Happy Tax Day! Watch out for those technical difficulties when filing your taxes. 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…
► Colorado teachers took their call for better pay and benefits to the State Capitol on Monday. As Blair Miller and Marc Stewart report for Denver7:
Dozens of Colorado public school teachers descended Monday on the state Capitol to demand better pay and pensions as lawmakers inside debated their future retirement benefit program.
Englewood Schools were closed for the day as most of the school’s teachers joined the rally. The educators are the latest across the U.S. who have joined public walkouts to call for higher wages for public school teachers…
…The CEA estimates that Colorado teachers spend $656 of their own money for school supplies for students each year, and the average teacher salary here ranks 46th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Education Association. [Pols emphasis]
For a great explanation of how and why Colorado teachers are so underpaid, check out this story from Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski:
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week; Quality Counts, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show Colorado ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student, roughly $2,500 less than the national average.
Which means despite being the nation’s 12th richest state, our public schools land at the bottom of the list for both per pupil spending and teacher pay.
► Something smells in Yuma, Colorado, where Sheriff Chad Day appears to have accepted and $62,000 truck and other “donations” to the Sheriff’s department so that billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer can be a “volunteer sheriff’s deputy” in Yuma County — with the primary purpose of skirting gun laws so that Mercer can carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country.
► President Trump overruled advisers and decided to scrap proposed sanctions on Russia. As the New York Times reports:
President Trump rejected, for now at least, a fresh round of sanctions set to be imposed against Russia on Monday, a course change that underscored the schism between the president and his national security team.
The president’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, had announced on Sunday that the administration would place sanctions on Russian companies found to be assisting Syria’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions were listed on a menu of further government options after an American-led airstrike on Syria, retaliating against a suspected gas attack that killed dozens a week earlier.
But the White House contradicted her on Monday, saying that Mr. Trump had not approved additional measures.
“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.
Perhaps Trump received a weekend phone call from his Uncle Putin.
► President Trump has yet to announce a replacement for Communications Director Hope Hicks, who announced in February that she would be leaving the White House. As the Washington Post reports, that may be because Trump has decided to just do the job himself:
He drafts talking points. He organizes surrogates. He oversees rapid response. He maintains relationships with key media figures over dinners, rounds of golf and long phone calls. And, of course, he manages his own social media presence.
Since the 2016 election, five people have now done six stints as Trump’s communications director. One reason it’s an impossible job is that the former reality television star who occupies the Oval Office will always consider himself his own best spokesman.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Republican Congressman Charlie Dent announced today that he will resign from his Pennsylvania seat within weeks. Dent had already said that he would not run for re-election in 2018, but his surprise resignation announcement could set up another special election that could cost Republicans millions of dollars to defend.
► You’ve read the headlines from a busy weekend in Colorado politics; here’s what you might have missed.
► New York Rep. Joe Crowley is angling to take over the Democratic caucus and potentially become House Speaker should the Dems re-take the House in November.
► The Washington Post has more details on the ever-growing list of ridiculous expenditures demanded by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt upgraded his official car last year to a costlier, larger vehicle with bullet-resistant covers over bucket seats, according to federal records and interviews with current and former agency officials.
Recent EPA administrators have traveled in a Chevrolet Tahoe, and agency officials had arranged for Pruitt to use the same vehicle when he joined the administration in February. But he switched to a larger, newer and more high-end Chevy Suburban last June.
One former EPA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said that Pruitt remarked that he wanted the larger car because it was similar to ones in which some other Cabinet officials rode.
On Monday, an independent watchdog group said that Pruitt had violated the law by demanding installation of a $43,000 soundproof room in his office.
Something isn’t adding up in the case of Michael Cohen and Sean Hannity.
For now Hannity’s employer, Fox News, isn’t commenting on the issue, but even some fellow Fox hosts are raising questions.
There were audible gasps in court on Monday when it was revealed that Hannity was the mystery third client that Cohen was trying to keep secret. Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti, who was in the room, said it was like “a bomb went off.”
Hannity scrambled to respond — first on his radio show, then with tweets, then on his TV show. On Monday evening, Hannity downplayed the legal relationship, saying, “Cohen never represented me in any legal matter.”
Whatever happens with Hannity, it appears that the Fox News host has royally screwed Cohen with his denials.
► Arizona Senator John McCain is still in the hospital recovering from surgery to treat an intestinal infection.
► North and South Korea are reportedly close to announcing an official truce ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
► The Colorado legislature is working on a bill to “streamline” the process for how sexual assault cases are handled at state universities and colleges.
► As Westword reports, Colorado is again be leading the fight for gender equity.
► Denverite reports on efforts in Denver to increase marijuana taxes in order to help fund affordable housing initiatives.
► As NBC News reports, the IRS is struggling to keep up with demand this Tax Day:
But the IRS is actually getting a bum rap: Its biggest problem is that it has nowhere near enough money to do the job asked of it. And that lack of funds is a direct result of conservative politicians having a vested political interest in making sure that paying your taxes is as miserable an experience as possible.
Despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Congress passed a giant overhaul of the tax code this year, it decided to give roughly the same amount of money to the IRS as it did the year before to implement all those changes. Its previous budget was already an inadequate baseline from which to be working, since the agency faced big reductions under the Obama administration. Since 2010, the IRS budget fell by 23 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the agency lost about 14 percent of its workforce.
► Republicans are now worried that Democrats could win an April 24th special election for a Congressional seat in Arizona that Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Former FBI Director James Comey has written a book! Okay, so that’s probably not news to you. But this might be, from CNN’s Chris Cillizza:
Donald Trump doesn’t laugh.
That’s according to former FBI Director James Comey, who told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he developed a bit of an obsession with Trump’s lack of mirth after the President fired him last May.
► Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that he is a “geologist.” He is not.
► Check out the latest episode of the Get More Smarter Show, featuring an interview with former Attorney General candidate and new Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.