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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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.

Mag Limit Crazy Talk: A Trip Down Memory Lane

UPDATE #2: As expected, Senate Bill 15-175 passes the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. After one more roll call vote, the bill heads to the House to die.

—–

UPDATE: Debate now underway:

—–

Today, the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate is set to debate and pass on second reading Senate Bill 15-175, legislation repealing the 15-round limit on gun magazine capacity passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2013. A lively floor debate is expected to begin shortly.

As we have documented in this space, the gun lobby and allied Republicans have consistently relied on wildly hyperbolic predictions about what the magazine limit law would do in order to fire up public opposition and derail the national debate over gun safety. Today, as the Senate debates the repeal of the magazine limit, we’d like to share few clips of video about the magazine limit bill that we want to see, you know, justified.

Here’s one to start with: in March of 2013, then-Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman proposed that the Department of Natural Resources be “shut down,” since hunters will not be coming to Colorado–“because you can’t bring your weapons here.”

As we know back here in reality, the number of hunting permits issued in Colorado has surged since the passage of the 2013 magazine limit. It would appear that hunters figured out that what Cadman was saying wasn’t true in the least.

And then there’s Sen. Kent Lambert, who claimed in 2013 that “we have banned, effectively banned gun ownership, from the citizens of the state.”

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Radio host accidentally leaves clues about who wrote document trashing votes by Thurlow

(Oops! The Nevilles appear busted – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

GOP Reps. Patrick Neville, Dan Thurlow.

GOP Reps. Patrick Neville, Dan Thurlow.

On his Facebook page yesterday, KLZ AM-560 radio host Ken Clark posted a document and posed the question, “This is Dan Thurlow’s voting record so far, what do you think?”

Clark freely acknowledged that he didn’t write the piece, which criticizes Thurlow, a Republican who’s been voting against his caucus, for nine votes opposing right-wing legislation. For example, Thurlow’s vote for a ban on “conversion therapy” is noted in the document with the comment: “Thurlow thinks that is a great idea and was the only R in the entire house to vote for it.”

The document states that Thurlow is an “idiot” for voting against a bill that would have allowed the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to allow “transfers of machine guns, destructive devices, and certain types of firearms” if the transferee met certain conditions, loosening the current regulator regime. 

In describing Thurlow’s vote against the machine-gun-transfer bill, HB 1086, Clark’s secret-source states: “This was my bill, it would have mandated CBI sign off on form 4s for NFA license packets if the person passes a background check.”

So judging from this “my bill” line in the document posted, and other comments about email, Clark’s source appears to be a legislator who sponsored HB 1086.

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

And Clark acknowledges in the comment section that Clark deleted a reference in the anonymously-authored document to HB 1171 as  “my freedom of conscience protection bill.”

The sponsors of both those bills are Rep. Patrick and Sen. Tim Neville. (See HB 1171 here and HB 1086 here.)

So, while we can’t be sure, it looks like Clark’s source is either Rep. Patrick Neville or Sen. Tim Neville.

Asked about the situation, Clark said it was “an editing error on my part.”

In any case, it’s a lesson for all of us who receive leaked or anonymously-authored documents. Read them carefully before posting them to avoid disclosing your sources or giving hidden clues to bored bloggers who love to expose anonymous sources.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

Get More SmarterHere’s a sentence nobody ever wants to have said about them: It’s not technically treason. 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 Sen. Cory Gardner talked to the Denver Post (sort of) about his decision to sign his name to the now-infamous “Dear Iran” letter. Gardner’s weird, rambling response to a letter that spawned the hashtag #47Traitors did nothing to explain why he thought this was a good idea. Mike Littwin wonders who was more humiliated about this letter — Republicans or President Obama – while dissecting this political disaster for the GOP.

► Speaking of the “Dear Iran” letter, the Denver Post editorial board used a whole five sentences to opine on the issue yesterday. This is the same newspaper, of course, that endorsed Gardner for Senate in 2014.

► The anti-vaxxers in the Colorado legislature have re-emerged on an amendment offered to an otherwise uninteresting naturopathic bill:

 Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

The Latest In Gun Nut Fashion?

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, gun rights activists once again failed to pack the Capitol with supporters of their bill to repeal the magazine capacity limit, despite intense rallying of their base in days prior:

Republicans controlling a Senate committee on Monday passed a measure that would repeal the state’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines…

Debate was expected to last into the evening, but testimony finished early, [Pols emphasis] allowing lawmakers to take a vote, which passed on a 3-2 party-line tally.

Republicans are likely to push the measure through the Senate, where they control the chamber and have the support of four Democrats. But the bill is unlikely to make it through the House, where Democrats sit in the majority and are considering sending the measure to an unfavorable committee.

The gun lobby may not have been able to fill yesterday’s hearing, but what they lacked in numbers they appeared to make up for with…well, interesting fashion choices:

gunnutfashion

That’s Sen. Randy Baumgardner standing with a “gun guy” who came to testify in favor of Senate Bill 175 yesterday. Now, we don’t want to betray ignorance of something we’re supposed to know about–but can anyone tell us what the hell this guy is wearing and why? They didn’t have guns in Game of Thrones. Braveheart didn’t wear anything like this–at least we don’t think, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen it. We see what looks like an NRA patch on the front of his…smock, robe, whatever this is, but beyond that we really don’t have a clue.

But as with any fringe subculture with their own uniforms, we’re curious.

“Gunmageddon’s” Last Gasp Moves Today

Lots of guns.

Lots of guns.

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

On Monday, new GOP Senate President Bill Cadman makes good on his promise to give Democrats a chance to “correct their mistakes” on gun policy.

A Republican bill to repeal the 15-round limit on ammunition magazines gets its first hearing Monday afternoon in the senate judiciary committee.

SB 175 is likely to pass through the senate under GOP control, but it’s likely to die a quick death in the Democratically-controlled house.

The equivalent legislation on the House side has already died, in a hearing that drew surprisingly little interest from gun owners–continuing a pattern we’ve seen of the gun lobby being consistently unable to match the level of opposition to gun safety legislation seen in 2013 when they were originally passed by the General Assembly.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners tried to rally their members to the Capitol for this legislation two weeks ago, but were thwarted by heavy snow. It’s unknown how many of their supporters were able to get time off again to testify today, but most expect the debate over Senate Bill 175 to be the acid test of the gun lobby’s drawing–and staying–power.

Right before it dies in the Democratic House of course, an inevitable fact that will probably not be great for turnout–that, and the fact that fevered predictions the magazine limit would “ban gun ownership” or “ban all magazines” never came true. Reality-based debates over this law aren’t nearly as emotional, so most of the testimony today probably won’t be.

We’ll update with coverage as it comes in.

GOP Plays Dirty To Kill Concealed Weapon Background Checks

Concealed handgun.

Concealed handgun.

As the Denver Post's John Frank reports, House Democrats ended a major standoff with Republicans over the issue of funding for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to close a backlog of background checks for concealed weapons permits yesterday, essentially by capitulating to the GOP's curious refusal to increase this funding and thereby accommodate the surging demand for CCW permits in the state:

A Washington-style budget standoff at the state Capitol ended Wednesday as the House conceded to the Senate's position on a $2 million spending bill for the public safety department.

The unanimous vote removed the final hurdle for a measure that includes money for testing evidence in drunken-driving and rape cases but jettisoned a provision allowing the agency to hire more staffers to reduce the wait time for concealed-carry background checks.

The Democratic-controlled House insisted on the $370,000 for background checks, but the Republican-led Senate objected and refused to negotiate on the bill, creating what one lawmaker described as a "high-stakes game of chicken" that drew comparisons to congressional gridlock.

If the House didn't pass the supplemental spending bill, it would have died — a reality House Democrats said was too steep to accept.

Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, speaking to reporters afterward, acknowledged this as a tactical defeat, but defended the decision to fold in the face of determined GOP opposition to the CBI funding request. The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus:

House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, said it simply was too important to let the bill die, noting money for the state’s toxicology lab, law-enforcement training and testing for rape kits.

“I call it being the adults in the room,” [Pols emphasis] Hullinghorst said after the vote Wednesday, which passed unanimously. “There was very little alternative.”

As we discussed last month regarding this same controversy, Republican opposition to funding the CBI's request for additional funds to close the concealed-carry background check backlog is not easy to explain at first blush. After all, Republicans are supposed to be the defenders of Coloradans' right to own and carry weapons for self-defense. Why would they not want the CBI to close the backlog of background checks, and get these applicants their permits faster? Wouldn't that be the pro-Second Amendment thing to do?

The answer to this curious question lies in the law–CRS 18-12-206. Which reads:

(1) Within ninety days after the date of receipt of the items specified in section 18-12-205, a sheriff shall:

(a) Approve the permit application and issue the permit; or

(b) Deny the permit application based solely on the ground that the applicant fails to qualify under the criteria listed in section 18-12-203 (1) or that the applicant would be a danger as described in section 18-12-203 (2). If the sheriff denies the permit application, he or she shall notify the applicant in writing, stating the grounds for denial and informing the applicant of the right to seek a second review of the application by the sheriff, to submit additional information for the record, and to seek judicial review pursuant to section 18-12-207.

And here's where it all starts to make an ugly kind of sense:

(2) If the sheriff does not receive the results of the fingerprint checks conducted by the bureau and by the federal bureau of investigation within ninety days after receiving a permit application, the sheriff shall determine whether to grant or deny the permit application without considering the fingerprint check information. [Pols emphasis]

The Republican-controlled Colorado Senate has already passed legislation that would eliminate the background check requirement entirely for carrying concealed weapons. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the legislators they control are all on record in opposition to any additional background checks for CCW permits. That legislation is set to die in the Democratic-controlled House State Affairs committee sometime this month.

But as you can see, Republicans have a backup plan for killing CCW background checks, in the form of starving the CBI of the funds it needs to conduct them in a timely manner. It's not necessary to repeal the law requiring CCW checks, if they can simply push the backlog for their approval beyond the ninety days specified in the law–after which the sheriff approving the CCW permit simply doesn't have to use the information.

This is just another example of Colorado Republicans using the budget process to wield legislative power that they don't otherwise have with only narrow control of a single chamber of the legislature. Much like defunding the driver license program for undocumented immigrants, it results in a situation no one in authority should ever want: a program that remains legal but is in practice not functional. In both cases, this achieves Republican policy goals, but subversively and without regard to the hardship it causes in the meantime.

In this case, the GOP may be going too far. If Democrats can demonstrate to voters that the GOP's true objective here is to get rid of background checks for CCW permits, we think that can be turned into a significant political liability. Because it's not the way the process is supposed to work, and the public won't support the real objective here if it's fully explained to them.

Freshman Democrat Learns Triangulation Stings A Little

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

As the Aspen Times' Scott Condon reports, newly elected Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail is taking heat from her Democratic constituents–otherwise known as her base–over her co-sponsorship of the GOP's bill to repeal the 15-round gun magazine limit passed in 2013:

Donovan, a Vail Democrat, came under fire at a town hall meeting at the Aspen Square Condominiums for signing on as a co-sponsor on a Senate bill to repeal a law that banned possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The controversial 2013 law limits magazines to 15 rounds or less…

“This is a very controversial, passionate issue,” Donovan said. “Yes, my signing on has caused friction.”

She acknowledged that her position has “pissed off” part of her diverse district — primarily residents in the liberal strongholds of Aspen, Vail and Crested Butte. But nearly all residents in the rest of the district — which includes Delta County, San Luis Valley, Leadville and Buena Vista — supports the repeal of law, she said.

And then, as Condon reports, Donovan let a little realpolitik slip:

Donovan also seemed to downplay her support of its repeal by noting the bill will likely face a quick death in the House if it advances, as expected, from the Senate. Democrats hold a slim edge in the state House. Republicans control the state Senate by one vote.

“I don’t believe it makes it out of the House,” Donovan said of the bill. [Pols emphasis]

That didn’t placate the Aspen crowd…

So no, it was not wise for Sen. Donovan to use the likely death of a bill she is co-sponsoring at the hands of fellow Democrats to deflect criticism for her co-sponsorship of said bill. The average voter, and especially more literate voters who show up to town hall meetings, actually really hate excuses like that. It should be noted in her defense that Donovan made a promise to vote to repeal the 15-round limit during her campaign, though there were plenty of other issues in her race last year against Republican Don Suppes for voters to chew on besides guns. It's anybody's guess how many votes Donovan may have picked up by opposing the magazine limit–but we're inclined to believe single-issue gun voters in SD-5 voted Republican no matter what she said. And obviously, not enough did.

In the long run, we don't think this will hurt Sen. Donovan politically, mostly because we don't think gun magazines will be an issue by 2018 when she is back up for election. Guns didn't factor in 2014 enough for Colorado Republicans to perform over mean even in a national wave year–not enough to take both chambers of the legislature, or take down our incumbent governor. That's why the magazine limit isn't going to be repealed.

So maybe it's good to learn the limits of triangulation now? Because you can't win without your base.

Legislative Snow Day Postpones “Gunmageddon II”

snowycapitol

As many of our readers already know, the Democratic-controlled Colorado House and GOP-controlled Colorado Senate both agreed to stay home today, owing to the inclement weather over the weekend that dropped anywhere from 5 inches to two feet of snow across the state. As it happened with this storm, Denver itself saw comparatively less snowfall than many western suburbs, not to mention the mountains–so anyone you see whining about the legislature being wussies…well, they're probably in Denver.

Closure of the legislature does mean the postponement of a few important scheduled hearings scheduled for today, and public rallies prior to those hearings. The House State Affairs Committee was set to kill two bills including one from Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to expand "conscientious" rights to discriminate, prior to which a coalition of groups led by LGBT advocacy organzation One Colorado was set to rally in the West Foyer. But without question the big loser from today's closure is the gun lobby, which was planning a major show of support for their Senate bill to repeal the 15-round magazine limit passed in 2013. Dudley Brown implored his members to show up today to testify rain or shine:

If you can brave the weather safely, I hope you’ll plan on attending the hearing, because we need your support…

Even though Democrats in House leadership have vowed to kill any pro-gun bill this year, they know that RMGO members like you have them backed in to a corner. 

They remember very the historic political consequences of backing Bloomberg-inspired gun control laws in Colorado. 

Thanks to the activism of RMGO members and supporters like you — holding gun grabbers accountable — we have an opportunity to repeal these gun control schemes. 

But in order to succeed, we need to keep up the pressure.

So, if you can make it, please mark your calendar for Monday at 1:30pm.

As we've discussed and news reports have commented on this year, the gun lobby has had surprising trouble replicating the crowd of angry supporters they were able to draw to the Capitol in 2013. The most obvious reason for this is that the actual effects of the gun safety bills passed two years ago have not lived up to the hyperbolic predictions. Even the most ardent dues-paying Rocky Mountain Gun Owners member can see today that gun ownership in Colorado has not been "effectively banned," and that they can still buy magazines for their firearms–despite Jon Caldara's promise that "if this law passes, almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again." Now that these wild predictions have been debunked by reality, it's understandably harder to keep the outrage at fever pitch.

Today was another chance for the gun lobby to show their strength, and they got snowed out. It's not Dudley Brown's fault, but will all of his members who made arrangements to testify today be able to reschedule? It's surely not going to help.

Just remember, it was a bipartisan decision.

Republicans Already Plotting Laura Woods Replacement?

uncommittedwoods1

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.

woodsmailer2

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.

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.

Denver Police Union Calls For Chief White’s Resignation

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

In a development sure to have political ramifications, 9NEWS reports on a fresh war of words between the Denver Police Protective Association and DPD chief Robert White after a vandalism incident during a large anti-police brutality protest march Saturday:

The head of Denver's police union wants Chief Robert White gone.

He says officers were told not to take immediate action when protesters defaced a memorial for fallen officers.

"We will no longer follow him as we move forward," said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association. "He is not our chief."

Saturday, demonstrators aiming to protest what they perceive as police brutality threw red paint on the memorial, which sits outside of Denver Police headquarters. Rogers says DPD brass told officers not to take immediate action.

As 9NEWS reports, Denver Police under Chief White have followed a less-confrontational policy when dealing with protest marches, identifying individual lawbreakers for later arrest as opposed to charging into crowds to break up illegal activities on sight. Our understanding is that in a life-threatening situation, police would still wade into a protest to restore order, but not for (as in this case) preventing petty vandalism committed by a small number of protesters. Two suspects have already been arrested over Saturday's incident.

We get up early to beat the crowds.

“We get up early to beat the crowds.”

Such a policy becomes more important to strictly adhere to, though we'd say it always should be important, when police respond to a protest against police brutality. In addition to the nationwide headlines in recent months over the issue of police killings and beatings of unarmed citizens, DPD itself has a long and unsettling record of police brutality–and a culture of mutual silence and protection among police officers accused of misconduct that has made cracking down on the problem very difficult. Repeated, well-publicized instances of obvious misconduct by Denver police, both in the commission and concealment of violence against undeserving citizens, have severely eroded the trust of the community they serve. Accountability for Denver police accused of misconduct remains slow, uneven, and too often dependent on the media forcing the hand of officials.

Bottom line: everything we have heard about Chief White suggests that he is genuinely committed to reforming both the public image and internal culture of the DPD, and this reflects creditably on Mayor Michael Hancock for appointing him. However emotional police officers may be about this memorial to fallen officers–and we don't want to disparage that legtimate sentiment–it would absolutely have been the wrong decision to break from established policy and violently charge into this crowd over what amounts to petty vandalism.

Chief White told rank and file that he found the vandalism "abhorrent" but said "I believe the decision we made was appropriate."

Rogers says the actions send a different message.

"The message I got was you, as a police officer, are not as important as our image," Rogers says.

In early December, several Denver Police officers were injured, one critically, in an unrelated car accident that followed a large walk-out of students from East High School protesting against police brutality. The same Denver police union at that time circulated rumors that students had jeered the injured officers, which was not corroborated by any of the numerous media outlets on scene or witnesses other than Denver police. The story made for good mythmaking on FOX News, but locally, it wasn't good for the police union's credibility. In this case, calling for the chief of police to resign for following his established policy, and not giving in to emotion where it could make his job harder in the long run, makes Chief White look like a hero.

As for the Denver Police Protective Association? Maybe it's time they reflect on who they're really supposed to be protecting. Because whether they realize it or not, this is not the "image" they want.

Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

(What an injustice! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare inconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?

Democrats sponsoring magazine ban repeal bill

(This is a user-authored diary. To write your own, select "New Diary" from the menu to the right and spin away! – promoted by Colorado Pols) 

Don't look now, my Bloomberg-loving friends on the left, but some of your fellow Democrats are waving the white flag on gun control. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Four Democrats have signed into a Senate bill that repeals a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines, one of the most controversial measures of the 2013 legislative session.

Senate Democrats co-sponsoring the bill are Kerry Donovan of Vail, Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge and Leroy Garcia. In the House, Democrat Ed Vigil of Fort Garland is a co-sponsor. Vigil was vocal in his opposition of his party’s gun-control measures.

What will Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst do? If she sends it to the "kill committee" there will be outrage. If she allows the bill a fair hearing, it will pass the Democrat controlled House with bipartisan support and Hickenlooper will make the call. Hickenlooper has already admitted mistakes in signing the magazine ban bill. I believe if it gets to his desk, he will sign it.

I know most of you don't care what I think, but I am being completely honest with the Democrats who read this blog. LET THE MAG BAN GO. It was horrible policy from the beginning. It offends gun owners more than anything else you passed in 2013. If you allow the Democrats joining with Republicans to repeal the mag ban, it will help you politically. I can't believe I'm admitting that, but in this case I care more about my constitutional rights.

This is the most honest advice I will ever give the Democrats, so I hope you take it!