Mark Udall, who has led the fight to strengthen the federal firefighting tanker fleet, called on the military to elevate the readiness status of its aerial firefighting assets — C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems — after the U.S. Forest Service and three private contractors failed to deliver five next-generation air tankers in accordance with their contracts. Udall said Coloradans should not have to worry about their lives or homes because of unacceptable contract delays.Read Udall's letters here.
"The U.S. Forest Service predicts another cycle of substantial fire activity is likely in 2014, and based on lessons learned from previous fires and delays in delivery of additional U.S. Forest Service tankers, I believe that support from Department of Defense aircraft may be more critical than ever," Udall wrote in his letter to the Pentagon. "As such, I request that you elevate the readiness status of the MAFFS units during the 2014 fire season to ensure those assets can provide expedited response times in the event of a major fire. A shorter response time by MAFFS assets would help fill gaps in the U.S. Forest Service tanker fleet and would help provide an effective initial response capable of containing fires early."
Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the military assets, coupled with the two next-generation tankers already online, will provide a total of more than 22 large air tankers to protect Colorado communities until the additional five next-generation tankers are brought online.
He said the U.S. Forest Service and three private contractors' failures to deliver are unacceptable and require accountability.
"These tankers promised to be a game changer for western communities grappling with the perennial threat of modern mega-fires. Since then, I have been repeatedly assured that they will be delivered at any moment," Udall wrote on his letter to the U.S. Forest Service. "While I am pleased that two of these safer, faster and more reliable tankers are now available to join the existing fleet of approximately 20 large air tankers — which is an improvement from 2013 — I am deeply concerned that delivery of the remaining five will be further delayed and unavailable for the 2014 wildfire season. This is unacceptable."
Udall has been a relentless advocate for Colorado communities facing the threat of catastrophic mega-fires. He has been the leading voice in Congress to update and strengthen the federal air tanker fleet, including through the transfer of excess military aircraft. He recently pressed the U.S. Forest Service to quickly adopt the Government Accountability Office's recommendations on how to upgrade its air tanker fleet.
Udall also has championed common-sense programs and strategies to prevent Western wildfires. He recently introduced bipartisan legislation to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to proactively work with states and localities on wildfire mitigation projects. He also has been a tireless advocate to encourage homeowners to prepare their homes for wildfire, including clearing fuels from around their homes and making a plan for what to do if faced with an imminent wildfire.
You may have heard that Jaxine Bubis, who ran for the Republican nomination in the Senate District 11 recall election of Sen. John Morse, placed liens on the property of several individuals and entities, including the El Paso County Republican Central Committee and El Paso County Republican Chairman Jeff Hays.
We want you to know that we proactively resolved the issue.
Last week, a judge declared the liens to be spurious, entered an order to have them removed, and ordered Jaxine Bubis to pay our attorney's fees.
Case closed. Now let's go win some more elections.
El Paso County Republican Party
Today, Congressman Doug Lamborn formally announces his campaign for re-election to the Fifth Congressional District of Colorado. Congressman Lamborn, currently in his fourth term in the House of Representatives, serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, and the House Natural Resources Committee, where he also serves as Chairman of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee.According to campaign finance records, Lamborn had raised $122,000 as of last fall, compared to Halter's $121,000.
First elected to Congress in 2006, Congressman Lamborn is a staunch fiscal, social, and national security conservative. He is committed to repealing and replacing the disaster that is Obamacare, reducing the size and scope of the federal government, keeping taxes low, and ensuring that the United States of America has the strongest and most effective fighting force in the entire world. He previously served 12 years as a State Representative and State Senator in the Colorado General Assembly, where he was the Senate Sponsor of the biggest tax cut in Colorado history.
Congressman Lamborn has been named the Most Conservative Member of Congress four times by the National Journal and has received top marks from trusted organizations such as: Club for Growth, American Conservative Union, National Taxpayers Union, National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, National Right to Life, Family Research Council, and Americans for Prosperity.
During his time in Washington, Congressman Lamborn has worked hard to bring a new Combat Aviation Brigade, Veterans Cemetery, and a Veterans Clinic to the Fifth Congressional District. Congressman Lamborn has twice passed significant energy legislation in the House that would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. He passed a bill in the House that would eliminate federal funding for left-leaning National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He introduced a bill that became law legalizing public access to the Manitou Incline.
"I will continue to fight for conservative, constitutional, and traditional values. I will work hard for the people of the Fifth Congressional District, for our men and women in uniform, and for a bright and prosperous future for America. I would appreciate the continued support of the voters of the District. It is an honor and a privilege to serve the Fifth Congressional District in our nation's Capital." - Congressman Doug Lamborn.
Congressional challenger Irv Halter, a retired Major General, today criticized Congressman Doug Lamborn's belated opposition to steep cuts in military pensions supported by Lamborn last month.
Halter remarked, "This is another reason why so many Coloradans can't stand career politicians. A few weeks ago, Congressman Lamborn voted to slash the pensions of veterans....this week he's introducing phony legislation to restore the pensions. Lamborn's legislation won't pass, but he'll run around our area and claim that he's trying to fix the problem that he created. We made a promise to our veterans who put their lives on the line in service to our country, and we must make sure we keep this promise."
The budget supported by Lamborn limits, in the words of the Colorado Springs Gazette, "the cost of living retirement increases for veterans under the age of 62 through a formula that shaves a percentage point from the consumer price index, a measure of inflation. The new pay increase formula could cost a 42-year-old military retiree 20 percent of his retirement pay over 20 years."
This is just another example of how Congressman Lamborn is an ineffective Representative for the 5th district. Last week, The New York Times reported that Congress is only scheduled to be in session for 1/3 of the year. However, Congressman Lamborn will be paid his full salary and pension while at the same time cutting pensions for our veterans.
In some ways, lawmakers' finances look a lot like those of many Americans. They include diverse portfolios of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate. They have bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages. The difference: Politicians generally have more money and — unlike most people they represent — they must make their investments public. Another difference: Politicians, during the course of their official duties, routinely have access to non-public information. The STOCK Act, which passed in April of 2012, sought to clarify ambiguous insider trading regulations.Our own Doug Lamborn, a Republican, remains in the bottom half, ranked 383rd, with assets worth $455,000 or less. The number isn't precise, because of how members are required to report asset and liability values. Lamborn, a lawyer, reported no income other than his congressman's salary of $174,000 a year.
I hate these kinds of decisions, because no matter what decision you make a significant segment of the voters are gonna be upset, you know, and it really is demoralizing sometimes. But nobody ever said life was easy or you got a free pass, so.
You know, I got news for you: I was not a supporter of Amendment 64. Not because I have any heartfelt opinions on whether pot should be legal or [whether] people should be able to grow it. I saw it as a big, hot mess coming down on my desk, and guess what it is: A big, hot mess. I’m sorry, Mr. [Brian] Vicente [who co-wrote Amendment 64 and spoke at the meeting], OK, but that’s the way I saw it from the beginning and it’s proved to be true.
I knew we took a risk waiting to see what Colorado Springs and all the other jurisdictions were gonna do first, but you know what? We needed to have all the information we could have, you know? We’re talking about one vote in Colorado Springs: It was 5 to 4 to opt out. If that had switched, are you telling me that nobody here would be upset about having stores in Manitou, that it wouldn’t be a big issue anymore? I don’t think so. I think people have really heartfelt opinions on this, you know? And I think that we’d be having a similar discussion right now.
I’m not excited about being the only jurisdiction that may license and regulate these things. At the same time, you know, maybe it ends up being a boon for this town, all right? As Mayor Pro Tem Carpenter pointed out, back on Aug. 20 he and I motioned and seconded and argued for and voted for an advisory vote, to put it on this last November’s ballot on this specific question about stores. I agree with him: I thought we had a single-subject rule in this state and that ballot measures had to have a single subject. Well, [Amendment 64] had multiple subjects and I think you can understand why; because to just legalize it without having a plan in place for the legal purchase, to me, is just funneling money to the black market. How is that not possible?
And I’ve listened to so many people that I love and respect tell me, ‘Well, I voted for 64, but I don’t want pot stores.’ Well, you know, I’m sorry, did you read it? Because it says it in there so many times to regulate it like alcohol, and where do you go to get alcohol? You go to a liquor store. So, is it really such a huge stretch to expect that this is what was intended by the voters, that you would go to legal pot stores to buy your pot? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that one.
Money-wise, first of all I don’t believe in all the doom and gloom that this is gonna ruin the town, and this is gonna affect tourism. At the same time, I don’t believe all the sunshine and rose petals either, OK? That it’s gonna be manna from heaven, and it’s gonna bring in all these tourists. I personally think it’ll be similar to the dispensary experience, in which it’ll be negligible as far as the effects it'll have on those things. ... And during the medical process, I heard a lot of the same arguments that I’ve heard throughout these last several months. ... Some people [recently] explained to me that, no, that we are seeing an increase in youth access — I don’t blame that necessarily on the dispensary owners, I blame that on unscrupulous adults.
And guess what? It’s legal in Colorado now. You know, we all swore an oath up here and the way that goes is we swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the Colorado Constitution and the charter of the city of Manitou Springs, and it is now part of the constitution in Colorado. Pot is legal. People can grow it. I’m more worried about the unscrupulous jerk who’s gonna grow it in his basement and go out and sell it in little dime bags to kids than I am about these stores.
These people are gonna be so watched and so heavily regulated, it would take an idiot to do something stupid, you know? And you want to talk about the black market, and you wanna go to your neighborhood or a street dealer, and he’s gonna say, ‘Hey kid, sure, I got a bag for you, and I’ve got something else in here, you might want to try some of this or some of that.’ But when it comes to these stores, only an idiot would try to sell other drugs [when] they’ve been given the golden ticket to sell pot. So I really think that these arguments don’t hold a lot of water for me. ...
I’ve watched for 20 years as these ridiculous constitutional amendments come before the Colorado voters and almost every time they smell a rat and they vote these things out in incredible numbers. I look at what happened even with the school measure, on 66, which failed in El Paso County 3 to 1 and yet the pot-tax measures passed 2 to 1. So don’t tell me that people don’t know what they’re voting for, OK? I have more confidence in people than I’ve been led to believe this evening.
At the same time, I did vote for an advisory vote. And you know what? I would still love to have a vote, you know, and let everybody come together, let the committees form on both sides of the issue and just have a big, old vote on it. But you know what? I made that argument on Aug. 20 and it got voted down. And I do believe in representative democracy — you know, I’ve sent this email out to a lot of people: Don’t expect me to, after fighting as hard as I can for something and then losing it, I’m not gonna then try and pull an end-around on the rest of the council. I have too much love and respect for my peers up here on council to then decide that, ‘Well, I’m not happy with their decision.’ You know, the hardest part of being on a council is being able to accept when you’re on the losing end of a vote, and I only see two options: You can either find a way to get behind the majority, or you can shut up and get out of the way. [Applause break]
You know, and then we hear a lot about kids, and what message are we sending to youth. And I understand that, believe me, it worries me. When you ask a kid who doesn’t smoke marijuana the number one reason why they don’t, they’ll tell it’s because it’s illegal. And that scares the heck out of me that it’s no longer illegal. But when you ask a kid who doesn’t drink alcohol, ‘Why don’t you drink alcohol?’ The answer is usually, ‘Because I’ve seen what it’s done to my grandfather, or to my uncle, or to my sister or my best friend,’ OK? And I think that’s the kind of direction we need to be going with education on marijuana.
Prohibitions do not work. Look at all the problems that we had after prohibition of alcohol with gangs, and the mafias, and the killings and everything else. And then we repealed that Prohibition. Is there anybody now selling illegal alcohol? Maybe a few places in Appalachia, they’re still making moonshine, but that’s gone now. It’s all above board, and that’s the direction I think the voters wanted this to go with Amendment 64.
It’s not my issue. I’m not a champion on this issue, to be honest with you. I realize I put myself in a position as being an elected official that I don’t get to cop out and just take a pass on things. So I’m trying, and coming through.
And you talk about kids and what message are we sending to kids with this: How about the hypocrisy? I ask at every public meeting that we’ve had related to this, all the way back to the dispensaries, ‘How do you answer that question: Why is it that alcohol and tobacco — which cause more death and disease by every measure — why are they not only are they legal, but they’re celebrated?’ How many people go to Coors Field? Busch Stadium? The cool jazz festival down in New Orleans?
Why is it that those products have gotten this exalted, legal, celebratory status and marijuana is this evil street drug that we have to tell our kids, ‘Don’t you use that. That’s a bad drug.’ And you know what? I’m tired of being a hypocrite. I’ve tried to explain to kids about lobbies, and money, and history and they look at me like, ‘What a cop out.’ You know? I’m so tired of being a hypocrite in front of my kids.
All right, so, what I hear tonight is we have a majority of councilors who are ready to move forward with this. And, like I said, you can either shut up and get out of the way, or find a way to get behind it. And I feel like if we’re going to be moving forward with this than it’s time to do it right.
My constituents are calling me with nightmare stories about skyrocketing healthcare premiums as a result of ObamaCare. Businesses are only hiring part-time workers to avoid the ObamaCare mandates and penalties. I remain committed to protecting all Americans from this oppressive law.
I don’t believe our efforts here have been in vain. We have called attention to the need to reform federal spending and to bring more fairness to ObamaCare. I remain hopeful that the fight will continue and will gain strength from the American people in the coming months and years.