donald Trump’s media magnetism, along with his real popularity and out-there beliefs, continues to offer an opportunity for us to educate ourselves about what our local politicians think. Trump makes talking about vaccines and autism fun, especially because he’s not in power. Let’s air out his ideas here in Colorado.

Lundberg supports Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank asked Lundberg Friday whether he’d back a Colorado clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses. “I believe that they have that responsibility as an elected official to ask themselves, am I fulfilling my job or not,” Lundberg told The Post. This comment may have led, in part, to the Post’s editorial today pointing out that Lundberg “appears confused about whether state officials can ignore laws they don’t like.” The Post called Lundberg’s stance “disturbing.”


In a string of Facebook posts beginning Sept. 3, Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg hasn’t been shy about his support for Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who landed in jail after giving marriage licences to some loving couples but not others.

Who would expect Lundberg to be shy, given his uncompromising stances on social issues in the legislature? But he is a state senator, which is why his fringe view should be aired out by reporters and others. To wit:

On Facebook, Lundberg wrote that Davis is “abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.”


Good for Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is refusing to issue “marriage” licenses on the grounds that it violates God’s law, and her conscience.

Have the Federal judges become kings and queens who can fabricate law out of thin air and then throw state government officials in jail for daring to oppose their plans? What Constitutional authority does the Federal Court have to jail this elected official for exercising her best judgement in fulfilling her duties as county clerk? If the people who elected her want her to change, they can speak through any recall procedures the State of Kentucky allows, or vote her out at the next election for county clerk, but the Federal Courts should stay out of areas of law clearly reserved for state jurisdiction.

The courts have certainly seized this power and demonstrated their autocratic intentions long ago, but they do not derive this authority from the Constitution, which is the law of the land.

In my opinion the clerk is abiding by the laws of God and man. The Supreme Court and their inferior courts are the ones in violation of the rule of law.

In a post last week, Lundberg addresses the question of why Davis shouldn’t just resign:

Additionally, many are saying that the clerk is not following the “rule of law.” I submit it is more accurate to say she is not following the rule of the Court. If anyone is actually following the rule of law, it is clerk Davis.

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.