Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 20)

MoreSmarter-RainThe Denver Nuggets ended up with the exact results expected in last night’s NBA Draft Lottery, which gives Denver the #7 pick in the June Draft. 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…

► It’s hard not to read the panic between the lines of Rep. Mike Coffman’s latest statement regarding potential delays at the Aurora VA Hospital project. As 9News reports, Coffman has found yet another person to blame for the fiasco:

With precious few days left to avert another work stoppage at Colorado’s VA hospital construction project, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) is making an unusual move: publicly calling into question the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner on the issue.

“I’m disappointed in the VA for their mismanagement. I’m disappointed in the speaker, for in my view, not showing appropriate leadership so far,” Coffman told 9NEWS in an interview Tuesday. “I hope I can convince [Boehner] to understand that our veterans should not be the casualty.”

We’re just going to keep repeating this because it’s so important: Mike Coffman is the CHAIR OF THE OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Guess who should have “oversaw” this coming?

► The editorial board of the Denver Post blasts the Jefferson County School District for its nonsense claims that they couldn’t host Gov. John Hickenlooper for a bill signing ceremony because of last-minute security concerns:

It is difficult to believe a school where Super Bowl halftime entertainer Katy Perry performed would have had that much of a problem hosting the governor.

Jeffco swears Hick is welcome to come any other time. But for now, this rejection looks bad.

Hickenlooper ended up signing the bill yesterday at Lakewood Heritage Center, which somehow managed to to provide a secure building at the last minute.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Wednesday Open Thread

Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
And I decline

–REM, from It’s The End Of the World As We Know It

Rep. Chaps Says Judges “Cooperate With Demonic Spirits”

With the 2015 session of the Colorado legislature now in the books, the General Assembly’s most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Republican representative, Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs, has ended his self-imposed hiatus from his Pray in Jesus’ Name Youtube broadcasts. You’ll recall that Klingenschmitt temporarily stopped producing his Youtube shows after being punished in the legislature for asserting that the horrific attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont in March was “the curse of God upon America” for tolerating the practice of abortion. In the place of his regular quasi-political rants, Klingenschmitt uploaded a series of biblical education videos called “Discerning the Spirits.”

As Raw Story’s David Edwards reports, Klingenschmitt is in his second week of resumed PJN broadcasts, and was preaching yesterday about “discerning the spirits” all right–demons, that is. As they relate to gay people. And federal courts!

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand that upheld a New Jersey law banning the discredited practice of converting gay people into heterosexuals.

On his Monday Pray in Jesus Name broadcast, Klingenschmitt argued that Christian psychotherapists had been stripped of their “free speech rights” because they could no longer use reparative therapy, which he said was “intended to repair the character flaw inside of someone who has a character problem and that problem is homosexual addiction.” [Pols emphasis]

“The Holy Spirit of God is a healing God and he would come, perhaps, through the psychotherapist to heal the homosexual of the sinful addiction,” Klingenschmitt explained. “And yet, there is a demonic spirit inside of the addict that is controlling their voluntary choices or, at least, has contracted with them and is manifesting through them in this sinful addiction.”

“What the lower court judges are doing is they are cooperating with the demonic spirit inside of the homosexual addict, and those judges are now reinforcing the sin,” he insisted. “That’s what these bad judges have done.”

This past April, one of the many bills killed by the one-seat GOP controlled Colorado Senate was a bill very similar to New Jersey’s law banning the use of so-called “reparative therapy” on minor children. The bill died with GOP Senators like Owen Hill defending the rights of persons who “want this therapy,” even though in the case of minor children, it’s generally the parents who want it–and despite the fact that “reparative therapy” has been condemned by the American Psychological Association, along with any type of therapy “based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder.”

Fortunately, we’ve got Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R) to explain that gayness is not a “mental disorder” at all! What’s really going on here is that a demon who normally possesses gay people is also possessing judges, or at least getting judges to “cooperate” with the demons possessing gay people in order to “reinforce the sin” and prevent Godly therapists from purging (exorcising?) the “character flaw inside of someone who has a character problem and that problem is homosexual addiction.”

To which we can only say, this would have been illuminating testimony during the debate over House Bill 1175.

Progressives, Consumer Advocates Call For Veto of Interest Rate Hike Legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, joined today with Colorado Senators Lucia Guzman and Jessie Ulibarri, along with the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and other concerned stakeholders to deliver a petition to Gov. John Hickenlooper requesting a veto of House Bill 15-1390–legislation that passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session to allow lenders to dramatically increase interest rates on specific kinds of personal loans.

“Today, we’re here to deliver the signatures of hundreds of Coloradans to Gov. Hickenlooper, asking for a veto of House Bill 1390,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Lobbyists for the subprime lending industry sneaked in this last-minute bill to allow huge interest rate increases on specific kinds of personal loans used by working families in Colorado and others trying to re-establish their credit. The Colorado Attorney General’s office estimates that this legislation could mean increases of almost 40% to the total cost of a supervised personal loan.”

“Passing bills that could cost thousands of Coloradans millions of dollars at the last minute with no debate is just plain wrong,” said Runyon-Harms at today’s press conference. “There was no opportunity to properly debate this legislation–and that was by design. This bill to allow lenders to hike interest rates on personal loans was passed by both chambers in less than a week. Lobbyists for large financial corporations like Citigroup pushed this legislation for the sole purpose of enriching their clients–at the expense of Colorado’s hard working families who need access to credit.”

“We believe that once Gov. Hickenlooper has a chance to examine the issue in its entirety, a veto of this legislation will be an easy call,” said Runyon-Harms. “We support access to credit, and we want financial services in Colorado to be profitable. If the laws need changing, let’s have an honest debate–not a last-minute swindle that denies citizens a voice in this important decision.”

Another instance of Stapleton caving under pressure from righties

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton.

Walker Stapleton.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently caved to pressure from conservatives earlier this month, when he claimed not to have supported legislation that he helped draft and later promoted.

It was a weird reversal–but not the first time Stapleton has walked back a moderate position after hearing from his conservative allies.

In January, in an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, Stapleton clearly stated he was open to not returning TABOR refunds.

Asked by Warner if he would support “something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds,” Stapleton answered:

Stapleton: “Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I’m not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I’m opposed to anything that doesn’t give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Sounds kind of reasonable, doesn’t he, like he did in supporting a common-sense bill to bolster Colorado’s public retirement system. That is until conservatives got to him.

Same thing happened to his reasonable attitude toward TABOR. It disappeared.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 19)

MoreSmarter-RainIt only looks like Seattle out there. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The clock is ticking on a congressional agreement to prevent another halting of construction at the troubled VA Medical Center in Aurora. The Denver Business Journal reports:

VA Secretary Robert McDonald submitted a memo identifying $150 million that it could move to the Aurora project from various other budget items, but only if Congress raises the project’s spending cap by $200 million to $1 billion…

“I couldn’t be more disgusted at the gross mismanagement by the VA on this project,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora. “However, their proposal is a first step in the right direction to keep this project moving forward.”

Just a reminder that Rep. Mike Coffman has been chair of the relevant oversight subcommittee for over two years now, so his claims of shock and disgust are…well, a couple of years late.

► President Barack Obama is threatening a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 over a provision stopping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the greater sage grouse as a threatened or endangered species. Republicans want the sage grouse shoehorned into the defense bill to make it a less politically palatable veto:

Vetoing the legislation because of the sage-grouse provision would be irresponsible and harm national defense, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

Or maybe using the NDAA as a hostage to get your way on the sage grouse is what’s irresponsible? Readers, weigh in here.

► Speaking of President Obama, his new Twitter account set a world record for the fastest growth to 1 million followers ever.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Conservative Running for Denver City Council Has Some Explaining To Do

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver City Council races are supposed to be all sweet and nonpartisany, and part of me really wishes they could be that way. But if you want to get a full pictures of a candidate, you’d be stupid to ignore their partisan history. Here’s a case in point.

District 10 candidate Wayne New, who changed his voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated in March, is distributing an ad spotlighting a “woman’s right to choose” among his top priorities. The mailer reads (See below.):

 The City Council Campaign has focused on the critical issues of over-development, traffic, parking, and the voice of the people in key City decisions. Just as important is sharing with you what I believe. I believe in:

…A woman’s right to choose, ensuring that women have access to all reproductive healthcare services.

The advertisement doesn’t tell you that New contributed $250 to Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner in August of last year.

Of course New’s mailer is silent about this. Anyone who’s politically conscious knows that 1) donating money to Cory Gardner and 2) having a woman’s right to choose as one of your top priorities are 3) mutually exclusive.

Cory Gardner, now our U.S. Senator, made anti-choice legislation a centerpiece of his rise to political power, earning high praise for years from hard-line anti-choice groups, which helped him win over Republicans.

Once Gardner won his Republican primary, and began courting moderate voters across the state, he promptly abandoned his longstanding support for  Colorado’s personhood amendment, which would have banned all abortion, even for rape and incest, as well as some forms of birth control.

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Tuesday Open Thread

“The world perishes not from bandits and fires, but from hatred, hostility, and all these petty squabbles.”

–Anton Chekhov

Seriously? Jeffco School District Spurns Democratic Governor

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Aguilar, here come the lame excuses:

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, said the jettisoned ceremony was particularly relevant to Jefferson County students because it would have involved the enactment of House Bill 1323, a hotly debated test reduction measure.

“The look on kids’ faces when they get to meet the governor and he has a bill in front of him that is about to become law — that experience for students is incredible,” said Kerr, who teaches at the online Jeffco Virtual Academy…

Jefferson County Schools has been through a tumultuous year, with a flood of negative headlines generated over a controversial curriculum proposal and superintendent selection process. District spokeswoman Lisa Pinto said a visit from the governor, accompanied by a potentially large media contingent, “would be difficult for our schools to accommodate,” especially on short notice.

—–

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Even more unforced bad press for the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority, as the Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris reports:

Jefferson County public schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee told Governor John Hickenlooper’s office and Colorado lawmakers that they’re a security risk and unwelcome to conduct bill signings in the district’s schools, says the governor’s Chief Strategy Officer Alan Salazar.

Superintendent McMinimee found his district embroiled in controversy last fall when the newly elected conservative school board proposed updating AP US History curriculum to deemphasize chapters of “conflict” — such as Native American genocide, slavery, the civil rights movement –and to downplay the way protest and civil disobedience have brought tremendous social change…

Now, with the district refusing to host the governor and lawmakers, observers are wondering if the political history of the present seems equally suspect to the board.

Top staffer for Gov. John Hickenlooper Alan Salazar vented his frustration via Facebook:

Still trying to get my head around learning last week that the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools informed legislators and our office that the Governor of Colorado could not do a bill signing at any district schools because his presence at such an event presented a “security risk” to students. Really? Seems to me that any school would welcome a governor and legislators for a real life example of our democracy in action. Apparently not in Jeffco.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s chilly reception in Jefferson County differs notably from his experience just last week at a northeast Denver elementary school:

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Radio Interview Provides More Info on Stapleton’s PERA Bill Hypocrisy

(Ain’t talkin’ yer way outta this one, Walker – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Walker Stapleton takes fire from left and right and questions about his double dealing grow:

“No matter where you stand on the issue of protecting our state’s retirees, one thing is clear: you can’t trust Walker Stapleton,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “State employees who worked their whole lives preparing for retirement on their PERA pensions deserve better than a treasurer who pays lip service to the state keeping its promises–but then sells them out to protect political loyalties.”

“The far right is working hard to destroy public pensions, and Stapleton’s political alliances are directly in conflict with his responsibilities as Treasurer of the state of Colorado,” said Runyon-Harms. “By attacking legislation he once supported, and then lying about it, Stapleton has cost himself friends on both sides of the aisle. It doesn’t matter how you feel about PERA, the only thing that matters today is Treasurer Walker Stapleton can’t be trusted to lead on the issues that matter most to his office.”

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dealinwalkerfinIf you’re a reporter, it’s tough to be fair when the person you’re writing about won’t talk to you, but The Denver Post’s John Frank did the best he could in an article Sunday about State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Stapleton, who declined to be interviewed for Frank’s story, is clearly on record supporting legislation this session allowing him to issue bonds to make money for the state’s public retirement system. But speaking on conservative talk radio after the bill died, Stapleton denied ever supporting the legislation. The question is, why?

Frank points out that one reason for Stapleton’s about-face is pressure from conservatives who are wary of debt. That’s charitable to Stapleton. Actually, Stapleton admitted on the radio that he was under pressure from conservatives who want only to reduce expenses of retirement programs (higher age of retirement or contribution, lower pay outs). Stapleton’s bill intended to increase PERA’s revenue, so that the retirement system would be stronger and have a better chance at functioning as promised. This pissed off the conservatives, whose apparent underlying goal is to weaken or kill public pension programs.

Stapleton’s own explanation for his apparent hypocrisy is, as Frank reported, that he “supported the bill to give him the authority to issue bonds but not the issuance of bonds.”

This didn’t impress The Post’s Vincent Carroll, who wrote last week:

Actually, the legislation had everything to do with issuing bonds. You don’t give the state authority to do something unless you anticipate that it will exercise that power at some point and are comfortable with that possibility. And this bill wasn’t a permanent authority. It expired on Dec. 31, 2018, roughly when Stapleton will leave office. Obviously the bill contemplated Stapleton himself signing off on bonds at some point.

Frank produced evidence showing that Stapleton thought actually issuing the bonds was a good idea if “done in a prudent and conservative manner.”

On KLZ 560-AM’s nooner show, hosted by Ken Clark, Stapleton got even more specific, identifying a financial window during which he was prepared to issue the bonds.

“We had a provision that we would not even consider issuing the bonds if the arbitrage wasn’t at least a two-point spread.” (Listen to the KLZ interview at 4:25 below.)

You don’t need to know what an arbitrage is to see that Stapleton was happy and ready to consider issuing the bonds under very specific circumstances–if the arbitrage was at least a two-point spread. Case closed.

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2016 Won’t Be Like 2014 (Or 2010)

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Famed political analyst Stuart Rothenberg has a smart writeup at Roll Call today on the state of play in Colorado ahead of the 2016 U.S. Senate race–with some perspective that’s quite valuable if you’re using past performance as a predictor of future results:

Republican strategists have not given up hope of recruiting a top-tier challenger, such as Rep. Mike Coffman, who might be able to mount the sort of come-from-behind effort then-Rep. Cory Gardner did to upset Democratic Sen. Mark Udall last cycle.

But even knowledgeable Republicans wouldn’t tell you the Colorado Senate race is close to a tossup now. And in their most candid moments they might even tell you the race may never get any closer than where it is now — leaning in Bennet’s favor…

Colorado voters who wanted to send a message of dissatisfaction about the president could only do so by voting against Bennet, and subsequently Udall. That is a different dynamic from the one that occurs in presidential election years, such as 2016.

Next fall, voters won’t automatically see the Senate race as a way to make a statement about the presidential race, and the GOP won’t have a strong voter turnout advantage, the way the party did in 2010 and 2014.

The last U.S. Senate race in a presidential election year in Colorado was 2008–the year when Mark Udall blew out Republican Bob Schaffer, in a race where Schaffer was hobbled by ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and generalized dissatisfaction with the Republican brand after eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. In 2010 and 2014, election years where Democrats in Colorado fought uphill battles, presidential-year turnout ebbed, and conservative voters in this state surged to the polls. Even at the height of the 2010 GOP wave, Bennet managed to come out ahead of the decidedly out-of-the-mainstream GOP nominee Ken Buck. In 2014, Cory Gardner’s audacious con job airtight message discipline powered him past Udall’s uninspiring single-issue negative campaign.

In 2016, there is no Cory Gardner Colorado Republicans can turn to for a fresh start, and Bennet will not face the same kind of “Teflon” opponent Udall did. As Rothenberg correctly notes, presumed 2016 U.S. Senate frontrunner Mike Coffman has his own long record of immoderation, like in 2012 when he told attendees at a GOP fundraiser that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” While Coffman has managed to keep his job since that major on-camera gaffe three years ago, Rothenberg is absolutely right that “Democrats undoubtedly would use that sound bite to introduce him to voters statewide.” Bennet may not be the left’s biggest hero today after spurning them on issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, but Coffman has enough fringe ugliness in his background for Bennet to show a clear distinction with the broad center of Colorado voters.

Rothenberg concludes, and from our view there’s nothing with which to disagree:

Democrats have plenty of reasons to keep Colorado on their radar screens, and Republicans have plenty of reasons to look for a strong challenger who can take advantage of the state’s fundamental competitiveness.

But right now, it is much easier for Democrats to defend the seat than it is for Republicans to win it back from Bennet.

These hard facts are a big reason why we’re waiting to see if Coffman makes the jump to the 2016 U.S. Senate race at all, especially with a strong Democratic challenge for his CD-6 seat threatening from Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll. Whatever momentum Colorado Republicans may feel after 2014 is, looking ahead today, fraught with uncertainty–with a very different electorate than the last two U.S. Senate races here, and no “ace in the hole” lying in wait to change the game.

Naturally, we’ll let you know if we see one.

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 18)

MoreSmarter-RainJust in case you needed any more of a reason to stay away from motorcycle gangs. 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…

► Republican State Treasurer Walker “Wasn’t Me” Stapleton continues to show the political agility of a blind skiier. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post, Stapleton has turned a minor controversy into a major avalanche:

Days after the legislative session closed, Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is trying to distance himself from a controversial effort to issue billions of dollars of pension bonds to bolster the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association fund.

The two-term treasurer told a conservative talk radio host that he didn’t support the move, despite the fact that records show he signed up twice to testify in support of legislation that would give him authority to issue the bonds…

…Stapleton’s shift is an attempt to quell friendly fire from conservatives taking aim at him for supporting a debt venture they consider too risky. The attack threatens to undermine the 41-year-old treasurer’s conservative fiscal reputation, one that has boosted his political prospects for higher office.

We noted Stapleton’s ridiculous claims last week, which adds more evidence to our analysis from last fall that Stapleton would be an absolute disaster for Republicans if he seeks higher office.

 

Agriculture and business groups from around the state are pushing Republicans to do something on immigration reform. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is promising more grandstanding, if that helps (hint: it doesn’t).


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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ICYMI: Romney vs. Holyfield, The Complete Bout

Worlds collided Friday evening in Salt Lake City, as 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney lasted for two rounds against former heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield in a charity boxing match:

It wasn’t what you’d call a real fight, but this would have been a big deal in 2012, wouldn’t it?

“He said, ‘You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly,'” Romney said after the fight.

That sounds a lot like 2012, too.

Weekend Open Thread

“The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

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