December 31, 2007

The Biggest Bungle of 2007

It seems fitting on this last day of 2007 to think back to what are likely Bill Ritter's two biggest bungles of 2007. They seem so closely related that we are counting them as a single bungle.

The first was his veto of HB07-1072. The veto wasn't a bungle, but the situation was bungled badly by his party. The bill, a modification of the Labor Peace Act came as a complete surprise to the business community despite Bill Ritter's spokesman's claim that he had campaigned on it.

It turned out that he had made some backroom promises to unions that he had conveniently forgotten to inform his business backers about.

The timing of the bill couldn't have been worse from Ritter's position. He had just accepted $250,000 in post election campaign contributions from the business community to retire his campaign debt.

Ritter did veto the bill after it became obvious that it would sour his relations with the business community and with both of Denver' major daily papers.

This created a problem for Ritter. He had not fulfilled a secret campaign pledge to labor.

He solved this problem by creating "partnerships" with his union buddies, promising them that they could collect union dues from state employees.

His partnership plan drew much heat from the Denver Post which, except for HB 1072, had been a cheerleader for Ritter. It declared in an unusual front page editorial that Ritter risked being a one term Governor.

When a politician manages to turn a major newspaper from a supporter to an opponent, that event has to rank as the biggest bungle of 2007.

December 28, 2007

It Was the Best of Times...

Charles Dickens got paid by the word for his prose.

Colorado Media Matters is one of the best barometers of potential political trouble for Democrats. When they go into defensive spin mode every fact is a lie and every lie is a fact to hear them tell it. The only important information one can get from their defensive pieces is that they think that the politician they are defending has problems with the issue they are writing about.

It is conventional wisdom that Bill Ritter will be in political trouble for his insistence that Cory Voorhis be prosecuted for a crime that few others have been prosecuted for. When you think about Ritter's attitude toward prosecutions, it is the ultimate double standard. He is willing to plea bargain illegal alien felonies into something that will keep them in the country but viciously goes after someone who tries to illuminate what he is doing.

CMM has a piece today that might have been written by Charles Dickens, not because it is a literary masterpiece, but because it is so wordy. Length is an important CMM barometer, too. They obviously think this could be serious.

December 27, 2007

Ritter Cornfused, Too?

During the Christmas holidays we had a lot of family in, and though the conversation seldom turned to politics, it did turn to E85 ethanol. One family member has a car that burns E85 and a gas station that sells it.

Congress heavily subsidizes the price of E85 in a number of ways to the point that E85 is almost always cheaper than gasoline. Apparently, the gas mileage that this family member gets is so significantly lower with E85 that if gas is cheap enough, he is unwilling to drive a few extra miles to fill up with E85.

We might have forgotten the conversation but for stumbling across a lengthy and readable CSU Coloradoan article that includes some very useful information on the future of ethanol, not corn ethanol. We only sample it here:

"When you start thinking about what kind of plant you should grow to best utilize its biomass, corn is not the answer," said Ken Reardon, a Colorado State University chemical and biological engineering professor who researches ethanol production. "Because corn uses a lot of water, people are now looking at crops that take less water to grow and produce more mass per acre than corn...”

"Once you produce the product you have to be able to get it to market, and building infrastructure from scratch cannot be done overnight,” said Ritter spokesman Evan Dryer. “Using corn ethanol helps us create a new market for the corn industry and helps us create a new consumer base for ethanol in general, and the governor supports that.”

December 24, 2007

A Subtle Point We Missed

The Denver Post made an important point this morning about Bill Ritter's work with BLM on the Roan Plateau:

The subtlest but perhaps most important part of Ritter's proposal is that it tries to integrate the governor's ideas with existing BLM plans in a way that would not force the agency to formally reopen its "record of decision" — a bureaucratic process that would force more months of public hearings on an area that has already been studied for seven years.
It seems that all of the recent strife caused by Bill Ritter is forgiven at the Denver Post Editorial Board:

It's also important to note that Ritter's decision was made in the spirit of his "Colorado Promise." He worked fruitfully with federal officials, the energy industry, local governments, and citizens to help release the Roan's tremendous economic resources while protecting its thriving wildlife and scenic treasures.
Our bet is that it isn't forgotten, though. When a major paper states in an editorial that a governor is headed down a path that will make him a one term Governor, that politician needs to do more than simply not foul up a decade long process. This is at best an editorial board looking for something to praise Bill Ritter on.

December 23, 2007

Resume Building Exercise

The Gazette had it right when it said:

We welcome any good news from the war zone. But is anyone else wondering what business Ritter has on a taxpayerfunded junket (which it is, whether or not the Pentagon is picking up the tab), aside from the rather flimsy explanation that Colorado National Guard troops are in the thick of it? It smells like a resume-building exercise.
The Gazette thought the whole trip was a waste of Bill Ritter's time and taxpayer money:

There might arguably be some benefit in a governor who never served getting a little direct exposure to the people who do. “I have not had a military background,” Ritter said in one news story. “It is extremely helpful for me to see this on the ground.” But the National Guard’s mission in Iraq has little to do with the role it typically undertakes under orders from a governor. We think that’s a weak justification.

We're wondering where Bill Ritter expects to take his new foreign and military credentials. Is he planning a run at the vice-presidency?

December 22, 2007

When Moderate Really Means "Not Extreme"

The Rocky Mountain News is praising Bill Ritter for his "moderate" decision to allow some drilling on the top of the Roan Plateau.

The Gazette, months ago, considered Mark Udall's opposition to drilling there "extreme" and used that word.

We want to praise Governor Ritter as well, though we do share the Rocky's concerns:

It's a refreshing change from the officeholder who has too often sided with organized labor, environmentalists, public employee groups and other narrow special interests - to the detriment of solutions that appeal to the broad majority of Coloradans.

December 20, 2007

We Weren't Alone In Noticing

When we wrote "Just Another Flake Who Doesn't Know His Place," we expected to be the only folks who commented on Bill Ritter's constitutionally unsophisticated claim that he was in command of active duty Colorado Guardsmen:

"They are under my command essentially," said [ Bill ] Ritter, who doesn't have a military background.

It looks like Rob Tornoe, a syndicated cartoonist, also noticed.

We are a bit disappointed because we have opined elsewhere that Mark Udall came closer to the Michael Dukakis model of a Modern Major General. Perhaps Udall and Ritter will invite Dukakis to join them in a rendition of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic:

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

Roan Plateau Games Still Being Played

Ken Salazar bought Bill Ritter some time to save the scrub land that is called the Roan Plateau. The time is up. Ritter proposed some very minor changes and claims:

Ritter and state Department of Natural Resources executive director Harris Sherman said they believe the BLM will incorporate their comments into the plan

If BLM does actually incorporate new comments in the plan, it must then open the plan up for comments on the comments. More wasted time, but that seems to be the plan. They don't have to stall drilling forever, but they think it would be nice to stall it until after Mark Udall is elected.

December 18, 2007

A Cruel Christmas Lie

A Texas based bank lawyer-blogger takes Bill Ritter apart in a way that we can only admire.

Last week, Ritter's office announced with much fanfare an emergency order that sounds as though it is retroactively rescuing the folks who signed variable rate mortgages with low teaser rates and high early repayment penalties.

The problem is that the state has no power to retroactively regulate contracts, so this is just another Ritter lie.

Bank Lawyer's Blog takes it from here:

If loans with these features are no longer being made, and the regulation cannot apply retroactively, then why the need for any such regulation, much less an emergency regulation? More useless grandstanding by a Governor [ Bill Ritter ] and his minions to make it appear that "something is being done" to deal with a "crisis," when, in fact, nothing useful at all is being accomplished? You be the judge.

This isn't just a lie, it is a cruel Christmas lie. Bill Ritter is lucky that Charles Dickens isn't still writing:

Tiny Tim would be opening his single small present on Christmas morning. In the kitchen, his mother had no turkey to put in the oven nor the time to cook it. She was packing up the kitchen dishes so they could surrender their home to the bank by December 31st.

Tiny Tim's father had been hauled away on Christmas Eve by Bill Ritter's personal police force. It seems that he tried to knock Ritter's grin into next week when Ritter spoiled Tiny Tim's Christmas with a promise he knew he couldn't keep

December 17, 2007

Report Doesn't Deliver Help to Ritter's Cause as Advertised

From a Denver Post article about Gov. Bill Ritter's strained relationship with the Metro Chamber of Commerce:
Meanwhile, the Bell Policy Center, a liberal think tank, released a study Thursday reviewing studies that show partnerships usually improve management-worker relations, efficiency and customer satisfaction if structured properly.

"On balance, we found for the most part they have been positive," said Rich Jones, Bell director of policy and research.

Nevertheless, this uncritical citation of the Bell paper ignores a major problem I previously highlighted with its application to the Governor's pro-unionization executive order:
The report presents zero evidence of so-called “partnerships” producing the alleged positive effects in a workplace (much less a state government - because it’s never happened before) where no previous union representation existed.
Just a quick clarification. And a very important one, I believe, should we expect to have any serious debates on this topic.

December 15, 2007

Pristine Back Country?

The DSCC made a mistake this week in releasing a YouTube ad supposedly showing the Roan Plateau to be lush with water. It is not. It is arid scrub land. Someone who questions that description need only call up Google Earth and enter "Roan Plateau" to see that.

Why do we get stuff like this from the associated press:

Some of the elected officials in western Colorado, hunting and angling groups, environmentalists and churches across the state have called for protecting the Roan Plateau, rich in natural gas and oil shale as well as wildlife and pristine backcountry. There is drilling on some of the formation's private land, and the Bureau of Land Management in June approved a plan opening some of the federal land to drilling.

Perhaps it is because the Associated Press cannot be trusted to be truthful. This Roan Plateau drilling hold up is an attempt by the environmentalists to drive up the cost of oil and gas, and they count on people not using the internet and their own eyes to see the truth. Go look at Google Earth for yourself.

While you are at it, check out just how deceptive the latest DSCC ad for Mark Udall is. We wouldn't have checked Google Earth ourselves had the photographs the DNCC provided the ad agency not looked so strange.

December 14, 2007

Ritter Responds to Mesa County Lawsuit

A blog like this becomes a repository of history, not only of what is written here, but of what has been said. Eventually the data base becomes formidible enough that politicians know that if they lie they will be called on it. Bill Ritter's staff continued to feed The Big Blue Lie Machine with this statement, and if this site had gone into operation in January, it would be easy to demonstrate (sigh). It's not too late to start.

Today, Bill Ritter's staff said this about the lawsuit against the 2007 School Finance Act:

"Every day, Gov. Ritter and the legislators who supported the 2007 School Finance Act are fighting on behalf of Colorado's children, on behalf of Colorado's local schools and on behalf of Colorado's future.

Actually, Bill Ritter is in Afganistan today, playing pretend Commander in Chief of the Colorado National Guard. One hopes that Colorado taxpayers aren't paying for this boondoogle, but we likely are. [ Added: it turns out the Pentagon is paying - still Colorado taxpayers last we heard. ]

Most troubling is that there is no guarantee that a single extra dollar of these additional taxes will end up in any school district's coffer. The legislature is pulling a fast one on the school districts by forcing them to substitute local money for state money, leaving the state legislature to spend the money on non education special interests.

"The lawsuit instigated by Jon Caldara is politically motivated and threatens to hold our children and our local schools hostage. We are confident the lawsuit will fail and we can return our focus where it belongs - on our children.

There is room for honest disagreement here, and likely some dishonest disagreement as well. Many, including the Mesa County Commissioners and the Colorado Attorney General believe this law violates not only the spirit of TABOR, it violates its plain language. Since when is forcing the state legislature and Governor to prove in court that they didn't violate their oaths of office by passing and signing an unconstitutional law "politically motivated?"

"SB 199 has great support around Colorado, from business organizations to community colleges to local school districts. What's more, voters in 175 of 178 school districts have already voted to invest local revenue in their local schools. The question has been asked and answered by 98 percent of the voters in Colorado. SB 199 simply gave voice to the voters.

Voters weren't told when they "debruced," as the process was called, that they were doing anything more than allowing their districts to keep monies in excess of TABOR limits. Individual districts cannot raise taxes without voter approval, so why should the state be allowed to circumvent this fundamental protection?

It is a flat out, bald faced lie to say that "SB 199 simply gave voice to the voters." SB 199 could have given voice to the voters if the legislature had allowed it to be put to the voters. This lawsuit aims to force that outcome.

"The Office of Legislative Legal Services, in 2004 and again in 2007, along with Gov. Ritter's chief legal counsel, have issued opinions that put SB199 on solid legal footing. We look forward to vigorously defending the children of Colorado against this lawsuit."

This sleazy paragraph leaves out an important fact and tells another lie. The State's Attorney General, John Suthers issued an opinion that the tax increase must go before the voters. When Bill Ritter and the legislature cannot get a favorable ruling out of the state's Attorney General, they wheel out an unelected lawyer to issue the ruling they want.

Colorado Senate News reports that AG John Suthers took the unusual step of going to the legislature to explain his position:

Suthers said the proposal to freeze the tax rate, or mill levy, in local school districts -- raising tax bills as property values rise -- takes away an important protection for voters. That's so, he said, even in the majority of school districts that have voted over the years to let their local schools keep more revenue. Suthers said the voters in those districts did not vote to give up control over their tax rates.

If the legislature were causing school district budgets to increase by the amount of the taxes being collected, Ritter's staff might be able to claim that they are "vigorously defending the children of Colorado against this lawsuit." The money isn't going to school districts or even necessarily to children. It is going into the general fund to be wasted by the same cynical politicians who are cynically claiming that the law they passed is "for the children." It isn't "for the children," it's "for the politicians."

The Big Blue Lie Machine is blowing steam out every crack and crevice.

Governor's Money Grab Will Go To The Courts

Where it will, no doubt (in this state), receive "scrutiny" but essentially be affirmed.

Still, it's good somebody is standing up for the actual laws that are on the book.

Anti-tax crusader Jon Caldara filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the governor's property-tax plan to prop up school funding.

Caldara says the new law requires a vote of the people. . . .

The lawsuit asks a Denver District Court to strike down the new law, arguing it amounts to a tax policy change and should have gone to the voters as required by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

"This bill has to do with respecting the taxpayers and asking them first before the state takes money out their pockets," said Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a think tank based in Golden.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs and taxpayers, including the Mesa County Board of Commissioners and Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction and a former Boulder County school board member.

That's an interesting coalition of interests signed on to that lawsuit. When you factor in that the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce is considering signing on to the lawsuit, as well, you might just notice that the Western half of the state is none-too-pleased with the Governor's money-grab.

And it was in Ritter's neutralizing the conservative advantage in the Western half of the state that he gained his margin of victory, picked up a Congressman, and solidified the Dems' hold on the state legislature.

If the West is angry enough at him to remember when the next election comes around, it could make things very intersting at the State House.

In the meantime, this lawsuit--which seems to meet muster on points of standing and law--could end up twistingthe Dems into knots. A plain-text reading of TABOR clearly stipulates that this large a boon for the treasury requires the people's approval; so, in one fell swoop, it may be that the Dems are spotlighted on both their money-grabbing ways AND on their goofiness in judicial appointees.

One can always hope.

December 13, 2007

More on Voorhis

Bill Ritter's reputation as a vengeful politico who uses the machinery of government to grind people under his heel is reinforced by this article on Cory Vorrhis:

"This is nothing more than political revenge by Gov. Ritter," former ICE senior special agent Mike Riebau told WND in a telephone interview.

"The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has become nothing more than Gov. Ritter's personal police force and Ritter is now set on doing whatever it takes to get even with Voorhis," Riebau charged.

Just Another Flake Who Doesn't Know His Place

When we have a Governor who has never served in the military claim that he is the Commander in Chief of federalized Colorado National Guard soldiers and airmen, it makes those of us who have served more than a little sick.

"They are under my command essentially," said [ Bill ] Ritter, who doesn't have a military background.

Once Federalized, the Commander in Chief of Colorado Guardsmen is the President, not the Governor. The Governor has no more lawful authority over a federalized guardsman than he has over an active duty soldier who happens to be from Colorado.

Delusions of grandeur are exactly that, delusions.

December 12, 2007

Ritter Observes Obvious ... Looking for a Way to Separate Himself from the Left?

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's surprise visit to Iraq demonstrates just how much real progress has been made in Iraq:
As commander in chief of the Colorado National Guard, Ritter said he wanted to find out firsthand how Guard members were handling deployment.

"They are under my command essentially," said Ritter, who doesn't have a military background. "It is extremely helpful to me to see this on the ground."

Ritter made no call for bringing Colorado Guard members home sooner.

"The Guard members have not asked me to do that," he said. "As long as they are not asking me to do that, I'm not going to advocate differently."

Air Guard troops are typically sent overseas for 60 to 90 days, while Army Guard troops could end up staying in Iraq or Kuwait 15 months, he said.

"We'd all like to see it less," Ritter said.

And the governor did not advocate changing the current strategy in Iraq.

"It is important to understand that there is hope that it's moving in the right direction," he said. "American troops will be in Iraq for a very long time."

The reality of the dramatic turnaround in Iraq is undeniable, and it's good to see our governor coming around to acknowledging this obvious development.

But the good news for America is bad news for Ritter's Democratic Party overall. What will the rabid anti-war fanatics do in 2008 when the convention comes to Denver and they need to support a presidential candidate who can't so easily pander to them any more?

While Ritter has aligned himself to Big Labor through backroom deals, it appears he won't give the anti-war crowd more than the bone of hedging to say that Iraq progress offers but a "glimmer of hope." This same crowd will have to ask itself why someone like Ritter has acknowledged our military coalition's tremendous progress in Iraq: because it's true or merely a matter of political expedience? What do they think?

Obi Jon in Colorado this Week

The Colorado version of the Two I Knights, led by the tireless Obi Jon, struck back at Darth Ritter's attempt to clone unionized small donors out of state workers and pick their pockets.

It seems that there will be an initiative on the ballot to protect worker's wallets from the dark side, after all.

December 11, 2007

Make No Mistake, Bill Ritter Uses His Power Viciously

Setting the infectious grin aside, Bill Ritter may be one of the most vicious politicians in the history of Colorado politics. If he can use his office and its police powers to harass his political opponents into bankruptcy and prison, he will do so.

Human Events has the story of an ICE Agent who tried to prevent this vicious politician from taking office, not because he was political, but because he thought he was doing what would best protect the public:

Although Voorhis was not political and not particularly interested in the outcome of the gubernatorial election, he believed that Ritter’s behavior as DA posed a “significant threat to public safety”.


Now the counterattack apparently orchestrated by Ritter and his allies is on the verge of bankrupting [ Cory ] Voorhis, ruining his career, and possibly allowing Pedro Castorena to walk away a free man.

After you read this, the next time you see Bill Ritter flash his teeth in what others might think as a harmless smile, you will see what it is intended to camouflage: the snarl of a relentlessly vicious, remorseless, vengeful politician who has gained and is willing to use government power to destroy his enemies.

Unfortunately, his enemies do not include people like the illegal immigrants who commit real crimes:

As a senior ICE agent in Colorado, Voorhis was aware of a persistent pattern by Ritter’s office of allowing illegal aliens who were arrested for drug crimes, aggravated felonies, and other “serious crimes involving moral turpitude” to plead guilty to unrelated lesser charges such as “agricultural trespass”, “possession of diazepam”, and “possession of burglary tools”. These plea bargains allowed criminals go free without the type of conviction that could allow ICE to deport them. The behavior continued even after ICE suggested to the DA’s office that the plea bargains were obstructing justice.

December 10, 2007


We couldn't resist acknowledging this letter to the editor of the Denver Post.

December 8, 2007

Backroom Bill Ritter Does Good, Maybe

It is unfair for a blog which calls itself Ritter Watch not to point out when Bill Ritter appears to be moving in the right direction.

Time will tell, but Bill Ritter doesn't seem to share the same environmentalist extremist position against drilling on the Roan Plateau that has so often been expressed by John Salazar, Mark Udall, and Ken Salazar.

The Denver Post reports that he is trying to strike a balance, which is what politics should be all about.

"Our recommendations will be a modification, or some may say a departure," said Ritter, who is nearing the end of a 120-day review of the Bureau of Land Management's drilling proposal. "I've never been a person opposed to drilling on the Roan. But we need to make sure any modifications are environmentally sound and we maximize the economic benefit to the state."

Now, if only we can get him out of the backroom on other issues.

December 6, 2007

Save Us From The Spin

Neither the Sierra Club, nor Bill Ritter, nor Mark Udall take blame for any environmental disaster facing Colorado:

Long periods of drought, rampant wildfires, fewer drinking water resources and
pervasive beetle infestations are just a few of the projected consequences
Colorado will face due to the global climate crisis.

Wildfires and beetle infestations could be mitigated with responsible forest management, including responsible clear cut fire breaks and responsible forest road building that allows forest management.

Drinking water resources are destroyed when the Sierra Club's litigated management policies result in wildfires, so it is all tied together.

Voorhis Immigration Story Another Anchor Around Ritter

Over at Human Events, Ross Kaminsky (aka Rossputin) provides a detailed chronicle of the burgeoning story of immigration enforcement agent Cory Voorhis, who is facing political vengeance for his role in exposing information about now-Gov. Bill Ritter's record during last year's campaign:
Voorhis is not just the regular agent, but an exceptional agent. He followed written guidance from his superiors and broken no law but is being politically prosecuted by Bill Ritter’s allies for pointing out how Ritter, while serving as Denver’s District Attorney, obstructed ICE from deporting illegal alien criminals.

The good news is that this will likely be a political disaster for Ritter despite his ability to blunt its impact in 2006. The bad news is that it may cost a good man everything he’s worked for and cost the country an exceptional agent and the conviction of an illegal immigration kingpin.

Read the entire story.

Continuing media exposure of Voorhis' unfair treatment and Ritter's own shoddy immigration enforcement record will be another anchor around a governor whose popularity ratings already are in decline.

December 5, 2007

Backroom Promises May Backfire

Does anyone recall that the reason that Bill Ritter vetoed HB 1072 was that he had made backroom promises to labor during the campaign that he forgot to tell his business backers about. Business went ballistic.

Well, Big labor thinks that a backroom promise made is a promise to be kept, and it is making demands on Ritter, according to the Denver Post.

The AFL-CIO's executive council said it will push for the reintroduction of pro-labor legislation vetoed by Ritter and vowed to get a commitment from him to sign it.

"We intend to pass the legislation again and secure a clear commitment from the governor to sign it," the unsigned statement from the organization's executive council said.

If Ritter bends or breaks, expect another explosive anti-Ritter editorial from the Post about his being a one term Governor. He'll deserve it.

December 4, 2007

Is the Honeymoon Over?: Ritter's Popularity Taking a Hit

Overlooked in today's Rasmussen poll that headlined the dead heat in the U.S. Senate race between former Rep. Bob Schaffer and Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall is the approval ratings of Gov. Bill Ritter as judged by likely Colorado voters:
2* How do you rate the way that Bill Ritter is performing his role as Governor? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

14% Excellent

35% Good

31% Fair

16% Poor

4% Not sure
For those keeping tabs, that's a 49% Excellent/Good vs. 47% Fair/Poor.

Now to compare, here are results from the same question using the same methodology from Rasmussen on August 8:
2* How do you rate the way that Bill Ritter is performing his roll as Governor? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

19% Excellent

41% Good

26% Fair

10% Poor

4% Not Sure
Back in the summertime heat, Ritter still had a 60% Excellent/Good vs. a 36% Fair/Poor rating. In three and a half months, the governor's popularity has chilled along with the falling leaves and first snows - dropping more than 10 points.

Of course, the survey using four descriptors tells us more than Democrat pollster Floyd Ciruli's dichotomous question, which showed Ritter with a 71% Approve / 15% Disapprove back in September.

All in all, these latest poll results confirm what was written a couple weeks ago in this blog's inaugural post:
Welcome to Ritter Watch, a new blog dedicated to tracking the record of Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D). With his congeniality and charisma, Ritter started his term in office with a lot of leeway. But after signing a property tax increase without a vote of the people and unionizing state employees by executive order, the political honeymoon is over.
Strictly speaking, it's the latter action which has put the governor in a bit hotter water with the voters during the past month. But keep an eye on the trends. It's doubtful we'll see Ritter's popularity levels again reach where they crested earlier this year.

December 3, 2007

Post: Ritter Deceptive or Incompetent?

The editors of the Denver Post leveled more criticism at Gov. Bill Ritter this weekend for his unionization executive order:
Either Gov. Bill Ritter knowingly deceived Coloradans and sold them a bill of goods with his executive order on labor unions, or he doesn't understand the law.

We're not sure which is worse.

When he issued his disastrous order giving state workers collective bargaining rights, the governor assured Coloradans that state workers couldn't strike.

After all, he said, it's right there in his order.

But executive orders can't trump state law, much less Colorado Supreme Court decisions — no matter how many times Ritter and his supporters say so. It was either deceit or ignorance. Take your pick, but neither bodes well for Colorado.

Neither option is appealing: Is our governor in the back pocket of Big Labor special interests, or just their unwilling dupe

Many Coloradans may be surprised to see they're actually getting what they voted for. A classic case of buyer's remorse.

November 30, 2007

Ritter To Deliver Democrats' Weekly Radio Address

Tune in:
Democrats have chosen Colorado Governor (Bill) Ritter to deliver the party's national radio address on Saturday.

His remarks will be broadcast on major radio networks at 9 a.m. (Mountain time) Saturday.

Ritter says he'll talk about the "positive, problem-solving vision" offered by moderate Western Democrats.

He says he'll also discuss his initiatives to strengthen the role of renewable energy in the state economy, and why he thinks the nation needs a new direction.

Ritter calls it "a great honor" to give a national address.

He says he thinks the "can-do spirit" in Colorado speaks to what people around the country want from their leaders - and from the next president of the United States.
After leading the way in backroom deals and environmental moonbattery just this past week (scroll for earlier posts), it's about time for some national attention and party love!

November 29, 2007

Ouch! More Pain in Ritter's Behind-the-Scenes Union Revelations

The Rocky Mountain News today published an article which may qualify as one of the richest, most revealing local political stories of the year. It begins:
On the day he issued his executive order making unions a bigger player in state government, Gov. Bill Ritter and union representatives assured Coloradans they weren't going to rock the boat.

But behind the scenes, the waters were anything but calm, e-mails and other documents provided by Ritter's office in response to a Rocky Mountain News open records request show.

Ritter's senior staff scrambled in the hours leading up to his announcement to deal with what they accurately predicted would be "a good deal of backlash."

And a group representing seven Colorado unions rushed Ritter a "personal and confidential" letter urging him not to sign the order because it did not go far enough.
There is something pleasingly ironic about the thought of Ritter and Company working overtime on PR damage control in response to an article that highlights their earlier missteps at attempting to perform PR damage control. Here's the nub of the perception problem: While the governor repeatedly has downplayed the order by asserting that he is the CEO of state government, labor union leaders have a lot more sway than his administration cares to admit.

After all, the timing of Ritter's "important" state government business (i.e., his unionization executive order) was determined by union leaders' behind-the-scenes plans.

I'm sure today's revelations by the Rocky Mountain News will further unsettle the confidence of many Colorado business leaders and other citizens in Gov. Ritter's leadership.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

November 28, 2007

Ritter's Climate Plan Evokes Car Dealer Complaints

So much for the friendly business coalition that helped elect Gov. Bill Ritter. After cutting deals with Big Labor, now he has angered car dealers with his overly prescriptive climate plan:
Ritter's climate action plan says Colorado will join California and 15 other western states in adopting new vehicle standards to control greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2008 model Subaru called the PZev, which stands for "partial zero emission vehicle," and many more like it, isn't good enough to pass muster under the new California standards.

"What comes out of the tailpipe on a smoggy day is cleaner than what goes into the air cleaner," said Don Hicks, owner of Shortline Subaru.

If Colorado follows in California's direction, cars that currently suit Coloradans' lifestyle will be a thing of the past, according to Hicks.

"By 2016 none of the cars for sale in this state today will be available," he said.
Of course, dealers are the ones to complain now. But consumers like you and me are the ones who will feel the real pinch down the road.

Ritter has staked a lot on the highly disputed Greenhouse Theory of Global Warming. Small, reasonable steps to promote conservation, while protecting the economy, are being abandoned in favor of more radical changes that promise to undermine consumer choice and economic well-being.

Our governor really appears to be trying to make his administration's record memorable long after he leaves office.

November 27, 2007

Who Ever Heard of Morgan Liddick?

Bill Ritter most likely wishes he hadn't after he reads this lucid takedown in the Summit Daily News. We can't top this and doubt that many can. Read the whole thing.

I have to give the governor credit for consistency. When it comes to pursuing the agenda of the left, he knows how to put the pedal to the metal. He talks a good line, too, almost good enough to make a person believe that having the government grab your wallet with both hands while telling you that it knows better than you what to do with your money and your life is the reasonable thing to do.

Instead of trying to distill his most excellent work on the economics of what Bill Ritter is trying to do to us and how, it is fun to look at the left wing drones who have no counter to his arguments other than vitriol:

The best thing the Summit Daily News can do is deny your access to the paper and save the space you take up for something worth while. I also suggest that you move to Kansas, Wyoming or Mississippi where your column would get rave reviews from people who agree with you.

Does the Summit Daily pay you to write this dribble and Neo-con propaganda ?

Not to mention:
What my PRESIDENT is doing with my money does shock me. I can't help but wonder if you're not just an act - like Stephen Colbert - because I find it difficult to believe that anyone could be so deliberately obtuse.

November 25, 2007

Ritter's Chance to Promote Government Employee Negotiations Transparency

Now that his unionization executive order is on the books, will Gov. Ritter continue his back room style of dealings with Big Labor, or will he at least make sure that any and all collective bargaining or "partnership" negotiations are open to the public? That's the question posed by my Sunday Speakout column for the Rocky Mountain News:
Ritter has vowed to retain final executive authority over negotiated matters that will affect the state budget. He has pledged that the "partnership" process will be "cost-neutral." Opening the entire negotiation process to public scrutiny would help keep him accountable to his promise.

No one working to improve customer service should have any reason to fear an open negotiation process. After all, Coloradans deserve to see everything that transpires in collective bargaining over their tax money.

Will Ritter be a champion for government transparency and taxpayer accountability, or for the pocketbooks of his Big Labor campaign backers? Inquiring Coloradans want to know.

The Rocky Bought a Pig in a Poke - We Are Still Paying

We went looking for the essay we wrote last year about a Rocky Mountain News editorial that endorsed Bill Ritter to be Governor. Our essay was mostly selected quotes from the editorial in the order they were written:

"True, our endorsement today is a bit of a gamble . . . It could even turn out to be a major mistake. . . if Ritter himself proves to be a reckless liar . . .there is no way to verify whether what he now describes as his opinions regarding the proper role of government. . . are long-held convictions or the carefully designed themes of campaign consultants. . . some of what Ritter says makes us uneasy. . .Will "more money" be the answer to every question . . .This is a legislature that in the past two years . . .has churned out a remarkable array of cockamamie measures that would have . . . enhanced the power of such Democratic stalwarts as trial lawyers and unions. . .Owens vetoed most of those bills and Beauprez undoubtedly would veto similar ones in the future. Fortunately, Ritter insists he'd spike the bulk of such legislation, too."

One wonders if the Rocky Editorial board has enough information to answer the questions more accurately than their September 29th, 2006 "pig in a poke" editorial. Bill Ritter's answer to every question, it turns out, is "more money." Except for the modification to the Labor Peace Act, he didn't spike any labor or lawyer friendly bills, and 1072 wouldn't have been spiked if the legislative leadership had been more patient.

In short, Bill Ritter has turned out to be everything that the Rocky Mountain News hoped he wouldn't be.

November 24, 2007

It is Easy to Dislike Zealots

Yesterday, the Aspen Daily News published Enviros up pressure on Ritter over the Roan.

In it appeared the following curious comment:

In addition to species like deer and elk, the Roan is also home to some rare populations of native cutthroat trout.

That has raised concerns among anglers. “They’re a pretty unique population of fish up there,” said Ken Neubecker, vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “Right now, while they’ve survived thousands of years in these small populations, a single accident up there, either from stormwater discharge or a tanker truck spill, could wipe these populations out. There’s no need to rush into this and go after this gas.”

Neubecker is simply putting out false propaganda for those who don't bother to think. Since when does the gas industry use tanker trucks to remove gas from a gas field? It is possible to liquefy gas, but that requires that its temperature be lowered in complex plants that no one is suggesting will be used at any point in the process, either on the Roan Plateau or elsewhere.

Storm water discharge would only be a problem if liquid byproducts (water) of gas production were being stored on the plateau. It is entirely possible that the liquid byproducts will be potable, and unlikely that they will be stored on the plateau if they are not. If the water turns out to be potable, as has happened elsewhere in Colorado, expect the fight not to be over storm water discharge, but over the rights to this new water source.

Another Zealot put out another lie:

"It only makes sense, I think, to go slow on developing resources like the Roan,” said [ Claire ] Bastable, [ conservation director for the Colorado Mountain Club ] who said most of the gas leases already approved haven’t been drilled on yet. “We’re in no danger of losing revenue.”

A very reasonable plan has been worked out over the years to develop the Roan in 350 acre segments with the requirement that each segment be restored before moving to the next one. It is difficult to see how that plan could be modified to go slower and still recover the gas. It turns out that Bastable has no interest in "going slow." She wants to stop it entirely.

We have written elsewhere how the threat that Bill Ritter, Mark Udall, Ken Salazar, and John Salazar will succeed in making gas leases less valuable through regulation and prohibition makes energy companies less willing to pay top dollar for the leases. If people like Bastable and her organization want to keep claiming that their actions aren't losing the state revenue, let them post a bond to ensure that their claim is true. So much money is involved that they would find they couldn't afford it.

A reminder is in order: The Aspen Daily News has a strange archive system that may make the link stop operating. If that happens, do a google search on the title, which we provided.

November 23, 2007

A Billion Here, A Billion There...

Despite the political lore of my youth, it seems that Ev Dirkson never opined that before long a billion here and a billion there adds up to real money. The modern internet has burst so many of the ballons of my younger days. Sigh!

It seems that Bill Ritter has set out to save us taxpayers some real money. Last year, he set in motion a bunch of blue ribbon panels whose goal, individually and collectively, was to spend Colorado taxpayers into poverty. He appointed roadbuilding hawks to the roadbuilding panel and health care hawks to the healthcare panel, and so on.

No one believed that any of these panels wouldn't recommend the gold solution for the problem they were promoting (word chosen carefully). Politically, they couldn't quite make it to the gold solution, given that TABOR still lives, so they did the next best thing. They cut $500 million off the roadbuilding wish list. It is to only cost $1.5 billion, rather than the $2 billion.

Consider that the total annual budget for Colorado is in the $18 billion range (pdf), and $1.5 billion annualy per special interest wish list for four lists starts to sound like real money. In 2010, expect Ritter to claim to have saved taxpayers real money, a billion here, and a billion there. The Rocky Mountain News Reports:

Funding it would require a $100 average increase in auto registration fees, a 13-cent-a- gallon hike in the gas tax, a state sales tax increase of 0.35 percentage points, a new "visitor" fee of $6 a day on hotel rooms and car rentals, and an increase in the severance tax paid by the oil and gas industry.

The proposed tax increases couldn't become effective without voters' approval

It seems that no one's word is worth much these days, and no government promise can be made that won't be as quickly broken. When Bill Owens sold the roadbuilding bonding issue to the public, he made a list of 25 projects which hasn't been worked off, except in Denver. Now, the Denver area, which got the lions share of money from that money pot wants to put the screws to the rest of the state by throwing out the list:

The Southeast Business Partnership, a key backer of T-REX and other transportation initiatives, has voiced its support for a recommendation by a panel advising Gov. Bill Ritter to spend a minimum $1.5 billion more each year on transportation projects.

The group also called on the new spending to be allocated significantly to local governments for roads and to apportion a large share to the Denver region, which will generate the lion's share of proposed new taxes and fees.

November 21, 2007

Ritter-Style Health Reform is Bad Medicine

Courtesy of the Independence Institute, freelance policy analyst Brian Schwartz diagnoses Gov. Bill Ritter's proposed health care reform as bad medicine:
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter does not want health care reforms that "throw more money at a problem without addressing the root causes of the crisis." Unfortunately, the state's 208 Commission does exactly that.
Just what you're NOT looking for to take care of the indigestion from this year's Thanksgiving turkey, but precisely what Colorado has in store if it chooses Ritter's brand of health insurance policy. What's needed instead is a cost-effective reform that does address "the root causes."

November 20, 2007

We Need to Help Florida Dems Out

If Bill Ritter wants to make a good impression, he should be working to ensure that the 210 member Florida delegation to the Democrat National Convention has a warm and dry place to stay. Currently, they are out in the cold because they have an early primary.

There is exactly a zero chance that the delegation won't be seated, and Bill Ritter knows that, so why the games?

If he is having trouble finding accommodations, perhaps he might call Dick Wadhams. We'd bet that there are many Republicans around Denver with spare bedrooms and a better sense of Colorado hospitality.

For that matter, Dick might even have "The war is lost" and "Nobody Knows About The Loon in the Attic" armbands made up for our Florida guests.

Chieftain: Ritter's Order Unnecessary, Counterproductive, and Harmful

The Pueblo Chieftain joins other Colorado newspaper editorial voices in rejecting the arguments made for Gov. Ritter's executive order unionizing state employees:
While he hopes his partnership arrangements will lead to new efficiencies, just the opposite could result. Unions are notorious for demanding - and receiving - work rules that often run counter to efficient operations. In addition to high medical insurance costs, old-line industries such as steel and autos had work rules that made them less competitive than those plants which operate without unions.

The governor maintains that the restrictions on the state budget ensconced in TABOR would limit the amount the state could meet in future union pay demands. But there’s always the possibility that other state functions would have to be cut to meet such demands in the future. Since this executive order is not writ in stone like legislation passed by the General Assembly, there could be an evolution toward demands for higher pay, even though Colorado’s state employees are already among the highest paid in the nation.

Besides, any government worker protected by Civil Service should not need a union as well. It simply creates another layer of difficulty when it comes to firing an unproductive or disruptive employee.

We wish Gov. Ritter had simply ordered every member of his Cabinet to open lines of communications with their employees and order those supervisors under them to do the same. Now, by issuing this executive order, the governor has invited the law of unintended consequences into the room.
To summarize, the Chieftain, like others, sees Ritter's order as unnecessary, counterproductive, and harmful. Might it not be time for a mea culpa from the governor?

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

November 18, 2007


This, like other blogs I write for, will hopefully be published daily, probably excepting major holidays. As with the other blogs, all writers are volunteers, and get paid nothing for what they write.

It may take a few days for us all to get on schedule and up to speed, so please be patient. While we knew this blog would come into existance, we were late in setting up our alerts. Of course, the holiday won't help.

Hopefully I can limit my writing to two posts a week, given my other obligations, but who knows?

Most of my posts will be short and easy to read, except the next one, which will be a longer reprint of a fisk job (definition) I did on a Rocky Mountain News editorial just before the election. It was fun to write at the time, and while I haven't looked at it for more than a year, I think it may set a tone for this blog.

I am, and will be "a watcher."

Welcome to Ritter Watch

Welcome to Ritter Watch, a new blog dedicated to tracking the record of Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D). With his congeniality and charisma, Ritter started his term in office with a lot of leeway. But after signing a property tax increase without a vote of the people and unionizing state employees by executive order, the political honeymoon is over. Regarding the latter, as the Denver Post wrote:
When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor, they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa.

Ritter campaigned under the guise of a moderate “new Democrat” but now we know he’s simply a toady to labor bosses and the old vestiges of his party — a bag man for unions and special interests.

This blog's purpose is quite simple: Keeping an eye on Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D), especially his efforts to raise taxes, grow government, and give political payback to union bosses.

Please bookmark this site as your one-stop resource to keep track of Ritter's record.