Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day

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

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Things You’re Not Supposed To Admit, Chris Holbert Edition

Sen. Chris Holbert (R).

Sen. Chris Holbert (R).

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported Saturday on the death earlier this month of Senate Bill 15-118, a bill that would have upped the incentive for Colorado middle class families to save for college tuition via the CollegeInvest program:

Senate Bill 118 concerned Coloradans who save for college through a not-for-profit state agency called CollegeInvest, where money is put into what are known as 529 plans.

As amended, the proposal from Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat, would have eliminated the state income tax break for those earning more than $500,000 a year, while doubling it for those making less than $150,000 a year. Coloradans earning between $150,000 and $500,000 would still receive some tax break.

The bill died March 5 on a 3-2 party-line vote in the GOP-controlled Senate Finance Committee, where Sen. Chris Holbert made a statement that stunned Democrats and bill supporters.

We’d say on an objective scale, this was pretty stunning.

“I represent a part of a county that has the sixth-highest income demographic in the nation,” the Parker Republican said. “The people who elected me and who I represent, many are in those upper-income brackets.” [Pols emphasis]

So-called “529” plans like Colorado’s CollegeInvest program enable tax-deferred investments to save for a designated beneficiary’s college education. In Colorado, families can also claim a tax credit against their state income tax for the amount they invest in 529 plans. Under Merrifield’s bill, wealthy 529 plan investors would still benefit from their tax-advantaged status, but wouldn’t qualify for the additional state income tax credit unless their income is under $500,000 per year.

Republicans at every level of government face a significant message setback when trying to justify policies that either disregard the interest of or actively work against the middle class voters who make up the bulk of the electorate. We’ve seen this manifest over and over in the last few years, with phrases like “attacking job creators” and “class warfare” nervously appropriated by Republicans to avoid having to say simple declarative things like “I represent the rich people.”

Politically this is not difficult to understand, since there are simply not enough rich people to form an electoral majority–and even among the Republican rank-and-file, blind fealty to the upper class is breaking down as middle class incomes stagnate while the rich get richer.

That is why this statement we assume Sen. Chris Holbert made without any hesitation is so shocking. Republicans work hard to pigeonhole Democrats as the party that represents the only very poorest Americans–those “other” Americans it’s broadly assumed are “lazy” and “not pulling their weight.” Democrats respond that they have the interests of the middle class at heart–in this case families saving for college–and that Republicans have become the party of only the very rich.

And here you have the deciding vote on a bill to help the middle class candidly admitting it. The political significance of that, even if you’re not surprised, should be very great indeed.

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.

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UPDATE: Debate now underway:

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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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BREAKING: Steve House Ousts Ryan Call

MONDAY UPDATE: A telling “Retweet” from ousted GOP chairman Ryan Call says it all:

callpalacio

And with that, Ryan Call washes his hands of you. FOX 31:

Just four months after helping to engineer the Colorado GOP’s first big statewide victory in 12 years, Chairman Ryan Call is out of a job.

Steve House was elected over Call by more than 400 Republican delegates at the party’s the annual meeting in Douglas County by the Republican State Central Committee.

Call, who was seeking a third term, was ousted as a result of frustration from both the grassroots and establishment sides of the party.

AP:

Call said the party still faces serious challenges going into the 2016 elections, and he wished House “the best of luck.”

Even though the party is coming off its best election in years, some Republican activists say results could have been better with someone else in charge.

Last November, Colorado saw 100,000 more Republican votes than Democratic votes. But Democrats hung on to the governor’s office and the state House.

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UPDATE 12:00PM: Steve House’s victory over Ryan Call now official, reportedly a 57-43% margin. House now giving his victory speech.

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Word just reaching us from the Colorado Republican Party’s reorg meeting–former Adams County GOP chairman Steve House has defeated incumbent Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call on the first ballot. We’ll update shortly with coverage.

And remember, you heard it here first.

Monday Open Thread

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

–Nikos Kazantzakis

Colorado PERA’s Executive Director: Fiduciary, or Politician?

Association of State Retirement Administrators: Colorado PERA Pension Has 5th Worse Funding Discipline in the Nation.

The Executive Director of Colorado’s largest public pension plan (Greg Smith of Colorado PERA) knows quite well that the pension plan he leads has a lower level of funding (funded in the low 60 percent range) than is needed to meet the pension system’s long-term financial obligations. Greg Smith knows that the payments received by the PERA pension system from its state and local governmental sponsors, since 2002, have been well below the funding levels calculated by Colorado PERA’s own actuaries as necessary to maintain the solvency of the pension system. Executive Director Greg Smith represents a board of fiduciaries, the Colorado PERA Board of Trustees.

Yet, Greg Smith recently testified to the Colorado Legislature that the pension system requires no “additional contributions.” In my opinion, the Colorado PERA pension system (a Colorado state agency) must have a leader who will speak the truth to Colorado’s state and local elected officials, rather than a leader who seeks to perpetuate financial mismanagement of the pension system.

Historically, the fact that Colorado PERA officials have acted in a political manner rather than as fiduciaries is largely responsible for the decline in the pension system’s funded ratio. (Note the past unanimous support of the PERA Board of Trustees for Governor Bill Owens PERA “service credit fire sale,” and the fact that state agency Colorado PERA has spent many millions of trust fund dollars on lobbyists and political/public relations campaigns.) Colorado does not need a “politician” at the helm of this state agency. Colorado PERA members desperately require a pension leader who will consistently act as a fiduciary. This public pension system itself cries out for greater oversight.

PERA Executive Director Greg Smith contradicting PERA General Counsel Director Greg Smith.

On December 11, 2014, Colorado PERA’s Executive Director Greg Smith testified to the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee: “We don’t need additional contributions.”

On August 11, 2009, at the Denver meeting of the Colorado PERA “Listening Tour” Colorado PERA’s (then) General Counsel Greg Smith blamed the Colorado General Assembly for the decline PERA’s actuarial funded ratio: “We have not been paid what’s called the actuarially required contribution.” “We’ve not been receiving that full contribution in any of our divisions for many years . . . seven years to be specific.”

http://www.copera.org/pera/about/listeningtour.htm

Colorado PERA’s Greg Smith may very well be alone in the nation in that he, as a fiduciary who heads a major public pension system that has been grossly and historically underfunded, testifies to elected officials overseeing the pension system “we don’t need additional contributions.”

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66484/colorado-pera-fiduciaries-severely-underfunded-but-see-no-problem#sthash.VIa8SL5T.dpbs

Note the testimony of the previous Executive Director of Colorado PERA (Meredith Williams) to the Colorado Legislature’s House Finance Committee on February 23, 2012 (relating to the Legislature’s historical underfunding of its PERA pension obligations):

“We’ve had a significant problem over the years, in that . . . contributions, payments by (PERA) employers into PERA have been kind of the last thing in the budget building process, and we have not made the required payments. Unfortunately, in our line of work, where we’re involved in compounding shortfalls grow, particularly when the shortfalls continue year after year after year.”

I ask: Were Colorado PERA officials speaking the truth to Colorado legislators on February 23, 2012 when [then] Colorado PERA General Manager Meredith Williams, testified to the Colorado House Finance Committee “We’ve had a significant problem over the years, in that . . . contributions, payments by (PERA) employers into PERA have been kind of the last thing in the budget building process, and we have not made the required payments. Unfortunately, in our line of work, where we’re involved in compounding shortfalls grow, particularly when the shortfalls continue year after year after year.”

Or, were Colorado PERA officials speaking the truth to Colorado legislators on December 11, 2014 when JBC members heard from Colorado PERA that “we don’t need additional contributions”?

Logically, only one of these Colorado PERA statements to Colorado state legislators can be true.

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66279/colorado-pera-officials-corrupt-state-budget-process-joint-budget-committee-analyst-silenced

The National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) recently released a study addressing the extent to which public pension plan sponsors in the United States have made  “actuarially required contributions” (ARC) to the pension plans.

From the Colorado Springs Business Journal: “Colorado Ranks 46th for Pension Funding”:

“Colorado has made 74.5 percent of its annual required contribution to its public employee retirement plans from 2001 through 2013, placing it 46th in terms of average state pension funding, a report suggests.”

“While most U.S. states are meeting their pension commitments, a report by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators shows Colorado has lagged for more than a decade.”

“Colorado placed behind New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Dakota and Kansas, and is just ahead of Virginia, Illinois and Oklahoma, according to the report. The report also included the District of Columbia.”

“The report, ‘Spotlight on The ARC Experience of State Retirement Plans, FY 01 to FY 13,’ examines how state governments performed meeting the annual required contribution (ARC) of their public employee retirement plans,” according to NASRA. It details the ARC experience of 112 state-wide and state-sponsored public pension plans in the U.S. Together, these plans account for more than 80 percent of all public pension assets and participants.”

http://csbj.com/2015/03/13/report-colorado-ranked-46th-for-pension-funding/

Link to the NASRA Report:

http://www.nasra.org/files/JointPublications/NASRA_ARC_Spotlight.pdf

Excerpts from the NASRA Report:

“A government that has paid the ARC in full has made an appropriation to the pension trust to cover the benefits accrued that year and to pay down a portion of any liabilities that were not pre-funded in previous years. Assuming projections of actuarial experience hold true, an allocation short of the full ARC means the unfunded liability will grow and require greater contributions in future years.”

“The annual required contribution, or ARC, refers to the amount needed to be contributed by employers to adequately fund a public pension plan. The ARC is the sum of two factors: a) the cost of pension benefits being accrued in the current year (known as the normal cost), plus b) the cost to amortize, or pay off, the plan’s unfunded liability. The ARC is the required employer contribution after accounting for other revenue, chiefly expected investment earnings and contributions from employee participants.”

“Only a few states have conspicuously failed to adequately fund their pension plans.”

“Most states made a good-faith effort to fund their pension plans; a good-faith effort is defined here as paying 95 percent or more of the ARC.”

“Failing to make even a good-faith effort to fund the ARC increases future costs of funding the pension.”

 “The median ARC experience is 95.1 percent, meaning that one-half of the plans received at least 95.1 percent of their required contributions.”

 “All but six states paid at least 75 percent of their ARC.”

The Disparity of Colorado PERA Governmental Employer Contribution Legal Frameworks:

“For the Colorado Affiliated Local plan, statutes require employers to fund the actuarially determined contribution. Employers who participate in the Municipal, School, State, and Denver Public Schools plans under the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association contribute a fixed percentage of compensation specified in statutes.”

(My comment: Public pension plans that rely on fixed statutory contribution rates, like Colorado PERA, rather than regularly paying the pension’s full ARC have the lowest funded ratios.)

The Colorado PERA State Division has paid only 67.5 percent of its ARC requirement [FY05-FY13.]

 http://www.nasra.org/files/JointPublications/NASRA_ARC_Spotlight.pdf

A few years ago, Colorado PERA officials and their hired lobbyists argued that the PERA public pension system’s 69 percent funded ratio was such a crisis that the contracts of Colorado PERA pensioners just had to be broken. They contended that the Colorado PERA pension system’s 69 percent funded level constituted an “actuarial emergency” that justified the breach of Colorado PERA retiree pension contracts.

December 16, 2009:

Colorado PERA officials in written testimony to the Joint Budget Committee: “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”

http://www.kentlambert.com/Files/PERA_JBC_Hearing_Responses-12-16-2009_Final.pdf

In spite of the fact that Colorado PERA officials had previously admitted to the existence of the PERA “ABI” (COLA) contractual obligation, these officials hired lobbyists to enact a bill to break the contract. In 2010, the Colorado Legislature (with help from 27 lobbyists) passed the bill, in effect asking the Colorado Supreme Court for the political favor of ignoring their own court’s precedent to break the contract. The Colorado Supreme Court, as a political entity itself, obliged. Since Colorado courts refused to grant discovery in the case, PERA’s claims of an actuarial emergency received no judicial scrutiny. This is our government theoretically constrained by the Colorado and US Constitutions.

http://coloradopols.com/diary/64487/the-colorado-supreme-court-politicians-in-black-robes-as-it-turns-out#sthash.gcpgGTWh.dpbs

BREAKING: Ted Harvey New Exec. Director of Colorado GOP

Former Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

Former Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Douglas County) will be the new Executive Director of the State Republican Party.

Colorado Republicans today selected former Adams County Republican Party Chair Steve House to replace Ryan Call as State Republican Party Chair (this outcome was first predicted by Colorado Pols on Thursday).

As part of the State Party reorganization, Republicans intend to change their bylaws so that Party Chair is no longer a full-time salaried position (which was how the GOP used to operate before making the Dick Wadhams exception last decade). This means that the top full-time job with the Republican Party will revert back to the role of Executive Director…which is apparently going to be filled by former State Sen. Ted Harvey.

Harvey has been telling folks at today’s Republican reorganization meeting that he will assume the role of Executive Director as soon as Monday. Harvey is an interesting choice, to say the least; he is a somewhat polarizing figure among Republicans who has been recently working to raise money for the controversial “Scam PAC” Stop Hillary PAC. We’ll have more to say about that in the coming days.

We’ll update as we learn more, but as always, you heard it here first.

Will Fracking cause the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

Probably not, but few any longer dispute that some activity related to fracking can induce earthquakes, despite years of industry pressure to deny the link.  But this is not about Frackquakes either. 

Not really. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management did try to lease the dam at the Paonia Reservoir once, and that gets closer to today’s update.  

For many it includes this perplexing fact: that oil and gas leasing on public lands starts with a whomever whim, nominated by no one really knows who, how, or why–and sometimes, maybe on a Friday afternoon when someone is not paying enough attention, something kind of crazy might slip through at the agency.  

The BLM did lease a cemetery for oil and gas drilling and fracking, according to a National Geographic article (sponsored—without intended irony, I presume—by Shell), published on its website today:  Fracking Next to a Cemetery? 10 Unlikely Sites Targeted for Drilling”:

Kanza Cemetery sits on a 320-acre expanse east of Colorado Springs offered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The rural graveyard, where more than a hundred people are buried, has been there for at least a century. Its land was leased for $26 an acre. 

The day started out like most others had before it, with Pa looking through the morning news and Ma off to collecting from the hens, when there was a knock on the weathered old farmhouse door…

Over cookies and lemonade at the Paynes’ home, a BLM representative informed them about the auction and its implications. She says they were assured that the graves would not be disturbed.

Drilling the Dead…

The leased cemetery and surrounding lands are among a number of places highlighted by the group Western Values Project in a new report “ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE: The Top Ten Most Shocking Places the Oil and Gas Industry is Trying to Lease and Drill.” 

It does seem that no where is off limits in the minds of some folks seeking their fracking fortune off the public’s domain.

The National Geographic article also notes, from the report, private ‘split estate’ lands in Wyoming where the landowners obtained a conservation easement to protect sage grouse among other species and resources, that the BLM has put on the auction block for oil and gas drilling at industry’s request.  

Indeed, oil and gas companies have been invited by the federal government to nominate public minerals under other people’s private lands, even those with conservation easements, and among the ranches and farmlands of the West for years.  

The local community had to fight back to stop the leasing of the orchards and irrigation works of Colorado’s North Fork Valley.  The agricultural lands there are the result of a century of back-breaking hard labor, first by Homesteaders then by generations, and decades of federal projects and millions in expenditures along the way.  (Thanks Wayne Aspinall!). 

Then there are the historical sites, and not insignificant ones: even the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site was nominated for oil and gas drilling.  BLM, thankfully, did catch that one before it went to sale.   

And industry has repeatedly nominated lands in the South Park area, including a large amount of Denver’s water supply.

There Interior Department reforms, that the BLM has begun to implement, have led to the agency agreeing to complete a Master Leasing Plan that hopefully will provide stronger guidance on which areas should be off limits to oil and gas development.  And in the North Fork Valley the BLM has agreed to consider a community-based set of management recommendations for the valley as it updates its resource management plan for the area. 

But industry remains, it appears, feeling entitled.  In Utah it has set off to achieve a new type of visual impact by taking on the art community, which is noted in the Western Values Project report.

This, in particular, seems to have attracted the ire of the grumpy-sounding Big Oil lobby spokesperson in the National Geographic article:

“A single artist determining that her work requires ‘an unimpeded view to the horizon’ does not automatically trump the public’s right to the energy it owns beneath the land,” [Kathleen Sgamma, Western Energy Alliance] says.

An interesting comment from a single industry that often behaves as if its interests trump the public’s in deciding where oil and gas development is appropriate. 

To that question it usually appears it has one answer: any where and everywhere. 

The oil and gas industry, it seems, does not see problems with leasing around organic orchards; in towns or city water supplies; atop sacred historical sites and on consecrated ground; the minerals from beneath another’s own private lands, even those under a conservation easement; in sage grouse or other sensitive habitat, or even amidst art installations.

No, fracking probably won’t cause the Zombie Apocalypse.  But there seems something unholy about letting the oil and gas industry be the one to call the shots about the public’s resources and lands.

Decisions about which of America’s shared places and publicly-owned resources should be subject to leasing for drilling, fracking and industrial development, and which ought not to be, should be shared decisions and not simply left up to industry to propose, decided behind a cloak of secrecy away from public oversight.

The BLM has taken important steps to making improvements in this process.  But it still has a ways to go.  Shining more sunlight into BLM oil and gas nominations (which the agency has now specifically re-designed its process to avoid) and strengthening the public’s ability to have truly meaningful input into where, when, and how this activity occurs, remain largely in the realm of aspiration. 

This is reform that the agency needs to stick with and complete. Because an informed and engaged public remains the best defense against bad policy. And Zombies.

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 Friday (March 13)

Get More SmarterFor the second month in a row, the 13th falls on a Friday. 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 Republicans will meet tomorrow to select their State Party Leaders for the next two years. As first reported at Colorado Pols yesterday, incumbent Chair Ryan Call is expected to lose his job to challenger Steve House. Click here for more on tomorrow’s election.

► Excuse me, but is that an IUD you are wearingJohn Frank of the Denver Post reports on the newest “aborti-fashion,” as Republicans might call it, taking place at the State Capitol.

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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DO NOT Help Doug Bruce Cheat Taxpayers

Doug Bruce. Mug shot courtesy Colorado Department of Law.

Doug Bruce. Mug shot courtesy Colorado Department of Law.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mendoza reports, the recall election against embattled Councilwoman Helen Collins will proceed:

Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson, with input from Colorado Springs Municipal Court Judge HayDen Kane, ruled Thursday that recall petitions are valid and voters in District 4 will be asked on the April 7 ballot if they want to recall Collins, who also faces an investigation by the city’s Ethics Commission that alleges a questionable real estate deal with tax-limitation author and felon Douglas Bruce…

[N]o matter how the election ends, Collins faces an ethics complaint that alleges she participated in a real estate deal with Bruce that helped him avoid payment of a nearly $7,600 court judgment he owes the city.

The complaint, brought against Collins by the Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office, was filed with the city’s Independent Ethics Commission on Jan. 21. After a 70-minute closed-door meeting March 5, the commission found that the complaint against Collins was within the panel’s jurisdiction and wasn’t frivolous and therefore should be investigated.

Via the Colorado Springs Independent, recall organizers are eagerly moving ahead–from their statement yesterday:

Her unethical and possibly illegal real estate deal with convicted felon Doug Bruce, as reported by the news media, may have cheated Colorado Springs taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. [Pols emphasis] It is the most telling example yet of the possible corruption she has brought to City Hall.

With an ongoing ethics probe and possible criminal investigation hanging over her, it would be best for our district and the entire city if Helen Collins would step down now. City government faces enough challenging issues just ahead of next month’s election without having to deal with this cloud of controversy a day longer.

As the author of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Doug Bruce is an icon of the conservative movement to ratchet down the size of government. TABOR’s many convoluted provisions capping revenue, and complicating elections to raise taxes–far beyond the publicly salable requirement that voters approve tax increases–have seriously compromised the state’s ability to provide for basic responsibilities like roads, education, and health care.

That this central conservative policy achievement is the brainchild of a convicted felon tax cheat is something Republicans aren’t as eager to discuss. After Bruce was appointed to the Colorado legislature, his bad mannered antics led to a rare censure, and he was “euthanized” by HD-15 voters in 2008 in favor of Rep. Mark Waller. In December of 2011, Bruce was convicted of felony tax evasion and attempted bribery charges, and served just over 100 days in jail.

Honestly, is there anyone reading this who would be surprised that Doug “Mr. TABOR” Bruce is still cheating taxpayers? Didn’t think so!  All we can say is, the continuing follies of convicted tax cheat Doug Bruce ought to be a message problem for more Republican politicians than Helen Collins–or at the very least, raise basic questions about the true motives behind TABOR.

Don’t you think?

More Journalists Were Needed to Sort Through the Madness of GOP State-Chair Race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last Call for Ryan Call?

Ryan Call.

UPDATE: Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols offers an excellent closing analysis of the race here: “GOP Chairman Ryan Call facing revolt led by AG Cynthia Coffman.”

___

One thing is clear in the home stretch of the battle between Ryan Call and Steve House to be the next leader of Colorado’s Republican Party.

The race could have used a few more reporters like the Colorado Statesman‘s Ernest Luning covering it. As it is, “coverage” of the race has mostly been left to a bizarre and sometimes toxic shooting gallery of talk radio, Facebook, more Facebook, progressive bloggers (including outcasts like me), and whisperers and more whisperers. Honestly, this situation, set against a backdrop of intense GOP anger and madness, doesn’t serve Republicans or the rest of us.

The candidates have spoken directly to lots of the Republican activists who will be voting Saturday, which is good, but the race for Republican chair is an excellent example of what won’t be covered at all by real journalists as the profession fades. And we all lose from that.

Luning has provided the most even-handed and in-depth coverage of the Republican leadership race, and he’s out with a new story yesterday that included new allegations against Steve House, who’s challenging Ryan Call. Luning reports:

A group of former Adams County Republican officers circulated a letter on Wednesday slamming House for his tenure leading the county party and calling his character into question.

The letter, signed by former county chairs Patty McCoy and Clark Bolser, former vice chair Patty Sue Femrite and county finance chair Maria del Carman Guzman-Weese, alleged that House quit the post half way through his term in order to run for governor after promising he wouldn’t do just that. What’s more, the Adams County group charged, he left the county GOP in a shambles and it was Call who came to the rescue to rebuild it.

“Steve definitely has charisma and personal ambition, and he certainly knows how to give a good speech,” the group wrote. “He’s personally likeable. But his record of unfulfilled commitments, multiple broken promises, and overall poor performance as County Chairman left many of us in Adams County disappointed, extremely frustrated, and with unwelcome extra work during a critical time.”

Steve House spokesman Mike McAlpine (of Hudak-recall fame) denied the accusation, telling Luning it was dirty politics and, in fact, Adams County Republicans actually helped flip the Colorado Senate in 2014.

In any case, in addition to his reporting of this flap, Luning nicely summarizes the House-Call contest as we head into Saturday morning, when the final vote will occur at Douglas County High School in Castle Rock.