Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 21)

Sad trombone for Case Keenum. 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.


► It sure looks like the Mueller probe is nearing a conclusion of some sort. As the Washington Post reports:

Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The special counsel’s investigation has consumed Washington since it began in May 2017, and it increasingly appears to be nearing its end, which would send fresh shock waves through the political system. Mueller could deliver his report to Attorney General William P. Barr next week, according to a person familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations.


► If it looks like political retribution, and it smells like political retribution, and…oh, hell, this here is obviously a “spade.” From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Trump administration said Tuesday that it’s canceling $929 million of federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project and demanding the return of $2.6 billion that’s already been spent.

Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly denounced the move as political retribution for the state’s resistance to a southern border wall and said California will fight for the money…

…In a statement Tuesday, Newsom said, “It’s no coincidence that the administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the president’s farcical ‘national emergency.’ The president even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning.”

The reference was to a tweet in which Trump asserted that with cost overruns that “are becoming world record setting,” California’s project “is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

► House Democrats plan to push forward a resolution on Friday in opposition to President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for building big ‘ol walls. Should such a resolution pass in the House, and it likely will, it will force Republican Senators to go on the record with a vote of support or opposition to Trump’s power grab. Sucks to be you, Sen. Cory Gardner!


Get even more smarter after the jump…



► Freshman Rep. Jason Crow (R-Aurora) is voicing significant concerns about an ICE detention facility in Aurora. From Colorado Public Radio:

“The expansion of the Facility comes on the heels of two varicella (chicken pox) outbreaks within months of one another, subjecting dozens of inmates to lengthy quarantines,” Crow wrote in a letter to DHS dated Feb. 20, 2019. “Of note, it is my understanding that the Facility only has one physician for the entire population, even after the recent increase in detainees.”

The company behind the detention facility, GEO Group, recently opened an annex that increased overall capacity nearly 40 percent. The congressman went to tour the detention center Wednesday, but was not allowed inside because his visit had not been arranged in advance. He plans to schedule another time to visit the facility soon.


Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is in Iowa this week to test the waters in advance of a potential Presidential run. ABC News throws Bennet a nice couple of paragraphs:

Asked shortly after Trump’s presidential victory about the party’s potential future leaders in an interview with The New Yorker, former President Barack Obama offered up a relatively unknown name: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

It wasn’t the first time Obama had high praise for the former Denver Public Schools superintendent and one-time chief of staff for former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. After Bennet was appointed to take over the Senate seat of Ken Salazar in 2009, Obama called him an “excellent choice” who “perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve” and “an innovator in the public and private sectors.”

Now, Bennet is taking the first step toward a potential presidential bid with a trip to Iowa starting Thursday. Name recognition could be a problem compared to some of his Senate colleagues-turned 2020 candidates, but he did earn some notoriety when he blasted Sen. Ted Cruz’s “crocodile tears” over the government shutdown.

No matter what Bennet decides about a run, he should be mindful of one important point: his was one of three names Obama highlighted in The New Yorker story. Also mentioned were 2020 presidential candidates South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Bennet may run into former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during his travels in Iowa. As Fox 31 Denver reports, Hick is also making the rounds in corn country this weekend.


Don’t call her Sweetie.


► As the Denver Business Journal reports, a measure intended to ensure equal pay for women is advancing in the state legislature:

Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, received universal praise for its aim during a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee but also a litany of criticism from business and some legal groups for the proposed details of its implementation. The measure, seeking to end a wage gap that sees Colorado women paid just 86 cents for each dollar earned by men on average, advanced to the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 3-2, Democratic-led party-line vote.

SB 85 seeks to end that pay gap eventually with several actions aimed to make pay rates for men and women at each company more transparent and equal. Those include a prohibition against employers asking job applicants about prior salary history that could exacerbate existing pay discrepancies for women, a requirement that all jobs be posted in order to expand the potential applicant pool and a requirement that male and female pay for comparable jobs must be equal with only a few exemptions.


► Former State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County) continues to bellyache about what he sees as poor campaign work from Colorado Republicans in 2018. Tim Neville might want to send some of those questions over to his son, Joe Neville.


► Legislation over so-called “safe injection sites” in Colorado is off the table for 2019.


► As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. is facing a serious labor shortage:

…for the agriculture industry, the impact is acute. Each year, its labor force dwindles.

To fill those positions, employers have turned to temporary visa programs that recruit workers in Mexico and Central America. Since 2016, the number of U.S. agricultural visas has grown from 165,000 to 242,000, a record high, according to the Labor Department. Amid an intractable debate over immigration and border security, America’s labor force is quietly being transformed, as many employers see no choice but to shift from illegal to legal labor.

Visa recruiters are now driving into remote villages in Mexico, broadcasting their hiring sprees on portable radios, loudspeakers and Facebook ads. In rural America, farmers are converting hotels into dormitories for visiting Mexican apple-pickers.

Despite his claim that immigrants take jobs away from Americans, President Trump has touted the guest worker program, acknowledging the difficulty in finding American manual laborers and pledging to make it easier for farmers to hire workers legally.


► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) and Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold are pushing for solutions to end the stranglehold of “dark money” in Colorado politics.


► Colorado transportation officials are looking at constructing a “diverging diamond interchange” to ease traffic problems at the Wheat Ridge/Arvada intersection of I-70 and Kipling. From the Denver Post:

The idea behind a DDI — the country’s first was built in Missouri just a decade ago — is to send traffic over or under a major highway using a crossover pattern, where motorists are routed to the left side of the road while crossing the interchange and then routed back to the right side of the roadway.

The crossover design eliminates obstructed left turns that can back up traffic for multiple light cycles and contribute to nasty T-bone collisions. The Federal Highway Administration concluded that DDIs by design reduce “vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points” by half and that overall crashes go down 46 percent in the first year a DDI is in operation compared to that same interchange five years earlier.


► The Colorado Springs Independent takes a deep dive into the idea of a “Space Force” branch of the U.S. military.


► Legislation to help move closer to a “national popular vote” in Presidential elections is almost on its way through the Colorado legislature.



Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 


We’ve said it again and again: George Brauchler should really stop Tweeting.


You might want to pass on that offer of a White House internship




► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is one of a handful of top Republicans who apparently speak regularly on the phone with President Trump.




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5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    Trump apparently is as bad at math as … well, as anything.  "California’s project “is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

    The latest projections suggest high speed rail will cost at least $77 billion to complete.

    The Cato Institute, certainly not a "liberal" organization, says "Building a steel fence along the remaining 1,637 miles of Mexican border not covered by pedestrian fencing would cost approximately $59.8 billion, excluding any maintenance costs."  And then, they add caveats saying that total assumes only a 50% overrun (as opposed to the more typical 330% on a variety of other projects Cato studied) and that the estimate is for steel bollards, not a full wall.

    So, $10 billion more than "the wall" — if currently inflated cost estimates for the rail project are the same as the currently inflated cost estimates for the wall.  Not "hundreds of times more expensive" at all.

  2. DENependent says:

    I've not seen the Doug Bruce drama over the condemnation of his deralict property in Denver mentioned here yet.

    From Westword:
    Last week, Douglas Bruce, father of the controversial Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, otherwise known as the TABOR amendment, blasted the City of Denver for seizing and selling two pieces of allegedly blighted property on which he held the first deed of trust.

    After the publication of our post on this subject, Bruce formally filed an objection to the transactions in Denver District Court. The sale wasn't just bad, according to him. It was a "shocking, fraudulent proceeding," a "legal perversion," a "waste of time" and "ongoing crime," and the people involved are "milking it for their personal gain."

    We will have to wait to see how the legal process goes, but the article make it clear that Bruce is representing himself for now because no lawyer wants to touch this yet. Either because they know what a cheapskate Bruce is or because they think the legal theories Bruce wants to use are crazy.

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