Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Dec. 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanAccording to multiple media reports, there is a lot of snow in the Denver Metro area. 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 final Republican Presidential debate of 2015 will take place tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump expects to be the center of attention as the rest of the field tries to prove its relevance. Politico previews the debate and points to combative promo spots being aired by CNN as a hint that things might get a little rough.

The big debate kicks off at 6:30 pm tonight; there will also be a “kids’ table” debate at 4:00 pm featuring the four Republican candidates with the worst chance of becoming the GOP nominee.

 

► The State Board of Education announced its list of finalists for Colorado’s next education commissioner. A former Republican lawmaker from Arizona, Richard Crandall, is the sole finalist for the state’s top public education official. As Eric Gorski reports for the Denver Post:

The state Board of Education, which has been bitterly divided over a number of contentious issues in the past year, voted 6-0 Monday to name Richard Crandall, 48, sole finalist for the position.

Considered to be a moderate Republican, Crandall played a key role in ushering in major changes to education policy in Arizona, including backing the state’s adoption of the Common Core state standards and crafting a teacher evaluation law.

This is the second time in the last 18 months that a “national search” for a top education post in Colorado ended up with just a single finalist; in May 2014, Dan McMinimee was inexplicably declared the sole finalist to become the next Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools. 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ill-Conceived Redistricting “Fix” Collapsing Under Own Weight

James Mejia (in the Democratic doghouse).

James Mejia (in the Democratic doghouse).

If there was ever a time in which the sudden push for a “fix” for Colorado’s arguably unbroken system of redrawing congressional districts we’ve seen in recent weeks made sense, that time is rapidly passing as questions about the timing and true purpose of a “bipartisan” ballot initiative grow. As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported Friday:

“It’s backroom politics at its worst,” said state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster. [Pols emphasis]

Initiative 55, as the measure is known, seeks to take the politics out of an inherently political process — the drawing of Colorado’s Congressional and legislative districts. The Congressional maps have been drafted by the General Assembly, with most of those efforts ending up in court for final resolution. State legislative districts are drawn by an independent commission that’s appointed by lawmakers and other state officials. Those results often end up in court, too.

The original language of Initiative 55 — submitted last month by former Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch and former Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction — triggered concerns that the measure would disempower voters of color, which the Voting Rights Act attempted to strengthen…

Ulibarri told The Colorado Independent that the language of 55 isn’t the same as other redistricting efforts that have been passed in other states, and that the fine print of the measure intends to break up communities of color and fracture their political voices. He has raised his concerns with the ballot measure sponsors McNulty and Buescher, and asked for a chance to be at the table for discussions about the language. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Ulibarri is being told to submit concerns to Mejia.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch also covered this story Friday.

Former Denver Public Schools board member James Mejia is emerging as a major loser in this faltering effort, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that he is the “Democrat” primarily responsible for branding the proposal as “bipartisan.” It’s unknown how much Mejia has been paid by organizers of the ballot measure, but it’s hard to imagine the check was worth the loss of face Mejia is experiencing as fellow Democrats line up against him.

A key meeting Thursday organized by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri and other legislators seems to have sealed the fate of this proposal, at least in terms of it attracting any significant Democratic support in its present form. As of this writing, just about every stakeholder to the left of the Republican Party has seen the facts of how it could harm minority voters.

But beyond that, as the controversy grows over this proposal, its whole logical basis comes into question. Yes, the redistricting and reapportionment process in Colorado happened last time under Democratic control. But the current Republican majority making up Colorado’s congressional delegation and split control of the legislature between the two parties very straightforwardly demonstrates the lack of a problem with the status quo. The fact is, we have very competitive districts in Colorado. Our current process for drawing legislative maps gets testy at times, but the results would seem to speak for themselves. If you accept that, this whole business is a solution in search of a problem.

And when you ask the next logical question, why is it happening at all? James Mejia has no good answers.

Colorado Redistricting Effort Already a Complete Mess

Oh, was that not what you ordered?

Oh, was that not what you ordered?

A few weeks ago we discussed a new redistricting/reapportionment proposal that was making its way toward the 2016 ballot.

The so-called “Initiative 55” redistricting proposal popped up almost out of nowhere in late November, and language for a new constitutional amendment was rushed out for review. It was clear from the jump that there were severe problems with the wording of this proposal, particularly in regards to diminishing minority voter strength. As we wrote on Nov. 24th:

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.

As it turns out, the “review and comment” process was the end of the line. There were a lot of problems with the wording of the proposed amendment; the “Initiative 55” group was supposed to respond to those concerns last Friday, but that deadline passed without comment. Supporters of this redistricting proposal will now almost certainly have to start the process all over again in January.  An extra month might help them figure out how not to create a constitutional nightmare for the 2016 ballot, but this entire effort has been such a clumsy disaster that it may not have any supporters left on board after the Holidays.

As Joey Bunch wrote for the Denver Post late yesterday:

The issue is whether it’s better to continue to allow the legislature to draw the maps — which often wind up in court — or create a bipartisan, independent commission.

Since it was announced last month, the discussions have been slowed by long-held distrust between the parties and questions about ulterior motives and overemphasizing or diminishing minority voting strength. [Pols emphasis]

Some Democrats think Republicans are trying to inconspicuously bust up minority voting power, which has traditionally favored Democratic candidates by making “communities of interest” less important than geographical boundaries and partisan balance.

Today, dozens of civil rights and community organizations dropped a pretty harsh press release condemning the entire process as a partisan attempt to minimize minority voting in Colorado. The full release is available after the jump — and the quotes are pretty strong — but here’s the gist of it:

A group recently announced they are attempting to restructure the way Colorado draws legislative and congressional maps. It is not known who is providing their financial backing. Without any public outreach, language was filed to put a measure on the ballot next November that would ban enhancement of minorities in voting districts and minimize communities of interest, resulting in outrage from civil rights and community organizations.

Dozens of people, representing NAACP, minority caucuses, the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, Common Cause, ACLU, Mi Familia Vota, Los Servicios de la Raza, businesses, local officials and education met Thursday at Escuela Tlatelolco in Denver to denounce the private discussions that are aimed at creating a ballot question to change how Colorado draws legislative and congressional boundaries.

State Rep. Angela Williams, chair of the Colorado Black Caucus, is quoted in the release as saying: “These so-called bipartisan efforts to create an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional boundaries are laughable. Our voices were not at the table from the beginning.”

And then there’s this from Supt. Rev. Patrick Demmer of the NAACP and Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance: “There is no trust in this effort – it’s fatally flawed. We’re tired of people going behind closed doors and deciding these issues – and giving no voice to communities of color. They haven’t even had a conversation with the people it will impact.”

What has 2 thumbs and the political acumen of a walnut?

What has 2 thumbs and the political acumen of a walnut?

D’oh! This thing is sinking faster than Ben Carson at a foreign policy debate. The “Initiative 55” group has been touted as a “bipartisan” effort — but only because Republicans found two former Democratic lawmakers to stick their names on a press release, and because Denver Democrat James Mejia is leading the effort through his consulting firm.

Mejia is a former Denver School Board member who in 2011 was thought to be a leading contender for Denver Mayor. But then the campaign began, and Mejia was so bad that he didn’t even make it to the runoff. For his sake, we hope Mejia got a big check for agreeing to direct this turd, because he’s probably already burned through any political capital he might have had. You can tell from the Post story that Mejia is realizing the problems (albeit too late):

“We’re working off language that I assume will please Democrats with regard to whether this would dilute minority votes — which absolutely was never the intent of this initiative,” Mejia said. “… We want to make no mistake as to what we’re trying to do here. Our intent, first and foremost is to be more transparent and inclusive.”

Yeah, that worked out well.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Dec. 10)

Get More SmarterTwo weeks from today, you had better be done with your Christmas shopping. 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…

We can stop wondering about the motive of Robert Dear, the man accused of killing three people during a terrorist attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Dear leapt to his feet during an arraignment hearing yesterday to declare that he is guilty of the accused crimes, saying “I’m a warrior for the babies,” in reference to debunked claims that Planned Parenthood is in the business of “selling baby parts.” To those who screamed that the media and others were “politicizing” the Planned Parenthood shooting, you can be quiet now, too; the accused shooter “politicized” this story from the beginning.

 

► Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is taking some much-deserved criticism over his wordy “non-response response” to comments from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump that the United States should temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country. We took note yesterday that Coffman swung and missed — twice — in responding to Trump’s comments with statements that don’t actually address Trump’s comments. The Aurora Sentinel seems to have noticed as well:

Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman remains firmly on Santa’s list of good boys after making sure he said nothing that could be remotely construed as cross about the fascist Donald Trump. Whereas a cadre of his fellow Republicans on the congressional delegation had plenty of nasty things to say about the poll-leading presidential candidate, Coffman observed Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment in speaking no direct ill of the Donald nor his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country…

…[The Sentinel] admires the congressman’s willingness to be so tremendously wishy-washy and non-combative when everyone and their mother has free rein to smack talk America’s pre-eminent smack-talker. It just goes to show that while there may be no atheists in foxholes, there’s plenty of room to remain relatively agnostic when it comes to public officials opining on unconstitutional, un-American policies.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) signed his name to another letter critical of President Obama’s foreign policy plan for dealing with ISIS. It’s not clear what Gardner and his fellow Republican Senators don’t like (other than Obama himself), because Obama is already doing everything the GOP suggests in their letter.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Dec. 9)

Get More SmarterOn the plus side, it’s not so windy today. 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…

► Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump says he stands by his comments that the United States should temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the country. In the 36-48 hours since Trump announced his newest foreign policy idea, politicians on both sides of the aisle have strongly condemned The Donald; Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) called Trump “a buffoon,” and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) said that Trump was “a fraud.”

Annnddd…then there’s Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who whiffed not once, but twice in attempting to respond to Trump’s comments by trying not to respond to Trump’s comments.  As Colorado Pols wrote earlier today:

In the last week, Coffman has also refused to condemn the remarks of State Rep. JoAnn Windholz, whose Commerce City district is within the boundaries of CD-6, even though his hometown paper called for Windholz to resign over her disgusting comments in the wake of the Planned Parenthood terrorist attack. Coffman had plenty of cover here, too, to speak out about Windholz’s statements, and he just skipped right along in silence.

Does Mike Coffman believe that Donald Trump is right in saying that the United States should temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the country? Does Mike Coffman believe that the Planned Parenthood attacks were the fault of Planned Parenthood (which is Windholz’s belief)? We don’t know, because he won’t say.

And it speaks volumes.

► Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give this to Donald Trump: The man understands the principle of leverage. While (most) Republican elected officials were being openly critical of Trump’s Muslim comments, Trump once again dangled the “I-word” on Tuesday:

Republicans don’t have any good options for dealing with Trump right now. If Trump ends up becoming the GOP nominee for President, his litany of offensive comments will be the albatross that hangs from every Republican neck in 2016. If Trump decides to leave the GOP and run for President as an Independent, he will suck enough votes away from Republicans to make it impossible to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the General Election.

Thus, many Republicans have resorted to crossing their fingers and repeating the mantra, “Trump will not be the Republican nominee.” But his Hairness isn’t going anywhere: “I. Will. Never. Leave. This. Race.”

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Colorado Republican leader vows to continue investigating Planned Parenthood

(They just can’t help themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Last week’s terrorism at a Planned Parenthood center won’t stop Colorado state Sen. Kevin Lundberg from conducting hearings on the women’s health organization and pushing for a state investigation.

In a Facebook post three days after the shooting, Lundberg wrote that he took advantage of a budget hearing to ask Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer, why Wolk hasn’t launched an investigation into whether the women’s health organization violated state laws relating to fetal-tissue research.

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reported on the incident Tuesday:

Despite the tragedy still fresh for the public and victims’ families, Republicans on Tuesday wasted no time, getting right back to the fetal body parts issue. Remarks came during a budget hearing with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Will the department be taking some action to deal with this inadequacy?” asked Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, pointing out that the state health department has taken no action against Planned Parenthood on the fetal body parts issue.

Later, Lundberg wrote on his Facebook page that he has “specific questions” that he intends to ask Wolk during the legislative session, and Wolk ageed to testify.

“I finally had a brief opportunity to question the Colorado Health Department director, Dr. Wolk, concerning his department’s failure to thoroughly investigate possible violations of Colorado law concerning fetal tissue trafficking,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

Wolk’s told Lundberg at the hearing that he did not see “any connection to Colorado” in heavily-edited undercover videos, some of which featured Colorado Planned Parenthood officials. And he said he’s always available to answer questions from Lundberg.

“This despite his refusal to come or send anyone from his department to the RSCC Fetal Tissue Trafficking Hearing held on November 9,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 4)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Christmas Day is three weeks away; sorry to freak you out. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans have finally advanced legislation to President Obama’s desk — where it will be swiftly vetoed — that would gut Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood for a year, and cripple Medicaid. From the Associated Press:

Openly welcoming a preordained veto, Republicans on Thursday drove to Senate passage some legislation aimed at crippling two of their favorite targets: President Barack Obama’s health care law and Planned Parenthood.

With a House rubber stamp expected in days, the bill would be the first to reach Obama’s desk demolishing his 2010 health care overhaul, one of his proudest domestic achievements, and halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood. Congress has voted dozens of times to repeal or weaken the health law and several times against Planned Parenthood’s funding, but until now Democrats thwarted Republicans from shipping the legislation to the White House.

Thursday’s vote was a near party-line 52-47. Colorado’s U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet, voted “yes” and “no,” respectively…

…Republicans said an Obama veto — which the White House has promised — will underscore that a GOP triumph in next year’s presidential and congressional elections would mean repeal of a statute they blame for surging medical costs and insurers abandoning some markets. They lack the two-thirds House and Senate majorities needed to override vetoes, ensuring that the bill’s chief purpose will be for campaign talking points.

In short, Congressional Republicans spent a good deal of time on legislation that will never be enacted that was only pushed through to create “campaign talking points.” Republicans felt compelled to do something that would appeal to their base — rather than doing something to deal with rising gun violence — but as we noted yesterday in a separate story, Democrats are prepared to bring the political sledgehammer down on their GOP counterparts.

 

► Meanwhile, Republicans are absolutely refusing to do anything in response to a week filled with mass shootings and domestic terrorism throughout the country. From Politico:

One day after the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in nearly three years, the Senate voted down a pair of gun-control measures that were designed by Democrats to put Republicans on record on the charged issue…

…”The entire country will know where every member of the Senate stands on tightening background checks, on keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists and on strengthening and improving mental health in this country,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday at a news conference detailing the strategy. “There are a good number — not all — but there are a good number of our Republican colleagues dreading these two votes. Dreading them.”

Schumer’s belief that Republicans are privately nervous about doing nothing on gun control has not been reflected in many public statements coming from GOP elected officials. Again, from Politico::

“I don’t think we have a gun problem in this country,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. “I think we have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism.”…

…On the whole, though, Republicans say legislating in the wake of a tragedy would be a knee-jerk reaction.

“Do I feel pressure to take up gun control because of what happened out there? No,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican who represents a conservative district in South Carolina. “Do we let TV dictate what we do? Folks back home are not calling me and demanding gun control. Because I think folks — especially folks in South Carolina — recognize it’s not a gun control issue. I don’t know what it is today, if it’s mental health, terrorism.”

Polls show that most Americans believe attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics should be considered acts of domestic terrorism. While Congress is refusing to do anything regarding gun violence, Gov. John Hickenlooper says that Colorado’s legislature could see several bills dealing with the issue when it reconvenes in January.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Dec. 3)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218We were hoping to make it through today without another gun violence incident in Colorado. No such luck. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Colorado Republicans continue their penchant for making ridiculous comments in the wake of the Planned Parenthood terrorist attack last Friday in Colorado Springs. Senator Laura Waters Woods, whose SD-19 seat is already considered to be the top target of Democrats in 2016, deleted a weird Facebook post that cryptically supported the Planned Parenthood attack after the Colorado Independent began asking questions about the content.

The now-deleted social media post by Sen. Woods comes on the heels of an indefensibly disgusting Facebook diatribe from  State Rep. JoAnn “Violence is Never the Answer, But…” Windholz (R-Commerce City) that made national headlines on Tuesday. The Aurora Sentinel has since called on Windholz to immediately resign from the legislature:

That Windholz would use such repulsive and sophomoric argument in a community like Aurora — where another madman slaughtered innocent people going about their daily lives, and who were in no way “culprits” in the crime — makes Windholz’ blunder all the more painful.

Windholz should immediately resign…

…If Windholz won’t resign, fellow members of the House and her own Republican Party should censure her. She’s already ended her own political career with her heinous remarks. Now Windholz just needs to make it official.

Republicans would be wise to publicly condemn Windholz for her comments, but they may be reluctant to add to Windholz’s woes because they risk losing an incumbent in a district that the GOP narrowly won in 2014. We’d be surprised if Windholz was able to win re-election in 2016 anyway — and she is already facing a potential recall attempt — so Republicans probably need to start looking for a replacement candidate.

 

► After two more mass shootings in the U.S. on Wednesday (in San Bernardino, California, and Savannah, Georgia), pressure is mounting for lawmakers to take action to reduce gun violence. As Nicholas Kristof writes for the New York Times, America hasn’t really been trying to make a change:

So far this year, the United States has averaged more than one mass shooting a day, according to the ShootingTracker website, counting cases of four or more people shot. And now we have the attack on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed at least 14 people.

It’s too soon to know exactly what happened in San Bernardino, but just in the last four years, more people have died in the United States from guns (including suicides and accidents) than Americans have died in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. When one person dies in America every 16 minutes from a gun, we urgently need to talk about remedies.

Democrats, including President Obama, emphasize the need to address America’s problems with guns. Republicans talk about the need to address mental health. Both are right.

While Republican leadership in Congress remains relatively silent on addressing the issue of gun violence, Democrats and physician advocates are pushing to end a federal funding ban on gun violence research (yes, Congress actually banned funding for research on gun violence). As CNN reports, the former Republican Congressman who once led the way on preventing funding for gun violence research is himself calling for changes:

The former Republican congressman who pushed legislation nearly 20 years ago that effectively banned the federal government from funding research on gun violence is calling on Congress to reverse that law.

In a letter to the chair of House Democrats’ task force on gun violence prevention, former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas called for the government to fund research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the causes of gun violence in the U.S. and expressed “regrets” for his part in stopping that research.

“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached. Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution,” Dickey wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, “doing nothing” to address gun violence has been an acceptable response for Congressional Republicans. That needs to change. Now.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Sen. Laura Woods Deletes Freaky Facebook Post

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

The ability to instantly reach a vast audience of people via social media is becoming a real “kiss/curse” for some of the more radical Republican elected officials in Colorado following last week’s terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. We’ve talked at length now about the angry screed from Rep. JoAnn Windholz of Adams County, in which she directly blamed Planned Parenthood for the attack on its own clinic. After that posting made national news yesterday, it was deleted–but the quite possibly fatal damage to Windholz’s political career had already been done.

After breaking the Windholz story, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday on another very questionable social media post from a Colorado lawmaker post-terror attack–this time from Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada:

Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, who played a prominent role in the Nov. 9 hearing, posted a Guy Fawkes picture on her Facebook page two days after the attack that stated: “THE MIND OF A SLAVE ASKS IS IT LEGAL? THE MIND OF A FREE MAN ASKS IS IT RIGHT? ”

Fawkes was the 17th century English terrorist who attempted to blow up the House of Lords. The image was originally created by Alan Moore in his anti-government comic book V for Vendetta, which was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster with a pro-violent-revolution undertone…

Woods did not respond to a call for comment.

Here’s the Facebook post in question:

Screen-Shot-2015-11-30-at-10.41.09-AM

This post is somewhat cryptic in comparison to Windholz’s very direct accusations against Planned Parenthood, but the timing of the post invites obvious questions about what she meant. Woods is a stridently anti-abortion member of the Colorado Senate, and a regular participant in such activities as the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s sham “hearing” on Planned Parenthood last month. Woods has a lengthy record of immoderate statements via social media since winning her swing SD-19 seat in 2014.

But perhaps most telling of all is that sometime after Goodland’s story yesterday, Sen. Woods deleted the post. And we’re pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened had it not been determined to be, you know, a liability.

Perhaps another reporter will be able to get Woods on the record, since she’s not returning Goodland’s calls.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Dec. 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Remember, kids, it’s never a good idea to add a “but” at the end of a definitive statement. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► State Rep. JoAnn “Violence is Never the Answer, But…” Windholz (R-Commerce City) is really making a (bad) name for herself, garnering national media attention for her ridiculous comments on the Planned Parenthood terrorist attack in which she blames…Planned Parenthood. Windholz spoke out on Facebook and in a statement to the Colorado Independent, and her disgusting commentary quickly gained national attention. The editorial board of the Denver Post sums up the Windholz reaction thusly:

Rep. JoAnn Windholz, R-Commerce City, ought to be ashamed. Her statement on Facebook regarding Friday’s attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs is stunningly crude, callous and incendiary.

“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit,” her statement says. “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any pph [Planned Parenthood] facility is [Planned Parenthood] themselves.”

The last line is almost chilling in its implicit acceptance — as opposed to a forthright condemnation — of any future assaults on a similar facility…

Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate outrageous rhetoric from elected officials. And Windholz is up for election in 2016. [Pols emphasis]

Windholz was narrowly elected to the legislature in 2014 in a close race against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jenise May, and her odds of retaining her seat in 2016 just plummeted.

 

► Windholz’s absurd comments on Friday’s attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs served as a prime example of the kind of overheated, dangerous rhetoric that progressive groups such as ProgressNow and NARAL Pro Choice Colorado sought to call out during a press conference on Tuesday. The Douglas County Republican Party unintentionally echoed those sentiments with its own sickening social media posts. As Joey Bunch of the Denver Post reports:

“No one should have to fear for their lives when they’re just out just being in their communities, when they’re going to the grocery store, when they’re going to the doctor, accessing health care,” ProgressNow Colorado’s executive director Amy Runyon-Harms said at a the press conference.

She called out a list of Colorado Republicans who have spoken against Planned Parenthood with language she characterized as hostile.

Colorado Republicans, such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) are growing increasingly nervous about the clear line between their dangerous rhetoric and the violence it seems to breed.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► 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…

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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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► 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…

(more…)

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.)