Hell Yes, Colorado Will Take The All Star Game

UPDATE 8:00PM: It’s for real, folks, get ready to party like it’s 2021:

FOX 31’s Colleen Flynn:

Major League Baseball is expected to announce that Coors Field will host this year’s All-Star Game on July 13. Law enforcement sources told FOX31 they will work the game in Denver. The Associated Press also has sources reporting the move.

The MLB announced Friday that the 2021 All-Star game was being moved out of Atlanta over new voting restrictions in Georgia. Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday that the MLB supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes any restrictions to the ballot box.

Altitude TV’s Vic Lombardi first broke the news, tweeting that he had multiple sources telling him the game will be hosted at the home of the Rockies.

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Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA).

Following up on Friday’s big news that Major League Baseball is pulling this year’s All Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia in response to that state’s passage of highly controversial vote suppression laws, the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders reports that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock are excited at the prospect of landing the event here:

Shelby Wieman, a spokeswoman for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a big Rockies fan, said Polis would love to see the All-Star Game return to Coors Field.

“The Governor knows that Colorado is the best home for the All-Star Game, especially because Colorado also has strong laws that enable voters to cast their legal ballots any way they choose including through mail or in person,” Wieman said. “The Governor will be burning up the phones the next few days to see if there is an opening to bring the All-Star game to Denver.”

Mayor Michael Hancock would also welcome the chance for the event to come to LoDo, said Theresa Marchetta, director of strategic communications and media policy for Denver’s mayor.

FOX 31’s Colleen Flynn:

At this point, Colorado hosting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is all speculation. In fact, there are reports out there that Milwaukee, Chicago and Kansas City are the front runners due to their ties with Hank Aaron.

However, according to The Athletic, top industry officials pointed to the home of the Rockies as a possible site for the game and festivities.

Moving the 2021 All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver would be a strong statement politically, directly addressing the issue that prompted the move away from Georgia. As our readers know, Colorado has one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country, with an election system considered the “gold standard” for accessibility and security. Basically every falsehood that Donald Trump and Georgia Republicans relied on to second-guess the 2020 election results with is debunked by Colorado’s experience, a fact which not even local Republicans can refute despite their regular hackneyed attempts to do so.

So Colorado’s got that going for us, and we think it’s a solid argument.

And if you really want to have some fun, turn off the humidor.

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Here We Grift Again! Recall Polis 2021 Kicks Off

When we last left the Recall Polis 2.0 campaign back in December of 2020, organizers were attempting to explain to their dismayed volunteers how despite all their best efforts, less than one third of the required 600,000+ signatures that would be required to put a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis on a statewide ballot had been collected–but not to worry, because the campaign was in court trying to win extra time to gather the other overwhelming majority of signatures needed that they couldn’t gather in the allotted 60-day window.

As you might have expected, that didn’t work out either–and at some point their lawyer advised the campaign they were wasting their money:

After 4 months pursuing a 90 day extension through the court, our attorney advised continuing to pursue the extension was not the best use of resources nor the most expedient action to remove Polis from office.

The sad end of “Recall Polis 1.0.”

Now, you might think that after two failed recall campaigns, each ending in its own special moment of statewide ridicule when it was no longer possible to conceal their failure after months trying to bluff momentum into existence, that the Polis recallers would at long last hang it up and try to defeat the state’s popular governor the old-fashioned way in the already fast-approaching 2022 general election.

But there’s no fun or money in that, folks! Get ready for Polis Recall 2021:

Reluctantly we agreed to begin again with new charges warranting a Recall and new petitions. [Pols emphasis] During the 4 months in court volunteers have continued to join us with our Team expanding daily…

Polis continues to subject the citizens of Colorado to illegal and unconstitutional restrictions as well as depriving us our unalienable rights as stated in the US Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; as such We The People revoke our consent to be governed and will succeed in RECALLING POLIS IN 2021 and replacing him with a Governor with the god [sic-Pols] of the people at heart. Join us!

“Herbie the Hate Bug.”

Don’t let the website’s 1990s Geocities look fool you–this campaign is every bit as serious as the last two Recall Polis campaigns, and that means they should be able to raise enough money to make a much better website soon. That’s probably it, though: even setting aside Polis’ durable high approval ratings, Colorado’s very high relative signature threshold for qualifying a recall question for the statewide ballot makes anything like the madness that takes hold in California every couple of decades a pipe dream here.

Whatever happens next, in a way everybody wins: the recall organizers along with their lawyers and vendors get paid, Democrats reap the political benefit from Republicans distracting themselves and alienating voters on another fool’s errand, and Republicans who actually want to win races in 2022…

Well, crap. Somebody loses after all.

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#VaccinesForAll Coming This Friday

UPDATE: Phase 2 general public vaccine appointments as early as Friday are available as of this writing from TrueCare24 Colorado Vaccines for All at the Ball Arena mass vaccination site. Users report it is necessary to click the “Phase 1B signup” button initially, but once in the form Phase 2 can be selected.

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Make your plan to get jabbed.

And please post working links to general public vaccine signup pages as you find them.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 24)

With any luck, you will not be traded to Cleveland today. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► President Biden called on Congress to re-enact an Assault Weapons Ban after mass shootings in Georgia and Boulder, Colorado. But as The Associated Press reports, Republicans are already digging in:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.

“This Senate will be different,” said Schumer, D-N.Y., a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”…

…Many in the GOP base are still strongly opposed to gun control of any kind. In Tuesday’s hearing, which was scheduled before the Colorado shooting, Republicans showed no signs of wavering. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that every time there is a shooting, the Senate engages in “ridiculous theater,” with Democrats proposing laws that he said could take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Republicans have argued that background checks would not stop most mass shootings and would prevent some lawful gun owners from purchasing firearms.

“We already know this pattern is predictable, over and over and over again,” Cruz said.

That might not be the argument you think it is, Sen. Cruz. It’s also worth noting that some right-wing media outlets are voicing agreement on banning “weapons of war.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) has been making appearances on a lot of national television shows, including CBS This Morning. “It does not have to be this way,” said Neguse.

Governor Jared Polis has ordered flags in Colorado to be flown at half-staff for 10 days to honor the victims of the Boulder shooting.

 

► While it may seem that 2020 had fewer gun deaths owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, 2020 was actually a record year for gun violence. Westword looks at how the National Rifle Association (NRA) helped pave the way for mass shootings.

 

► State lawmakers are discussing potential gun safety measures in response to Monday’s shooting in Boulder. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

The state senator who represents the district where the tragedy occurred said he’s drafting a bill to restore cities’ ability to enact gun restrictions above and beyond the state’s laws.

The shooting came just days after a district court judge in Boulder ruled that the city does not have the legal authority to enforce its 2018 citywide ban on assault-style weapons and magazines with a capacity to accept 10 or more rounds. The judge cited a 2003 state law that preempts local gun restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, of Boulder, said that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Statehouse had lightly discussed repealing that 2003 law over the past week, but the talks accelerated among legislative leaders “only in the last 18 hours.”

Colorado Public Radio has more on the push from legislators to move quickly on gun safety discussions.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are trying to figure out if they can legally do more to increase property tax revenues for public education.

Governor Jared Polis and state lawmakers will soon embark on a “Build Back Stronger” tour.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that seeks to give victims of sexual abuse more time to consider legal action against perpetrators.

Senate President Leroy Garcia’s bill to create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program made it through a committee hearing.

 

► Don’t miss this bonus episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) in which he refers to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “schlub”:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Poll: How Long Will You Keep Your Mask On?

AP reports via CBS4 as the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel gets brighter:

Colorado’s health department is moving to relax its statewide mask mandate and limits on gathering capacity, saying the state’s role in determining COVID-19 restrictions will lessen in favor of more local control as vaccination eligibility opens more widely.

The proposal announced Friday would allow local authorities and “private entities” in the counties with the lowest coronavirus infection rates to determine whether or not masks would be required. It would also end most restrictions on capacity for restaurants, personal services providers, retailers, manufacturers, health care providers or outdoor events.

If everything goes well, the individual mask mandate in Colorado would end on Easter Sunday, April 4–although private businesses can continue to enforce their own requirements like private businesses always could. As for when individuals should consider it safe and prudent to stop wearing masks in public? That depends–and we’re curious what your own plans are. How long will you keep wearing a mask voluntarily after Gov. Jared Polis relents from forcing you to wear one under penalty of death?*

How long will you continue to wear a face mask?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

*Dramatization

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Getting Stuff Done: Democrats Fixing The Roads, Too

Denver7’s Meghan Lopez reported this weekend on a new proposal from Colorado legislative leaders and supported by Gov. Jared Polis to raise $4 billion over the next decade to tackle the state’s backlog of transportation infrastructure projects, which Colorado Republicans regularly complain has been neglected over the years they’ve been out of power:

In all, the draft estimates the changes would result in an extra $28 per Coloradan annually. However, bill co-sponsors say fixing the state’s infrastructure will result in long-term savings to drivers.

“On average, Coloradans are losing $732 a year on maintenance to their car and lost productivity sitting in congestion,” said Rep. Alec Garnett, the speaker of the house. “This is about catching up and making sure that we are putting safety first, productivity first and Colorado first.”

…If approved, the bill would result in roughly $4 billion in new fee revenue over the next 11 years to be used to help build, repair and maintain transportation infrastructure across the state.

The gas fee is expected to generate roughly $2 billion in the first decade, another $1.12 billion would come from the delivery fee and $203 million would come from the ride-share fee.

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, Democrats are operating under the same interpretation of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court to fund the FASTER vehicle registration fee program to repair aging bridges across the state:

[Sen. Steve] Fenberg says that since the proposal doesn’t call for creating a new enterprise it doesn’t run afoul of Proposition 117. “This does not have to go to voters,” he said. “We’re talking about fees. We know fees are within the jurisdiction of the legislature.”

Fees are one way that lawmakers can get around TABORs requirements, but courts have said they have to fund something that’s reasonably connected to the fee itself.

At least one Republican lawmaker — state Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson — is supportive of the Democrats’ proposal, allowing the majority party to say the bill is bipartisan. “Like Utah and other states have done, we need to come together and make investments into our transportation system,” Priola said in a written statement. “Doing so will set our state up for a brighter future.”

Republicans chafe at the exception carved out of TABOR for fees directed to specific related purposes, but when the precise language of Doug Bruce’s grand monkeywrenching of state government ends up working against the goals of the monkeywrenchers, we have trouble finding much sympathy. Likewise with this plan’s avoidance of the new restrictions in Proposition 117, narrowly passed last year to hamstring new state enterprises. Well, guess what? Fixing the roads doesn’t have to be a new state enterprise.

And this brings us to the central point about Democrats taking care to not leave transportation funding out of their ambitious legislative agenda this year. A very popular political priority with voters, Republicans in Colorado tend to use transportation funding as a universal foil against proposals for spending money on most anything else. Although in Colorado the money controlled by the legislature in the state’s General Fund is not usually spent on transportation projects, the General Fund is where Republicans call for cuts to other vital programs instead of finding new revenue to pay for what’s needed. As long as we’re playing that zero-sum game, Republicans are fine “spending more” on roads–at the expense of everything else voters value.

At the end of the day, this inside-baseball back and forth over the definition of fees and enterprises is not what matters. Coloradans want the roads fixed. Perceptibly delivering on that promise will be worth more to Democrats than all the Republicans complaining about loopholes in the intentionally dysfunctional TABOR can detract from the accomplishment.

If Republicans have a plan to raise the money we need to fix the roads, now’s the time to show their work.

That’s the part that never goes well.

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Get Your Ass Vaccinated, Colorado!

Colorado Public Radio reports on the first day of significantly expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado as “Phase 1B.4” kicks off, making everyone over 50 and many more essential workers and qualifying patients ready to jab:

On Friday, the last sub-group of Phase 1B becomes eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Then, the general public can start getting the vaccine, which Gov. Jared Polis said will start in April.

The last 1B subgroup includes anyone in Colorado who is 50 or older as well as frontline workers in higher education, food service, journalism, manufacturing, public transit, public health, human services, faith communities, some state and local government divisions, and services to homeless populations.

The state also expanded the qualifications for people with high-risk medical conditions starting Friday. People who have one high-risk condition are now eligible…

By all accounts available appointments from private vaccine providers are filling up rapidly, but the first place to check on where you can get your vaccination is the state COVID-19 information portal, followed by the VaccineFinder tool. In addition, Centura Health just today opened up registration for their new mass vaccination sites across the state, and we’re hearing positive feedback about people successfully scheduling their appointments there.

Gov. Jared Polis has promised vaccines for the entire general public by the middle of next month. It’s a bit of a mad dash right now to snag available appointments through the various private signup tools, a situation comparable to scoring sought-after tickets to a sports event or rock concert. Those of you privileged enough to be able to spend time hunting for a shot should do so as soon as possible, and everyone else will hopefully not be far behind.

It’s how we beat this thing, folks. Present your own arm as soon as you possibly can.

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Polis Promises Vaccines Open To Every Adult By Mid-April

Denver7’s Ryan Osborne reports on the heels of President Joe Biden announcement yesterday that all American adults will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis plans to beat that goal of eligibility to all adults by a couple of weeks at least:

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday said he expects all adult Coloradans to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-April, aiming for a sooner target date than the national goal of May 1 that was announced by President Joe Biden this week.

Colorado is also moving up the eligibility date for phase 1.B4 by two days to March 19. At that point, half of the state population will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Phase 1.B4 includes all 50-and-older Coloradans, plus essential workers such as restaurant employees. In total, 2,505,310 people will be eligible in 1.B4…

Colorado is receiving about 200,000 doses of the vaccine per week, a total comprised of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. The state is also receiving smaller shipments of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and expects up to 84,500 doses in the week of April 4.

It’s big news for everyone who wants to get back to that thing they call normal, or more accurately the “new normal,” and though we can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to look like we’re all very excited to get there.

Good news is good, folks. Let the novelty of it tickle you.

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Dirty Jokes About “MeatIn Day” Write Themselves

Damn the triglycerides!

Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on the latest tempest in an Instant Pot at the Colorado Capitol, a budding kerfluffle between Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association fronted by Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of CAFO Country over Polis suggesting that a little less meat in Coloradans’ diets might be desirable:

Gov. Jared Polis has issued a proclamation naming March 20 “MeatOut Day,” and it’s a decision that is causing outrage among some in livestock organizations and rural Colorado counties…

The state doesn’t have a problem with people who want plant-based diets. But the national perception is that Colorado is against agriculture, [Sen. Jerry] Sonnenberg said. That includes a recent announcement by a Hereford (cattle) association. Sonnenberg said the association’s board is planning to vote on moving from the National Western Stock Show to a livestock show hosted at the same time in Oklahoma City. The association, according to Sonnenberg, said Polis’ proclamation for MeatOut Day was “the last straw.”

“That’s unacceptable,” Sonnenberg shouted in the Senate Friday.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

CBS4 Denver gave Sonnenberg’s sound and fury over “MeatOut Day” a generous portion of airtime:

Sonnenberg says words have consequences especially when they’re the words of the governor.

“We can’t have leadership in this state throw the number two industry in this state under the bus…that’s unacceptable!!”

It’s not the first time the governor, whose partner is vegan, has snubbed the beef industry. Sonnenberg recalled how Polis plugged Burger King’s meatless burger when it came out, even sending a bunch of them to the Department of Agriculture.

For the record, Gov. Polis’ proclamation of “MeatOut Day” does not call for the elimination of meat from the diets of Americans, which for many of us is a nonstarter. As for reducing consumption of meat in the world’s fourth-highest per capita meat consumer, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that would be both ecologically and medically preferable. Either way, even if some Americans make healthier dietary choices for one day, there’s still going to be a strong demand for all the meat Colorado’s meat industry (just one segment of the state’s diverse agriculture industry) can churn out.

Sonnenberg noted comments made by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, who name-checked Colorado’s capital city in his State of the State address on Feb. 1. “The folks in Denver turned their back on the ag industry,” Stitts said. “They wouldn’t let them have their major national cattle show, because they insisted on keeping their state locked down. That put the stability of the U.S. beef industry in danger.”

We didn’t hear from Sonnenberg whether Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma had found a buyer for all that useless hydroxychloroquine he stockpiled, but Stitt is not exactly a credible authority on managing the COVID-19 pandemic–and now we’re talking about lockdowns, not “MeatOut Days,” and we see this is just another opportunity to grind the same old political axes.

As for “MeatIn Day,” the Cattlemen’s Association’s brilliant comeback to “MeatOut Day?”

The middle school boy in your family knows what to do (see title).

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Drillers, Enviros Hail Methane-Cutting Agreement

The Colorado Sun’s Mark Jaffe reports on a landmark agreement finalized last week that shows how the game has changed for the betterment of the environment and public health under Gov. Jared Polis and the ambitious reforms of oil and gas drilling policy in 2019:

A rule clamping down on air pollution from key devices used by the oil and gas industry – which drew support from environmental groups and industry – was unanimously adopted by Colorado air quality regulators Thursday.

The first-in-the-nation rule requires the installation of non-emitting controllers on all new oil and gas operations and the retrofitting of existing controllers – a major source of emissions in the industry…

The state Air Pollution Control Division had initially proposed a rule to the AQCC that would have required non-emitting controllers only at new facilities, but over the past few months negotiations among industry representatives, environmental groups and local governments broadened the rule to encompass existing operations.

Environmental groups are very pleased to have gotten an even more comprehensive agreement than the state had original sought, crucially including the retrofitting of existing wells with non-methane emitting pneumatic controllers:

“Colorado is once again leading the nation in addressing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry,” said Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Environmental Defense Fund. “With broad support from industry and the environmental and public health community, the Commission is setting the standard for other states and the U.S. EPA to follow in addressing pollution from new and existing sites using pneumatic devices.”

“With the impacts of climate change hitting closer to home than ever before, we’re so excited to see Colorado once again set national leadership with precedent-setting, commonsense rules that reduce methane pollution in our communities,” said Sara Rose Tannenbaum, Climate Advocate, Conservation Colorado.

More from Earthjustice and the Colorado Sierra Club:

(more…)

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2021 State of the State Open Thread

 

UPDATE: Via Colorado Newsline:

[Gov. Jared] Polis acknowledged the extraordinary challenges and events Coloradans have experienced in the last year, including those related to the pandemic, systemic racial discrimination, unprecedented wildfires and watching “in shock and horror as the foundation of our democracy itself came under attack by a violent mob intent on overturning the results of a free and fair election.”

“In short, this has been one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes,” Polis said.

Senate Democratic Majority leadership checks in for mutual affection:

“I feel incredibly encouraged that the Governor’s priorities are aligned with our own. From urgent pandemic relief to long-awaited economic fairness and environmental reforms, it is clear that the democratic leaders in this state are intent on not only recovering from this pandemic but building back a stronger Colorado,” said President Garcia, D-Pueblo. “I look forward to working collaboratively with Gov. Polis’s administration to deliver meaningful results for our residents this legislative session.”

“I applaud Governor Polis for his leadership over the last year. He has continually put Coloradans first – mitigating the effects of the pandemic and setting us on a path of recovery. This legislative session is not only about getting Colorado back on its feet, it’s about setting our state up for even greater success going forward,” said Majority Leader Fenberg, D-Boulder. “I am confident that with the partnership of the Governor’s office, we will be able to accomplish great things for Colorado this session.”

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Colorado’s First Family, Vaccines, And The Same Old Bigotry

Gov. Jared Polis gets vaccinated.

Five days ago, the RMPBS reported on Gov. Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis receiving their first doses of coronavirus vaccine at the Salud Clinic in Commerce City:

As thousands of Colorado senior citizens reported to Coors Field Saturday, January 30 to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis arrived at Salud Clinic in Commerce City to get their first doses of the vaccine.

“I’m putting my arm where my mouth is,” the governor told a group of patients at Salud Clinic…

Polis and Reis’ vaccination comes roughly two months after the couple tested positive for COVID-19 on November 28, 2020. Polis never faced more than mild symptoms, however Reis was hospitalized for two days after experiencing a worsening cough and shortness of breath.

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

Polis, 45, said he received the vaccine because he is among about 200 people who were given priority access to ensure continuity of government. Others in his age group likely won’t receive the vaccine until this summer unless they have two or more comorbidities.

West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice receives her COVID-19 vaccination in December.

Although the decisions about who gets priority for vaccination while the demand outstrips the supply in these first few critical months of availability are under a great deal of understandable scrutiny, it’s easy to understand why Gov. Polis and his spouse needed to get vaccinated ASAP–along with members of the legislature, and other top elected officials. Although the work of elected officials is routinely devalued by the right, so much so that political institutions are considered less popular in many cases than communicable diseases, Gov. Polis is currently presiding over a state of emergency affecting six million people. It’s critically important work, and if it were a Republican in office we believe there would be absolutely no quarrel on this point.

Polis’ duties as governor obligate him to be in contact with the public every day, and lawmakers in the General Assembly likewise can’t be expected to convene in a public space to do the people’s business without every available protection. And of course the First Gentleman gets the shot too, because married couples can’t be expected to socially distance from one another.

For everyone who doesn’t believe government’s best use is to be drowned in the bathtub, we’d say this is a no-brainer. But here in Colorado, it seems, there’s another aspect to this that Gov. Polis’ Republican critics are zeroing in on: the fact that Colorado has a male governor…and also a First Gentleman.

Former Arapahoe County DA turned talk radio ghoul George Brauchler blew the dog whistle much louder:

Got that, folks? “He–his husband.” There’s really no way to not get what Brauchler is emphasizing, and it’s as distasteful as it is obvious.

The spouses of governors in other states, even in states where politicos getting vaccinated has become a controversy, don’t seem to be getting singled out for this extra degree of criticism after getting vaccinated along with their husbands. We didn’t hear this hue and cry in late December when First Lady-elect Jill Biden got her vaccination alongside the incoming President either, or when former Second Lady Karen Pence received hers.

Is there room for reasonable debate, and even tough questions, about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado? Of course. There is an argument for, as some other governors have chosen, foregoing the vaccine even if justified for continuity of government in order to prioritize health workers and the most vulnerable getting it first. This isn’t about hiding from legitimate policy or political questions that may exist.

But once Republicans turn it into another tawdry display of homophobia, we’re done listening.

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Science Messes Up GOP Talking Points (Again)

UPDATE: Douglas County officials will need some new talking points for justifying a split from the Tri-County Health Department.

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Blame these assholes.

It’s been almost exactly one year since the first known case of COVID-19 in the United States. Across the country, cities, counties, and states are still dealing with various levels of restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.

The process of mass vaccinations is underway, with just shy of 6% of the American population having received at least one dose of the vaccine, but the U.S. economy is still struggling. President Biden is pushing new programs for food assistance and economic recovery, including a $1.9 trillion relief package, but 900,000 more Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the final week of the Trump administration.

With Democrats back in control of Congress and the White House, right-wing Republicans are once again turning their talking points on economic pain into attacks on gubmint interference in the free market. Here’s a recent example from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and CU Regent Heidi Ganahl:

Ah, yes. Governor Jared Polis wants to destroy all restaurants in Colorado! You know, because, um…because he’s a mean liberal politician, or something.

The trouble with this argument, which we’ve been hearing for 9 months from Republicans such as Buck and former State House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, is pretty simple: It’s just not true. As The Washington Post explains, there is a heap of new research showing that economic struggles in the United States are almost solely because consumers are afraid of COVID-19:

But pandemic-related economic research shows the shutdowns aren’t killing jobs; the virus is.

In the first outbreaks last spring, people stayed home to avoid contracting the deadly novel coronavirus, regardless of what their governor said.

Indiana University economists Sumedha Gupta, Kosali Simon and Coady Wing reviewed more than 60 pandemic and social-distancing studies for a review article forthcoming in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. With the input of those economists and other experts, we’ve reviewed the basic data and some of the strongest research. Four facts emerged from the spring shutdowns.

We’ll save you some time by summarizing the four basic facts that emerged from this plethora of scientific research:

♦ Employment and economic activity declined well before any shutdown orders;

♦ The virus caused a huge drop in economic activity. Shutdowns did not;

♦ When shutdown orders were lifted across the country, economic activity did not increase accordingly;

♦ Jobs data shows little difference in economic changes in blue or red counties.

Take a look at this chart of data compiled by researchers showing when economic activity dropped off a cliff:

Via The Washington Post (1/25/21)

The point here isn’t to absolve elected officials from any blame related to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The bigger issue is that tossing wrenches at state and local officials for promoting shutdowns isn’t addressing the actual problem facing the economy. Blaming Polis or other elected officials for harming the economy during a pandemic is like yelling at your lawn for not drinking enough water in a drought.

Business collapsed so quickly in mid-March that it’s tough to disentangle correlation and causation. But several high-profile teams of economists, armed with that high-frequency data and sophisticated statistical methods, arrived at similar conclusions…

…Business fell by more than half (53 percent) regardless of whether a place shut down, as people everywhere were trying not to leave their homes. In shutdown areas, activity fell another 7 percent, meaning shutdowns caused less than an eighth of the drop in business. 

“If pandemic concern or fear leads both to people staying home and policymakers imposing lockdowns, then the fear is the true driving force,” Syverson said. “Economic declines and lockdowns happen to be correlated because they’re pushed by the same thing, even though one isn’t necessarily causing the other.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s not a complicated formula. It never has been. If you want to get the economy back on track, you must stop the virus first. We know that there are handfuls of people who are willing to eat out at restaurants regardless of the presence of COVID-19, but there aren’t nearly enough customers who will shrug off safety concerns just for a cheeseburger — no matter what the Governor says.

It’s probably too much to hope that Republicans such as Buck and Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-Fox News) will stop using these nonsense talking points to attack other elected officials who are doing their best to get both the virus under control and the economy back on track. But we can at least respond definitively that blaming economic problems on COVID-19 safety measures is a false argument.

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Trump Admin Fumbles Vaccine Distribution Again

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis.

The Washington Post reports today, the word from the Trump administration earlier in the week that a “reserve” of COVID-19 vaccine doses would be released to the states under expedited new guidelines designed to get more Americans vaccinated faster, which had spurred hopes that the vaccine logjam would finally ease up, was in error:

When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.

Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado is not happy:

Though it looks to be more a matter of miscommunication and ineptitude than outright treachery, it’s just the latest broken promise from the Trump administration on what should be the highest priority in the nation–the race to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 as the daily death toll hits an unthinkable 4,000. The US ended 2020 with fewer than 3 million people vaccinated despite a goal set by the administration of 20 million. This is a failure compounding with each passing day, with a direct cost in preventable deaths.

Truly, January 20 cannot come fast enough.

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Cory Gardner’s Last Con Falls Apart

UPDATE: Politico reports that the Colorado delegation isn’t taking this adverse decision lying down:

“This last-minute decision, based entirely on political expediency, will devastate our space capabilities,” [Rep. Doug] Lamborn wrote. “I call on you to use your authority upon taking office as our nation’s commoner-in-chief to reverse this foolish and hastily made decision.”

Separately, Colorado Democrats Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper released a statement saying they will “ensure the Biden administration reviews this purported decision.”

“Just as President Trump is leaving office, Colorado was not selected despite reports that it was the Air Force’s top choice,” the senators wrote. “We believe a process based on the merits will keep Space Command in Colorado. There is no role for politics when it comes to our national security.”

The Pentagon named six finalists to host the headquarters in November after a politically charged search that spanned two dozen states and lasted more than a year. Officials then winnowed it to the bases in Colorado Springs and Huntsville.

Rep. Doug Lamborn condemning President Donald Trump’s announcement as “political expediency” could be the most pointed disagreement Lamborn has ever worked up the nerve to vocalize with Trump–a sign that perhaps Lamborn too has realized the future is not on the Trump Train.

Might this decision be reversed by incoming President Joe Biden? We’ll have to see, but the worm may be turning even as the announcement is made.

—–

Apparently the reverse is also true.

Colorado Public Radio reports:

The U.S. Space Command will be calling Alabama home permanently — and not Colorado.

Petersen Air Force Base in Colorado Springs was named the temporary headquarters for the combatant command in May 2019 — and it looks like that status won’t have a chance to establish Centennial State roots…

In a statement, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the decision “misguided” and said the state’s aerospace security, military heritage, and quality of life makes it the “epicenter of national security space and the only permanent home for U.S. Space Command.”

“Reports that the in-depth military process found Colorado Springs to be the best location for military readiness and cost and recommended Colorado to the President only to be overruled for politically motivated reasons are deeply concerning,” Polis added. [Pols emphasis]

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs last February.

News that the U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters would be moving to Huntsville, Alabama instead of bringing jobs and construction money to the Colorado Springs area is a significant blow to the southern Front Range’s economy, which is heavily dependent on the region’s major military installations. During Sen. Cory Gardner’s unsuccessful re-election campaign last year, the prospect of Space Command being permanently located in Colorado was touted by the campaign one of Gardner’s biggest “accomplishments,” and was dangled by President Donald Trump himself at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs last February:

“You are being very strongly considered for the space command, very strongly,” Trump told a capacity crowd of 10,000 inside The Broadmoor World Arena and hundreds more who stood outside in the cold to watch him on a screen set up for the event.

Trump said he will decide where to house the command by the end of 2020, possibly after the November election. The decision was originally due last summer, and the delay has gone unexplained by the Pentagon.

Trump’s implied personal involvement in the decision is a rarity for the White House, which in the past two administrations has steered clear of basing decisions which are generally settled in the Pentagon. [Pols emphasis]

Despite this, as AL.com reports jubilantly, the Air Force insists they didn’t play political favorites:

The Air Force studied sites in numerous states including Alabama and Colorado, where the headquarters is temporarily located. A report in Politico today said Huntsville ranked higher than Colorado in each category of the evaluation. That included cost of living and housing availability off base.

With that said,

The Politico story also quoted a top Air Force official saying the choice was “made in consultation with the White House, [Pols emphasis] senior military commanders, the congressional defense committees and others.”

Either way, at least one local Republican operative couldn’t conceal his glee at seeing Colorado lose out:

Obviously, for everyone in Colorado who wanted this major command permanently located in Colorado Springs with all the economic benefits that entails, this sucks. But it’s clear at this point the promise that a “vote for Cory Gardner is a vote for Space Command” was woefully empty. At best it was a political carrot dangled by Trump to a state his campaign quickly realized was not competitive–and no such largesse could save Gardner, who was all but written off by national Republicans early on in the 2020 cycle.

As for Alabama, we’re inclined to agree that to whatever extent Trump did have sway over this decision, he would certainly try to reward Mo Brooks and Tommy Tuberville for their unwavering loyalty right to the bitter end of Trump’s presidency. With Gardner’s loyalty to Trump there was also “no waver,” but the voters of Colorado rendered the question of Gardner’s loyalty moot. He was useless to Trump in defeat. The only caveat to this we feel obliged to add is some presumption of the best when it comes to the Air Force’s political impartiality, and readers can debate that for themselves.

Perhaps the one upside is Gardner doesn’t have to make excuses about losing Space Command now, and that’s good because we’re pretty sure nobody in Colorado would want to hear them. So long, Cory Gardner, and thanks for even closer to nothing than we thought.

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Recall Polis 2.0: Even More Fail Than We Thought

Here’s the latest update from the failed but still noisy Recall Polis 2.0 campaign this weekend, doing their best to keep the disappointed faithful on board, despite turning in zero signatures to the Secretary of State by the November 13 deadline which (checks today’s date) expired over a month ago:

Although it’s impossible to know if even the number organizers claim above is accurate, this is the first time we’ve seen an estimate from the Recall Polis 2.0 campaign other than the wildly inflated “progress meter” graphics they posted during the 60-day collection period which suggested back in September they already had over 200,000 signatures. For comparison, and again there’s no way to verify any of this because none of the signatures from either campaign were ever turned in for validation, the “Recall Polis 1.0” campaign claimed to have collected “over 300,000” signatures in 2019–still 50% short of the minimum goal. That means even if we accept these numbers at face value, Recall Polis 2.0 collected 100,000 fewer signatures than the first failed attempt, less than one third of what was minimally needed.

With all of this in mind, the idea that a court should grant this campaign any kind of relief or extension when they haven’t come close to meeting the standard is preposterous. At this point, any Republican with an ounce of political sense remaining should see that every dollar and man-hour devoted to this lost cause is wasted. The repeated failure of recall attempts against both Gov. Jared Polis and various Democratic legislatures since 2018 have made a running joke of the recall process in this state, and this latest refusal to accept obvious failure is just making it worse.

Then again…Donald Trump! If no Republican ever admits to losing again, this discussion could be moot. Fortunately, the rest of us have elections and courts and, you know, reality.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 10)

Happy “Human Rights Day.” Please be a nice human today. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► The United States broke a week-old record by surpassing 3,000 daily deaths from COVID-19. The good news: Americans could be receiving vaccinations within a matter of days. As The New York Times reports:

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, composed of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, as well as industry and consumer representatives, is meeting all day on Thursday to discuss whether Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should be authorized by the agency. Although the F.D.A. does not have to follow the advice of the panel, it usually does.

If the experts vote in favor of the vaccine, it will clear the way for the F.D.A. to authorize the vaccine within days and for some health care workers and nursing home residents to begin receiving it early next week.

Earlier this week, career scientists at the F.D.A. published more than 100 pages of analysis of Pfizer’s clinical trial data that showed the vaccine was safe and effective across a variety of demographic groups and also began to show effectiveness after the first of two doses.

Colorado Public Radio and The Denver Post have more on how the State of Colorado plans to prioritize the availability of vaccinations, broken down by Winter, Spring, and Summer stages. The short version is that extremely-high risk health care workers and individuals will get the vaccine first, while the general public probably won’t get stabbed in the arm until early Summer 2021.

Prisoners in Colorado jails have been moved down the priorities list, though as 9News reports, the biggest outbreak in the federal prison system is in the Denver Metro area:

A minimum security federal prison in Jefferson County is experiencing the largest outbreak in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system.

Out of 900 inmates at FCI Englewood, 451 presently have COVID-19, and 50 out of 251 staff have COVID right now, according to BOP.

 

► Scrooge McConnell appears to have scuttled a coronavirus relief package. Again.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still officially on the job until Democrat John Hickenlooper is sworn in as his replacement on January 3. But as Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Gardner hasn’t really been doing his job for weeks now:

The email contact form on Gardner’s website disappeared soon after the election, and the “email Cory” link at the bottom of the site’s other pages leads to a 404 page that says, “404. We’re sorry. The page you requested cannot be found.”…

…Gardner’s eight in-state offices in Colorado shuttered for good on Friday, according to a message reached by calling the senator’s Pueblo office. Multiple calls to each of his offices, including the one in Washington, D.C., went unanswered this week.

A Gardner spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

While it is not at all unusual for Gardner’s office to avoid comment — on pretty much any question — it is not standard practice for outgoing U.S. Senators to just stop doing their job:

Four of the other five departing senators had functioning email contact forms on their Senate websites on Wednesday, and the fifth, retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, greeted constituents with messages urging them to get in touch with other members of the state’s delegation…

Spokeswomen for U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jason Crow said they’d be happy to help out constituents who can’t reach Gardner’s office. [Pols emphasis]

► Colorado is one of 46 states that have joined an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. As The Denver Post explains:

The lawsuit alleges Facebook aggressively bought out any company that threatened the platform’s dominance, including Instagram and WhatsApp, and worked to “bury” companies that did not sell out to the social media giant by using a variety of competition-stifling tactics, like limiting access to Facebook for third-party applications.

“If you stepped on Facebook’s turf or resisted pressure to sell, (Mark) Zuckerberg would go into ‘destroy mode,’ subjecting your business to the ‘wrath of Mark,’” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit and a separate complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission seek to stop Facebook’s anti-competitive behavior by forcing the company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, and preventing the company from making any acquisitions for more than $10 million without first alerting officials in the states that filed the suit…

…The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, as well as an eight-member executive committee that includes Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and South Dakota did not join the effort. The District of Columbia and the territory of Guam did join.

 

 Colorado House Republicans want to hold a hearing of the Legislative Audit Committee in order to “investigate” nonexistent election fraud in Colorado. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster have been invited to testify.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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“Recall Polis” Dead-Enders Take Decidedly Creepy Turn

CBS4 Denver reported Monday:

A group of people protested outside of a restaurant in Lyons after the state seized its liquor and suspended its license to serve it over the weekend. The Colorado Department of Revenue says the Lyons Den Restaurant and Taphouse continued to operate with indoor dining despite several warnings and Level Red restrictions.

On Friday, the restaurant posted to its Facebook page saying it will not give up and “won’t be bullied.”

The owner says the Monday protest is meant to be peaceful.

Over at the still-30,000 strong Recall Polis 2020 Facebook group, the Lyons Den protest was warmly received:

But in the comments, the tenor of the conversation escalated into something pretty frightening, well beyond what we’ve seen even within this excitable private forum:

(more…)

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Wishing First Gentleman Marlon Reis Well

TUESDAY UPDATE: Gov. Jared Polis says First Gentleman Marlon Reis has been successfully discharged from the hospital after treatment.

—–

Denver7 reports:

Gov. Jared Polis’ office said First Gentleman Marlon Reis is now in the hospital due to worsening COVID-19 symptoms…

Over the last 24 hours, Reis started to experience a slightly worsening cough and shortness of breath eight days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the press release.

As a precaution, Gov. Polis drove Reis to the hospital in his personal vehicle to be reviewed and treated. Polis is not experiencing any additional symptoms at this time.

We wish Colorado’s First Family good health and a speedy recovery.

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More Stimulus, Less Sideshow: COVID Relief Session Kicks Off

Clockwise from left: Senate President Leroy Garcia (D), House Speaker KC Becker (D), Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R), House Minority Leader Pat Neville (R).

Faith Miller reported yesterday for Colorado Newsline on the goals for the (hopefully) three-day extraordinary session of the Colorado General Assembly that gaveled in today to work on a package of economic relief bills at the request of Gov. Jared Polis:

The administration of Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate have framed the session as a necessary stopgap after coronavirus relief talks between Republicans and Democrats in Congress fell apart.

“We had all been expecting and hoping for greater federal action, which hasn’t materialized,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told reporters during a virtual news conference Nov. 29.

Becker added that lawmakers will be provided with KN95 masks and asked to get diagnostic COVID-19 tests before Nov. 30. Rapid surveillance tests will be available for legislators, staff and reporters each day of the special session, which is expected to last a few days.

From the joint statement by Democratic House and Senate leaders:

“Congressional inaction has left millions stranded – completely abandoned in their time of need. Small businesses have been drowning for months waiting for comprehensive federal aid, while hardworking Coloradans anxiously watch housing and unemployment support dissipate,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “The amount the Colorado state government can do to alleviate the burdens of struggling communities is limited, but it’s not nothing. That’s why we are using everything in our power to deliver the support families and businesses need to make it through another couple months. I fully believe that federal relief is on its way, but Coloradans simply can’t wait any longer. This stimulus package will help cover the immediate needs of those hit hardest by the pandemic and buoy us until more help is available.”

“We have to do everything possible in Colorado to help families, workers and businesses get through the challenging months ahead,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “This pandemic is taking its toll on nearly every Coloradan, with businesses on the brink of closing and families struggling to avoid eviction or foreclosure. Only Washington can deliver the kind of comprehensive relief our communities need, but Coloradans can’t wait any longer. Our state government will step up with every tool we have, despite our limited budget, to do what we can to help bridge the gap until Congress acts and until a vaccine is ready.”

With Republican co-sponsorship for the most important parts of the proposed stimulus package–relief for capacity-restricted businesses, targeted tax relief, childcare and rental assistance, utility assistance–we don’t expect to see much in the way of conflict over the headline measures of the session. The more accurate our forecast in this regard proves to be, the more satisfied we’ll be on the other side that local Republicans have learned enough from their second consecutive electoral shellacking to come back a degree more reasonable than their counterparts in Washington.

Because the goal of these hopefully no more than three days lawmakers will be spending in one another’s airspace is to get something positive done for the people of Colorado who are suffering most. Not as much as the need requires, which is well beyond the state’s fiscal capacity. But something.

And less of, well, this:

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the minority is as the minority does.

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GOP State Rep: Spread COVID This Thanksgiving For Freedom

As readers know, Gov. Jared Polis and public health officials across the state and nation are begging Americans to avoid multi-household gatherings this Thanksgiving as the COVID-19 pandemic rages unchecked and hospitals fill to capacity much, much too early in the season.

But Republican Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County, who you might remember from his embarrassing misinformation about “altered death certificates” in the spring that helped fellow COVIDiots deny the severity of the pandemic, has his own message for HD-39 constituents: Americans have the God-given right to be stupid.

COVID-19 public health compliance officer.

Rep. Baisley perfectly sums up the problem with the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic in just these few paragraphs without realizing it. Yes, Americans have rights to freedom of assembly, and religious freedom. But Gov. Polis is not urging Coloradans to avoid mingling households over Thanksgiving in order to trample their freedoms. It’s about saving lives from a deadly disease that is spreading out of control. Just because one has a right to do a thing does not make it smart to do it wherever and whenever, and if a global pandemic that has killed 250,000 fellow Americans isn’t enough to convince someone to be serious about the safety of themselves and their families, we have no idea what could.

The true penalty for not following the direction of public health experts, like Gov. Polis says invoking the Grim Reaper, will not be administered by the state. Extended families who spread COVID-19 among themselves this Thanksgiving will pay a greater price than anything Polis could possibly do to them for disregarding public health orders. It is not unreasonable to predict that some number of people in HD-39 who agree with their state representative and turn Thanksgiving into a political grandstand against Jared Polis at the cost of common sense will die.

In short, one may be able to argue eloquently in favor of the right to assemble in front of an oncoming train, but respecting that crossing signal makes a lot more sense. Though it’s long been said that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” it was perhaps never more true than at this moment.

Here’s a concept: keep your family safe because you want to. Let that moral obligation transcend piffling partisanship.

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Senate GOP Spox Sells Slap Happy COVIDiot Face Masks

Trolling the interwebs today, we ran across something that will make you laugh, or not, probably not, or maybe laugh just for a moment before you get angry relative to your personal experience with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic:

“The Governor Made Me Wear This Mask!” Are you not amused?

Colorado Senate GOP Minority spokesman Sage Naumann’s limited edition bumper stickers celebrating the GOP’s 2019 obstruction campaign were somewhat more funny than the disruptive antics of the Republican minority last year, but unfortunately we can’t say that about the pandemic which has now killed over 250,000 Americans. With Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert invoking deceased lawmakers as a reason for his cantankerous caucus to do the right thing in the upcoming special session devoted to COVID relief, this mask seems like an outrageous miscue.

Except it’s not. It’s just Republicans playing to their different audiences!

We’re not linking to the order page. If you’d like to sort these mixed messages out, or buy one of Sage’s masks so you can wear your COVIDiocy literally on your face while your friends and neighbors get sick and die, contact the Senate Minority Press Office.

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Jared Polis Steps Up Because Mitch McConnell Won’t

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports:

Colorado state lawmakers are preparing for Gov. Jared Polis to call a special session focused on COVID-19 relief.

Top Democratic officials in both chambers of the statehouse say they and the Democratic governor’s office have been in talks for weeks on a possible special session, and that the failure of Congress to pass a new federal stimulus package has added urgency to those talks of late…

The governor’s office, asked about the possibility of a special session, released this statement from Polis and Democratic legislative leaders: “Legislative leaders and the Governor’s office have been having productive conversations on how we can step up to help provide additional relief to Colorado businesses and hardworking families during these challenging times.”

This morning, Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette relayed more details on the relief package state lawmakers will take up in the special session expected to be announced by Gov. Jared Polis at a press conference this afternoon:

Polis already has proposed a $1.3 billion stimulus package for the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. That package contains $220 million in “shovel-ready public works and infrastructure projects,” mostly for the Department of Transportation and state parks improvements. Another $160 million would go toward broadband investments, including telehealth and education; $78 million for wildfire response; $106 million for small businesses — mostly direct aid grants to restaurants and bars, hit hard by capacity restrictions imposed by the state and local governments; and $168 million for the $375 payment for low-and middle-income earners who lost jobs due to the pandemic.

Another $200 million is included for “one-time stimulus legislative priorities.”

The stimulus headed to lawmakers for the special session is a subset of that $1.3 billion package, comprised of an additional $220 million in spending.

The key points of this economic relief bill are reportedly targeted at small businesses most in need of immediate assistance, including bars and restaurants. Also prioritized for help: Renters, child care assistance, and internet access for students being forced into remote learning by the virus’s resurgence. The increased urgency of the need for relief, after months of failure in Washington to make good on promises that helped seal outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner’s doom in the recent election, appears to be greasing the bipartisan skids in the Colorado General Assembly for passage. After all, the principal complaint earlier in the year from (mostly) Republican legislators is they didn’t have a role in appropriating some of the CARES Act’s targeted funds. They can’t say that in a special session.

We’ll be pleased to see this go off uneventfully, a sign that the state’s Republican minority is growing out of the past two years of pointless partisan “war footing” obstruction–or failing that, at least minimally listening to their struggling constituents.

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Bearing Witness To Recall Polis 2.0’s Sad Sputter

As promised when the so-called “Dethrone Polis 2020” campaign announced Friday that they would not be turning in the required 630,000+ valid voter signatures to qualify a recall question for a future special election ballot, here’s the “request” by a lawyer purporting to represent the campaign asking for a 90-day extension of the collection period, citing public gathering restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.

As the Colorado Sun reported Saturday, this is dumb on a couple of key levels:

The 60-day deadline for signature gathering is specified in the state Constitution. Any request for an extension would have to be granted by the courts, Betsy Hart, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jena Griswold, said in an email.

Although proponents of the failed abortion ban ballot measure Proposition 115 successfully petitioned the courts for a short extension to citing collection difficulties during the pandemic, that campaign had actually submitted signatures by the required deadline, something the Recall Polis campaign never even bothered to do. With no evidence that this campaign came even remotely close to their goal within the 60 days they had, granting them 90 more days would be silly and unfair.

Not to mention they have to ask a judge, not the Secretary of State. We’ll see if a court case is ever even filed–and if one is, we expect it to survive about as long as one of President Donald Trump’s election lawsuits.

With all of this in mind, the realization that the second in as many recall attempts against Colorado’s popular Democratic governor has failed miserably is not sitting well with the Facebook faithful–and they’re growing despondent over leaders’ silence:

And in the absence of hard information, some are getting a bit twitchy, Michigan-style:

Safe to say, these are not productive methods of coping with bad news.

The reality, much like the half-baked dispute over the presidential election, is that this second consecutive recall campaign against Gov. Jared Polis is all over. We are curious to know just how many signatures organizers claim to have obtained, but unless they actually turn them in for validation we have no reason to believe any number they give us. As we’ve said from the beginning, the logistics of an undertaking on the scale needed to gather more signatures than any campaign in the state’s history would have been visible. It never existed, it was never going to exist, and just like the 2019 recall it was the product of unserious actors who were never capable of succeeding.

Since the 2018 elections devastated a Colorado GOP already reeling from their steady erosion of power over the previous 14 years, the party from the highest levels has done nothing to change course–and the 2020 election proved it. Taking bad advice from bad consultants, Republicans instead dived into a series of recall campaigns against Gov. Polis and state lawmakers in 2019 that not only failed, but seriously damaged the credibility of Republicans from state party chairman Ken Buck on down. Buck’s personal embrace of recalls, and his vice-chair’s direct role in the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial made it impossible to extricate the party once the campaigns humiliatingly crashed and burned.

Although recalls were always intended for use in exigent cases of misconduct by elected officials, not opportunistic do-overs of fairly decided elections, the abuse of the process for political paybacks by a shrinking minority party in Colorado does appear to have damaged the credibility of Republicans involved. Former House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who audaciously played in the failed Sullivan recall after leading the House minority to its smallest size in decades, is as close to persona non grata as he’s ever been. The National Popular Vote legislation cited as justification for recalling Polis and state lawmakers was victorious in a statewide vote. The “red flag” law that had the gun lobby dreaming of a 2013 redux is working as intended.

If Republicans in Colorado ever want to win again, it is this endless state of contrived political crises that has to stop. The last decade of Republican politics has been about disregarding all rules, traditions, and even pretense of cross-aisle engagement, and waging endless, ad absurdum partisan warfare down to the very last mountainous molehill.

We can’t speak for everywhere in America, but the voters of Colorado are sick and tired of it.

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COVID-19 Finally Comes For Mesa County

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis.

As the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports:

Another two COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in Mesa County for a total of 36 county residents…

Positive COVID-19 tests jumped another 183 cases, according to the county health department. In the past two weeks alone, Mesa County has recorded 1,594 positive cases. That figure accounts for more than half of the county’s total positive case count since the pandemic began, 3,097.

Mesa County’s two-week positivity rate, a key indicator health officials use for tracking the prevalence in an area, was recorded at 10.28%.

This weekend, new restrictions went into effect in Mesa County as officials struggle with the surge of cases and a long, dark winter has not yet even begun:

As COVID-19 cases surge, the Mesa County Board of Public Health has approved a new Public Health Order to exert all efforts to keep businesses operating, students in classrooms, and avoid closures. Indoor events, outdoor events, and public gatherings are not allowed, and restaurants and bars that serve food may not offer live music or other live performances.

“We urge residents not to ignore our responsibility as individuals and as a community to keep our families, friends, and employees healthy and our economy running,” said Scott McInnis, Chairman of the Board of Mesa County Commissioners.

The new orders this weekend significantly increase restrictions over two weeks ago, when public gatherings were subject to capacity limits instead of being completely banned.

As readers know, the current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in Mesa County comes after the area’s Republican political leadership spent the spring and summer resisting public health measures to combat the spread of the virus. Mesa County was specifically cited by Colorado Senate Republican leaders in their angry letter to Gov. Jared Polis back in March as an example of “overreach.”

Is Mesa County the only place in Colorado with elected leaders who should be eating their words about COVID-19 today? Of course not. The politicization of what should never have been a political issue has resulted in elected leaders from the President on down making decisions completely at odds with their responsibility to protect the public. In turn, the public treats the pandemic seriously based on their own political affiliation instead of what’s needed to remain safe. The political divide over responding to the pandemic has severely compromised the effectiveness of prevention efforts, in addition to forcing well-intentioned leaders like Gov. Polis to make unscientific concessions–and even hesitate to act in the pandemic’s successive waves.

From the White House to the Colorado Senate to the Mesa County Board of Commissioners, the emerging hard reality is that we could have beat this pandemic if it hadn’t become a political football in the spring. We could have controlled the spread before it became uncontrollable, and shortened the pain of restrictions that must now go on indefinitely until a vaccine becomes available.

But we did not, and now the price will be paid without political distinction.

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