Neville to Push Bill Limiting Governor’s Authority to Issue Public-Health Orders

(#COVID4Colorado – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Colorado Republicans plan to push for legislation limiting Gov. Jared Polis’ authority to issue public-health orders to 15 days, after which time Polis or a future governor would need to get the green light from the state legislature to extend orders any longer.

State House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock said at a news conference and on KCOL radio that he and fellow Republicans plan next week, when the legislative session resumes, to begin “pushing back on the governor’s authority, making sure that after 15 days he actually has legislative approval to continue on with his emergency powers.”

When Arapahoe County area District Attorney George Brauchler called on lawmakers earlier this month to push this type of legislation, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine called it a “sad” illustration of how the response to the pandemic is being converted into a “partisan issue.”

Brauchler called for a “liberty-loving legislator” to offer a “bill to claw back the massive authority given to the governor.”

Brauchler appears to have found his lawmaker in Neville, who’s one of the highest-ranking Republicans in Colorado.

Neville, who’s falsely alleged that masks “don’t accomplish anything,” said on air that the GOP plans to run a bill that “essentially says ‘the governor can only have emergency authority for 15 days. After 15 days, he has to go back and seek legislative approval.'”

Neville acknowledged his proposed legislation probably won’t move forward this year, because it will be considered a late bill that can’t advance without the approval of the Democratic majority, which, he says, will not allow it.

Republicans Target November Election

In light of the likely paralysis of his proposal to strip Polis of his authority to issue pubic-health orders, Neville tried to turn Republicans’ attention to the upcoming election.

Neville said he saw this situation coming, and that’s why he was involved in the failed recall campaigns last year in Colorado

“This is a big reason we were active in the recall elections a year ago and why we were trying to push back, because we saw a lot of this happening,” said Neville on air. “We never thought it would actually get to this point.”

“We really need people to be on the ground fighting for Republicans in elections,” he continued. “If we don’t at least close the gap on Democrat control, then we will probably never solve this.”

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Delta County Commish Hopes There’s No Violence, But…


Don Suppes.

Here’s a video we were forwarded of Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes, who readers east of the Divide probably remember better a fierce Republican opponent to now-Sen. Kerry Donovan from her tough SD-5 election in 2014. Suppes, speaking at a “Reopen Colorado” rally Saturday along with Rep. Matt Soper and other local GOP luminaries, railed against Gov. Jared Polis and called on supporters to “put pressure” on the state government–saying he “prays to God” that “we can get this resolved without getting violent.”

The implied threat in these words is of course very clear. Affecting disdain for violence and then immediately offering sympathetic justifications for that violence is tantamount to threatening violence. Suppes knows this, and his open-carrying audience last weekend knew it too. When the press comes calling, this tacit understanding is strenuously denied even though all parties know what’s going on. It’s a game as old as closeted racism itself.

Apropos on the subject of racism, in 2014 now-Commissioner Suppes was hit with revelations of racist social media activity–for which he concocted an elaborate “rogue staffer” defense that was a bit too convoluted to believe. The incident contributed with other scandals to Suppes’ narrow loss to Donovan that year. Suppes’ political brand is all about this kind of shock-jock conservatism, so it can’t be considered out of character.

Gov. Polis has got a nice state here, and we too hope nothing bad happens to it.

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You’ll Decide: Reality-Based Fiscal Policy Or Bloodletting

Under controversially relaxed signature-gathering rules in place to maximize voter participation during the ongoing pandemic, two opposing campaigns are petitioning to get on the November ballot with initiatives that can be credibly called tax cuts–or at least tax cuts for the overwhelming majority of Colorado residents. One measure, Initiative 271 (but don’t memorize that number because it will be different on the ballot), cuts the state’s income tax from 4.63% to 4.58% for everyone who makes less than $250,000 a year. For the wealthiest, the rate goes up to 7%–a move toward a progressive income tax structure used by a majority of states and the federal government. The net effect is a $2 billion increase in state revenue to help offset the enormous cuts coming even after federal COVID-19 economic stimulus factors in.

The other initiative is Initiative 306, an across the board tax cut to 4.5% regardless of income. This initiative is being run by the Independence Institute, the arch-conservative “stink tank” which has quarterbacked the opposition to every attempt to increase revenue for the state of Colorado since the 1980s. In his press release Monday announcing the launch of 306, Independence Institute honcho Jon Caldara makes it abundantly clear that his initiative is about muddying the waters for voters considering Initiative 271:

“The Colorado economy —pre-COVID-19— was on fire thanks to our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and our flat state income tax,” said Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, and co-ballot proponent of the tax rate reduction. “We look forward to giving the voters a real choice [Pols emphasis] between a progressive tax increase which will be billed as a middle-class tax cut, and a real tax cut for every Coloradan. Question is: which one is actually the tax cut? Hint: Not the ballot question that starts “Shall state taxes be increased $2,000,000,000 annually…”

“We think that a small tax cut for everyone makes a lot more sense than a $2 billion tax increase,” said Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action. “And even if both pass, the tax cut only has to win by one vote over the tax hike to be implemented. So, we like our chances.”

Jon Caldara.

The context for these initiatives, of course, is the biggest fiscal crisis faced by the state of Colorado at least since the Great Depression. The estimated $3 billion shortfall lawmakers are wrestling with today is expected to be partially offset by federal economic stimulus, but not enough to close the gap completely–and certainly not in a recurring manner to meet the ongoing need. The state has faced a looming revenue shortfall for many years, resulting from the throttling effect on revenue growth over time relative to the need created by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR’s labyrinthine limits and regulations on revenue growth, and stilted language requirements the ballot questions it mandates for any tax increase, created a growing gap between need and revenue supply that the COVID-19 economic crisis has severely exacerbated. Colorado’s budget is already very tight, and the pandemic is a fiscal disaster the state can’t afford.

With this in mind, Colorado voters have to ask themselves a simple question: who has our state’s best interests at heart? Supporters of a measure to cut taxes for just about everybody while raising more net revenue the state desperately needs–or those who think the solution to a grave fiscal crisis is to make the crisis worse? Like with other extremely ill-advised ballot measures in previous years, like 2010’s infamous “Bad Three” or 2018’s nightmarish Amendment 74 which would have crippled local governments to empower the oil and gas industry, we’re obliged to trust the wisdom of Colorado voters to see through the misdirection. It’s honestly helpful when the bad actors admit up front like Caldara did here that they’re playing a political shell game instead of proposing serious policy.

Conservatives rely on the axiom that while voters may want the vital services government provides, they hate paying for them. That’s the unspoken presumption that turned TABOR into a blunt weapon against government instead of a tool to encourage responsible government. In Colorado, tax increase measures have slowly increased their percentage in consecutive losing efforts, reflecting the slow progress of years of educational efforts mounted by progressive fiscal policy groups as well as the state’s leftward-shifting electorate in general.

In 2020, this old battle will be fought once again. In a changed world, with higher stakes.

And we’ll find out if the old tricks still work for Caldara and friends.

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Even More Drain-Circling Poll Numbers For Cory Gardner

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported Saturday, a new survey of Colorado voters shows solidifying trendlines indicated by previous polls–high marks for Gov. Jared Polis, relatively favorable opinion of the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature ahead of next week’s “grand reopening,” and positively brutal numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner and President Donald Trump:

“This isn’t 2014, when Cory Gardner was a relative blank slate with the national winds at his back,” said Andrew Baumann, a Denver-based pollster with Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm. “Colorado voters now clearly understand that Gardner has put his loyalty to Trump ahead of Coloradans, which has left him well-defined in a very negative way — and with a deeply unpopular albatross hanging around his neck.”

Baumann and Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

There’s a lot of data to unpack in the latest issue of the Rocky Mountaineer, and if that’s not enough you can further digest the details here. Highlights include a declining approval rating for Donald Trump, a double-digit lead for Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper’s name ID owning the Democratic Senate primary, and great news for Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly looking to expand their majority even beyond 2018’s historic wins. As for Cory Gardner, his sub-Trump approval rating is a continuing sign that he is weak on both flanks–and his base support is heavily dependent on his continued fealty to Trump, even though Gardner’s servility to Trump seals his doom with many more voters.

That all looks right to us, folks.

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Polis and the President: A Mutually Beneficial Exercise

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis yesterday.

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim kicks off our coverage recap of yesterday’s visit by Gov. Jared Polis to the White House, which appears to have been successful for the state in terms of obtaining supplies to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic–an issue deep in political subtext for President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner, and other Republicans in the room with Gov. Polis yesterday:

Trump said Polis and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum have done a “fantastic” job starting to lift social distancing measures and allow economic activity to ramp up…

Following a public discussion, the press left the room and the governors had a private conversation with the president and other state and federal officials. In a press conference following that, Polis told reporters he felt the need pursue all “possible options” for supplies for Colorado and it wasn’t an opportunity he could pass up. Polis said he was asked to talk about Colorado’s needs and update the president.

Polis said that he did not feel it was “a time to air differences on unrelated policies.” [Pols emphasis] He said both political leaders shared a single foe: the new coronavirus.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason details some of the commitments Gov. Polis obtained:

Among the commitments Polis said he was able to secure from the federal government during his trip is approximately 96,000 tests, which he said will aid in the state’s goal to amp up testing to nearly 10,000 per day…

More deliveries of protective gear, including masks, from FEMA is anticipated to be delivered to the state for nursing home workers, Polis said, adding that he’s urged the federal government to continue that program into June and July.

But as Alex Burness of the Denver Post reports, yesterday’s meeting was not without its misinformation:

Trump also spoke against all-mail voting.

“It’s subject to tremendous corruption — cheating,” he said.

Colorado, which is at the vanguard of the all-mail voting trend, has shown that this is not true. [Pols emphasis] The state is widely regarded as one of the safest places in the country to vote, and the practice has been touted by Republican and Democratic state election officials alike. It’s also increased voter participation.

Speaking after the meeting, Gov. Polis made it clear that his purpose yesterday was not to challenge President Trump’s inaccurate statements, rebuke the administration for its deficiencies, or engage the President at all on issues unrelated to pandemic response:

“I’m here to advocate around COVID-19, around coronavirus, not to get into a debate or correct the president when he makes inaccurate statements about the reliability of mail-in voting,” Polis said in a press call after the meeting.

He clearly made an effort not to rankle the president. Asked whether he was impressed by Trump, Polis said, “He’s the president that we have,” three times in a 14-second span. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve seen a number of different reactions to Gov. Polis’ meeting with President Trump yesterday, ranging from relief that Polis stayed focused on productive discussions instead of sparring politically to irritation that Polis let any number of serious problems with the federal government’s management of the pandemic slide despite a golden opportunity to challenge Trump on national television. For our part, we expected Polis to stay professional in his dealings with the administration, as he has from the beginning of the emergency so as not to arouse the President’s wrath–and we would have been more surprised if Polis had turned this meeting into a pissing match with America’s undisputed pissing match titleholder.

Obviously the President benefits politically from a positively-framed meeting with a Democratic governor, but Polis benefits too: we have to think that Trump’s effusive praise for Gov. Polis’ controversial reopening of the state, ahead of any other Democratic governor, will help mollify the far right in Colorado led by GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville who have been clamoring for Polis’ political head. The shrill, distasteful attacks on Polis from high-ranking Colorado Republicans like Neville have gone on ignorant of the reality that Polis is taking a big risk to do exactly what they want. They won’t hear it from Polis, but maybe they’ll hear it from Trump.

If this all leaves you feeling a bit unsatisfied politically, it’s understandable. But it’s important to keep in mind what both Trump and Polis were looking for get out of this meeting. Trump earns one somewhat less scandalous news event–certainly not enough to overcome the overwhelming view of Americans that Trump’s pandemic response is a failure. Trump’s fictional characterization of mail ballots seems to have been fact-checked and debunked in real time by most news stories that mention it. Meanwhile, Polis gets cover from the very top against the fringe-right hordes turning out to protest and commitments for more equipment the state needs, while solidifying his reputation for staying cool in moments of political adversity.

As long as the numbers–for once we’re not talking about poll numbers–keep moving the right direction, Gov. Polis and Colorado come out ahead here. And we hope there’s nobody on either side who wants to bet against that.

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Brauchler’s Proposal to Roll Back Polis’ Power Shows How Pandemic Is Being “Converted into a Partisan Issue”

(It would be cool if Brauchler spent this much time on his real job — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a proposal that one health expert is calling a “sad” illustration of how the response to the pandemic is being converted into a “partisan issue,” Arapahoe County area District Attorney George Brauchler is urging lawmakers to roll back Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-CO) power to fight the COVID-19.

“I think Gov. Polis ought to convene a task force to say, ‘How can we trim back my authority,'” said Brauchler recently on his Saturday morning “George Show” on KNUS radio. “You know that will never happen. We need to re-look at these public health orders. We need to look at how we give authority to these people.” “Which liberty-loving legislator from either party will stand up and begin this important and needed conversation by offering a bill to claw back the massive authority given to the governor?” wrote Brauchler in a Denver Post opinion today.

Matthew Wynia, a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says proposals like Brauchler’s are an “illustration of how the response [to the pandemic] has been increasingly converted into a partisan issue.”

“That’s sad because it shouldn’t be partisan,” Wynia wrote in an email to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Both Republicans and Democrats are dying of this illness – and we all care about the people in our families and communities who are at particular risk.”

“Also,” continued Wynia, “people in both parties are equally concerned with re-opening society as quickly as possible and reducing the harms the shut-down is creating, which are very real and which should not be downplayed at all. No one wants to keep the shut down in place, and no one is talking about keeping it in place forever or even indefinitely. The argument is whether to keep measures in place until we have the numbers going down, when we can do adequate testing and tracing, and when our health care system is ready for the inevitable increase in cases that will come with re-opening.

In questioning the wisdom of Colorado laws that give the governor broad power to respond to public health emergencies, Brauchler is aligning with Republicans across the country who are proposing legislation and filing lawsuits to roll back pandemic-related orders, like closing restaurants and requiring residents to shelter-in-place and wear masks.

In Colorado, Brauchler, who briefly ran for governor in 2018 before dropping out to launch a failed bid to be the state’s attorney general, appears to be the highest-profile Republican who’s proposing to trim Polis’ power.

State Rep. Rod Pelton, a conservative Republican from Eastern Colorado, said last month he’d like the General Assembly to “roll back” the governor’s power to issue public-health orders. He’d like to start on this when the legislature resumes next week, but it might have to wait until next year, he said.

Wynia called the type of legislative effort proposed by Pelton and Brauchler “purely political messaging” that has “no chance of success since the Democrats control both houses.”

“In that regard, it’s a waste of time at a moment when there are much more important things for legislators to be addressing,” wrote Wynia.

In his opinion column, Brauchler didn’t acknowledge that passing legislation now is next-to-hopeless with Democrats, including Polis himself, in charge of state government, but he did address the issue of legislators being too busy.

“And before the ‘we’re too busy’ crowd can claim that they have more important issues to address with their limited time, let me address those more pressing issues,” wrote Brauchler. “Outside of the state’s budget, an ironic victim of these very orders, what legislative action can result in as sweeping and devastating an impact on Coloradans as permitting a potential second, nearly unchecked shutdown of the state?”

Bruachler did not return a call for further comment.

Nationally, the most intense efforts to roll back the power of governors’ public-health orders, either via legislation or the courts, has occurred in key the presidential battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, all of which have Republican-controlled legislative bodies and Democratic governors.

But Republican legislators in Ohio have targeted the authority of the state’s health director, leading fellow Republican governor Mike DeWine to tell them they should focus on coronavirus testing and the economy.

So far, actions to reduce gubernatorial power to fight the virus have failed nationally, according to James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University, but he predicted there will be “massive legislative and judicial battles ahead for the rest of the summer.”

Hodge, who helped develop model legislation designed to help state governments respond to health crises, said if roll-back efforts are successful, they could set back the government’s ability to deal with the pandemic.

When he drafted legislation, “governors essentially told us, ‘Spell out for what powers we might have, and let our legislators consider that and pass these specific provisions, and we’ll act based on those specific legislative authorizations,” said Hodge. “If you don’t spell that out, you create more chaos, not less,” he said.

It appears that Colorado law does not give more emergency powers to its governor than many other states, judging from comparisons available online and a review of emergency orders issued in other states.

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Mr. Polis Goes To Washington

Gov. Jared Pols and Vice President Mike Pence (4/18/20)

Colorado Public Radio reports on the event dominating Gov. Jared Polis’ work week, a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump in a newly contaminated area of the city known as the White House:

“The Governor’s first priority is the health and safety of Coloradans, and the federal government is an important partner in Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Polis is expected to push for “more federal support during this global pandemic, including critical testing supplies and personal protective equipment” during the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

While Colorado has received shipments from the national stockpile, it hasn’t been enough to meet demand. And efforts to purchase supplies on the open market haven’t always worked out well for the state. At the start of the pandemic, Polis told CNN that one shipment was taken by the federal government.

Headlines over the weekend that staff uncomfortably close to both the President and the Vice President have tested positive for COVID-19 infections make this trip to Washington especially worrisome for Gov. Polis, and the apparent disregard for personal and therefore community safety expressed by both Trump and Mike Pence even after their staffers tested positive is also not what you’d call a good omen either. Gov. Polis has been nothing but diplomatic in his dealings with the Trump administration, even when it would be difficult or impossible for any reasonable person to avoid swear words–which will hopefully work in Colorado’s favor when the moment comes Wednesday to “kiss the ring” and ask Trump to come through with the equipment our state still very much needs.

Gov. Polis may not need hazard pay, but anyone obliged to visit the White House right now should get it.

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Gov. Polis To Veep Pence: Cover Your Damn Piehole, Please

UPDATE: Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen (er, “Mother”) says that the guy in charge of the White House coronavirus task force didn’t know that he was supposed to wear a mask

Sure, maybe Pence never noticed at any point that he was the only person in the room without a mask. Or maybe they were short one mask and Pence lost the coin flip.

—–

Vice President Mike Pence’s ongoing refusal to wear a non-medical mask to slow his potentially COVID-19 contaminated droplets as they exit his orifices became a national point of controversy earlier this week, when Pence flouted the policy of the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, greeting patients and doctors all clad in masks conspicuously without one of his own.

But a week before, as readers will recall, Pence previewed his au naturale babyface on a trip to Colorado to speak at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony–where he was greeted, some say confronted, by a mask wearing Gov. Jared Polis:

Gov. Jared Pols and Vice President Mike Pence (4/18/20)

Yesterday, CBS4 asked Gov. Polis about Pence’s mask resistance, and Polis once again was as diplomatic as he could be in tiptoeing around an obviously frustrating situation. After all, public expressions of displeasure with the Trump administration can have unfortunate consequences for mouthy state governors:

When asked about the behavior, Polis said “As elected officials I think we have an additional responsibility, with the soapbox we have, to practice what we preach.”

“I’m trying to be an ambassador for wearing masks. I walk to all my press conferences wearing a mask, take it off when I speak and I’m at the podium,” Polis said.

“I think elected officials should be role models and wear masks because they can save lives and help us return to economic normalcy sooner rather than later.” [Pols emphasis]

What’s the opposite of a role model? A cautionary tale. Hopefully the vice president doesn’t become one.

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Screw The Workers, Says Trump, The Meat Must Flow

Pork: it’s the new toilet paper.

Among the many headlines involving the COVID-19 pandemic in Colorado has been the plight of thousands of workers in meat processing plants located in predominately conservative agricultural areas of the state like Weld County. At the JBS beef packing plant in Greeley, over 100 confirmed cases led to a very brief shutdown of the plant before controversially reopening late last week. The Denver Post reports:

A fifth employee at the JBS USA plant in Greeley died Sunday after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7.

Four workers at the Greeley beef plant have now died, as well as one person who worked at the JBS corporate office. The death of plant employee Way Ler, 61, comes two days after JBS reopened its Greeley plant after a nine-day closure prompted by the spread of the novel coronavirus among employees.

The plant reopened Friday after the company installed a variety of protections for workers designed to slow the spread of the virus, and most employees will return to work Monday, despite ongoing concerns about worker safety and a lack of testing for employees.

Vice President Mike Pence.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the JBS Greeley plant was sufficiently alarming earlier this month that Vice President Mike Pence himself acknowledged the situation, and promised federal support to test plant workers–as Denver7 reported back on April 10th:

Pence said he spoke with Polis about having those new testing resources for the plant in-state this weekend. [Pols emphasis]

“I want to encourage people in Colorado that we will work to support that effort, but I also want to emphasize that all the people that are working in food supply – from farmers, to meatpackers, to distributors, to truckers, to grocers – continue to have our gratitude,” Pence said.

Unfortunately, Denver7 updated 12 days later:

Contact7 Investigates has confirmed promises from the White House and JBS management to provide testing for employees at the massive meatpacking plant in Greeley have not been kept. [Pols emphasis]

But the plant reopened anyway–and instead of testing for every employee, JBS sent a cease-and-desist letter to Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 7 telling her in contractually threatening terms to pipe down.

And then, Bloomberg News reported today:

President Donald Trump plans to order meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure as the nation confronts growing disruptions to the food supply from the coronavirus outbreak, a person familiar with the matter said…

Trump signaled the executive action at the White House on Tuesday, saying he planned to sign an order aimed at Tyson Foods Inc.’s liability, which had become “a road block” for the company. He didn’t elaborate. [Pols emphasis]

The order, though, will not be limited to Tyson, the person said. It will affect many processing plants supplying beef, chicken, eggs and pork.

It looks to us like Colorado’s meat packing plant workers, many of whom speak English as a second language (if at all) and have been subject to inequities large and small while they labor to supply our nation’s ravenous appetite for meat, have been judged as expendable as the animals they process. As essential as their product may be, if these workers are not afforded the same protection as every other essential worker on the job in this pandemic, it’s going to be hard for anyone with a conscience to enjoy their juicy burger, grilled chicken sandwich, or honey-baked ham.

And we say that as devoted carnivores.

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Polis To Tipton: Kindly Stop Bullshitting People

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby updates a story we’ve been following of Western Slope Republicans led by Rep. Scott Tipton snowballing misinformation into a veritable avalanche of bullshit directed at Gov. Jared Polis, making absurd allegations about the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds that say more about the competence of Polis’ accusers than Polis:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton knew, or at least should have known, that money from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package approved by Congress last month included no money for smaller local governments, Gov. Jared Polis said in a blistering letter to the Republican congressman this week…

“It is troubling that you continue to proliferate misinformation related to the $1.7 billion in the Coronavirus Relief Fund that the state and its local governments are slated to benefit from,” Polis wrote back to Tipton on Wednesday. [Pols emphasis]

“As you well know, the bill you and Congress developed not only reduced the requested funding needed for state governments, but inexplicably prohibited communities of 500,000 or less from accessing direct aid dollars,” Polis wrote. “We remain unclear why Congress chose to strictly prohibit communities of 500,000 or less from directly accessing aid dollars. As you and your Colorado congressional delegation colleagues indicated in a letter dated April 21, ‘Congress should not be picking winners and losers in our nationwide recovery.’ ”

As we wrote previously in unpacking the several layers of misinformation which contributed, Rep. Scott Tipton voted to approve the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act–which means he has absolutely no excuse for not knowing what what’s in the bill. Nevertheless, acting on a mistaken interpretation of the bill Tipton voted for by a local official, Tipton demanded Gov. Polis explain why the money wasn’t being allocated according to that mistaken interpretation. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Tipton initially alleged that Gov. Polis intended to use the money “to balance the state’s budget,” which is a function of the legislature, not the executive branch.

Even though the whole allegation falls apart under scrutiny and leaves Tipton and Republicans who parroted him looking like idiots, the problem is there are plenty of voters who will hear the misinformation on social media, see the name of a Congressman they trust, and not ask any more questions. They’ll never see the correction, and some of them won’t care if they do see it. This is how bogus information becomes part of the popular narrative, and responsible public figures on all sides have an obligation to not make the contemptible factual errors Tipton made in his silly allegations.

The most memed moment in Billy Madison fits perfectly:

Pretty much, folks.

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The Hardest Calls: Gov. Polis Weighs Life And Death Decisions

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As a team of Denver Post reporters detail for us, yesterday Gov. Jared Polis outlined a process by which the state of Colorado will begin to reopen the mostly-shuttered economy at the end of April after over a month of mandatory stay-at-home orders in place–orders which appear to have definitively turned the tide against the COVID-19 pandemic, though at great cost to the economy here in Colorado and across the globe.

The first stage of Colorado’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is ending, but the second phase will be far from a return to normal life, Gov. Jared Polis said Monday as he laid out expectations for how the state will reopen after his stay-at-home order expires Sunday.

Coloradans will need to shift from staying at home to being “safer at home,” Polis said, outlining how the state’s order will morph into strong recommendations for residents with restrictions on the businesses that are able to slowly reopen in the coming weeks.

Polis said he expects retailers will have the option to reopen with curbside pickup beginning April 27, and then will be able to reopen to limited numbers of in-store customers on May 1, as long as they have social-distancing policies in place.

As Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, there is increasing evidence that the stay-at-home orders have been highly effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in this state:

Officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Colorado School of Public Health presented that data in a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. “We did well,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. “We’ve reduced the contact rate to 75%” and the curve — a measure that shows the peak of infections and when that peak takes place — is going down.

Despite the news that social distancing has begun to show results, the officials said that 65,000 to 75,000 Coloradans likely have contracted COVID-19, well above the 10,098 cases listed by CDPHE for Monday.

But as 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark pointed out last night, there’s a problem: one of the key preconditions previously voiced by Gov. Polis himself for reopening the economy as well as the consensus of health experts fighting the pandemic, widespread available testing for the disease to enable informed decisions from the statewide to the individual level, has not been met.

This undeniable change in the stated criteria for reopening Colorado’s economy cannot help but create legitimate concern that the pressure to do so is overcoming the best advice of public health officials battling the pandemic, which is to keep stay-at-home orders in place until ubiquitous testing and the containment strategies testing facilitates become feasible. As history shows, premature loosening of restrictions on public life can unleash a second wave of disease worse than the first.

Throughout this unprecedented emergency, we and every other responsible editorial voice have rejected the armchair quarterbacking of qualified experts by politicians who either don’t understand or don’t value the lives at stake. There is no question the tremendous damage being inflicted on the economy by this pandemic is a very serious crisis all its own, and requires intervention no less robust than control of the disease itself. At some level every medical expert also understands that economic devastation is also a public health threat. But the lives that would otherwise be lost have to come first.

What we can say is that the overwhelming trust Coloradans have for Gov. Polis right now shown in available polling is based on his perceived diligence in responding to the crisis, and overriding attention to public health before politics–even when it would be very tempting to focus on the Trump administration’s vast incompetence. Gov. Polis doesn’t need low-information protesters endangering themselves and others to know that getting Colorado functioning again economically is secondary in importance only to stopping the pandemic itself.

These are the hardest calls any leader has to make. The polls say Gov. Polis has earned the trust to make them.

And we must all now hope for the best.

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Even More Republicans Just Making Stuff Up

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the old saying goes, it’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble–it’s what you know for sure that just isn’t so. Western Slope Republicans are proving it’s still as true as ever. Congressman Scott Tipton, to kick things off, heard a rumor! And on the basis of that rumor made some very stern demands of Gov. Jared Polis:

“I am writing to seek more information on how the state of Colorado will allocate the approximately $1.7 billion it will receive under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to county and local governments. Rumors [Pols emphasis] that you plan to use the entirety of the federal aid to balance the state’s budget, and neglect to distribute the funds to smaller county, tribal and municipal governments for which they are intended, are deeply troubling…

I am extremely concerned about information I have received that indicates your office plans to use all of Colorado’s CARES Act funds to balance the state’s budget, [Pols emphasis] rather than allocate a portion of the funds to county and local governments to help offset their revenue losses and unforeseen expenses related to the pandemic. This decision would be completely unacceptable, against Congressional intent for these funds, and I request an immediate response from you or your office on this matter.”

“Several state and federal elected officials are telling local ones things that may not be true.”
Grand Junction Sentinel, 4/18/20

The full text of the letter has since been deleted from Tipton’s website, and there’s a good reason. Any of you who know who Colorado’s budget-setting process works, or for that matter we believe this process works across the country, should have by now taken note of a very basic problem. As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

In his regular COVID-19 press briefing, Polis said he spoke to Tipton and reminded him that as a former member of the Colorado House, he should know that it’s the Colorado Legislature, and not the governor, who controls the state’s purse strings, [Pols emphasis] so it’s up to them to decide how that money is to be spent.

You see, governors do not pass the budget. Governors recommend a budget, but budgets are assembled and passed by the legislature–the state legislature in Colorado that Rep. Scott Tipton used to be a member of, and the federal legislature we call “Congress” that Tipton is a member of today. Some of the money is earmarked in the federal CARES Act to go to larger population centers, but that’s of course not the same thing–and the exact opposite of what Tipton and the “rumor” he was acting on believed. Apparently Tipton’s “rumor” was a mistaken email from Colorado Counties Inc., but Tipton as a federal official has an obligation to vet allegations before they become the subject of official correspondence. Especially when the allegation is so wrong it’s silly.

After all, Tipton voted for this bill.

From here, Ashby documents how the lie traveled around the Western Slope while the truth was still getting its proverbial pants on:

The CCI email spurred Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and state Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, to repeat the false news on social media Friday.

“Shocker!,” Pugliese wrote on Twitter. “It appears the Polis Administration made the decision to use the state and local government CARES Act funding, almost $1.7 billion dollars, to balance the state’s budget.”

Rich later corrected her Facebook post after checking the matter with the U.S. Department of the Treasury… [Pols emphasis]

Seriously folks, doesn’t any Republican legislator west of the Divide understand how their own jobs work? Sen. Bob Rankin serves on the Joint Budget Committee and definitely knows better than this. Two seconds’ consultation with Rankin might have spared Tipton and Rep. Rich a lot of embarrassment. We assume he was not on the Zoom call.

The real problem, of course, is that this kind of misinformation always travels farther and faster than the subsequent correction. Social media misinformation in particular can exponentially outrun the mainstream media’s less captivating reality, like a self-selected virus. Despite the best efforts of the Grand Junction Sentinel, voters on the Western Slope will go into the election season convinced that Jared Polis swiped their cash to balance his big-city budget.

We can only hope not too many, and other voters who don’t like being lied “rumored” to outnumber them.

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Caption This Photo: Polis Confronts The Veep

Vice President Mike Pence landed moments ago in Colorado Springs to speak at the Air Force Academy’s as-socially-distanced-as-possible commencement ceremony. Vice President Pence was met on the tarmac at Petersen Air Force Base by Gov. Jared Polis, and it appears a fairly…animated discussion took place:

To be a fly on that tarmac, right? We’re excited to hear what they were talking about, whether it’s the recent FEMA ventilator grab in the headlines or COVID tests with your 7-Eleven Big Gulp. Or maybe Gov. Polis is starting with the basics, explaining to Pence that COVID didn’t “disappear” after all. Stay tuned, and feel free to speculate in the meantime.

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Gov. Polis Emotional Over GOP Nazi Talk: “We Act To Save Lives”

UPDATE: Via the Denver Post’s Alex Burness, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville starts the backpedaling:

Sometimes it’s better to just stop talking. The Nevilles don’t know how to do that.

—–

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

During today’s briefing by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Polis was asked about Republicans who have lashed out at his and public health authorities’ orders for most Coloradans to stay at home as “tyranny” and even, as GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville put it, “a Gestapo-like mentality”–in reference to, in case you were sleeping in high school history class, the secret police in Nazi Germany.

Gov. Polis, who happens to be the first Jewish governor of the state of Colorado, had a strong reaction to this question. Transcript follows, but watching the video is necessary to grasp the full weight of the scene:

REPORTER: We’re hearing a lot of reports around here, and I know I’ve seen some stuff going on statewide about neighbors reporting on other neighbors for not following the orders, seeing a lot of rebellion out here against your orders, which have been called tyrannical, against local health department orders being equated to Nazism, um, what do you how do you react to that, what do you say to those people who are really getting frustrated with this uh stay at home order?

GOV. POLIS: Well first of all, you know, as a, a Jewish American who lost family in the Holocaust I’m offended by it. (Pause) Any comparison to Nazism. We act (pause) we act to save lives, the exact opposite (pause) of the slaughter of six million Jews, and many Gypsies and Catholics and gays and lesbians and Russians and so many others.

That being said, we know that these steps are difficult. And it’s not a contest to see what you can get away with. It’s a contest to see how well you can stay at home. You’re not, by not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you’re not–you’re not sticking it to the government, you’re not sticking it to Jared Polis. You’re sticking it to yourself.

Because you’re putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy. And you’re prolong-prolonging the economic pain and difficulties that your fellow Coloradans face. Now is the time for us to act with unity, to act together, to be able to do the best that we can to stay at home except when absolutely necessary, so we can open up sooner, rather than later, so that we can have more freedom quicker rather than later, and we can create a sustainable way for us to get by as a state and as a country.

As progressive Democrats go, Gov. Polis is one of the more libertarian-minded free market enthusiasts you can find. Even in the pursuit of progressive policy aims like expanding health care access and paid family leave, Polis has favored a market-based approach over traditional public institutions–which has made him a point of controversy more than once, and again this year.

The idea that Gov. Polis wants to impose even a little bit of economic hardship on the state, let alone the painful restrictions on the economy which have been necessary to reduce the death toll from COVID-19, is simply absurd to anyone who knows Polis’ values and and has followed his almost two decades in elected office. There is no reason to doubt Gov. Polis’ sincerity in wanting to get Colorado through this emergency intact, any more than we would doubt Polis’ offense over Patrick Neville’s outlandish Nazi rhetoric is genuine.

Watch the video. Every Coloradan needs to watch this.

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Why Can’t Jared Polis Fight Back, You Ask?

Donald Trump.

Responding to the latest damage control efforts from the Trump administration over the co-opting of 500 ventilators previously bound for Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis was more diplomatic than we could ever hope to be–but did not change the state’s position, via the Colorado Sun’s Unaffiliated newsletter today:

A Polis spokesman did not address the FEMA statement directly, but reiterated to The Post what the state was told — that Colorado’s order had been canceled by FEMA. [Pols emphasis] Polis first made the claim about the federal government taking ventilators from Colorado on CNN, but since then he’s declined to discuss it.

As we explained previously today, the facts don’t support sloughing the blame for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) commandeering Colorado-bound ventilator machines off on Gov. Polis. Reports across the country suggest that the Trump administration is appropriating large amounts of medical equipment ordered by other entities; and local governments who complain are getting similar excuses. While it’s true that the federal government has the power to do this, it frustratingly contradicts President Donald Trump’s own advice that states go it alone to buy equipment on the open market.

And the real problem, as Sen. Cory Gardner’s ham-fisted prevailing on Trump personally for 100 of the 500 ventilators originally ordered revealed, is Trump’s redistribution of the equipment is based on politics instead of medical need.

Last week’s scandal over 500 ventilator machines commandeered by the Trump administration, of which 100 were “generously” returned after Gardner kissed the proverbial ring, threw into sharp relief an emerging central truth about Donald Trump’s leadership in the greatest crisis the United States has faced since the Second World War: politics, as it has improperly dominated Trump’s foreign and domestic policy agenda, is the principal consideration governing Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump’s smack-talk spats with Democratic governors like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were made much darker by overt suggestions that he doesn’t talk to governors he doesn’t like, even in the midst of the current emergency.

This Tweet from Trump this morning can be easily interpreted as a not-so-veiled threat against Democratic governors who have complained about any number of deficiencies in the federal government’s response to the pandemic–from commandeered equipment to the woefully inadequate testing program which forced Democrat and eventually most Republican governors to shut down their states’ economies to slow the spread of the virus. This Tweet, even judged against Trump’s unprecedented disregard for basic standards of integrity and decency that have been observed by every previous American president, is monstrous and shameful to a hardly comprehensible extreme.

And yes, this horrendous situation, in which life-and-death decisions in a global crisis are at the whim of an incompetent, amoral President and his equally amoral political subordinates, is precisely why Gov. Polis is exercising such restraint in responding to Trump’s daily roller-coaster of outrageous mismanagement. To not do so could invite Trump’s wrath, and that could result in Coloradans dying.

For Gov. Polis’ steadiness under pressure, every Coloradan should be grateful.

But it’s disturbing to speculate how much lower Donald Trump might go.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 14)

Happy Pan American Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Damage control! Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and President Trump are both attempting to re-spin last week’s version of coronavirus pork barrel politics, in which Trump approved 100 ventilators for Colorado only after receiving a personal call from Gardner (and after Gov. Jared Polis said the federal government snatched up 500 ventilators that Colorado had already ordered). Click here to read more.

 

► President Trump held a 2 1/2 hour press conference on Monday afternoon/evening in which he mostly talked about what a great job he was doing as Commander in Chief and denigrated the media in general; one CNN story called it a “Presidential tantrum.” Ashley Parker of The Washington Post has a great rundown of Trump’s horrendously self-serving diatribe. Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks out 39 of Trump’s most ridiculous statements, including his early foray into media bashing:

“Now, with that, I have a couple of interesting — we have a few clips that we’re just going to put up. We could turn the lights a little bit lower. I think you will find them interesting.”

At this point, the President of the United States ran a propaganda reel/campaign ad touting how great he has done on dealing with the coronavirus. It ran on the White House grounds while Trump was in his official role as President of the United States. If you don’t have a problem with that, you aren’t paying attention.

Trump also made sure to mention that he has the sole authority to “reopen” the country regardless of the input of state governors. This is not true. At all.

“The authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we’re talking about is total.”

It just isn’t. Trump cannot rescind executive orders made by governors in states related to school closures or stay-at-home orders. Also, isn’t Trump a Republican? And didn’t Republicans build their party on a limited federal government and expansive state governments? Doesn’t anyone notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Governors across the country are pushing back on Trump’s 10th Amendment ignorance.

 

Last week Wisconsin held a shaky Primary Election after the conservative-majority State Supreme Court overruled the Governor’s request to delay voting on account of coronavirus. In a remarkable bit of karmic electoral magic, a Democrat managed to knock off a Republican running for re-election on the very same State Supreme Court. As The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky won the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, narrowing the conservative majority after a tumultuous election conducted in the midst of a global pandemic, according to unofficial results released Monday.

Karofsky’s victory marked the first time in a dozen years that a Supreme Court challenger beat an incumbent — and just the second time in more than half a century. Her win over Justice Daniel Kelly will shift conservative control of the court from 5-2 to 4-3.

Appearing by video conference from her home with her son and daughter behind her, Karofsky thanked her family and supporters and decried the decision to hold the election during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Look, we shouldn’t have had the election on Tuesday,” she said. “It was an untenable decision (on whether to vote), but the people of the state of Wisconsin rose up.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Poll Shows 30%+ Gap In Trump, Polis COVID-19 Approval

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

MSN reports the results of a (full disclosure) Microsoft News poll:

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the United States, state governors must assess the situation and make decisions on stay-at-home orders, business closures and rally services to respond to health care needs.

Americans’ views on how their state governors are handling the coronavirus crisis vary widely, but on average governors are receiving significantly higher ratings than President Trump for his response, according to Microsoft News sentiment polling. [Pols emphasis]

Microsoft News asked Americans this week how they felt about the way their governors, as well as President Trump, responded to the crisis.

Governors received favorable ratings of 72% on average, compared to 45% for President Trump.

Gov. Jared Polis beats the average with 75% of Coloradans approving of Polis’ handling of the crisis–compared to President Donald Trump’s 43% approval in Colorado, near where he’s been stuck for most of his presidency. Faithful Republican states predictably give Trump and GOP governors higher marks, but in Florida, GOP Rick DeSantis is struggling for public support at 53% with Trump at only 45%. Nuanced results like these tell us that the public, or at least the sample of the public in this poll, understands keenly what’s been necessary to confront this crisis–and who has and has not served the public interest when it was needed most.

As we all struggle to understand what the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic means for the upcoming 2020 elections, this is a much-needed data point. We’ll be watching for and Republicans will be dreading corroborative results.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 13)

“April showers bring May flowers.” What’s the rhyme for “April snow…”? Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Politico looks at how states around the country are confused about how to get medical supplies from the federal government. Colorado is now the canonical example for this new form of pork barrel politics:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was pleading with the federal government to send ventilators.

The state was starting to see hundreds of new coronavirus cases pop up each day, and Polis, a Democrat, worried that hospitals wouldn’t have enough life-saving ventilators to deal with the looming spike.

So he made an official request for ventilators through the Federal Emergency Management System, which is managing the effort. That went nowhere. He wrote to Vice President Mike Pence, leader of the White House’s coronavirus task force. That didn’t work. He tried to purchase supplies himself. The federal government swooped in and bought them.

Then, on Tuesday, five weeks after the state’s first coronavirus case, the state’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner called President Donald Trump. The federal government sent 100 ventilators to Colorado the next day, but still only a fraction of what the state wanted.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, who is also one of the most endangered Republican Senators in the country, was also awarded with 100 ventilators by the federal government over the weekend. Meanwhile, states continue to struggle with getting and maintaining help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 

The big story of the weekend was a stunning expose from The New York Times detailing exactly how the Trump administration failed to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.

Via The New York Times (4/11/20)

Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen…

…Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks down this incredibly damning story.

The President is not taking the criticism well, as you would expect, raging in every direction as he looks for people to blame who aren’t named Trump. There are growing concerns that Trump may be looking to oust Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the nation’s foremost experts on coronavirus. #FireTrumpNotFauci was trending Monday on social media platforms.

 

Weld County now holds the top spot for the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado. It can’t help that Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) keeps questioning the advice of health experts.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Good Friday (April 10)

Have a nice “Good Friday” and a Happy Easter. If we work together, maybe we can convince President Trump to pardon a turkey on Sunday. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump cherishes few things more than the opportunity to stand at a podium and see if he can construct new sentences out of mismatched words. But as The New York Times reports, an increasing number of Republican advisers are worried that Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are doing far more harm than good — and not just for the country:

As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Mr. Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has become one of the president’s informal counselors and told him “a once-a-week show” could be more effective. Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana said “they’re going on too long.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the briefings were “going off the rails a little bit” and suggested that he should “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”…

One of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the president, was even blunter, arguing that the White House was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night by sending the president out to the cameras. [Pols emphasis]

Anybody who has watched even a snippet of one of Trump’s coronavirus briefings can understand these sentiments. Of course, Trump wouldn’t give up the opportunity to air his grievances on national television if the microphone was made entirely of coronavirus particles.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado officials are urging residents and small businesses to act swiftly in order to collect federal stimulus money. Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent points out that the federal government is bailing out on coronavirus testing in local areas:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended support for community COVID-19 testing sites effective April 10, leaving in doubt the future of the drive-up test site in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County coroner, said county Public Health is trying to find supplies and personnel to help run the testing site.

UCHealth, which established the site in a tent off South Parkside Drive, said Thursday it hopes to continue operating the site without FEMA support.

 

 Vox.com weighs in on the “ventilator patronage” story that broke in Colorado this week.

 

As The Washington Post reports, city and state governments are bracing for serious economic trouble:

The economic carnage unleashed by the novel coronavirus nationwide hasn’t just shuttered businesses and left more than 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits — it has also threatened city and state governments with financial devastation, according to local leaders, who say their ability to maintain roads, schools and basic social services is at risk at a time when their residents need help most.

Many states and cities, which were already cash-strapped, are now in dire straits, facing plunging tax revenue and spiking costs.

“I do think cities across the country are looking at some degree of austerity,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (I), who predicts his municipality will face as much as a $100 million shortfall. “This is a reckoning for us.”

Colorado lawmakers are worried that the state budget could take a hit of some $3 billion.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic nominee for President, announced new policy proposals for expanding Medicare and forgiving student debt.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 9)

Happy “Day of the Finnish Language” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are getting rightfully hammered after gloating about delivering 100 ventilators to Colorado just days after the federal government prevented 500 ventilators from getting to our state.

The editorial board of The Denver Post comes in HOT on the subject today:

Via The Denver Post (4/9/20)

President Donald Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives. For the good of this nation during what should be a time of unity, he must stop.

The Post is referring to yesterday’s big news in Colorado, in which Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) patted each other on the back over 100 ventilators being delivered to Colorado…just a few days after FEMA blocked Colorado’s order for 500 ventilators.

Trump had only days before prevented Colorado Gov. Jared Polis from securing 500 ventilators from a private company, instead, taking the ventilators for the federal government. Polis sent a formal letter pleading for medical equipment, but the president took the time to make clear he was responding to a request from Gardner. We are left to believe that if Colorado didn’t have a Republican senator in office, our state would not be getting these 100 ventilators. How many ventilators would we be getting if we had a Republican governor and a second Republican senator? Would that indicate we had more Republican lives in our state worth saving for Trump and resources would start flowing? Should Utah be concerned that Sen. Mitt Romney voted to remove the president from office?

This behavior comes, of course, weeks after Trump informed states they would have to compete against one another in the procurement of medical supplies at a time of global shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As news outlets across the state (and country) reported, people were aghast at Trump and Gardner for using ventilators as a political tool. Here’s The Grand Junction Sentinel; 9News; CBS4 Denver; CNN; and The Denver Post, to name just a few.

Jeremy Jojola of 9News had a similar reaction:


 
The U.S. Senate has reached an early impasse in discussions on a fourth spending bill related to coronavirus relief.

 

► Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment assistance last week, bringing the total number of claims to 17 million. The unemployment rate in the United States is now estimated to be about 13%, the highest figure since the Great Depression.

The news isn’t all bad, thankfully: There’s more evidence that social distancing efforts are working to flatten/smash/crush “the curve.”

 

 CNN checks the facts on President Trump’s latest coronavirus briefing. The Washington Post notes that all of our problems are miraculously solved when Trump is at the podium every afternoon, while Politico points out that Trump’s briefings are NOT helping his image with Americans.

As part of Wednesday’s briefing, Trump again claimed — without evidence — that increasing mail-in voting is a recipe for rampant corruption. Questions about mail-in balloting came after Trump earlier encouraged Republicans to “fight very hard” against expanding mail-in voting because Republicans will have a harder time winning elections if more Americans cast ballots. Seriously…that’s really what he said.

As 9News points out, Colorado is lucky that it moved to all-mail balloting years ago.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper makes the case for voting by mail in an Op-Ed for The Washington Post.

 

► How do you run a U.S. Senate campaign during a coronavirus lockdown? What’s it like to be in charge during a time of crisis? How will you get your hair cut? We ask former Gov. John Hickenlooper these questions and more in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Three Cheers: Gardner Loses 400 Ventilators To Trump

UPDATE #2: In a clip sure to outrage anyone who knows the full context of the story, Sen. Cory Gardner went on Fox News this morning to celebrate the 100 ventilators he snagged as a personal favor from President Donald Trump–presumably out of the 500 the Trump administration bought out from under Colorado:

The closest Gardner comes to acknowledging the original sin of Trump’s swiping of 500 ventilators is to mention at about 1:30 that “The governor has been searching for ventilators. FEMA has been searching for ventilators.” Not a single word about how those two searches intersected, and Colorado lost. Without that part of the story, understanding that Colorado is getting back 20% of the ventilators they lost due to the federal government’s actions, this narrative is misleading in the extreme.

A textbook lie of omission, told on national television.

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark lays the smack down:

—–

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (2/20/20)

The Denver Post reported over the weekend on an order of 500 ventilators sought by the state of Colorado to forestall a shortage of the devices in our state–an order that was co-opted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for federal use “out from under” Colorado, after President Donald Trump told states they should try to acquire medical equipment to respond to COVID-19 ourselves:

Colorado was making a deal with a manufacturer for an order of much-needed ventilators when the Federal Emergency Management Agency swooped in and took it themselves, Gov. Jared Polis told CNN on Friday night.

It was one thing for states to be competing among themselves for vital resources to fight the novel coronavirus, Polis said. Now they’re competing against the federal government, too.

“Either be in or out,” Polis told CNN’s Don Lemon. “Either you’re buying them and you’re providing them to states and you’re letting us know what we’re going to get and when we’re going to get them. Or you stay out, and let us buy them.”

Yesterday, Sen. Cory Gardner was asked during a telephone town hall about the federal government’s swiping of 500 Colorado-bound ventilators:

But today, as The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports:

President Trump on Wednesday announced that 100 ventilators will “immediately” be sent to Colorado after Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) made a request for the medical equipment.

In a response to Gardner’s tweet announcing the approval of National Guard assistance in the state, Trump posted, “Will be immediately sending 100 Ventilators to Colorado at the request of Senator Gardner!”

…The Colorado governor’s press secretary, Conor Cahill, said Tuesday that Polis had been notified Colorado’s orders for ventilators will not be granted in the coming weeks.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence last week, Gov. Jared Polis in fact requested a total of 10,000 ventilators, along with “associated equipment and pharmaceuticals” for their operation. That letter was sent several days before Gov. Polis went on CNN to expose that the federal government had bought an order of 500 machines out from under the state of Colorado.

But today, we’re supposed to celebrate the fact that the federal government will “generously” give us 1% of the ventilators we originally asked for, and one-fifth of what they bought out from under the state just last week? It’s preposterous, but that’s apparently what Gardner expects us to do. And given Trump’s well-publicized exercise of personal spite in the distribution of emergency equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, if Gov. Polis complains about what amounts to an outrageous shell game being played with lifesaving medical equipment, we might not even get the 100 ventilators.

Folks, to say this is nothing to celebrate is an understatement.

Colorado just got historically ripped off–and Cory Gardner is telling us to like it.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 7)

Happy Passover Holiday…oh, wait, it’s only Tuesday. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Governor Jared Polis addressed Coloradans on Monday evening in a rare speech covered live by every local news outlet. The big news from Polis’ speech is that a statewide “stay at home” order has been extended until April 26. As 9News reports:

Polis said the reason for April 26 date is because, based on data, staying at home is “our best chance, our only realistic chance to avoid a catastrophic loss of life the death of thousands of our friends, neighbors and family members.”

Polis encouraged Coloradans to continue to do their part: stay home, wear a mask when going out for critical items and practice social distancing.

“The federal government is literally paying us to stay home,” Polis added.

He said April will be known as the “lost month,” and said this generation has been called upon to sacrifice – temporarily – our way of life so we can return to normal.

Polis gave a nod to scientists at Colorado State University (CSU) for their work on a possible vaccine or cure and thanked other countries for personal protective gear donations.

Polis will answer viewer questions during a live televised “town hall” meeting tonight at 7:00 pm. Check this link from 9News for information on how you can submit a question.

 

If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, this would be the biggest story of the month. Wisconsin is holding its Primary Election today after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the state’s Governor and gave their stamp of approval to voter disenfranchisement. From Vox.com:

The Supreme Court’s Republican majority, in a case that is literally titled Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, handed down a decision that will effectively disenfranchise tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters. It did so at the urging of the GOP.

The case arises out of Wisconsin’s decision to hold its spring election during the coronavirus pandemic, even as nearly a dozen other states have chosen to postpone similar elections to protect the safety of voters. Democrats hoped to defend a lower court order that allowed absentee ballots to be counted so long as they arrived at the designated polling place by April 13, an extension granted by a judge to account for the brewing coronavirus-sparked chaos on Election Day, April 7. Republicans successfully asked the Court to require these ballots to be postmarked by April 7.

All five of the Court’s Republicans voted for the Republican Party’s position. All four of the Court’s Democrats voted for the Democratic Party’s position.

The decision carries grave repercussions for the state of Wisconsin — and democracy more broadly. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg notes in her dissent, “the presidential primaries, a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, three seats on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, over 100 other judgeships, over 500 school board seats, and several thousand other positions” are at stake in the Wisconsin election, which will be held on Tuesday. Of all these seats, the state Supreme Court race, between incumbent conservative Justice Daniel Kelly and challenger Judge Jill Karofsky, is the most hotly contested…

…Tens of thousands of voters are not expected to even receive their ballots until after Election Day, effectively disenfranchising them through no fault of their own. [Pols emphasis]

These days, Republicans aren’t even pretending that they aren’t actively disenfranchising voters.

 

► President Trump has fired his second inspector general in less than a week. As The Washington Post reports, Trump booted the IG who was supposed to be watching over the $2.2 trillion spending package approved by Congress last month.

 

 CNN checks the facts on President Trump’s latest coronavirus talkathon.

 

► How do you run a U.S. Senate campaign during a coronavirus lockdown? What’s it like to be in charge during a time of crisis? How will you get your hair cut? We ask former Gov. John Hickenlooper these questions and more in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first caught sight of land in what is now Florida; nobody was around to tell his cruise ship to go somewhere else. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

As The Associated Press reports, jobless claims in the United States are skyrocketing to literally unprecedented levels:

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

 

► It is not hyperbole to say that states with Democratic Governors have generally responded better to the coronavirus outbreak than states with Republicans in charge. There are two stark examples of this in the southeastern United States, where Republican Governors in Florida and Georgia are reacting at the speed of molasses.

As The Washington Post reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday…much too late:

DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday.

The daily reports from the Florida Department of Health drive the fact home: The number of people testing positive for covid-19 has accelerated rapidly, nearly doubling in the past four days, with 3,274 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 6,741 as of Tuesday evening.

The state reported 857 people hospitalized and 85 deaths as of Tuesday, with the heaviest concentration of infection in Broward and Miami-Dade counties along the southeast coast and pockets in other areas like Tampa and Orange County, home of Walt Disney World. On Tuesday alone, 14 deaths were reported in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

But DeSantis looks like a damn rocket surgeon compared to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, from The Washington Post:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.” 

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. [Pols emphasis] That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Really? Really? Kemp just learned that asymptomatic people are transmitting COVID-19??? Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the bumbling coronavirus responses of DeSantis and Kemp.

States with Democrats in charge, like California and Washington, are seeing a flattening curve of coronavirus infections thanks to their swift actions.

Governor Jared Polis — who has notably not had the same trouble as DeSantis and Kemp — is asking the federal government for more assistance in procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). From a press release:

On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is working quickly to secure its own medical supplies because the federal government has not been able to answer the call quickly enough. The Department of Homeland Security says national stockpiles of PPE are essentially depleted.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Polis announced that Colorado schools would remain closed for in-person learning through at least April 30.

 

► Kudos for CNN for its daily fact-checking of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► The State Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado legislature can pick up where it left off when work was suspended last month because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lawmakers had asked the court to rule on whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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