Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 20)


The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicts anywhere from 2 inches to 17 feet of snow this weekend. 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).


► The Denver Post editorial board thinks that Colorado Republican legislators are playing "a dangerous game that must stop" by using the budget process in an attempt to derail legislation they don't like but don't have the votes to defeat outright:

Republicans should keep in mind that history has a way of turning the tables, particularly when it comes to political power.

The tactics they are using to thwart policies they disagree with could well come back to haunt them.

Jefferson County students are not convinced that the conservative school board is really retreating on their attempts at rewriting history curriculums.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Coffmans’ split endorsements in GOP-state-chair race titillate Republicans on the radio

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Conservative talk radio is the front line in the battle over who will be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party. (That is, for the tea-party wing of the party. The front line for the moneyed side of the party might be in buildings on 17th street or something.)

In any case, Steve House, who's challenging current GOP chair Ryan Call, has appeared on at least nine shows over the past few weeks, including programs on KNUS (Peter Boyles), KLZ (Randy Corporon, Ken Clark, Kris Cook) and KFKA (Amy Oliver).

In contrast, I can't find a single appearance by Call on conservative talk radio in the past month.

Even when the candidates themselves aren't on their shows, the conservative yappers talk on and on about race to be the GOP chair, as if it's the epic battle that will decide the future of the Republican Party in Colorado.

One of the developments in the race that titillates the Republicans is the split endorsements of Mike and Cynthia Coffman. Congressman Coffman is backing Ryan Call, the current chair. And his wife, Cynthia Coffman, who's Colorado's Attorney General, has thrown her weight behind challenger Steve House.

Below is an example of the kind of erudite discussion you find on conservative radio about the Coffman situation and relationship, such as it is. (Recall that they apparently don't live together.) It occurred on Valentine's Day on KNUS'  "Weekend Wake Up" Show with Julie Hayden and hubby Chuck Bonniwell. The guest is conservative political operative Laura Carno (who's been crusading for powdered alcohol recently):

 Bonniwell: This leadership race for the chairmanship of the Republican Party is going wild! It's just going wild out there. And you can read all about it in ColoradoPols, which is sad because it's a left-wing site… It's a battle royale with Cynthia Coffman, who's the Attorney General, urging Steve House to run, and then her husband, Congressman Coffman, opposing him, saying, 'Re-elect Ryan Call.' It's just an amazing fight.

Carno: Yeah. It's going crazy. …I thought that the Coffman angle was absolutely fascinating.

Hayden: You have to wonder!

Carno: Cynthia Coffman is backing one guy. Congressman Coffman is backing another guy. And what does that household look like?

Bonniwell: It's one of two things: They say, 'You go on one side. I'll go on the other side. And we'll all be covered.' Or they're screaming at each other. One of the two.

Carno: Right. It's a house divided, in some manner. It would just be interesting to be a fly on the wall with those conversations. Interesting Valentine's Day.

Republicans Already Plotting Laura Woods Replacement?


One of the closest Republican victories in the 2014 elections in Colorado was the extremely narrow win by Sen. Laura Waters Woods over appointed Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger in SD-19. By fewer that 700 votes, Woods ousted the former Arvada councilwoman appointed to replace Sen. Evie Hudak, who resigned rather than face a recall campaign principally organized by Woods.

Even after Hudak's resignation, Woods did not have a clear path to the GOP SD-19 nomination. Concerned about Woods' long-term viability for holding this critical swing seat, establishment Republicans fought hard to defeat Woods and put Lang Sias in this seat. Sias lost out to Woods in the SD-19 primary after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners rallied its supporters behind Woods' campaign.

Sias finally won an appointment to the Colorado House in overlapping HD-27 this year, but from what we've heard, Republicans are still very concerned that Woods will be unable to hold the SD-19 seat against a strong Democratic challenge. Even though Woods won in last year's election, she doesn't get a full Senate term before running again: in order to realign this seat with its usual election interval, Woods will be back up for election next year.

Assuming she makes it that far. Sources tell us that Woods is being watched very closely by Republican minders this year in the Senate, and is on a short list of potential GOP establishment primary targets in 2016. Because this seat is considered pivotal to control of the Senate by both parties, there is no margin for error: and Woods by most accounts hasn't impressed upper-echelon Republicans who will map their playing field next year.


During last year's primary, one of the major attacks on Woods from fellow Republicans pertained to her "retirement" in the 1990s, claiming disability for carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, we certainly aren't going to speculate on whether or not Sen. Woods was legtimately disabled by carpal tunnel syndrome, but she does note on her website that her disability was positive insofar as she was able to raise her children at home. As you can see in the mailer above, fellow Republicans used her description of her condition to raise questions about Woods "contributing to the growing epidemic of disability fraud."

If that sounds thin to you, bear in mind that you're not the target audience–Republican primary voters in SD-19 are. And don't get us wrong, depending on how Sen. Woods acquits herself in the next few months, Democrats may prefer she be the general election candidate. Either way, if Republican brass does decide to pull the proverbial trigger on Woods, this disability business will just be the opening salvo.

Stay tuned–control of the Colorado Senate may well hinge on what happens here.

Jeffco School Board Revises Own History, Drops Plans for AP Course Review

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

Well, that sure took them long enough. Perhaps Julie Williams and the rest of the conservative Jeffco School Board finally got around to reading those History textbooks after all. From TPM:

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 19)

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► Colorado Republicans continue to take their cue from Washington D.C. in using the state budget process to muddle legislation that they don't have the votes to actually defeat. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains, funding for necessary public safety issues is now being held hostage by Senate Republicans:

The party-line Senate vote against a bill that won unanimous approval in the House puts in jeopardy more than $2 million for the Colorado Department of Public Safety and escalates a political tension at the General Assembly that is drawing comparisons to a gridlocked Washington.

► Legislation to allow Coloradans to carry a concealed weapon without a permit gained approval in the State Senate yesterday. Senator Vicki "Lost" Marble, the sponsor of SB-032, needs some better talking points, which is clear after reading this story by Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press:

The requirements, passed in 2003, also bar concealed-carry permits to anyone who “chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages to the extent that the applicant’s normal facilities are impaired.”

“I think it’s insulting to the people of Colorado,” said Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins and sponsor of the bill.

In related news, Marble is a lock to receive the endorsement of the fictitious group "Alcoholics with Guns."

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Senate GOP Plays Budget Games…With Concealed Weapons?

Concealed handgun.

Concealed handgun.

The Denver Post's John Frank reports on an escalating budget battle in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate revealing some very interesting ulterior motives:

In what critics call a "high-stakes game of chicken," Republican lawmakers Wednesday rejected a spending bill that included money to reduce wait times for background checks for concealed-handgun permits — a move that also threatens funds for child abuse cases and testing evidence collected in rape and drunken-driving investigations.

The party-line Senate vote against a bill that won unanimous approval in the House puts in jeopardy more than $2 million for the Colorado Department of Public Safety and escalates a political tension at the General Assembly that is drawing comparisons to a gridlocked Washington.

"It amounts to government shutdown of one department on things that are very critical to public safety," said Senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora, referring to the Senate vote that may kill the bill.

Tensions have been escalated over normally routine appropriations bills this year after Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee led by Sen. Kent Lambert used the committee's power to cut off funding for a program to license undocumented drivers. As we discussed a few weeks ago, using the JBC to curtail funding for a program that isn't repealed legislatively results in major problems, and is considered an abuse of of the JBC's power. In the case of the driver license program, it means month-long delays for appointments will now stretch into next year, and only a single driver license office in Denver will be able to handle these applications–resulting in a more or less nonfunctional program that nonetheless remains on the books.

Of course, Republicans are fine with the driver license program for undocumented immigrants not working.

And that's the point to keep in mind as the Post's John Frank continues:

The public safety spending dispute focuses on an amendment that House Democrats added to the bill giving Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration the authority to spend $370,000 to hire eight technicians to reduce the wait time for concealed-carry background checks.

The provision is tucked into a larger spending bill that includes $300,000 for the state's toxicology lab, $100,000 for child abuse investigations and $20,000 for law enforcement training on cold-case homicides and missing-persons cases, lawmakers said.

Republican lawmakers oppose the required background checks [Pols emphasis] and don't believe the estimates from Hickenlooper's administration about a backlog.

This morning, Senate Republicans gave final passage to a bill that would eliminate background checks and gun safety training required to obtain a concealed weapons permit in Colorado. A total of five states have eliminated permit requirements for concealed weapons, and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-controlled Colorado Senate wants Colorado to be the sixth. The bill has basically zero chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House, however, let alone being signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. With legislation to repeal the gun safety bills passed in 2013 already headed for defeat, the idea that a bill to dramatically weaken gun laws could pass is simply not realistic.

So what's the next best option? Starve the Colorado Bureau of Investigations of funds to do the job! It's true that this will inconvenience the very same gun owners Republicans say they're looking out for, but who do you think they're going to blame? Certainly not Republicans.

The bigger problem is that by rejecting this spending bill, Republicans are playing games with the entire state Department of Public Safety. Much like the way budget games are played in Washington D.C. these days, large priorities are being held hostage to satisfy niche interests: in his case, the most extreme wing of the gun lobby. Ultimately, a concealed weapons permitting process that bogs down due to insufficient resources plays into the gun lobby's argument that permits should be eliminated–making it a worthwhile long-term goal to counterintuitively stand against properly funding CCW permits today.

It seems like this whole strategy depends on the press not reporting the details of what's happening here, which unfortunatety for Senate Republicans, John Frank has done admirably in this front-page story. We believe it's very unlikely that the voting public will look kindly on Republicans risking funding for things like child abuse investigations in order to strike a blow, however circuitous, against concealed weapons permits.

Which means that as long as the lights stay on and Democrats stand firm, this isn't going to end well for the Senate GOP.

Coffman blames Obama for ISIS; calls for “boots on the ground” against ISIS

(Wait, what? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

When U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, Rep. Mike Coffman called it a "great day," but in the ensuing years, he's complained that America shouldn't have withdrawn all its forces from Iraq.

This line of thinking reached a crescendo Saturday, when Coffman appeared on a Denver radio station and blamed Obama for creating "the situation with ISIS in Iraq" by withdrawing American troops too early (audio below).

Coffman: The fact is, the President has created the situation with ISIS in Iraq, because what he did against recommendations of the Pentagon was he left no residual force whatsoever in Iraq in 2011 because he was so desperate for the political narrative going into the 2012 election that he'd ended the war in Iraq. And by not having any residual force, we lost that military-to-military relationship with the Iraqi security forces. And in doing so, we also lost that government-to-government relationship. And we had no influence. And as a result, the roots of representative government weren't deep enough. And the Al-Abadi government out of Baghdad reverted to their worst sectarian tendencies, pushed the Sunnis out of the government, and essentially created the opening for ISIS, for this jihadist element to come in and fill that void. And they did.

KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger missed a chance to make things interesting by arguing that, if anything, Bush is responsible for ISIS.

But Obama? Even if you accept the premise, which I don't, that the absence of a U.S. "residual force" in Iraq created ISIS, the fact is that Obama actually tried to negotiate an agreement allowing U.S. forces to remain.

Respected New York Times reporter Michael Gordon summarized what happened:

Mr. Obama sought to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed United States troops to stay in Iraq after 2011. Initially, the Obama administration was prepared to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq. Later, the Obama administration lowered the number to about 5,000.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki indicated that he might be willing. But the Iraqis did not agree to an American demand that such an agreement be submitted to their Parliament for approval, a step the Obama administration insisted on to ensure that any American troops that stayed would be immune from prosecution under Iraqi law….

After the talks broke down, the Obama administration withdrew the remaining American troops in December 2011, the deadline set for withdrawing all American forces from Iraq under the Status of Forces Agreement.

Blame game for ISIS aside, Coffman is so mad about the situation he's ready to put "boots on the ground" against ISIS –even though about a year ago he was for U.S. advisers in Iraq but dead set against the boots idea, telling KNUS' Dan Caplis, "I would say, in terms of regular troops on the ground, absolutely not.”

Now Coffman is saying U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq are required:

Coffman: Certainly, as an Iraq war veteran, I wouldn’t want to see U.S. forces on the ground as the maneuver ground element. I want I want to see indigenous forces on the ground, but we’re going to need special operators from time to time to take out high-value targets. We are going to need to give them air logistical and advisory support, and that is going to take some elements of boots on the ground. That’s just the way it is. And he’s trying to make everything fit into a political narrative. And it's insane…I’m going to fight him on closing Guantanamo Bay as well.



Thursday Open Thread

"Remorse sleeps during prosperity but awakes bitter consciousness during adversity."

–Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Amy Stephens Spins The Revolving Door

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

The Denver Business Journal's Mark Harden reports that recently term-limited Rep. Amy Stephens is taking a new job with the prestigious law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge–but not as a lawyer, since she has no law degree. Stephens will be heading up the firm's Colorado government affairs office:

Amy Stephens, a former majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, has joined the Denver office of law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP as managing director of its Colorado government affairs practice.

Stephens, a Republican, left the Legislature after the 2014 session because of term-limit rules. She served eight years in the House and was elected majority leader in 2010…

From the firm's release yesterday, a description of the office Stephens will be heading up:

The Colorado Government Affairs team develops and implements successful legal, legislative, regulatory, and public policy strategies to assist clients at the state and local levels. Our experience and knowledge extends across such fields as legislation, environmental compliance, health care, pharmaceuticals, transportation, labor, economic development, housing, real estate, energy, racing and wagering, not-for-profits, state procurement, government contracts, post-secondary education and compliance with state and federal ethics, lobbying, and election law. The Colorado team has represented a wide range of clients in front of the executive and legislative branches of Colorado state government, including state regulatory agencies, as well as matters involving county and city government and special districts.

In short, Stephens is heading up the firm's Colorado lobbying office.

Now, because this is one of the nation's most prominent political law firms, we're going to assume that they have devised some kind of clever sleight-of-hand by which newly-minted head lobbyist Amy Stephens is not, you know, a "lobbyist" in the most formal sense? Because under Colorado's Amendment 41, the ethics in government constitutional amendment passed in 2006, departing legislators are not allowed to lobby their colleagues for two years after leaving office–what's known as the "revolving door" provision. Back in 2010, GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton relied on a similarly thin distinction to claim she was "never a lobbyist," after Norton served as the head of another firm's Office of State Government Relations. Which was also known as "the lobbying arm of the organization," but for Norton, merely being the boss of lobbyists didn't count.

Will the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission be so generous? That remains to be seen.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 18)

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► Republicans in the State Senate gave initial approval to Sen. Vicki "Lost" Marble's bill (SB15-032) to eliminate the permitting process for anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon. Said Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver), "The permitting process allows us to know that Coloradans carrying loaded firearms have shot a gun before, are trained, aren’t domestic violence offenders, don’t have a criminal record, or aren’t drunk drivers." Colorado is currently one of 46 states that require a permit for concealed carry.  

► Former Sen. Mark Udall will see work on one of his pet issues finally come to fruition this week. President Obama plans to designate Brown's Canyon as a National Monument.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Getting an ID for voting isn’t as easy as Wayne Williams implies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Back in January, Colorado's new Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, suggested that people who register and vote on Election Day should present a "Department-of-Revenue-issued ID."

Williams made it sound like this would be a snap for voters: "And it’s important to note that in Colorado, ID’s are free, to anyone who’s indigent. Anyone who’s poor, anyone who’s elderly can get a free ID," Williams told Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner Jan. 11.

Technically, that's true. But in reality, especially if you're old or indigent, getting an ID is often neither easy nor free. With the Colorado state legislature debating a bill today requiring IDs for Election-Day registration, now is a good time for Warner to air some of the facts that run counter to Williams' simple view.

The core problem is that, while an ID itself is free, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the underlying documentation required to get an ID can be expensive to obtain and time-consuming to assemble.

From reading Colorado's law mandating free IDs for those over 64-years and the indigent, you might think all you have to do is trot over to your county human services department, pick up the required forms, and then get hooked up with your free ID from DMV.

Not really. At Denver Human Services, you can get a coupon for a free ID if you declare that you are homeless, and therefore entitled to a $10.50 fee waver. But if you don't have citizenship documents, you have to go to a nonprofit "partner" organization for help, according to Julie Smith, Communications Director at Denver Human Services.

"We recognize that this is a challenge to navigate, especially if you have to obtain a birth certificate," said Smith, adding that transportation alone is a "big challenge" for people who are homeless.


Mad Mike Coffman Still Mad That Someone Dare Challenge Him

Coffman Hillman Wedgie

This about sums up what Mike Coffman did to Mark Hillman in 2005-06.

Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made national news last week after he picked a fight with Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald during testimony in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Mad Mike's antics were called out by the hometown Aurora Sentinel, saying "blasting the incoming secretary 6 months into his job and turning the argument into a petty political platform is bunk."

If the Sentinel thought Mad Mike's actions last week were "bunk," we can only imagine the response to Coffman's fundraising email yesterday. Coffman's campaign brazenly keeps the story alive and tries to make McDonald look like the bad guy while encouraging donors to give money to his campaign. Before we delve into that fundraising email, however, let's return to the scene of the crime to recap the order of events from last Thursday:

Rep. Coffman: This is a department mired in beaurocratic incompetence and corruption. And I've gotta tell you, I think the pubic relations is great today. But there's no substance. There is…no…substance…

Sec. McDonald: I'm highly offended by your comments, Mr. Coffman…

Rep. Coffman: [Holds up a hand and says, "Let me finish..."] I fundamentally believe, that as unfortunate as it is, that at the end of the day — at the end of this President's term — that you will not have made a difference in changing the culture of this organization [Pols emphasis]…by virtue of the fact that you continue to gloss over its problems.

Sec. McDonald: I am offended by your comment. Actually, I've been here 6 months. You've been here longer than I have. If there's a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.

(Click here to see the video or read the rest of the transcript)

As you can plainly see above, Mad Mike picked this fight by telling the VA Secretary that he "will not have made a difference" in changing the culture at the VA. McDonald was a guest on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, where he declined to swipe at Coffman, while Mad Mike's campaign was busy trying to spin this spat into dollars. The message coming out of Coffman's campaign continues to be that Mad Mike is a military veteran and therefore you can't attack him for anything, ever.

This doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons, including the fact that McDonald himself is a former Army Ranger, but the message also illustrates Coffman's erratic nature and his willingness to step on anybody in order to get ahead politically. Ironically enough, Coffman's fundraising plea only exaggerates that point by playing off the McDonald line, "I've run a large company, sir. What have you done?" Take a look at this section from a fundraising email sent by Coffman's Congressional campaign and signed by "Mort Marks, WWII Veteran."

What has Mike Coffman done? 

Besides being the only Member of Congress to serve in both Iraq wars, Mike has been a national leader on veterans issues, fighting to fix the broken VA long before the national media woke up to the VA's troubles.

He has served our nation in uniform, even resigning the Treasurer's office to serve in Iraq in 2005 [Pols emphasis], and he has continued that fight back home for the men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedom.

To hear Secretary McDonald ask Mike Coffman "What have you done?" is enough to make my blood boil.


Hold on, there — are you sure that you want to bring up 2005? Do you really want to use this as an example of "What Mike Coffman Has Done"?

See, Mike Coffman did not exactly "resign the Treasurer's office" to serve in Iraq. Mad Mike took a leave of absence from his job as State Treasurer and continued that job when he returned to Colorado in March 2006 (Team Coffman called it "an unpaid military leave of absence" in Aug. 2005 while seeking to make it clear that Coffman would run for Secretary of State in 2006). Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman was appointed "Acting State Treasurer," but he had to resign from the State Senate in order to accept the post. This sequence of events also moved Greg Brophy into Hillman's Senate seat and saw a GOP vacancy committee select Cory Gardner to replace Brophy in the State House.

When Coffman returned to Colorado in March 2006, Acting Treasurer Hillman was forced to resign (though Coffman hired Hillman for a part-time job in the Treasurer's office. Yay!). More importantly, Hillman could no longer campaign for his own term as State Treasurer with the benefit of being the current office holder. Many Republicans still believe that Coffman's re-appearing act probably cost Hillman the Treasurer's race in 2006 (Democrat Cary Kennedy was elected instead). For his part, Coffman went on to defeat Democrat Ken Gordon for Secretary of State; two years later, Coffman resigned as SOS after winning his current Congressional seat in CD-6.

Volunteering to serve in Iraq is certainly laudable, but as we said before, being a military veteran does not give Coffman carte blanche to be an asshole. There is no honor in Coffman's bullying treatment of VA Secretary McDonald, but Mad Mike just makes things worse by using his political stunt to raise money while also stretching the truth about "resigning" as State Treasurer in order to serve in Iraq. The only person who ever seems to benefit from Mad Mike's hot temper is the Congressman himself.

Browns Canyon: Colorado’s Newest National Monument

UPDATE: Warm if somewhat qualified words from Sen. Cory Gardner, recognizing the role of his predecessor in today's news:

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) called Browns Canyon a "national treasure with a long history of bipartisan support in Colorado."

"Senator Udall in particular was a champion of this beautiful site, and his legacy of protecting Colorado's landscapes is to be commended," Gardner said. "This monument will stand in lasting tribute to his public service. My preference is always to work through the legislative process, and in the coming days I will be introducing legislation to ensure that Colorado's state and local interests have a seat at the table in discussions about Browns Canyon."


Browns Canyon.

Browns Canyon.

As the Denver Post's Mark Matthews reports, President Barack Obama is set to make former Sen. Mark Udall a belatedly happy man:

President Barack Obama this week plans to name Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, a national monument, a designation that adds a new layer of federal protection to the popular spot for whitewater rafting…

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and then-U.S. Sen. Mark Udall tried to pass legislation that would have preserved a similar area near Salida, but the bill failed to advance through Congress.

It's President Obama's second national monument declaration for Colorado, the first being Chimney Rock in September of 2012. Preservation of Browns Canyon was a long-sought goal of former Sen. Udall, but staunchly opposed by local GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn and perennially stillborn as legislation in a Republican-controlled Congress. When Obama declared Chimney Rock a national monument in 2012, local Rep. Scott Tipton managed to at least offer lukewarm praise for the decision. But this time, Lamborn and fellow arch-conservative Rep. Ken Buck are more or less foaming at the mouth:

"My message to the president is cut it out. He is not king. No more acting like King Barack. That is not how we do things in the U.S.," Buck said in a statement.

Lamborn struck a similar tone.

"I am outraged," he said in a statement. "This is a top-down, big-government land grab by the president that disenfranchises the concerned citizens in the Browns Canyon region."

Got that? The Antiquities Act has been on the books for more than a century, but it's "not how we do things in the U.S." Glenn Beck bluster aside, tourism-focused businesses from Buena Vista to Salida are delighted by this move, which they've sought for years to protect this popular destination and raise its profile. And they had no delusions of getting this designation from Congress.

We encourage you to raft the new Browns Canyon National Monument! We've done it and it's a blast.