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.