“Fake Choices”–Inside The Absurdities of Colorado’s Budget

Erica Meltzer at the Denverite has an excellent overview of the debate underway this week over the state of Colorado’s $26.8 billion budget. As everyone who studies Colorado politics quickly comes to understand, the annual budget process in our state is a struggle in good times and bad–a question of insufficient revenues for the basic functions of government is hard economic times, but also constitutional constraints on revenues and spending growth that throttles the ability of the government to do its job when times are good:

Colorado lawmakers used deep cuts to hospital funding — $528 million when federal matching dollars are included — to balance the $26.8 billion state budget that was introduced in the Senate Monday. This outcome was the result of years of inability to reckon with some fundamental contradictions in Colorado’s budget process, and it endangers the financial stability of as many as a dozen hospitals around the state, with some facing possible closure, according to the Colorado Hospital Association.

In response to the impact on hospitals, particularly in rural areas, and to the push to place a sales tax increase for transportation on the November ballot, Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has introduced a bill to do something Democrats have wanted and most Republicans have resisted for several years now — changing the hospital provider fee, the source of this contested hospital funding, into an enterprise fund separate from the rest of the budget.

Reclassifying the hospital provider fee as an enterprise would allow Colorado to collect and distribute this money without pushing the state over the revenue limits imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. But this fix to a vexing problem comes at a price: a $670 million reduction in that revenue limit. Every department would be asked to submit budgets for the 2018-19 fiscal year that are 2 percent smaller than their budgets for 2017-18. More significantly, future budgets would grow from this smaller base.

Split control of the Colorado legislature means that nothing can pass without the support of Republicans in the Colorado Senate. Even if there are a few moderate Republican Senators who support making changes to the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights to ease the law’s constraints on spending, those moderates generally have no chance to even vote on a bill that GOP Senate leadership doesn’t support.

That hard fact is why we have Democrats signing on to this compromise bill with Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, which makes a concession toward hospitals looking at big cuts that Democrats have been hoping for, and reclassifies the hospital provider fee get it out from under TABOR’s revenue limit–but with a heavy cost to award TABOR its pound of proverbial flesh. It’s a compromise that sucks, but is as good as anyone is likely to get this legislative session.

Tim Hoover, a spokesman for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, declined to comment on Sonnenberg’s bill, but he called the overall state budget situation “tragic” and unnecessary. Just last week, a Senate committee killed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have asked voters to change the formula that determines the revenue cap so that it would grow with the state’s economy and rising incomes, rather than just population and inflation. If it had passed, it could have meant an extra $133 million to work with in next year’s budget and more going forward.

“You don’t need to make these kinds of fake choices, between whether you have nice schools or nice roads,” he said. “It’s a fake choice because we have a law that creates a fake surplus and forces tax rebates when there isn’t enough money to do the things that we all agree we should do. It creates these dilemmas: Do you fund long-term care for the elderly or do you fix roads? Do you fund more transit or do you try to keep tuition affordable? We can afford to do all those things if we just fix our tax code.” [Pols emphasis]

It seems to us that the contradiction of the state struggling for money even in economic boom times might at some point be enough to persuade a majority of Colorado voters to take more than token action to sort it all out. The combination of Colorado’s constitutional checks, balances, and chokeholds, from the single-subject rule to Amendment 71, makes that a tall order. But nothing’s impossible.

It’s just not going to happen this year.

Boulder To Jeff Sessions: Keep The Change

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness reports:

The city and county of Boulder stand to lose a small amount of budget funding if the Justice Department makes good on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s threat to withhold grant money from so-called “sanctuary” communities.

In a short appearance at Monday’s White House press briefing, Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of the $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

Boulder, a self-proclaimed sanctuary city, is slated to receive DOJ funding this year, as in 2015 and 2016, in grants that go toward the salaries of two officers through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office…

Boulder’s “sanctuary” policy, passed shortly before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, promises “no city employee shall inquire into a person’s immigration status,” and formally bans city employees from cooperating with federal authorities with regard to any investigation of a person’s immigration status.

Apparently, the total amount of funding Attorney General Jeff Sessions has the power to threaten Boulder with is somewhere between $23,000 and $25,000. In terms of the total budget for the city of Boulder, somewhere around .007%–small enough to be a rounding error. It’s safe to say the potential loss of those funds will not be enough to deter the city from what it considers a much larger humanitarian obligation.

In fact, it’s a small enough number to serve as a punchline. Chalk it up as the latest Trump administration grandstand that ended with a whimper.

Setbacks From Schools: The No-Brainer That Somehow Isn’t

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

As the Longmont Times-Call’s John Fryar reports, a bill making its way through the Democratic-controlled House on its way to its all-but-certain death in the Colorado Senate–and probably vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in the unlikely event it did not die in the Senate–serves as another head-scratching teachable moment in the politics of energy development in Colorado:

State Rep. Mike Foote’s proposal to require that any future oil and gas wells be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools’ and child care centers’ property lines is headed for debate by the full Colorado House of Representatives after clearing a committee vote on Thursday night…

Current Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulations specify that oil and gas wells must be located at least 1,000 feet away from a school building.

Foote’s bill would expand that setback by requiring that wells and related oil and gas facilities be no closer than 1,000 feet to the school’s or child care center’s property line — an additional distance he and supporters of the proposed law say would protect people on playgrounds and athletic fields as well as the students and teachers inside modular classroom buildings on school campuses.

For the overwhelming majority of Coloradans not in the employ of the energy industry or one of its various supporting businesses, the idea that oil and gas drilling operations can occur so close to any part of a school campus is fairly surprising. The situation illustrated vividly in Greeley of a large drill site immediately adjacent to the local high school’s football field (above) isn’t part of most suburban Coloradans’ family experience yet, but it could be in their future. Keeping drilling operations a minimum distance from the property line of a school ensures that students can use the entire property safely. From any reasonable point of view, this should be a no-brainer. In fact, most non-“energy literate” Coloradans are surprised to learn it’s not already the case.

But like we said, the bill is almost certain to die, moving through the House on party lines:

Foote said in a Friday interview that more than 70 people testified in support of his bill on Thursday night and about 15 — opponents who he said were primarily lobbyists and representatives of the oil and gas industry — spoke against it.

“It’s really too bad that the industry locked down on such a reasonable proposal,” Foote said. [Pols emphasis]

In the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, it’s more or less axiomatic that if the Colorado Oil and Gas Association opposes a bill, the bill dies. This has been the case for as long as Republicans have been in control of the Senate, and the seamless transition of former Senate President Bill Cadman to his new lobbyist government affairs position at Whiting Petroleum surprised absolutely no one. And yes, the Democratic governor of our state has himself proven to be highly accommodating to energy development, to the point of significantly dividing the local Democratic coalition on the issue.

The point we’re making here is that at eventually, this conflict is going to result in a groundswell backlash in Colorado politics–and potentially some realignment among local officials based on their stand either with the energy industry or residential communities. The confrontation between voters concerned about oil and gas development in their neighborhoods and the energy industry’s powerful political establishment was delayed by the passage of Amendment 71 last year, which cracked down hard on citizen initiative power. But Amendment 71 certainly didn’t allay citizen anger over this issue–and more likely will help redirect that energy into other electoral battles like local governments and the state legislature.

We believe that in the long run, the rights of residential communities on the surface must inevitably win out over the right to extract minerals from below the surface via heavy industry. The inevitability of that is as certain as the continued urbanization of the Front Range. The rights of residential communities to be safe and control land use within their boundaries, at some level, have to come first.

And in reality, the people who disagree with that are almost always paid to.

Quick Hit: El Paso County GOP Chair hits and injures Florist

We know there is a certain disregard for the arts, creativity, the finer things in life (beyond money), but can only be an unfortunate accident involving the EPC GOP Czar:

The owner of Platte Floral in Colorado Springs is in critical condition Tuesday morning after he was hit by an SUV driven by the head of the Republican party in the county.

El Paso County GOP Chairman Trevor Dierdorff was reportedly trying to back into a parking space on Tejon Street at 7:32 a.m. when he hit a man crossing behind him, Colorado Springs police said. The victim has been identified as Platte Floral owner Mel Tolbert.

Tolbert suffered life-threatening injuries and remains in critical and unstable condition, according to police.

El Paso County Republican Spokesman Daniel Cole said the two were friends and were in the area for a Prospector’s Association of Colorado Springs meeting. Their names are included on the member list.

And I hate to make everything political, even though R’s were the ones to make that our reality, but the fact that downtown COS, and Tejon Street specifically, are in a constant state of flux with regard to traffic flow, parking, timing of traffic lights, and any number of street repairs is a true reflection of the kind of planning we get from a monopolized city government that has been in Republican and Conservative hands for way too long. And that’s how you get people so frustrated with the basic infrastructure of a city that they finally ignore traffic lights, pedestrian rights, and al……………

(I’m stopping here as it’s starting to become a “get off my lawn” post.)

comment system hosed

why you guys cannot get this stuff working at the most important political blog in CO?

“The Media Are The Enemy”

(Well that’s constructive – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

marble on news media 3-17Last month, Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland broke the news that Colorado Republicans are taking concrete steps, including more frequent press briefings, to improve their relations with journalists.

In response, I offered the free advice that GOP lawmakers should consider a halt to sweeping accusations of liberal media bias.

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Ft. Collins) didn’t take my advice–or she isn’t one of the three people who read my blog posts–because she hit reporters with the salvo in a recent Facebook post, forwarded to me by a source.

Marble apparently “liked” a meme that read:

THE MEDIA ARE THE ENEMY. FIGHT THEM, OR LOSE AMERICA.–Ben Shapiro.”

“Do you believe the lies of the liberal media? LIKE if you agree we need to fight back,” reads the comment atop the meme, sponsored by the Daily Wire, founded by Shapiro, who’s a former Breitbart editor.

Marble, the state Senate majority caucus leader, isn’t alone, as 1.5 million others also liked the meme, according to the ad, if you can believe that. You’d be excused doubting it, given that a Daily Wire headline last week read, “Trump Is 100% Vindicated On Wiretapping, and 7 Other Things You Should Know.”

It’s one thing to “fight back” with reporters over facts; it’s another to suggest that they are the enemy.

In any case, I can understand if you’re wondering why I’d bother writing this post about a small deep-swimming fish like Marble, when we have Trump regularly calling professional journalism fake news.

But that’s why I’m writing about Marble. Marble is the fish in our tank, and her colleagues, who seem to want to respect journalism more, should talk to her about whether suggesting the media are the enemy helps their cause or anyone’s. She didn’t return an email from me.

Tuesday Open Thread

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

–Anton Chekhov

Senate Republicans Kill Transgender Birth Certificate Bill–Again

A press release from One Colorado, the state’s principal LGBT advocacy organization, condemns the Colorado Senate GOP majority for killing off a bill to make it easier for transgender citizens to change their birth certificates to reflect their identity–for the third straight year in a row:

Today, the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted to defeat, House Bill 1122, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act — a bill that would bring Colorado law in line with federal policy for transgender Coloradans who want to update the gender on their birth certificate — for the third year in a row. One Colorado released the following statement from Executive Director Daniel Ramos on the defeat of this bill on a party-line vote.

“Today, the Republicans on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate had the chance to, yet again, do the right thing for transgender Coloradans. The Birth Certificate Modernization Act would have greatly impacted transgender Coloradans’ lives in making the process less burdensome to update the gender on their birth certificate. For the third year in a row, legislators have chosen politics over people’s lives.

“Again, we heard from numerous transgender Coloradans, their families, and experts demonstrating that this bill would not only make their lives easier, but would also save lives. Removing this specific barrier would have significantly reduced the stress and trauma a person goes through in the process of updating their gender. As well as it would reduce long-term mental health outcomes — such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidality.

“This much-needed legislation would simply have brought Colorado law in line with existing policies at the federal level, and in doing so would have protected the privacy of transgender Coloradans and protected them from discrimination.

“This is the second pro-LGBTQ legislation that has been introduced and killed in the Senate within a week and it’s clear members of Senate Leadership do not have the freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans in mind. We want to thank Senator Dominick Moreno and Representative Daneya Esgar for sponsoring House Bill 1122, and State Senators Stephen Fenberg and Lois Court for their votes today in support of transgender Coloradans and their families.”

The perennial battle over this legislation has become a major flashpoint between conservative Republicans in Colorado versus LGBT advocates and allies. There’s no good reason to oppose making it a more straightforward process to update one’s birth certificate to match gender identity–various “concerns” about identity theft and other imagined problems have been shown to be unfounded. Which doesn’t stop opponents from recycling them year after year, a thin veneer over unvarnished ugliness:

If it seems to you like this was an embarrassing moment for Colorado Senate Republicans, that’s because it was. The arguments against allowing transgender people to update their birth certificates don’t stand up to scrutiny–leaving opponents with little to work with other than deeply offensive tropes about transgender people, a fact that becomes painfully obvious during the course of these hearings. In the end, the only reason to oppose this legislation is if you just don’t like transgender people–and don’t want to make their lives any easier.

There’s a word that describes this kind of person. And after three years, it’s time to use it.

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 27)

Happy World Theatre Day! It’s time to 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…

► After the humiliating failure of the GOP’s “TrumpCare” legislation Friday, President Donald Trump’s approval rating is headed for a new record low:

Only 36 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president in interviews conducted last Friday through Sunday, a time period entirely after Republicans abandoned their bill to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Trump’s approval rating is down from 41 percent in the prior three-day period. His previous low-water mark in the Gallup poll came earlier this month, when interviews conducted March 16-18 showed his approval rating at just 37 percent.

In the new survey, the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Trump’s performance is 57 percent, up from 54 percent in the previous three-day rolling sample. That’s one point shy of Trump’s highest disapproval rating: 58 percent in the March 16-18 sample.

► Meanwhile, President Trump is reaching out across the aisle to get something–anything–accomplished that he can call a win:

President Trump is serious about working with Democrats to move his agenda forward and has already fielded phone calls from liberal lawmakers about healthcare reform, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

“Starting Friday afternoon through late yesterday, [Trump] has received a number of calls, as well as other members of the senior staff that have been working on healthcare, from members of both sides saying that they would like to work together, offer up ideas and have suggestions about how to come to resolution on this and get to a House vote on this,” Spicer said…

“The president is eager to get to 218 [votes in the House] on a lot of his initiatives, whether its tax reform or infrastructure,” Spicer said. “There’s a lot of things and I think he’s going to be willing to listen to other voices on the other side to figure out if people want to work with him to get these big things done to make Washington work to enhance the lives of American people then he’s going to work with them.”

► Anything to take the focus off the deepening Russiagate scandal, we suppose.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

What you can do to fight back this week (March 27)

Sunday morning, the faithful gathering at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins were greeted by a terrible sight. During the night, a vandal had attacked the building, smashing the center’s glass entry doors with rocks and desecrating their prayer hall.

Since Donald Trump’s victory last November, acts of hate like the attack on the Islamic Center of Fort Collins have been on the rise. Sadly, our neighbors and friends of other faiths, nationalities, sexual and gender identities, and other marginalized communities have been increasingly targeted.

But last night in Fort Collins, the community stood up to hate.

Once word spread via social media and word of mouth about what happened at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, the good people of this great city took action: coming together to support their Muslim brothers and sisters, and rejecting the hatred that led to this act of vandalism. A huge crowd turned out to join hands around the building and show their support—fundamentally changing the story of what happened here.

We can’t stop everything bad that is happening in our nation today, but we can show the world that Colorado is not taking the damage Trump and the far right are doing lying down. When a Muslim child is frightened by an act of violence against their faith, we comfort them. When our families and neighbors are threatened by a political agenda meant to hurt them, Colorado unites to protect our own. And it is making all the difference.

Don’t stop now. Here are ways you can fight back for the week of March 27th:


FEATURED EVENT: The People’s Filibuster Rally-We Object to Gorsuch and We’ll Spell It Out!

Do Senators Bennet and Gardner hear us? We object to Judge Gorsuch! Do they need us to spell it out for them? YES! Join us for a rally and we will do just that: Colorado constituents will attempt line up in Civic Center Park to spell out “WE OBJECT” in giant letters – Gorsuch comes from Colorado – therefore Colorado residents MUST represent and send a strong message for our esteemed senators! A drone will fly over and take a video of the event. Therefore a LARGE crowd is needed to make this happen – please share this event with your friends, and be there rain or shine.

Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, 101 14th Avenue, Denver
When: Saturday, April 1 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Tell Sen. Gardner’s staff: Please Protect Education!

Join us in meeting with the staff of Senator Gardner’s Colorado Springs office to discuss how important it is to save education in Colorado!

Where: 102 S Tejon St, Colorado Springs
When: Tuesday, March 28 at 11:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Resist Trump Tuesdays – Fight Gorsuch

This Tuesday we meet outside Senator Cory Gardner’s office to protest Gorsuch’s appointment, and talk about the various other aspects of Resisting Trump and his agenda, today. #ResistTrumpTuesday! Please join us and invite your friends!

Where: Skyline Park, 1125 17th St., Denver, Colorado
When: Tuesday, March 28 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Water is Life

Join Regis School of Sustainable Economic and Enterprise Development and the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado for a moving and inspirational night to explore the challenges, and inspirations occurring on the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This informative event features a panel of Indigenous people who have spent their time on the front lines at the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to protect the Missouri River and their homeland burial grounds. Panelists will share their stories from the front lines, their hopes and strategies for environmental justice for American Indian Communities. Join us in Solidarity for dialog and a meal catered by Tocabe Eatery.

Where: The Alliance Center, 1536 Wynkoop St, Denver
When: Tuesday, March 28 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Feminism is alive in Denver!

Hello everyone! We are an awesome group of feminists from all different backgrounds who get together every month and discuss various feminist issues in a supportive and respectful environment. We spend some meetups discussing the current book, and we are interested in community outreach and activism so please come and share your ideas and what’s going on in the world of feminism. We want Denver to know that we feminists are alive and well! If you are a feminist and are looking for an outlet to express and share your views, please join us at our meetups.

Where: Tattered Cover Book Store on Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
When: Tuesday, March 28 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


What Caused the Populist Earthquake of 2016 and How Will It Play Out?

An Address by Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith formerly with the New York Times, “What Caused the Populist Earthquake of 2016 and How Will It Play Out?” Auraria Campus, 1201 Larimer Street, Student Commons Building SC2600. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Where: Auraria Campus, 1201 Larimer Street, Denver, Student Commons Building SC2600
When: Wednesday, March 28 at 7:00pm


Learn about The Giving Project!

Are you passionate about social change and interested in building your skills in fundraising, grantmaking, and community building? Join us for an information session about our innovative program, The Giving Project! Meet our staff, hear from an alumni participant, and learn how you can support definite, statewide impact for social justice. Chinook Fund is seeking 25 diverse members for our 2017 Fall Giving Project. Over the course of six months, members will engage in racial justice and class analysis workshops together, fundraise, and grant money to grassroots, social justice organizations across the state. You will learn about social justice philanthropy while taking meaningful action. No prior experience is necessary—just a passion for change!

Where: Chinook Fund, 1031 33rd St, Denver
When: Wednesday, March 29 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Well-Being in Finance

It is important for each of us to know how our own spending, investing, and money habits can create change the economic system into a regenerative economy with every dollar. For example if you bank at a big banks,there is little transparency about where your money is invested, and likely it is invested in companies and industries which you would be fundamentally opposed to if you knew the trust costs of your investments. Your money could be financing rainforest destruction or fossil fuel development like the North Dakota pipeline. This talk will explore how your personal finance can become more ethical and values-based and how you can connect your financial activities to your values and help to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and just world.

Where: The Alliance Center, 1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver
When: Thursday, March 30 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Documenter and Resource Training

The Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition has three strategic initiatives over the next two years. One of them is to accompany immigrants through documenting cases of law enforcement and immigration collusion. As we document and accompany it allows us to be in relationship and resistance early on and collect valuable data for policy change.

Where: First United Methodist in Boulder. 1421 Spruce Street, Boulder
When: Saturday, April 1 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Last Friday, after weeks of protests, Republicans in Washington, D.C. killed their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This isn’t the last attempt we’ll see by the far right to undermine health care reform, but there is no question that the outcry of the American public played a key role in Trump’s decision to give up this fight. There can be no question now that the resistance to Trump is working: protecting our nation from harm when all other checks and balances have failed.

Never doubt that in the end, we will prevail. And thank you again for everything you are doing every day to fight back.

Mike Coffman’s Greatest Unforced Error Yet?

As the dust settles from the crushing failure last Friday of the GOP’s attempt to “repeal and replace” the 2010 Affordable Care Act, one thing is becoming obvious in terms of the impact on Colorado Republicans–Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, famous for skating around the margins of controversial issues to preserve himself in difficult political times, has left himself exposed in the wake of “Trumpcare’s” destruction in a most uncharacteristic way.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

Colorado Republican Mike Coffman said early Friday that he supported the AHCA, the GOP’s plan in the U.S. House to repeal and replace Obamacare. By the afternoon, GOP leadership had pulled the bill — because of a lack of votes.

Coffman’s initial support came on a day when GOP leaders had scheduled their health care overhaul for a vote in the House — and as its supporters fought to wrangle the necessary votes.

But by 2 p.m., Republican leadership and President Donald Trump agreed to pull the bill. It was a stunning first defeat for the new president and his legislative agenda.

As the battle of the bill raged throughout the day in Washington, many eyes were on Coffman, Colorado’s fifth-term Republican congressman from Aurora, who called the GOP’s Trump-Ryancare plan “the best compromise” House Republicans could get before sending it to the Senate…

Coffman’s early decision on the quickly hatched replacement plan had him caught between a Republican president he ran against, a wealthy outside group he counted on during his campaign, and his own constituents. He represents a suburban district that wraps around the Denver suburbs and is a nearly even mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. In November, he beat his well-funded and well-known opponent, Morgan Carroll, who now chairs the state Democratic Party, by about 10 points, though Hillary Clinton carried the district.

Rep. Coffman’s path to being a “yes” on the ill-fated Trumpcare bill was not a steady one. We were surprised when Coffman declared very early during debate over the bill that he would vote for the legislation “in its current form”–just before the Congressional Budget Office delivered its estimate that some 24 million fewer people would be covered under the GOP’s bill than under the Affordable Care Act. A few days after that estimate, Coffman unceremoniously backpedaled his support just before a tele-townhall meeting with constituents. And then, as we all know, Coffman reaffirmed his support for the legislation just before it was killed on Friday afternoon.

It’s important to note that Coffman’s return to support for the bill flies in the face of the feedback he received during his so-called “listening tour,” in which he claimed to be evaluating the bill even as ads ran thanking Coffman for supporting it:

In late February, Children’s Hospital Colorado thanked Coffman for visiting and talking about Medicaid…

“We at Children’s Hospital Colorado were gravely concerned about the House bill three weeks ago, and it has gotten worse,” [Pols emphasis] she told The Colorado Independent in a statement. “By imposing drastic budget cuts to Medicaid, it would undermine coverage and care for Colorado kids, including our state’s sickest children. A yes vote by Congressman Mike Coffman would be disappointing and would cause an estimated 47,000 people in his district to lose coverage.”

And now, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Coffman is backpedaling again:

Only one of Colorado’s four House Republicans was on-the-record supporting the bill and even that lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, said he needed a Thursday trip to the White House to cement his support.

“I was not a hard yes,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Folks, we don’t know what you’re supposed to call Coffman’s words and deeds on health care since the beginning of the year–but it’s not leadership. It can be fairly characterized as the opposite of leadership, vacillating practically by the day between support and opposition while his constituents worry–and try to figure out which of their representative’s contradictory statements to believe.

Yes, Mike Coffman is an amazing political survivor. Yes, Coffman has weathered gaffes and unforced errors that would have ended other political careers.

But no one is invincible. And this one is pretty bad.

Stan Garnett Opts Not To Run For AG

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

A bit of a surprise from the Longmont Times-Call’s John Fryar:

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has decided not to make a second run for Colorado attorney general in next year’s statewide election, he announced this morning.

Garnett, a Boulder Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for AG in 2010, is in the first year of his third four-year term as the district attorney in Colorado’s 20th Judicial District. He the state AG’s job would “fit well with my background.”

However, Garnett said, after consulting with his staff, he decided the time it would take to conduct a statewide campaign for the AG’s post over the coming year and a half could prove to be “a huge distraction” from his oversight of the programs he’s launched or is expanding in the Boulder DA’s office.

Stan Garnett’s decision to not run for attorney general and focus on his work as the Boulder County DA is good news for Rep. Joe Salazar, who announced his run for AG already and was facing a tough primary:

[Garnett] said he filed his candidacy affidavit…to avoid any potential legal challenges under campaign finance laws about whether his public statements on any criminal justice issues might be interpreted as an AG’s candidate’s positions.

Garnett said he had called Salazar on Saturday to tell him of his decision not to run for attorney general.

“I had a nice conversation with Joe,” Garnett said.

It’s certainly possible that another Democrat could emerge to make a run at this office, but in the short run this gives Salazar some much-needed head room to consolidate support.

As for Garnett, he’ll have more opportunities to advance.

Monday Open Thread

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

Fort Collins Islamic Center Vandalized

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reporting, Trump-era hooliganism strikes again:

Police are looking for a vandal who targeted the Fort Collins Islamic Center early Sunday…

Sunday afternoon, Rabbi Hillel Katzir of Temple Or Hadash, said in a news release the center was “seriously vandalized.”

Rabbi Hillel said someone threw a Bible through the glass doors. The doors were broken with large stones or bricks, Hillel added.

“I went there this morning to view the damage, and was appalled by what I saw,” he said.

Rep. Jared Polis tweeted about the crime, calling it “unacceptable.”

It’s our understanding that throwing a Bible at anything, even an Islamic center, is no way for Christians to treat their holy book. The Fort Collins Coloradoan adds:

[President of the Islamic Center Tawfik] AboEllail said he reviewed the center’s security footage and identified a man whom he estimated to be in his mid-20s. The man tried to break into the center using a screwdriver and then increasingly large rocks, AboEllail said. The man threw several rocks through the glass with such force that they left scuff marks on the wood paneling on the other side of the prayer room…

AboEllail said he was disappointed with what he described as a “lukewarm” response by Fort Collins Police Services to the incident. The call for the vandalism came in about 5:40 a.m., but AboEllail said FCPS responded after 7 a.m.

A short while ago this evening, though, the good people of Fort Collins did what they could to make it right.

This, we hope, will be the story–as much as the broken glass. This is what Coloradans do when our neighbors are attacked.

And you can take some pride in it.

Changing the Subject

What we need to talk about is Medicare for all. Get the for-profit insurance companies out of the middle. We are the only western nation that doesn’t have some version of single-payer–and the other nations pay less than we do for health care. Their life expectancy is increasing, while ours is decreasing.

When people have insurance that they can’t access because the deductibles are too high, it IS the same as having no access to health care. I’ve heard lots of Republicans making that point, and then saying that competition across state lines is the answer.

I say be careful what you wish for. Look at what happened to banking–an industry that I’m very familiar with. They wanted across state lines competition. What we got was fewer banks, as the large ones built their national empire by gobbling up smaller banks. Trust me, across state line competition for insurance companies will have the same result–less competition, not more, and fewer companies offering health insurance.

We the people, are between a rock and a hard place because the two parties are busy playing politics instead of looking at real solutions to help ordinary Americans.