Gaylord, Gaylord, GAYLOOORD. Ga…D’OH

The Gaylord hotel/convention/entertainment extravaganza situation is one hot, complicated mess. It is a proposed massive $800 million project in Aurora dependent on equally massive government subsidies and will ultimately be decided by a 9 member panel in the State Office of Economic Development. Anyway, if you want to learn about this project and all of its details, GOOD LUCK.

However, the Simpsons offer an easier, simpler and more fun explanation. Substitute “Monorail” with “Gaylord”, “Springfield” with “Aurora.”

“The main street’s still all cracked and broken” “Sorry mom, the mob has spoken!”

And how does it end?

At the maiden voyage of the monorail, all of Springfield has come out, including Leonard Nimoy. Lanley (the promoter) grabs his money and jumps in a taxi, which takes him to the airport. The monorail leaves just before Marge and Cobb arrive. At first things run smoothly, but the controls malfunction, causing the monorail to accelerate dangerously.

Springfield gets ripped off and the main street is still all cracked and broken.

But seriously, this project is a doozy. Even the Independence Institute agrees that this will eat holes in the budgets of vital services.

Lots of questions remain to be answered. Perhaps, the largest is will the State of Colorado be subsidizing a huge business in Aurora that directly competes with existing businesses in surrounding cities like Denver?

Gaylord CEO says no…. kind of.

“We do not cannibalize,” said Colin Reed, chairman/CEO of the Nashville, Tenn.-based hotel company. “We do not compete with convention centers. Do convention centers try to steal our customers occasionally? Yes. And do we talk to the same customers sometimes? Yes, we do. … [But] the downtown convention center in Denver need not worry about what we’re doing in Aurora.”     Emphasis softie.

I guess we all get to wait until the 9 member economic development commission makes its decision early next year.[poll id=”1369″]

Sen. Heath launches initiative to support schools

Yesterday, Senator Rollie Heath announced that he was going forward with Initiative #25. Heath said it was going to be a 5-year timeout to education cuts.

Denver’s finest Eli Stokols reports:

“For too long we have been near the bottom in funding our schools, and the budget cuts we’ve made the last two years have made a bad situation worse,” Heath said. “We can’t tolerate that anymore.

“Doing nothing is just not an option.”

It raises about $530 million annually for education for 5 years by raising the state sales and income tax back up to 1999 levels before the legislature cut them. That is, sales tax goes from 2.9% to 3.0% and state income tax goes from 4.63% to 5.0%. That will equate an average of about $550 per student for all K-12 and higher ed students.

Heath’s initiative has been flying under the radar now; people seemed to have forgotten about it. He says he has the support of several groups, like Great Ed, ARC of Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and local teachers’ unions, among others.

He certainly has a long road to collect the 86,000 necessary signatures, especially if it actually is a grassroots campaign like he claims. I was at an event last week and somebody asked me to sign the petition, so he has at least started some organization.

Poll follows:


Also, apparently, Treasurer Walker Stalpeton thoughts were important, as he was quoted as well. He did have this gem of a quote:

Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton said the fact that Heath is going to the ballot proves he has no support at the Legislature, which concluded the 2011 session last week.

“I think he chose to have it on the Monday after the legislative session ended because he knows there’s no support for this initiative in the state,” Stapleton said.

What? First off, TABOR demands that any sort of tax increase must go to the ballot, and cannot be passed just by the legislature. Secondly, does that mean that anything that can’t get through the legislature has “no support in the state?” This logic must mean that the Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) have terribly unpopular platforms! There is no support for civil unions, pay day lenders, pro-immigration reform, anti-immigration reform, etc etc you get the point.

Obviously, any sort of legislation to increase state revenue wasn’t going anywhere in the Republican controlled House. If Heath really wanted to raise money to support education, which he seemingly does, he had to go the initiative route.  [poll id=”1344″]

Rosen, damn son

Rosen’s column in the DPost today was terrible. Don’t read it, it was terrible. He lays his tired case out about why unions are destroying America and freedom as you would expect, but ends with a particularly frustrating paragraph. I was reading along with my nose plugged just fine until I got to the final paragraph, where he said that no jobs would be lost and everything would be fine and dandy if the damn unions would just be willing renegotiate and take a pay cut.

ROSEN, don’t you watch the news? The unions are willing to accept the cuts! What they are upset about is that Walker is trying to destroy their unions through the budget bill. They are willing to negotiate, but they do not want to lose the right to negotiate. You must admit that Walker is not trying to close the budget gap, but is trying to destroy a political enemy.

This is a short diary with no other purpose than for me to complain about Rosen, but I think I accomplished that.

Gessler not willing to make cuts in SOS office

(We don’t need no stinkin’ budget cuts – promoted by redstateblues)

Scott Gessler is making headlines again, and again, they’re not the good kind.  Gessler has concluded that his office will not do its part to balance the budget. As an (assumed) fiscal conservative, he wants the cuts to take place elsewhere, in less important programs, like school breakfasts and K12.

HuffPost reports, but was first reported by Tim Hoover.  

At issue: his predecessor Bernie Buscher found efficiencies, and was able to save $3.5 million.  This money would go to help the state balance its budget. Gessler now wants to keep the $3.5 million, and not allow the money for general use. This is money that would go towards mitigating the deep cuts the legislature must make this year.

And what does he want to use the $3.5 million for? Apparently he wants to help businesses avoid identity theft.  Perhaps an important service (editor’s note: Colorado is third in the nation in identity theft – rsb) but is it really the best investment when we will have to continue to make deep cuts from K12 and Medicaid?

And politically, what is he thinking? Why is it a good time to bring this idea up?  I believe that the JBC has authority over the amount of SOS funds in the first place, and I can’t imagine that they are going to want to increase funds to the SOS from what the original request was. That means that Gessler is creating these bad headlines and probably nothing will come out of it.

Does he enjoy negative press?

SOS not full time, $68,500 not enough – Gessler to keep lawyering

(Did we predict Gessler would be a four-year field day for Democrats? Three years, eleven months, and one week to go! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #2: From the Colorado Independent:

Making sure that any work [Gessler] does for Hackstaff doesn’t conflict with the work he has sworn to do for the people of Colorado, however, may amount to another full-time job.

The secretary of state oversees and administers laws, codes, regulations that cover a vast array of vital and contested areas of activity, including lobbying, elections, campaign finance, voter registration, ballot initiative title setting and petition verification, some gambling as well as business, nonprofit and charitable practice and licensing. The list is long…

Attorney General John Suthers, who is tasked to work with Gessler to help him avoid Hackstaff-related conflicts of interest, said attorney-client privileges prevent him from speaking on the topic.

This legally proscribed silence is a big problem and points to the bigger problem going forward, according to Luis Toro, director of government watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch and a man who has argued cases against Gessler in the past. The public is being forced to simply accept that the secretary of state will be acting in good faith without any way to really ask questions or get answers to confirm that’s the case, he said. [Pols emphasis]


POLS UPDATE: In a press release from Strong Colorado (after the jump), basically every liberal group in the state takes a swing at Scott Gessler’s decision to moonlight at his old law firm while serving as Secretary of State. Says Steve Fenberg of New Era Colorado, “As a public servant, Gessler has to have the public trust. And he’s telling us – ‘trust me, but I can’t tell you what I’m doing.’ Given his background in partisan politics that’s a difficult thing to ask.”

That’s the nice way to say it–original post follows.


Scott Gessler, our brand-spanking new Secretary of State, now charged with overseeing elections and campaigns, plans to continue working as an attorney for Hackstaff Law Group, which represents clients needing help with election and campaigns.  

Perhaps it would have been nice to tell his employers – the voters – before they hired him that this was his plan. He could have told them that $68,500 wasn’t enough. He could have said that he didn’t believe being the Secretary of State would consume all of his time and energy. He even could have told us, voters of Colorado, that the apparent huge conflict of interest was actually no problem at all.

Whatever the case, it is truly mindboggling how audacious he is to think that this won’t be a problem, in both perception and reality.

Maybe he just didn’t know how much the position paid before he applied for it.  

DBJ broke first, but here is the report from HuffingtonPost Denver

Gessler told the Business Journal that he needs extra money to supplement the $68,500 he will make annually as Secretary of State. A former partner with Hackstaff and Gessler LLC, now the Hackstaff Law Group, Gessler said he’s taking more than a 50% pay cut in his new job.

January 21, 2011


Contact: Ellen Dumm, 303 810-4370,

Gessler “Moonlighting” Raises Trust Issues with Public

Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s announcement that he will keep a part-time private attorney job to supplement his state salary raises some red flags because he cannot reveal much of the information about his private job.

Gessler, who represented independent, political attack groups as a private attorney, says he will work 20 hours a month with his former law firm, Hackstaff Law Group. Hackstaff continues to represent numerous political organizations that do business with the Secretary of State’s office. The law firm will not disclose Gessler’s part-time salary and cannot reveal the legal clients.

During last year’s campaign, the Colorado Statesman noted that Gessler’s name was attached to “virtually every third-party right-wing attack group.”

“The Secretary of State’s office oversees campaign finance, elections, voters’ rights and some business and nonprofit activity.  As a public servant, Gessler has to have the public trust. And he’s telling us – ‘trust me, but I can’t tell you what I’m doing.’ Given his background in partisan politics that’s a difficult thing to ask,” said Steve Fenberg of New Era Colorado, a civic engagement group for young voters.

“He’s running Colorado’s elections and has to be above reproach. Trust is a big piece of his relationship with the public. This is not a good start for him,” said Ben Hanna of the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

Gessler says he is taking a pay cut of more than 50% to take the Secretary of State’s job, although he was aware of the salary when he ran for the office.

“There are a lot of people who are struggling right now who would love to have a $68,500 salary. That may not seem like much to Mr. Gessler, but that tells me he doesn’t have a good sense of what the world is like for a lot of people. I’d love to have one job right now, much less two,” said Diane Stallard, an unemployed human resources professional who has been looking for a job for two years.