100 Years Ago Today: Ludlow

ludlowmonumentPhoto courtesy United Mine Workers of America

100 years ago today, a gunfight broke out between members of the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners employed by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company near Trinidad, Colorado. During the fighting in and around a tent encampment of striking miners, eleven children and two women were killed when the tent above a pit they were taking shelter from the fighting in was set on fire. This event became known as the Ludlow Massacre, and shocked the nation into a greater awareness of the poor working conditions and exploitative "company town" economic predation faced by coal miners.

This event is being widely commemorated on its 100th anniversary today, and we'll update with coverage.

Ryan Budget Barely Passes; Colo. GOP Delegation All Vote Yes

UPDATE: Mike Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff responds:

The Ryan budget does not reflect the values most Americans share. It would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes, students to pay more for college, and seniors to pay more for health care. The House I led balanced the budget every year. But we didn’t do so on the back of the middle class. Some estimates suggest the Ryan plan would cost the country as many as three million jobs. Among the other casualties: 170,000 at-risk children, who would lose access to Head Start.

The winners? Those in the highest income bracket, pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporations that offshore their employees.

If you’re serious about growing the economy, you don’t eliminate job training. You eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

If you’re serious about balancing the budget, you allow Medicare to negotiate deeper discounts in prescription-drug prices – instead of sticking seniors with higher bills.

If you’re serious about strengthening the middle class, you vote against the Ryan budget. 

—–

Gardner Ryan Budget

Cory Gardner loves him some Paul Ryan

As the National Journal reports, the latest "Ryan Budget" has passed the House (barely). All of Colorado's Republican Members of Congress voted 'YES' on the budget — Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget carrying $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years without closing tax loopholes, as Ryan and other GOP leaders averted a potentially embarrassing defeat on the bill because of party defections.

The measure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no. A swing of just seven Republican votes would have defeated the measure…

…Even some Republicans acknowledge passage of the Ryan budget is more an aspirational declaration of their party's priorities and vision of government spending.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not necessarily a reflection of all House Republicans' vision. Some conservative defections were anticipated.

Having already flip-flopped on major issues such as Personhood, we're a little surprised to see both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman sticking with Rep. Paul Ryan on a vote that will almost certainly hurt them with General Election voters.

Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity (of Us Put-Upon Billionaires) hands out “Made in China” baseballs at Rockies game

The jokes just write themselves as the Super-Rich, Anti-government, Obama-hating Oligarchic Koch Brothers attempt another poorly planned and hastily produced smear job of Senator Mark Udall on Obamacare:

Charles Koch toes the rubber. Pitching from the stretch. Looks in for the signal. He wants the batter to chase his curveball, off the plate. Here comes the pitch

The prolific attack group AFP is keying off the Colorado Rockies home opener today by slamming Democratic Sen. Mark Udall over his support for Obamacare. Americans for Prosperity Colorado is handing out foam baseballs prior to the game that say "Tell Sen. Udall Obamacare is striking out."

Oh, but he left it up in the strike zone, right over the plate!

Said Chris Harris, Udall's spokesman: "It's never good to hand out stuff in American politics that says 'Made in China.' "

 

Baseball from Americans for Prosperity emblazoned with logo and slogan: Tell Sen. Udall Obamacare is striking out.

The Koch Brothers and their paid henchmen, and henchwomen, prove to be epically cynical once again. Aand they're hoping and praying Colorado's voters, and Rockies fans, are the same. (h/t DailyKos)

(If someone can find a pick of an offending baseball, please post.)

Marriage Equality: Dollars and Sense

gay-ca-wedding

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports today:

Extending marriage to gay and lesbian couples in Colorado would generate $50 million in spending to the state economy and $3.7 million in state and local tax revenue, according to a study released Thursday.

The study from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law, looked at 2010 U.S. Census data on the number of gay and lesbian couples living in Colorado and estimates that 50 percent – roughly 6,200 couples – would choose to marry in the first three years, a pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

As a result, the state’s wedding business would see an increase by $40 million, and an increase of roughly $10 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests over the same period.

Total state and local tax revenue would rise by $3.7 million, including an estimated $2.3 million in local sales taxes.

More in a press release from One Colorado:

“We’ve already known that marriage would give committed couples here in Colorado the opportunity to make a lifetime promise to each other and protect their families the same way everyone else does,” said Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy group for LGBT Coloradans and their families. “Now we know that marriage equality would also benefit our economy and contribute to the state’s bottom line.”

Anybody who's ever had to pay for their own or a child's wedding, or been privy to the accounting of costs for any decent ceremony, can tell you that more weddings directly translate into lots more money flowing into the hands of local business–and tax revenue from those businesses to the public sector. Major life developments like weddings remain one of the situations where Americans set aside frugality and really open their wallets, which is exactly the kind of exuberant consumption a healthy economy thrives on.

Sounds like a good old-fashioned capitalism success story to us.

DCCC Hits Coffman on New “Ryan Plan”

The Hill reports today:

House Democratic leaders bashing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) latest budget bill have at least one good thing to say about the sweeping plan: It could help them at the polls in November.

Democrats have been focused on a populist economic agenda that includes an increase in the minimum wage, an extension of emergency jobless benefits and a broad expansion of health insurance coverage included in the Affordable Care Act. 

They're hoping the Ryan plan — which slashes spending on food stamps, low-income education initiatives and Medicaid, among a long list of domestic programs — plays right into their messaging strategy.

It's generally accepted today that the budget proposals put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan since 2010 have harmed Republicans politically, especially in 2012 when Ryan's spot on the Republican presidential ticket made him an icon of their policy goals. Democrats aggressively campaigned against Ryan's budget proposals, particularly where they affected popular programs like Medicare and Social Security. Fact-checkers stopped short of validating the frequent Democratic campaign charge that the Ryan Plan would "end Medicare," but it's a much more accurate statement to say Ryan's proposal would privatize Medicare–and no less damaging politically.

(more…)

Rivera / Crowder Town Hall Heats Up, Democracy Thrives

 

 



 

 


When Colorado Senators Larry Crowder (left) and George Rivera convened a town hall in Pueblo on Wednesday, March 19, they probably hadn't planned to be confronted, interrupted, and corrected by dozens of Pueblo citizens of various political stripes. But that's what happened.

Over the course of a two hour meeting, Rivera and Crowder discussed wage theft, the proposed SouthWest Chief Rail expansion to Pueblo, PERA, TABOR, minimum wage and the rights of workers to organize, with about fifty vocal and opinionated constituents.

Senator Rivera came out swinging as the hard-right conservative he is- he explained that he is a "right to work" guy, that he is "not a believer in… the whole concept of the minimum wage", that he would like to privatize PERA (change it from a defined benefit to a "defined contribution" model).

He does not support the  lawsuit challenging TABOR, and he would rather see people paying fuel taxes than using public transportation, a dig at the proposed SW Chief rail line, the signature issue of his opponent for SD3, Represenative Leroy Garcia.

On SB14-05,  the "wage theft" legislation passed out of Committee  and into Appropriations with no Republican support, neither Senator took a strong position.  Both Senators agreed that it is a shame to steal a day's pay for a day's work, expressed some caution about costs of the measure, and moved on.


Senator Crowder, the more experienced politician, took softer stances, or tried to avoid taking stances altogether. He did not agree with privatizing PERA. He also does not support the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of TABOR, does not support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and seems to be somewhat ignorant of what would be required to dismantle TABOR.

On the minimum wage issue, Crowder advocates for raising the "median wage", a proposal which got quite a few baffled looks from the town hall attendees. Crowder stated  that only 2% of workers receive minimum wage, when, in actuality, 59% of workers, mostly women, are paid at the minimum level. 


When directly challenged by Yesenia Beascochea (left) of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: "How are people supposed to buy groceries on $7 an hour?" Crowder waffled until he was rescued by George Rivera's daughter, (left center) who ranted for three minutes, questioning  why anyone should support poor folks on Medicaid.

So, Crowder never answered Beascochea's question.  Crowder is also the more moderate of the two southeastern Colorado Senators; Crowder was the only Republican to vote for Colorado's Medicaid expansion and Health Exchange. Lamar's Crowder is also a co-sponsor of the SW Chief rail expansion legislation, and did not agree with Rivera on the need to "privatize PERA".


Excerpts from the Town Hall discussion:

PERA

Rivera supports a “defined contribution” plan, not a “defined benefit” plan. Rationale: it will save money.

Carole Partin, a teacher, challenged him: Privatizing PERA will change it, and those are benefits that we worked for.  A defined contribution plan goes out to the hedge fund managers.

MINIMUM WAGE:

Barb Clementi, another teacher,  schooled the Senators on how we subsidize Walmart because of minimum wages. Rivera argued that low wages, low taxes are what brought businesses in.

Rivera argued that minimum wage legislation is a "slippery slope." He wondered, "Why would it stop at $10/hr, why not $25 hr?", and predicted that businesses would pass costs to the consumer, or close down. When confronted with examples of businesses such as Costco and others which pay $10.10 an hour, and are thriving, he changed the subject.

Question: What’s your opinion on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour?

Rivera: "Well, I’m not a believer in the minimum wage. The whole concept of the minimum wage.  Because, OK, you raise it up to ten dollars and ten cents. What’s the business going to do? Are they gonna sit there, and say, OK, we’re gonna pay out that ten dollars and ten cents? And all of a sudden, we’re in the red, and whereas before we were paying seven dollars, seven-fifty, and isn’t that three dollars…more?. What are they gonna do? They’re gonna raise the cost of their goods to make up that three dollars and ten cents. So all of a sudden that ten dollars and ten cents…you’re right back where you were, a year or two later, you’re chasing your tail."

"Now let me give you another, for example….why stop at $10.10?  Why not go to twenty-five? Because twenty-five dollars an hour…Heck, we’ll all agree is good money, and everyone will be happy. No, that’s not gonna work, again, because they gotta raise the cost, raise the price of whatever goods they’re selling. They gotta make up for the cost of that pay raise, whatever it is."

Q: Do you think that Walmart’s going to go in the red by paying the minimum wage?

Crowder: Here I thought I had a chance. I can wait outside. (laughter)

"Here’s the thing about the minimum wage. 2% of the people rely on the minimum wage. (he’s 57% off, according to the Dept of Labor- 59% of American workers work for minimum wage)

What we ought to be talking about is the median wage. (Audience murmurs, puzzled) We’ve lost so much ground in the middle class. That’s what we ought to do. ….we need to work legislatively to stay out of the middle class’s way, so that they can continue…I think if we take care of the median wage, that the minimum wage will take care of itself. One of the things we can do is we can look at the employment percentage right now. "

It’s 9%. What we can do is get that employment percentage down here (gestures), and

Q: Yesenia Beascochea: Can I interrupt real quick, because I hear the both of you talking about the minimum wage.  Pay the people seven dollars an hour, minimum wage, and they have to buy the groceries, as the prices rise. The prices are rising. So how are you guys expecting…and I’m talking about poor people, that can’t afford to buy groceries at seven dollars an hour?

Crowder: (doesn’t answer her question) Would it benefit the working poor if a certain percent lost their jobs?

(Rivera's daughter complains for three minutes about how health care for the poor costs money to middle class people because: Obamacare).

TABOR:

I asked both Senators about their positions on TABOR.

Crowder: "My position on TABOR is simple. Voters voted it in. It’s up to the voters to vote it out. I do not agree with the lawsuit on TABOR that’s in the courts right now. I think what it does, it…undermines the voters…If people, truly, do not want TABOR, which I believe is….you hear both sides, you know? But I do believe that, to go through the court system, when the people of Colorado voted for it, undermines them.  So if someone wants to bring a petition, and convince the people of Colroado to get that back on the ballot,  then I would support that."

Barb Clementi (left): You recognize that it would take six or eight initiatives to actually do that?

Crowder: No, no, that can’t be true.

Barb Clementi: Yes, it would take many different initiatives to undo TABOR.

(Rivera interrupts)

Rivera:  "Well, I’ll be honest with you. If we have the low taxes that you’re talking about, ….you don’t think that TABOR had something to do with that? Look at all of the fees we pay…the fee you pay when you get your license plates. What do you think that is? That’s a tax by another name, that’s all that is."

UNIONS and ORGANIZING

Ron Greenwell, (left), chair of the Pueblo Democratic party, questioned Senator Rivera about how he felt about unions in general.

Greenwell: What do you know about the Colorado Peace Act? What do you feel about unions in general? And, would you support organized labor in the future?


Rivera: On the Colorado Peace Act, I'm not sure what you're referring to.

Greenwell: The Colorado Peace Act is legislation, that, when you're going in to organize, it's not a 50 plus 1, ….it's a 60 plus 40, something like that. And so, to make it fair for those who are organizing, they have to get 60% of the vote, rather than 50% plus 1.

RIGHT to WORK (for less): Rivera: Well, I believe in “right to work”. Let’s put it that way. …

(loud disagreement, chatter, laughter, comments from audience.

Rivera: …I don't think it's anti-union, whatever…I believe in right to work.

Rivera: I think if the government just keeps out of the way of people….(interruptions by several audience members) "Government is people! ”Government is in the business of helping the common people."


GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE OK IF IT'S WOMEN'S BODIES?

Kiera Hatton-Sena countered with a pointed question: So,  the “government shouldn’t interfere” with my body?"

Neither of the Senators answered Hatton-Sena's question.

The town hall finished with Rivera proclaiming that he was happy that so many people had attended his town hall, although they were clearly not in agreement with him. Colorado Progressive Coalition had informed its members about the town hall. 

I personally found it disturbing, not that there was conflict and disagreement, but how uninformed both Senators were. Rivera did not know the provisions of the Colorado Peace Act, although he proclaims that he believes in "Right to Work". Crowder had no clue that 59% of the population, not 2%, receives minimum wage. Neither Senator knew how much work it would take to undo Tabor; when they advocated for voter initiatives, to "Let the Voters Decide," they were effectively advocating to let TABOR continue to wreak harm in Colorado indefinitely. Rivera was seemingly not aware that a "defined contribution plan" effectively privatizes people's retirement benefits.

Senators Rivera and Crowder are out of touch with the majority of their constituents who are in favor of raising the minimum wage. They don't "get" women's complaints about the hypocrisy of proclaiming that government should not interfere with people's lives, while the government aggressively interferes with women's reproductive choices over their own bodies. In pro-union Pueblo, in which most people have a family member who worked or works for a union, Rivera's hard anti-union stance will also not win friends and influence constituents.

This is what small-d democracy looks like, and it is indeed a positive thing. It remains to be seen if the Senators will follow up with conversations with, and allow themselves to be educated by their disaffected constituents, or merely heave sighs of relief: "That's over."


 

Video from 3/19 Pueblo town hall More videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/socoteacher

 

All photos and videos of this event by the author.

 

Another Republican Joins Growing Anti-TABOR Chorus

UPDATE: Vic Vela at Colorado Community Media sheds some light on the arcane workings of TABOR in play here:

A TABOR technicality may require the state to issue pot revenue refunds – even though voters intended for money that's collected from marijuana tax money to go towards school construction and the cost of pot industry regulations.

TABOR is generally thought of as being a statute that requires all tax hikes be approved by the voters. But the technical clause also includes an area that requires the state to issue tax refunds when state spending exceeds expectations that are included in voter information material that is sent out each election, otherwise called the "Blue Book."

That seems to be the case this year and lawmakers are trying to figure out how to deal with it.

"This is confounding," said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. "TABOR told us to let the voters decide. The voters have decided and their wishes may be frustrated by something hidden in the TABOR amendment."

Doug Bruce says, "mwah!"

—–

Rep. Cheri Gerou (R).

Rep. Cheri Gerou (R).

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, things sometimes look different from a seat on the powerful legislative Joint Budget Commission. And that includes, where the subject is a reasonable actor, Republicans:

For years Democrats have been ranting and raving about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which requires voters to approve all tax hikes and keeps state spending from rising beyond a certain level.

On Tuesday, during a Joint Budget Committee briefing on the state’s quarterly revenue forecast, a Republican lawmaker joined them.

“I have to tell you, quite honestly, the more I learn about TABOR, particularly what it did with the floods in our counties, the less and less I like TABOR, and the more insidious I think it has been to state government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee and is in her final year at the legislature…

“I’ll have an effigy burned in my front yard when I get home, but it’s the honest to goodness truth,” Gerou said. “It’s not been good.” [Pols emphasis]

(more…)

Grand Bargain’s proposed Social Security Cuts hurt Dems in recent Florida election

Memo to Mark Udall:

The National Republican Congressional Committee hit Alex Sink from the left on this, saying she "supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes, and cuts Medicare."  Liberal writers cried hypocrisy, but it didn't matter: Sink lost. For the Left, it's evidence that Democrats need to take a firm line on the entitlement program — or even support expanding it — at a time when some in the party, and especially the White House, have offered concessions.

It couldn't hurt to try. Obviously, Democrats get no political benefit from trying to cut these programs, (unless you count Villagers extolling them for being "grown-ups" which should get them at least a hundred votes in Virginia.) Why they persist in thinking this was good politics is beyond me.  Senator Jeff Merkley came out for Social Security expansion this week and Senator Mark Begich had signed on earlier so we should have a decent experiment in a blue state and a red state on this issue. I have no idea if it will be decisive, but in an off-year election that traditionally tilts heavily to older voters I think it's fair to say that denying the Republicans the ability to slap you in the face with a stated desire to cut Social Security (and a plan to actually improve it!) is a smart idea. 

Mark Udall used to love those pats on the head Lawrence Kudlow gave him for saying he would vote tomorrow to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a Grand Bargain.

It was stupid then, it's stupid now, and there's plenty of evidence to say Dems, and Mark Udall, should drop the "adults in the room" facade and fully support the middle class and those social safety net programs that have kept it from becoming extinct.

Reminder: TABOR Has a Dark Side

weedmoney

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Tax revenues from Colorado’s new recreational marijuana industry are pouring into state coffers — and that’s actually a bit of a problem for lawmakers…

According to a legal analysis conducted by the state and obtained by FOX31 Denver, the marijuana revenues are subject to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which will require lawmakers to take action if tax revenues from the new legal marijuana industry exceed the estimated $67 million in annual revenue that was anticipated in the 2013 Blue Book analysis of Proposition AA, the new sales and excise tax rates voters approved in November.

The legal memorandum from the Office of Legislative Legal Services was sent to members of the Joint Budget Committee Monday night…

The most current Dept. of Revenue estimate forecasts that the state will take in $107 million, exceeding the Blue Book estimate by some $40 million.

The conclusion: the state must lower the tax rate and either refund the excess amount of revenues above the $67 million estimate or refer a measure to the November 2014 or 2015 ballot seeking permission from voters to let the state keep and spend all of the tax revenue from recreational marijuana.

As news reports came in that the tax revenue being collected from the legal sale of marijuana in Colorado was greatly exceeding early estimates–something we predicted would be the case–the possibility that this new robust source of revenue might be subject to Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits was in the back of our minds.

When defending TABOR, Republicans generally stick to the most popular provision of convicted felon Doug Bruce's labyrinthine 1992 constitutional "tax reform" measure: its requirement that affected citizens vote on tax increases. If that was truly all TABOR did, it would be harder for Democrats and good government-minded Republicans–some also part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn TABOR–to publicly oppose it, though the basic question of whether that disrupts the whole principle of small-r republican government remains. When you poll that one aspect of TABOR, naturally, it polls well.

But when you start getting under the hood–how tax increase elections are subject to stringent limits on timing and ballot question language, how TABOR stymies the ability of the state to plan in good times for bad times, how (as may be in this case) the state cannot even take advantage of a huge new revenue source twice approved by voters–it's not nearly as rosy a picture now, is it?

(more…)

Beauprez: “I’ve Lived Off The Land All My Life”

chateaudbeauprez2
Chateau d'Beauprez, Lafayette, CO.

Here's a clip of audio from 2006 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's interview with radio host Jimmy Sengenberger that had us blowing soda out our nose when we got it yesterday evening:

Transcript–this clip comes just after Beauprez decries new emission standards passed by Gov. John Hickenlooper's Air Quality Control Commission. If you like, listen to the whole interview here.

BEAUPREZ: Everybody wants clean air, they want a safe environment, they want to be good stewards of the environment, and I'm certainly in that category. As a guy who's lived off the land all of his life, I want to protect that land and that environment. [Pols emphasis]

"Lived off the land all of his life?" It's true that Beauprez's parents were dairy farmers, but the reality is, Beauprez sold off the family farm. The Beauprez family farm is now an upper middle class suburban neighborhood. Beauprez's wealth derives not from farming, but from banking. Now, maybe the beautiful subdivision and golf course that sits on Beauprez's former farm is what he meant by "living off the land," but that's not what will come to mind for most people. As Todd Hartman reported in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News back in 2006:

[Beauprez] went on to sell the cows along with the family farm, converting it to a shiny 1,350-home golf course community in Lafayette. He took the profits from that deal and poured them into a failing hometown bank, building it into a 13-branch showcase that recently sold for $72 million. Beauprez's share: $16.5 million.

You bet Bob Beauprez "lives off the land"–by selling it!

If that's not bad enough: Beauprez made this statement while attacking regulations on oil and gas drilling (listen to the whole interview for context). The land Beauprez "lives on," literally and figuratively, is located in Lafayette.

The same Lafayette that passed a ban on "fracking" last fall.

Could it get any more ridiculous, folks? We're inclined to think not.

Today In BS: Paul Ryan And The “Free Government Lunch”

Stop Whining About Overreaching

A story from outside Colorado, but illustrative for when the same thing happens here. Which it does. A lot. Raw Story:

[Rep. Paul] Ryan’s remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday regarding a “young boy from a very poor family” relying on “a government program” for his lunches was strikingly similar to the premise of the book An Invisible Thread, which recounted author Laura Schroff’s 1986 meeting with an 11-year-old “homeless panhandler” named Maurice, who was receiving lunches through a school program…

On Thursday, Ryan recounted nearly the exact same story, attributing it to Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Director Eloise Anderson, who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R). But Ryan said it was Anderson who met a young student who told her he did not want a lunch from a government program, but one served in a brown paper bag.

“He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him,” Ryan said. “This is what the left does not understand.” [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Paul Ryan (R).

Rep. Paul Ryan (R).

The Los Angeles Times has a little more of Ryan's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday:

"She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him."

In Ryan's hands, this became a lesson for "the left….What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul."

But as it turns out, Ryan's story was lifted and misattributed from an almost thirty-year-old (that is, Reagan administration) story about a panhandling kid in New York City, not Wisconsin–who didn't want the author's money, but was happy to take food in a brown paper bag because it implied a caring home life. The true story had nothing whatsoever to do with a "government program" of any kind. Times:

So we start with a story about a harried sales executive learning about life from an abandoned child. That gets transformed, via the Republican wringer, into a lesson about the supposedly soul-sapping effect of a government nutritional program, and thence into a reproach to "the left," which doesn't care about the souls of our children, only about making sure they're, you know, fed. This is how the old game of "Telephone" is played in Washington today.

Once outed, Ryan issued an apology of sorts via his Facebook page: "I have just learned that Secretary Anderson misspoke, and that the story she told was improperly sourced. I regret failing to verify the original source of the story, but I appreciate her taking the time to share her insights."

Rep. Paul Ryan has a long and very well-documented history of petty dishonesty during stump speeches, including the one from 2012 about having climbed "40" Colorado fourteener peaks. You would think that so many repeat examples of Ryan demonstrably lying would convince him to, you know, stop lying.

But apparently, that would make for less exciting speeches.

So What You’re Saying Is, Magpul Played Us Like a Fiddle

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

A typically slanted write-up from the conservative "news" site Colorado Observer responds to criticism of Erie-based gun accessory maker Magpul, who is moving their manufacturing operations to Wyoming and Texas with millions of dollars in taxpayer economic development subsidies:

Magpul has come under fire from the left since announcing Jan. 2 that the company intends to move its manufacturing facility to Cheyenne and its corporate office to Texas, making good on last year’s promise to leave Colorado as a result of Democratic gun-control bills signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A Feb. 10 article on the liberal website ColoradoPols carried the headline: “Reminder: Magpul Played Everybody Like a Fiddle,” while the progressive Colorado Independent ran a Feb. 6 article with the headline, “Magpul is relocating because it landed long-sought financial deal.”

“Far from a hardship, [this] could be the most profitable ‘crisis’ in Magpul’s history!” said Colorado Pols in a Jan. 3 post.

Republicans described the reports as an effort by the left to discredit Magpul and rewrite the narrative of last year’s gun-control melee, which resulted in the historic recalls of two Democratic state senators and the resignation of a third.

“They [Democrats] passed a bill that drove hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue out of the state of Colorado,” said state Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “How do you defend that, other than to demonize the people who left by saying, ‘Good riddance, they should be gone?’” [Pols emphasis]

Unsurprisingly, Valerie Richardson of the Observer omits the key fact central to our previous stories on this: as reported by local news media last year, Magpul specifically sought and was offered economic subsidies by Texas and Wyoming a year before the gun safety bills later used as a pretext to justify Magpul's move were ever introduced. Setting aside that rather glaring discrepancy, here's what Magpul's spokesman says about those subsidies:

Anderson countered in an email exchange with the Observer “the Wyoming incentives are not ‘subsidies.’”

“[T]hey are loans from Wyoming to the local economic development office Cheyenne LEADS,” said Anderson. “Cheyenne LEADS will use those state funds to build a 100,000+ sq. ft. facility.”

He added that, “LEADS is leasing the facility to Magpul and will repay those state funds.  Magpul has an option after year five of the lease to purchase (the) facility for the full construction cost.”

According to all reports we've read out of Cheyenne, this just isn't accurate–a significant component of the package offered to Magpul consists of grants, not loans. And if you read the weasely language carefully above, he doesn't actually say Magpul is obliged to repay the "full construction cost"–that's just an "option!" According to the Wyoming Eagle Tribune, Magpul is only contractually on the hook for $6 million as part of a "revenue recapture plan."

Bottom line: The superficial story of Magpul's impending departure from Colorado is one that can be gainfully spun by Republicans, as it services lots of other Republican lines of attack. But the truth of this story is very different. When people learn that Magpul was shopping for economic subsidies from the same states, Wyoming and Texas, that it has now announced their move to, a full year before the gun safety bills Magpul claims were the justification for doing so were introduced–even before the mass shooting incidents in Aurora and Connecticut that motivated these bills to begin with–their reaction inevitably changes.

Of course it changes. Because they realize we were all being played like a fiddle.

Poll: Land Use, Clean Air and Water Could Impact 2014 Elections

Colorado College has released results from its 4th Annual "Conservation in the West" poll, which shows that voters are increasingly considering conservation and environmental issues when making their decisions at the ballot box. From a press release:

This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters across six states looked at voter attitudes on a list of issues, including land use, water supplies, air quality and public lands’ impact on the economy. The results show overwhelming – 85 percent – agreement that when the government closes national parks and other public lands, small businesses and communities' economies in the West suffer. In a follow up message to elected officials and land managers, 83 percent believe funding to national parks, forests and other public lands should not be cut, as it provides a big return on a small investment.
 
"The Rocky Mountain region is politically diverse, with communities running the spectrum from red (predominantly) to purple to blue,” said Colorado College McHugh Professor of Leadership and American Institutions and regular Colorado political commentator Tom Cronin. “These poll results reinforce that a love for protected lands ties western voters together. Westerners across the political spectrum support the work of public land managers and expect conserved public lands to remain that way."
 
Other public sentiments expressed in the survey include that:

  • 72 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to promote more use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
  • 69 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports enhancing protections for some public lands, like national forests.
  • 58 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who votes to increase funding for land-managing agencies like the U.S. Forest Service. 

The survey also holds warning signs for candidates, including that:

  • 72 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports selling public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit.
  • 67 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who reduces funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.
  • 54 percent of westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to stop taxpayer support for solar and wind energy companies.

Of particular interest is how much conservation and environmental issues tend to have a stronger impact on Hispanic voters, who aren't only interested in the issue of immigration reform. If Colorado Republicans are going to start winning over Hispanic voters, renewable energy, clean air, and clean water is a good place to start.

Of (Preble) Mice and Men: The Making of a Non-Scandal

Preble mouse Colorado

Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. That’s a long name to put on a birth certificate.

This is the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse. He/she looks harmless enough, but last week it inadvertently gave cause for three Republicans to go, well, mouse-shit crazy. The mouse itself isn't all that interesting (unless you're into that sort of thing), but the non-scandal that played out over its status as an Endangered Species is a fascinating look at how quickly some politicians can get moving when they think there's an opportunity to score some mindless political points.

This is also a story of how quickly those same politicians shut up and move on once their "scandal" proves misplaced.

Our story begins with a harmless news release that CBS4 in Denver turned into a serious story about flood recovery efforts. The CBS4 report caused Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-4), state Sen. Greg Brophy, and state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg to collectively go crazy about liberals and Endangered Species and anything else that Democrats might have done wrong. It just wasn't true.

Here's a look at the CBS4 story from Feb. 4, titled, "'Endangered' Mouse Could Delay Flood Recovery":

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning that many flood repair projects could be delayed because they are in an endangered mouse’s habitat.

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is listed as a threatened species, which means it and its habitat are protected by federal law. Its habitat lies along rivers and stream beds where flood repairs are underway.

The news upset Colorado State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, who represents many of the flooded communities. He sent a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation asking it to intervene saying the federal government has put a mouse ahead of Colorado families.

“We’re holding up the ability to redo safe drinking water, to rebuild sewage treatment facilities so we can keep sewage out of the rivers, trying to have a safe environment because of a mouse,” said Sonnenberg.

According to him, communities have to delay repairs after FEMA issued a warning that local governments could lose federal funding if they violate the Endangered Species Act. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner Preble mouse flood recovery

Not pictured: Rep. Sonnenberg and Sen. Brophy running around with their pants aflame

Did you happen to catch the spot where this story went off the rails (if you didn't, take a look at the sentences in bold)? "According to [Sonnenberg]" sounds like the title of a convoluted Indie movie, but for some reason CBS4 thought that state Rep. Sonnenberg would be the ideal person to explain the ins and outs of FEMA policy. Congressman Gardner was all too pleased to ride to the rescue. Here's his press release "demanding" immediate relief from the mighty Preble:

Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-04) took immediate action after it became apparent that flood recovery efforts in Colorado could be slowed significantly due to the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse.

Ooohhh…"immediate action!" But before sending his "immediate action" letter to FEMA and issuing a press release, perhaps Gardner's office should have checked with the people who actually do know what is going on. On Feb. 5, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FEMA issued a joint press release with a pretty unambiguous lede:

Recent news accounts suggesting the Endangered Species Act and the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse are delaying flood recovery projects in Colorado are inaccurate. [Pols emphasis]

From unambiguous lede we move quickly to unambiguous quote:

“We are working very closely with FEMA and other partners to make sure important flood recovery projects proceed on time while ensuring no harm occurs to species listed under the ESA,” said Noreen Walsh, Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region. “But let me be clear: the Preble’s and other federally listed species have not, and will not, delay flood recovery efforts in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

Not only are the USFWS and FEMA clearly stating that the Preble will NOT impact flood recovery efforts…they are unequivocally saying that the Preble "and other federally listed species" have had ZERO impact on flood recovery efforts thus far. In other words, THIS IS ALL HORSESH*T.

So how did all this happen?

(more…)