May 31, 2008

Ritter's Money Grab Gets Shut Down

A Judge in Denver has ruled unconstitutional Gov. Ritter's "freezing" of property tax valuations as a violation of the Constitutional Amendment known as TABOR.

For the reasons set forth above, the Court concludes that SB-199 isunconstitutional, as measured by the standards of TABOR. Accordingly, the CourtGRANTS Plaintiffs’ request for Declaratory Judgment on this issue, and enters this Orderfinding that SB-199 is unconstitutional. . . .

Further, due in large part to the express statement contained in TABOR § (1),which mandates that these enforcement actions “shall have the highest civil priority ofresolution”, this Court hereby determines that there is no just reason for delay of entry ofJudgment and directs entry of JUDGMENT . . .

Remarkably, the Court itself gave the reason for its judgment:

However well-intentioned and commendable the purpose and consequences of SB-199, this Court must be concerned only with enforcement of the Colorado Constitution. While this Court candidly expresses its concern as to the resulting consequences of this decision, it must nonetheless perform its duties in a manner consistent with its oath to uphold the Constitution.

Imagine that.

Then try to imagine a world in which that last sentence is unnecessary, because it is taken for granted that a judge would "perform its duties" in a Constitutional Manner.

Be warned: this is only round one.

Ritter's spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said the state will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court and also ask for a stay of the ruling, so that the state can continue to collect revenue from the mill levy freeze in the next fiscal year.

"It's not a surprise," Dreyer said. "We knew all along that this was going to be decided by the Supreme Court regardless of what happened at the district court level."

Just round 1. But, at least, our side--the small government side--won.

I would expect the CO Supremes to find in the public school section of the Constitution ample justification for overturning this judgment. Something about "compelling interests" and so forth.

Just a guess.

April 24, 2008

Bill Ritter: Tough on SPAM

From today's Rocky Mountain News:
Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday signed into law the Spam Reduction Act, which provides state enforcement authority similar to federal authority against unwanted e-mails.
To Ritter's credit, Spam Reduction is an act of bipartisan goodwill, a positive headline needed to take attention away from a serious $300,000 campaign finance violation.

Bill Ritter Spam

Bill Ritter (invoking classic Monty Python): "I don't like Spam!"

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 22, 2008

Formal Complaint Filed in Bill Ritter's $300,000 Campaign Finance Violation

The Denver Post reports today the latest in Gov. Bill Ritter's campaign spending problems:
The complaint, from Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, prompts the process for reviewing campaign-finance violations. Without the complaint, it is unclear whether the Secretary of State's Office could have begun a formal inquiry.

"There are some very specific rules you've got to follow," Lambert said of campaign-finance laws. "This seemed to violate at least several of them and needs to be investigated further."

Last week, Ritter, a Democrat, announced that his former campaign manager, Greg Kolomitz, wrongly used inaugural funds to pay off more than $200,000 in campaign debt and also overpaid himself by about $83,000.
At the least, Bill Ritter's six-figure violation represents a case of grossly poor management. The investigation that follows today's formal complaint will reveal whether there's anything even more serious to be found.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 21, 2008

Denver Post Echo: Bill Ritter Campaign Violation Shows Poor Management

Last week I wrote here:
If this is the kind of oversight Bill Ritter gives to his own campaign funds, what does that say about his ability to manage how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent?
Following up on the same story about a six-figure campaign finance violation, today the editors of the Denver Post write:
The buck stops at the governor's office, and if anything this mess again raises questions over his management skills.
The Post concludes:
We think Coloradans deserve to know exactly how the misspending came to pass. Ritter so far has been open about the process, but it's in his best interest to make sure these remaining questions are answered in full and public ways.
That's about as nicely as it can be put.

Gov. Bill Ritter let a major abuse of his inaugural fund for campaign purposes go for more than a year before he caught on. That he's being open and honest about it now inspires only the smallest of confidence. The State of Colorado is not in good hands.

April 16, 2008

Pro-Business Ritter: Oh, Did I Mention This?

That I'm actually going to be charging Colorado businesses MORE in tax this year.

What, you didn't see the story? Perhaps that's because it was buried on page 2 of the business section.

That's why we're here.

It was pitched as part of a pro-business legislative package. Now it seems that a key part of Gov. Bill Ritter's agenda will create more losers than winners in the corporate community. . .

It was Rep. Douglas Bruce who ferreted out the harsh truth about the bill. Quizzing Todd Herreid of the Colorado Legislative Council staff, Bruce let it be known that the council used Department of Revenue information and estimated 70 percent of Colorado corporate filers would pay more in taxes, somewhere between $25 million and $50 million in the aggregate. The remaining 30 percent get the savings.

Oh, well. I suppose the Governor can still be said to be 30% pro-business.

What Was All That Money Doing in Ritter's Inaugural in the First Place?

The problems with Gov. Bill Ritter's $200,000-plus in misspent inaugural committee funds raises more questions beyond his apparent gross lack of oversight.

In total, about $300,000 in inauguration funds were spent on campaign expenses. Campaign manager Greg Kolomitz returned the $83,250 that was paid to himself and his company, leaving roughly $217,000 still improperly spent.

But a question I have yet to see answered is why so much money was needed in Ritter's inaugural fund in the first place. Seems quite extravagant.

A quick trip back in time to the tenure of Colorado's last Democratic governor, Roy Romer, hints at a sharp contrast. From the January 3, 1991, edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette (no direct link available):
In 1987, Romer's inaugural ball cost taxpayers $10,000 to $15,000, said Romer spokeswoman Cindy Parmenter.

She said the 1991 inauguration will cost under $6,000, compared to 1987's total cost of $25,000. "The first time we had to spend money on staff, telephones and things we already have," she explained.
I know there's such a thing as inflation, but not enough to account for $300,000 in spending. The questions I have yet to see answered are: 1) How much did Bill Ritter's inaugural committee raise? 2) How much did Bill Ritter's inaugural committee spend on legitimate expenses? 3) Why was so much money needed in Bill Ritter's inaugural committee? What cost so much at the inaugural party?

Maybe some inquisitive journalist out there can find the answers. In the meantime, the Bill Ritter Democrat seems like a far more extravagant (and irresponsible) figure than the Roy Romer Democrat.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 15, 2008

Huge Campaign Finance Violation Raises Questions about Ritter's Public Oversight

Whoops! Gov. Bill Ritter's campaign warchest is facing a serious violation to the tune of nearly a quarter million dollars:
Gov. Bill Ritter paid more than $200,000 in campaign expenses out of his inaugural account in violation of campaign-finance laws, his office announced today as March disclosures come due.

Ritter has put up his home as collateral on a $200,000 loan to repay the misspent funds, his staff said.

Former campaign manager Greg Kolomitz — who also oversaw the inaugural fund — is to blame, said Jim Carpenter, Ritter's chief of staff.

Ritter took responsibility for loose oversight, and the matter is now in the hands of the secretary of state and the Denver district attorney, staff said.
If this is the kind of oversight Bill Ritter gives to his own campaign funds, what does that say about his ability to manage how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent?

April 14, 2008

After Political Prosecution, Cory Voorhis Still Able to Say "God Bless America"

In his latest Human Events column, Colorado's own Ross Kaminsky highlights the amazing character of Cory Voorhis, the politically-targeted federal immigration agent who last week was exonerated in a case that stems back to the 2006 election:
Cory Voorhis looked me in the eye and said “God Bless America”. It was a remarkable statement from a man whose life has been turned upside down by a justice system which was hijacked by politicians and turned loose on this unsung American hero. When I said to Voorhis that it was remarkable he still felt that way, he pointed to his American flag lapel pin and said, still choked up from the news five minutes earlier, “This is what I stand for.”

Five minutes earlier, at about 1:45 PM on Wednesday, a 13-member jury unanimously returned two “not guilty” verdicts on the charges filed against Cory Voorhis by the US Attorney for the District of Wyoming. It was a case which the US Attorney’s office should never have accepted, but did so, in the view of many observers, because of political pressure trickling down from the office of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.

After a trial that included shoddy lawyering by the prosecution and a government investigation obviously tainted by politics, Cory Voorhis is today a free and vindicated man. But it is a bittersweet victory indeed, as Voorhis has been nearly bankrupted by the government’s outrageous abuse of power, selective prosecution, and intentionally incomplete investigation.
It was a bad week for Gov. Bill Ritter, but certainly a relief for a duty-bound civil servant who despite the financial and mental anguish can still proclaim "God bless America."

Read the entire article, including Ross's exclusive interview with Cory Voorhis. I was left with a newfound admiration for him, and if you are able and so inclined, Ross reminds us:
For those interested in helping Cory Voorhis pay off some of his $250,000 debt for legal bills, please visit and make a contribution. My money is where my mouth is.
Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 10, 2008

Big Labor Ritter Low on Credibility

As a leading political consultant notes in the Denver Post today, Gov. Bill Ritter planted the pro-union seeds, and now he is reaping the right-to-work whirlwind:
Political observers don't have high hopes that the situation will improve.

"If (Ritter's) goal is trying to get business to back off right-to-work, I don't think he has the credibility to do it," said Katy Atkinson, a Republican political strategist, pointing out that he is seen as pro-labor.

Atkinson said right-to-work bills in the legislature never got off the ground in the past — even under Republicans — because businesses never really saw organized labor as a threat in Colorado.

But that view changed, she said, after the passage of an amendment in 2006 to increase the minimum wage with a yearly cost-of-living index, efforts to get a bill passed last year to make it easier to unionize workplaces and Ritter's executive order in November allowing a form of collective bargaining for state employees.
Last week I noted:
Since Ritter helped to set the wheels in motion that got Colorado to where it’s at now, I guess he really had no choice but try to step in and stop it: for his own sake, for the Democratic Party’s sake, for the sake of Big Labor.
Colorado's Democratic governor has aligned himself with union leaders, and now he's stuck. Bill Ritter's attempt to portray himself as a business-friendly moderate candidate in 2006 has been exposed as the charade it was. Katy Atkinson is right: Ritter doesn't have enough credibility left with business leaders to convince them to stop the ballot initiative that would protect workers from mandatory union fees.

Look forward to a bitter and costly political showdown this fall. It's hard to see how business and labor are going to holster their weapons now.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 3, 2008

Big Labor Has Ritter Running Scared

Writing over at Politics West, my Independence Institute colleague Jessica Corry (no, we didn't collaborate) calls out Gov. Bill Ritter's plea for business and labor to get along as one-sided and politically motivated:
A battle over labor issues could cost Ritter and the Democratic Party serious political capital. And with national Democrats coming to Denver this August for their national convention, the last thing Ritter needs is an extremist union agenda to impede his party's effort to appeal to moderate small- and medium-sized business owners.
It's no surprise really then that Ritter is being ignored.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 2, 2008

Ritter Throws Weight Behind Big Labor, Says: "Holster Your Weapons"

Yesterday we learned that Big Labor has pulled out some more big guns to blast a hole in Colorado's economy, in the form of five new anti-business ballot initiatives. Supporters of right-to-work - who are well on their way to getting their measure on the ballot - and union bosses - who appear to be calling their bluff - may be loading up for a real duel, High Noon-style.

It didn't take long for Governor Bill Ritter to come riding into town, telling everyone to "holster your weapons":
Hoping to avoid an ugly confrontation between business and labor this fall, Gov. Bill Ritter wants the two sides to withdraw their competing ballot measures, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"The governor believes the best thing for all of Colorado would be if none of these measures were on the ballot in November," said Evan Dreyer, the Democratic governor's spokesman. "The governor has had conversations with both sides and will continue trying to bring everyone together and find common ground to get to a place that's good for the entire state."
In 2007, union leaders unleashed House Bill 1072, the original bomb that prompted the right-to-work response. Now that the initiative is almost ready for the ballot, union leaders are throwing a bunch of economically harmful proposals up against the wall to see what will stick, but mainly as a giant threat to get the right-to-work supporters to back down.

Bill Ritter is taking his script from the Big Labor playbook. Step in as the third-party arbiter telling both sides to back down, when that tactic gives an advantage to the union boss side more than the worker freedom side. Besides, it's hard to see Ritter as a neutral third party after his executive order empowering union leaders to play a greater role in state government.

But if you want to know the biggest reason why Ritter felt impelled to intervene and do it quickly, political analyst John Straayer let the cat out of the bag:
He predicted that money would flow in from all across the country to back issues on both sides. Such a nasty fight could bring unwanted attention to Colorado and to Denver as it hosts the Democratic National Convention in August, Straayer said.

Political leaders are going to try to avoid that, he said.
Since Ritter helped to set the wheels in motion that got Colorado to where it's at now, I guess he really had no choice but try to step in and stop it: for his own sake, for the Democratic Party's sake, for the sake of Big Labor.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

April 1, 2008

Democrats Use Your Money to Defend Ritter Taking Your Money without Asking

Democrats in the state legislature are pushing a line item in the state budget that would give $150,000 in taxpayer funds to pay Gov. Bill Ritter's legal costs. For what, you ask? To defend a policy Ritter promoted and signed that levies a property tax increase on thousands of Colorado homeowners and business owners without a vote of the people, in violation of the state constitution.

So let's get this straight: Bill Ritter thumbs his nose at the state constitution, choosing to force through a widespread property tax hike.

Then he gets sued by taxpayers because he didn't get their permission as the state constitution requires.

Now his Democrat allies are working to make sure the very people hit by the tax hike will foot the governor's legal bills to defend the tax hike.

With chief executive Bill Ritter in charge, our officials in state government are working to defend their power against citizens' interests. They want to use taxpayer resources to persuade a judge why they shouldn't have to ask taxpayers to take more of their resources.

This is rich, indeed.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

March 27, 2008

Getting Their Stories Straight

We've often noted the tendency of Democrat politicians to lie to the public. In two successive paragraphs, the Rocky Mountain News exposes a Bill Ritter, Big Blue Lie Machine lie about whether or not a tax increase will hit the ballot.

Gov. Bill Ritter said he will wait until next week to decide whether to back putting a severance tax increase on November's ballot.

But a lawmaker close to the decision-making process said that [ Bill ] Ritter and the legislature's Democratic leadership already have decided to back a measure raising the tax paid by the gas and oil industry. At this point, they are just trying to decide whether to allow the legislature to vet the question before it goes to the ballot, Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said Wednesday.

March 26, 2008

Spring Break - Few Promises

The Grandchildren (for whose future I really write this blog if they knew it) will be visiting over the next several days.

They are all very bright and very demanding. Blogging will take second or third place which means that we make few promises that you will see a daily post.

Happy Spring Break!

The Jobs Governor

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting on the debate being held in the legislature over jobs. It is a debate worth having.

In bad economic times, Governor Bill Ritter is trying to force 1300 more full time jobs onto the state payroll. Worse, he is being deceptive about what he is doing. Some of the jobs that he is adding are really job conversions.

This author's personal favorite jobs creation bill is SB 54. Bill Ritter is creating several clerical positions, with the top clerk earning the same pay as a state district court judge. That is what the bill says, quite plainly. The total cost of the bill is nearly a million dollars.

This is at the same time that we are digging holes for college buildings that we can't afford. It isn't that we can't afford the building. We could afford the building if Bill Ritter and company were not so intent on padding the payroll.

March 25, 2008

Time for Bill Ritter to Lead

The Denver Post has reported on the hole in the ground at Aururia campus and now it is editorializing on it.
Revised state budget estimates predict less revenue than previously thought — $700 million over the next five years — so cuts are to be expected. But what doesn't make sense at first blush is how that reduction in revenue would translate into a reorganization of projects on the state's budget priority list.

When the revenue picture was rosier, the science building was ranked 18th on the legislature's capital development committee's priority list. But when money got tighter, it dropped to 31st.

Rep. Jim Riesberg, a Greeley Democrat and vice chairman of that committee, said members took into account not only the importance of projects, but how much money they would require in future years, which also could have low revenues.

Moving the project down on the list is classic "gold watching." If you don't know what gold watching is, try this explanation. It is about Bill Ritter gold watching highway funds.

We predicted that the Denver Post would use the hole in the ground to push for higher taxes, and they did. It only took three days:
Of course, the larger issue at work is the current tangle of constitutional spending restrictions that make the state budgetary process a convoluted exercise. This is another example of how worthy projects get shoved aside when revenues are projected to dip and mandated spending rules make a mockery of representational government.

Where is Bill Ritter on this issue? Colorado has a back room governor who simply doesn't lead. He calls for a green economy but that is mostly show or this building would be being built. What he probably thinks we need is another blue ribbon commission to decide what can be done with the hole. Bill Ritter is really good at appointing blue ribbon panels, but not much else.

March 24, 2008

Union Bosses Act Like State Property Owners Under Ritter's Order

Face the State has the skinny on "Colorado WINS" union bosses acting like they own state government property:
An executive order, signed by Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, last November, empowered unions to serve as “exclusive representatives” of state employees for the purposes of forming “employee partnerships.” Days after the order, a coalition of three major unions – CAPE-SEIU, AFSCME, and the American Federation of Teachers – announced a cooperative agreement to organize state workers under the name "Colorado WINS."

After hearing from state employees that Colorado WINS is aggressively trying to organize an election, Face The State attempted to attend an on-site meeting between the union and state employees. Face The State had cleared its attendance with Dawn Lee, the media contact at Colorado WINS. Then minutes before the meeting, Lee contacted FTS to say that the government building where it was being held had restricted access and she was unable to clear the attendance of a FTS staff writer without performing a background check, for which there was not enough time.

In response, FTS contacted Julie Postlethwait, the public information officer for the Department of Personnel, to confirm Lee's claim. Postlethwait said that FTS's presence at the meeting was not a problem, yet when FTS staff writer, Rachel Boxer, arrived to cover the meeting, she was denied access at the door. After Boxer identified herself by name, a DPA employee told her she was not allowed into the meeting and needed to leave the building "immediately."

According to Postlethwait, Colorado WINS had directed DPA staff to deny FTS access to its public meeting – an action that directly conflicted with the department's orders. Postlethwait apologized to FTS for the breakdown in communication, and said that the reporter should have been let into the meeting.>
It looks like Gov. Bill Ritter has given the union bosses reason to think they're in charge. The story goes on to explain how they appear to have taken Ritter's executive order as a license to move aggressively:
There are mounting complaints from state employees that the union is making a hard-line pitch for an election. Jimmie Cook, operations and maintenance manager at the state's mental health facility in Pueblo, said that in the early days after the executive order, union organizers acted as though "they had free rein from the governor." He said some of his employees reported incidents of being "accosted" by Colorado WINS representatives in the workplace parking lot. "Some went ahead and signed the petition just to get rid of them," said Cook. He noted that a directive from the facility's executive director has since halted the activity.
You have to wonder: Since Bill Ritter's executive order, what else has been going on below the public radar? In the case of denying a reporter access to a meeting on state property, "Colorado WINS" clearly overstepped its bounds. And outside scrutiny has helped to ensure public officials will work toward remedying the problem. But what happens when no one is looking again?

What has Ritter unleashed?

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

Environmental Lies Multiply Themselves - Crying Wolf

Today, the Rocky Mountain News is reporting on Bill Ritter's written objections to the BLM trying to follow the law and lease 360,000 acres of oil shale land by 2007 (this being 2008).
Comments from [ Bill }Ritter and various state agencies covered 60 pages and echoed some of the concerns expressed over the past year by environmental groups, water utilities and Western Slope local governments. They fear oil shale production will require vast amounts of water - equal to what the Denver region uses in a year - and the electricity of as many as 10 large coal-burning power plants.

While we have no idea where the Rocky or Bill Ritter got the water use estimate, but we do know where the ten coal burning power plant estimate came from.

Not long ago we wrote a critical review about a paper by Mark Udall's brother Randy that we found to be full of obviously false arguments. We called the piece "We've decided it is in the DNA" refering to the whole Udall family's record of lying about the environment.

After deciphering the intent of Randy's plea that the gas produced by the in situ process be shipped away so that he could argue that there would be a need for ten coal fired plants we wrote:
Randy Udall admits in this single paragraph that one third of the energy production of the Shell Oil process will be in the form of natural gas. Then he goes on to pretend that the natural gas produced by the process can't be used, and that instead, much less efficient coal electrical plants must be used.

This makes about as much sense as requiring the residents of the island of Kauai, Hawaii, which gets more annual rainfall than any other location in the United States, to rely on desalinization for their drinking water.

This isn't a silly argument. It is an inane argument. Unfortunately, many of today's environmentalist's arguments are just that-inane.

Now Randy Udall's on-its-face false argument has reportedly made it into a formal state input to the BLM. We are not well served when Bill Ritter and his band of merry environmentalists are caught red handed crying wolf. There should be red faces in Denver.

March 23, 2008

Fire is still the problem

In February, Bill Ritter appointed another study group, Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council.

We're not sure if this is good or bad. Bill Ritter has a habit of leaning over backwards to appoint an over abundance of environmentalists to these kinds of groups.

The Denver Post has a guest editorial by a Merrill R. Kaufmann, a contract scientist for the Nature Conservancy. That editorial lays the blame for future hot and large forest fires on global warming:
Climate changes will most likely contribute to substantial forest changes in the
decades ahead. Given the climate changes in the last 20 years and projected
changes for the next several decades, large fires and other natural disturbances
are anticipated in many forests of Colorado and southern Wyoming.

Let's use some common sense. Large fires in dead forests can best be contained by prepared fire breaks. That means new forest roads to remove the material and it means actually removing the material before the fire starts.

If we have a three or four hundred thousand acre fire in Colorado in the next year or two, global warming won't have caused it. Forest mismanagement will be the cause.

If Bill Ritter can overcome the resistance of the environmentalist extremists on the subjects of clear cutting and forest roads, he will be a hero. If he cannot, he deserves to be a goat.

March 22, 2008

It Begins Again, This Time Oil Shale

Bill Ritter doesn't want BLM to approve oil shale leases. The Grand Junction Sentinel reports:
Gov. Bill Ritter encouraged the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday to hold off on allowing commercial oil shale development in northwest Colorado, citing the “serious risk” of “tremendous adverse impacts” on the state’s water, wildlife and public lands.

In a letter to the BLM, Ritter said the federal government should wait until private companies can develop safe and efficient ways to develop commercial oil shale prior to permitting commercial development on federal land.

“It is premature for the BLM to make any decisions that allocate federal land to a commercial leasing program through its resource management plans or otherwise,” Ritter said...

Ritter called the BLM’s preferred scenario “misguided and unacceptable.”

It is estimated that each acre of oil shale land will produce one million barrels of oil or oil equivalent. At current prices of $110/barrel, that is $110 million that doesn't have to be sent to Iran and Venezuela. It is also about $5 million in severance taxes, and perhaps $11 million if the taxes are raised to 10% as some are proposing.

More to the point, the development of these lands will slow the rise in the price of oil and the rise of the price of gas at the pump.

What Bill Ritter is promoting is probably great short term politics, but it is terrible policy. It is bad for the taxpayer because he will want to replace those taxes. It is bad for the consumer because it helps create and prolong a shortage. It is bad for the economy. It is bad for Colorado.

March 21, 2008

Never Mentions Water

Bill Ritter went to Lamar this week. He was there for the Liquid Maize ethanol plant ground breaking and the PCDI annual meeting.

He had only good things to say about ethanol production but never once mentioned water:

When asked what he sees as the future of Colorado’s green energy economy and the role corn based ethanol will play the governor [ Bill Ritter ] said, “Colorado, because it’s an ag producing state is going to be able to take advantage of the bio fuel future...we have such fantastic research and development that not only are we going to take advantage of it, we’re in large part going to direct it. I think we’re going to have a real role in deciding how that goes.”

March 19, 2008

Is Google Alerts Useful?

Over the past two weeks we have noticed a pattern in Google Alerts. That service seems to cull out the negative items about Bill Ritter. One would think that this site didn't exist. According to Google Alerts, Bill Ritter is a glowing politician who can do no wrong and gets no bad publicity.

This author goes out of its way to identify and report on the down side of the Governor's actions, but somehow, Google doesn't see our work as important.

We did original research to find out what the Governors were told at the National Governor's Conference about renewable energy. They were told that nuclear energy was going to need to be a major component of future energy production, and that coal would have to remain the largest component. Solar and Wind are and will be insignificant producers of electricity.

Upon his return, Bill Ritter did not report this information accurately. He dismissed nuclear power with the claim that the waste disposal problem hadn't been solved. We discovered that he was told that the waste problem had been largely solved in France and what it would take to solve it here - government investment.

That is news, and it is news that wasn't reported anywhere else. Did Google Alerts see fit to include it among their alerts for Bill Ritter? We wouldn't be using this example if it had.

There are other examples. Something, or someone appears to be protecting Bill Ritter at Google Alerts. What is happening can't possibly be claimed to be in the public interest. We hope that Google sees this and takes positive steps to fix the problem.

March 18, 2008

Hurting the Planet

Recently, Bill Ritter went to Lamar to participate in the ground breaking ceremony for the sixth biofuels production plant in Colorado.

If you are an advocate of green energy, you must be applauding that action. Perhaps you shouldn’t be.

Newsweek, one of the most liberal main stream magazines available printed an article it called “Doing it Wrong.” It is subtitled “A new study finds that the biofuels craze may be adding to our climate woes.” In it, David Tilman, a scientist whose paper was quoted in the respected (and peer reviewed) journal Science:

We found that there was a period of time where you do break even, where the biofuel started providing an advantage. The longest was 400 years and the shortest was 17, but the average was half a century. It might give us a benefit 50 years later, but it's not a very wise environmental policy [ in terms of CO2 going into the atmosphere as a result of clearing forests ].

There are many things we can do to use fossil energy more effectively, but it's not ethical to try to deny people in developing countries the right to clear their land to grow food and feed themselves.

If you look at a tree, and get rid of the water in it, half of the dry weight of the tree is carbon.

Every time Bill Ritter or Mark Udall promotes more ethanol, they are very likely pumping more Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere than they are ever, in their lifetimes, going to take out.

March 17, 2008

Denver Post Definition of a Tax

One of the really useful things about blogs is that they create a more concise record of interesting speech and writings on the subjects their authors write about than might otherwise exist. If one knows how to use them, they become a poor man's Lexus-Nexus.

If the truth were known, we sometimes write about interesting events and quotes to make them easier to find when we want to use them again.

If Google were easy to use and worked the way we would like, we wouldn't have to use a blog to save interesting quotes. Google has a tendency to only emphasize the most recent writing on a particular subject, burying older quotes dozens of pages down.

Today, in an offhand slap at Andy McElhany, the Denver Post defined a toll as a tax:
Senate Republican leader Andy McElhany of Colorado Springs weighed in last week with his own plan, a $5 around-the-clock toll at the Eisenhower tunnel to raise money to build more traffic lanes.

We confess we're delighted that Andy [ McElhany ], a foe of the Referendum C fiscal rescue, has finally found a tax increase he can love — even if he does call his tax a "toll."

The neat thing about the Denver Post's definition that a toll is a tax is that now it has to argue that all future Bill Ritter "user fee" increases that it might want to support should be under the TABOR umbrella and subject to a vote. If it doesn't do so, the board makes itself look like a bunch of hypocrites. No one would want that, would they?

Blogging is so much fun!

March 14, 2008

There Ought to be a Law

Well, it turns out that there is a law, the Colorado Constitution. The problem is that Bill Ritter is reluctant to follow it. He thinks that he and his allies in the legislature are above the law.

We've written about his problem before. Recall that Bill Ritter appointed a former judge to the Commission on Judicial Discipline and then wanted him seated before he was confirmed. When he couldn't have his way, he wanted to know what was on the agenda of the commission. His minions threatened to sue. Problem is that the Colorado Constitution mandates (ill advisedly) that the Commission operate in secret, even from the Governor. That was a lawsuit that wasn't going anywhere.

Yesterday, both Mount Virtus and Colorado Senate News wrote about Bill Ritter's latest brush with the Colorado Constitution, the TABOR amendment. TABOR stands for Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Many Democrats, including Bill Ritter, think that the taxpayers have no rights.

Last year, Bill Ritter proposed a $1.3 Billion dollar tax "freeze" on property taxes claiming that the money would go to education. The problem is that he didn't want to take his tax increase before the voters as TABOR requires. That created justification for a lawsuit filed by some folks in Mesa County to block the tax freeze.

The whole scheme very likely fell apart yesterday when it was admitted that the money from the tax freeze would not be used for schools. It is hard to see how the courts can avoid falling back on TABOR it the money is just going into the general fund.

Bill Ritter wouldn't have a problem if he just had the self discipline to follow the Colorado Constitution.

March 12, 2008

Mr. Governor, Which Side? Lower Health Care Costs or Enriching Trial Lawyers?

Based on this story today from the Denver Post, Gov. Bill Ritter seems to be taking both sides on a legislative proposal that would line trial lawyers' pockets with cash while raising health care costs for the rest of us:
Amid all the talk at the state Capitol of health care reform and how to lower costs, the most contentious debate so far has been over a bill that most lawmakers hadn't heard of two months ago.

Senate Bill 164, which raises by 56 percent the top award for injured patients who sue doctors and hospitals, is backed by the Senate president, the assistant majority leader in the House and, reportedly, Gov. Bill Ritter.

Despite those endorsements, it could die today as two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee seem unwilling to support the plan amid an opposition campaign to paint the bill as a "payback" for trial lawyers.

"I just think we're probably lining the pockets of attorneys," said Rep. Debbie Stafford, an Aurora Democrat who said she's opposed to the bill.

Rep. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, agreed. She said doctors should have more input into the process.

"We're putting the cart before the horse," Jahn said. "We should bring together all the people involved first."

With Stafford and Jahn poised to vote against the bill, it would fail on a 5-6 vote.
Here's a bill so bad that two sensible Democrats on the committee can detect its fetid smell enough to stand up against it, despite pressure from party leaders.

Stafford and Jahn are not alone:
"It feels like it's being ramrodded through by the trial lawyers," said Sen. Bob Hagedorn of Aurora, the lone Democrat who opposed the bill in the Senate. "I think there were at least two Democrats who would not have supported the bill if there was some other sponsor than the president of the Senate."

Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, voted for the bill but said she was torn. "It was a difficult decision," Boyd said. "There was pressure on both sides of the issue. It's difficult to vote against the president."
If Betty Boyd was feeling conflicted, you know this has to be pretty outrageous legislation.

So where is Bill Ritter on the issue? Depending on whom you talk to, he might be on either side ... or both:
A group called Coloradans for Common Good, funded by Colorado Medical Society and COPIC Insurance Co., which provides medical malpractice insurance to Colorado doctors, has been running a TV commercial against the bill: "Health care just costs too much," an announcer begins in the ad. "Gov. Ritter has a plan to limit our health care bills. But personal injury lawyers have another plan that drives up costs through bigger lawsuits. Who'll pay? All of us."

The ad seems to suggest that Ritter would oppose the bill.

Asked about the bill last week, the Democratic governor said little.

But trial lawyers and Carroll said they received assurances of support from Ritter
before the bill was introduced. [emphasis added]
Bill Ritter could easily clear the air about his position on this trial lawyers' boondoggle. But either he doesn't want to make those trial lawyer friends unhappy, or he really isn't serious about cost-cutting health care reform.

That's some serious indecision, Mr. Governor.

(H/T Go To Mario)

What Ritter Heard At The Governor's Conference

It is instructive to read what Bill Ritter was told at the national governor's conference about nuclear power as a source of green energy. Here is what he heard from three time Pulitzer prize winner Tom Friedman:

I would say a couple of things, Governor. One is, I just came back a couple of weeks ago from the Hague. I was at Royal Dutch Shell. They have an energy scenario team, probably the best in the world.

It's really instructive when you sit down with them. They do a global chart basically of all power generation in the world, breaking down every kind of fuel. And it's kind of interesting. You kind of go down the list. You start with coal, and natural gas, nuclear, whatnot, and you get to wind. Wind, for total global energy generation according to the Shell Scenario Team, is one-tenth of one percent today. Solar doesn't make the list.

On a global basis, it's so small they can't pick it up. And this gets back to the Governor of West Virginia's point. I mean, between now and when we get to that clean fuel future, there are only two ways to fill it in a cleaner way. That is, some kind of cleaner coal and nuclear. At scale, I don't see any other way. So I am personally, I don't want to say a fan, but I have absolutely no problem with it. I weigh the balance of climate change and nuclear, and I think it comes out very much in favor of nuclear. And I think, to answer the points that Jeff has rightly raised, I think the government is going to have to build some of these plants and assume all the risk, at least the first ones, before you're going to get CEOs to bet half their market cap on building on nuclear plant that could be stopped at any point.
But Bill Ritter simply wasn't listening. Here, according to Mike Saccone of the Grand Junction Sentinel is the message he brought back:

[ Bill ] Ritter said he and the other governors who attended the most recent National Governors Association conference in Washington did discuss nuclear power, but did not include it in their near-term vision for cutting national carbon emissions.

When it comes to green energy, we have a bunch of dreamers, not doers, as governors, and Bill Ritter is one of them.

March 10, 2008

A Local REA Election

If Bill Ritter wants to do something useful for the state of Colorado, he might start by telling the truth about the cost renewable energy.

On March 15, 2008, the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association will be having board elections. Three "green" candidates, Roger Alexander, Tim Hurst, and Steve Svabo are running for the board with the claim that they can have renewable energy and keep rates down. That simply cannot be done.

They are supported by a non-profit that appears to be closely connected to one of the candidates, Tim Hurst. When the organization puts out a press release, Tim Hurst is the point of contact.

Tim Hurst is a shameless self promoter, to the point that he says the following on his blog:

I have spent the last several months campaigning for a seat on the Board of Directors of my co-op, the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association. But instead of me telling you about it, I will let others do the talking for me. Below are excerpts from a media statement released by the non-profit PV-Pioneers...

He goes on to quote his own organization's press release about himself and the others:

This is an opportunity to join other utilities who are saving money by making smart investments in efficiency, wind and solar power and who are passing savings to their customers."
As far as we can determine, the true cost of wind is at least two and one half times as much as coal and the cost of solar is six times the cost of coal.

These three candidates think that they can steal the election, and they might be able to do just that. They say that on average, just 2% of the 33,000 voters vote in the election.

This might seem to be a long way from the subject one might expect to find in a blog on Bill Ritter, but we don't think so. Bill Ritter regularly tries to mislead the public about renewable energy and its costs, so why shouldn't these three do the same?

March 9, 2008

Toxic Green

The Washington Post today examines the pollution costs of solar cell production. The Chinese are literally dumping poison into fields outside their polysilicon factories, sometimes at the rate of ten truckloads a day.

With the prices of oil and coal soaring, policymakers around the world are looking at massive solar farms to heat water and generate electricity. For the past four years, however, the world has been suffering from a shortage of polysilicon -- the key component of sunlight-capturing wafers -- driving up prices of solar energy technology and creating a barrier to its adoption.

With the price of polysilicon soaring from $20 per kilogram to $300 per kilogram in the past five years, Chinese companies are eager to fill the gap...

Because of the environmental hazard, polysilicon companies in the developed world recycle the compound, putting it back into the production process. But the high investment costs and time, not to mention the enormous energy consumption required for heating the substance to more than 1800 degrees Fahrenheit for the recycling, have discouraged many factories in China from doing the same. Like Luoyang Zhonggui, other solar plants in China have not installed technology to prevent pollutants from getting into the environment...

Since the companies don't want to pay for the equipment and energy necessary to produce the product in an environmentally safe way, they dump as many as ten truckloads of the waste on the ground outside their compound each day.

Shi, chief executive of Pro-EnerTech, a start-up polysilicon research firm in Shanghai, said that there's such a severe shortage of polysilicon that the government is willing to overlook this issue for now.

"If this happened in the United States, you'd probably be arrested," he said.

The more we learn about the energy and pollution cost involved in the production of solar cells, the less "green" it looks.

Before Bill Ritter tries to push the Colorado economy down this road, before he tries to make Colorado jobs dependent on this level of pollution, he and Mark Udall need to publicly acknowledge the level of damage they and their environmentalist allies are doing to the the name of the environment.

March 7, 2008

Creeping Closer Each Day - A Grim Future

The Fort Collins Coloradoan is all aglow about "renewable." About Bill Ritter, they say:

Gov. Bill Ritter is banking his first term as governor, and some say a successful re-election, on what he has dubbed the state’s “New Energy Economy” which promotes Colorado as a renewable energy hub.
It ends the piece with:

The renewable horizon seems to be creeping closer each day. Stay tuned…
So, what can we expect? Take a look at Washington State, which passed a draconian bill this week:

The measure builds on a law that passed last year. That underlying measure set targets to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020; to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035; and to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 _ or 70 percent below what is currently predicted for 2050.

The bill that passed Wednesday makes those goals firm requirements.
Bill Ritter seems to lack common sense on this issue and so do the folks in Washington state. An opponent said:

Washington officials are also authorized to work with the Western Climate Initiative, a partnership of six states and two Canadian provinces, in developing a regional cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the West.

"They're gonna tell you what size car you're gonna drive, when you're gonna drive it, what size house you'll live in, how big that house is gonna be, and how much electricity you're going to use," said Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland.
Of course, nuclear power is not "green:"

Lawmakers rejected more than a dozen proposed amendments, including one that would recognize nuclear power as a renewable source of energy.
We have looked into the future of Colorado. It is not green, it is grim.

March 6, 2008

My Personal View on Taxes

The Denver Post is wringing its hands over the fact that the Bill Ritter $500 million "fee" increase is dead until after the election. Not me.

Government needs a reasonable level of taxes to operate. Anyone who lives in a modern society knows that a reasonable sized government brings burdens, but it also brings great benefits that anarchy could never provide.

On the other hand, too big and too powerful a government brings personal and financial danger. If single payer health care comes into existence, people will die because the government decides that it is too expensive to keep them alive. We have zealots pushing a green agenda that don't give a care about keeping energy costs reasonable.

I'm one of those apostate Republicans who voted for Ref C. I wouldn't do it again. It was a mistake. There are too many dishonest politicians in Denver like Bill Ritter who run one fraud after another to collect more money for their pet projects. Their word is worthless.

Bill Ritter would do very well to stop talking about figuring out how to circumvent the constitution to collect every dime possible from the taxpayer (and rate payer) because all it does is rub salt in my own self-inflicted wound.

Bill Ritter needs people like me. His dishonesty has lost this citizen.

March 5, 2008

Governor: Increased Car Fees Idea "Dormant"

The Democrats don't want to have the reputation in an election year of increasing fees on everything imaginable as a way of circumventing TABOR after all. They wanted Republicans to take some of the heat. When Rep. Joe Rice, (D-Littleton) couldn't find a Republican co-sponsor, he drooped the idea of increasing car registration fees.

The Denver Post is reporting that that the idea is "dormant."

[ Bill ] Ritter "challenged lawmakers to pick up the ball and move it down the field," said his spokesman, Evan Dreyer. "At this time, there doesn't appear to be any movement."

The Republicans are tired of being the legislative victims of the old bait and switch con game:

Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, called the fee increase a "nonstarter for us from the beginning."

"Until we fully protect the dollars we have going to transportation right now, we can't start a new conversation," he said, speaking for Republicans who are fed up with transportation dollars being "siphoned" for other departments.

March 4, 2008

Ritter's Education "Reform" A Bit Too "Un"Formed

Gov. Bill Ritter's proposal to overhaul the public school system is meeting with cautious support among education groups.

But education leaders said the hard part will be filling in details of the sketchy plan, which Ritter and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, have termed "revolutionary."

"Sketchy" plan? Doesn't that sound a little bit like a "Dangerous Scheme?"

Here's my problem with this: NOBODY knows what is in this plan. Even the educators who are being asked to "give input" aren't sure what this plan actually is.

"There's not a lot of clarity about what teachers need, what principals need in terms of training and professional development and resources to complete the revolution," said Bruce Caughey, deputy director of the Colorado Association of School Executives,

But, thank God, there's a solution: ANOTHER panel (though nobody's attached "Blue Ribbon" to it yet).

Under the bill, an 11-member "preschool to postsecondary alignment council" will devise a definition of readiness for either college or the work force.

Whew. So at least we got that going for us.

So let me get this straight: the Governor has started circulating, in effect, a blank piece of paper to education advocacy groups (I'm an educator, and I haven't seen this, so I'm thinking it's only going out to unions) which will create a panel which will define one word from which new education policy will flow.

Does anybody else see a problem with this?

In principle, I like the idea: schools should start to recognize that not all kids are college bound, and should start preparing them accordingly. Also, the bill's co-sponsor is Josh Penry (R), who has never yet given me reason to doubt his fealty to conservative ideas.

But when your first, mostly empty draft is distributed to the unions first, I think you're bound to end up with something that STOPS resembling reform and starts resembling job protection. And besides, since when did it make sense to ask people who have never been without a ten-week summer vacation what sort of skills people need in the "real world?"

When you ask people who work in schools what kids need to know, you get school kinds of answers," Wilensky said.

"That's not what we want to make as the universal standard for everybody, because most people aren't going to work in schools. So what is it you need to know in real life?" Wilensky said.


[cross-posted at BestDestiny]

March 3, 2008

Governing by Committee

Upon seeing this cartoon the other day, I had a good chuckle. Thanks to the artist Benjamin Hummel for the permission to repost it here:

If there's anything for which our current governor has a proclivity, it's hiding behind the decisions of well-crafted panels, councils, and commissions. It's interesting to note how the "blue ribbon panel" has been a recurring theme here at Ritter Watch:

In November we wrote: "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."

Later we clued readers into this report: "Governor Bill Ritter's 32-member blue-ribbon panel is recommending a $100 average increase in vehicle registration fees as part of its $1.5 billion plan to pay for much-needed transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvements."

It's not just transportation, but education, too.

Sometimes, though, a good picture really does tell the story better. So hats off to Hummel for his clever cartoon - we invite you to check out all his work on his site.

Ratepayer's Chump Award

Recall that in January Bill Ritter went to Fort Carson to present his Governor's Renewable Energy Award to the post for its 2 megawatt solar array? Recall also that Bill Ritter recently appointed Matt Baker, a vocal opponent of coal powered electrical generation to the Public Utilities Commission.

There is a reason that Matt Baker is on a board that has traditionally protected rate payers from unreasonable rate hikes, and that reason is that Governor Bill Ritter wants utility rates to go through the roof to fund his solar economy boondoggle.

While the Fort Carson award was a great publicity stunt for the Bill Ritter, it was not such a good deal for Colorado Springs rate payers. Calling it "not such a good deal" is a major understatement. Colorado Springs rate payers appear to be on the hook to subsidize Fort Carson utility bills for years to come. That's not the way it is supposed to work.

This, including the Matt Baker appointment was predictable. A February 22 Denver Symposium on Global Warming keynote speaker zeroed in on the problem:

Bill Schroeder, the lunch and keynote speaker, did an outstanding job of presenting the position that utilities are being put because of "green" legislation. Of course, the costs of generating electricity will go up, which means that consumer's utility bills will also go up. Mr. Schroeder is a former member of the Colorado State Legislature.

Colorado has a bunch of lawyers running the state. It would do much better if it had fewer lawyers and more businessmen in key positions. Meanwhile, those folks who voted for Bill Ritter get to pay for the ratepayer's chump award. Unfortunately, those who didn't also get to pay for it, too.

March 1, 2008

Ritter Has No Respect For The Constitution

Once again, Bill Ritter demonstrated his contempt for the Colorado Constitution. He spoke to the Colorado News Editors and Publishers at their annual convention on Thursday:

He said state lawmakers could increase severance taxes or reduce the tax credits. If lawmakers don't act, others are willing to put a measure on the ballot to collect more money from Colorado's booming energy economy.
He seems to believe that the legislature has the power to change tax policy and tax rates without going to the people. It doesn't.

Instead of asking the legislature to send a referendum to the people on the subject, he sought to try to force legislators to act unconstitutionally with the following statement:

"If we decide to do nothing at all, there are going to be people out there that I think will push the agenda anyway. The question becomes where you dedicate the money, and that's also a very lively conversation. We have very significant needs around higher education funding, and we have significant needs around transportation funding, and those certainly are on the list. There are people who think we should pursue a health care agenda with severance taxes, others who say we should pursue a K-12 agenda, some who say it should be about open space and another crowd that says it should be about renewable energy,"

Bill Ritter is a lawyer with a lawyer's contempt for the law.

CBS4Denver has more.

Added: We may have been victimized by poor reporting by CBS4Denver. The Durango Herald has a different take:

Gov. Bill Ritter and legislative leaders will decide by next month whether to ask voters to raise taxes on the gas and oil industry.

If there is a lesson here, it is that Bill Ritter has destroyed his credibility about his willingness to follow the Constitution with the property tax "freeze." We and others are willing to believe the worst about him when it comes to taxes.

February 29, 2008

Just a Delay, Not an Outcome Change

The six Bill Ritter appointees to the oil and gas commission will not be voted on immediately, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel:

Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, in an attempt to appease several Republican lawmakers, said the Senate will not take up its final confirmation vote for Grand Junction ecologist Richard Alward and five others until mid-March.

“We had a couple members that felt like they didn’t get their questions answered,” Isgar said. “They felt like we were rushed on time.”

Isgar said delaying the final vote on [ Bill ] Ritter’s six nominees until March 14 will allow the senators to send written questions to the nominees.

This is a matter of form. The Democrats are playing power politics.

Bill Ritter Made To Look A Fool

Two weeks ago, Jim Martin, Bill Ritter's executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment exposed himself in the Denver Post as a part of the Big Blue Lie Machine:

Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and one of the plan's authors, said the carbon dioxide/global warming connection is widely accepted as scientific fact.

"You could have a convention of all the scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth," he said.

This week, Bill Ritter's go to climate guy was called a liar by name in New York climate conference hosted by the Heartland Institute. Joe Bast made the opening statement:

Welcome to the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, the first major international conference devoted to answering questions overlooked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

More than 400 people, including 100 speakers and panelists, have registered for this event. They will be addressing such questions as:

>how reliable are the data used to document the recent warming trend?
>how much of the modern warming is natural, and how much is likely the result of human activities?
>how reliable are the computer models used to forecast future climate conditions?

Obviously, these are important questions. Yet they are given short shrift by the IPCC and in the public debate over global warming.

Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, recently told the Denver Post, “You could have a convention of all the scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth.”

That is a lie that we hope this conference will finally put to rest, for good.

The scientists attending this conference come from a dozen countries, including Australia, Canada, England, France, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden. They have published in every leading scientific journal in the world. They have stood up to political correctness and defended the scientific method at a time when doing so threatens their research grants, tenure, and ability to get published. This conference is their opportunity to be heard.”

Bill Ritter and Colorado are made to look backward and foolish when these kinds of obviously false statements are made by individuals on the public payroll. Jim Martin has provided a quote that might well outlive him.

February 28, 2008

Ritter's Approaching "Health Care Quandary" May Lead to Butt Covering

Yesterday our fellow blogger highlighted Gov. Ritter's "health care quandary," as SB 164, a piece of legislation proposing to raise the amount of legal damages on doctors, moves forward. It is clear that signing this bill into law will certainly "drive the costs of health insurance higher and higher." Yet I don't think lining trial-lawyers' pockets was the kind of health-care reform Coloradans elected Ritter to enact.

Well, today the State Senate passed SB 164 by a single vote, pushing the costly proposal closer to the governor's desk. It still has to pass the House.

So the quandary remains: Will Ritter give in to the lawyers' lobby and sign the bill, or will he hold fast and work toward sensible solutions to hold down the cost of health insurance? Perhaps the governor can find inspiration from an elected member of his own party:
One of the most prominent Senate Democrat voices on health-care issues broke ranks with his party to criticize the measure. Sen. Bob Hagedorn, of Aurora, said the bill's likely effect of raising doctors' liability premiums would be only "the tip of the iceberg." Hagedorn said the bill also would lead to the practice of "defensive medicine"--duplicative tests that are not needed but serve to shield doctors from lawsuits.

"This is not necessarily better medical care, but it sure is more costly medical care," Hagedorn said. "Physicians will look for more ways to cover their butts."
If Ritter ends up signing SB 164, he may be busy covering his, too.

February 27, 2008

Destroying Colorado's Economy and Values One Commissioner Appointment At A Time

Bill Ritter got himself elected by promising to be pro business. He is not.

When it comes to destroying the Colorado economy and Colorado values, Bill Ritter won't be doing his own dirty work. He does it by appointing anti-economy commissioners to the public commissions so that they can work below the radar.

Bill Ritter appointed anti-coal plant activist Matt Baker to the Public Utilities Commission. Baker's not so secret goal is to try to drive up the costs of cheap coal so that his favored means of electrical production can compete.

Bill Ritter appointed a former judge, Federico C. Alvarez to the Commission on Judicial Discipline over the staunch objections of the chairman of that commission. John Holcomb, a University of Denver law professor and 13- year member of the commission, opined that having 5 judges or former judges on the commission would destroy its credibility.

Now, Bill Ritter has appointed six new anti-oil and gas advocates to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Democrat Senator Chris Romer reportedly is concerned with the nominees. The Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said while he will support Ritter’s nominees, it is “with a lot of caution.”

Romer said the worst tax any business can incur is uncertainty.

“I would just ask you to be very, very thoughtful about the level of uncertainty you stir up,” Romer said.

Bill Ritter's Health Care Quandary

We will be more than a little curious to see if Bill Ritter signs the latest gift to the trial lawyers, SB 164.

If Bill Ritter signs this bill, he will be talking out of both sides of his mouth on health care. He decries the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured in Colorado and then works with lawyers in the legislature to drive the costs of health insurance higher and higher.

What does he expect?

Today's Gazette has an exceptionally good editorial on the subject. They end it profoundly:

It is mathematically impossible for the Legislature to give us more affordable health care, and at the same time give trial lawyers this gift of inflated awards. The causes are diametrically opposed to one another. If politicians tell you we can have it both ways, tell them they’re lying or confused.

February 26, 2008

Global Warming - British Style

We thought we would give Bill Ritter a short and well deserved break to explore global warming in Britian.

Yes, the global warming fanatics are hard at work in the British Isles. And, just like here in the good old US of A, the fear mongering is being fueled by "charities."

Ed Pomfret, of the Woodland Trust, which is one of 11 charities behind the booklet, said: "This is very much a wake-up call to those people who perhaps have not taken the climate change messages seriously - a new approach that we hope will hit home.

Just as in the US, the message is scary and a bit disjointed:

Wetland habitats such as the Pevensey Levels and the Cuckmere Haven river estuary also could dry out, flood or disappear because of rising sea levels.

Bringing this comment from a reader:

Good grief. So it'll get wetter, drier, or cease to exist entirely? Don't tell me... it's also going to get either warmer or colder. With reporting like this it's little surprise that not everyone takes the matter entirely seriously.

Unfortunately, the British Government is taking it seriously:

The booklet, which is being funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs states that any increase in the global average temperature above 2C will be catastrophic.

It argues that the world's wealthiest countries will have to cut their carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.

This is well beyond the Government's own target.

The Climate Change Bill, now going through Parliament, will commit the Government to cut emissions by only 60 per cent by 2050, although this is under review.

Bill Ritter is obviously a piker!

February 25, 2008

Who Will Be Bill Ritter's Willie Horton

It appears that Bill Ritter has appointed a new parole board whose mandate is to open the prison doors. They claim that there is no mandate, but Bill Ritter has a history of acting in secret against the public interest.

We think that it is not too early to be wondering who Bill Ritter's Willie Horton will be and what he will do.

February 24, 2008

Bill Ritter's Silence

Nice people that the environmentalists are, they have put together four initiatives that hog to themselves the potential billions of dollars of severance taxes that will flow from increased oil and gas prices and Colorado production.

One of their proposals calls for a 10% increase in those taxes in an obvious attempt to stifle production and collect fewer taxes.

The Denver Post wrote a nice editorial that politely said "hands off."

The environmental groups say they are willing to listen to suggestions from higher education advocates. We count ourselves in that category, but we're less interested in proposing new funding formulas than in getting this issue back into the forum it belongs, the legislature. Indeed, some statehouse watchers believe the environmentalists filed their initiatives in part to pressure the legislature to come up with an alternative.

We know that key lawmakers have been thinking hard about a severance tax proposal that would benefit transportation, higher education or possibly both.

Six days ago, the Rocky Mountain News said about the subject:

Just say no, governor. Tell the environmental groups that have filed several initiatives to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry on behalf of their favorite causes that you'll actively campaign against any such measure that makes the ballot.

Better yet, say it publicly - just so they're sure you're not bluffing.

What does Bill Ritter have to say? We quote and underline for emphasis: "___________!"

We are reminded that that paragon of liberal virtue, Colorado Media Matters, castigated the Denver Post when it quoted Bob Beauprez as saying that he would have hit the ground running, more so than Bill Ritter has. Now we see why Bob Beauprez would say that.

February 20, 2008

Bill Ritter: Progressive or Brutally Regressive?

Bill Ritter would like his allies to believe that he is a progressive politician. That isn't the tag he would like to be used to publicly describe his policies because it is associated with far left wing politics. "Progressive" is a dirty word in Colorado politics.

We're starting to look at the policies that he proposes, and almost all of them have hidden regressive features about them. Some are quite ugly, to the point of being brutal:

If Bill Ritter raises fees on automobiles by $100 per year, that burden falls disproportionately on lower income citizens. A family that can afford three cars can easily afford $300 but a family that is on the edge and needs the single car they own to go to work cannot.

If Bill Ritter forces the young and healthy to purchase health insurance, the costs will fall disproportionately on less educated and thus poorly paid workers just starting out in life. Well educated young people likely already have health insurance through their employment. Only low income, less educated young people feel they can take a chance to duck the costs of health insurance.

Bill Ritter is forcing the utilities to pay much higher costs for coal plants in the hope of forcing them to move to renewables. Who pays a disproportionately higher part of their income for utilities, the poor or the wealthy? Who will disproportionately bear the costs of Bill Ritter's feel good environmental policies?

It seems very likely that Bill Ritter will go down as one of the most agressive regulators, most aggressive taxers, and the most regressive governors in Colorado history.

February 19, 2008

Update on Yesterday's Manure Post

The Gazette is reporting that Saturday's small scale test of a new pollution control device that scrubs out nitrogen oxide, sulfur, and may scrub out carbon dioxide was a success.

“Our first live test Saturday at the Drake Power Plant . . . greatly exceeded expectations in terms of its ability to capture pollutants,” [Inventor David ] Neumann said. “We showed that it could capture approximately 90 percent of the sulfur pollutants from the flue gas using only tap water as a capture fluid."

The invention could revolutionize the power industry because standards for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions will be toughened in coming years. Though control technology exists for nitrogen oxide and particulates, none exists for sulfur.

Read more here.

Recall that Bill Ritter is committed to eliminating coal fired electrical generating plants and has appointed a committed environmentalist foe of coal, Matt Baker, to the PUC for that purpose. Not so fast, please, Governor.

Ritter Avoids Responsibility for Tax Hike Policy, Hides Behind the "Children" Again

From Mike Saccone's Political Notebook in Grand Junction:
Republican state lawmakers plan to have a counter-proposal to Gov. Bill Ritter’s mill levy freeze ready and introduced in the Legislature by the end of the month.

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said he and Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, plan to introduce their referred measure “soon” to reverse the governor’s property tax, education-funding measure.

(The referred measure should also, even if only for a day, return voters’ attention to one of the more igneous policies of the 2007 legislative session. Republican Greeley Sen. Scott Renfroe’s Senate Bill 137 did the same thing earlier this month.)

“We’re going to be entering the school finance act debate soon,” Gardner said, “and they are going to try and spent $118 million that may not belong to the state of Colorado.”

Gardner said he would love to wait until Mesa County’s lawsuit against the state gets resolved, but the voters cannot “afford that.”

“If we could do a special election on this, we’d do it in a heartbeat,” Gardner said.

Evan Dreyer, spokesman for the governor, said the Legislature already addressed the mill levy freeze last year.

“Gov. Ritter is governing. The Legislature is legislating,” Dreyer said. “We are acting in the best interest of Colorado’s school children.”
[Emphasis added]
Hardly a surprise, when the governor doesn't even want to entertain the possibility that he might have been wrong in raising property taxes without a vote. Instead of taking mature, responsible ownership of a constitutionally questionable (at best) policy, he hides behind the false moral superiority of "acting in the best interest of Colorado’s school children."

Admitting mistakes doesn't seem to be in the Ritter playbook.

February 18, 2008

Bill Ritter & Horse Manure

OK, we admit it. We had fun writing the title to this essay, and yet there is a connection that we wouldn't have thought of but for a Sunday editorial in The Gazette.

Entrepreneurialism, inspired by profit and good will, has long improved environmental conditions. In just the past decade, modern ice melting chemicals have cleaned up the Front Range brown cloud, largely caused by road sand. Before the car, as economist Nobel Laureate Robert Fogel pointed out, horse manure built up on the streets of large American cities. Dried, pulverized manure particulate floated through the air, causing deadly diseases. The invention of the internal-combustion engine, today considered a polluter in its own right, saved us from deadly airborne manure.

Innovation, unlike regulation, typically turns up green — in more ways than one. Neumann’s invention could be the latest proof.

When push comes to shove, and well before that, Bill Ritter is the regulation governor. He is determined to eradicate coal burning electric plants through regulation or he wouldn't have appointed a regulator, Matt Baker, who was determined to do so to the PUC.

The Gazette's editorial was about a new invention to scrub pollutants from coal fired plants, apparently including carbon emmissions. It was a waste of ink. For those who recall what happened to nuclear energy, once it was demonized, it was never again acceptable to the environmentalists, no matter how safe it could be. The same thing is happening to coal.

More Ethanol, Less Alcohol

The next time you drink to Bill Ritter's ill-advised attempt to convert Colorado to an ethanol society, make it a Bud.

So much land is being converted to corn production for corn ethanol that the more mundane crops are being ignored. One of those crops is Hops, used in great quantities to make specialty beers.

The Colorado Springs Gazette is reporting that your favorite specialty beer will cost you a dollar more a six pack and 50 cents more a pint because of the Hops shortage.

It turns out that cheaper, mass produced beers don't use many Hops, so their prices won't be going up. Switch to Bud or pay more.

As long as we are covering price dislocations, expect to pay more for beef and pork for the same reason.

February 17, 2008

Trip Report

Paul Chesser will obviously be keeping his eye on Colorado as well he should. He points out that Bill Ritter's unaccountable cabinet level climate czar, Heidi Van Genderen, was once in the CU Wirth Chair in environmental and community development policy.

She has been replaced in that position by former Senator Gary Hart. Old left wing politicians never die, they just find a well paid position and laugh at the public as they rake in six figure salaries.

Most politicians have career photos on their office walls. We wonder if Hart has the guts to keep the iconic Monkey Business photo of Donna Rice on the wall behind his desk:

We had to chuckle at the first three comments on Chesser's post. Speechless!

February 16, 2008

Arrogant Ritter and Democrats Set to Spend Your Money Before Courts Rule

The Denver Post reports that legislative Democrats killed a bill that would have set up a rainy day fund from the dollars generated by Gov. Bill Ritter's legally challenged property tax hike:
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said the state needs to set aside the money in case it loses a lawsuit backed by a conservative group that argues the freeze is unconstitutional.

"If that happens, local school districts will probably have to repay the taxpayers for money the state collected on their behalf," Renfroe said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. "And they don't have that money. Which means the state is going to have to help them do that."

Ritter pushed a plan through the legislature last year that kept mill levies — the rate at which businesses and homeowners are assessed property tax — from falling when property values rose, as they normally would have under state law.

Initial estimates were that the freeze would generate $1.74 billion, but the latest figures put the amount at nearly double, $3.8 billion.

Ritter has said the additional money should be used to fund preschool and full-day kindergarten programs.

"We're moving ahead," said Evan Dreyer, the governor's spokesman. "We're confident that we will prevail in court if the lawsuit proceeds."

A group of taxpayers, organized by the conservative Independence Institute, filed suit in December, claiming the freeze violated state law requiring voters to approve tax increases. [emphasis added]
A little arrogant? Ritter raises your property taxes without asking your permission first, gets called on it - then when a proposal is introduced to set the money aside until the courts can clarify whether the move was constitutional, the Governor and his buddies shoot it down.

Clearly Ritter and Colorado Democrats believe your money belongs to them. They may also believe the Democrat-friendly Colorado Supreme Court will ignore the constitution and bail them out:
[Legal analyst Jason] Dunn believes the plaintiffs’ case is strong, but believes the results are less certain if the case reaches the state’s highest judicial body.

“The Supreme Court has shown great distaste for TABOR,” he said. “It’s hard to predict what will happen at that level.”
It's sure easy for Ritter and Company to be cocky, as long as they think not enough Coloradans are paying attention. When people do wake up to what's happening, it will not be pretty for the current Democratic administration.

February 15, 2008

Doing Yourself a GIANT Favor

If you want to inform yourself as to the sleazy and frightening way that Bill Ritter's Climate Plan came into being, invest 30 minutes of your time to watch tonight's Independent Thinking rerun at 5:30 on KBDI.

Paul Chesser is Jon Caldera's guest.

It is scary when an agenda driven non-profit can come into Colorado and hijack the process to the point that our climate plan is a close cookie cutter version of the plans produced in 20 other states by this same non-profit. How does it serve the public when they produce a list of mandates that they want imposed without any requirement for cost-benefit analysis or any proof that their draconian mandates impact the climate in any way?

Is Bill Ritter so corrupted by the environmentalist extremists and so inept a manager that he sees no need for a cost benefit analysis on any of these proposals?

No matter your position on the political spectrum, this could be the most important 30 minutes you spend in 2008.

February 14, 2008

Doing Some Thinking About Climate Change

We've written elsewhere about Paul Chesser coming to town and awakening us to what the environmentalist extremists like Bill Ritter and Mark Udall have in store for us, our children, and our grandchildren.

Imagine a world without energy. It's not hard to do. Man survived at a subsistence level for centuries without energy. Oh, there was the occasional wind or water powered grist mill, but candles lit the night. Even kerosene lamps didn't come into wide use until the late 1800's. Trains weren't really a part of our transportation world until the mid 1800's and if one wanted to travel very far off the tracks, he walked or relied on real horsepower.

All of the modern conveniences that we take for granted require power.

Not many years ago, PBS had several series that illustrated how hard it is to live a life without the conveniences that power brings us. They included one on an 1870's Texas ranch and a 1900's London household. The women had servants in both because it wasn't possible to live well without help. Even with servants, it is hard to describe what they were doing as living well.

What does this have to do with Bill Ritter and Mark Udall? With few exceptions, the generation of power also generates greenhouse gases. If one ignores that water vapor is a greenhouse gas, the exceptions are hydroelectric, but environmentalists want to dismantle dams, and nuclear, which the environmentalists won't abide.

Every other form of renewable energy produces at least some greenhouse gasses, either directly as with biofuels, or when its components are being manufactured and assembled. Bill Ritter and Mark Udall have bought into the extremist goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gasses from current levels by 2050.

When one considers that the US and Colorado population will double by that time, Bill Ritter and Mark Udall are advocating that power and transportation be rationed at a rate of about 10% of the rate we use today, per capita.

For some reason, the Al Gore's, the Bill Ritter's, and the Mark Udall's of the world have a great nostalgia for 19th century living standards. They want shove the majority of the nation's population back to that era. They would have a special place in this hellhole for themselves. Like the Russian commissars of the 20th century, they expect their wealth and political power to help them avoid the consequences of their own propaganda.

Ask Al Gore, who lives in a house that consumes ten times as much power as the average household. There will be the Al Gores in 2050, too. Some of them will be named Ritter and Udall.

Paul Chesser has more.

February 13, 2008

Fighting A Rear Guard Action, Weakly

With much fanfare, Bill Ritter assembled a coalition to fight bark beetles. It is too little, too late as Ritter, himself admitted:

Ritter said there is no way to stop the beetle infestation, which has destroyed more than 1.5 million acres of lodge pole pines over the past decade and could wipe them out in three to five years.

At no time did Bill Ritter acknowledge that the devestation was caused in large part by the obstinate refusal of the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club to allow the forest service to be proactive. He also was careful not to admit that those two organizations and their bought and paid for Boulder Congressman, Mark Udall, will stand in the way of preparing fire breaks in the dead forests that would keep a fire from burning more than a few thousand acres.

When Mark Udall and Bill Ritter talk about fire breaks, they mean localized fire breaks near mountain towns, and nothing else.

Even if Mark Udall refuses to walk the walk, he can certainly talk the talk, and he managed to get a quote into the paper:

Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he would work with the task force to iron out any federal issues.

"We need to work together at the federal, state, local and private level to address the potential impacts of bark beetles, vegetative overgrowth, fire threats, tourist impacts, energy production and creating future healthy forest conditions on our forested landscapes," Udall said

February 11, 2008

Hillman: An End Run on Taxpayers

Former acting treasurer Mark Hillman writes about the end run around the taxpayers being run by Bill Ritter:

Republicans wouldn’t have dreamed of this storyline, but for the second time in less than a year, Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter is proposing a major tax increase.

And just like last time, he doesn’t want to let you vote on it.

Taxpayers who have just received their property tax bill could be forgiven for mistaking last year’s tax "freeze" for a tax hike. After all, when the legislature and the governor pass a new law that causes you to pay more than you would have otherwise, most people understandably think their taxes have been raised.

But since your taxes were "frozen," you don’t get to vote – even though the Taxpayers Bill of Rights in the state constitution says you should. (If only you had a law degree or a union membership, it would all make perfect sense.)

Now the governor [ Bill Ritter ] wants to pull a similar legal slight of hand on the cost of renewing license plates on your vehicle.

Read more

February 7, 2008

Cory Voorhis Going to Trial

There is an exceedingly interesting but very long set of comments at the bottom of a Denver Post article on the outcome of the Voorhis pre-trial hearing. The quotes are more informative than the article. We bring part of them here in the hope that others will read all of them:

I'm not classifying Bill Ritter as the "victim". The CBI did that on their own. He is officially listed in their investigative reports as the victim.

I'm not Cory's father, brother, son, or any other relative. I realize that these defenses will be used at trial. And the reality is that it is my opinion, and my opinion only, that it will be difficult, if not impossible for the US Attorney to obtain a conviction.

FACT: There have been in excess of 5,000 pages of discovery turned over to the defense. Do you have any idea of how much investigative effort has been put forth to generate that much paper? And at what cost to the taxpayer? This is a MISDEMEANOR charge and not a felony. It could have easily been handled by ICE administratively as a disciplinary action or adverse action. But instead, it's been made into a, pardon the pun. "Federal Case".

FACT: Judge Kane stated from the bench that he believed Voorhis did not access NCIC or CCIC for an authorized purpose. I didn't make this up. The judge said it in open court. That is tantamount to the judge saying that Cory Voorhis is guilty before he's had a trial and before the jury of his peers has gotten to make that determination on their own. The Constitution guarantees a presumption of innocence. For a District Court Judge to pronounce prior to the commencement of a trial that he believes that the defendant who stands before him is guilty runs contrary to that presumption