It’s colder than a penguin’s bellybutton* outside. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.
*This statement should not be considered an endorsement or a criticism of penguin bellybuttons, if indeed penguins have bellybuttons.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President-elect Donald Trump continues to arrange his cabinet in advance of taking office next month. Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to serve as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Trump also wants Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for U.S. Ambassador to China. As the Washington Post explains, Branstad has a homie in China:
Branstad has extensive ties to China and a personal friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that dates back decades. If his nomination goes through, the move could help reassure China’s leadership that Trump understands the importance of healthy relations with Beijing…
…China’s Foreign Ministry did not confirm the report, but reacted warmly.
“First of all, I would like to say that Mr. Branstad is an old friend of the Chinese people and we welcome him to play a greater role in promoting Sino-U.S. relations,” spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news conference.
► President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter Account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the free world, totally f’ed up Boeing’s stock on Tuesday with a fact-free tirade about the price of the new Air Force One upgrades.
► President Obama and millions of Americans are recognizing today the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. From CNN:
The President noted that he would be making a historic visit to the USS Arizona Memorial later this month with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“As a testament that even the most bitter of adversaries can become the closest of allies, I look forward to visiting the USS Arizona Memorial later this month along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” he said. “This historic visit will stand as a tribute to the power of reconciliation and to the truth that the United States and Japan — bound by an alliance unimaginable 75 years ago—will continue to work hand-in-hand for a more peaceful and secure world.”
Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the site since the end of World War II.
Just about every Colorado news outlet is covering local angles on the 75th anniversary of the attack.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has some harsh words for Electoral College representatives from Colorado who continue to discuss some sort of rogue action intended to derail President-elect Donald Trump. Now, if only Williams could take a more definitive stance on preventing signature fraud.
John Frank has more on this story for the Denver Post.
► Must. Kill. Obamacare. Must. Kill. Obamacare. Then what? As Politico reports:
After meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Tuesday to hash out plans to repeal Obamacare, top Senate Republicans are no closer to resolving an issue that’s splintering the GOP heading into the start of Donald Trump’s presidency: how long to give themselves to replace the law.
Pence communicated that the incoming administration is prepared to work closely with Congress on the issue, senators said, but did not dictate how long the transition period should last. That decision will affect millions of Americans’ health care and send insurance companies scrambling to adjust.
“The view on that probably is in a constant state of evolution, based on who you talk to,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “The question is: What’s that duration? Structurally, it’s at this point an open question. We’re hoping to get some direction.” [Pols emphasis]
Senate Republicans plan to introduce an Obamacare repeal as part of a budget resolution, perhaps as soon as Jan. 3, with the hopes of having a bill ready for President Trump to sign shortly after his swearing-in ceremony. Republicans still openly admit that they have no idea what they are going to do next after repealing Obamacare — they literally do not even know when they should plan on implementing some sort of replacement legislation.
Whether or not you approve of the idea of getting rid of Obamacare, it has to be a concern for every American that Republicans in Congress might just “turn off” the Affordable Care Act with nothing to take its place.
► The Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission announced suddenly on Tuesday that he was resigning from the PUC. As Cathy Proctor writes for the Denver Business Journal:
Hickenlooper appointed Joshua Epel chairman of the PUC in January 2011 and reappointed him in 2014. Prior to that, Epel chaired the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, to which he was appointed in 2007.
Epel on Tuesday told the Denver Business Journal that he’d been thinking about stepping down from the PUC for three or four months.
“There are times when you accomplish what you want to accomplish and I feel very comfortable that’s what we’ve done at the PUC,” Epel said. “We’ve had major dockets this year and it’s time to try a new adventure.”
Epel did not say what “new adventure” he has in mind.
► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is OPPOSING efforts to reform Colorado’s open records laws in order to increase government transparency. We’d act like we were surprised if we weren’t talking about the same Cynthia Coffman who tried to blackmail the State Republican Party Chair less than six months into her tenure.
► As Monica Mendoza writes for the Denver Business Journal, Colorado companies are joining together over immigration reform because they kind of need, you know, workers:
Some Colorado farmers are willing to pay up to $20 an hour for workers in their fields.
But the work is seasonal and job announcements in their local newspapers go unanswered.
“Even with these wages, the lack of a meaningful guest worker program means that instead of getting crops harvested, farmers are forced to watch them rot in the field,” said Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president at Colorado Farm Bureau.
His organization is part of 12 Colorado chambers of commerce groups, trade groups and business organizations that have formed a coalition, Coloradans for Immigration Reform, to push for reform of U.S. immigration policy.
Among the coalition’s members are the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the South Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors/Rocky Mountain, Colorado Restaurant Association and the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association. The coalition formally announced its agenda today at the Colorado Farm Bureau.
Look, it’s not a partisan talking point to say that immigrants are doing jobs that Americans just won’t accept. Nobody is “taking” anybody’s job.
► Longmont residents are concerned that at least one local oil and gas well has been leaking high levels of benzene into the environment. Benzene is toxic to humans.
► The City of Thornton continues moving forward with plans to build a humongous water pipeline.
► Federal Heights will hold two recall elections early next year to get rid of Mayor Daniel Dick and Councilmember John Hamlin over concerns about a city rental inspection program. Federal Heights, a small enclave in the Westminster/Northglenn area, has not had good luck with its elected officials in recent years; you might recall that a former mayor got into some trouble while working at a strip club.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► Longtime Denver TV news anchor Adele Arakawa is retiring in June. Arakawa has been a staple of Denver television for nearly a quarter-century — or almost long enough for her hairdo to come back in style (that was a joke, relax).
► Everybody Hates Chris Christie! From CNN:
Weeks after CNN reported Christie was dismissed as head of Donald Trump’s transition team, New Jersey voters handed him the lowest approval rating for any governor in more than 20 years among states surveyed by the Quinnipiac University Poll, [Pols emphasis] referring to the finding that 77 percent disapprove of his job performance and only 19 percent approve.
“The Gov’s job approval numbers get worse every time anyone looks,” Assistant Poll Director Maurice Carrol said Tuesday. “This could be a long final year for Gov. Christie.”
Only 3% of those voters gave Christie an ‘A’ for his job as governor, while 58% awarded him a D or an F, according to Quinnipiac.
► R.I.P., Rashaan Salaam.