Dave Perry of the Aurora Sentinel Pens Excellent Editorial On Why TABOR Is Harmful to Colorado

Dave Perry, editor of the Aurora Sentinel, has written and published an excellent editorial on why the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) will cause problems for the state of Colorado in just a few years. As Dave Perry said on his Facebook page:

“Nobody cares about the arcane mechanics of state government and politics. But if you care about sitting in endless traffic, paying lots more for state college tuition, or watching big businesses pack up their jobs from Colorado and head elsewhere, you better pay attention to what’s happening under the gold dome right now.”

Here is the link to the excellent editorial. Take a few minutes out of your day to read it.

ELECTION NIGHT 2015 – Live-Blogging the Election Results

PROPOSITION BB HAS PASSED

The statewide ballot measure, Proposition BB, has overwhelmingly passed by voters. As of 8pm tonight, the ballot measure passed with 67% of voters voting yes to 33% of voters voting no (536,018 votes YES to 268,265 votes NO.) The ballot measure gives permission for the state to keep and spend $66.1 million dollars in tax revenue generated from legal cannabis, rather than returning the money to citizens in the form of small rebates. According to the Denver Post, the measure “will send the first $40 million to school construction and $12 million designated for youth and substance abuse programs. The remaining $14.1 million goes to discretionary accounts controlled by lawmakers. If the measure failed, taxpayers would have received a $25 million rebate — ranging from $6-$16 per person, depending on income level — and another $41 million would return to marijuana growers and recreational users through tax breaks.

I think it’s interesting that this vote basically counters the Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR) and that voters will vote for Proposition BB in such numbers but still support TABOR fundamentally. Most overrides of TABOR don’t do well on the ballot. But since this ballot measure tied the cannabis tax revenue to school construction, it was an easy decision for most voters. It was a feel good decision for voters. In any case, I am thrilled that Proposition BB has passed!

The Three Jefferson County School Board Members on the Ballot for Recall Have All Been Recalled By Voters

Ken Witt – RECALLED-64% Yes, to 36% No

John Newkirk- RECALLED- 64% Yes, to 36% No

Julie Williams- RECALLED-64% Yes, to 36% No

Vote YES on Proposition BB this November!

Never Politics Small

Voters across the state will soon be receiving their mail-in ballots for the upcoming 2015 election ballot measure. I know in my household we just got our ballots this week. The upcoming ballot measure is called Proposition BB, which asks voters can the state keep tax revenue generated from marijuana sales instead of returning the tax-money to the voters as mandated by Colorado state law through TABOR (the Tax Payers Bill of Rights.) According to the Denver Post: “Proposition BB asks voters for permission for the state to retain and spend $66.1 million of tax revenue that already was collected from retail marijuana sales.” Proposition BB does not raise taxes, it only authorizes the government to keep the tax revenue generated from cannabis sales instead of returning it to the tax payers for paltry tax refunds. I think that the money would be better served being kept in government coffers for schools instead of doling it back to tax payers in small amounts (tax rebates are estimated to be $8 per tax payer!)  If the government is allowed to keep the revenue, a lot of good can be done for Colorado schools. And we all know Colorado schools are underfunded to begin with. So, it’s a no-brainer easy call decision. Vote yes on Proposition BB!

Governor John Hickenlooper Endorses Morgan Carroll for Congress

np_logoOn Tuesday September 15th, Governor John Hickenlooper announced he is endorsing Democrat Morgan Carroll for Congress in the competitive 6th District. Morgan Carroll is running against incumbent Republican Mike Coffman. The district is one of the most competitive races in the state and country. Mike Coffman is seeking a 4th term while Morgan Carroll has represented Aurora as a state senator since 2009.

“Building A Better Colorado” Bipartisan Group Set to Examine Colorado Issues Including TABOR

np_logoA new bipartisan group has formed in Colorado which will seek to examine the big political issues in Colorado. The group led by leaders from both the Democrat and Republican parties will hold town halls across the state. The group called “Building A Better Colorado” will be stopping in 40 different cities and towns across Colorado. The newly formed group will seek to address some of the central conflicts in the state, including the controversial constitutional measure, the Tax Payers Bill of Rights, a.k.a TABOR, and other central conflicts in how the state is governed. These conflicts include Colorado’s ability to fund and build new roads, fund education, and engage with an electorate that is checked out and disillusioned, and preparing for the future for our state.

“Building A Better Colorado” is the creation of former University of Denver chancellor, Dan Ritchie. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will be involved with the group, as will former Colorado governors Bill Ritter and Roy Romer. Also lending a hand to the group will be Ken Salazar, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and two former Denver mayors, Wellington Webb and Federico Peña. On the Republican side there will be leadership to the group from former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, former state lawmakers Gigi Dennis and Norma Anderson, and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a former state attorney general.

To what degree the group focuses on TABOR remains to be seen, but Republicans are already concerned that the group will focus on TABOR and how to weaken or change TABOR’s grip on state funding and taxes. Gov. Hickenlooper has repeatedly voiced concern over the state’s ability to meet financial challenges in part due to TABOR over recent months.

As a person who has been frustrated by the constraints of TABOR, I am encouraged by the formation of this bipartisan group. Hopefully the group can listen to the needs of the constituents of the state and find common ground to help address some of the central challenges in the state, including the funding challenges for roads, education, and government services. I am for the amending TABOR if not outright repealing it, but much of the state supports keeping TABOR in place as a way of curbing government spending and tax increases. But to these citizens I ask, how do we build and maintain roads, address a booming population growth, fund our schools and pay our teachers, and pay for government services with an aging Baby Boomer population who will need government services?

Hopefully the group finds answers and proposes solutions. Here’s hoping!

Bernie Sanders Packs In Huge Crowds on Campaign Stop in Denver…But Can He Win?

5,500 Coloradans packed in the Hamilton Gymnasium at the University of Denver Saturday June 20th to cheer on Bernie Sanders at a campaign stop. His message of solidarity with the squeezed middle class of America and his challenge to the “billionaire class” has resonated deeply here in Colorado. As a long time Bernie Sanders fan, I am electrified by how he has taken his message across the country and seeing it hit a nerve somewhere deep within the US. Bernie has climbed in the polls rapidly and is closing in on Hillary Clinton in the polls in some states like New Hampshire, where he is polling at 31% to Hillary Clinton’s 41%. He has shown himself to be a force to be reckoned with, and he has stayed on message. He has given hope to people deeply disillusioned with politics in America and to those who are discouraged by the domination of political dynasty families such as the Clintons and Bushes.

Do I think he can win the Democratic Nomination? Well, no, I don’t. I don’t think that’s in the realm of the possible even though I am an ardent admirer of the longest serving Independent in Congress. The Democratic nominee must be able to fundraise and get the bulk of the support of the Democratic party. I’d be shocked if this self-styled “socialist” would be able to do that in 2015 and 2016. A poll released today said that less than half of Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who is a socialist.

I think this is why Bernie Sanders status as a presidential candidate is self-limiting. He can influence the debates and the discourse and push Hillary Clinton to the left, but I don’t think he has much of a chance at the Democratic nomination for president, sadly. I think much of America is too uncomfortable with the socialist designation, and fundraising on the scale needed to be a real contender will be out of reach for Sanders. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, is a super-star at fundraising and she is the establishment favorite. While she may be taking a page out of the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders playbook in her rhetoric lately, she still is a friend of Wall Street and she has their backing, financial and otherwise. She is a juggernaut of epic proportions and she has a lifetime worth of political capital and name recognition. Sanders may have his finger on the pulse of American populist rhetoric, Hillary has the fundraising and the plausibility of winning to boost her through the campaign season and the primaries. Like FiveThirtyEight blog says, don’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton loses a few contests to Bernie Sanders, but do be surprised if she loses the Democratic nomination.

It’s perhaps a sad commentary on our political process that Bernie Sanders can draw such passionate crowds and really harness the energy in the middle class of the country, but he cannot win. That is a discussion we should have in this country. As an independent, I support Bernie Sanders very much. His message could not be more aligned with my beliefs. But is he a WINNER? We should not put all our eggs in one basket with Bernie, if we want a liberal to win in 2016. That’s why I think independents and progressives, Democrats and independents alike, should also throw their support behind Hillary Clinton. I say support Bernie Sanders. Go to his rallies and campaign stops. And then vote for Hillary in the caucuses and primaries, and then vote for her again in November 2016. Bernie can influence Hillary and already has pushed her to the left. His influence will be broader than just a Democratic nomination and his influence can be felt more in this way than any other way.

Colorado Inauguration Day 2015

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Today was Inauguration Day in Colorado. And NEVER POLITICS was there at the Capitol to watch the swearing in of our Governor John Hickenlooper for his second term. It was a cold morning, but not frigid, and the crowd on hand was sizable. As John Hickenlooper gave his second Inaugural Address, the sun came out and basked the governor and the audience in its golden rays. Hickenlooper remarked upon how the state was in a precarious position when he first took office in 2011. The state was dealing with unemployment and the vestiges of the Great Recession. Then there were the natural disasters, the copious wildfires and the One Thousand Year Flood in September 2013 which destroyed entire communities. And the state endured the horrific gun violence of the Aurora Theater Shooting and the Arapahoe High School shooting. Hickenlooper described all of these challenges quite eloquently: the fires, floods, and heinous violence. This leader has been truly tested over the last four years.

“When we took office four years ago, Colorado was in a precarious state. We lagged behind most of the nation when it came to job growth. Our unemployment was at 9.1 percent. Our state had a $1 billion dollar deficit. And we were only able to put 2 percent of our state funds into emergency reserves,” Hickenlooper said.

But now unemployment has fallen from 9.1% to 4 percent. Job growth has grown hugely, and the government has been able to sock away $600 million into a rainy-day fund. “Colorado is no longer in a precarious state. It is poised to be a model state,” the governor said.

Hickenlooper also made a theme in his address: the importance of random acts of kindness. I do see this kindness in the people of Colorado. We are a state of rugged people, people who can endure the extremes of our geographical region and its climate. People here are hearty, and also, very kind. People help each other out here. Neighbors join together in times of tragedy like the 2013 flood and the 2012 shootings. It was a message of hope. Colorado has much to be hopeful about. And so does Hickelooper. His political career shines brighter than ever, and he is a potential Presidential candidate. The future is bright, indeed.

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Colorado Senate Decided in 2014 Midterms to Flip to Being Republican Controlled!

Ballots were counted well past Election Day in many states including Colorado. It wasn’t until Friday November 7th when the Colorado Senate was announced to have flipped to being controlled by Republicans after ballots were finished being counted in Adams County. This ended a decades long drought in Colorado GOP leadership. Colorado will now have divided party leadership in the bicameral government, with the Dems controlling the House by 1 seat and the GOP controlling the Senate, with Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper at the helm, and veto power.

Divided government is very healthy for democracy, and it will also help John Hickenlooper have a term guarded by checks and balances. Hickenlooper will likely have a less controversial governance over the people in his second term, because it is less likely for super liberal unpopular legislation. (Like that of the gun laws of his first term.) It is unlikely that any such legislation will pass in the second term with the divided House and Senate leadership.

I see a healthy governance in Hickenlooper’s term and I see an economically healthy Colorado. We already have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and we have a great small company startup success rate in Colorado. And I believe the fact that John Hickenlooper won re-election by about 50,000 votes is the turning point of his entire political career. Since he won re-election he can now easily position himself to run for president in the future, which he has been considered a political up-and-comer for years, with Politico profiling him as a potential Democratic presidential hopeful.

I am upset now in hindsight that Colorado did not go ahead with the fracking ballot measures that could have been on the 2014 ballot. Over the summer, when it was still thought that Udall could potentially win, John Hickenlooper capitulated to the Democrats and worked out the deal with Rep. Jared Polis to remove the ballot measure. The idea was that it would save Mark Udall. Well it didn’t save Mark Udall and now we have not made any progress on the fracking issue statewide when there is a political hunger to make regulations and now there is no major election until 2016. I predict that Rep.  Jared Polis is not done yet. He just won re-election and he is one of the most wealthy Congressmen, in the Top 10 Most Wealthy in Congress, and he is unafraid to make enemies.

Just today there was a high pressure water explosion in these sub-freezing temperatures in Weld County Colorado, and a worker died on a Halliburton fracking site. I predict the fracking issue does not go away anytime soon from the political arena, and the debate becomes louder and more contentious. Fracking is a huge part of Colorado’s economy and I know people who work in this field like any other job-field. I just hope that they are safe and not exposed to dangerous chemicals or otherwise unsafe work conditions. I do not judge people for having a job. I just think that these oil companies and engineering companies put their workers in unsafe conditions at times and perhaps we can make regulations that ensure worker safety without inhabiting the economy. Because even with the low unemployment rate, unemployment is still high and I cannot see the Colorado people outright banning anything that creates jobs. Not in 2014. So can we just make it safer? We may have to get used to earthquakes caused by human purposes in Greeley. I can’t see it going away anytime soon.

Post Election Analysis: Colorado Midterms 2014

It’s been a few days now since Election Day and ballots continued to be counted here in Colorado. The Democrats look to hold the Colorado House of Representatives by one seat. They had a nine seat majority last session and now barely hold on to power. And the Colorado Senate is still up in the air with ballots still being counted in Adams County. A very close and contentious 2014 Election on both the local and national levels. But as the expression goes, the local is global. The political trends that we see this election year on the local level bode as bellwethers for the nationwide political trends.

Obviously, it was not a good year for the Democrats. Yet, none of it was unexpected. The “Sixth Year Itch” prevailed in that the President’s party, the Democrats, were voted out of office in record amounts. The Senate flipped from being Democrat controlled, with Harry Reid as Majority Leader, to Republican control, with Mitch McConnell as presumed new Senate Majority Leader. The House of Representatives also picked up several seats. The total numbers: GOP picks up at least 7 seats in the Senate, and at least 14 seats in the House, give or take a few if the GOP takes a few additional races that continue to be up in the air while recounts, runoffs, and remaining ballots are counted.

Obviously, the main narrative in the media is that the GOP trounced the Dems. And they did. I will give them that. And they had an extremely savvy strategy, especially in the Cory Gardner/Mark Udall race. I believe that Gardner benefited from the Democrats war-on-women central focus setting a vulnerable Mark Udall up for failure. This is what angers me. That the Democrats bungled this one and were complacent about the focus on this issue. As a feminist, I agree that the GOP’s policies are not women-friendly. The legislation coming out of D.C. is not women-friendly. They can’t even pass an Equal Pay Act in D.C. Then there’s the terrible decision made by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby Case. Between those and the Personhood legislation on state and national levels coming up every election cycle, and the “Forcible Rape” terminology in legislation, how are women supposed to believe that the GOP works for their interests at all? So the Democrats are correct to pursue this strategy. But it was not in their political interest to make it the center of Mark Udall’s campaign. Voters have a lot of anxiety right now about a lot of serious issues, and they have no confidence in Washington D.C. to address these issues. People are angry, and also checked out. And a wonderful Senator, one of the GOOD guys, Mark Udall pays the price. And opportunist and liar Cory Gardner is now a Senator.

The Colorado Independent has a great piece by writer Mike Littwin, in which he sums up the Colorado 2014 midterms in a nutshell stating: “The strangest thing is that Hickenlooper – who has spent so much time at the center of a gun-laws, sheriffs-pandering storm — is the Democrat who survives, and Udall, whose career has been basically storm-free, is the one who gets toppled.”

Such is the strange world of politics, where nothing is fair and anything can happen.

ELECTION NIGHT 2014: COLORADO AND NATIONWIDE RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

 

Election Night is finally here, and the results are slowly rolling in. I will be live-blogging throughout the evening! CNN is already projecting that Kentucky Senator and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell will keep his Senate seat with a comfortable margin. Perhaps we will know at the end of the night if McConnell will become the Senate Majority Leader as well.

However, we may not know this by the end of tonight, or even by the end of this month if the Louisiana Senate race is the deciding senate seat (which may be forced into a December runoff if neither candidate receives the salient number of 50% of the vote.) I am so disappointed about the Kentucky senate race results, and the reality that McConnell wasn’t voted out of office. But it is hardly a surprise. Kentucky is just a conservative state and the sixth year itch is prevailing. And that’s not even mentioning how extremely unpopular President Obama is in that state, which was Alison Lundergan Grimes undoing.

Stay with NEVER POLITICS for all your Election Night news, with a special focus on Colorado’s races and the role of independent voters and candidates in Colorado and beyond. The polls close in Colorado in about 45 minutes! I am especially interested in how many independent (unaffiliated) voters vote in Colorado and nationwide. The dominant trend seems to be that more and more voters are leaving the two dominant parties and choosing to be independents. This should not be a trend that the Democrats and Republicans take lightly. This shows the severe dissatisfaction and disillusionment that voters feel with the two party system. But it encourages me, as I think they will have to pay attention to this trend and manifest some positive collaboration in Washington D.C. if they are interested in their own political survival.

BREAKING NEWS:

New Hampshire Senate Race: Jeanne Shaheen (D) wins key Senate Seat, fending off Republican Scott Brown!

Colorado Update: The polls have been closed now for a half hour and the results in the governor’s race are exceedingly close, with Beupreaz leading Hickenlooper 49-47%. And in the Senate race, Cory Gardner looks to be crystallizing his lead, 52 to 43% with 41% reporting!

CNN is reporting that the Louisiana Senate race WILL indeed go to runoff, with the vote split between the two Republican candidates causing neither Landrieu or Cassidy hitting the magic number of 50%! This race will not be settled until December. The laywers will be pouncing in Louisiana!

 Colorado’s AMENDMENT 67 “Personhood Amendment” HAS FAILED! A huge victory for women and women’s reproductive freedoms.

 7News is projecting that Mike Coffman has defeated Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s 6th Congressional district 54% to 41% with 68% reporting. This devastates me. The worst news of the night hands-down. However, Romanoff fought the good fight and his campaign was fought with honor and honesty.

The Republicans only need 2 senate seats now to reach their magic number to gain control of the Senate.

 Governor hopeful Wendy Davis has lost by a huge margin in Texas.

 CNN has called the Colorado SENATE Race. Rep. Cory Gardner has defeated incumbent Mark Udall, 51% to 44%. I feel that the Democrats blew this race with their one-note campaign, setting Udall up for defeat.

 The GOP are routing the Dems everywhere. They just won the Georgia Senate race. The GOP now only needs to win one more Senate seat to gain control of the Senate. Iowa and Kansas are still too close to call but lean Republican.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker has sailed to re-election after a controversy-laden 4 year term. After his recall election and all of the curbing of collective bargaining rights for unions, Walker has won re-election. What does that say about the times we are in? A state that used to be so pro-union is veering dramatically to the right. This scares me more than anything else tonight. A very scary bellwether for our country. Scott Walker will likely run for President in 2016 now.

Kansas just elected the Republican Senate candidate Pat Roberts beating Greg Orman the independent. This defeat stings since it would have been so interesting if another Independent was sent to D.C. It is simply not to be.

Colorado Update: Proposition 104 has passed overwhelmingly. This Proposition will require any school board meetings which discuss collective bargaining (unions) to be open to the public. Well done, Colorado! However, Proposition 105, the GMO labeling proposition has been voted down, most likely due to the political ads that ran that said that 105 would raise food costs.

The Associated Press has just called that the Republicans have taken control of Senate Majority. Sen Mitch McConnell just got a promotion. He will now lead the Senate as Senate Majority Leader. He will have a fun time trying to control his caucus, especially the junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.

More COLORADO Updates: The GOP has routed the Dems on all levels, not just the Senate/House Races, but also in state level government. The GOP Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams has defeated the Democrat Joe Neguse. Similarly, the Democrat Betsy Markey has lost to Walker Stapleton for State Treasurer. Cynthia Coffman (R) has also won Attorney General, defeating Dem Don Quick.However, there are bright spots in the liberal Colorado Congressional districts 1 and 2, the progressive incumbent Reps. Diana Degette and Jared Polis both won handily! These two are two of my favorite Reps in the House of Representatives.