December 31, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.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:
"On balance, we found for the most part they have been positive," said Rich Jones, Bell director of policy and research.
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
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
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.
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
"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.
"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
As commander in chief of the Colorado National Guard, Ritter said he wanted to find out firsthand how Guard members were handling deployment.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.
"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."
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?
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
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
December 8, 2007
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
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 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.Read the entire story.
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.
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
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
2* How do you rate the way that Bill Ritter is performing his role as Governor? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?For those keeping tabs, that's a 49% Excellent/Good vs. 47% Fair/Poor.
4% Not sure
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?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.
4% Not Sure
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
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.Neither option is appealing: Is our governor in the back pocket of Big Labor special interests, or just their unwilling dupe
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.
Many Coloradans may be surprised to see they're actually getting what they voted for. A classic case of buyer's remorse.