Hickenlooper Throws Legislators Under The Bus? Not Quite…

underthebus

Gun-rights activists and the Republican legislators who love them are crowing about news reports Friday from a meeting in Aspen of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, wherein Gov. John Hickenlooper reportedly apologized to the state's elected county sheriffs for the handling of the passage of new gun safety laws in the 2013 legislative session. As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Dennis Webb reports:

“I’m happy to say I apologize. I don’t think we did a good job on any of that stuff,” Hickenlooper said, although he didn’t indicate a desire to revisit either bill.

He did, however, revisit his desire to tell sheriffs he’s sorry for how the situation was handled, after Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith reiterated the frustration over not being able to confer with Hickenlooper before the measures were passed.

“How many apologies do you want?” a smiling Hickenlooper said, eliciting chuckles from sheriffs. ” … I apologize.”

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman adds:

A Hickenlooper spokesman confirms that the Governor apologized to the sheriffs for not meeting with them prior to the passage of gun control bills they opposed. Hickenlooper also said his administration didn't do a good job anticipating pushback on gun control. According to his spokesman, Hickenlooper pledged better communication in the future.

That account is consistent with a description of Hickenlooper's comments posted on the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. The sheriff's office posting makes additional claims about Hickenlooper's comments that 9NEWS could not independently confirm without listening to a recording of the Governor's remarks.

Here are those "additional claims" from Montezuma County Sheriff's Facebook page, which 9NEWS could not confirm:

The Governor apologized to the Sheriffs for not listening to them prior to passing the new gun bills. The Governor admitted his Office did not research the gun legislation until after it was passed. Governor Hickenlooper said he didn't realize it was going to cause such controversy and had he known he would not have endorsed the new gun laws without more research.

Convicted felon Clint Webster with Colorado sheriffs and Dave Kopel, May 17th 2013.

Convicted felon Clint Webster with Colorado sheriffs and Dave Kopel, May 17th 2013.

According to notes from the conversation published at KRDO and Hickenlooper's spokesman Eric Brown, this is a wildly inaccurate version of what Hickenlooper actually said.

I didn't find out sheriffs wanted to meet with me till a week later. I apologize for that. Lots of other issues going on at same time. I didn't think it was going to have the affect on people that it turned out to have. We should have done better. I apologize. I don't think we did a good job.

We didn't do a good job on the process. When speaking with Republicans across the state they supported universal background checks. But when none of the Republican legislators supported it, I knew we had a problem. [Pols emphasis] So we went back and got the facts (during the legislative process)…

Brown says that both the governor and his staff researched the issue extensively before the legislation was signed.

Dudley Brown mug shot

We'll start by saying that making any apology to these elected, almost to-a-man Republican county sheriffs was a big political mistake for Gov. Hickenlooper. The biggest reason is demonstrated by the Montezuma County Sheriff's blatant misquote–these political adversaries are never going to legitimately accept such an apology, and will freely misuse it to suit their political agenda. Many of the leaders of the sheriff's opposition to the 2013 gun safety bills, like Weld County Sheriff and Colorado Senate candidate John Cooke and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, are closely tied to Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Do you think RMGO cares about quoting people accurately?

Speaking of Terry Maketa, has anybody asked if the no-shirt rule at the capitol made it tough to attend meetings? We digress.

Bottom line: it's just laughable–absolutely laughable–to suggest that opponents of the 2013 gun safety bills were not heard. The sheriffs testified at the hearings. Opponents flooded at the capitol by the hundreds. They held rallies outside. They circled the capitol blaring their car horns for hours on end. They flew a banner over the capitol saying "Gov. Hickenlooper, don't take our guns." The sheriffs were in front of news cameras on a more or less daily basis. Politically, the whole experience has been great for them, great for RMGO, great for pretty much everybody except the Democratic legislators who put their careers on the line to pass these bills.

For their sake, Gov. Hickenlooper needs to be a lot more careful with his conflict-averse brown nosing.

Wife, Alleged Lover of “Shirtless Sheriff” Rally In Maketa’s Support

UPDATE: A recall petition has been approved for circulation, press release from the El Paso County Clerk:

maketarecallapproved44,000 signatures is a very tall order, but the alleged malfeasance level here is pretty high too. So…

—–

You can never unsee it.

You can never unsee it.

A remarkable scene in Colorado Springs yesterday, as the Colorado Springs Gazette's Dave Phillips reports:

Vicki Maketa, who has been married to the sheriff nearly 28 years, gathered with supporters, including the sheriff's brother, in front of the Sheriff's Office for the rally. Tiffany Huntz, a Sheriff's Office dispatch employee who is accused of having an affair with the sheriff, came out of the office and gave his wife a hug.

Though Vicki Maketa spoke to other media, she refused to speak to The Gazette, saying "You'd better get away from me."

The Facebook page "Citizens for Sheriff Terry Maketa," launched less than a week ago, has a June 7 post attributed to Vicki Maketa, in which she said her husband "made a terrible mistake during a rough patch in our marriage 5 years ago." It was during that time when text messages from Maketa suggest he was having sex with a woman he promoted to comptroller.

Don Knotts as The Love God.

Don Knotts in “The Love God.”

Rather than passing judgment ourselves, please click through to the Gazette's story and take a look at the photo of Vicki Maketa, wife of Sheriff Terry Maketa, embracing one of the women accused of having an affair with the sheriff. Does it seem, well, weird to you? Here's a little more from Vicki Maketa's statement, as posted to Sheriff Maketa's Facebook fan page:

Additionally, what has come out in the media isn't "new", as it was all over the media in 2010. The difference is that this time they didn't hold anything back, and a lot of people have been hurt in the process. Terry and I have a lot to work through because of the lack of respect and privacy we have been given by the media, but our marriage is strong and we are going to be just fine.

There is another side to what you are reading and hearing in the media every day. Terry is in full support of the independent investigation that is taking place, but it will take time to complete. (In fact, he is the one who requested the investigation take place.) The media in this town is so corrupt that they can't even wait for all the facts. They have anonymous sources running to them with lies (you wouldn't believe some of the whoppers they've told!), and the media reports it as fact, even after they have been presented with clear factual evidence to contradict the anonymous fabrications. There is no doubt in our minds that Terry will walk away from this cleared of all illegal activity…

As we've said previously regarding this scandal, people have the right to hook up with other people, inside and outside their own marriages. There are swingers, orgy participants, you name it–all perfectly legal. The problem here, of course, is what looks like widespread official impropriety, both to facilitate Maketa's affairs and to cover them up. The stories coming out about Sheriff Maketa's office are of an almost comically oppressive personality cult, enforced by ruthless arbitrary discipline and backstabbing intrigue. To call this the workplace from hell would be a considerable understatement, and no "consensual" partners, victims of sexual predation with Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever the deal is here make it appropriate.

In fact, those women hugging and waving "We Love Terry" signs may be the most pitiable development yet.

War Between RMGO, GOP Establishment Goes On In SD-19

UPDATE #2: Apropos, Eli Stokols goes in-depth on the SD-19 primary for 5280.com today:

"I just couldn't do it," Sias says. "For me to [run for state senate], I'll be beholden to the Constitution and to the people of the district, not an outside power broker. At the end of the day, I'd rather lose than be in that guy's pocket."

That guy, of course, is Dudley Brown, RMGO's executive director, who is notorious in Colorado Republican circles for his scorched-earth tactics against GOP candidates who don't fill out his survey, which asks candidates to declare their absolute support for gun rights and their commitment to fighting against or to repeal gun control efforts.

The survey itself comes with an intimidating cover sheet informing the candidate, "we expect legislators to live up to their word" and threatening the familiar brand of retribution should they fail to fill it out: "Failure to respond will mean we have to tell citizens that you do not care enough about their gun rights to fill out the survey, and can't be counted on to defend those rights."

Sias’ decision may be the one that determines whether he is ultimately successful in his upcoming primary against the RMGO-backed Laura Woods… [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: This graphic that appears on the Colorado Campaign for Life website appears to be the Facebook post in question that was "shared" by Laura Waters Woods:

siasabortion

—–

Lang Sias, Tea Party endorsed no longer.

Lang Sias, “Tea Party endorsed” no longer.

A press release late Tuesday from Republican SD-19 primary candidate Lang Sias sums up the acrimonious state of one of the GOP's most important state legislative races this year, as establishment kingmakers square off against the powerful Rocky Mountain Gun Owners:

The Sias for Colorado Senate Campaign calls on Laura Woods to immediately retract her statement comparing Lang Sias to one of America's most notorious mass murderers. In a stunning and completely unfair post on social media, Laura Woods featured Lang Sias next to a picture of Kermit Gosnell. Kermit Gosnell viciously murdered children born alive and was found guilty of first degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Former Senate President John Andrews decries Woods' act, stating: "Laura Woods has to stop making things up. She claimed me as a supporter when I'm not. I'm neutral. Much worse, she linked Lang Sias with a mass murderer for failing to complete a survey. I know Lang to be pro-life. This is unworthy of a would-be senator, the smear of the year."

Lang Sias is committed to the pro-life position, including no partial birth abortion or late stage abortion, no taxpayer funding of abortion, and religious freedom for employers related to abortion…

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

​Any time a GOP primary invokes the name of the reviled abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, you know somebody means business. There is likely no primary campaign going on in Colorado today featuring nastier rhetoric than in the GOP SD-19 race–the seat formerly held by Evie Hudak, now held by a very capable Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. The district's close past election results, combined with a perceived opportunity created by Hudak's resignation last year to avoid a possible recall, makes this race an absolute must-win for Republicans hoping to recapture the Colorado Senate this year.

RMGO, the powerful "no compromise" pro-gun group which played heavily in the recall petition drive against Hudak, is battling hard for their endorsed candidate Laura Waters Woods, who won the Assembly vote to appear as the top-line candidate. Here's the latest missive from RMGO political director Joe Neville:

"Republican" Senate District 19 candidate Lang Sias has a long list of sins that show why he can't be trusted.

As recently as 2006, Lang Sias was registered as a Democrat who switched his registration only TWO YEARS before he ran for Congress as a Republican.

Furthermore, Lang Sias even financially supported anti-gun Democrat Mark Udall!

Now, when we were gathering signatures for the Hudak Recall, we knew it would be an extremely tough job to pull off, as we needed over 18,000 signatures in 60 days!

…It would be a HUGE slap in the face to the nearly 1,000 individual Recall Hudak volunteers, as well as the nearly 25,000 people who signed the recall petition, if Lang Sias won the June 24th Republican Primary Election in Senate District 19. [Pols emphasis]

Bottom line: whatever momentum Republicans may feel exists in this district after last year's turmoil, Lang Sias is still the guy who lost in 2012 to Evie Hudak. Sen. Zenzinger has done an excellent job establishing herself in a short time, and there is no reason to think she would underperform Hudak in the general election–in fact, she puts Democrats in about their best possible position to hold the seat. Add to that the likelihood that the present anti-establishment sentiment among the Republican grassroots today operates in Woods' favor, and it's easy to see why backers of Sias are very worried that he's about to lose his third election.

Betsy Markey Fundraises Off Idiotic George Will Rape Column

George Will.

George Will.

Controversy is building this week over a column in the Washington Post by arch-conservative pundit George Will, dismissing the problem of college campus sexual assault after a new White House report on the issue. Denver-area political communications consultant Laura Chapin hammers Will for U.S. News and World Report today, calling for his firing from the Washington Post:

Memo to George Will: When a woman says no, it’s rape. And since you don’t understand that simple fact, the Washington Post needs to fire you.

Will spent an entire column last Friday belittling campus sexual assault victims and putting the words sexual assault in quotes. Because in his view, those silly college women are just making things up and the Obama administration is helping them. Will devotes a portion of his column to deriding a Swarthmore College woman who was raped by someone she knew and with whom she had had a previous sexual relationship. He writes, “Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.”

Memo to George Will: Sexual consent isn’t like a retail store club card. It doesn’t come with a lifetime membership. It didn’t matter if they’d been having sex every day for 10 years. If a woman doesn’t want to have sex, and the man forces her to, it’s rape.

Betsy Markey.

Betsy Markey.

Betsy Markey, a former member of Congress from Colorado now running for state Treasurer, jumped into the fray over Will's column with a timely fundraising pitch today, titled "George Will is an Idiot."

I don't usually talk this way, but a recent column from George Will, the conservative Washington Post contributor, has me pretty hot under the collar.

You may have read that the White House put out a report recently regarding sexual assaults on college campuses. The statistics behind the report are sobering, with one-in-five students experiencing some form of sexual assault while only twelve percent of those assaults are reported…

George Will sees it differently. In a recent column, he warns that all the attention on sexual assault is making "victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges."

Seriously?  I'm fired up. Join me today with a $5 contribution and let's show these guys on the far-right they don't have a clue what they're talking about.

George Will isn't what you'd call a stranger to controversy, but he's generally considered to be a more reasonable voice among conservative commentators–at least graded on the curve. But that only makes this boomerang opinion piece harder to understand. What was Will hoping to achieve? It's tough to see how stoking victim-blaming, gender biased animosity over something like sexual assault is helpful to a Republican Party trying desperately to improve its standing with the so-called "Rising American Electorate"–young, ethnically diverse, and–key to today's discussion–women voters.

If anything, more Democrats should capitalize on this like Betsy Markey.

Nothing Escalates GOP Infighting Like a Mug Shot of Dudley Brown

Dudley Brown mug shot

Dudley Brown, circa 1988 or 1991

We've been following the strange alliances and political Party struggles associated with the Republican Primary in SD-19, where Republicans Lang Sias and Laura Waters Woods are running for the nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. This is one of those Primaries worth watching whether or not you live in the northern Arvada Senate district, because it has become a symbol of the implosion of the Jefferson County Republican Party and a harbinger of greater internal battles to come.

Just a few days ago, we told you about a (very) long email promoting a website called LangSiasExposed.com, which appears to be the brainchild of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and their leader, one Dudley Brown.

Today, someone named Jay Vogel (@JayLewisVogel) Tweeted out an old mug shot of Dudley Brown that appears to stem from a 1988 charge of "Unlawful Use, Controlled Substance" in Larimer County (Vogel says it was for cocaine possession). It's possible that Vogel is mixing up his mug shots, since Brown was also arrested in Denver in 1991 on charges of "Disturbing the Peace" and "Assault," but either way, this isn't something that Brown probably wants to see made public again.

What makes this whole episode particularly fascinating is that Vogel appears to be a resident of Illinois who is both an NRA member and an ISRA member (Illinois State Rifle Association). Why does Vogel care about a Colorado State Senate Primary? Apparently he was interested enough in Colorado last fall to donate $25 to the "Recall Hudak Too" campaign that was making a second attempt to recall State Sen. Evie Hudak, but then why would he be an apparent supporter of Lang Sias? Sias, after all, repeatedly refused to sign the recall petitions because he disagreed with the recall approach in general. But wait…there's more!

This odd divide is a symbol of the strange manner in which pro-recall groups have aligned themselves in the SD-19 Primary. Laura Waters Woods is backed by RMGO and the second Hudak recall group (Recall Hudak Too). Sias, meanwhile, has the support of Laura Carno, one of the leaders of the recall effort in SD-11 (Sen. John Morse), and is also backed by the Colorado Second Amendment Association…which was heavily involved in the Morse recall. Oh, and Sias appears to be supported by the folks behind the initial failed recall effort against Hudak (did we mention that Sias has been a vocal opponent of recalls?)

Got all that? It's all very politically-incestuous and strange, but the outcome will have very real repercussions well beyond just this Senate District.

 

RMGO Goes Hard After Lang Sias in SD-19 Primary

Langhorne Sias

LangSiasExposed.com includes these screenshots of a Sias donation to Democrat Mark Udall. Just in case you thought there might be more than one ‘Langhorne Sias’ writing checks to Udall.

We've discussed before the rising tensions in the Jefferson County Republican Party as hard-right groups such as Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) throw significant resources at hand-picked candidates such as Laura Waters Woods (SD-19)  and Tony Sanchez (SD-22). With ballots dropping in the mail in advance of the June 24th Primary, RMGO is going all-in against Republican Lang Sias.

Recently, the RMGO sent out an absurdly-long email (full text after the jump) about Sias that included links to a new website called LangSiasExposed.com. The intent is to show that Sias is not a "real Republican," which is an attack that is admittedly easier to make thanks to Sias' own Photoshop blunders in the past. Here's how the email begins:

Liberal "Republican" Lang Sias has a long list of sins that indicate he couldn't be trusted if he is elected to represent Senate District 19.

That's why it's imperative that you vote for Laura Woods in the June 24th Republican Primary, as ballots are already in the mail!

It's bad enough that Lang didn't lift a finger to help the effort to recall anti-gun State Senator Evie Hudak.

It's bad enough that he refused, multiple times, to sign the petition to recall Evie Hudak.

And, it's bad enough that he has refused, TWICE, to fill out the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Candidate Survey and go on record as to where he stands on your Second Amendment rights.

But, you don't have to dig too deep into Lang's record to find out that it only gets worse, and, in many ways, explains a lot about him. You see, Lang Sias was a registered Democrat as recently as 2006, and did his part to help elevate anti-gun politicians like Mark Udall into office.

Will RMGO's efforts be enough to make Sias go 0-for-3 in his efforts to get elected to something? (Sias lost a GOP Primary for CD-7 in 2010 before losing two years later in SD-19 against Democrat Evie Hudak) We're inclined to give RMGO the benefit of the doubt in this race, since they appear to have done enough to move Sanchez ahead of establishment favorite Mario Nicolais in the SD-22 Primary.

The full text of the RMGO email is available after the jump.

 

(more…)

Shirtless Sheriff Makes Really Crappy Video

Terry Maketa weird apology video

Terry Maketa, aka The Shirtless Sheriff, tries video this time.

El Paso County Republican Terry Maketa, otherwise known 'round these parts as The Shirtless Sheriff, apparently created a video that he shared over the weekend with El Paso County Sheriff's Office employees. In recent weeks, The Shirtless Sheriff has been under withering criticism from the media and public officials alike over alleged misbehavior that includes claims of sexual misconduct, ethical violations, and generally just being a dick.

The same Terry Maketa who thought it wise to take a topless selfie and share it with co-workers tried his hand at a video apology that is pretty light on production value. The video, and the full story, is available at the Colorado Springs Gazette, which helpfully offers a transcription of a mumbly-Maketa.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa on Saturday sent a video to Sheriff's Office employees in which he admits that he "engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past" and apologizes. The sheriff also reiterated that he does not intend to step down.

"I come before you embarrassed and humbled of the events of last week," Maketa said in the video, referring to demands for his resignation after Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints by Sheriff's Office commanders and a deputy alleged sexual impropriety, discrimination, budget improprieties and a hostile work environment.

The Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday that he made the video Saturday "so all employees could hear from him."

The video was distributed to employees via the Sheriff's Office's internal site Saturday afternoon and all employees were notified, the statement said.

The accusations led county commissioners to launch an investigation and then cast a unanimous vote of no confidence at Thursday's board meeting. Commissioners also asked that Maketa resign immediately.

Original Shirtless Sheriff

The lighting was better in his bathroom.

We have so many questions here that we hardly know where to start.

Did Maketa make this apology video willingly, or was he being tortured?

Did he shoot this video with the same smartphone he used to take his now-famous shirtless selfie, or did he borrow someone's 8MM camera in order to create the proper effects?

Why is he talking so quietly — especially when there seems to be no microphone nearby? Did anybody bother listening to this before it was posted for employees?

If the lighting was so bad behind the desk, why not go back to the bathroom?

For more fun with The Shirtless Sheriff, check out Westword's re-imagination of the captions.

Sheriff Terry Maketa Joins Anthony Weiner Hall of Shame

nramagsheriffs

One of the leading voices among Colorado's elected county sheriffs in the backlash against gun safety legislation passed in 2013 was El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. You can see Maketa on the cover of the August 2013 issue of NRA Magazine (above), front and center in the gray shirt. More than just a vocal opponent, Maketa went as far as accusing Democratic legislators of threatening the sheriffs with fiscal retaliation for opposing the bills–allegations which collapsed very quickly, but not fast enough to prevent them becoming part of the vast apocryphal body of misinformation about gun control in Colorado.

In recent months, however, Maketa's record as El Paso County sheriff has come under intense scrutiny as longstanding allegations of fiscal impropriety and inappropriate relationships with subordinate employees have resurfaced–this time with the evidence needed to substantiate them. And today, after a thorough investigation and lots of lead-up stories hinting at major turmoil in Sheriff Maketa's office, the Colorado Springs Gazette gives us a new image of Maketa–perhaps the one for which he will go down in local history.

That is, the naked one.

maketafreckles

(more…)

Lang Sias Wishes He Was “Tea Party Endorsed” Again

Trying hard to stay ahead of his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed opponent, GOP SD-19 candidate Lang Sias is busily knocking doors of Republican households in the district, burnishing his "Tea Party" credentials. Here's a campaign flyer being distributed by his campaign:

siasflyer

IMG_20140516_091156_400

There is much other evidence of spending on this primary, like fluff billboards going up in various parts of SD-19 (right). Clearly there's much nervousness in the Sias campaign, and in turn among Republican strategists hoping to take the Colorado Senate this November.

It's important to note that Sias' relationship with the kind of hard-right voters who often decide Republican primaries in Colorado has been rocky to say the least: back in 2012, Sias was lampooned on national news for recycling photos from his 2010 campaign–with his previous tagline "Tea Party endorsed" Photoshopped out of the picture (photo top). This year, RMGO has Sias squarely in their (hopefully) proverbial sights, bitterly denouncing his lack of commitment to the gun rights cause:

Lang Sias, a handpicked liberal establishment Republican, has chosen to run a primary against Laura.

If you've heard his name before, it may be because Sias has already attempted and failed to run for office twice in the last two election cycles.

In fact, every time he's ran for office, he's refused to fill out RMGO's candidate survey, which is almost always a sure tell sign that if elected, he would vote anti-gun.

But wait, it gets worse.

Not only did Sias refuse to answer RMGO's survey in the past, he also refused multiple times to sign the petition to recall Hudak — HE FLAT OUT REFUSED TO SIGN IT! [Pols emphasis]

On the other side, pseudo-grassroots GOP elements like Bob Beauprez's 2013 recall operative Laura Carno have endorsed Sias. Frankly, there's no overstating the power of RMGO in the one environment they have consistently proven effective time and time again: a Republican primary. Before Sias gets his mulligan shot at SD-19 in 2014 against Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, he has to get past Laura "Waters" Woods–and RMGO's Dudley Brown has a long record of frustrating the GOP establishment's best-laid plans.

No Tragedy Too Great For Bob Beauprez To Politicize

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

As the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning reports, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez opens his mouth, and the excrement flows once again–this time on a subject that's personal to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and many of his colleagues in state government. An unusual degree of shamelessness, even for Beauprez, who has a long history of wildly inappropriate and false allegations:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez this week linked Gov. John Hickenlooper’s policies to last year’s murder of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, who was gunned down by parolee Evan Ebel after the white supremacist prison gang member removed his ankle monitor and killed part-time pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon…

“There’s an important piece of a healthy economy that John Hickenlooper’s completely missed. That’s the public safety component,” Beauprez told about 100 supporters gathered at the Tavern Tech Center in Greenwood Village.

“You’ll all remember the name Evan Ebel,” Beauprez continued. “If you don’t remember Evan Ebel, you certainly remember Tom Clements. Tom Clements was our director of Corrections in Colorado. Evan Ebel was paroled directly from — they call it ‘administrative segregation’ — directly from solitary confinement onto our streets, and within a matter of hours, he killed a pizza driver, guy working a second job to try to keep his family whole. Killed him for his uniform, his pizza delivery uniform. Then about 48 hours later, he knocked on Tom Clements’ door and killed him.”

So first of all, Beauprez's story is totally inaccurate. Evan Ebel, the paroled prisoner who killed Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements, was not released "hours" before killing pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon. Ebel was released from Sterling Correctional Facility on January 28th, 2013, but Leon wasn't killed until March 17th. Clements was killed two days later on March 19th, and Ebel died in a shootout with Texas police officers on March 21st.

In the nearly two months between the time Ebel was paroled and started killing, he managed to remove his GPS tracking device, but for reasons still not known, was not immediately picked up by police for that parole violation. Ebel also obtained a gun in early March via an illegal straw purchase by a third party. There's no question that mistakes were made in the handling of Ebel both as a prisoner and as a parolee, but Beauprez's sweeping abridgment of the facts in order to blame Gov. Hickenlooper for Ebel's crimes is nothing short of despicable. Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a Beauprez supporter who spoke at the same event, should be ashamed to have even been present–not to mention for failing to correct the record.

Because the truth is:

In an ironic twist, Clements, who headed the state’s prison system for two years before his murder, had made it his mission to reduce the number of prisoners released on parole directly from solitary confinement and boasted shortly before his death that Corrections had cut the share roughly in half. [Pols emphasis] His successor, Rick Raemisch, spent more than 20 hours in solitary confinement and wrote about its damaging effects in a New York Times Op-Ed article earlier this year. According to DOC statistics, the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement in the state has declined from a high of about 1,500 to fewer than 600 earlier this year.

If you're not completely outraged by this, we submit you aren't paying attention. Politicizing a tragedy that befell a public official who was trying, when he died, to change the very thing Beauprez is criticizing? Sure, the First Amendment allows it. But it's so wrong, so utterly loathsome, that it's hard to even describe Beauprez's remarks without a deep sense of revulsion.

We are better than this, folks. Or at least we should be.

Guns For Dangerous Crazy People, Too!

For illustration purposes only.

For illustration purposes only.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports today:

Responding to numerous emails and a “legislative alert” from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, several state lawmakers voted against a bill that changes some definitions in the state’s civil commitment statutes.

Under those laws, mental health professionals can hold potentially dangerous patients for up to 72 hours and prescribe additional treatment beyond that time…

It stems from a civil commitment task force that was created last year in response to the shooting deaths at an Aurora theater in 2012.

But gun owners worry that once someone is labeled mentally ill, they lose their right to own or possess a firearm.

During last year's pitched debate over gun safety legislation passed in the Colorado General Assembly, one of the most often-heard arguments against the legislation then being debated was that it ignored the real issue identified in recent mass shooting events: that is, mental health problems afflicting the shooters. We shouldn't be regulating guns, they said, we need to do more to both protect the community from and provide treatment for people with mental illnesses.

Now that there's legislation to do just that, what's the response from the gun lobby and their pet legislators?

“I think that a lot of stakeholders weren’t included, including law enforcement … and Second Amendment community,” [Pols emphasis] said Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton. “We want to consult with all communities out there, especially after we had two-and-a-half recalls this last cycle.”

As you can see, the gun lobby may have once paid lip service to mental health legislation as an an "alternative" to the gun safety bills passed last year–but when they had the chance to actually do something, in this case carrying out the recommendations of experts convened after the Aurora shootings, forget it! Right back to the "take our guns" scare tactics. It's not  a surprising development, but it should be eye-opening for those who think Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their wholly-owned representatives in the legislature can be reasoned with.

Allow us to suggest here, as gently as we may, that some of those most upset by the possibility of civil commitment reform, to include figures in Colorado politics whose names you may even know, might themselves be in need of it. We'll leave the individual diagnoses to qualified professionals, naturally.

In the meantime, somebody check the weather in Hell, because GOP Rep. Bob Gardner is a legitimate voice of reason in the Republican House caucus on this legislation, as well as one of the only "yes" votes:

“I, like you, received a large number of emails about House Bill 1386 over the weekend, most of which simply did not understand the bill,” Gardner said. “This bill has nothing in it about guns. If we fail to get the help to those who need it and they harm themselves or they harm a family member, we’ve done them no service by not putting them on a 72-hour hold.”

Good for Rep. Gardner, and shame most of his colleagues.

AFP Colorado Deletes Twitter History, Bundy Defense

Last week 9News held a debate between Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp (GOP frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not participate and continues to refuse any debate invitations). As we noted in this space, the candidates were asked about Cliven Bundy, the openly-racist Nevada rancher who has rallied armed supporters to back his refusal to recognize the federal government — primarily in order to avoid paying some 20 years worth of grazing rights fees — and all of the candidates came off as more or less supportive of Bundy. As Mike Littwin wrote for the Colorado Independent:

In summary, these people who want to be your governor seemed entirely unconcerned about someone bringing in his militia buddies to fight off the feds, whom he says he doesn't recognize as legitimate.

Why would Colorado Republican candidates even consider being supportive of Bundy? Because many right-wing Republicans and their Tea Party brethren apparently considered it some sort of conservative loyalty test, which is important for any candidate hoping to win a GOP Primary. Note that we wrote "considered," because even the most right-wing of right-wing groups would seem to have had a change of heart.

Consider this tweet from Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Colorado, the local version of the national group created and funded by the Koch Brothers. The image below is a tweet sent by AFP Colorado on April 19th in an effort to get more Republicans to join Sen. Rand Paul in supporting Bundy; as you can see, AFPColorado calls out Republicans as "wimps" for not following Paul's lead.

AFP-Bundy

We've included the image here because AFP Colorado has since deleted this tweet. In fact, AFP Colorado has erased its entire Twitter history for most of the last two months, as you can see below (or on its Twitter page). At the time of this post, AFP Colorado's Twitter account shows only one tweet since February 20th — and no mention of the April 19th message above. The AFP Colorado account is far from inactive, having sent out 9 different tweets just today, so this was clearly an intentional scrubbing.

Americans for Prosperity had a tough week in Colorado last week, being forced to re-edit an anti-Obamacare, anti-Sen. Mark Udall ad just a few days after its planned Obamacare press conference imploded under the weight of a dubious key speaker. The scrubbing of its Twitter account is another very public sign that all is not well in Tea Party land.

AFP-Twitter

Red-Light Camera Ban Passes Senate

UPDATE: Food for thought as legislators consider Senate Bill 14-181, here are some interesting points in favor of red light cameras from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police:

Year-to-year changes in red-light running fatalities reveal an average annual decrease of 5.6% from 2007 to 2011. U.S. and worldwide studies show a 25 to 30 % reduction in injury crashes at locations with red-light safety cameras, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports. A five-year study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2011 found red-light cameras saved more than 150 lives in 14 of the largest U.S. cities, reducing fatalities by 24 percent.

Cameras get drivers’ attention, and reduce the most dangerous type of collisions – right angle crashes. A 2011 Texas Transportation Institute study of 11,122 crash records from 275 intersections showed 633 fewer crashes at intersections with cameras; and a 32% decrease in right-angle crashes…

The use of photo speed radar enforcement is already strictly limited to residential streets, school zones and construction zones. It can be used only where the speed limits is not more than 35 miles per hour. A violator must be exceeding the speed limit by at least 10 miles per hour to receive a ticket. Photo speed radar vans are manned by qualified personnel. Red light cameras are deployed at selected high risk intersections. Fines are limited to a maximum $40 for speeding and $75 for red light infractions. No points are assessed against a driver’s record.

—–

red-light-camera

As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, the red-light camera ban bill, supported by a bipartisan election-year coalition and hotly opposed by local government reaping big bucks from installed cameras, has passed the Colorado Senate:

At its core, Senate Bill 181 would bar local municipalities from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers. Along with red-light cameras, the measure includes photo radar cameras that detect speed.

The bill moved out of the Senate on a 21-14 vote. The only amendment attached allows for toll roads to continue using photo radar cameras that detect speed.

The measure has support from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday was noncommittal toward the bill. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said at an afternoon news conference he's seen earlier versions of the bill, but has yet to view its current form.

"I think there are a number of people that feel a level of anger over what they feel is an intrusion and is not making their roads safer, and their opinion is that it's a way for local governments to try to increase their revenues," Hickenlooper said when asked about his personal views on the concept of banning photo red-light cameras. "That creates a real frustration in a lot of elected officials."

Gov. John Hickenlooper's sympathy for those poor, misunderstood elected officials notwithstanding, the public at large seems to be the most "frustrated" party over red-light cameras. The disagreement over the public safety value of these systems is difficult to sort through legitimately, due to what's perceived to be an ulterior motive to raise badly-needed revenue for local government–one thing red-light cameras excel at. Sometimes it falls to your humble hosts to remind our readers that revenue for our local governments is a good thing, or failing that at least a necessary evil–and if TABOR won't let governments get it the old-fashioned way, they've got to get creative.

A poll follows: will Gov. Hickenlooper sign Senate Bill 14-181 if it passes?

(more…)

15 Years Ago Today: Columbine

columbinememorial

The Denver Post's Allison Noon:

Sunday marks the 15th year since the shooting at Columbine High School in which 12 students and a teacher were killed.

Indigo columbine flowers were in bloom around the bases of 13 stone markers at the permanent Columbine Memorial in Littleton's Clement Park on Saturday, when about 50 people honored the victims with a remembrance program.

Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund organized the program at the park amphitheater ahead of the anniversary that falls this year on Easter Sunday. The program included speeches from family members of two Columbine shooting victims and two victims of the Aurora theater shooting.

CBS4:

“We are part of an unwanted family. None of us asked to be part of this family, family of survivors of mass tragedy,” said [Coni] Sanders.

Unfortunately, that family is growing.

Tom Sullivan lost his son in the Aurora theater shootings.

“Thank you for the courage you have all had since that day. It has certainly strengthened me in my private moments,” said Sullivan.

Sandy Phillips lost her daughter.

“Their lives meant something. Not just to their families, but to the communities that they lived in,” said Phillips.

Banning Red Light Cameras, Anyone?

red-light-camera

As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, a bill to prohibit red light cameras in Colorado is gaining some bipartisan momentum:

A proposal introduced in the Senate late last week would bar cities and counties from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers committing traffic infractions.

Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, has introduced similar legislation the past two years, though unlike in previous sessions, he has strong support this go-round from House and Senate Democratic leadership.

"These cameras just create revenue for cities and don't actually increase public safety at our intersections," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the bill's prime House sponsor. "I think we should be focused on making people safe, not raising money." [Pols emphasis]

As Lee reports, local governments are raking in millions in fines from relatively low-overhead automatic camera enforcement at intersections. Not surprisingly, the Colorado Municipal League doesn't like this bill one bit–though they cite the public safety considerations, not the revenue. At the end of the day, money talks: and the badly needed revenue these cameras provide may prove reason enough to keep them with no further debate needed.

What say you, Polsters? Red-light liberty, public safety, or cash?