Archive for 2013 Election

Judge Upholds Broomfield Election; Thereby the Broomfield Fracking Ban Remains In Place!

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Tonight the people of Broomfield can celebrate alongside community leaders and environmental advocates! A local judge has upheld the validity of the November election in Broomfield county and therefore the five year fracking moratorium is upheld! The exciting news is considered a victory for the anti-fracking community and also a victory in the arena of citizen land-rights.

Judge Melonakis announced his decision today, Thursday, February 27th. According to the Daily Camera: “In his decision, he said Broomfield acted in good faith when conducting the election and that the results should not be tossed out.” YES!

It is so heartening to see this judge uphold the democratic rights of the people of a Colorado community instead of easily siding with the lucrative special interest groups that lobby on behalf of oil and gas. Perhaps democracy really does have a fighting chance. Plutocracy and oligarchy didn’t win this one. The people of Broomfield won this one! Congratulations to the city of Broomfield for successfully fighting special interests and legally banning fracking for 5 years!

Fate of Broomfield Fracking Moratorium in the Hands of Judge

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The protracted battle being waged in Broomfield over the community’s embattled election results on a fracking-ban could conclude very soon. Now a judge has the complete power to toss out the fracking ban. It saddens me that a decision that should have belonged to the community of Broomfield now rests entirely in the hands of one man. But that is what has happened after this very close and very disputed election in Broomfield in November 2013.

At least soon there will be a decision to bring clarity to the outcome of the November 5 election, which has been mired in controversy and court hearings for over three months now.

The two day trial wrapped up on Tuesday February 25th. According to the Daily Camera: “The trial is the result of a challenge to the election brought by pro-fracking group Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition and Tom Cave, a member of pro-fracking group It’s Our Broomfield, Too. Plaintiffs in the election challenge case want Melonakis to declare  Question 300 that did not pass because of numerous election flaws. Broomfield, which wants the judge to declare that the election results are valid, said the razor-thin outcome was the result of a close election, not flaws in the election.”

No one knows when Judge Melonakis will issue his ruling on the trial. Also it is unknown if the judge has the authority to call for another election to settle this matter once and for all.

This story is developing. . . Stay tuned to NEVER POLITICS for all the updates on this story!

 

Broomfield Fracking Moratorium Passes Recount by 20 Votes and in response, the Oil and Gas Lobby Sues

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One month after the 2013 election, we finally have resolution on a Fracking Moratorium in Broomfield County that had been in mandatory recount under law because the vote was so close. The recount found that the 5 year Fracking Moratorium in Broomfield did pass by the slim margin of 20 votes on December 3rd. The moratorium prevents oil and gas companies from conducting hydraulic fracturing within the county lines of Broomfield County for the next five years. But this matter could be far from resolved, as a pro-fracking group has slapped a lawsuit against the Broomfield election division. The suit alleges that Broomfield did not conduct the election correctly. The suit states that “the elections division failed to provide legal access for Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition (BBEC) election watchers throughout the controversial ballot-counting process.”

Interestingly, the suit was filed just before the recount results came in showing that the five year fracking moratorium had passed. But now that the moratorium has passed, it is galling that the oil and gas lobby won’t concede that they lost, fair and square. The people have spoken, but the pro-fracking community will put their resources into hiring their best attack-dog lawyers to quibble over election technicalities. This whole matter will be watched closely, because the same power tug of war exists across this country between the people and special interests. The election should have settled this matter. If the fracking-ban had failed, you can be sure that pro-fracking groups would have praised the election for being conducted fairly. But the pro-fracking group is calling 18 of the 20 winning ballots into question. The lawsuit argues Broomfield election workers examined voters’ envelopes and ballots at certain times outside of the view of election watchers. The BBEC lawsuit states that BBEC watchers were “systematically denied access … to witness and verify ballots, envelopes and self-affirmations received before and after the election date,” and argues that several meetings regarding election processes took place behind closed doors, instead of being open to the public.

Ultimately, the goal of BBEC is to get an injunction against the fracking-ban while the lawsuit mires the ban in the depths of the legal system. This is insult to injury. Not only do the fracking companies want carte-blanche to be able to frack and hereby ruin the environment and poison homeowners land and drinking water; they also want to remove the power of the American people to speak their will through elections. To rob us of our rights as Colorado citizens to have the power to pass fracking moratoriums in our communities. Will they be successful? Lets hope not. All eyes are on this one. Huffington Post and other national media have been reporting on this. We cannot let corporations subvert the very nature of democracy. They cannot win this. We must win this.

The BBEC is making patently absurd demands in their little lawsuit, such as demanding access to “all information in election documents that is available to election judges,” such as vote logs, and access to what election workers talked about during the alleged closed-door sessions. I hope that these documents show that this election was conducted fair and square and the election results are indeed held up. But the real question is, how much damage can the oil and gas companies do in Broomfield while the injunction against the fracking ban is in place. Only time will tell. Keep checking back at Never Politics to hear more as the story develops.

Post-Election Update

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BROOMFIELD FRACKING BAN RECOUNT

 

Two weeks ago, voters in Broomfield County voters voted on whether to approve a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it is known colloquially. The results of this moratorium, known as “Broomfield Question 300” are not yet settled. The measure, which was failing by 13 votes on election night, narrowly passed by 17 votes after outstanding ballots were certified last week. The narrow margin of victory made a recount mandatory per state law. Wednesday afternoon the recount will commence, with the results known on Thursday.

Fracking has been banned by voters in nearby counties to Broomfield. There are now fracking bans in Boulder, Fort Collins, and Lafayette. Colorado is a state with a large oil and gas industry, which carries with it a large lobby on its behalf. Governor Hickenlooper has been careful to not offend the oil and gas lobby in his time as Governor. He is politically-savvy to do so. There is a lot of political will in Colorado to keep Oil and Gas happy. Meanwhile there is an increased awareness of the dangers to people, communities, and the environment as a result of fracking. Films like the movie “Gasland” and “Gasland 2” have shown us the horrors of fracking. Especially the lasting image of people in Pennsylvania being able to light their drinking-water from the tap on fire because of the chemicals leeched into the water from hydraulic fracturing. This is not an image Americans are quick to forget. So, this Broomfield recount will be watched closely by both environmentalists and those who are pro-oil and gas. Especially in Northern Colorado counties like Weld County. Northern Colorado is experiencing a fracking boom which is making some people very rich.

The way that the oil-and-gas lobby counters the image of being able to light drinking-water on fire is two-fold. One: JOBS. Americans need jobs and there are jobs to be had in hydraulic fracturing. And the second part is touting how it secures America’s Energy Independence from the Middle-East. These are the counter to environmentalists and citizens concerns about pollution and water-quality (or lack thereof.) This is the way the oil and gas lobby can spin things. They can spin it as jobs and energy independence and not just flagrant and staggering short-sighted greed. They can spin it as securing our energy future instead of securing their next quarterly profits, which is of course, all that matters. That and the stock price of oil and gas companies and security of their stock-holders, naturally. It is a behemoth monster we are up against, we, the citizens, who want to have clean drinking water and farm lands and forests free of fracking contaminants.

This pursuit seems perhaps especially pressing and relevant in the face of the recent crippling floods in Colorado in areas where fracking is prevalent, and amid unresolved questions about whether some very serious pollution and contamination happened in fracking-sites devastated by the so-called One Thousand Year Flood in September 2013. The Daily Beast did an investigative piece about this which is worth a read.

I will be watching the results of Broomfield’s recount come in on Thursday and blogging about the results. If I had to venture to guess, I think the fracking ban might fail. Stay tuned…Developing…

ELECTION NIGHT 2013

Never Politics Small

Tonight I will be live-blogging local and national politics election results and analysis. Election Night in America is one of the best nights of the year. I love to see democracy in action. This is what makes our great nation so great: people across the country casting their ballots and making their opinions heard. Perhaps tonight we can gain a few “take-aways” from tonight’s election results to gage some nationwide political trends so that we can apply these trends as “bellwethers” — any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings. The biggest bellwether races this year I am focusing on are the Virginia governor’s race between Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R) the tea-party candidate, which is turning out to be a tight race. And then locally speaking, my eye is on the Amendment 66 here in Colorado, which “would inject $950 million of new money into K-12 education by changing the state income tax from a flat rate of 4.63 percent to a two-tiered arrangement. The first $75,000 of taxable income would be taxed at 5 percent and everything above that threshold at 5.9 percent.”

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR’S RACE

The reason the national media is focusing so much on Virginia and their governor’s race is due to the fact that Virginia is a swing state and it shows the divide in America between liberals and conservatives. The geography of Virginia displays this divide very clearly. Northern Virginia is very suburban, and considered part of the “Beltway” and contains many industries which are connected closely to our nations capital in D.C. Defense contractors are a huge part of the economy in northern Virginia. Then there is the more rural areas of southern Virginia which are more conservative, where more distrust of Big Government exists. These are the areas where Tea Party candidates like Ken Cuccinelli can find big support. The counties in northern Virginia tend to go blue, whereas the southern counties tend to go red. This division is what makes Virginia a bellwether.

Ken Cuccinelli has a “women problem”. His extreme rhetoric makes him an unpopular candidate with the women’s vote. I think that if women turn out tonight, and the exit polls support this, he will lose. We have seen many big names come out to stump for both Cuccinelli and for McAuliffe.In the last few days even President Obama and it-girl Kerry Washington have stumped for McAuliffe. But so did the Clintons, who are close friends of Terry McAuliffe. Meanwhile Rand Paul and many tea-party darlings were on the stump for Cuccinelli.

Breaking NEWS: Media outlets are now calling the Virginia governor’s race for Terry McAuliffe (D)!

I expected McAuliffe would win. I think that Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme rhetoric made a victory unlikely for him. Women turned out and voted, and they voted for McAuliffe. However, the problematic early roll out of the Affordable Care Act brought out a vein of populist anger which did give Cuccinelli a boost. On the stump, Dems were careful to leave out any mentions of Obama-care because they know it is political poison. This race was quite close considering that Cuccinelli is such an extreme candidate. It shows that there is a lot of anger against the establishment candiates right now.

COLORADO’S AMENDMENT 66: Doomed to Fail?

Here in Colorado, an Amendment regarding funding structures and taxes for public education was put to the voters. As of now, almost 8:00pm Mountain time, the polls are closed here in Colorado and Colorado Public Radio and the Denver Post and other news outlets are projecting that Amendment 66 will fail. I think that pushing a tax hike at this time is a hard sell. There is no doubt to me that in Colorado, education funding is very flawed and complex due to complicated legislation in the state regarding taxes like the TABOR ACT (Tax Payer Bill of Rights Act.) Colorado is ranked 49th of 50 states for education funding. There are schools in complete decay across the state, especially in rural areas where property taxes generate less revenue. These kids in the public education system are being failed by the system. There is not enough funding to create solid schools which achieve their education goals. But to levy a tax increase across all tax brackets at this time is a very tough sell. Many opponents of Amendment 66 made the argument that this Amendment passing would be a drag on the state economy, just when the economy is starting to get better. No doubt many families in Colorado are struggling to make ends meet, and higher tax bills are the last thing people want. Personally I voted for Amendment 66 and I have no children and plan to have none. I just think education is important to society. Apparently the Koch brothers have even been meddling in Colorado. Some cynics say this means they have hopes of privatizing the education system. Politico did a great think-piece on that topic that I encourage you all to check out.

I will post local election results when they come in! Stay posted and hit refresh!

Breaking News: Amendment 66 Fails

 

Local news outlets are now reporting that Amendment 66 failed, and the marijuana taxing measure, proposition AA, has passed. What is there to say? I have friends who work very hard as teachers in this state and I imagine they feel very deflated right now. As do the children and parents of school-age children. This paradigm of under-funding education has deep roots in this state and it is a systemic problem that will need a multi-pronged solution. Just rasing taxes may not be the solution. I think that we need to also repeal the TABOR Act.