February 28, 2007

Casino Smoking Exemption Extinguished In House, Mandatory Seat Belt Law Clicks In Senate

When liberal bloggers wonder where the Libertarians are and lament the erosion of freedom by our state legislature, one has to conclude that the casino smoking ban and primary seat belt bills are both unnecessary and an attack on freedom.

Government nannyism, brought to you by state Democrats.

Still think that last election wasn't that important?


Dems Kill "Make My Day Better"

Shot down, so to speak:
Senate Democrats are winning the gun battle at the state Capitol so far this year.

The Senate State Affairs Committee, known unofficially as a graveyard for bills that leadership wants killed, shot down a proposal Monday to expand Colorado's "make my day" law.

The three Democrats on the five-member committee rejected legislation that would have allowed business owners to shoot threatening intruders, as homeowners are already permitted to do.
A plan to give business owners legal protection to use lethal self-defense at their place of business is apparently too much responsibility for the average Colorado citizen. Government Democrats know best!


Mom Sells 5-Month-Old Baby In Pueblo, CO

--Jose-Juan Lerma, now believed to be an American citizen from Mexico, claims that transaction was intended to be similar to adoption--a legal transfer of custody, and also to help out the baby's mother

How much is a 5-month-old baby worth?

For three Mexican nationals in Pueblo, Colorado--about $10,000 (video):
Police say a mom sold her 5-month-old baby to get money for a down payment on a car.
. . .
Police say 23-year-old Nicole Uribe, a Mexican national, sold her baby boy to a couple on February 21.

Court documents show Uribe sold the baby for $10,000 cash. She then put a down payment on a Dodge Intrepid.

“Mom obviously wanted to get rid of the child for one reason or another and these other people were willing to take the child and then there was an exchange of monetary money." said Sgt. Brett A. Wilson with the Pueblo Police Department.

Police say Uribe sold the baby to 28-year-old Irene and 48-year-old Jose-Juan Lerma, who are also both Mexican nationals.

Uribe and the Lermas were arrested on charges of trafficking a child.

Uribe is also on an immigration hold because she is in the country illegally. She is being held on $50,000 bond in the Pueblo County Jail.

If she is convicted, she would serve her sentence in the United States and then be deported.
. . .
Child trafficking carries a prison sentence of up to 24 years and up to a $750,000 fine.
Not sure of the laws in Mexico, but north of the border there are laws against human trafficking. Thankfully, the baby boy appears to be okay. Born in Pueblo, he is an American citizen.

Of course, when you are in the country illegally, it is expected that the laws of the land don't apply, isn't it?


February 26, 2007

Sham Raids: Proof Illegal Immigration Raids Are Just For Show

Previous raids on suspected illegal immigrants in December at or just last week have raised the prospect that ICE officials and the government in general are more interested in conducting "show raids" than actually confronting illegal immigration.

Want proof?

Just ask some of those suspected illegal immigrants constructing military housing targeted in a raid outside Buckley Air Force Base near Denver last year:
Illegal immigrants say they were working on a military housing project outside Buckley Air Force Base within days after a major immigration raid there last year.

Immigration officials said at the time that they were protecting national security and sending a message to employers with the Sept. 20 raid, which nabbed more than 120 workers.

Most of the workers were from Mexico and were quickly deported. Others came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Three had outstanding criminal warrants and were turned over to Aurora police.

Julio Cesar Rodriguez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, told the Rocky Mountain News he was back on the job a few days after the raid.

So was Martin Torrez, who said he saw about a dozen workers who returned to Buckley after they were deported.

Several workers claim they were not fully paid for their work, which included hundreds of hours of overtime. A number also said they received off-the-books payments in cash.

Federal immigration officials said the raid was part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrants who could pose a security risk to the nation's "critical infrastructure facilities."

The housing site is near the giant golf ball-like satellite monitoring systems on the base, which assist in global surveillance, missile warnings and homeland defense operations.
Lemme get this straight--the government targets suspected illegal immigrants out of concern for security risks and then, in its infinite wisdom, allows them back to work on housing near a potentially sensitive military installation?

Anyone else doubt that the raids are a sham?

ICE claims that precautions have been taken:
"ICE routinely and continuously works with representatives from critical infrastructure facilities - such as Buckley AFB - to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive areas."

Asked to respond to claims by illegal immigrants who said they were rehired at the Buckley site after the ICE raid, Rusnok said: "The process of ensuring that only properly authorized people work in sensitive area is an ongoing process. That's why ICE maintains close ties with representatives from these facilities."
Apparently ICE is more interested in targeting the cleaning staff at restaurant chains than maintaining a watchful eye on construction workers near a military base. How's that for priorities?


February 23, 2007

CU Creative Writing Instructor Won White Supremacy Essay

Ideological balance brought to you by CU:
The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday condemned a white supremacist essay attributed to a composition instructor at the University of Colorado's Boulder campus.

But the civil rights group also noted that instructor Joshua McNair's views are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

ADL regional director Bruce DeBoskey praised CU officials, who also have backed McNair's constitutional rights.

McNair's essay, "Organization, Cooperation and Action," won a prize in a 2004 contest sponsored by the white supremacist group Stormfront.

The essay says, "And though it may hurt to acknowledge, we cannot ignore the tremendous success of that most solid, focused and thus most powerful group in our midst today and how they amassed the supremacy they now enjoy. It was not through simple individual merit, but instead first through cooperation and organization, then by action."

That description is usually applied to Jews in white supremacist literature.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported on the essay Thursday and posted it on the newspaper's Web site. The Camera said the essay came from the Stormfront Web site.

The essay was no longer available on that site, however, by late Thursday.

McNair did not return an e-mail message seeking an interview and verification that he was the author of the essay.

McNair is a first-year graduate student, CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. While he was an undergraduate, McNair sponsored a campus speech by a Holocaust denier, Hilliard said.

McNair is an instructor in the campus' composition program.
McNair's poorly written essay. Looks like the left-wing hate-America types (Ward Churchill, who else) and white supremacist kooks at CU have much more in common than first thought--an inability to write well.

CU has established itself as a hotbed of liberal lunacy. Benjamin Whitmer's sophomoric defenses of his Ethnic Studies Idol Churchill earned him a glowing review from the campus' fawning newspaper. Then there is this week's meltdown by CU law professor Paul Campos charging Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds of being a fascist (Reynolds' response) and the "right's Ward Churchill".

So it has finally come full circle.


More ICE Raids In Denver And Across Nation, Targeting Hard Rock Cafe, ESPN Zone, And Dave And Busters

**Welcom Michelle Malkin readers, scroll for updates

A map of the raid's scope

**Update--Execs indicted for pocketing $18.6 million in unpaid taxes:
Federal authorities have accused three cleaning company executives of pocketing more than $18.6 million in unpaid taxes collected from employing hundreds of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Haiti, according to an indictment CNN obtained Thursday.

The money was placed by the three Rosenbaum Cunningham International executives into "shell companies," and then was used to purchase such "extravagant" items as beach homes and racehorses, the document stated.

RCI Inc.'s president, vice president and controller were arrested along with 200 of the Florida-based company's employees in a recent sweep by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE, Julie Myers, announced at a news conference.

A message on the company's voicemail said that "RCI has ceased operations as of February 22, 2007."

The employees were arrested in 17 states and the District of Columbia late Wednesday into Thursday as they were starting or leaving their shifts, Myers said.

They face various immigration violations and could be deported, she said.
Another sham raid designed to deflect criticism from Teddy Kennedy's upcoming amnesty bill? Probably--video of ICE explaining the most recent raid:
Federal agents raided big restaurant chains like the Hard Rock Cafe, ESPN Zone, and Dave and Busters in a national sweep that occurred late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

The agents fanned out in 63 locations nationwide, including several places in Colorado, grabbing hundreds of illegal aliens working as cleaning people. Investigators said the raids were carried out in 17 states and Washington, D.C.

ICE officials said that approximately 220 people were arrested and taken into custody as they started their shifts or ended their shifts at the restaurants where they were working. 7NEWS has learned that 12 people in Colorado were taken in the raid.

Those who were taken away are employed by a Nevada-based company called RCI, which acts as a cleaning contractor for various businesses.

Most of RCI's employees are Mexican, Honduran and Guatemalan nationals.

RCI employs approximately 340 people so about 60 percent of their workforce were impacted by the sweep, ICE officials said.

RCI's co-owners, plus another company official, are named in a 23-count indictment. They face charges including criminal fraud and tax crimes.

Government officials said that company officials hired and recruited illegal immigrants to do the work and paid them in cash.
. . .
The 20-month investigation started in 2005, with concerns about cleaning crews in a Michigan resort.

RCI's clients include House of Blues, Planet Hollywood, China Grill and Yardhouse as well as Hard Rock Cafe, ESPN Zone and Dave and Busters.

Richard Rosenbaum, RCI's founder and president, was arrested and faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and harboring illegal immigrants. RCI's employees are also accused of obtaining fake green cards for workers.
Like the raid of meatpacking plants in December, these ICE actions carry little in the way of anything more than symbolic efforts. Netting a few hundred illegal immigrants as a result of a 20-month investigation is good work, but ignores the millions of others lurking in plain sight at businesses all across the nation. Anyone remember the millions living large in the shadows of the enormous parades last year? Not exactly difficult to find.

The punishments for employing illegal immigrants and committing fraud by obtaining fake "documentation" for illegal employees should be excessive and demonstrative. Likely they will be neither. Though this raid targeted high-profile businesses like Hard Rock Cafe and ESPN Zone, it succeeded in only netting 12 illegal immigrants for the entire city of Denver. Hardly a drop in the bucket.

Meanwhile, the inexorable march toward amnesty appears to continue unabated.

The immigration moonbats and open-borders amnesty crowd respond:
"This far reaching raid and others like it have disrupted lives and terrorized entire communities. We are at a crossroads as a nation in deciding what kind of country we want to be and how we value family unity, community, and human rights.

How many more immigrants must die at our borders and how many more children do we make orphans of before we fix our broken immigration system? The current broken system pushes hard-working families into the shadows of our society, and creates incentives for unscrupulous employers to take advantage of workers and taxpayers.

The stepped up arrest and detention of immigrant workers and family members who have been contributing to this country and their communities has only succeeded in polluting the problem and sending a terrible message to the nation and to the world.

The time is now for Congressional leaders to act swiftly and boldly on passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that is fair and just, bringing immigrant workers out of the shadows of our society and onto a path to citizenship, and taking away incentives for low road employers to manipulate a broken system for profit.

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition calls on the Bush Administration to put an immediate end to these immoral and inhumane public relations stunts."
They undoubtedly will be delighted with Teddy Kennedy's amnesty plan. However, even the open-borders crowd see the raids as publicity stunts--though contrary to their assertions they are legal, necessary and justified. Unfortunately they aren't part of a larger, meaningful attempt to deal with the problem.

And so it continues . . .

Want A Government Job In Adams County, CO? Better Speak Spanish


Sticking It To Taxpayers--Insurance Premiums To Go Up

Increasing insurance coverage requirements without increasing the penalties for failing to be covered--penalizing the law-abiding citizens:
Colorado lawmakers advanced a measure Thursday that could increase car insurance premiums by roughly $200 a year.

The plan seeks to cover the estimated $80 million lost each year by trauma centers and first responders in the state since Colorado switched car insurance laws in 2003.

The Senate Local Government committee approved Senate Bill 193 on a 4 to 3 vote. The measure would require Colorado drivers buy $25,000 worth of coverage for all "medically necessary and accident-related health care expenses for bodily injury" and $25,000 for all "rehabilitation, treatments or occupational training for five years after an accident."

"We never ever want to have to use a first responder, but we most certainly want to make sure they're available," said Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton), the sponsor of the bill.

Tochtrop says since Colorado switched from a no-fault insurance system to a tort-based, or fault-based, system in July 2003, first responders and trauma centers have incurred the same amount of costs without the same amount of reimbursement from insurance companies. The lack of prompt payment has threatened emergency services in some areas of the state. Chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists also complain about not being reimbursed under the new system.

"Trauma systems are a public good, similar to police departments and fire departments," said Dr. Charles Mains, a trauma surgeon at St. Anthony's Hospital. "The problem with the trauma system is that the reimbursement for them is only there if they put out the fire."

Critics of the plan lamented the measure was introduced and given a public hearing with only a day's notice for the public to attend. They argued a significant policy change like this should be vetted by consumers who are bound to cover the cost if the measure passes.

"By my take, if this passes, you're in essence going to give me a great big pay raise," said State Farm Agent Rick Hayes. "Because premiums will go up, commissions will go up."

A separate State Farm representative told lawmakers their average premium would go up $180 per year if the measure passed. An Allstate representative testified before lawmakers its average customer in Colorado would pay, on average, $200 more per year.
So shortcomings in the insurance law and failure by insurance companies to reimburse first responders can only be solved by requiring citizens to buy even more insurance? Where is the logic in that? And what about those needing assistance who will never reimburse because they don't have insurance coverage?

Nevermind, I think we know the answer to both.


February 22, 2007

George Washington's Birthday

Powerline--Remembering the indispensible man.


Environment And Public Works Blog And Video

Want to know who is engaging the enviro-moonbats at the Senate level?

Here's the video feed--and here's the blog.

Anyone interested in combatting the "climate change" shills now in power in Congress should bookmark the blog and subscribe to the video feed. Unique among the Senate committees as one of the only blogs available and with a traffic high enough to shut down the Senate's servers (thanks to Drudge), the outstanding work by the minority party, especially Sen. James Inhofe, deserve credit.

Need more incentive?

Enviro-moonbats encourage you to "Heed the Goracle."


Fearing Dick Wadhams

A formidable force to be reckoned with, says one Colorado liberal.


February 21, 2007

Richardson Visits Denver, Selects Colorado Staff

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has chosen former Democratic candidate for Senate in 1996 and 2002, Tom Strickland, as one of his Colorado campaign co-chairs, and attended a fundraiser this evening.

The glaring absence of media coverage indicates the amount of attention directed at Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama--and the vast chasm that separates the Democratic frontrunners from the dark horse candidates in their party. Though it appears that the GOP frontrunners have solid leads, they are far from being anointed the clear choice. Democratic also-rans appear to be steadily fading into the background noise for the top spot.

At this point, Richardson might be angling for VP consideration, and this could be the best possible scenario for this former Clinton Cabinet member, banking on his own ethnicity and the "up-for-grabs" Mountain West as leverage for consideration.

Others believe he is being overlooked

**Update, which essentially backs conclusions made here earlier:
Other political observers see Richardson as a compromise candidate if the current front-runners badly bruise each other, or as an attractive vice presidential candidate to tilt the ticket West.

"Because the West is going to be important to Democrats in 2008, perhaps more important than ever before, he would be a strong candidate for vice president," said Gayle Berardi, a Democratic political science professor at Colorado State University at Pueblo.

But Richardson doesn't see himself running for the second spot on the ticket.

"You don't run for president to be vice president," he said. "I'm in the race to win."
He may not see himself as running for VP consideration, but unless both Hillary AND Obama become damaged goods and are DOA as potential candidates by this time next year, it is difficult to imagine Richardson garnering enough support to make it to the Democratic Convention in Denver as anything other than the VP on the ticket.


February 19, 2007

UdallWatch I: First Edition

From time-to-time as Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder) gears up for a run at Colorado's open Senate seat in the 2008 election, Slapstick Politics will bring you a round-up of Udall's public statements, policy talking points, and general political views on issues affecting Colorado and the nation. Inevitably the updates will become quite regular, but for now will remain periodic (weekly-ish) until the race really gets going later this year. We'll leave the commentary and the snark for later as well and just let Udall do the talking for now (unless he says something really blogworthy). We'll also quote the stories in case they disappear (links can and do go bad) or in the event the candidate decides to change his mind or deny his previous statements.

Here goes:

Udall responds to President Bush's State of the Union address (Jan 2007):
"The president expressed a willingness to achieve common ground with the new Democratic Congress. Now is the time for this president to prove that he's truly committed to results and not just rhetoric. Coloradans and Americans are hungry for leadership to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, for energy independence, health care reform, and fiscal responsibility.

Iraq: Despite misgivings by respected leaders in his own party like Senator John Warner, President Bush is still gambling on an escalation of military force in the Iraq. I am very skeptical that this late effort will work in the context of an emerging civil war and is also too little, too late. Our strategic goal should be to lighten the American footprint in Iraq, not make it heavier. I do not support cutting off funding for our troops in Iraq, but the new Congress has a responsibility to insist on oversight and accountability.

Energy Independence: Last year, the president said that America is addicted to oil, yet today we are not closer to energy independence. Our addiction to foreign oil threatens our national security, our economy, our environment, and our way of life. The president needs to translate his words into action and he can start by fully funding renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, which will help the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO. It’s admirable to set goals, but if the president doesn’t set them high enough or provide the necessary resources, his words tonight will remain just what they have been through several State of the Union speeches – words.

Health Care Reform: I share the president’s goal of covering the uninsured, but I don’t think we do that by taxing families and individuals that have good coverage in order to provide incentives to those who don’t have any coverage. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. If you talk to anyone in my district they will tell you that they are paying higher costs for fewer benefits and less choice. I support measures to cover every child in America, to provide coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions and meaningful tax credits to help the uninsured buy insurance. The biggest cost we’ll have is if we don’t act at all."
Udall questions commitment to energy independence (and potential cuts to funding for Colorado's National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
"Where is the balance in this budget, and where is the dedication to energy independence?" asked Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. "The president needs to walk his talk, and if he will not, I will work with the new Congress to increase funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Energy independence is so critical to our national security, our energy security and our economy that we cannot afford to shortchange programs that will move us forward."
Udall believes US must plan for Iraq failure:
Rep. Mark Udall told Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today that President Bush's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops to police the streets of Baghdad was "more of the same" failed policy, and that the administration needs to plan for the possible disintegration of Iraq.

"There have been increasing discussions about the rise of a Shiite strongman...or in the worst case, perhaps, some sort of anarchic fragmentation of power in the region that we call Iraq," Udall told Gates at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, asked Gates to discuss U.S. contingency plans, especially since "we all acknowledge that we poorly planned to win the peace... after the initial invasion of Iraq."

In answering the question, Gates told Udall that the administration believes its "surge" of troops will bring more security to Iraq, allowing political and economic progress.

"That said, I think that it would be irresponsible of me not to be looking at alternatives, should these expectations and hopes not prove to be fulfilled," said Gates. "Without getting into any details...I have asked that we begin to look at other contingencies and other alternatives."

Udall said that "there's always a tension between immediate passions and long-term strategic needs" but that "in this case the American public both have the wisdom and the passion and they understand - their wisdom is that we can't stand in the middle of a civil war."

Udall asked Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if the U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine is applicable to a situation like Iraq, where sectarian violence between warring factions has become the chief cause of bloodshed, rather than a classic insurgency.

"In fact we really are, if not in the middle of a civil war, in the middle of five very complicated wars," said Udall. "The counter-insurgency doctrine...doesn't necessarily apply to a civil war situation."
Udall declares debate closed on "climate change" following the IPCC report:
"All research and evidence indicates that climate change is happening. Ask farmers about their crop yields. Ask the ski industry, which depends on snowfall to run the slopes. The IPCC report released last week further solidifies the scientific opinion about climate change - the planet is getting warmer and human activity is responsible for this change. With the scientific questions settled, Congress must address what policy changes our nation will make in response. This bill reaffirms the need for continued strong federal support for research and maps out a new emphasis on producing information needed to inform everyday decisions," said Udall.
Udall on Russia, Putin, and a new "Cold War":
Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, was sitting a few yards away from the podium at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy when Putin accused the United States of "almost uncontained" use of force.

Putin said the United States had "overstepped its national borders in every way," prompting other countries to seek nuclear weapons.

Udall, who was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation at the conference, said he did not take it as a start of a new "Cold War."

But he said Putin's rhetoric is a sign that the United States needs to solve sticky issues like Iraq in order to preserve its position of strength in the world.

"The Russians have always felt they weren't fully respected ... In some ways, they're mourning the end of the Soviet Union," Udall said. "They're flush with oil and gas revenues and they want the world to know it."

"They see the United States as (being) on its heels -- if not weak, then certainly distracted in Iraq -- and facing other challenges," Udall said. "They're not loathe to throwing a few punches our way."

"The strong message is, until we can as a country ... determine the way forward in Iraq, it will not only dominate our psyche, it allows other countries a way to chip away at us," Udall said.
. . .
Udall said that should prompt the United States to become more "self-reliant" when it comes to energy, so it's not subject to global pressure.

As for reviving the old tensions that marked much of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, "The Cold War is not about to be rejoined again," Udall said. "It's a totally different world."
Udall's remarks on the Iraq resolution:
Madam Speaker, this debate is long overdue.

It is our first extended and substantive debate on the war in Iraq since Congress gave the president the authority to invade more than four years ago.

But if we do nothing more than debate the president’s escalation plan, we will not keep faith with the American people, who rightly expect this new Congress to begin to bring our costly involvement in the Iraq war to a close.

And while the resolution before us is a largely symbolic and non-binding expression of Congressional opinion, it can be - and I think it should be - the opening part of a longer, thoughtful debate about our long-term national interests not only in Iraq but the entire Middle East.

So, this resolution is a start - and I will vote for it because I agree with the message it sends.

The resolution expresses disapproval of the president’s sending more troops to Iraq - an action that is contrary to the wise advice of the Iraq Study Group, critical members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and experienced military commanders like former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The president’s escalation is probably too small to be effective. And adopting new counterinsurgency tactics comes two years too late.

In addition, the President is calling on General Petraeus and our troops to operate under a complicated joint command structure, involving Iraqi forces and politicians, that is unprecedented in America’s military history.

I think the resolution represents the correct response to these facts - it expresses support for our brave men and women in uniform, but disagreement with a policy of military escalation.

Madam speaker, as we speak the death toll in Iraq rises and the war continues to drain our national treasury, stretch our armed forces, and weaken our capacity to effectively counter Islamic terrorism.

Even as the Administration plows ahead with its “surge” in Iraq, war still rages in Afghanistan and the security situation there is getting more perilous.

Congress needs to send the message that things must change.

I opposed the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq and I have never once regretted that vote. But today we must focus on the future.

We cannot move the clock back, but we need to avoid making a bad situation worse.

We should not be scaling up our military mission in Iraq - we should be scaling back.

We need to make the U.S. military footprint lighter - not in order to hasten defeat or failure in Iraq, but to salvage a critical measure of security and stability in a region of the world that we can ill afford to abandon.

As a Member of the Armed Services Committee, I know about the pressures on our active duty and National Guard and reserve soldiers.

They lack enough equipment and training. They are experiencing multiple or extended deployments, and limited time at home between deployments.

But to be successful, our men and women must be properly trained, equipped, and ready to quickly deploy worldwide. Shortfalls in personnel, equipment, or training increase the risk to our troops and to their mission.

In short, the Administration’s policies have brought us to the point where we not only are not able to sustain an escalation in Iraq but also are not fully prepared for other contingencies.

But that is not the only reason I oppose the escalation.

I don’t think the president’s rationale for it makes sense, no matter our readiness levels.

The just-released National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq agrees that the term “civil war” accurately describes aspects of the Iraq conflict - and suggests that the conflict may in fact, be worse than a civil war. Putting more American troops at risk is not a recipe for victory.

As a new Foreign Relations Council report notes, we bear responsibility for developments within Iraq, but are increasingly without the ability to shape those developments in a positive direction.

So what should be the way forward? How should Congress respond?

I favor a reduction of military forces in Iraq, and a phased redeployment of our armed forces to border regions in places like Anbar province and the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

That can give us flexibility to act militarily in Iraq if necessary, but will also increase the pressure on the Iraqi government to move toward political reconciliation and stability.

I do not think an immediate withdrawal of American forces or setting a date certain for withdrawal makes sense.

As bad as the situation is in Iraq, we must work to avoid a collapse in the region - not only because we have a moral obligation to the people of Iraq, but also because our national security has been so badly compromised by the Bush Administration’s failures there.

We should adopt the main policy recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, including stronger efforts at diplomacy in the region and internationally.

It is not in the interests of any nation to have Iraq descend into further civil war and chaos. As challenging as diplomacy is in the Middle East, I believe the sacrifice of our soldiers demands that we engage in serious regional talks, including talks with our adversaries, Syria and Iran.

Finally, I am convinced we must reach for bipartisanship in crafting our policy in Iraq.

The President misguidedly rushed us into war. We must not compound that error by turning a debate on Iraq into a partisan game of one-upmanship where legitimate disagreement with the Administration’s plan for escalation is called a betrayal of our troops or where resistance to immediate withdrawal is called war-mongering.

For my part, I will speak out loudly and often for a responsible military disengagement from Iraq, but I will also offer proposals that are aimed at finding common ground. In this regard, I will be introducing legislation that looks beyond the “surge” and toward the necessary and inevitable contingency planning that will be needed if we are to avoid deeper and more catastrophic scenarios in Iraq and the region.

Madam Speaker, the stakes in Iraq are very high. The outcome in this region will have consequences for future generations that will long outlive those of us who are in Congress today.

We should adopt this resolution to send a signal, but then we must try to rise above our partisan instincts and salvage what we can from a terrible and deteriorating situation.

Nations make mistakes. Great nations acknowledge mistakes, learn, and chart a new course. For the sake of future generations and to keep faith with the generations that built America, let’s be a great nation.
Whew! Stay tuned for more on Senate-hopeful Mark Udall in future editions of UdallWatch.

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


Catholics Surpass Anglicans In UK; Anglicans To Reunite With Catholics Under Pope?

Henry VIII is rolling in his grave--along with centuries of English Protestants of every stripe.

Just a few days ago The Times reported that the number of Roman Catholics in the UK would surpass the number of Anglicans for the first time since the Reformation, primarily due to the influx of Catholic immigrants.

Now comes this shocker--a plan to reunite Anglicans with Roman Catholics by recognizing the primacy of the Pope:
Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

. . .

In one significant passage the report notes: “The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the ministry of the Bishop of Rome [the Pope] as universal primate is in accordance with Christ’s will for the Church and an essential element of maintaining it in unity and truth.” Anglicans rejected the Bishop of Rome as universal primate in the 16th century. Today, however, some Anglicans are beginning to see the potential value of a ministry of universal primacy, which would be exercised by the Bishop of Rome, as a sign and focus of unity within a reunited Church.

In another paragraph the report goes even further: “We urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our Communions to grow towards full, ecclesial communion.”

Other recommendations include inviting lay and ordained members of both denominations to attend each other’s synodical and collegial gatherings and conferences. Anglican bishops could be invited to accompany Catholic ones on visits to Rome.

The report adds that special “protocols” should also be drawn up to handle the movement of clergy from one Church to the other. Other proposals include common teaching resources for children in Sunday schools and attendance at each other’s services, pilgrimages and processions.

Anglicans are also urged to begin praying for the Pope during the intercessionary prayers in church services, and Catholics are asked also to pray publicly for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In today’s Anglican Church, it is unlikely that a majority of parishioners would wish to heal the centuries-old rift and return to Rome.

However, the stance of the Archbishop of Canterbury over the present dispute dividing his Church gives an indication of how priorities could be changing in light of the gospel imperative towards church unity.

Dr Rowan Williams, who as Primate of the Church of England is its “focus for unity”, has in the past supported a liberal interpretation of Scripture on the gay issue. But he has made it clear that church unity must come before provincial autonomy. A logical extension of that, once this crisis is overcome either by agreement or schism, would be to seek reunion with the Church of England's own mother Church.
Certainly some die-hard protestants in the Anglican establishment will bristle at this attempt at ecclesiastical rapprochement and reassertion of Papal primacy. As it is just a proposal at this point it will be interesting to see whether or not this proposal goes anywhere or remains permanently mired in the talking stages.

And what will Queen Elizabeth II think of this, as it essentially eliminates the monarch as the head of the Church of England, returning ultimate authority to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI?

And do Anglicans automatically become Catholics? More will be revealed as the proposal becomes public.


February 18, 2007

Chinese New Year--The Year Of The Pig (Banned)

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is the year of the pig--though you won't know it in China.

Pigs have been banned from Chinese television as a result of considerations for the sensitivities of . . .

You should know the answer by now.


February 16, 2007

Bob Schaffer--In Or Out?

According to different sources, Schaffer appears to be doing some sort of election hokey-pokey with his potential 2008 Senate bid.

ToTheRight says Schaffer is most likely out.

WashPost's "The Fix" also believes Schaffer is unlikely to run, with Mike Coffman a potential replacement.

Meanwhile, ColoradoPols says Schaffer is in and just hasn't announced, while Coffman has no chance of running.

Ahh, the speculations of the political off-season, which really isn't that long anymore.

Stay tuned!


February 15, 2007

Updated Blogroll

Some necessary housecleaning of the blogroll, check it out.

These blogs are required reading--daily.


February 14, 2007

Want A Government Job In Adams County, CO? Better Speak Spanish

A private sector job? No:
"I was like oh my gosh, check this out," she told us. "Right there in the middle of the paragraph saying, you must read, write and speak fluently in the Spanish language."

She was frustrated because the position was with her own taxpayer-supported government.

"I kind of felt like an outsider, like I wasn't in America anymore," she said.
Welcome to the new America, where speaking plain old English just doesn't cut it anymore.

The justification?
Adams County director of human resources Jane Vielehr told us the county, which is 30 percent Hispanic, has every reason for the language requirement.

"It’s for our customers or clients who's first language is Spanish and who may have trouble speaking English," she said.

The county has no plans to change, and Desirea has no plans to study up.

So for now, it's a language barrier that will stay up.
Here's a clue for the HR director of Adams County--the "customer" or "clients" of any local government are the taxpayers, and in this case at least 70% of them are not Spanish-speaking. Even assuming that the 30% Hispanic population only spoke Spanish, the overwhelming majority still speak English (or some other language).

Though the requirement only applies to a handful of jobs, it undoubtedly reflects a growing trend among jobs in general and government positions in particular. In an effort to "accomodate" the burgeoning Hispanic population, Spanish language signs, forms, and call options are becoming de rigeur.

It is no longer shocking that a local government job would now require a foreign language in order for a candidate to be considered for employment.

That should be no surprise considering how "unsafe, unfriendly, unsuccessful & mean" the English language can be to non-speakers.


February 12, 2007

"Make My Day" Extension Advances; Smoking Exemption Fails

"Make My Day Better", extending self-defense to include businesses, passed the House.

Mom-and-pop bars seeking a smoking ban exemption had their proposal shot down.


Proposed Near-Ban On Abortions Symbolic, Killed 4-3

State Sen. Scott Renfroe's hyperbole aside, the bill had no chance of clearing the Democratically controlled Colorado legislature. This sort of symbolic legislation is intended to boost the political record of the bill's sponsor and provide campaign fodder in the next election.

Sen. Renfroe won't win over any converts with heavy-handed rhetoric like this:
Calling it "the civil rights issue of our generation", freshman Sen. Scott Renfroe on Monday asked state lawmakers to outlaw nearly all abortions in Colorado.

"Today's aborted baby is the black slave of our history. When will we stop turning our heads and hiding behind the word choice?" Renfroe said at the beginning of the proposal's first hearing at the state Capitol.

Opponents and supporters were out in force, but were being given only an hour each to speak about the proposal (Senate Bill 143).

The Greeley Republican had pledged to support an abortion ban during the campaign and said he had modeled the proposal after one passed in South Dakota last year. Voters later rejected it.

Renfroe's bill bans abortions except those to save the life of a mother. It also redefines when pregnancy begins. Current law says that it begins when a fertilized egg is implanted in a woman's uterus but Renfroe's bill states that it begins at fertilization.
Over-the-top language like this only fuels the fire of opponents and scares off potential allies. Employing bumper-sticker slogans to support a bill decreases the impact of the overall argument in any legislation. Both sides will be caught up in the words equating abortion to slavery--as opponents attack Renfroe and the GOP/conservatives in general of anything from racism to patriarchy (and on and on . . .) and proponents spend unnecessary energy and time on defending the political talk surrounding the bill and not the legislation's intent.


Sen. Bentley Rayburn?

This came out over the weekend--he ran third in the 2006 GOP primary for Colorado's 5th CD, but if former Rep. Bob Schaffer bows out of the GOP primary, the retired Air Force general might toss his hat in the ring:
A retired military man might be marching toward the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn, a political rookie who made a surprising showing in a Republican congressional primary last year, said he is being urged to run to replace the retiring Sen. Wayne Allard.

"We’re considering it. We’re talking to a lot of people," Rayburn said in a telephone interview Friday. "If I decide it’s right to get into that fight, I need to get in right away."

Rayburn said one factor he is considering is his admiration for another Republican who is considering the race, former Congressman Bob Schaffer, a Republican.

"If he was to tell me tomorrow (that) he was going to run, that would completely change around my decision process," Rayburn said.
Sounds like a plausible alternative to former Rep. Scott McInnis, but the military record provides some leverage against his relatively low-profile politically:
Rayburn, who describes himself as a "social conservative" and "fiscal conservative," said his military experience makes him uniquely positioned to run right now.

"First, I’m not a politician," he said. "Second, obviously war is a big deal, and there is not, in my opinion, enough credible military experience in both the House and Senate."
What, John Murtha doesn't have the nation's military men and women's--needless to say the whole country's--best interests in mind?

Perish the thought.

Rayburn's X-factor race, should he run, will only be viable with the promise of adequate fundraising. The GOP will need strong cash reserves in the range of $5-10 million to even dream of holding the seat. McInnis has his own record to run against and Rayburn could ease by if an impeccable personal record and stature as a military expert, combined with strong conservative credentials, makes him an attractive candidate for the general election against Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder).

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


February 11, 2007

Ritter's Union Bill Veto Stirs Hornet's Nest Of Rhetoric, Interpretations

Dick Wadhams has a new moniker for Gov. Bill Ritter: "Both Ways Bill".

Political payback is, well, you know.

Some see the move as good political strategy, with many (rightly so) claiming credit for Ritter's reversal on a bill that seemed a done deal.

Democrats and unions still believe that Ritter owes them big time, and they expect Ritter to pay back the "immense IOU" he has incurred from their support.


Ignore Blogs, YouTube At Your Peril In 2008

Republicans have been slower than their liberal/Democratic counterparts in adapting to the new media--blogs, vlogs, and the internet in general. Estimates of 1 in 5 voters in the 2004 election gleaning their political information from blogs will only increase by 2008. Mitt Romney already has his own facebook profile, but has been dogged early on with the release of video from earlier campaigns that appear to show Romney as a "flip-flopper" on his own political positions.

Last year, George Allen felt the power of YouTube with the endless rehashing of his monumental gaffe that not only destroyed a strong Senate reelection campaign but also dashed any hopes of presidential aspirations in 2008, after much touting as a GOP frontrunner. Slate has a video that neatly sums up the power of the internet, blogs, and YouTube and the likely effect on all future elections. Anyone with an internet connection can set up a blog for free, and with a digital camera and some basic video editing software make John Edwards "feel pretty", capture Hillary Clinton's mangled and tone deaf rendition of the national anthem, recall Rudy Giuliani in drag being pursued by Donald Trump, or revisit Joe Biden's slip-of-the-tongue. Every moment spent on the campaign trail will be recorded and edited and repackaged (by supporters as well as opponents).

Just this past week, the John Edwards blogging brouhaha exhibited all the characteristics of the blogosphere--quick and sharp attention brought to the public by bloggers investigating the hires made by a presidential candidate attempting to spread his message via blogs. Whether the publishing legacy of a campaign staffer exists only on the internet or any other media, literally hundreds of independent investigators are simultaneously unleashed to discern an allegation's veracity or research a person's history. The MSM can only do so much, and often unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) overlooks certain points of view or facts in question. The media uproar did not come from the media itself, but from the stirrings on the blogs creating a buzz over Edwards' newest mouthpieces.

Instead of a story receiving its 15 minutes and then being forgotten almost immediately, blogs and video sites can perpetuate a story (for good or bad) long after the MSM expiration date. The permanence of such records will make it more difficult for candidates to evade or equivocate on past comments, political views, or actions. Even if this quality trends toward the negative side in terms of unintended consequences, the reality is that it will undoubtedly become a permanent part of the political landscape for years to come.

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


February 09, 2007

Ritter Vetoes Union Bill

At first it appeared this bill was a done deal, now Gov. Ritter reveals that he has vetoed the pro-union legislation, protecting Colorado's business community:
Gov. Bill Ritter said Friday he has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to set up all-union workplaces.

The bill would have eliminated one of two worker elections required to form an all-union workplace. In an all-union shop, all employees are required to pay fees to the union whether or not they join.

The bill angered business groups, who said it would discourage new employers from coming to Colorado.

Business has hotly objected to the bill, questioning Ritter's business bona fides. Democrats say the bill eliminates antiquated law and makes it easier to eliminate union "free riders" who get the benefits of union representation but do not pay.

The bill emerged from the Senate this week after an eight-hour Republican filibuster Feb. 2.
This decision will, no doubt, produce much hand-wringing and rending of garments from the unions and their Democratic supporters as nothing more than bending to the business community and other assorted right-wing special interests. Whatever his motivation, he should be applauded for weighing the interests of all parties over the narrow focus of the unions.

**Update from the Denver Post:
The Democratic governor campaigned as a pro-business moderate but also indicated to labor that he would sign such a measure.

"We are obviously extremely disappointed that Gov. Ritter felt it necessary to break a campaign promise under pressure from big business," Steve Adams of the Colorado AFL-CIO said in a release. "We hope this is not a harbinger for what lies in store for the working men and women in this state."
Governors must govern, not recreate a patronage system where loyal supporters are rewarded with in-kind legislation they support. Ritter demonstrated a great deal of intestinal fortitude for a Democrat in breaking with one of the pillars of the party's support. The "honeymoon" for an all-Democratic Colorado legislature and executive branch has come to an early end.

ColoradoPols has the text of the Governor's letter explaining the reasoning for his decision to veto the bill:
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am returning to the House of Representatives House Bill 07-1072, "Concerning the Elimination of the Requirements for a Vote Ratifying an All-Union Agreement." I vetoed this bill as of 2 p.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.

As governor, I take seriously my obligation to represent as best I can all of the people who reside in the great state of Colorado. It is my solemn duty to approach the challenges facing us today with a broad view, to take into account different perspectives, and place the highest priority on what's best for the people as a whole.

I committed in my first State of the State speech just a few weeks ago, and I promised the people of Colorado over the last two years, that I would work tirelessly to bridge traditional divides, to bring together groups that often find themselves at odds: Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, developers and environmentalists. I vowed to listen to a wide range of views, to unite and to build consensus around a public policy agenda that speaks to the common good.

I am proud of the coalition that honored me with election to this office: rural and urban, mountain and valley, agricultural and industrial, wealthy and poor, Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated. It was a coalition of small businesses, big businesses and working families.

My sympathies lie with Colorado's working families. My father was a heavy-equipment operator and a member of Operating Engineers Locals 3 and 9. I worked my way through college and law school as a pipe layer and a member of Laborers Local 720. I understand the struggles of Colorado's working families. I have lived those struggles myself.

During the campaign, two labor organizations asked me in written questionnaires if I would support an amendment to the Colorado Labor Peace Act that eliminates the second organizing election ratifying an all-union agreement. I indicated that I would, believing that requiring a second super-majority election seems, on its face, undemocratic. It also injects government into what should be a private negotiating process between employer and employee.

I recognize how deeply disappointed my friends in organized labor will be with this decision. I know that members of my own party in the legislature stood firm in the face of outrageous, unprecedented and shameful partisan rhetoric done only for political sport.

But I strongly believe that the way we do the people's business is as important as what we do. And I am obligated to judge legislation by its consequences, intended and unintended.

Over the last several days, I have listened intently to people I respect who worried deeply about the impact this change would have on our ability to attract new business to Colorado, to create new economic opportunity for all. I am persuaded by their argument that changing long-time Colorado law relating to business and labor negotiations in this manner, in the atmosphere with which it was debated, is not now in the best interests of our state.

From the beginning, this was a bitter, divisive and partisan battle. Opposite sides dug in, refusing to consider reasonable compromises. It demonstrated precisely why so many people have grown so cynical about American politics. The bill's proponents made no effort to open a dialogue with the opponents. At times, the opponents were neither respectful nor civil. It was over-heated politics at its worst.

How we govern is important to me as governor and to the people of Colorado. The spirit of cooperation and collaboration embodied in the passage of FasTracks, Referendum C and other initiatives offers a perfect example of how we as a state can join forces, forge coalitions and move Colorado forward together.

Creating the New Energy Economy, reforming health care, funding education, and building a 21st century transportation system requires that kind of spirit and commitment.

The rhetoric surrounding House Bill 07-1072 damages that spirit, threatening our goals and sinking us into cynical politics.

For these reasons, I have decided to veto House Bill 07-1072.

As we move ahead, my table will always have seats for labor and for business. I am confident they will join me, work with me, and with each other, to move Colorado forward. This is the heart of the Colorado Promise, of how we govern well, and of how we give cynics reason to hope once again.


Bill Ritter, Jr.

Ritter decries the partisanship that characterized the debate over the union bill, and given today's political climate this hardly comes as a surprise. Democrats were giddy with power and expected nothing less than an unimpeded path to victory; Republicans were attempting to shore up some credibility in the business community they hoped to woo back to their side. Ritter played the middle--just as Sen. Ken Salazar has done--to continue the appearance of being a moderate. As long as harmful legislation can be vetoed as a result of "playing to the middle", keep it coming!

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


February 07, 2007

Sarkozy Backs Mohammad Cartoons; Efforts To Ban "Defamation Of Religions"

"It's hard to be loved by fools."

French presidential candidate says there should be an "excess" rather than an "absence" of such cartoons.

Muslims are, of course, outraged and have filed a lawsuit against the French paper that originally published the caricatures of Mohammad.

Meanwhile, efforts to include freedom from "defamation of religions" begins apace; ostensibly covering all religions but in reality nothing more than a cover to target "Islamophobia".


February 06, 2007

Hickenlooper Wastes Money Plowing Ice A Month Too Late

A few days ago, we criticized Mayor Hickenlooper for choosing to do something about the paralyzing ice covering Denver's streets over a month after the first blizzard hit.

Now with a moderation in temperature, the city plans to spend millions not only plowing whats left of the ice--and there is still a lot, mind you--but renting giant snow melting equipment. Even the left thinks this is nuts.

Note to Mayor Hickenlooper: the sun melts snow each year for free. Nobody in Denver complained about the ice piled in local parks, seeing as they couldn't easily reach them due to the ice in the streets . . .

No doubt the Hick and the city council members feel the heat from the pressure of their constituents to accomplish their duties in a timely manner. This overreaction meant to quell criticism is itself being attacked as a foolish way of spending city funds, especially a contingency fund designed for emergencies, not CYA gestures.

Then there's the potholes.

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


Union Bill--Attacking Workers' Rights

Ben DeGrow dismantles HB 1072.


February 05, 2007

Ending Columbus Day--Not Just The Parade, But The Holiday Too

thedrunkablog analyzes Glenn Morris' support of Colorado State Sen. Suzanne Williams' plan to repeal the Columbus Day holiday.


Buckle Up Or Else--Seat-belt Primary Offense Bill Threatens Liberty

The Rocky Mountain News sees the primary offense seatbelt law as a "pretext to stop just about anyone".

In a bad neighborhood? Driving in the early morning hours? Friday or Saturday night? With the excuse of seatbelt enforcement, police can pull a driver over on suspicion of not wearing a seatbelt.

Even those not driving under the influence or otherwise committing a legal infraction know the inconvenience and stress of being pulled over. This is not to put any blame on the officers themselves--their inconvenience will be having to enforce an extremely minor infraction while potentially ignoring more threatening behavior that truly endangers drivers and leads to motor vehicle fatalities.

Drivers should know the consequences of driving without a seatbelt. Voluntary observance should be the standard, and would not be objectionable as the secondary violation as it currently stands. Police officers should focus on those drivers who run red lights, speed, and appear to be under the influence or committing road rage.

Just ask yourself--can you tell, especially at night, if those around you are wearing a seatbelt? How would police be any more able to discern this fact, for example, in winter when everyone wears bulky coats that for all intents and purposes swallows the seatbelt behind folds of fabric.
"We're just committed to trying to save lives," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver. "A tougher seat-belt law will generate more (federal) funding for the state. It's the right thing to do."
Most support comes from the Democrats, although the most vocal opponent, also a Democrat, fears police harassment and racial profiling. In most instances we would disagree, but in this particular instance the representative has a point. And does the state need additional racial profiling lawsuits--no doubt an unintended consequence of the overreaching legislation?

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


Alien Probe

"I just hope they don't probe my 'frijoles!'"


February 04, 2007

Follow The Money In Pernicious Union Bill

Payback? David Harsanyi certainly thinks so.

Special interests indeed!


February 03, 2007

An Ode To Mayor Hickenlooper--Send In The Plows

With apologies to Stephen Sondheim ("Send in the Clowns"):
Denver is cold,
Hick doesn’t care
Can’t get a grip on the ground,
Cars in mid-air.
Send in the plows.

Ice on the road
Doesn’t improve
Wheels just keep spinning around,
Can’t hardly move.
Where are the plows?
Send in the plows.

Just when I'd stopped shoveling snow,
Finally thinking the ice building outside would go,
Another storm would again dump with usual flair,
Out on the street,
No one is there.

Stuck in a ditch?
We still can’t steer,
Losing his “Teflon”, the mayor
Costing him dear.
And where are the plows?
There ought to be plows.
Well, maybe next year.


Sen. Splinter Salazar Plays The Middle On Iraq Resolution

"Compromising" with the Iraq troop increase--in a "bipartisan" manner.


Piglet Prohibition Leads To Censorship

Winnie the Pooh may soon be without a sidekick, if the Muslims get their way:

Go Piglet (thanks to RelapsedCatholic.com):


Udall's "Anti-Corruption" Legislation Just An Election Ploy

It would be believable as legitimate legislation had Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder) introduced the bill outside the context of a potential run against an opponent specifically targeted by the bill's intent:
Rep. Mark Udall fired a warning shot in the 2008 U.S. Senate race on Thursday by co-sponsoring "anti-corruption" legislation that reminds people of a past controversy surrounding one of his potential Republican rivals, former congressman Scott McInnis.

Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, agreed to co-sponsor a bill by Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., to prohibit candidates or their immediate family members from drawing salaries from campaign committees for campaign-related work.

McInnis drew media scrutiny and complaints from Democrats in 2004 and 2005 over the tens of thousands of dollars his campaign has paid his wife, Lori, to work as campaign manager — including after he announced he would leave Congress to become a lobbyist.
Proposing legislation to prohibit something because of the inherent potential for abuse is one thing; introducing bills with the intention of discrediting a potential opponent is pure politics. Is this what we're to expect from Udall in the Senate?

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


Mayor Hickenlooper Vows To Plow Denver--A Month Later

**Update--"Send In The Plows": An Ode To Mayor Hickenlooper

Where the hell was this "contingency" plan a month ago (video), Mayor Hickenblooper?
The city of Denver cried uncle Friday and announced that it's no longer just relying on its own crews to clear the ice and snow from residential streets -- it's hiring contractors.

. . .

Half of the residential streets still have not been plowed.

On Friday, Mayor John Hickenlooper said he's heard from many the residents who have vented their frustrations.

"We're going to call in additional contractors, both with manpower and equipment," he said.

He outlined a strategy that is narrowly focused, so instead of clearing the snow and ice from curb to curb on all of the residential streets, the snowplow crews will focus on clearing a 10- to 12-foot lane.

. . .

"We don't control the weather. The weather deals the card, and we play the hand," Hickenlooper said.
We are calling Hickenlooper's bluff. Denver's plowing plan--not the plows or operators themselves, who have worked hard over the last six weeks--was abominable. Relying on January thaw that never came, Denver and other suburbs allowed snow, packed from two consecutive storms, to turn into sheets of ice inches deep. The ruts followed, and the minimal melting from meager sunlight only served to harden the ice even more. So much for a plan.

Even main streets cleared after the storm saw so much excess snow piled up on the curbs and sidewalks that many are still impassable as of early February. North facing areas shaded by buildings are especially encrusted by excess snow and ice.

The mayor does not control the weather--however, the city does control the planning and execution of snow and ice removal, and should have drawn up plans to hire independent contractors and gather more equipment weeks ago, and at a far smaller cost. The weather may eventually warm, but Hickenlooper's missteps may stick around longer than the ice he has so far failed to clear.

Cross posted at Political Avalanche


February 02, 2007

GOP Filibuster Of Pro-Union Bill Encouraging

The bill will be passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature, but at least State Senate GOPers get credit for putting up a fight on this slick payback to labor unions for their support of the Democratic Party.

So, which side has special interests? They all do--they are called constituencies.

Remind a Democrat of this the next time they ramble on and on about so-called GOP "special interest" lobbies.