Colorado Ballot Guide - I did the homework so you don't have to

I doubt anyone much cares how I’m voting on the less well-known stuff on the Colorado ballot given that they probably don’t care that much how they cast their own vote!

But on the off chance that I can be helpful, here’s my quick guide on how I voted on the stuff that’s not in the headlines all that much.

Congress District 1

My counter-culture tendencies would like to vote for the Libertarian just because there’s absolutely no hope that anyone other than the Democrat will win in this district. (That’s why I’m voting yes on Y and Z - more on that below.)

But I’m going to vote for Diana DeGette because she’s a proud graduate of Denver South High School, where I went and where my son is going now.

 

Secretary of State

It’s going to be a blue wave this year, no doubt about it. The one guy who might survive is Wayne Williams. I think we have a pretty good tradition in Colorado of keeping politics out of this office, so I’m voting for Williams because he was smart enough to hire the incomparable Lynn Bartles.

 

Colorado Court of Appeals

I actually read the Blue Book for each of the judges, and there was only one who didn’t get a unanimous nod from the State Commission on Judicial Performance: Elizabeth L. Harris. So, that’s enough for a no vote from me. 

From the Blue Book: “Sometimes she unnecessarily reexamines facts and lower courts’ reasoning, which reduces her efficiency and which may create a perception that she is unfair. Lack of timeliness also has been a problem...”

All the rest of them got a unanimous nod, so they all get a Yes vote.

And if I could vote twice, I would for Kerri Lombardi for District court. Is it because I once covered a trial where she was an excellent prosecutor? Maybe a little bit. Actually, the real reason is that she’s another proud graduate of Denver South High School! Is there no end to the glory of that place? ;-)

Denver South High School

That’s Denver South High School in the background. 

 

Amendment V

Change the age for serving in the Legislature from 25 to 21? 

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Whatevs.

Brain development and full rational thinking is just not in place until we hit about 25, experts say

So, that’s a no vote from me.

(Even my son — who’s an intern at the legislature, and would be a wonderful elected official, said that he thinks legislators could use some more impulse control, and he’s studied the science enough to know that even he won’t have full use of that until he is 25 — urges a no vote.)

 

Amendment W

Change the format for the ballot for judicial retention elections.

Really? We have to vote on this? Isn’t this up to some underpaid staffer running MS Word in the bill room?

Mmmkay. I’ll vote yes.

 

Amendment X

Industrial Hemp? What?

Luckily, the swell team at Ballotpedia has a page on this one. The thing I looked for was that Jon Becker was in favor, as was just about everyone else in the statehouse. If they all looked at it and are fine with it, than I am, too. 

Yes.

 

Amendments Y and Z

I may be more passionate about these two than anything else this year in Colorado.

A big part of the reason that politics is so screwed up right now is that the congressional districts are gerrymandered so that the entire race is the primary. Only the extreme edges of the spectrum show up for those, so the race is to see who can out-crazy everyone else.

Then the general election comes and those of us nearer the middle wonder where we got these loony candidates.

These two amendments will take a step toward fixing that.

Two big YES votes on these two.

 

Amendment A

Slavery, as the saying goes, is our country’s original sin.

Can we please pass this? It won’t absolve us, but it needs to be a part of our path to absolution.

 

Amendment 73

I have good friends on both sides of this, but for me I’m voting yes.

  • Money does NOT make for a good education, but a good education is impossible without money.
  • This will make all the TABOR mess even messier. Well, maybe we should fix that?
  • The tax falls more heavily on the rich, who should be doing really well because of the Trump tax cuts, so they won’t even notice it, right?

 

Amendment 74

While reading the text of Amendment 74, I kept thinking of this:

  Itsatrap

So, that’s gonna be a hard pass. 

No on Amendment 74.

 

Amendment 75

This is the one about campaign contributions. If someone donates $1 million to themselves, then all the other limits go out the window.

This is a thoughtful amendment, and it may actually help.

But this is a constitutional amendment, so if it has some unintended consequence, well, we’re screwed.

So I’m a no vote, just barely.

 

Proposition 109

This is the one is trying a bit too hard to be clever, with the whole “Fix our damn roads” name and the idea that there is a magical way to pay for roads without raising taxes.

I was tempted to vote yes because I think this throws another bomb into the TABOR mess (we really should fix that) and because, well, I wish we could fix the damn roads.

But there’s a lot of damn stuff that needs fixing, including dams.

(Reminds me of a joke: What did the fish say when he ran into a concrete wall?

“Darn!”)

I think the legislature needs to do its damn job, and decide how to spend tax dollars. We elect them to make the hard calls between roads, schools, prisons, etc. I say we let them do that job, and we’ll stay out of the way.

I’m a no vote on 109.

 

Proposition 110

This is the other roads one, but it’s done the right way. It comes from the Chamber of Commerce, which isn’t exactly a tax-and-spend kind of group. 

If we want roads to be better, we should stand up and say that we will pay for the roads to be better, and that’s what this does.

Yes on 110.

 

Proposition 111

Payday loans. Why hasn’t the legislature fixed this?

My hunch is that the people who make fistfuls of blood money making these predatory loans have spread just enough of it around that it has kept lawmakers from taking action.

When the legislature can’t get the job done, it’s up to us.

Vote yes on 111.

 

Proposition 112

This one has gotten enough press, so you are going to have to make up your own mind about this.

Luckily, this one is a change to the statute, not the constitution, so even if it does pass, the legislature will be able to fix it, or get rid of it entirely.

 

I hope this has been of some help.

Voting is one of the great honors we have, and I hope that everyone reading this does vote, and then checks to make sure all their friends and family are doing the same.

-Scott


Won't I get a reputation for being soft on turkeys?

I think President Obama gave some nice remarks, and delivered his laugh lines well, and was cute with his daughters. For all the blather, it's clear that the president is a truly decent guy.

And his remarks about how Thanksgiving started during the depths of the Civil War really resonate in this year, with so many people struggling and so many troops overseas. He just put it all in perspective.

But there's really no better turkey-pardoning bit of drama than this one:


Little Goebbels?

So, someone from Team Clinton said Obama's use of a picture of a middle class family was just as outrageous as the image of Nazis in Skokie, Ill.

Ummm. Middle class families - Nazis. Nice work. A key advisor on the all-important health care issue becomes as irrelevant as some lurker in the message boards of a site. He becomes the essence of Godwin's Law.

It brought to mind for me Colorado's own Ward Churchill, who managed to get himself fired from a tenured job because he called the 9/11 victims "Little Eichmanns."

Here comes a theory you won't read about anywhere else...

I think the reason that Ward Churchill created such a fuss, and got fired, is that he called those victims "Little Eichmanns" and not just Nazis. If he had done that, he would have fallen into Godwin's Law and been ignored.

What's the difference? Specificity.

In the excellent book Made to Stick, the authors point out that specificity is important to making ideas that "stick."

Calling someone a Nazi, as Godwin's Law illustrates, has become so generic as to become nearly meaningless. "Little Eichmanns" was sticky.


Lobbyists acting within the law?!?!? Stop the presses!

USA Today makes a big splash about how how lobbyists are spending money on legislators.

Despite a strict new ban on gifts to lawmakers, lobbyists routinely use these prime locations to legally wine and dine members of Congress while helping them to raise money, campaign records show. The lawmakers get a venue that is often free or low-cost, a short jaunt from the Capitol. The lobbyists get precious uninterrupted moments with lawmakers — the sort of money-fueled proximity the new lobbying law was designed to curtail. The public seldom learns what happens there because the law doesn't always require fundraising details to be reported.

I had to put the emphasis on the word legally. The paper had to throw that in there because what they are doing is legal. The emphasis of the story is that something pernicious is going on. It's an old journalism trick, when you want to make something look bad, you throw in a lot of "Real Estate records show that..."

I know it is fashionable to bash the lobbyists, especially in an election year, but Congress does make laws that have an impact on businesses, and so it's OK with me if all the hardware stores in the country pitch in a few bucks to hire someone to represent their views in Washington so that their business doesn't get creamed.

Of course, the people in congress know that the laws they pass have a real impact. After all, they wrote the "lobby reform" that allows the money to be spent in the way it now is, in spite of what they may have said about it during some press conference. I don't think they are quite as shocked as USA Today wants all of us to be that money is still being spent on lobbying.


One morning with my morning newspaper

That papers are dying is one of those facts that gets lamented on endlessly here on the Interwebs. I won't go into all that here, except to say that I'm doing my part to keep the printed paper alive. I read the Rocky Mountain News every morning, typically with my 4-year-old son in my lap, trying to keep the tradition alive.

Today was great, because there was a story about a probe nearing Mercury. Space is very big with the 4-year-olds.

Today's Rocky was also terrific for some ground-breaking layout. For 102 years, more or less, the schedule for the National Western Stock Show has been printed in an unintelligible mass of type. Tradition is everything with the Stock Show. The Rocky broke that up by doing a great spread with one column for each day, and events broken up by Horse Events, Rodeos, etc. It was great.

But then in the same section, just below the helpful rundown of all the Children's events, were two ads for "Topless Bullriding" and some other "adult" event. I had to turn the page fast -- 4-year-olds are fast with the questions.

I know that newspaper staffs have been cut to the bone marrow, but doesn't anyone check to see if ads are around appropriate editorial content anymore?

One other short item that can't be overlooked:

Garyhart
John Enslin, a terrific guy and great reporter and baseball fan, wrote a story about the opening of the new Obama office in Colorado. Gary Hart spoke. Here's an excerpt:

But what clinched his support, Hart said, was when a supporter of an Obama opponent said they "we're going to throw the kitchen sink at him."

"Everybody in this room is probably too young to remember that I ran for president," he said, drawing applause. "I had a breakthrough in New Hampshire and then they threw the kitchen sink at me."

Ummm. As I recall, Gary Hart challenged reporters to investigate him after persistent questions of his womanizing in DC, often with pal Warren Beatty. (See the politics section of this wikipedia page, which has the quote about how Warren wanted Gary's life, and Gary wanted Warren's.)

Hart told reporters that they would be bored.

Hard to say if they were bored. Watching a certain kind of film that will trip up spam sensors is boring, too. But nobody was throwing any kitchen sinks, unless you classify your own hypocrisy as a sink, kitchen or otherwise.

I'm starting to sound like an old prude, ranting about adult ads next to kids listings, and an aging statesman trying to whitewash his own sordid history. You'll have to decide for yourself it's it prudishness or enlightened commentary incorporating journalism analysis and catching the political hypocrites.

Yeah... That's it. The second one.


Do you have a lobbyist working for you?

My day job is building tools for lobbyists, so I get to see who lobbyists really are, and who they really represent.

I know this knowledge I have is not widespread. More common is the belief the lobbyists work only on behalf of Big Tobacco or the Military Industrial Complex, or whatever.

Look, some of that is true, but it's not the whole story, and it's not even a big part of what's really going on.

I'm inspired to write this after reading a summary of a debate. (Please don't take this post as advocating for or against any particular candidate. I am 100-percent neutral in this race, and will be for at least another year.)

The debate hit on the topic of lobbyists, and one of the candidates said, "A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans."

The audience actually booed that statement. Then two others pounced on the notion, one of them asking the audience if any of them had a Washington lobbyist. Only two people raised a hand.

That would mean that nobody in the audience owns or rents a home, drives a car, uses Google, has insurance, gets health care, or even eats. Even if all that could be true, and the person was homeless, they would still have a lobbyist at the National Coalition for the Homeless, which is not based in Washington by accident.