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.