Politics

Monday, January 14, 2019

41 percent of Suthers campaign fundraising comes from Broadmoor zip code

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Suthers: Wealthy people always give more to causes. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Suthers: Wealthy people always give more to causes.

Mayor John Suthers is off to a smashing good start in fundraising for his re-election campaign in the April 2 city election.

According to four reports filed since October, the most recent submitted on Jan. 2, Suthers has raised $95,797 from 247 donations. He had $45,160 on hand to begin with and has spent $18,639, which means he has $122,318 in the bank.

(So far, no candidates have qualified for the ballot, though the City Clerk's Office is in the process of verifying petition signatures.)

Of Suthers' total raised in this race, 41.5 percent — $39,730 — came from donors in the 80906 zip code. Of his 247 donors, 101 gave 80906 as their address.

The zip code is known for including wealthier residents, as it encompasses The Broadmoor, and it's also Suthers' home zip code, though he doesn't live in the Broadmoor area itself.  According to this website, the 80906 zip code has an average household income of $97,557 a year, compared to $77,814 for the city as a whole and $81,528 for El Paso County.

The site also shows that 10.1 percent of households in the 80906 zip code make more than $200,000 a year, compared to 4.7 percent in Colorado Springs and 5.2 percent of the county.

Those figures for 80906 would be higher, except that it also includes an area to the east, including Stratmoor Hills where incomes are more modest.
We asked Suthers, who's also served as district attorney and Colorado Attorney General, to comment on such a large portion of his campaign contributions coming from the southwest segment of the city. He responded via email, saying:
To clarify, while I have lived in the 80906 zip code all my life, I do not live in the Broadmoor and never have. I have lived in the Cheyenne Canyon [sic] area and in Skyway. But I spent most of my summers as a kid mowing lawns in the Broadmoor. Some of my customers have been lifelong political supporters.

My experience is that people with higher amounts of discretionary income are more likely to contribute to charitable and political causes and that as a result a disproportionate amount of our community's philanthropic and political giving comes from the 80906 zip code. You might check statewide and national political campaign giving from Colorado Springs and citywide charitable giving to analyze this.

The bottom line is that throughout my career my political support in Colorado Springs has been wide and deep and I believe it still is.
Two candidates have expressed interested in trying to unseat Suthers. They are Lawrence Martinez, a home care specialist, and Juliette Parker, who runs a nonprofit.

Voters will also elect three at-large City Council members on April 2 and decide whether to give firefighters collective bargaining powers.
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El Paso County needs SNAP paperwork early due to shutdown

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 12:15 PM

Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado will hold a food distribution event Jan. 18. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado will hold a food distribution event Jan. 18.

Due to a federal government directive, state and local agencies around the country are sounding an urgent message to those in need of food benefits: Get your paperwork in before funding runs out.

Those in El Paso County whose food assistance cases are due for redetermination must submit documents by 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, in order to be eligible for February benefits, according to a Jan. 11 statement from the county's Department of Human Services titled "Urgent Update to Food Assistance Program in Government Shutdown."

Normally that paperwork wouldn't be due until February, says El Paso County DHS spokesperson Kristina Iodice. But the federal government shutdown has left agencies around the country scrambling to let SNAP recipients know about deadline changes.

This shutdown, which has left nine federal departments and dozens of agencies without funding, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed or working without pay (including thousands in Colorado), is the longest in history. It began Dec. 21 when a stopgap funding measure expired, and President Donald Trump refused to sign new legislation to fund the government that did not include $5 billion for a border wall — a demand that Democrats have firmly opposed.

As of the morning of Jan. 14, there were about 2,000 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient households in El Paso County that needed to submit redetermination paperwork, Iodice says. The documents may be submitted online at http://colorado.gov/PEAK, by fax at 719-444-5139 or 719-444-8353, or in person at El Paso County DHS locations.

El Paso County DHS' main location at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road will stay open until 8.p.m. — three hours later than usual — on Jan. 14 to accommodate an increased demand for services.

SNAP funds for February will be distributed by Jan. 20, weeks earlier than normal, to those who have complete files. However, the statement notes that the county "cannot guarantee assistance" even if documents are received by the appropriate deadlines.

"At this time, there is no information available about March food assistance," the statement continues.

The directive to distribute funds early came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which announced Jan. 8 that it would utilize a provision in the last stopgap funding measure allowing certain payments within 30 days of the measure's Dec. 21 expiration date. It expects February SNAP benefits to cost around $4.8 billion.

The USDA also announced it will continue funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) through February, using some unspent funding from prior years.

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado hoped to address another need created by the government shutdown — food for federal workers who haven't received pay since December. The food bank will host a free food distribution Jan. 18 from 3 to 6 p.m. at its Colorado Springs facility, located near the intersection of Powers Boulevard and Constitution Avenue, at 2506 Preamble Point.

"Please help us spread the word to families and individuals affected by the government shutdown, or anyone who is in need," Care and Share posted on Facebook. "It is drive-thru style. Volunteers and staff will load fresh produce, frozen and staple food items into vehicles. Everyone is welcome and will receive food!"

Lynne Telford, the southern Colorado food bank’s president and CEO, says Care and Share is looking at options to address an anticipated need from federal workers and SNAP recipients who didn’t turn in paperwork on time.

That could include using reserve funds to buy food, she says, “but it’s important that we maintain enough reserves for our ongoing operations.”

“We really are hoping that the community will once again rise when we have a community emergency, much like they did for Waldo Canyon Fire or Black Forest Fire,” Telford adds. “The community made sure we were able to take care of the people who were impacted.”

Care and Share is asking the community for financial donations in particular, says Joanna Wise, the food bank’s marketing and communications director.

“We’re always in need of food donations year-round, but when it comes to something that we have to react to quickly, monetary donations are more effective for us,” Wise says. “It saves us a lot of time, because with food donations we have to inspect it and sort it and repack it. When we purchase it, we’re able to eliminate that step so we can get it to our partners a lot faster.”
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Independence Center to host watch party for Disability Integration Act

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 12:33 PM

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People with disabilities who need longterm services are often forced to leave their homes for assisted living facilities because Medicaid won't pay for at-home care. Disability rights activists say that legislators in Congress can change that by passing the Disability Integration Act, set to be introduced in both the House and Senate on Jan. 15.

Disability rights supporters will be watching across the country — including at the Independence Center, a local nonprofit for people with disabilities.

The bill, introduced last spring in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and in the House by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, would require states, local governments and insurance providers to provide community-based services for people with disabilities as an alternative to institutionalization.

States and local governments would be required to work with housing authorities to ensure sufficient quantities of affordable, accessible, integrated housing where people can receive services while remaining in the community.

The list of Senate cosponsors includes Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. Gardner, the latest cosponsor to sign on, was the only Republican to do so as of Jan. 8.

It's possible that pressure from disability rights organization ADAPT, the legislation's main backer, led to his decision. ADAPT supporters were arrested multiple times in Gardner's offices where they were pressuring him to cosponsor the legislation, according to a statement from the organization. And in November, the statement says, ADAPT had an airplane bearing the message “GARDNER SUPPORT S910 DIA FREE OUR PEOPLE!” fly around Gardner's Washington, D.C., office building. That evening, ADAPT projected the same message "shining like a bat-signal" on the front of the building. Gardner added his name a month later.

Last legislative session, all of Colorado's House representatives also signed on as cosponsors.

Neither the House nor Senate bill made it out of committee last session, but advocates are hopeful that this year, things will be different.

“The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is the next step in building a fulfilling and sustainable world for persons with disabilities," Becca Michael, advocacy manager at the Independence Center, said in an emailed statement. "...The Independence Center is excited about this legislation, as our mission is to work with people with disabilities, their families, and the community, to create independence so all may thrive."

The Independence Center, located at 729 S. Tejon St. will host a watch party Jan. 15 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to livestream the bill's introduction and discussion. The event is open to the public, and snacks will be provided.

"The Independence Center is hosting this watch party, not only because it is important for our consumers and employees, but because it is gaining momentum, and we want to make sure it makes it over the finish line," Michael said. "For now, we want to raise awareness of the legislation, and celebrate the effort!”

disability_integration_act_watch_party.jpg
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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wayne Williams: Council might be a warm-up lap for mayor's race in 2023

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 12:28 PM

Williams: Playing the long game? - COURTESY OF WAYNE WILLIAMS
  • Courtesy of Wayne Williams
  • Williams: Playing the long game?
Long-time local Republican politician Wayne Williams turned in a candidate petition on Jan. 8 to run for an at-large seat on the Colorado Springs City Council in the April 2 election.

OK. That's not news. But Williams tells the Independent the rumors are true that he's eyeing a run for mayor four years from now.

"The reason I'm running for Council is because I want to do a good job for Colorado Springs. If I'm successful and do a good job, that's something I would likely look at," he says, referring to a mayoral run.

If he ran and won, Williams, who served a term as Colorado Secretary of State before being defeated by Democrat Jena Griswold in his re-election bid in November, would be the second mayor of Colorado Springs in a row who had previously been elected to a statewide office.

Mayor John Suthers served as Colorado Attorney General before becoming mayor in 2015.

Suthers could make history of his own if re-elected this year by becoming the first two-term mayor under the mayor-council form of government approved by voters in 2010.

Williams, 55, who's lived in the Briargate area for 26 years, would be well-positioned to seek the mayor's seat. The at-large seat is a citywide race, and Williams has the name recognition needed to appeal to voters across the city. He was elected twice to serve the northern district as an El Paso County commissioner; he won the county-wide election in 2010 for clerk and recorder, and he captured a term as Colorado Secretary of State in 2014. (The Indy endorsed Williams in his 2018 re-election bid.)

Williams says he's not concerned about the abysmal Council salary of $6,250 a year, because he plans to keep his law practice going and also enter the consulting world in the field of elections. (Williams was recognized for excellence in managing elections while Secretary of State, although he was also criticized for turning over voter information to President Trump's voter fraud commission.)

In addition, Williams' wife, Holly, was sworn in on Jan. 8 as an El Paso County commissioner, a post that pays $120,485 a year.

While some have speculated the Williamses could encounter conflicts of interest if one holds a county seat while the other holds a city seat, Williams dispelled concerns over that. "Sometimes our interests align and sometimes they do not," he says. If a perceived financial conflict of interest arose, he would recuse himself, as would his wife. The city and county cooperate on some projects, but that coordination doesn't necessarily pose a financial conflict for office holders, he noted.

Asked about his obviously partisan background in a city race that is, by City Charter, nonpartisan, the former El Paso County GOP chair says his service in various political offices has been "fair and nonpartisan." He also notes that Irv Halter, who ran for Congress as a Democrat and served in Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration, signed Williams' Council candidate petition, as did Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn.

It's unclear whether Williams will have a leg up in fundraising against his competitors. He says he expects only a few thousand dollars to be left from his Secretary of State campaign, which he could legally transfer into his Council campaign, as did former state legislator Keith King. King transferred $10,459 to his city campaign when he successfully ran in 2013.

Others who've said they'll seek one of three at-large seats up for grabs include incumbents Tom Strand and Bill Murray (Merv Bennett is term-limited), former Councilor Val Snider, Army veteran Tony Gioia, and Terry Martinez, former Will Rogers Elementary School principal and former candidate for House District 18.

Filing deadline is Jan. 22.
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El Paso County officials take oaths of office

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 12:23 PM

Holly and Wayne Williams - PHOTOS COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY
  • Photos courtesy El Paso County
  • Holly and Wayne Williams
Several veteran El Paso County elected officials renewed their oaths of office on Jan. 8 in the county's Centennial Hall, along with a few newcomers. All are Republicans.

Holly Williams and Cami Bremer were both sworn in. (If those last names seem familiar, they are. Holly Williams is the wife of former Secretary of State Wayne Williams who was defeated in the November election in his re-election bid. Cami Bremer is the daughter-in-law of former commissioner Duncan Bremer.)

Williams represents District 1, the county's northern district that includes Black Forest and part of Monument. She was elected to the seat to succeed Darryl Glenn, who held the office for eight years and was barred by term limits from a third term. (Notably, Wayne Williams turned in his petition as a candidate for an at-large Colorado Springs City Council seat on the same day his wife took her oath of office.)

Bremer, elected to replace Peggy Littleton, who also was term limited, represents District 5, which covers most of the city.

They were sworn in by Chief District Court Judge William Bain, who also administered oaths to two other newly elected officials — Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly and Surveyor Richard Mariotti.

Cami Bremer with her husband, Eli, and 4-year-old son, Struthers.
  • Cami Bremer with her husband, Eli, and 4-year-old son, Struthers.
Incumbents also were sworn in, to include: County Assessor Steve Schleiker, Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman and Treasurer Mark Lowderman. Sheriff Bill Elder, meanwhile, was sworn in for his second term during a ceremony at New Life Church, along with deputies who work for him.

Judges sworn in for six-year terms were: District Court Judges of the Fourth Judicial District Eric Bentley, Linda Margaret Billings-Vela, Jill M. Brady, Robert L. Lowery, Timothy Schutz, Larry Edward Schwartz and David L. Shakes.

El Paso County courts judges starting four-year terms include Lawrence Martin, Douglas Miles and Ann Rotolo.
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

What the government shutdown means for federal workers in Colorado

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 1:16 PM

Rocky Mountain National Park will remain open without visitor services. - COURTESY OF NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/JIM ECKLUND
  • Courtesy of National Park Service/Jim Ecklund
  • Rocky Mountain National Park will remain open without visitor services.
December 26 was the first day that many of Colorado's 53,200 civilian federal workers began to feel the effects of a government shutdown, triggered Dec. 22 by President Donald Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Some workers have been placed on unpaid leave, while others whose services are deemed essential will be required to work without pay until lawmakers agree on legislation to fund the government. Not all federal workers are affected — the Departments of Energy, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education all received funding appropriations for 2019.

However, nine of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies are closed, according to a statement from Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee predicting the effects of a shutdown. They projected that more than 420,000 people would work without pay through the shutdown, and that more than 380,000 would be placed on leave.

So what's happening to federal workers in Colorado? Thousands have been affected, though it's difficult to determine exactly how many, and by how much.

There are approximately 53,200 civilian federal workers in Colorado, according to Bill Thoennes, spokesperson for the state's Department of Labor and Employment. While the department couldn't break down that number further, data from Governing Magazine shows most work for the U.S. Postal Service (which is still functioning normally), Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Air Force, Army, and Department of Agriculture.

Colorado is likely to feel the effects of the shutdown most acutely through the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture.

According to that 2017 data, 6,524 Colorado residents work for the Department of the Interior (which includes the National Park Service), and 3,697 residents work for the Department of Agriculture (which includes the National Forest Service). Democratic lawmakers predicted around 80 percent of employees at the Park Service and Forest Service would be furloughed.

One-third of Colorado's 1,390 Department of Transportation workers, 86 percent of its 1,419 Department of Commerce workers, and 95 percent of its 343 Department of Housing and Urban Development workers were projected to be furloughed.

Lawmakers also predicted up to 88 percent of workers at the Department of Homeland Security, including TSA employees and Customs and Border Protection agents, would be forced to work without pay. Colorado has 682 of these workers, according to Governing Magazine.

Thoennes recommends federal workers affected by the shutdown file an unemployment claim with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. You can do that online by visiting www.colorado.gov/cdle/ui and clicking on "File A Claim."

Not a federal worker? If you were planning an outdoor excursion in the next couple of weeks, you may also feel the effects of short-staffed national parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park announced it would remain accessible to pedestrians and bicycles during the shutdown, but would close several gates to vehicular traffic due to snowfall Dec. 22 and did not know whether these roads would reopen before the shutdown ended. The park advises visitors to use "extreme caution," "as park personnel will not be available to provide guidance or assistance" and "emergency services will be limited."

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will remain open, but "the visitor center and entrance station will remain closed and no visitor services will be available." Parking lots may also be closed and "hazardous or dangerous conditions may exist" due to the lack of snow removal.

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument will be closed for the duration of the shutdown.

You can view a list of national parks and monuments online here, though the National Park Service cautions that the website may not reflect current information. Click on each park for more information. Some parks have announced closures or limited services.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Texas ruling on Affordable Care Act won't affect your coverage, officials say

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 2:02 PM

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According to a federal judge in Texas, the Affordable Care Act should go.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of Fort Worth delivered a victory to conservatives Dec. 14, ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, and that the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act were "inseverable" and therefore "invalid." The ruling ended (for now) a months-long court battle between a group of Republican-led states who had sued the United States and a group of intervening Democrat-led states.

Colorado wasn't involved in the lawsuit. But state officials want residents to know that this decision won't affect them anytime soon.

"This decision will now be part of a long, drawn-out legal process, as it will be appealed and likely work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court," reads a statement from the Colorado Division of Insurance. "And the Trump administration is assuring the country that the ACA will remain in force during the appeals process."

(Those assurances came separately from the president's tweet.)


State officials also sought to reassure Coloradans with pre-existing conditions.

“I said it in June when this case first bubbled up, and I’ll say it again: Guaranteed health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is enshrined in Colorado law,”  interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway is quoted in the statement. “The Division of Insurance will continue to enforce Colorado law and maintain this important protection for our citizens."

Open enrollment for people who buy individual health insurance plans ends Jan. 15. Visit Connect for Health Colorado for more information and to enroll.

While many Republicans, including Colorado's Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Doug Lamborn, remained silent on the ruling, Democrats were quick to make their disapproval known. Sen. Michael Bennet issued the following statement Dec. 15:

“For years, Republicans have tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After trying and failing over 70 times to repeal the bill without offering a replacement, Republicans added a provision to last year's disastrous tax bill to sabotage the individual mandate, providing the argument used in the Texas court's ruling.

“The ACA is not perfect, but it has provided health care coverage to millions of Coloradans and Americans with preexisting conditions and coverage for essential health benefits. Republicans should abandon their efforts to attack the ACA and instead work with Democrats to fix its flaws, so that we can provide quality, affordable health care coverage to every American.”

And the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a nonpartisan membership-based advocacy organization, issued a forceful rebuke.

“This unprecedented attack and irresponsible Republican lawsuit is the biggest threat for consumers in the Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to sabotage the ACA,” Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement, is quoted in the organization's statement. “This court case could strip more than 600,000 Coloradans of the health coverage they need, throw the insurance market into chaos, and leave our state budget in crisis."
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Governor-elect Polis announces top staffers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 2:16 PM

Colorado's next governor is choosing top staff, and none hail from Colorado Springs. - COURTESY POLIS CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Polis campaign
  • Colorado's next governor is choosing top staff, and none hail from Colorado Springs.
Here's what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket, called the Republican Party.

When the Democrats swept all statewide constitutional office on Nov. 6, it left Bright Red El Paso County out in the cold, as demonstrated by this first round of staffing announcements made by Governor-Elect Jared Polis, just released:

Eve Lieberman: Chief Policy Advisor and Legislative Counsel
Eve Lieberman, currently Chief of Staff to Congressman Jared Polis’ congressional office, will continue to be a close confidant of Gov.-Elect Polis while serving as top advisor on his legislative and policy agenda. She will also serve as the administration’s lead for policy and legislative efforts, including managing the legislative and policy departments.

Cary Kennedy: Senior Advisor for Fiscal Policy
Former State Treasurer and CFO of Denver, Cary Kennedy will be charged with looking for long-term creative fiscal policy solutions—a role she is uniquely qualified to hold and has demonstrated success for the City of Denver.

David Oppenheim: Legislative Director
Most recently state director of State Innovation Exchange (SIX) and previous Chief of Staff to the House Democrats for two separate Speakers, David will lead the day-to-day legislative team and brings with him extensive legislative experience.

Wade Buchanan: Policy Director
Wade will be reviving the role he fulfilled for Gov. Romer as policy director, having most recently served as Gov. Hickenlooper’s senior advisor on Aging. Prior, he lead the Bell Policy Center for more than 15 years. Wade brings an unparalleled breadth of policy and institutional knowledge to the team.

Maria De Cambra: Director of Communications and Community Engagement
Maria is the former Mayor Pro-Tem of Westminster’s City Council and Managing Director at the Campaign for a Strong Colorado. Most recently, she was Senior Associate at prominent public affairs firm, Hilltop Public Solutions. Maria will be leading the Gov.’s communications and outreach strategy.

Kate Siegel Shimko: Director of Boards and Commissions
Kate is a longtime staffer to Congressman Jared Polis, serving as his national finance director for the past seven years. She joins the team with a keen awareness of the administration’s network and its goals.

Danielle Oliveto: Deputy Chief of Staff
Danielle rejoins the Polis team after a four-year hiatus working as a sustainability advocate in San Francisco. Prior, she worked on Congressman Jared Polis’ campaigns and in his congressional office in various roles since 2008.

Jacki Cooper Melmed: Chief Legal Counsel
Jacki Cooper Melmed will continue to serve the Polis Administration in the role she has fulfilled for the Hickenlooper Administration since 2015. Prior to public service in the Gov.’s office, she gained extensive legal experience at Shoemaker, Ghiselli + Schwartz, and Hogan & Hartson, LLP. Jacki also served as a law clerk for the Honorable Michael Bender in the Colorado Supreme Court.

Lauren Larson: Director of the Office of State Planning and Budgeting
Lauren will continue serving as the director of OSPB, a role she has fulfilled since July for the Hickenlooper Administration. Prior, she managed a $50 billion budget at the White House Office of Management and Budget where she was Chief of the Treasury Branch under Presidents Bush and Obama. Prior to her work in public service, Lauren was an economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Paying for college in Colorado is tough, new analysis shows

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 7:10 PM

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How do you determine whether a higher education institution is affordable? According to the Lumina Foundation's "Rule of 10," students should be able to pay for college by saving 10 percent of their discretionary income for 10 years, and working 10 hours a week while in school.

Sounds reasonable enough, right? But only 52 percent of Colorado's universities are affordable by that definition, according to a new analysis based on statewide median household incomes for college students.

The analysis — conducted by the Lumina Foundation, a private foundation with the goal of expanding access to higher education, and Young Invincibles, a policy research and advocacy organization — applied the net prices of Colorado's institutions (cost of attendance minus grant aid) to the Rule of 10 to determine affordability for different groups of students.

According to the analysis, none of Colorado's institutions are affordable for students with housing insecurity, defined as those spending more than 35 percent of household income on rent. Eight percent of institutions are affordable for student parents and returning students, and 12 percent are affordable for student workers, the analysis found.

The median net cost of attending a four-year school in Colorado is $18,831 a year, the report found.

In order to afford that per the Rule of 10, you'd have to earn at least $18.11 an hour, or $37,660 a year, in discretionary income.

That's assuming you save 10 percent of your extra income for 10 years, work 10 hours a week during school, and contribute all of your discretionary income during school to your education.

Seeing as the state minimum wage is $10.20, that might be hard to do without a college degree.
And the least affordable private school in Colorado, the University of Denver, costs nearly twice that — $32,940 a year. The least affordable public school is Colorado School of Mines, at $25,097.

Colorado Mountain College had the most affordable net cost at $3,297 a year. The most affordable private school, Johnson & Wales University- Denver, costs $23,765.

How does Colorado compare to other states? While Young Invincibles doesn't have an overarching national analysis, it published fact sheets on Illinois and California the same day Colorado's were posted.

Young Invincibles considers 38 percent of California's institutions to be affordable for those making the student household median income, and only 27 percent of Illinois'. The median net cost of attending a four-year school is $18,989 in California and $27,708 in Illinois.

So, Colorado may not be all that bad...?
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Scientist Trish Zornio mulls run against Cory Gardner

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 4:46 PM

Trish Zornio wants scientists in politics. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Trish Zornio wants scientists in politics.
Trish Zornio knows unseating Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as a relative unknown and political first-timer is a long shot.

It's partly for that reason that the 33-year-old science lecturer says she embarked on a 64-county "exploratory tour" of Colorado to determine whether a grassroots campaign could be successful.

Zornio, who teaches behavioral neuroscience at the University of Denver, says the moment that triggered her decision to run for office came when she sat in the audience of a Senate hearing on automated technology while on a work trip to Washington, D.C., several years ago.

"I had this moment of realization where I realized there wasn't a single scientist on that panel," Zornio said at an event Nov. 28. "I set about asking the question, Can we incorporate scientists into elected offices and can we bring in different types of expertise to a place that has typically been reserved for people of different backgrounds in more of the law and more of business. So can we actually put scientists on the science committee?

Zornio has already hit 60 counties — which she points out many candidates don't even bother to do. Should she decide to run, she faces an uphill battle against Gardner, who reportedly already has $1 million on hand for his next campaign, and a pool of Democratic candidates that could include Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran, former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Gov. John Hickenlooper. (So far, just one candidate, nonprofit director Lorena Garcia, has announced plans to run.)

Zornio answers questions from audience members at Library 21c on Nov. 28. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Zornio answers questions from audience members at Library 21c on Nov. 28.

On her Nov. 28 tour stop at Colorado Springs' Library 21c, Zornio answered questions from audience members about her stances on various issues. Here's a few questions and answers (edited for brevity) so you can get to know her:

Jack Heiss: Through the passage of a recent I think ill-informed tax cut and what amounts to a drunk sailor budget that were passed, we're pushing trillion dollar ... deficits. The dollar won't take it for very long...We got to fix this now. What do you say, how do you fix this without losing an election?

This is very personal to me. Because unlike many of the people who are making the decisions in office today, I will be here for 60 years hopefully, and I'm going to have to be part of that economy that's struggling as a result… One thing in particular that I would really like to see is that we have a comprehensive understanding of where the money is actually going and that we can actually vet for the way it's being spent currently, because sometimes there are aspects of the budget that are not being monitored in that same sort of way, in military especially. That's not to suggest that I want to cut in any sort of way security or anything like that, but I do want to address how we are spending those military funds, and then I also want to address health care.

Jacob Foreman: Would you in Congress support ... talk of a policy called the "Green New Deal" ... [to] enact a New Deal kind of economic policy to put Americans to work in clean energy jobs and help to transform our economy?

Absolutely we need to vigorously address infrastructure needs… So we talk a lot about the need to move to say electric vehicles or to move to renewable energies like solar and wind and such. What we don't often remember to talk about is right now our national grid structure is not actually set up to be able to go fully renewable, and we need to invest in the research to have battery storage and transmission lines that will actually be able to accommodate that kind of renewable energy and the output — being able, so like when it is not sunny in an area that you have battery storage such that people can still use active power at the rates that they are accustomed to... We also have to take it a step further. It's not just transportation and energy sectors. It's everything from single-use plastics [to] textile productions.

Pam Lively: Are you prepared to fight an ugly campaign? Because your potential opponent is not a nice person and is backed by dirty money.


I've actually met Sen. Gardner... I have to say, we differ immensely on policy stances and the way that we would probably do things in office, but actually he is a nice person. We had a great chat and his family is wonderful... A lot of people have asked me, actually, “Do you have thick skin?”... And truthfully, I don't. I'm human, just like every other one of you here. And quite frankly, I'm very happy about that. If I don't, if I have skin that is so thick that I'm immune to what anyone says, I don't think I would be a very good representative... I also have spent three years preparing and having conversations on what this would look like. I am definitely aware of the things that happen on campaigns. And that's not the fun part, but I think it's the necessary thing to have to deal with, and I plan to surround myself with people who would help me get past that sort of stuff if we go this route.

Danette Tritch: What do you see as what our health care system's ready for, and what would you be advocating for in terms of health care?

You have a health care system that needs to service over 325 million people. That's a very complex, advanced system and change is not going to happen immediately, and it's one of the things that if we want to actually achieve this, we need to be systematic in approach but still swift in approach… Comprehensive medical programs actually at large have to start with one thing. And it cannot be for-profit on basic medical procedures. It cannot. I've worked in hospitals, you do not have the luxury, if you're having a heart attack, [to say], “Please give me the list of providers for the free-market approach to my health care.” You don't get to do that. So the base and the core value is everyone needs to have access, because we've made that decision already… The emergency department is open for anyone regardless of your ability to pay. Let's do it the economically and more preventative way, right? So let's make sure that everyone has access, and let's make sure that we do it in a way that is thoughtful. And what I mean by that is that it's probably a combination of some of these systems... There's probably an element of single-payer, but with a capitalistic overlay…There's probably an ability to expand Medicare… We want to expand it to things like really strong mental health services, preventative care, eyes… We have a whole team of people ... and we're analyzing some of this information right now, and we're going to roll out a two-, a five-, and a 10-year plan on what this would look like.

Stephany Rose Spaulding (former Democratic House candidate): In the last two years or so our Supreme Court has been hijacked from us. As a member of Congress, do you support the expansion of the Supreme Court, or what alternatives might you propose to level out the Supreme Court? And even other federal courts, because we see it happening still across the board. The decks are stacked.


We're two years out, hypothetically, and there's some things underway that could potentially change what happens between now and then, so it does make that a little more challenging to address what is the best option, say, in 2020. One of the things that I was interested in though is that the [American Bar Association] and a number of lawyers have actually come out against the recent nomination, wondering if that was actually out of character... So I'm curious to see if one of the things that shakes out is whether or not we can actually challenge that particular nomination.

Jillian Freeland: Related to Justice Kavanaugh, can you speak to the MeToo movement, holding our politicians who have been accused of sexual assault accountable?

A lot of people have asked me, what was the thing that ultimately is getting me here… So before MeToo … about a year, year and a half, or something, I actually filed my first harassment and retaliation claim with HR of the place where I was working, and I'd never done that before, and it was terrifying. And the first thing that they told me at HR was, “Are you sure you want to do that? He's a pretty notable person here. He brings in a lot of money.” And I said, “Excuse me?” And then I was actively encouraged not to report. I was actively encouraged to find another job that better suited me... It's actually one of the things that I'm waiting for MeToo to hit, is the academic and medical scene... When I made this file with HR the retaliation actually worsened, and it got to the point where this person had repeatedly told me so many times that I needed to learn my place... About the sixth time he told me to learn my place, and I had this moment when I realized, “Oh my goodness, he's right.” And it clicked. And I went, “It's not working for men like you.” ... That was literally the thing that made me [start] this, because I realized right away, he's right, I shouldn't be working with men like that. Absolutely. Yes to investigations, yes to clearing house, absolutely.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lorena Garcia announces challenge to Cory Gardner in 2020

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 11:56 AM

Lorena Garcia: Hoping to unseat Cory Gardner. - COURTESY LORENA GARCIA
  • Courtesy Lorena Garcia
  • Lorena Garcia: Hoping to unseat Cory Gardner.
Three weeks after the midterm election, Colorado's U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has his first opponent in Lorena Garcia, the head of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition.

Garcia, a Democrat, said in a news release she will challenge the Yuma Republican for his Senate seat in the 2020 election and becomes the first challenger to Gardner, who some see as vulnerable, especially in light of the blue wave that washed over the state on Nov. 6, leading Democrats to capture all constitutional statewide races, as well as majorities in the state House and Senate.

Garcia, who has been active in the nonprofit world and on women's and Latina rights, is also married to a woman — notable because the midterm proved pivotal for LGBTQ Colorado candidates, with the election of the state's first gay governor and other major wins for LGBTQ people.

From Garcia's news release:
Garcia is running on a platform with a core focus on economic equity for all, the cornerstone of which includes access to healthcare and education. As a veteran organizer, Garcia supports women’s rights, funding for public transportation and civil rights protections for women’s reproductive independence.

“It’s time for a new voice in the U.S. Senate,” said Garcia. “We are at a crossroads in our history where we can no longer accept the status quo and must take action to fix our broken government systems. I’m running because we need innovative leaders who will work on behalf of the interests of every Coloradan, not for political self-interest.”

Dedicated to serving nonprofit organizations over her entire career, Garcia has acted as Executive Director of Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition since March of this year. Garcia has also served as Executive Director for Namlo International since 2017. Namlo is an international nonprofit organization that works in Nepal and Nicaragua, supporting local communities to achieve economic self-sufficiency through grassroots development projects.

Tirelessly working toward uplifting the dignity of marginalized communities, Garcia served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Organization For Latina Opportunity and reproductive Rights and prior to that as the Colorado State Director of 9to5, National Association for Working Women.

As a 7th generation Coloradan on her father’s side and first generation on her mother’s side, Garcia’s family background mirrors the diversity families represent in Colorado and across the country. She is the youngest of six siblings and aunt to 16 nieces and nephews and has been married to her wife for seven years. 
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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Colorado Women roared in the midterm elections

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 4:05 PM

Women's votes counted big time in the mid-term elections. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
  • Women's votes counted big time in the mid-term elections.
After a burst of applause and cheers on election night at the Gold Room, State Senator-elect Pete Lee, a Democrat, made a point to say, "Thank you women, thank you women."

And here's why. 

More women went to the polls on Nov. 6 in Colorado than men. According to the latest numbers from the Secretary of State's Office, 1,296,893 women cast ballots, compared to 1,190,623 men. About 750,000 of those women were ages 26 to 60. (Another 30,764 voters were labeled "unknown" gender.)

In El Paso County, 145,728 women voted, compared to 132,195 men. (And 3,618 voters were labeled "unknown" gender.)

Here's some stories from around the web about women voters, and women in politics.

The Secretary of State's tally also shows that 822,419 Democrats cast ballots, compared to 804,991 Republicans. Unaffiliated voters cast 852,443 votes, more than either party.

That's vastly different than in the 2014 midterm election in Colorado when, according to the Atlas Project's 2014 post-election analysis, "male voters outnumbered women by a six- to eight-point margin. This shift spelled trouble for Democrats, who have historically made up for subpar performances among men by winning female voters."
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Monday, November 5, 2018

Time to vote is now!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 9:26 AM

2018electionbug.jpg
Less than half of Colorado's 3.8 million registered voters had cast ballots by the morning of Nov. 5, one day before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

According to Secretary of State Wayne Williams, 1.5 million voters had cast ballots, with women casting 55,000 more ballots than men and Democrats (519,833) casting about 4,700 more ballots than Republicans (515,131). Voters who are unaffiliated at cast 461,154 votes, Williams report showed.

In El Paso County, 170,519 people had voted by the morning of Nov. 5 with 39,320 Democrats voting, 79,862 Republicans voting and 48,681 unaffiliated voters casting ballots.

The point is, VOTE!

To find out all the details of how you can still vote in this crucial election, go to www.epcvotes.com.

Do not mail your ballot. It's too late for the U.S. Postal Service to guarantee election workers will receive your ballot.
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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dems, GOP hope to push Colorado Springs to the polls ahead of Election Day

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Ben and Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen, right, scoops ice cream at a campaign event for Stephany Rose Spaulding, left. - MARILYNNE ANDERSON STARR
  • Marilynne Anderson Starr
  • Ben and Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen, right, scoops ice cream at a campaign event for Stephany Rose Spaulding, left.

As one Nov. 1 poll showed enthusiasm growing among registered Republicans and Democrats, Colorado's two major parties prepared to pump up local voters.

Democrats' statewide "Colorado For All Bus Tour," which will make more than 50 stops between its Oct. 23 launch and Election Day, stops in Colorado Springs Nov. 2 for the following events (information from Colorado Democratic Party and Stephany Rose Spaulding's campaign):

March to the Polls at Colorado Springs Voter Service and Polling Center:

• 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Hillside Community Center, 925 S. Institute St.
• Speakers include: Lieutenant governor nominee Dianne Primavera, 5th Congressional District nominee Stephany Rose Spaulding, 2nd Congressional District nominee Joe Neguse, Attorney General nominee Phil Weiser, CU Regent At-Large nominee Lesley Smith, Treasurer nominee Dave Young
• RSVP online here.

Colorado Springs Canvass Launch

• 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
• El Paso County Field Office, 506 W. Colorado Ave.
• Speakers include: Primavera, Spaulding, Neguse
• RSVP online here.

Church Rally & Service with Stephany Rose Spaulding

• 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center, 1040 S Institute St.
• Speakers include: Spaulding, Pastor Promise Lee, NAACP President Rosemary Lytle, Secretary of State nominee Jena Griswold, state Rep. Tony Exum, Primavera, Weiser
• RSVP online here.


Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton trails Democrat Jared Polis by 5 to 8 points in the latest polls. - JEFFERY BEALL WIA WIKIMEDIA.COM
  • Jeffery Beall wia Wikimedia.com
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton trails Democrat Jared Polis by 5 to 8 points in the latest polls.

The Colorado Republican Party is turning up the heat in El Paso County, too. Attorney general candidate George Brauchler and gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton will both speak in Colorado Springs as part of their get-out-the-vote tours, says state GOP spokesperson Daniel Cole. More info below:

George Brauchler

• Friday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.
• El Paso County Victory Office, 5145 Centennial Blvd., Suite 101

Walker Stapleton and Rep. Lang Sias

• Monday, Nov. 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• El Paso County Victory Office, 5145 Centennial Blvd., Suite 101
• RSVP online here.

A telephone survey of 500 likely voters, released Nov. 1 by conservative polling firm Magellan Strategies, showed Polis with a 5-point lead over Stapleton, 2 percentage points less than the same firm's survey results three weeks prior. The survey also showed enthusiasm growing among members of both parties — 66 percent of people rated their interest in the election as a 10 on a 10-point scale, compared with 47 percent of respondents Oct. 8.

But the survey, in the interest of consistency, did not account for a slightly lower Republican turnout than what had been expected three weeks ago. And even Magellan's conclusion looks good for Polis: "With less than a week remaining in the 2018 election cycle, the election for Colorado Governor appears to be tightening slightly. However this survey, along with the two prior public surveys we have released this election cycle have consistently measured Jared Polis with a lead of 5 to 7 points. Taking that survey data into account and a real chance that Democrat and unaffiliated turnout will exceed 2014 levels, it is safe to say that Jared Polis has the inside track of becoming the next Governor of Colorado. We shall see."

On the same day, a survey by a liberal consortium that included Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns showed Polis with an 8-point lead over Stapleton. The survey cites "weak Republican turnout and robust Unaffiliated voter support for Polis (53% vs. 32% for Stapleton)" as factors in Polis' likely victory.

Election watchers note that Republican turnout has taken a dive since the last midterm election.

Over 50,000 fewer Republicans had turned in ballots by Oct. 31 of this year compared with 2014, according to Magellan Strategies. By contrast, almost 40,000 more Democrats had voted by Oct. 31 of this year than Oct. 31 of 2014.

And while in 2014, Republican turnout was 28 percent higher than Democratic turnout as of Oct. 31, elections data from the Secretary of State's office shows Republicans leading by less than 1 percent on Nov. 1 of this year.

COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE
  • Colorado Secretary of State
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stephany Rose Spaulding gets Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 10:07 AM

stephany.jpg
When it comes to political campaign merchandise, candidates have pulled out all the stops in recent years to attract meme-happy millennials. Case in point: "I Stand with Rand" flip-flops, the "Chillary Clinton" can holder and the Ted Cruz coloring book.

This year, Ben and Jerry's Homemade founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are going a step further. They came up with unique ice cream flavors for seven progressive candidates running for Congress in partnership with MoveOn.org Political Action, which paid for television ads that feature each candidate and their flavor.

Stephany Rose Spaulding, the candidate for House District 5 running against incumbent Doug Lamborn, is one of the chosen ones.

Her flavor: "Rocky Mountain Rose."


A video caption from MoveOn.org describes the flavor as "Colorado’s own Palisade peaches and pecans, in a light 'care'-amel base."

Cohen and Greenfield are making 40 pints of each ice cream flavor by hand in their home, says Edward Erikson, a consultant who works with Cohen. You can enter to win a pint by texting "ICECREAM" to 668366 or by signing up online to host or attend a campaign event.

Each pint will be signed by Cohen and Greenfield, Erikson says.


It'll take a lot of ice cream to win over all of District 5's Republicans, and Spaulding is definitely the underdog in this race. FiveThirtyEight gave her a 1 in 40 chance of winning, and pollsters consider District 5, where Lamborn's already won six times, an uphill battle for any Democrat.

But Erikson says that's part of the reason she was so appealing to Cohen and Greenfield, who purposely looked for candidates running in places "where we thought we could be most helpful."

"[District 5] is not viewed as being competitive, but looking at that district and looking at the changing demographics in Colorado we think that the math could be turning there," Erikson says. "It might not turn this cycle, but we think it could turn soon. And [Spaulding] is an exceptionally dynamic candidate who we were drawn to and wanted to support."

The other candidates include Jess King of Pennsylvania, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Aftab Pureval of Ohio, J.D. Scholten of Iowa, Ammar Campa Najjar of California and James Thompson of Kansas.
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