Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Get More SmarterWe don’t care what anybody says: Today is NOT the first day of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Anyone got an extra $1.73 billion that they aren’t using? We may need it to finish the new VA Hospital in Denver that is actually in Aurora. Also, Rep. Mike Coffman is complaining again that other people aren’t doing stuff.

► Surprise! No, wait…what’s the opposite of surprise? Colorado doesn’t have much room in next year’s budget to fund things. It’s almost like we need a new source of revenue or something.

 ► We may not have much money in the state coffers, but at least we’re offering tax refunds! Thanks, TABOR: Destroying Colorado one ratchet effect at a time.

 ► But wait, The U.S. Senate will save the fiscal day! Oh, nevermind.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Step Right Up and WIN! This Boom will never Bust, Baby!

 (Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This Time Is Going to Be Different, Really…

 

“All that I am asking for is $10 gold dollars, and I can win it back with one good hand.  …I got no chance of losing, this time….”      The Loser, R. Hunter/J. Garcia

Colorado is about to lose thousands of jobs, again, as the latest boom and its promise of vast riches crashes into the reality of a volatile commodity market.  Again.

Like in the last bust in 2008 that hit the western Colorado gas fields, it was just months prior that the boosters, peddlers, hucksters and snakes, oil-salespeople were all saying this time would be different, this time we would ride the mineral riches to everlasting everything. 

Until we’re not.  Until the prices, in the most volatile of animal spirited commodities—fossil fuels, drop. Again.  And then Colorado is left holding the bag.  Again.

Last month there was an article about how poorly reclamation is happening, if at all, in Colorado’s oil and gas patch, a dry time in a dry land.

Sure the PR teams at shops popping up like mushrooms in the mountains after a monsoon, weave webs of spin to convince you, Colorado, otherwise. 

This time will be different.  Just like the last time would be different.  And the time before that. 

I love you, Colorado, I would never hurt you.

Again.

Of course Colorado is no stranger to the vagaries of volatility, in the boom and bust that is—in fact—the historical mark of the Mountain West.  

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Thursday Open Thread

“It takes a lot of things to prove you are smart, but only one thing to prove you are ignorant.”

–Don Herold

Senate Budget: Legislating With Crayons

gardnerryancash

Sen. Cory Gardner, left, and House Budget “genius” Rep. Paul Ryan. They want your money…but they aren’t sure what to do with it.

Senate Republicans announced their federal budget plan this afternoon, and it…well, it’s not so good. As the New York Times reports:

Over all, the Senate version hews closely to the budgetary intent of the House proposal, relying on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, turning Medicaid and food stamps into block grants, and cutting domestic programs to end federal red ink without tax increases.

The Senate budget also relies on a significant gimmick by counting on a repeal of the health law but also assuming that $2 trillion from the law’s tax increases will continue to flow into the Treasury. [Pols emphasis]

The budget does little to placate concerns of Republican defense hawks that spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act are significantly undermining Defense Department operations. Rather than adding money over the caps, the Senate plan creates what is known as a “deficit neutral reserve fund,” which would allow negotiators later this year to reach an accord that overrides the 2011 budget law.

Did you catch that paragraph about the “significant gimmick?” Senate Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and pocket the $2 trillion in savings.

So, Republican Senators don’t have a plan to replace Obamacare with anything, but they’re going to keep the money from gutting health care so they can spend it on…other stuff? What?

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times breaks down the Senate plan in pretty straightforward language:

The first Senate Republican budget since 2006 is long on ambition but short on details. It foresees saving $4.3 trillion from mandatory programs like Medicare, food stamps and Medicaid, but unlike the House budget, it does not make specific policy prescriptions, such as converting Medicare into a voucherlike program that allows older people to buy subsidized insurance on the private health care market.

The budget offers up $430 billion in savings from Medicare without saying how. [Pols emphasis] It does require a change to Medicaid to cede much of its administration and control to state governments, saving $400 billion over 10 years. But by maintaining coverage requirements for the low-income elderly and for people with disabilities, the Senate’s Medicaid savings are less than half of the House’s proposed $913 billion cut.

Budget committees from the Senate and House should begin discussing their curious budget proposals next week in hopes of finding some sort of fiscal agreement that doesn’t just completely ignore reality…or totally screw over the Middle Class.

GOP State Senator’s “like” of Facebook page doesn’t signify an endorsement of Thurlow recall effort

(Classy – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A Facebook page has emerged calling for the recall of Rep. Dan Thurlow, who’s voted against his caucus numerous times during the current legislative session, angering talk-radio hosts and their allies.

Among the 111 people who’ve liked the “Recall Dan Thurlow” page Colorado State Sen. Owen Hill. Thurlow and Hill are both Republicans.

I called Hill to find out if his “like” of the page meant he endorsed a recall of Thurlow, and he told me it doesn’t signify an endorsement of the effort.

“I like a lot of pages on Facebook to hear what’s going on,” Hill told me. “Facebook is a phenomenal way to keep track of information.”

“I’m concerned personally about many of his votes,” Hill added.

Ad Praises Gardner For Not “Cutting Medicare”–Not Yet, Not Anymore, We’re Not Entirely Sure

Subscribers to the Denver Post found this half-page ad waiting for them on page A8 today:

thankscory

As you can see, this ad is thanking Sen. Cory Gardner for “protecting seniors from additional Medicare funding cuts.” Now, given Gardner’s long history of votes to cut and/or privatize Medicare (see: Ryan budget), this might come as a bit of a surprise to you–and frankly, it did to us as well. It’s possible that this is a reference to the Senate GOP’s latest budget proposal out this week, which doesn’t cut Medicare quite as much as the competing budget proposal from the Republican-controlled House. The ad does say additional Medicare cuts, after all, so we’re probably not talking about the money saved from Medicare’s smaller future growth as a result of the Affordable Care Act–frequently misrepresented by the GOP as “Medicare cuts.” Perhaps this is about thanking the Republican Senate to spite the Republican House? We invite additional theories.

Most likely, however, is that this thank-you ad from the “Alliance for Patient Access” is meaningless partisan pablum. That likelihood is probably most evident reading the bio of the director of the organization, Brian Kennedy. The Alliance for Patient Access’ address is the same as Kennedy’s GOP-aligned Washington D.C. PR firm, Woodberry Associates. “Woodberry Associates designs, implements and  manages grassroots advocacy campaigns” on behalf of “corporate and non-profit clients.”

Over the course of his career, Mr. Kennedy has served as the organizer, manager and/or a strategic consultant to over a dozen coalitions and associations and presently serves as Director of the Alliance for Patient Access.  He has served on the national political staff of two Republican presidential campaigns and is a past Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. Mr. Kennedy served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, as a member of the Republican National Committee and as Co-Chairman of the 1996 Republican National Platform Committee.  He has also served as a campaign manager to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and political advisor to United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, United States Senators Lamar Alexander, John McCain and Elizabeth Dole and Governor Mitt Romney.

Clearly, this is a man who runs expensive newspaper thank-you ads without any partisan considerations! And what exactly is a “grassroots campaign” operated “on behalf of corporate clients?” Because that seems like an oxymoron.

And with that, we realize we’ve spent way too much time analyzing this rather obvious sham.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 18)

Get More SmarterOkay, Leprechauns, that’s enough. Go away now. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Long Bill is coming! The Long Bill is coming!

No, it’s not! But it will be! From the Denver Post:

The much-awaited introduction of the state budget bill may be delayed up to a week to give the Joint Budget Committee more time to answer pressing spending questions and adjust for the next fiscal forecast.

Senate President Bill Cadman and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst — along with the chambers’ respective Republican and Democratic leaders — agreed to waive the March 23 legal deadline for the spending bill, known in legislative parlance as the long bill.

The new deadline is March 30, though it may get introduced sooner if budget writers finish their work faster. The remaining budget schedule — with final negotiations expected to end April 10 — are likely also delayed by a week.

► Governor John Hickenlooper supports SB-215, a school reform bill aimed at reducing student testing. As Fox 31’s Eli Stokols reports, Hick also made his position clear on prior reforms:

Hickenlooper sought to show broad consensus around reducing the number of assessments for students and teachers while maintaining high academic standards across the state.

He also drew a line in the sand on a related issue, implying that he would likely veto any measure that includes changes to the reforms passed under 2009’s Senate Bill 191 requiring that a teacher’s effectiveness by determined in large part by their students’ demonstrated achievement.

With the Republican senate president and Democratic Speaker of the House behind him, Hickenlooper called the education reforms adopted as a result of S.B. 191 “essential reforms.”

 Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Help us protect homeowners from shoddy construction

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: 7NEWS’ John Ferrugia with a hard-hitting report last night:

Jennifer Seidman is a lawyer with a major national law firm that has filed many suits against builders for defective work. While conceding that changes in the law affect her business, she says homeowner sometimes have no alternative to suing.

“With arbitration, the homeowners have to pay a private judge and the person that they are paying often times has a relationship with the building industry,” she said.

That’s because the bill makes it clear that people, such as Harris, would not only be prohibited from suing for defective work, they would be limited in the hiring of experts to advise them about defects.

And, they would have to accept the builder’s arbitrator, and pay for the proceedings.

Original post follows.

—–

I need your help to stop what may be one of the worst bills of the year in the Colorado legislature. Today, a bill will be heard that will weaken the ability of homeowners to hold developers accountable for construction defects.

Contact your senators right now to tell them to vote NO on this bill.

Senate Bill 15-177 would force homeowners and homeowners associations into arbitration over construction defects to multifamily construction. We’ve all heard horror stories about new condo projects in Colorado, like the Beauvallon in Denver, where avoidable defects in construction hurt homeowner property values, caused public safety issues, and turned the condos into money pits. In the case of the Beauvallon, the only way homeowners were able to get help was to have access to the courts to fight the developers of this shoddy construction.

If Senate Bill 177 had been the law when the Beauvallon started leaking, those homeowners wouldn’t have had the power to get justice. The fact is, for most middle class Colorado families, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make. Why would anyone want to give up their rights to hold developers accountable for negligence in the construction of their home?

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Meet RMGO’s Latest “Gun Grabber”

The hard-charging Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group has found a new target (metaphorically speaking) for their anger over Colorado’s 2013 gun safety laws:

suthersrmgo

That’s right, folks! Former Attorney General John Suthers, now a candidate for mayor of Colorado Springs, is under fire (again, metaphor) for his “defense” of the 2013 gun laws–both in court defending the state from lawsuits, and in the form of a technical memo on enforcement of the magazine limit law, House Bill 13-1224, that debunked a large percentage of the hysteria being promoted by the very same RMGO.

Former Colorado Attorney General argued AGAINST your Second Amendment rights in court, and now he wants to be Mayor of Colorado Springs. If you or someone you know lives in Colorado Springs, please don’t vote for this gun-grabber.

The detail RMGO director Dudley Brown seems to not wish to acknowledge is that as Colorado’s Attorney General, Suthers was obliged to defend the gun safety laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Suthers made no secret of his personal opposition to the 2013 gun laws, but that wasn’t enough to induce Suthers to shirk his duties as AG. We have heard that Suthers found some of the hyperbole from fellow Republicans about the gun laws to be absurd, such as their claims that the laws would ‘ban gun ownership’ or ‘ban all magazines.’ That acknowledgement of reality is a far cry from lumping Suthers in with the dreaded “gun grabbers.”

But as we know after watching RMGO these last few years, reality has little to do with it.

Damn You, Politico!!!

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

The Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at the departure of Fox 31’s Eli Stokols for Politico — and what it means for his Sunday public affairs show #COPolitics:

…his departure will leave a noticeable hole in coverage of politics and policy in Colorado, and his own station isn’t sure yet how it might be filled.

“I’m not positive what we will do when he leaves. Still working on that,” said Holly Gaunt, the news director and vice president for KDVR and its sister station KWGN. “Covering politics will still be important to us, but at this stage I don’t know how things will shake out.”…

…And since he’ll be assessing day-to-day Colorado news from the perspective of a consumer rather than a producer, I asked what he hopes to see more of when he’s gone. More enterprise coverage, for one, he said. (I agree.)

And, he added, “I’d like to see people here be a little tougher on some of the people that we cover. I don’t know if I saw that enough in the campaign coverage last year. There seems to be a reluctance to hold people accountable for policy positions. [Pols emphasis]

“I think for the most part people here do a good job,” he continued, “but I think it’s tough when you have these relationships and you’re everybody’s friend to really bang peoples’ heads around because you don’t want to do it. There’s always that catch between access and holding people accountable.”

Stokols starts his new job as a national political reporter with Politico in April.

“Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights” Gets Euthanized Today

UPDATE: An amusing sidenote via Twitter, as posted by Rep. Patrick Neville, House sponsor of the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights.”

“Parent’s deserve rights?” It seems Rep. Neville is exempt too.

—–

Measles.

Measles.

AP via 7NEWS reports, a bill that was never going to pass, and has arguably damaged Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly much more than it ever helped them is set to die this afternoon in a Democratic-controlled House committee:

Democrats are expected Tuesday to kill a Republican bill giving parents broad authority over their children’s school curriculum and medical treatment…

Republican sponsors have called it a needed check on government. The bill passed the Senate last month.

But Democrats control the House and say the measure goes too far. It limits schools from providing non-emergency medical care without a parent’s permission. Democrats say that’s a recipe for hiding child abuse.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

As opponents testified at every stop during this bill’s trip through the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, there are a huge number of excellent reasons to oppose the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” Advocates for children and organizations devoted to fighting child abuse argued that the legislation would make it harder for schools to intervene in abuse cases. Public health experts warned of disastrous consequences for important programs like the Colorado Healthy Kids Survey, an anonymous and already optional questionnaire regarded as critical for making informed decisions about a broad range of issues affecting young people.

But by far the biggest controversy with Senate Bill 15-077, and the one that caught the attention of local and national media, is the bill’s further easing of already-weak regulations in Colorado on the vaccination of school age children. With an epidemic of measles in California making national news, along with ongoing local outbreaks of whooping cough and controversy over Colorado’s last-place rank among the 50 states for vaccination of children, the Senate GOP caucus totally lost control over the optics of this bill–which morphed, despite the protestations of “moderates” like Ellen Roberts, into the “Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights.” And the fact is, Roberts and others who voted for this bill have no one to blame but their fellow Republicans, after Sens. Laura Waters Woods and Tim Neville contradicted with their own words Roberts’ insistence that this was “spun by the media” into an anti-vaccination debate.

We expect Roberts will not be overly saddened to see this bill die today despite her vote for it. But for Roberts and all of the Senate Republicans who voted with her, the damage is already done.

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Thanks For Nothing, John McCain and Lindsey Graham

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham.

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham.

The Denver Post’s John Frank reports obligingly on an upcoming event sponsored by his newspaper and developer Larry Mizel’s pet “education” project, the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL):

A former Republican presidential candidate and a White House hopeful will visit Denver next month to discuss violent extremism in the world and how the United States should respond.

U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are the featured speakers at the April 1 event hosted by The CELL and The Denver Post. Ed Henry, the chief White House correspondent for Fox News, will moderate the 7 p.m. program at the Denver Performing Arts complex.

The discussion will include the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Iran and the growth of extremism in Europe, according to the organizers.

Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Be afraid.

Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. Be afraid!

It’s surprising–or maybe it’s not, depending on how cynical you are–that Frank fails to mention Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s most recent contribution to the debate over American foreign policy. McCain and Graham are both signers of the now-infamous letter from 47 Republican Senators to the government of Iran, attempting to undermine President Barack Obama’s authority to broker an agreement to halt that nation’s nuclear weapons program. The fierce backlash by the public against this letter has since caused McCain to backtrack, claiming the letter was signed in haste as Senators were leaving Washington ahead of bad weather–but not actually admitting it was a bad idea like more or less every responsible outside observer has.

Then again, a whitewash of this recent foreign policy embarrassment would be about right considering the event’s hosts. Mizel’s Counterterrorism Education “Learning Lab” has been described by critics as more of a propaganda tool for spreading fear of the tactic of terrorism among the public–thus short-circuiting discussion of underlying issues–than a legitimate public education project. The central exhibit’s name “Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere” captures the sense of paranoia “awareness” the place is meant to foster.

All of which we have to assume is fine with McCain and Graham, who would rather you be afraid like the CELL teaches visitors to be than think critically about American foreign policy. Especially when that might lead to pointed questions for them personally.

Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day

GMS-GreenGreen beer? Drink away. Green milk? Not so much. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado legislators are taking up the issue of police brutality today with a handful of bills, including increasing the number of body cameras.

► The so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights” (also known as the “No Rights for Children”) should finally meet its inevitable end today in the State House.

► Meet state Sen. Chris Holbert (R-Rich People Only).

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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