Operation Choke Point – Denying the Dollars

Victor “Everyone Loves” Head is all choked up about a Federal program, Operation Choke Point (OCP). In an interview with Jennifer Kerns, Head claimed that credit card services for Pueblo Freedom and Rights (PFR) were suddenly cut off the week before the recall elections in 2013.  Other right –wing groups  also reported sudden and mysterious severance of their banking relationships, and an astroturf organization, USCC, has been set up to take reports of suspected OCP interference.  The funders of USCC are unknown, but have strong ties to conservative groups.

“Operation Choke Point” overreach is the latest generator of anti-Obama, anti-AG Holder outrage in the right wing blogosphere. Look for it to become the next big attack on the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder, with Pueblo’s own “grassroots hero”, Victor Head, prominently featured as the poster boy. Here is your daily requirement of irony: (Below, right, is Victor Head of PFR, a recall organizer, and current Pueblo Clerk candidate, posing  in 2013 with El Paso Sheriff Terry Maketa, himself recently the target of a failed recall for sexual and  administrative offenses.)

But…Is OCP  a real “scandal”? Is it “overreach”? Is OCP the bank version of NSA spying on ordinary Americans?

William Isaac , columnist for “The Hill” wrote:

The DOJ launched Operation Choke Point in 2013, working in concert with a wide range of agencies including the FTC, FDIC, OCC, CFPB, and FBI.  The stated goal of Operation Choke Point was to “sensitize” the banking industry to the risk of doing business with legal but “undesirable” businesses through the issuance of non-public FIRREA subpoenas ( as opposed to enforcement actions where the authority could be challenged).

Regulators and the DOJ highlight some two-dozen businesses that they consider “high risk” or “undesirable”, including ammunition dealers, producers of adult films, check cashers, short-term unsecured loans (commonly called “payday loans”), telemarketers, firearms/fireworks vendors, raffles, pharmaceutical firms, life-time guarantees, surveillance equipment firms, and home-based charities.

I am all for the DOJ monitoring some of these shady businesses, and if they find illegal action, stopping it. I’ve had hundreds of dollars deducted from my own bank account via a scam for a non-existent health insurance card company, prior to the ACA’s enactment. Had someone taken the money from my purse, there would have been criminal charges; however, because it took place in the obscure world of third-party bank businesses and fly-by-night internet scam artists, it proved impossible to stop or to get redress. I'll never get that money back.

 I don’t want felons and violent offenders to be able to order firearms online.  Pharmaceutical firms that market under-the-counter medications need some oversight to protect public health.  Online child pornography businesses need oversight of their bank transactions so that they can be shut down and punished. This is the DOJ appropriately protecting the public.

The grey area is that most of these are legal businesses, at least until there is proof of criminal activity. Where I agree with the right wing outrage, (and the possibility of being on the same side of any issue as Victor Head makes my own gag reflex kick in) is on this point:  there is little or no oversight on the overseers.  People are losing access to their own money, without a warrant, without a trial, without a civil action.

Liberals may applaud the restrictions on shady businesses, and on right-wing political groups that benefit from dark money. However,  there is no guarantee that the OCP’s possible overreach stops there. Like the IRS scandal, we may well find that progressive organizations are also targeted as much or more than conservatives.   How will the Department of Justice be made accountable and transparent, when the agency is now unaccountable and its transactions are hidden from the public?

The United States Congress has initiated legislation on this issue. House Bill 4986, the End Operation Choke Point Act of 2014,  was introduced with bipartisan support in June 2014. It was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, where it sits. Given the dismal history of Congress in passing legislation, govtrack.us gives it only a 26% chance of being signed into law.  I frankly don’t have the financial expertise to understand how or if this bill will provide oversight and transparency on OCP, so I’m not going to try to evaluate the legislation.

Given the people promoting the right wing outrage over OCP, most critical thinkers are justifiably skeptical of the claims of OCP overreach. Jennifer Kerns, aka California Partygirl, aka anti-recall spox, aka California Republican media consultant, now a Washington pundit, wrote in  “TheBlaze.com” that Operation Choke Point,  (OCP): “Evidence has emerged of Operation Choke Point targeting other Republicans on or before Election Day.”  Victor Head has a record of rummaging through post office trash for ballots to bolster his claims of possible election fraud.

Jennifer Kerns would be an expert on dark money funding of political organizations, from the inside – Magpul funded $150,000 for  the organization “Free Colorado”, which in turn funded  the recall efforts against  Senator Morse in Colorado Springs.  Free Colorado was promoted by the Koch brothers on the AFP-Colorado website. Kerns was the spokesperson for Basic Freedom Defense Fund, and helped to promote “Free Colorado”  anti-recall efforts.

I don’t find the outrage over OCP to be credible, because it comes from these sources. However, I’m aware of and concerned about NSA and IRS overreach, during the course of legitimate agency endeavors. Progressives shouldn't dismiss concerns about government stomping on privacy rights, just because they come from a conservative direction. I’d like to see more transparency and accountability of OCPs efforts to curtail borderline-criminal financial transactions. I just don’t quite know how that balances with civil-liberties concerns.

UPDATE:  A Huffington Post article by Zach Carter posits that OCP is an effective way to curb money laundering schemes.  Similar laws were put in place during the Bush administration, and resulted in, for example, Wachovia Bank paying $150 million to resolve charges that it laundered money from drug cartels.

Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkely, and Dick Durbin like the OCP program.

Can We Admit The Economy Is Doing Better Now?

3d graph arrow blue

​The Washington Post with a point that, in our view, hasn't been made enough in recent months:

For six straight months, the U.S. economy has added more than 200,000 jobs, according to government data released Friday morning, the longest streak since the mid-'90s. [Pols emphasis]

The Labor Department reported 209,000 net new jobs were created in July, though the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 6.2 percent as more workers joined the labor force. The report was the latest in a string of upbeat data suggesting the country’s economic recovery has shifted into the next gear.

Industries with the strongest hiring were professional and business services, as well as manufacturing and construction. That dovetailed with a private estimate of job growth earlier this week indicating broad-based improvement in the labor market. That analysis, by human resources firm ADP, showed both larger corporations and smaller businesses were adding workers.

“There was some meat on the bones," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "This wasn’t just temporary hires.”

By no means are economic conditions perfect, if they ever are in a free market economy–there are still lots of underemployed workers, and there are still several million long-term "structurally unemployed" Americans who haven't found a way forward in the new economy. A big stock selloff last week caused in part by foreign policy crises reminds us that our prosperity doesn't exist in a vacuum. But it's worth acknowledging that the last six months of 200,000+ per month job growth is the longest stretch of growth that high since 1997–the fabled Clinton years, which so many Americans look back on nostalgically as the last great economic boom time.

So why aren't we hearing more about the economy showing not just "recovery," but real strength for the first time since the Great Recession? That's simple: it's an election year. To admit that the economy is turning bullish would be to admit things that Republicans simply cannot admit right now. It would mean admitting that Obamacare did not plunge the economy into a new dark age after all. It would mean admitting that Obama's "mountain of new regulations" are not choking the life out of American business.

This development also could really screw up the media's pre-written narrative about the upcoming elections–you know, the one where Democrats take a beating because, well, obviously! For all of these reasons, this is not a growing economy that anyone should feel good about…until the second week of November. Of course, if Republicans do triumph in this year's midterms, the economic growth now underway and fully expected to continue through the end of the year and beyond will suddenly have enormous political import.

As always, we would welcome the most accurate narrative, sooner rather than later. Surprise us.

Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 

An Assessor, a Sugar Daddy, and “Infilling” Open Space in El Paso County

UPDATE: KRDO has picked up this story, and citizens are calling for Lowderman to resign. There is an "appearance of impropriety", according to current El Paso Treasurer Bob Balink.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Something is rotten in El Paso County.

 It’s not the persistent dank from the recent flooding.  It’s not the shower mold from Sheriff Maketa’s selfies.  There is, however, quite a stench wafting from the recent campaign finance violation of the El Paso County Tax Assessor, Mark Lowderman. Lowderman sent out 20,000 campaign mailers on the taxpayer’s dime.  Ostensibly informing seniors about a tax credit, the mailers described Mr. Lowderman in glowing terms, coincidentally, the same terms as his campaign literature.  A complaint was filed, Lowderman was fined and penalized $14,580, yet is running unopposed for the County Treasurer’s office, and  will almost certainly be the next El Paso County Treasurer. Matt Lowderman, Candidate for El Paso County Treasurer

The El Paso County Commissioners appear to be no more concerned about Lowderman's ethical lapse than they were about Sheriff Maketa's hijinks.  The Commissioners "circled the wagons" to protect Maketa for years, according to an insider source. The County Comissioners also had to have known about Lowderman's ethical lapses – yet there is no record of any censure of the Assessor. The Board of Commissioners is reputed to be marshalllng resources to overturn the Administrative Judge's ruling on Lowderman's finance complaint. El Paso is apparently the swamp where ethics go to die. "At every turn, it's dirty," said an informed source.

That would explain the smell. Wafting from the swamp is the funk of the aggregate $17,500 campaign donations Lowderman received from David Jenkins, Chairman of Nor'wood Development Corporation, the largest property owner and developer in El Paso County, within 10 days of Jenkins buying the biggest parcel of property in the County – the legendary Bannings / Lewis Ranch. Donations to Lowderman's campaign for Treasurer were dated May 30 – June 2, 2014. The Banning- Lewis property sale was announced by Nor'wood on June 10, 2014.

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Strong Economic Growth in Colorado Great News for Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper-Head

As the Denver Post reports, Colorado's economic growth is outpacing earlier forecasts:

Colorado is on track to add 68,000 net new jobs this year rather than the 61,300 the Colorado Business Economic Outlook in December predicted it would gain, according to a midyear update from the University of Colorado.

"We are seeing broad-based growth in the whole economy, not just energy," said Rich Wobbekind, the CU economist who puts together the closely watched forecast, which is in its 49th year…

The biggest unexpected employment gains, however, are coming in leisure and hospitality, which has added 13,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis in May compared with the annual gain of 7,500 the Outlook predicted in December.

"It is largely tourism-driven, on the accommodations side," Wobbekind said.

Other areas with stronger-than-expected hiring are professional and business services, health care, and local and state governments.

You don't need James Carville to explain why this is good news for Gov. John Hickenlooper. There are plenty of other issues that will be debated in advance of the November election, but from a practical political perspective (say that three times fast), there's really no way that Hickenlooper loses his bid for re-election if Colorado's economy continues to grow in the coming months. First and foremost, Hickenlooper has always tried to position himself as a leader when it comes to economic and employment growth, and he can use this issue to trump virtually every attack from Republican opponent Bob Beauprez.

Even without strong economic news, Hickenlooper has several potential paths to victory in November. The same cannot be said of Beauprez; if he is forced to try to argue that Hickenlooper should not get credit for Colorado's economic growth, he's already lost.

Thank you, Charles and David Koch, for improving Colorado’s health care coverage

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Law of Unintended Consequences:

The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on anti-Obamacare ads may have inadvertently encouraged enrollment, a Brookings Institution study released Wednesday found.

In a state-by-state look at spending on ads attacking the Affordable Care Act, Brookings found that increased ad spending per capita was tied to declining enrollment in red states but linked with increasing enrollment in blue states.

“This implies that anti-ACA ads may unintentionally increase the public awareness about the existence of a governmentally subsidized service and its benefits for the uninsured,” wrote Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi, noting that anti-Obamacare ads may have encouraged people to sign up by making them think it might be a limited-time offer.

“In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future,” he said. “People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.”

Of the more than $445 million spent on ads mentioning Obamacare, negative ads outspent positive ones 15-to-1, a Kantar Media CMAG report found in May.

What do you know about that, "Americans for Prosperity"?

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Beauprez tries to “manufacture” economic issue

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

According to the Denver Post this morning, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said one thing during the primary campaign and is just now attempting to verify his unfounded statements. In spite of Colorado's booming economy, like 2006, Beauprez has launched his campaign based on a message that rules and regulations promulgated by state agencies plus state taxes have held back Colorado's economy. Last week the reporter on Colorado Public Radio asked him which regulations he is talking about. His responded by saying Utah's governor had reduced the number of state regulations by 300+. Of course that didn't answer the question which Colorado regulations is he talking about. For taxes he doesn't have any better answer except he would eliminate the personal property tax which of course will be a financial disaster for county governments in places like Routt (Steamboat Springs) and Moffat (Craig) counties.

Now this morning,via the Post it is clear Beauprez doesn't have a clue about which tax policy or regulations to repeal. He's made these statements about both before having any evidence to back them up. Do we really want someone as our governor who paints himself into a corner before having the facts.

Beauprez told the Post his meetings with entrepreneurs and captains of industry will be private.In other words, after the meetings, he will craft a general statement about all the bad regulations and taxes we have but he'd better be ready to talk about the consequences of cutting taxes, especially on higher education tuition and transportation projects, both of which are key drivers of our long term economic health. Also, and just as importantly, he'd better be ready to speak to the consequences and trade-offs if a regulation is repealed. So far his campaign boils down to this: He shoots off his mouth first and then tries to find evidence to support his unfounded statements. An inauspicious beginning for his general election campaign. 

The faux-outrage of deficit reduction and spending.

Question: what does deficit reduction have in common with local control ( and free-markets to some degree)?

Answer: Most people only support it when it benefits them.

 

All too often deficit reduction is what the party out of power uses to attack the party in power, rather than to have a constructive dialog about balancing the budget: e.g. Democrats citing the deficit to oppose the Iraq War, Republicans citing the deficit to oppose the Affordable Care Act, etc.

When the Republicans are ready to accept the reality that defense spending needs to come down and more revenue needs to come in (along with entitlement reforms of course), I’ll take their calls to reduce the deficit and outrage of spending seriously. The same goes for the Democrats: you’re going to have swallow the bitter pill of entitlement reforms—reductions in defense spending and more revenue won’t balance the budget alone.

 

Both parties have a credibility problem on the deficit. Anyone expressing outrage over spending, who is unwilling or unable to come clean about what really needs to be done (i.e. reductions in both entitlement and defense spending, along with bringing in more revenue, is nothing more than a cheap hustler looking for a backdoor way to cut or eliminate programs they oppose, rather than having an honest conversation about balancing the budget.    
 

Where does your state legislator stand on women’s issues?

 Women's Lobby of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.  See how your legislators are rated.

It's a ten page document, and posting pdfs is a pain, so you can look it up yourself. But you may find some surprises.

My SD3 candidate, and current HD46 rep, Leroy Garcia, has 100%.

My Senator, George Rivera, has 64%, which was higher than I thought he would have.

My current HD47 rep, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, is rated 36%. I guess that's what happens when one's market brand is being "business friendly".

By the way, "women's issues" are not just reproductive rights issues – economy, healthcare, education, and opportunity are also women's issues. Sorry, Laura Carno, larger magazine size on full auto guns didn't make the list.

 

 

Koch-sponsored “GenOpp” wants you to know about Udall’s “War on Youth”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You remember Creepy Uncle Sam, who symbolized all that was unknown and scary about the Affordable Care Act. Sam had a fun few weeks to try to frighten consumers out of signing up on the health exchanges. Uncle Sam was everywhere  – on your favorite cable news shows  and web pages. Then, as suddenly as he had popped in, he disappeared, after the ACA signup deadline was over.

Generation Opportunity, or GenOpp, the organization which sponsored the Uncle Sam ads, is still going strong, and working harder than ever to lure young people away from the Democratic fold. GenOpp's media arm is called FreetheFuture, and it is mostly funded by the Koch brothers, via GenOpp, through the Freedom Partners LLC, which has funneled five million dollars into it during 2013, according to an expose by Viveca Novak on OpenSecrets.org.

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Drill, baby, drill?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On a recent Spring day Germany generated over 50 percent of its energy from solar:

Germany, with 1.4m PV systems, generated a peak of 23.1GW hours at lunchtime on Monday 9 June, equivalent to 50.6% of its total electricity need. According to government development agency Germany trade and invest (GTAI), solar power grew 34% in the first five months of 2014 compared to last year.

This is truly amazing and shows what can be done with some wise infrastructure investments and a willingness to tell your local Coal Barons to "suck it". Oh wait, that particular Koch – Colorado's own Bill - has seemingly moved on from coal, while Colorado has most decidedly not and still relies on coal for 66% of its energy

The recent fire and power outage at Colorado Springs' Drake Power Plant has given the city, and the state in my humble opinion, an opportunity to turn its eye towards the future.

But many local business leaders just can't see the obvious benefits of a solar-powered Springs:

The 12 options the City Council is considering for Drake include the costs of building a replacement power source, adding renewable energy, offering demand-side management incentives and adding to Front Range natural gas plant. The best financial option is to keep Drake open for 30 years, according to the consultant's report. Utilities would see a more than $200 million return on its investment.

When Drake is decommissioned, Utilities will need to build a replacement power source, which most likely would be a gas-fired plant. Coal-fired power is produced at roughly half the cost of gas-fired power, but is dirtier.

Utilities is spending about $121 million to install scrubber technology at Drake to meet environmental standards. In June, the Obama administration released a draft of The Clean Power Plan, which calls for reducing carbon dioxide emission at power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

More than 30 coal-fired plants have closed across the county in the wake of strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including emission control.

As an astute politician once said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money." That observation and its ramifications here are quite clear. But, besides coal, there is also Colorado's unnatural reliance on hydraulically fractured natural gas and its "clean" fuel — that comes at such a high environmental and human cost.

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Obama DEA behind the Times, ICE not sure of Law, siezes Hemp seeds bound for CO

Jeez, this is incredibly stupid and wasteful.

DENVER – Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds bound from Canada to Colorado have been seized by federal authorities in North Dakota, marking the latest bump along the road to legalization of marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin.

At the center of the dispute is hemp activist Tom McClain. Armed with a copy of last year's federal Farm Bill, which allowed states to permit hemp cultivation for research and development, he set off for MacGregor, Manitoba, and bought 350 pounds of seeds used to grow a strain known as X-59 or Hemp Nut.

Hemp is legal in Canada, and North Dakota is one of 15 states with laws that allow limited hemp production. However, under the Farm Bill, importing hemp seeds requires permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

McClain's seeds were confiscated Saturday at the border crossing in Hansboro, North Dakota, after he says he declared the seven bags in his trunk. McClain, however, has not been charged with a crime.

"They treated me very professionally," McClain said after he returned to Colorado – without the seeds. "They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn't bring them in."

The DEA is notoriously recalcitrant and behind the times when it comes to dealing with the reality of today's laws and public sentiments regarding that "evul weed".

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, is refusing to support a bill backed by the Obama administration that would lower the length of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes, putting her at odds with her boss Attorney General Eric Holder on one of the criminal justice reform initiatives he hopes to make a centerpiece of his legacy.

ICE seems frozen in the past, too:

Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the seizure.

The man who's trying to import these seeds for true industrial hemp use is trying to get the issue resolved. 

McClain and Jason Lauve of the Colorado-based activist group Hemp Cleans have appealed to congressional representatives in the state to resolve the seed flap in North Dakota.

A spokeswoman for Colorado's Agriculture Department, Christi Lightcap, said the agency hasn't been approached to intervene.

Colorado has accepted more than 40 hemp-cultivation applications. But the state has a "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy about the origin of the seeds used in the work.

Growers, meanwhile, have expressed frustration over the limited availability of seeds that are affordable and haven't been smuggled into the country.

The seeds confiscated in North Dakota were destined for experimental plots. Lauve said owners have only about two weeks to get the seeds planted so they can harvest the hemp before snow falls.

"We need to get that here as soon as possible," he said.

Jared Polis has been forward thinking on this issue, has prodded the feds to get their anti-marijuana act together and has given our Luddite DEA Chief whatfor. Maybe he can help.

And maybe someone can buy our Customs Service and DEA Apparatus a clue about hemp and legal marijuana and the facts regarding each.

The Colorado Keystone

Webster defines keystone as "the central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends".  Yesterday's announcement by our President set the stage for our nation to begin the process of addressing our carbon pollution, as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2007 – and now regulated by the EPA under their authority within the Clean Air Act, (also affirmed in that same 2007 Supreme Court decision).  Obama's announcement is, in effect, "America's Keystone";  it will be the foundation upon which we determine state and federal policy regarding energy for the coming decades.  It has taken over seven years to get from the historic 2007 court decision to the 2014 proposed rules – and it will be another 15 years, best-case scenario, before we would see full implementation of the regulations. 

The 'clutching of pearls' by the right-wing spin machine aside, meeting these new standards comes at a modest, if any, cost.  In fact, if one includes in the calculation the reduced health costs of the transition, the jobs created, and in the case of rural Colorado, nearly $6 billion in new tax base, only a Coprolite would conclude that the Colorado renewable standard, the second-most aggressive in the nation, was a bad idea.

Colorado has much to be proud of in our proactive approach by the Ritter Administration to begin the transition away from coal and tackling our state's emissions profile.  We often heard Bill talk in terms of 'being stubborn stewards" and "shared sacrifices".  Under his reign our state created the second-most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation; we passed in excess of 50 legislative bills that dealt with new standards, energy efficiency and sustainability.  We became know world-wide as the birthplace of the New Energy Economy and environmental leadership.

Since 2011 we have watched Boulder take on Goliath and create the foundation for a 21st-century municipal electric.  Fort Collins has implemented feed-in-tariffs within the confines of their jurisdiction.  We're fast approaching $6 billion of investments in wind farms on Colorado's eastern plains – and plans of new solar farms in the Pueblo County and the San Luis Valley. Five Front Range communities have rejected untethered oil and gas developments within their city limits, the LaPlata Rural Electric Association board of directors now has a pro-renewable energy majority.  We've begin the process to aggressively regulate fugitive methane in Colorado's gas patch. Captured methane gas is powering parts of Aspen, and a new small hydroelectric plant will deliver local power to the Delta-Montrose Rural Electric Association membership. Our rural electrics must now meet 20% of their energy needs with green energy. Vestas is considering moving its North American headquarters to the Centennial state.

We've come a long way in the past decade since the passage of Amendment 37.  We've built a foundation – projects and policy – upon the knowledge that we have an infinite amount of sunshine, wind and biomass.  We understand we don't have to settle for sacrificing our state's environment to have a robust economy.  We understand the economic opportunities in transitioning to the New Energy Economy – and the perils of the false prophets promoting a business-as-usual case for energy development.  

As Bill Gates is credited as saying, "we over-estimate what they can accomplish in a year and under-estimate what we can accomplish in a decade".  While we have only begun this long, tenuous journey of change over the past decade, it would be hard not to argue that our leadership owes a debt of gratitude to the bi-partisanship co-chairs of the 2004 Amendment 37, Mark Udall and Lola Spradley – and it would be even harder to overstate the accomplishments we have put under our belt since that historic victory.

All of this, I would argue, is our "Colorado's Keystone".  Not a pipeline – but a foundation for a  21st-century energy policy that is consistent with our western values and our conservation ethic; a foundation by which we can lead by example and buoy our national efforts to be a global leader.

What's next? Will Colorado voters make Local Control the centerpiece of this fall's election?  Will it be a proxy vote for or against those who embrace the concept? Can we construct a Renewable Thermal Standard, creating opportunities for reductions in the built environment? Perhaps we can build a virtual power plant, fueled only by energy efficiency.  Will we tackle the necessary regulatory changes to bring about a more transparent and free energy market? It's hard to say, but if history is any guide – we can all be assured the next decade will be filled with grand accomplishments while we transition to an economy powered by our clean, abundant resources.

There is nothing but lack of political will that will keep the creativity and entrepreneurship of Coloradans from entering this exciting marketplace – and providing global leadership.  That's the real 'Keystone'

Colorado’s own Bill Koch of the Famous Kochs – new book shows a Helluva Guy in a Freak Family

(Lifestyles of the rich and creepy? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Some of the World Famous, Colorado-centric, Billionaire Koch Brothers family history is about to come out. And their anti-social, radical, reactionary, and anti-government attitudes will make a lot more sense to a lot more people.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty aims to change that. Written by Mother Jones senior editor Daniel Schulman, the biography, set to be released Tuesday, draws on hundreds of interviews with Koch family and friends, as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. The Huffington Post received a copy of the book on Friday.

Father Fred Koch started Koch Industries and led the family with an iron first. Purely by coincidence, he also liked the reigning Fascists of the day:

At the center of the saga is patriarch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-communist who drilled his political ideology into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling Germany, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the United States would resemble these nations, which had "overcome" the vices of "idleness, feeding at the public trough, [and] dependence on government."

Elsewhere, Fred warned of a future "vicious race war" in which communists would pit black Americans against white. "The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America," he wrote.

Wow, it couldn't be more clear where the Right-wing's hatred of Obama and its ridiculous fear of him being a "communist" or "socialist" or "Kenyan anti-colonialist" came from. It came from long-held views of the kind of Reactionary Republicans and Conservatives that are evident in the Koch brothers' family history.

Those views fill the void left by a lack of ideas on how to govern within today's modern conservative movement.

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Sad Walker Stapleton Wishes “State Treasurer” Title Made Him Financial Expert

Walker Stapleton hyper-inflation

Walker Stapleton prefers not to talk about his 2010 suggestion that Colorado invest more heavily in gold.

Do you have any idea what kind of requirements you must meet in order to become Colorado's State Treasurer?

Not much, actually. You must be at least 25 years of age; a Colorado resident for a minimum of 2 years; and a United States Citizen. That's it — that's all there is in the Colorado State Statutes. You don't need to have any sort of special training in finance. You don't even need to have a college degree in, well, anything. Primarily, you just need to have been alive for awhile and in Colorado recently.

Why do we bring this up? Because State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been trying to get appointed to something called The Colorado Retirement Security Task Force, which is being set up by the legislature regarding…yes, retirement savings (bill sponsors Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. John Bucker outlined their legislation in a recent Denver Post Op-Ed). Stapleton was apparently angry that he did not receive an invitation to the task force, and he and his supporters argued (and whined) that it was inconceivable someone could form a financial task force in Colorado and not include the expertise of the State Treasurer.

This was apparently a big deal for Stapleton supporters, with right-wing blogs devoting multiple posts to the topic this week. In one post this week from the blog Colorado Peak Politics, the author makes the case for including Stapleton on the Task Force while at the same time complaining that the whole idea is stupid anyway — basically repeating what teenagers across Colorado are saying this time of year when they don't get invited to Prom. Here's the "why Stapleton" argument:

Treasurer Walker Stapleton is the only statewide official who sits on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), and his expertise would be invaluable to the task force.  So why block him from participating?

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