Thursday, April 13, 2017

UPDATE: 'Clarifying discrimination' bill killed on Senate Floor

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 1:52 PM

UPDATE: The state Senate has officially voted down SB-283, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to someone based on any belief — religious or otherwise. Three Republicans joined all Senate Democrats to defeat the bill.

Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, the state's leading LGBTQ rights organization, said: "We are thankful that all the Senate Democrats and Senators Tate, Coram, and Martinez Humenik saw this bill for what it was, a thinly-veiled attempt to give businesses permission to ignore Colorado's non-discrimination laws."

—ORIGINAL POST 1:52 P.M. THURS., APRIL 13, 2017—

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Last week, the Colorado Senate Committee of State, Veterans, & Military Affairs passed SB-1188, a bill which adds physical or mental disability and sexual orientation to the categories described in our state’s existing harassment statue — a victory for those who belong to either minority group.

Now, that same committee has considered and passed another bill that affects LGBTQ citizens, though this one sends a different message.

SB-283, "Clarify Discrimination And Right To Disagree," while not technically a religious exemption bill, would offer the same protections. Namely, that if a business or business owner disagrees with someone’s message/lifestyle/choices/beliefs, they can deny service to that customer.

A common example: a Christian baker is asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Should they be allowed to deny that service because they do not agree with marriage equality? According to SB-283, the answer is yes.

The difference between this and a standard religious exemption bill is that SB-283 widens that scope. Rather than just citing religious beliefs, it actually encompasses any kind of disagreement, which is just ambiguous enough to allow for multiple avenues of discrimination.

The bill specifies that it is not a discriminatory practice for a private business to decline to contract to provide goods or services:

• That convey a message with which the business chooses not to associate itself or with which the business owner disagrees; or

• For an event that conveys a message with which the business chooses not to associate itself or with which the business owner disagrees.

While it is unlikely the bill will make it out of the Senate alive, it is still important to consider what bills like this, and their continued introduction, mean for our community.

As we have previously reported, the Small Business Majority, a national organization with an interest in the economy of small businesses, conducted a poll of small business owners in Colorado. The majority (65 percent of 400 polled) do not think businesses should have the right to deny services to LGBTQ customers, no matter their religious beliefs.

It stands to reason, then, that a bill which narrows the definition of discrimination even further would face similar opposition from the small business community.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Colorado Springs City Council: Let's take a closer look at campaign finance

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 11:16 AM

In this week's Independent, we report some of the thoughts members of Colorado Springs City Council have on reforming campaign finance rules in light of what many call a nasty city election on April 4.

As examples, check out this story about an anti-Richard Skorman ad, and another one mounted by a candidate against incumbent Jill Gaebler. Despite the ads, Skorman and Gaebler won.

Both have thoughts about changing how campaigns are financed.

Someone else who has some opinions is Sarah Jack, who's spent 30 years managing political campaigns, and oversaw four candidates' campaigns this go round. She worked for Deborah Hendrix, Chuck Fowler, Lynette Crow-Iverson and Greg Basham. All lost.

While reporting the story for this week's paper, we asked Jack for a comment, given her long experience. We heard back from her via email too late to include more than a single sentence in our paper but thought readers would be interested in what she has to say. Here's her take:
As a Free Speech advocate, I believe that campaign limits confine free speech and violate the First Amendment rights of citizens who want to participate in the process. Many disagree, but that is my view.

As the elected leaders of our City these Members have every right to consider changes and propose changes to the campaign finance rules. And I suppose if they are as successful at labeling people as evil, and free speech as dark money as they were in the recent campaigns they may receive public support. Ultimately the burden will fall mostly on the candidates and supporters who want to run for office and participate in the political process. I would warn them that all campaign finance laws limiting free speech have accomplished so far is to drive funding and campaigns underground. The US Supreme Court has recognized that citizens have a right to participate and to use their resources (time, talent, and money) to both run and support others in running and that is a protected right. People who can afford lawyers and campaign finance consultants will find a way to get their message out when they have a great deal at stake and those most harmed by campaign finance rules are those without the resources to use alternate methods to get their message out.

For the record I do not believe that the CCPOC [Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution, a nonprofit that doesn't disclose donors] or any outside group worked against the candidates the business community overwhelmingly supported. As there could not be and was not any coordination because of campaign finance laws ... mistakes can and will happen to the best of us.

It is incumbent on me, the candidates, Members of Council, the community to evaluate what occurred a week ago. There were many good people with different ideas and values running. There is a lot at stake. Elections matter.
After the election results were tallied last week, Colorado Springs Forward and the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs found themselves with only one endorsee in the winner's circle — Andy Pico.

Their other choices were the same slate who hired Jack to work on their campaigns. We asked CSF and the HBA for comments. We never heard back from the HBA, but CSF's Executive Director Amy Lathen sent us this statement in an email:
Colorado Springs Forward wishes to thank each and every candidate for their thoughtful, passionate efforts. We look forward to working with everyone in all that comes our way as a community, and we hope that all of you do as well.

Further, we have added our sincere congratulations today to our new and continuing Council members, Don Knight, District 1, David Geislinger, District 2, Richard Skorman, District 3, Yolanda Avila, District 4, Jill Gaebler, District 5 and Andy Pico, District 6.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New downtown Colorado Springs tourism project shot down

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 6:18 PM

A bill that would allow the city of Colorado Springs to amend its state Regional Tourism Act funding package to sub an air museum in place of a downtown stadium is dead.

The work-around was prompted by findings that showed the downtown stadium to be not viable without a significant infusion of local taxpayer money.

So instead of a stadium, Mayor John Suthers recently announced a second site for the World War II air museum at the Colorado Springs Airport would be built, though there was no public process involved in choosing the project — just as there was no public input for choosing the original four projects included in the tourism venture dubbed City for Champions.

That package includes the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, which is to break ground this spring; a visitors center at the Air Force Academy, which reportedly is issuing a request for proposals soon; and a sports medicine facility at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, which has gathered some funding.

All would be aided by state sales tax money collected above a base year established in 2013 over a tourism zone that includes most of the city. The city's allotment was $120.5 million before the stadium washed out.

But the proposed state Senate bill, carried at the request of the city, reportedly was postponed indefinitely by the Appropriations Committee, so it's sunk.

It's unclear, after that amendment to the Regional Tourism Act has failed, how much that will reduce the city's allowance, or whether part of the money the city already has received, which totals $4.9 million, needs to be refunded.

Suthers told City Council in a Tuesday lunch meeting that "unless something miraculous happens," the city will drop the idea of a fourth venue, according to an online report in the Gazette.

One followup question: Does that mean the package of projects will now be called C3C, instead of C4C?

We're trying to find out more and will update when we do.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Rep. Doug Lamborn announces town hall meetings

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 11:25 AM

Lamborn: Holding five town halls this week. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lamborn: Holding five town halls this week.
Many Congress members returning to their home districts in recent months have been greeted with "the resistance," those opposed to the Donald Trump administration's policies, sanctioned by the GOP dominated House and Senate.

But Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, might find a more friendly crowd during five town hall meetings he has planned this week during the two-week break in Congressional District 5, which is heavily Republican.

Then again, maybe not.

Lamborn plans only one of those meetings in CD 5's largest population center, Colorado Springs.

So if you want to give Lamborn feedback about various national issues, such as health care, tax reform, Trump's deconstruction of regulation for businesses and environmental protection, here's your chance.

His schedule:

Tuesday, April 11
— 10 to 11 a.m., City Administration Building, 901 Main St., Fairplay.
— 11:30 to 12:30 p.m., Sangre de Cristo Electric Association Community Room, 29780 N. US Highway 24, Buena Vista.

Wednesday, April 12
— 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Stetson Hills Police Substation Community Room, 4110 Tutt Blvd., Colorado Springs.

Thursday, April 13
— 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Fremont County Administration Building, 615 Macon Ave., Cañon City.
— 2 to 3 p.m., Teller County Centennial Building, 112 North A St., Cripple Creek.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Planned Parenthood exec: Gorsuch is a poor choice

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Sarah Taylor-Nanista is Vice-President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado - COURTESY PLANNED PARENTHOOD
  • Courtesy Planned Parenthood
  • Sarah Taylor-Nanista is Vice-President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado

We get a lot of email here at the Independent, so I nearly overlooked this op-ed from Planned Parenthood's Sarah Taylor-Nanista. The PP exec gives an interesting perspective on President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

As you likely know, Democrats have the numbers to filibuster the Colorado judge's confirmation hearing in the Senate, though Republicans plan to use the "nuclear option" to overcome that filibuster and confirm Gorsuch. The showdown is already underway.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, has said he will vote with Republicans to end the filibuster, though he hasn't said whether he'll vote to confirm Gorsuch. Taylor-Nanista makes the case for Bennet to vote "no":
Be Fearless

I love the bronze statue Fearless Girl that faces the Charging Bull of Wall Street in New York City. The look on her face is priceless – defiant, brave, ready to take on all the difficulty of life.

It’s an expression we all recognize – I see it daily on the faces of staff members, patients and volunteers at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Fearless Girl embodies how we feel as an organization, standing in opposition to the new administration, and most recently to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Our opposition is on behalf of our clients – as a health care provider to tens of thousands, we believe that Judge Gorsuch has taken active stands that give corporations religious rights over individual’s access to birth control (Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell). He has refused to answer crucial constitutional questions or elaborate on his judicial philosophy during his hearing in the Senate.

His alarming history of interfering with reproductive rights and health care will affect Coloradans’ real lives. Every day, we see the need for access to life-saving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, cancer wellness exams, preventive health care and birth control. Last year, more than 70,000 people were treated at our Colorado health centers, including our health center in Colorado Springs. Colorado needs MORE access to health care, not less. Judge Gorsuch’s past shows he’s willing to stand in between medical providers and their patients.

We don’t look at access to health care as theoretical, academic or corporate. It’s deeply personal to every single one of our patients. Our patients don’t come to us for political reasons – they come because we are a trusted provider they know will give them compassionate, confidential, high-quality care. And we know that most Americans agree with us. Poll after poll demonstrates that people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood and our work.

Planned Parenthood stands in opposition to Judge Gorsuch. And just like Fearless Girl, we stand up to power, especially for those who wouldn’t otherwise have a voice.

If you agree that everyone needs access to health care no matter where they live or their situation, then please call U.S. Senator Michael Bennet at (202) 224-5852 and tell him to vote against the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Be fearless with us and stand up to power.

Sarah Taylor-Nanista is Vice-President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado

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Monday, April 3, 2017

UPDATE: Colorado Springs city election spawns a flurry of signs

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 5:10 PM

We just heard from the city via email regarding whether a sign permit was obtained:

Ms. Jack did not apply for such a permit. We typically learn of violations of the City Code regulations via citizen complaints.

When a complaint comes in, as long as we have all of the information needed, the City will notify the offender and ask them to remove the sign or Code Enforcement Officers will go out and remove the sign in question.
————-ORIGINAL POST, 5:10 P.M., APRIL 3 ——————————

As the election comes to its crescendo, we find a bunch of signs everywhere, even in our front yard.

It's worth noting that spotting campaign signs in public rights-of-way is nothing new. It usually happens every election.

But a blatant admission is another thing entirely.

On Sunday, Colorado Springs Business Journal reporter John Hazlehurst came to work at CSBJ's Nevada Avenue offices shared with the Independent to get a jump on the week. He was greeted by an army of signs for Chuck Fowler and Lynette Crow-Iverson in front of our building.

The irony of this is that while the Business Journal doesn't endorse candidates in elections, the Independent does and did not endorse either of those whose signs were posted here.

Hazlehurst reports via Facebook he took the signs down "and cached 'em in our evidence room!"

Sarah Jack, a paid consultant for both Fowler's and Crow-Iverson's campaigns, piped up with this, "Get a sense of humor John."

When Hazlehurst tells her the security cams caught the whole thing, Jack says this:

"I did it.... They[y] were in the city right of way. So sue me."

Here's the exchange:

Which begs the question, is that legal? Can someone post signs wherever they want?

We asked the city about that and were referred to the Planning and Development Department, which regulates what is placed on city rights-of-way.

The short answer is as long as someone gets a permit, they can post campaign signs all over town, including in public rights-of-way, no problem.

Here's the long version from the city:
With regards to election signs within public rights-of-way, temporary signs are allowed within the City right-of-way with approval of a revocable permit in accord with Section 3.2.217.D of the City Code however there are regulations that must be followed. There are two separate applications; one for signs of six square feet or less and another for signs larger than six square feet. The difference between the two types of signs is that the City needs to review the placement of any sign larger than six square feet so that they are not placed within the sight visibility triangle because the sign can restrict the visibility of pedestrians and vehicular traffic. Some of the rules and regulations for sign placement include:
· No signs are allowed within the medians of any public right-of-way;
· The size of the sign(s) are based on the zone of the adjacent property;
· Signs are not allowed on or in front of City of Colorado Springs or Colorado Springs Utilities owned property which includes Park land and Open Space;
· Signs are not allowed within the right-of-way of State highways, i.e. I-25, Hwy 21 (Powers), Hwy 115 (portions of Nevada), etc.;
· Adjacent property permission is required.
The city didn't mention whether Jack, Fowler and Crow-Iverson have obtained the necessary permits. But it's pretty standard procedure to do so; thus, we'd be shocked if Jack didn't tend to that detail on behalf of her clients.

Still, we've asked the city that question and will update if and when we hear back.


If you haven't already, please vote in this election. Balloting closes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
For more, go to this site.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trump, Putin and propaganda

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 2:34 PM


The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned three experts on Russian active measures, or propaganda, campaigns the morning of March 30. One of them, Clint Watts, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, made it clear that the propaganda campaign was successful because of Trump’s use of similar tactics.

When asked why these cyber propaganda techniques work, Watts said “Because Trump embraces them.”

"Part of the reason active measures works is because they [Trump team] parrot the same line," he said again.

Talking with reporters after the hearing, Watts was more specific, saying that a vast majority of Russian propaganda supported Trump — but because of his embrace of conspiracies, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a particular line came from Trump or from the Russians.

“He actually repeats propaganda put out by RT or Russian sources and vice versa, they parrot him. ‘The election is rigged’ is a primary campaign put out by Russian propaganda up to the election,” Watts said. “‘The White House was tapped.’ Pick almost any of these stories where we have no proof for them and they show up back in Russian propaganda. It’s hard to distinguish sometimes did the Russians put it out first or did Trump say it and the Russians amplify it. That’s where you get into some trickery about it. That’s why you heard Vladimir Putin, he put out a statement today, he is right, he can say he didn’t influence the election because he’s not saying these things, our president is.”

Earlier in the morning, Putin called claims of such active measures “fictional, illusory and provocations, lies.”

Trump, Watts said, likely didn’t know when he was parroting a Russian line.

“I don’t think the president actually realizes what he is citing. You saw that with the wiretapping accusation over the last two to three weeks. He picks up on a conspiracy and he repeats it and then we have the entire United States government pivoting to try and determine whether it’s fact or fiction. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s parroting Russian propaganda lines on a routine basis,” Watts said. “Somewhere in his circle of whoever is advising him in terms of media messages at times they’re looking at Russian sources.”

Watts, who said he was certain he would be targeted by Russian hackers when he left the hearing, said the Intelligence committee should follow the money, but they should also "follow the trail of dead Russians.”

"There have been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation," he said. "They are dropping dead, even in Western countries."
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DA declines to file charges after City Council mailer complaint

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May has determined that although Colorado Springs City Council candidate Lynette Crow-Iverson's campaign used false information against incumbent Jill Gaebler in a campaign mailer, it didn't meet requirements of the criminal statute that bars using falsehoods in a political campaign.

Same goes for State Rep. Dave Williams, of House District 15, who sent out email blasts containing the same false information against Gaebler.

In response to the DA's ruling, Gaebler issued this statement:
It’s unfortunate that the level of misrepresentations of my record - spread by my opponent - have become so extreme to become the focus of an investigation by District Attorney Dan May. The biggest loser in these negative attacks and lies continues to be the voters of District 5 who deserve an honest choice in who will represent them and our

Gaebler: thankful DA ruled the mailer false. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Gaebler: thankful DA ruled the mailer false.
While these specific allegations apparently did not rise to a criminal level, I appreciate the District Attorney’s finding that literature from Lynette Crow-Iverson’s campaign was false and a complete fabrication.

Simply put, I do not and have not supported sanctuary cities in our state.

I want to thank District Attorney May for his thoughtful investigation into these falsehoods. In the final days of this campaign, I look forward to continuing a conversation with my community about the things that matter most to them - roads and infrastructure, responsible growth, and ensuring that our families and children live in safe neighborhoods.
Here's the DA's Office's release of the findings:
On Friday, March 24, 2017, Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler filed a formal complaint with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office based on a political mailer that had been sent out by her political opponent Lynette Crow-Iverson. The mailer incorrectly states that:

City Councilwoman and Colorado Municipal League Executive Board Member Jill Gaebler voted unanimously to oppose House Bill 17-1134, which would “Hold Colorado Government Accountable for Creating Sanctuary Jurisdiction Policies.

From The Colorado Municipal League’s Website: “The Colorado Municipal League is the voice of Colorado's cities and towns, counting more than 97 percent of the state's municipalities as our members. Founded in 1923, the Colorado Municipal League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization providing services and resources to assist municipal officials in managing their governments and serving the cities and towns of Colorado.”

Colorado Municipal League (CML) members met on February 17 to vote to unanimously oppose HB 17-1134. City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, who has consistently voiced her opposition to sanctuary cities, was not present for that vote.

Representative Dave Williams contacted CML regarding the organization’s vote on HB17-1134 and asked specifically how Councilwoman Gaebler had voted. A CML employee, who did not check the record, informed Rep. Williams that the vote to oppose the bill was unanimous and that they believed Councilwoman Gaebler had opposed the bill. This information was clearly wrong.

It is against Colorado law to knowingly or recklessly circulate false information about your opponent. Because the erroneous information used in Lynette Crow-Iverson’s mailer was provided by the CML employee, the District Attorney’s Office is unable to prove that anyone involved in producing the mailer knowingly or recklessly circulated false information. No charges will be filed.
We've asked the Crow-Iverson campaign for a comment and will update if and when we hear something.

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Bennet and others urge Trump to heed climate change

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 1:22 PM

Bennet: President needs to get a clue on climate change. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Bennet: President needs to get a clue on climate change.
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator from Colorado, is among 10 senators who are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his ill-thought-out executive order on climate change.

Trump's order will spell the end of U.S. initiatives for combatting climate change in an attempt to help resurrect the fossil fuel industry and create jobs, but the senators say that's simply wishful thinking.

Here's the news release, followed by the actual letter to the White House, which is worth the time to read.
The Senators wrote that the Order “fails to bring clean energy jobs to our rural communities, ignores the impacts that extreme weather will have on our economy and our national security, and does not decrease our reliance on foreign oil.”

“We stand ready to work with you and your Administration in reaching a balance between achieving energy independence, promoting innovation, and growing our rural economies,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, your Executive Order takes the nation in the wrong direction. In order to account for the unique needs of our Western states, we respectfully request you rescind the Energy Independence Executive Order.”

The Senators outlined several reasons the President should rescind the Order, including that it fails to:

· Address the issue of creating jobs, or account in any way for a real and effective solution to support coal communities to revitalize their local economies and create 21st century job opportunities.

· Support the clean energy industry, one of the fastest-growing sources of new jobs in the country. (Collectively, the wind and solar industry accounts for nearly 144,000 jobs and more than $83 billion in existing capital investment in Western states.)

· Consider the economic impacts of extreme weather events on rural communities, such as increasing crop premiums for farmers and loss of snowpack for the ski industry.

· Make our country more secure and less reliant on foreign oil.

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) signed the letter.
Here's the actual letter that went to Trump, who some have nicknamed "the denier-in-chief" for his stance on climate change:

Wonder where Colorado's other senator, Cory Gardner, is on this? Let's just say that he's not breaking from other Republicans to stand up for science.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Skorman leads in mid-March poll of Council District 3 voters

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 12:19 PM

A poll conducted March 14, 15 and 16 shows Richard Skorman leading in the Colorado Springs City Council District 3 race, but a third of voters polled said they were as yet undecided.

Skorman says the poll, conducted by Luce Research of 300 likely voters, found 41 percent favor him, 25 percent favor Chuck Fowler and 33 percent were undecided.

Skorman says he participated in the poll and funded his portion of it to find out the impact of negative ads issued by dark-money group Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution and scathing editorials in the Gazette against him. Since the poll was conducted, the Gazette has published at least one additional editorial bashing him.

"It seems like I have a solid lead, even after the negative mailers and negative Gazette editorials," he said.

Skorman also noted the Gazette has agreed to allow him to respond to the editorial that blamed him for the city's stormwater problem, and his letter to the editor will appear in Sunday's issue.

The poll, Skorman said, contained other questions, but he declined to reveal which other candidates participated. The poll had a  margin of error of 5.5 percent and reached voters by land line and cell phone.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Paul Ryan’s No Good Very Bad Day

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 5:07 PM


Friday afternoon, after a dramatic capitulation, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan walked out before the press and conceded defeat on what had been his party’s primary concern for the last seven years.

“Obamacare is the law of the land,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the immediate future.”

It was stunning. Even though the president insisted on Thursday that there would be a vote Friday, he called the Washington Post one minute after the floor debate was scheduled to end and said: “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it.”

For someone as vain as Trump, who has prided himself on The Art of the Deal, that must have been a blow. But that was nothing compared to what was coming to the Republicans in congress when Speaker Ryan had to tell them that they were moving on from healthcare.

“Now we're going to move on with our agenda because we have big ambitious plans" Ryan told the press.

Hole. Lee. Fuck.

They’ve been talking about this forever. They control the entire government and they back off of repealing Obamacare barely two months in.

“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan confessed, looking even more like a recently spanked Eddie Munster than normal. But neither he nor the president would publicly cast blame on the other—although neither have achieved anything of legislative significance yet.

“The president gave his all,” Ryan said.

“I don’t blame Paul. He worked very hard on this,” Trump told the Post.

Ryan also said he did not want to blame the Freedom Caucus, but made it clear that they had problems with the bill. The Breitbart, or alt-right wing of the party that supports the president, hates Paul Ryan and called the bill Obamacare 2.0.

But Trump wanted to blame the Democrats.

“We couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal,” Trump said.

The Democratic leadership of the House, who gave a press conference immediately after Ryan’s, were happy to own it.

"We owned it yesterday and the day before and in November," said Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

“Today’s a great day for our country,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “It’s a victory.”

Ryan denied that the defeat would hurt the Republican’s other legislative efforts, but the Democrats, who, only days ago, seemed demoralized and defeated, are certainly feeling the momentum and may be encouraged to actually fight against bills that may have previously seemed inevitable.

When asked if she would have imagined on November 9 that Republicans would have abandoned healthcare by March, Pelosi said: "Quite frankly I thought they might have accomplished something in the first few months. They have absolutely no record of accomplishment."
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A look at Colorado Springs City Council candidates where they live

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 4:16 PM

As we head into the final week before the April 4 city election, let's take a look at how many millionaires are running for the six district seats up for grabs on the nine-member City Council.

Answer: Not many, according to disclosure forms candidates must file with the City Clerk's Office.

But it's always interesting to review the financial holdings of political candidates. For most, their biggest asset is the roof over their heads.

Here's a rundown of what candidates reported on those forms. An asterisk denotes incumbents.

*Don Knight, retired from the military, reports owning his home with his wife, which is valued at $343,836, according to El Paso County assessor records. He's owned the home since 1990.

Greg Basham owns a home with his wife valued at $200,847 that he purchased in February 2015.

David Geislinger owns a home with his wife valued at $264,205. He's owned it since September 2002.

Here's where Skorman hangs his hat.
  • Here's where Skorman hangs his hat.
Richard Skorman owns a home in the Broadmoor area valued at $494,912. He bought it in 1998 and added his wife as an owner in 2003.
Skorman values his downtown businesses — Richard Skorman Inc., doing business as Poor Richard’s/Little Richard’s/Rico’s, which he owns with his wife — at $850,000. He also owns SoBoProperties LLC with wife, which owns the building that house their businesses, valued at $1.1 million.

Chuck Fowler owns no property in the district or anywhere in the city, according to assessor records. The residential address he gives on his disclosure form is owned by Bon Vivant LLC, which was created on Oct. 15, 2015, by Jennifer Doell. The Bon Vivant home is valued at $249,264.

  • Photos from El Paso County Assessor's Office
  • Deborah Hendrix's house.
*Helen Collins has owned a residential property at 632 Lakewood Circle, valued at $132,983, since December 2007.

Yolanda Avila reports owning a home with her mother valued at $126,102. She's owned it since 1997. She also reported owning an investment valued at less than $5,000.

Deborah Hendrix and her husband have owned a home valued $162,455 since Aug. 16, 2016.

Gaebler's home.
  • Gaebler's home.
*Jill Gaebler and her husband own a property in the northeast part of the city valued at $481,924. They also own the home in which they reside in District 5, which is valued at $411,000. They purchased the property in August 2010.

Here's where Crow-Iverson calls it a day.
  • Here's where Crow-Iverson calls it a day.
Lynette Crow-Iverson owns a home in the Old North End with her husband valued at $469,233. She also reports owning 51 percent of H & L Drug Compliance Inc., d/b/a Conspire!, which is valued at $1.5 million. She also owns 100 percent of Conspire Franchising LLC, valued at $2 million.

Pico is at home here.
  • Pico is at home here.
*Andy Pico, who's retired from the military, owns a home in the Homestead subdivision with his wife that has a value of $210,653. They've owned it since June 1997.

Melanie Bernhardt does not own property anywhere in the city. The place she lives is valued at $166,882. She also reports owning a retirement account valued at about $5,000.

Robert Burns owns a home with his wife valued at $214,668, which they bought in August 2014.

Janak Joshi owns no property, but his wife owns the home in which they live, valued at $316,700, which he deeded to her in March 1997. His wife also owns a realty company and a management company he lists as being valued at $3,000, and commercial and residential property the assessor values at  $1,171,571.

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Southeast Colorado Springs seeing tiny turnout in city election

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 10:32 AM


Colorado Springs City Council races in the northwest District 1, southwest District 3 and central District 5 are getting the most interest from voters so for.

Of those three, only District 3, which includes the Broadmoor hotel, has an open seat, because Councilor Keith King chose not to seek re-election.

Marketing consultant and HOA manager Chuck Fowler and businessman and open space advocate Richard Skorman are squaring off for the seat.

District 1 pits incumbent Don Knight, a retired Air Force officer, against businessman Greg Basham.

In District 5, incumbent Jill Gaebler, a former nonprofit worker and Air Force member, is being challenged by businesswoman Lynette Crow-Iverson.

The lowest voter turnout is seen in District 4 in the city's southeast where incumbent Helen Collins has two challengers — Yolanda Avila and Deborah Hendrix.

David Geislinger, who's running unopposed in northern District 2, has drawn more votes that all of those cast in the District 6 race, which covers the city's eastern side. Incumbent Andy Pico has three challengers: Melanie Bernhardt, Robert Burns and Janak Joshi.

The election ends on April 4 and will seat a majority on the nine-member council.

The bar chart above was produced using city election data by SpringsUnigroup, comprised of business people and financial experts.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Update: Writers in Gazette have history of political consulting

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 6:10 PM

Update: This blog was revised at 8:35 p.m. Tuesday night to remove some material.

There's been some buzz lately about Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen's wife being involved with the city election, so let's take a look.

Laugesen's wife, Dede, owns Windhover Creative Partners LLC, which she formed with Wayne and another person, Scott Weiser, in 2003. Windhover is working on behalf of Colorado Citizens Protecting our Constitution, a 527 organization that doesn't have to disclose donor names. CCPOC is backing many of the same candidates that developers and business people have endorsed for the Colorado Springs City Council.

But Wayne Laugesen tells us he left Windhover in 2008 just before taking the Gazette job and is no longer associated with it. Weiser also left.

Wayne Laugesen didn't participate in voting for the Gazette's endorsements, according to a disclaimer that appeared recently in the daily newspaper. But some are under the impression that Laugesen is exerting influence in other ways, such as turning away letters to the editor on behalf of candidates not endorsed by the Gazette.

Here's his emailed explanation: "The Gazette publishes most letters that meet basic guidelines. I seldom involve myself in daily selection or editing of letters. Another member of the editorial board typically removes comments in letters that sound like candidate endorsements or negative campaigning."

Except that, it's worth noting that after the Gazette blasted incumbent District 5 Councilor Jill Gaebler for voting to fund pickleball courts with Lodgers and Automobile Rentals Tax money, but against using LART funds for the Olympic Museum, the pickleball group countered with a letter to the editor. (The Gazette has endorsed Gaebler's opponent.)

Pikes Peak Pickleball Association president Jeff Norton wrote the letter to the editor, but part of it was left out. Here's the section that contains the deletion (which we have put in bold) prior to publication:

From 2012 to 2015, the City spent on average $32,000 yearly to repair the 93 year old “pot holed” asphalt courts at MVP to make them safe for public use. In partnership, PPPA and Parks & Rec developed a more cost-effective approach. Parks & Rec put $100,000 in the 2016 City Budget for the concrete upgrade of the asphalt courts. In parallel, PPPA competed for and was awarded $25,000 in LART funding for the court upgrade. This $125,000 in “local tax funding” referred to in the Editorial was matched by PPPA who raised an additional $81,000 from donations and tournament proceeds and $115,000 in grants. Our public-private partnership pooled these funds to build a public-use world-class “50-year” low-maintenance Pickleball facility at MVP.
In summary, the LART Committee, Don Knight, Jill Gaebler and the rest of City Council who supported the 2016 City Budget for this needed upgrade were not serving some “special interest” but rather supporting a smart, cost-effective, long-term fix of the near Century old high-maintenance asphalt courts at MVP. They should all be commended, not impugned, for such excellent foresight and effective shepherding of taxpayer funds.
PPPA is part of a large and ever-growing Sport that is providing significant health and economic benefits to our City. Our nonprofit organization proudly fits the very definition of LART funding quoted in your article: “to attract visitors to the City and the Pikes Peak Region, provide economic and cultural benefit, enhance the quality of life in the City, engage the community and encourage tourist activity.
Norton then wrote to Council noting this:
In case you did not see how the Gazette "selectively edited" our Pikes Peak Pickleball Association's response to the previous Sunday's Gazette Editorial Board fact-limited opinion piece, here's the original PPPA submission to the Editor including what was cut out of this morning's "Your Viewpoint" op/ed section of the Gazette.

It appears our Association's complete "viewpoint" does not count when it comes to giving City Council, Parks & Rec, and the LART Committee appropriate credit for doing the right thing with taxpayer funding.
Nevertheless, we certainly appreciate your support of our nonprofit's mission to serve and benefit our local community.

So that's that.

Then we learn that another writer whose work appears in the Gazette, Dan Njegomir, has earned his bread and butter via his political firm, NewsSpeak Media LLC.

This outfit has worked for various political causes, including opposing oil and gas regulations in 2014. (Note: this article originally incorrectly stated the group was involved in a cigarette tax issue.) NewsSpeak was paid $20,000 for that. More recently, NewsSpeak was paid more than $20,000 by Colorado Pioneer Action, a politically active organization run by former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, according to Matt Arnold, who runs Campaign Integrity Watchdog website.

Arnold, who combs through campaign finance reports and files complaints when he finds even the tiniest of infractions, isn't liked much in certain political quarters, you might say. Detested might be a more appropriate word.

Here's a column Njegomir posted Tuesday about Arnold and his complaint against Colorado Pioneer Action for acting like a political committee but not filing any campaign finance reports. That case goes to trial March 29-30.

An earlier version of this blog contained more allegations from Arnold, but the Indy decided to retract them.

We asked Njegomir whether he's disclosed his former involvement in NewsSpeak after his work started to appear in the Gazette last year (he previously was an editorial writer there some years ago) and, if so, under what circumstances does he find it appropriate to disclose.

He responded Tuesday by writing:

Since joining Colorado Politics (it's distinct from The Gazette), I haven't written on any former client until today. So, there has been nothing to disclose. In fact, I only learned of Matt Arnold's complaint against Pioneer — and then decided to write about it — after he made a vague reference to it in response to my request for a comment for a previous blog post on him and his tactics.

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Klingenschmitt lawsuit dismissed

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Weinstein and MRFF have won dismissal of a lawsuit against them. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Weinstein and MRFF have won dismissal of a lawsuit against them.
We've reported in the past about the face-off between Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Colorado House member and ex-Navy chaplain who goes by "Mr. Chaps," and Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

At one point, Klingenschmitt — about whom we've written this and this — sued Weinstein for defamation.

Today, we learn the case has been dismissed. Here's the letter to MRFF announcing the judge's decision.
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