Another Busy Saturday of Protest in Downtown Denver

Two back-to-back well-attended protest events in Denver yesterday to note for the record–the first was in the morning, starting outside Denver Pavilions with a “flashmob” dance then marching to Civic Center Park. One Billion Rising explained their event’s goals:

Our focus in Denver this year is honoring and standing with our indigenous sisters, especially our sister Red Fawn Fallis, who is currently a political prisoner in North Dakota. Red Fawn is a human rights advocate, organizer and a community leader within the Oglala Lakota Sioux. She grew up in Colorado and was raised in traditional Lakota ways, grounded with love and a deep connection to the earth and all living things. Her mother Troylynn Yellow Wood, taught her the importance of fighting for social and environmental justice.

After the One Billion Rising Event, the PA system in Civic Center Park was handed over to the Defend Our Constitution March, more directly focused on President Donald Trump and his historically unsteady first few weeks in office. After rallying in the park, as FOX 31 reports, protesters marched to the First Unitarian Church a few blocks away to show support for Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented immigrant who has sought sanctuary there:

Protesters marched from Civic Center Park to First Unitarian Church to show their support for a woman who sought sanctuary inside the church to avoid being deported.

Several hundred people gathered for the rally. Organizer Queen Phoenix said the march was all-inclusive with protesters rallying for everything from immigrants’ rights to the constitution.

“There are so many different venues that are hurting us and offending so many different groups of people,” said Phoenix…

Vizguerra addressed the crowd outside the church on Saturday. She said the image of all the people standing on the front steps of the church will stay in her memory forever.

“It’s very emotional, see very much people coming, and express your support, your love, it’s very emotional,” said Vizaguerra.

If you missed out on the action yesterday, don’t worry–tomorrow is President’s Day, and the “NOT My President’s Day” rally tomorrow at 5:00PM at the Colorado State Capitol is forecast to be a pretty big deal.

Then Tuesday, the weekly protest outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices resumes. And Congress is in recess, giving local citizens (in theory, anyway) more chances to make their voices heard. Not to mention a whole new week of news from Washington to create new motivations to protest. After weeks of unrelenting action since President Trump took office, amounting to the greatest season of protest in modern American history, one thing we’re increasingly sure of is this is not a fad.

Until Trump stops frightening America out of our usual complacence, it’s the new normal.

Gardner has had “number of great conversations” with Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Asked by a conservative radio host this morning to “characterize his current relationship with President Trump and his team” and whether Gardner was a “persona non grata,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said:

Gardner: “Oh, I’ve had a number of great conversations with the President. The opportunities to work together are real. He is very, very clear that he wants us to be successful in Colorado and that we have the chance to do things that will make our state a better, stronger place.”

Gardner’s warm comments about Trump come as the President is battling journalists and after weeks of protests in Colorado against both Trump’s actions and against Gardner himself for backing Trump and voting with him 100 percent of the time.

Told by KNUS 710-AM host Craig Silverman that citizens are “clamoring for a town-hall meeting” and protesting, Gardner did not indicate he’ll hold town hall meetings, as requested by citizens who’ve jammed Gardner’s phone lines since Trump took office.

“We’ll continue to reach out across Colorado through meetings and offers to have appointments throughout the eight offices we have in the state–and also making sure we’re reaching out via tele-town halls,” said Gardner, adding that it is “great that people are interested.”

“Tele-town halls provide us with a great way to reach thousands of Coloradans at one time instead of just five or 10 at one time,” said Gardner.

Republicans across the country are turning to tele-town halls, instead of actual town hall meetings, where they’ve been greeted by large numbers of citizens upset about Obamacare, cabinet selections, Planned Parenthood cuts, and more. Images of large crowds and defensive lawmakers have viralized across social media.

Gardner has apparently been irked by some of the protests he’s faced, labeling callers and protesters as hailing from California and New York and as being “paid,” with some hired via CraigsList or tricked into calling via computers and surveys.

Asked if Gardner has the kind of relationship with the President that allows Garder to “kid around with Trump,” Gardner told Silverman, “Oh, absolutely.”

“I think it was on television even, on Tuesday, before the inauguration, the president introduced me to a crowd and talked about being able to work together for the common good of Colorado,” said Gardner on air. “And that’s something we will continue to do.”

“Overall, we have got to make sure that we to come together as a country the way [Trump] talked about on i guess it was Wednesday, November 9, after the Election,” Gardner said.

“You always leave me in a good mood,” Silverman told Gardner at the end of the interview, asking that the Republican to remember him to his family.

Mike Coffman’s “Listening Tour” Horse Has Left The Barn

Rep. Mike Coffman

With Congress about to head into a contentious recess and protests raging across the land over Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Mike Coffman announced this week a “listening tour,” hoping to undo some of the damage from a disastrous public event in Aurora a few weeks ago that netted Coffman nationwide bad press:

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) announced that during the district work period scheduled for Feb. 20-24, he will undertake the first phase of his planned “listening tour” regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coffman will use this series of meetings to gain the perspective of as many constituents, patients and healthcare professionals as possible.

“During this district work week, I look forward to meeting with many healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups. My objective is to personally hear from them on how the ACA has affected the healthcare system, medical professionals, and most importantly, how it has affected patients access to medical care. I will use their input not only to review my own plans on how to proceed, but also to communicate their concerns to my congressional colleagues—Additionally, I want to communicate again that no repeal will take place without first having a replacement.”

As has already been noted for the record, Coffman’s “listening tour” next week is not expected to include any kind of open forum where constituents could express themselves to Coffman and be heard publicly while doing so. While that would seem to undercut the legitimacy of any “listening tour,” there’s another, more basic problem.

Doesn’t Coffman already have a plan for Obamacare?

That’s a half-page ad than ran earlier this month in local MediaNews papers, congratulating Rep. Coffman for his “plan to deliver quality, affordable, patient-centered health care.” The ad invites constituents to “thank” Coffman for “proposing access to a quality, affordable health care plan.”

Except he hasn’t proposed anything yet. If he had, why would he need a “listening tour” to figure out what to propose?

Look, we understand the only thing this demonstrates is that Republicans are all over the map when it comes to their central campaign pledge to repeal a law they have spent the last six years demonizing with no regard for fact. Cheerleading from the right-wing media complex about the imminent repeal of Obamacare has been waylaid by the reality that a better plan is not only elusive, but maybe impossible–especially within the narrow range of “free-market” possibilities under consideration by Republicans.

It would be nice to see this acknowledged in the press, instead of pretending there is anything like a consistent message here.

“Draft Ed” Movement Pushing Perlmutter for Governor

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

UPDATE: The Gazette has corrected their story with the appropriate Facebook link. We have adjusted the excerpt below to reflect the change.

—–

As Peter Marcus reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette, an online campaign to convince Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) to run for Governor is growing quickly:

There seems to be more of a buzz surrounding the Jefferson County Democrat these days, though Perlmutter has been playing things close to the vest.

A Facebook page has been created, “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor.”

“Run, Ed, Run! Ed Perlmutter’s always a true congressman with character. Now a whole lot of us want him to be a governor with guts. Draft Ed for Gov!” the page states.

“Ed’s district has always been a top target for House Republicans. And he’s always won it, and BIG! If nominated, Ed Perlmutter will keep the Governor’s Mansion blue — and he’ll stand up to Donald Trump like few others can,” a post on the page states.

Backers of the page are even paying for Facebook sponsorship status, though who the backers are has been a mystery to many in the Jefferson County Democratic community.

The link provided in the story above directs readers to Perlmutter’s congressional campaign website; we’re assuming this is a mistake and is meant to point to this “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor” Facebook page instead.

 

Dissecting Gardner’s thoughts on the “paid protesters” who are allegedly hounding him

CBS4 Political Reporter Shaun Boyd touched a nerve when she reported Jan. 27 that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) thinks many of calls and emails he’s gotten lately have been from “paid protesters.”

Since Gardner’s first mention of his concerns about paid protesters, the Republican has returned to the topic at least three times in interviews.

Here’s a thematic breakdown of what he’s been saying about the paid protesters who are allegedly hounding him.

 

CraigsList. This is where Gardner says the paid-protester ads are being run.

“There is a certain element that’s paid through Craig’s List. We’ve seen the advertisements,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle Clark Feb. 2.

“Out-of-State.” Gardner is careful to say that the protesters are not just “paid” but also not from here.

“What I worry about is a large proportion of people from out of state who are trying to flood and jam our airwaves, so-to-speak,” Gardner told Boyd Jan. 30

California and New York. These are the states Gardner thinks the paid protesters are from, but he hasn’t explained why he thinks these states are the culprits.

“There are certainly a number of people who are calling from out of state, California and New York. That’s happening,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle ClarK Feb. 2.

Robocalls. Gardner thinks computer-generated robocalls are part of the paid-protester problem.

Gardner’s staffers get “people who are surprised they even contacted the office because there’s a robocall of some kind that goes into their house and it connects them with the office and they didn’t even want to contact us in many cases and are surprised that they did,” Gardner told CBS4’s Boyd Jan. 30.

Paid telephone surveys.Gardner says paid protesters are tricking people with phone surveys.

“Just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office,” 7News Marc Stewart, Feb. 14. “And so that was clearly a paid effort. She was not paid to do that. Somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife.”

Paid protesters vs. legitimate concerns. Gardner emphasizes repeatedly that he wants to hear from real people not fake protesters.

“What I worry about though, of course, is the paid protesters from out of state who are crowding out those Colorado voices,” Gardner told 9News’ anchor Kyle ClarK Feb. 2. “That’s a big concern of mine. It’s a concern of my colleagues, when they can’t hear the voices of their constituents because paid activists from out of state are getting in the way.”

If you call U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) DC phone line today, you get a recording encouraging callers to leave a message only if you’re calling “after hours.”

“Hi, this is Cory Gardner,” states the phone message, “your senator from the great state of Colorado. Thanks for calling my Washington DC office. If you’ve reached us after hours, please feel free to leave a message.”

Gardner may be thinking that during business hours the only people calling him are “paid protesters.” And he doesn’t want them leaving messages. Hence, he only wants messages “after hours.”

And regardless of what time it is, don’t leave a message for Gardner if you’re from California or New York, if you’ve been recruited on Craig’s List, if you’ve been tricked by a survey or a robocall, or if you’re the paid “element” that’s bugging Gardner. He doesn’t want to hear from you.

u.

Colorado Week in Review: 2/17/17

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 17)

Have a nice President’s Day Weekend; try the meatloaf. Now, let’s see if we can’t Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► As the Associated Press reported this morning, President Trump is considering mobilizing the National Guard — as many as 100,000 troops — to undertake mass deportation efforts across the country. Colorado is one of the states listed in the draft memo obtained by the AP.

Again: The President of the United States of America is considering deploying the military to conduct mass roundups and deportations across the country. This is all kinds of wrong.

 

A “shit sandwich.” That’s how Vice Admiral Robert Harward viewed an offer from President Trump to become the next National Security Adviser — an offer Harward publicly declined — which leaves the Trump administration scrambling to find another candidate for one of the most important jobs in the White House. The resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn highlights a massive credibility problem among national security experts, as the Washington Post explains:

Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. [Pols emphasis]

…Harward certainly knows the struggles that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson have had hiring their own staff — neither has an announced deputy; Harward was not about to subject himself to the same micromanaging from the White House. Former State Department official and vocal Trump critic Eliot Cohen says, “It makes it very difficult for any serious person to take the job under less reasonable conditions than Harward seems to have demanded, i.e., control of staffing.” He explains, “No sane person would take this extremely important and difficult job without (a) control of staffing, and (b) eliminating or neutering Bannon’s shadow NSC staff.” …

…Harward’s decision reflects how far the president and this administration have fallen in the eyes of esteemed national security experts, including current and former officials. The White House is without an experienced chief of staff or normal internal decision-making procedures. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Congress is preparing for its annual President’s Day recess, which will keep lawmakers out of the nation’s capitol until February 27. Before he skipped out of town, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) released a video in which he declares that he will not support a repeal of Obamacare without a concurrent replacement plan. The New York Times on Thursday reported on a potential new GOP healthcare plan that would redirect money from the lower- and middle-class to the benefit of the wealthy in America.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Worst Construction Defects Bill Ever?

Denver’s Beauvallon, a construction-defects horror story.

Denver7’s Lance Hernandez reports–the issue of reforming state law as it pertains to homeowner rights to sue builders over defects in the construction of their homes, in particular multifamily residential developments, has been an annual flashpoint in the Colorado General Assembly for several years. Lobbyists for construction companies claim it’s “too easy” to sue over defects, while homeowners say the only “problem” is that builders don’t want to stand behind their work.

After some talk of bipartisanship on the issue early in the session, Republicans in the Colorado Senate “moved beyond” the compromise that had been agreed upon between themselves and the Democratic House, and introduced legislation that would crack down on homeowner’s rights. Among those bills, GOP Sen. Jack Tate’s Senate Bill 155 might be the shortest in length–and the most brazen in terms of screwing homeowners:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Rep. Lori Saine, R-Weld County, seeks to redefine the term “construction defect” to mean, “a defect in the design or construction of any improvement to real property that causes damage, the loss of use or personal injury.”

“It’s absurd,” said Fort Collins homeowner Michael Pretz. “You have to have a bad outcome before you can consider it a construction [defect].”

Pretz said he and his neighbors sued their developer because some of the attics in their townhomes didn’t have adequate drywall between the firewalls, and because retaining walls were not built with adequate anchors.

“I worked in the fire service for 35 years,” he said. “When you get a fire that goes unchecked from unit to unit, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Pretz said under this proposed bill, you wouldn’t have any recourse unless there was a fire that caused significant damage. [Pols emphasis]

Requiring homeowners to suffer the consequences from a construction defect before being able to sue to fix it goes against any reasonable policy goal of harm reduction–for the sole purpose of reducing the liability of construction companies to situations where their shoddy workmanship has actually hurt people. We think most people would agree it’s a lot better to get a known construction defect fixed before it hurts people, even if that’s maybe not the most financially advantageous situation for construction companies.

It’s one of those bills that’s so bad you can hardly believe a legislator had the gall to put their name on it.

And yet here we are.

BREAKING: Trump Considers Mobilizing Colorado National Guard

UPDATE: The White House denies the AP’s report, while 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark notes the politics:

—–

National Guard troops in riot gear.

Breaking moments ago from the Associated Press:

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

…While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The report claims that governors in the affected states will have the option to not participate in this mobilization of National Guard forces to round up undocumented immigrants, and it’s our assumption that Gov. John Hickenlooper will have no part in any such plan–despite the enormous pressure we expect would be brought to bear for him to take part.

Readers, the implications of this story–a massive domestic military operation to round up and deport millions of people from the United States–are too great to enumerate in our forum. It’s true that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail forced us all to contemplate what the fulfillment of his campaign pledges would look like–but even since taking office and attempting to keep some of his worst promises, there was a sense that it could only go so far.

Well folks, as of right now, there is no such firewall. And our worst fears are coming true.

Admiral Harward Declines Trump Offer to Replace Flynn

K.T. McFarland (r) with Sen. Cory Gardner at the Forum on Global Leadership in 2015

UPDATE: Vice Admiral Robert Harward reportedly called Trump’s NSA job offer “a shit sandwich.”

—–

As CBS News reports:

Vice Admiral Robert Harward has rejected President Trump’s offer to be the new national security adviser, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports…

…Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.

Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Harward refused to keep McFarland as his deputy, and after a day of negotiations over this and other staffing matters, Harward declined to serve as Flynn’s replacement. [Pols emphasis]

Harward, a 60-year-old former Navy SEAL, served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command under now-Defense Secretary James Mattis. He previously served as deputy commanding general for operations of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

It may yet come to this:

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 16)

It would certainly be hard for things to Get More Dumber at this point, so let’s see if we can’t Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► So…that didn’t go well. President Trump held his first solo press conference as a resident of the White House, and it’s almost like he’s daring someone to declare that he is unfit for office. Put it this way: If you had to place a bet on whether or not Trump would make it through his first term in office, would you really put big money on “YES”?

Did you vote for Donald Trump for President?” could be the most important question for Colorado political candidates in 2018. That’s one big orange albatross we’re talking about.

 

► President Trump has a new nominee for Labor Secretary. Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, on account of the fact that he had no chance of winning confirmation from the Senate. The new nominee is Alexander Acosta, dean of the Florida International University School of Law and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Washington Post takes a look at how Puzder’s nomination went so completely off the rails, while Politico previews trouble ahead for the new nominee.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) thinks that we should investigate the FBI after the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. From CBS Denver:

Rep. Mike Coffman agrees with Republicanson the House Ethics Committee who don’t think President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn needs to be investigated for ethics violations following his ouster over interactions with Russian officials…

…Controversy still lingers over the White House’s handling of the brief tenure of Flynn, who continued to advise the president weeks after the Department of Justice warned the administration of Flynn’s conduct on the phone with Russia’s ambassador.

“I want to see that transcript to see if there are other conversations that he had is worthwhile finding out, but I also think it’s important to move on,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Move along!

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Will Sen. Cory Gardner Vote Like the Anti-Environment House Republicans?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A good deal has already been written here at ColoradoPols.com about America’s largest cloud of methane pollution that hovers over the Four Corners region, including southwestern Colorado. It has been noted in blogs and op-eds and articles and exposés that this region lies within Colorado’s Third Congressional District, currently represented by Scott Tipton who himself hails from the region—and who behaves as if he’s not at all concerned about methane pollution clouding up his constituents’ lives.

Colorado’s junior U.S. Senator Cory Gardner will face his first re-election campaign in 2020. He will be a Republican facing what is certain to be a high-stakes race running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton once and Barack Obama twice.

Solutions exist that can make a difference, today, to reduce methane pollution. This includes cutting down on the large amounts of methane pollution that come from oil and gas operations, as the State of Colorado has already successfully done for lands it helps regulate.

Mr. Tipton opposes these solutions. For instance, Tipton recently voted to invoke the Congressional Review Act and gut new regulations for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that are proven to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas operations on public lands.

And soon the U.S. Senate will vote to follow this brash and ill-advised move, or to support the BLM methane venting rule, America’s clean air, and climate action.

All eyes are on Sen. Cory Gardner as a purple state senator to see if he will follow Tipton’s sooty suit, or if he will prove his purple state bona fides and vote to protect Colorado’s air quality. Sen. Gardner should stand up for clean air and climate action rejecting Tipton’s and the House Republicans’ radical attempt to gut the BLM’s methane venting rule.

First it should be noted that air pollution from oil and gas operations is a public health risk. Ensuring that oil and gas operators are required to do all they can to prevent methane leaks and to capture any methane that is leaking will reduce related pollution, including other harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

(more…)