Lakewood Residents: Beware City Council O-21!

On Monday night, Lakewood City Council will take up Ordinance 21, a measure that would weaken legal protections for homeowners to hold developers responsible for fixing construction defects they caused. O-21 would:

  • Give builders the unilateral right to decide on repairs, even over a homeowner's reasonable objection or when the proposed repairs are dangerous or inadequate
  • Impose unreasonable requirements and restrictions on HOAs that make it very difficult to pursue legal claims against builders and developers
  • Prevent HOAs from seeking a jury trial by preventing them from legally amending their governing documents to pursue them
  • Allow builders to destroy construction defect evidence a homeowner would need to prove claims, as well as opt-out rights that homeowners wouldn’t have
  • Conflict with state laws already providing builders with the opportunity to make things right, HOAs to provide defect lawsuit notice to members, etc. – out of jurisdiction

While the intent of O-21 is great – address the lack of affordable housing – O-21 is not the right solution. Increasing pressure on developers to build a higher quality product, definitely. Looking at insurance practices and possible reform, maybe. But taking away homeowners’ ability to determine when, how and the process for fixing shoddy construction in their defective homes? No way. Hear from homeowners themselves who tell the story here:

Lakewood CD Ordinance-HD from Build Our Homes Right on Vimeo.

The bottom line? Anyone buying a house in Lakewood should expect that it is built right – but if there are problems, they should be able to hold builders responsible for their construction defects. You just might want to email Lakewood City Council members to vote no on O-21 if this sounds like a bad idea to you: 

Disclosure: I’m working with Build Our Homes Right, a coalition of homeowners, homeowner associations, property managers, legal advocates and other allies, seeking to ensure that homeowners are protected in Colorado. 

SEIU Hits Gardner On Minimum Wage En Español

Here's the English translation of SEIU Committee on Political Education's (COPE) newest Spanish language ad running in Colorado, hitting Republican Cory Gardner on his opposition to raising the minimum wage:

Juanita: I am a person who works… and I need to have two jobs…
Voiceover: But Republican Cory Gardner fought against raising the minimum wage here in Colorado.
Tomas: And I don’t think that’s fair and just, because I’m here to work with dignity.
Luisa: It’s indignant because he doesn’t think about the community, about the people. He only thinks like a Republican.
Voiceover: In November, we’re voting against Cory Gardner.

From SEIU's release today:

"Colorado Latinos can't ignore what the future would hold with Mr. Gardner whose voting record shows callous disregard for working Latino families," said SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz. "The constituents you hear and see in this ad are just a small sample of a larger dissatisfaction that is quite clear among Latino voters in Colorado."

"The distinction between Sen. Mark Udall and Congressman Gardner is clear. While the senator understands that Latino and immigrant families are fighting for better wages, education, and immigration reform, Gardner has actively ignored or blocked these key issues," Sáenz said, adding. "It's unforgivable and unforgettable."

This ad is reportedly well-funded to run on Spanish language television in Colorado, and is the fourth out from SEIU hitting Gardner with Latino voters. The previous three ads all concerned immigration reform, an issue Gardner has already taken plenty of fire on, so moving on to wages as an issue makes a lot of sense. Latinos are a key constituency where incumbent Mark Udall needs to run up the score against Gardner–and where Gardner, knowing he can't win outright among Latino voters, needs to minimize his losses.

All told, we'd say smart money is being spent here.

Unemployment Below 6% for First Time Since 2008

As CNN Money reports, there's plenty of good news in the last jobs report before the November election:

The nation's unemployment rate fell below 6% in September for the first time in six years.

The rate came in at 5.9%, while employers added 248,000 jobs last month…

…The "drop out" factor has been a problem during the recovery, but the recent decrease in the unemployment rate, which stood at 7.2% a year ago, is due more to Americans landing jobs than giving up. Employers have added 2.6 million people to their payrolls since last September.

This is obviously important news for candidates up and down the ballot, but it is particularly important for Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose primary message for re-election has revolved around economic growth.

Studies show: Protecting Greater Sage Grouse is good for Colorado Jobs & Economy

One of the West’s iconic birds, the Greater Sage Grouse includes among its historic home and heritage significant lands in Northwest Colorado. Now a new study shows that protecting that habitat could secure a $50,000,000 and growing input into the Colorado economy. 

The findings of the report which came out yesterday (September 30) are backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Western Values Project

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT LATEST NEWS WIRES

$1 billion recreation spending fueled by sagebrush, study says

$1 billion in recreation spending helped boost economies in 11 Western states and helped efforts to protect greater sage-grouse habitat last year, according to a study commissioned by Pew Charitable Trusts. The $1 billion in recreation spending came mostly from hunters, campers, fishermen, and others.

…The study is the first of its kind to examine the direct and indirect economic impacts of recreation spending tied to U.S. Bureau of Land Management property with habitat for sagebrush-dependent species, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Hunters, campers, fishermen and others spent more than $623 million directly within 50 miles of Bureau of Land Management property in sagebrush ecosystems across more than 61 million acres, said the report by ECONorthwest, an economic consulting firm founded in Oregon in 1974.

The findings are also supported by another study, backed by the Nature Conservancy, University of Wyoming, the University of Montana, and the US Geological Survey (among others) that was getting reported the day prior: that protecting lands in the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming for the Greater Sage Grouse is also good for the area’s prized mule deer herds, and that’s good for hunters and local communities alike. 

Conservationists long have speculated that protective measures for sage grouse also benefit the more than 350 other species that inhabit sagebrush ecosystems, but this study is the first to quantify the “umbrella” benefits of those actions for migratory mule deer. Those measures include Wyoming’s sage grouse “core area” policy, which limits development in the state’s key grouse habitat, as well as conservation easements, agreements with private landowners to limit development.

“This study underscores the simple idea that keeping sagebrush habitats intact through Wyoming’s core area policy and conservation easements will have additional benefits for mule deer habitat,” says Holly Copeland, a research scientist with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming and lead author of the paper.

…Both sage grouse and mule deer, two iconic species of the American West, have seen significant population declines in recent years, as a result of drought, energy and residential development, and other habitat fragmentation. 

The benefit of protecting sage grouse habitat as a way to strengthen the economic activity supported by the public lands is due in part to its value in protecting this range of habitats for numerous species, as the CSM article notes:

Biologists consider the greater sage grouse to be an indicator species whose population numbers signify the health of the entire sage brush ecosystem that supports a wide array of wildlife.

These benefits of protecting our wildlife and wild places ought not only be measured in dollars and cents.  Certainly there is room for the wisdom that embraces  an inherent place for the other species of our world.   But the numbers, if crunched, are clear and compelling as well.  Protecting public lands in Colorado necessary for the survival of wildlife—including the greater sage grouse and big game herds, along with over 300 other species—also secures jobs. 

And that makes it a triple win.   

Big Government Republicans go on Offense in Springs

 

Everyone, well, except their own constituents, knows the Republican claim to be against Big Government is a well-planned and executed lie. They're really against any kind of big government that helps the Middle Class, that helps democratize our economy, our civil rights, our infrastructure, or our education system in any way. When it comes to going to war, spying on Americans (tho Obama does get several demerits for this, too), tax breaks for America's largest, most polluting and most profitable industries and corporations it can't ever be big enough.

What with the still-flaccid economy (thanks to their obstructionist brethren in DC), and a bipartisan set of budget cuts to everything, Republicans in Colorado Springs and El Paso County have gone on the offense to maintain our vast military and the local economy's reliance on Big Government, Military Industrial-strength spending:

While Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen may be warring (ha ha, funny.-ed.) over stormwater back home and plotting each other's defeat in next year's mayoral race, they were pulling together at the capital. And while they may be rooting against Gov. John Hickenlooper in the November election, they were working closely with his military team.

Who knew Hick had a military team? 

At stake are as many as 16,000 soldiers and hundreds of airmen who could be cut as part of a Pentagon plan to carve $900 billion from its budget over a decade. The pitch, made to military leaders Tuesday, is that Colorado Springs is a great town that loves its troops and keeping them in the shadow of Pikes Peak makes America safer.

"We are at risk," Bach said. "Everything is on the table."

Exactly as it should be in, ummmm, war. With just the right amount of fear mongering.

The delegation of 13 Pikes Peak region business and community leaders is spending three days in the capital where they plan to lean on Colorado congressional staff member and other key leaders to stave off the cuts. With a new war growing against the Islamic State group, they may find a receptive audience.

Lindsey Graham and John McCain: Mission Accomplished

The prospect of huge losses has energized state and local leaders. The General Assembly this year approved cash for an economic impact study of the military in Colorado and for a lobbying campaign.

The Regional Business Alliance and other local organizations have redoubled their lobbying for military money. In August, the business alliance gathered signatures on 3,600 postcards from locals pledging support for Fort Carson and its soldiers.

County Commissioner Peggy Littleton said a bigger effort is forthcoming. She's pushing for all 64 counties in Colorado to pass resolutions supporting the military.

That much bipartisanship would probably kill me. But just think if we were of one voice in supporting students, our aging bridges, local arts and cultural foundations rather than America's Mighty War Machine? Our economy, and its citizens, would boom. (Ooops, bad analogy.-ed.)

One issue that Air Force leaders told them must be addressed is stormwater, a longtime issue of contention in El Paso County that affects area bases. While military leaders won't endorse a measure on November's ballot to address regional stormwater needs, they said they want the problem addressed, said Andy Merritt, who oversees military issues for the business alliance.

"They want it fixed," Merritt said.

Great. Something Springs's leaders have been struggling with for years, something the anti-tax, Doug-Bruce-iopaths have taken to court, just needs the a-ok from a General officer or two. That Manitou Springs could be washed away any day isn't reason enough to fix this massive problem. Well, they are a bunch of liberal pot smokers anyway. 

Mark Volcheff, vice chairman of the alliance's Military Affairs Council and a retired Air Force major general, said Pentagon leaders won't hesitate to make deep cuts if Congress doesn't come up with more cash for the military.

We can only hope. And Ike must be spinning in his grave.

The interstate highway system has done more for our nation, for far less of an investment, than all the DoD contracts combined have done to stamp out religious extremism around the world. It's too bad we can't see the forest for the trees on this issue. And more napalm to burn it all down won't help in the way those same efforts and investments would help if the money went to bridges, schools and hospitals here rather than blowing those same things up overseas.

(That last sentence needs rewrite!-ed.)

A Rising Tide in the Sage Brush Sea – Saving the Sage Grouse is Good for Wildlife

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This time of year the color comes out in Colorado, and it’s not only the golden aspen in the high country or rusty scrub-oak on south-facing slopes.  Blaze orange is also in full display in western Colorado as communities put out banners, and the hunters don’t disappoint—for the arrival of the fall hunting season

The Piceance Basin has been called, at various times, Colorado’s ‘mule deer factory’ and a ‘national sacrifice area.’  One is an apt description of biological fact—the Piceance is home to the largest migratory deer herd in North America and the other an unfortunate description of what too many think: that developing the area’s abundant fossil fuel deposits ought to take precedent over everything else.  Including the wildlife

This isn’t meant to be a soapbox: a lot of lands are already leased or controlled by energy companies in Northwest Colorado, more drilling is coming.  But unlike where the shale is getting drilled and fracked on the East Slope, out in Weld County for instance, gas in the Piceance isn’t worth as much for a variety of reasons and companies are mostly sitting on their large reserves—for now.

This gives Colorado’s wildlife a bit of a time out, and we shouldn’t waste it.  Because it’s not just the mule deer, or the elk, it’s all the wildlife that relies on humans not being reckless with their habitat just to suit our purposes.  That includes the Greater Sage Grouse.  And that’s a reason for everyone to come to the table and figure things out quick. 

Which gets back to the hunting season.  Hunters need animals, and animals need habitat.  It’s as simple as that, and that’s why hunters have long been counted among America’s original conservationists.  The Sage Grouse is in the news lately because its habitat needs are not being met and its headed for a listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Lots of different folks would like to avoid that—including many conservation groups if the bird’s habitat can be protected and enhanced so the grouse’s decline can be reversed. 

But the State of Colorado needs to act fast to put real and strong protection in place that protect the bird’s habitat.  That means doing more to protect habitat in the Piceance Basin, which is also where the Greater Sage Grouse occurs in Colorado.  That’s good for all the animals.  And hunters.  

Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Displaying on a Montana Lek from Ronan Donovan on Vimeo.

 

Betsy Markey Busts Walker Stapleton: Yes You Did Say That

A fundraising email from Democratic state treasurer candidate Betsy Markey today catches Republican Walker Stapleton in a whopper of a lie from their recent debate on Colorado Public Television. As sent to her supporters earlier today:

Tonight is your chance to catch my first debate with Walker Stapleton. It’s airing on Colorado Public Television-12 tonight at 7:30 p.m., or you can catch it on their website…I told you everything we didn’t hear from Walker Stapleton at the debate…no answers on his PERA attacks, his lack of transparency or his embarrassing absenteeism.
 
Of course it wasn’t all silence. Back in 2010, when Walker Stapleton first ran for Treasurer, he had this to say:
 
“It’s time, unfortunately, that everyone that benefits from PERA suffers.”
 
But when he was pushed on those statements at the debate, here’s how he answered:
 
“I never said that.”

Here's the video of the exchange in question:

MARKEY: I'd like to see you come up with a specific solution, instead of suing the PERA board on which you sit for records of the top 20% of the beneficiaries–which is quite frankly privacy information–and uses it as a political football. instead of coming up with a specific change you would like to make, and then you bring it to the state legislature as was done with Senate Bill #1. And it was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. And that's how you make changes, instead of, of basically saying, which you have said, 'it's time for people under PERA to suffer.' Well, I don't want  half a million people, who rely…

STAPLETON: I never said it's time for people to suffer…

MARKEY: Yeah, the Canon City editorial, it was from…

STAPLETON: I said, the only way to fix the problem is shared sacrifice. It's shared sacrifice.

MARKEY: I mean, I'm making, I'm not making, I'm not making this up…

We do have one small correction: Walker Stapleton didn't say "it's time for people under PERA to suffer" in an editorial. As the Canon City Daily Record's Rachel Alexander reported in February of 2010, he said it at a forum hosted by the Fremont County Republicans.

[Stapleton] said he would focus on shoring up the state pension system and that he would be an activist on PERA's board. 

"It's time, unfortunately, that everyone that benefits from PERA suffers," he said. [Pols emphasis]

But folks, he most certainly did say it. We referenced this story back in 2010–the same story in which Stapleton infamously told the soccer moms of Colorado "it’s time education competes for funds." Now, maybe Stapleton doesn't remember all the crazy things he said on the 2010 campaign trail, like warning of "hyperinflation" Glenn Beck-style and claiming the state needed to hoard gold to stay afloat.

The moral of the story? If you say these kinds of embarrassing things, own up to them, even if it's just to admit you were wrong–because denying the permanent record that anyone can find is much worse.

Supporting Net Neutrality

I submitted my last comment asking the FCC to regulate internet providers as common carriers today. I hope everyone submitted something this summer as net neutrality is vital to the existence of sites like this one. All the comments can be read at the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System Search for Filings page.

Here is my comment:

To FCC Commissioners Wheeler, Clyburn, O’Reilly, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly


    I have read the four recent fillings submitted by Comcast, and I am deeply concerned. These filings are full of deceptive language, and it is obvious that this company thinks that the job of government is to help it make money. Instead, the job of government is to make sure that everyone, including major corporations, follows the law. We have decided as a society that internet access is vital to commerce, education,  and the pursuit of happiness. The FCC has the ability to protect internet access by declaring that internet providers are common carriers.

    A company may experience something as a “heavy-hand” because they cannot compete on a level playing field while most internet users would experience that standard as a “light-hand”. So might new businesses. While most people cannot travel to DC to meet with Commissioners in person, I am sure that those commissioners who have traveled have heard many people say that unequal access to the internet would feel harsh and heavy. Small businesses cannot pay more for decent internet access. Local government websites may be legally blocked from paying enough to provide access to all their citizens.

    Please regulate internet providers as common carriers.

Denver Post For Sale: Anschutz? Polis? Gill? Citizen Kane?

denverpost

Fascinating speculation on the possible fate of the state's newspaper of record The Denver Post, via Aldo Svaldi:

Digital First Media's decision to pursue "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale, could result in The Denver Post, and 13 smaller newspapers in the state, operating under local ownership by early next year, media analysts predict…

Rick Edmonds, an analyst with The Poynter Institute, said wealthy investors have purchased the flagship newspapers in Washington, Boston, Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska, under what he calls the "Black Beauty" strategy.

"You might end up with a nice owner who gives you a warm stall," he said. "There are good odds that there might be someone in Denver and San Jose who would have that feeling."

The person most likely to fill that bill in Colorado is Philip Anschutz, whose holdings include The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City and The Gazette in Colorado Springs, predicts Mutter.

If that sends a shiver down your left-leaning spine, you may not be alone:

A bid by Anschutz, known for his conservative views, could potentially trigger a rival offer from millionaires on the other side of the political spectrum.

They include Internet entrepreneur turned Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, and Tim Gill, who made his fortune in software publishing program Quark.

Svaldi reports that wealthy Rep. Jared Polis was "coy" when asked about the possibility of buying the Denver Post. We're not privy to any discussion about this one way or the other, although news of the Post going up for sale was not itself a surprise. It's no secret that the newspaper business has been in decline for many years, and digital revenues haven't replaced the old subscription model enough to keep them profitable. Meanwhile, competition from other media for long-format detailed coverage via online publishing has eaten away at the major newspaper's traditional role as the principal contemporary historical record.

That said, acquisition of institutions like our state's biggest newspaper for any ideological purpose, left or right, could reasonably be considered troubling to those who would like to simply get straight undoctored news. That may be as old a fear as William Randolph Hearst, and partisan Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett may have rendered the question irrelevant for time being anyway–but that doesn't make it sit much better with us. We can say that the Colorado Springs Gazette, a major daily paper in Colorado owned by Anschutz, has a newsroom that in our experience unflinchingly covers bad stories Republicans like Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. The editorial board of the Gazette is conservative, but so is the market they serve.

One thing's for sure: we can't afford to buy the Post. Perhaps we'll buy a lottery ticket.

Chick-fil-A cuts Colorado Woman’s hours and pay and demotes her after cancer surgery

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Good Christians who run Chick-fil-A couldn't have done any better?

 A Colorado breast cancer survivor said Chick-fil-A is cutting her insurance and demoting her just after she took leave for a double mastectomy.

To Daphne Richards, a newly-divorced mother with two children to support, Chick-fil-A's family-friendly values and healthcare coverage seemed like a perfect fit.

"I lived in Indiana my entire life, and I relocated for this job," said Richards. "I could move up the ladder, and the owner told me 'Maybe someday, you could own your own store."

She started late last year as shift manager at the Larkridge Chick-fil-A in Thornton. But in May, Richards got the diagnosis.

"I had double breast cancer in both breasts," she said. She would need a bilateral mastectomy and weeks to recover.

"For this company, when tragedy struck, they stepped up," said Frederick Schaefer, the attorney for Chick-fil-A at Larkridge. "Even though she didn't qualify for continuing benefits during her work hiatus under the Family Medical Leave Act, the store continued to pay for her health insurance coverage during her medical leave."

Just after she was cleared by her doctor to come back to work last week, though, she said the store owner delivered a shocking blow.

"She said,'I no longer have a full-time management position for you, and you will no longer be receiving healthcare benefits after September,'" said Richards. "She said something about reconstructing or reconfiguring the business."

Disgusting.

And just another example that those who profess to have some kind of higher purpose and better ideology can be as greedy and uncaring as the most bloodthirsty vulture capitalist. Granted, this may be a franchisee, but individual managers and franchise owners can not, and should not, be exempt from the corporation who truly owns the business model.

 

UN Liberals, Unicorn Bans, and Better Broadband—The Battle for Senate District 5

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Gail Schwartz, who has rather tirelessly worked on behalf of Senate District 5 is term-limited, and the battle to replace her is considered one of the top races this cycle for control of the Colorado Senate.  The contest is between Kerry Donavan, town councilor for Vail, and member of a long time Eagle County business and ranching family; and, Don Suppes the self-proclaimed “most conservative mayor” from Orchard City, an incorporated water district on the southern flanks of Grand Mesa, somewhere roughly between Delta and Cedaredge

The Club 20 debates yesterday not only included the marque races for Governor and U.S. Senator, and the second string races for CD 3 (Tipton, R-Worthless and Tapia, D-Pueblo, again) and CD 2 (featuring George Leing talking to himself), but a number of down ticket races as well including one shaping up to be a major battle in the fight to keep or take control of the state senate. 

Senate District 5–which includes Eagle, Lake, Gunnison, Chafee, Pitkin, and Delta counties–bridges the Divide: at the spine of the continent, as well as in the politics in western Colorado. 

Far from the ‘Republican stronghold’ some imagine it to be—western Colorado actually has classically divided politics: a number of areas are blue and trending bluer, even as the Republican strangleholds on places like Mesa and Moffat County increase.

And there is a strong sentiment toward being non-affiliated: which spans the range from conservative to liberal, and not always in familiar pairings.  A lot of folks like guns, and pot.  Your neighbors might be a changing band of hippies or survivalists bunkering down for the post-apocalypse.  Sometimes its the same group of people.  Its not a new thing and we like it that way.  We can be a little crusty, but most of us are friendly, and we help each other out.  

(more…)

AFL-CIO LAUNCHES KOCH SISTERS CAMPAIGN

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

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

Website: http://www.kochsisters.org

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

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

Dems Go Populist Against Banker Beauprez

A press release from Making Colorado Great, the third party group responsible for taking the hard shots at GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez this year, announces a new ad with a six-figure media buy focusing on Beauprez's record as a wealthy banker:

Making Colorado Great today released a new television ad “Meet,” highlighting how Beauprez rigged the system for big money special interests.  Beauprez owned a $400 million bank but while in Congress voted to make it easier for banks like his to get away with risky practices, which were a major factor in the economic recession.
 
“Coloradans are still hurting from the recession that was significantly fueled by a lack of regulation of our banking system. The simple fact is that in Congress, Bob Beauprez voted to reduce regulations on banks — new rules that made it easier for banks to foreclose homes, which helped lead to the financial crisis,” said Michael Huttner, spokesperson for Making Colorado Great.  “In Congress, Beauprez repeatedly fought for the wealthiest and the well-connected, preventing hard working Colorado  families from getting their fair shot at success.  Beauprez will try to use the double-talk he mastered as a Washington politician to hide his record but Coloradans know he can’t be trusted him with Colorado’s economy.”

The Denver Post's Joey Bunch:

The Denver Post reported in 2006 on the bill Beauprez co-sponsored in 2005 that would have cut regulations, granted tax reductions, limited regulatory audits and exempted community banks from some disclosure reports about lending practices. The Post also reported that the law could have lifted provisions that consumer advocates said protected home borrowers from abusive loans.

“It’s very unseemly for a member of Congress to co-sponsor legislation that would reduce some regulatory requirements for a bank that he has a major financial interest in,” Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America, told the Post at the time…

As we've been discussing today, there is a big menu of available issues on which to hit Beauprez. This particular one is interesting to us because it goes after Beauprez's past as a banker, and supporter in Congress of policies that arguably hurt ordinary Americans. That might not have been a problem for Beauprez back in 2006–or maybe it was, he lost so badly to Bill Ritter it's tough to know–but either way, this could be a very potent line of attack in the wake of the Great Recession. You may be aware that the reputation of bankers in general took something of a hit back then, and still hasn't really recovered.

And that's a message even voters who don't know or don't care about Beauprez's craziness may respond to.

Facts Undercut Walker Stapleton (Again)

Walker Stapleton.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s favorite axe to grind, the estimated rate of return for the state’s Public Employee Retirement Association fund, has once again failed to fulfill his dire predictions. Last week, Stapleton lost big at the Colorado Supreme Court, when the court refused to hear his appeal to gain access to confidential PERA data. Stapleton’s campaign to “reform” PERA, while complaining loudly about the fund’s supposed weakness, has been his most visible policy as state treasurer.

Well, as Ashby reported yesterday…it’s a bunch of BS.

A state audit of the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association, which holds and manages pensions for just about every state and local government employee in Colorado, has “no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses.”

…Along with the audit, PERA’s actuaries also reported last week that the pension fund will become 100 percent funded in 34 years, Smith said. While the ideal solvency level is aimed at 30 years, the pension system doesn’t have far to go to get to where it needs to be fully funded, he said.

Smith credited much of the pension’s good health on reforms made by the Colorado Legislature in 2010. That new law, SB1, reduced retirement benefits for new government hires, reduced automatic cost-of-living increases for existing retirees and increased contributions to the fund by employers over seven years…

Though it now has a projected 7.5 percent return rate, which the pension lowered from 8 percent, over the past 30 years its investments have returned more than that — 9.5 percent on average, he said. [Pols emphasis]

The fact is, Treasurer Stapleton’s doom and gloom assessments of PERA’s outlook, segueing into the usual political arguments for “doing something” about the “lavish benefits” PERA pensioners receive, have totally failed the test of basic accuracy. Even after the 2010 SB-1 reforms significantly increased employee obligations, not to mention the lowering of the projected rate of return for PERA investment to 7.5% last year, Stapleton has continued to find a ready (if ignorant) audience for his message on PERA with partisan Republicans.

As we discussed last week, Stapleton has missed a large number of PERA Board meetings, going back years–all the while pursuing his now-failed lawsuit, and arguing that PERA’s “irresponsibility” was exposing Colorado taxpayers to massive risk. The full facts of Stapleton’s campaign against PERA make the whole business just laughable. Even if you’re with Stapleton on “reforming” PERA, he’s done a terrible job making the case. For us, having missed so many PERA board meetings while grandstanding on the issue for years destroys Stapleton’s credibility. For everyone else, there’s the increasingly undeniable fact that Stapleton is just plain wrong about PERA.

“Without being confrontational with the treasurer, we like to talk about the numbers, [Pols emphasis] and are focused on the numbers, and the numbers indicate to us that we don’t have a current crisis. Every indication is we’ll be able to meet our obligations and eventually we’ll return to fully funded status.”

Back in 2010, when Stapleton campaigned for treasurer warning of a coming “hyperinflationary environment” and calling for the state to buy gold Glenn Beck style to ward off disaster, we marveled a little that this silly man was actually poised to defeat a competent and trustworthy administrator like then-Treasurer Cary Kennedy. But it was a wave year, and things happen down the ticket in such elections that have nothing to do with the greater good.

There was no “hyperinflationary environment” after 2010, but Stapleton has proven no less silly.

More evidence that Gardner tried to stop Obamacare by threatening government shutdown

(Once again, the record makes a liar of Cory Gardner – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

In a blog post last week, I noted that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner threatened, during a radio interview in August of last year, to shut down the government unless Obamacare was defunded.

This is in 180-degree-contrast to what a Gardner spokesperson was quoted as saying last week, that "Gardner had warned against requiring Democrats to defund the Affordable Care Act as a requirement for keeping government open.”

It turns out Gardner also launched the defund-Obamacare-or-we-shut-down-the-government warning from the floor of the House of Representatives. And he did it the day before the shutdown occurred:

Gardner: "Over the weekend, this House worked to find a solution to the impasse over the Continuing Resolution, sending over various options to the Senate to try to jump start negotiations to work through an agreement to find a solution to keep our government funded. In the early hours of this morning we finally said to the leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, let's find a way to meet face-to-face, through a conference committee, to negotiate a solution and avoid a government shutdown. We passed three times now measures to keep the government funded and a way to find solutions to this critical issue.

But there are many people in Colorado who are struggling now because of the shutdown and who are worried about what happens to their situation, particularly those who may have been impacted by the flood. And that is why we must find a way to get government funded, to find a solution to get government going back on track, while preventing policies that we know are bad for the economy."

Here, Gardner acknowledged the concern that the shutdown could affect flood recovery, and he blamed Harry Reid for the impasse, but he insisted that a budget deal must prevent "policies that we know are bad for the economy" (i.e. Obamacare riders in the Gardner-supported funding resolutions to keep the government open).

This contradicts his spokesperson's statement that Gardner warned Republicans not to shut down the government to try to stop Obamacare. I don't see any such warning in Gardner's floor speech, and, in fact, the government shut down the next day.

[Pols Note: Video moved so that it appears after the jump]

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