The Boulder Daily CameraMay 28, 20171min170

Bills being floated in Congress by a handful of Republicans would impose taxes on remittances — money U.S. residents send abroad, usually to relatives — to pay for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. The idea is as flawed as Trump’s own ridiculous assertion that Mexico must and will eventually pay for the wall.

Mexico ranks first among nations that receive remittance money, usually by wire transfer, from U.S. residents. In 2015, Mexicans received $24.32 billion in such funds, more than Mexico earned from oil exports. Like almost all U.S. companies, wire transfer services such as Western Union or Moneygram typically do not require proof of legal immigration status before accepting customers’ business.

It’s unknown how much of the remittances come from undocumented migrants, but they are hardly the only residents sending money abroad. Under the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017, a bill proposed by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., remittance senders would have to pay a 2 percent tax, regardless of the sender’s legal status or whether the sender has already paid federal taxes on that income.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraMay 21, 20172min130

Control produces confidence. Unchecked, confidence metastasizes into overconfidence and smugness, which opens the door to challengers, which starts the process all over again. This is a succinct history of American business, or what capitalist theoreticians call creative destruction, and, to some extent, American politics as well.

It is the risk Colorado’s oil and gas industry runs today. Having used its cash and political might to lock up all three branches of state government, having foreclosed even citizen initiatives at the ballot box, it grew fat and happy. It grew smug. It took to lecturing the people of Colorado who dared to question the presence of dangerous industrial operations in residential neighborhoods. It filled the airwaves with propaganda so transparent it carried echoes of Orwell.

And then it blew up a house in Firestone and killed two people.

Still, it could not bring itself to give an inch. Republican lawmakers indebted to oil giant Anadarko Petroleum’s campaign cash filibustered a bill in the legislature designed to provide transparency about the location of oil and gas pipelines like the one investigators blame for blowing up that house in Firestone. And last week, when even a governor who worked in the industry thought it might be time to back off a bit, a Republican attorney general even deeper in the industry’s pocketpushed on with the battle to make every Colorado community subservient to oil and gas interests.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.


The Boulder Daily CameraMay 13, 20172min300

The best-known tale of redemption in popular literature might be that of Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ unhappy old miser turned generous and joyous by visits from spirits — or, possibly, a series of nightmares, depending on your views of Jungian dream analysis and the supernatural.

But Scrooge is far from alone. Redemption is a common theme in storytelling both highbrow and low, from Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost” (it generally takes a semester to explain) to Oskar Schindler in “Schindler’s List” to Darth Vader himself, if you made it to the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

And now, the governor of Colorado, his politics of quirkiness beguiled and besmirched by his friends in the oil and gas industry, has a rare chance to redeem himself before he leaves office, perhaps even softening an enduring reputation as Gov. Frackenlooper here in Boulder County.

It is an opportunity to acknowledge that recent events have disproved his idealized view of modern oil and gas operations. His thesis — that oil and gas drilling is so safe and well regulated today it can be located right in the middle of residential neighborhoods, posing no safety threat — was destroyed when a tragic mistake blew up a house in Firestone last month, killing two residents and severely injuring a third.

Read the full story at The Daily Camera

As the reality sank in last week that a cut, live flow line from an oil and gas well caused a home in Firestone to explode, killing two well-known members of the tight-knit community and severely injuring a third, it became obvious again how much the state of Colorado relies on the industry to police itself.

Matt Lepore, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said this:

“I would like to think anybody that turns on a gas line knows where it’s going to go, where it ends up.”

Imagine that. The man at the helm of the agency charged with regulating this dangerous industry would like to think so. Wouldn’t we all.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

I’d hoped to find someone who might defend the city’s decision to cut off funding for BOHO’s overnight shelter on May 1. What I found was far worse: there was apparently no “decision” at all. The city’s shelter contract with BOHO simply expired, and wasn’t renewed. There was no substitute shelter available if Tuesday’s rain had turned into a serious storm or cold snap.

Council should rebuke city staff for risking human life, and take swift corrective action. Instead, staffer Karen Rahn conceded “the timing was awkward,” and Lisa Morzel suggested that “the community kind of expects” an open shelter this time of year. This is shockingly insufficient. Leaders seeking to reassure voters of Boulder’s competence to manage our electrical grid can ill-afford to shrug off negligence in letting our established social safety net hit the floor.

All this is taking place in the midst of a laudable transition from the traditional “shelter for all” model to a “housing first” model, begun last fall and still in the planning stages. It’s a promising approach, showing good results elsewhere. Council will consider a plan at its May 16 meeting. BOHO’s Bill Sweeney figures it will take at least a year, starting from where we are now, to have the new system in place — and meanwhile, another winter to get through. One sure way to botch any implementation is to axe current services before the new system is up and running. We’ve just taken an alarming lurch down that road.

John Tweedy,

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraApril 21, 20171min160

One way or another, Boulder voters will get a chance to vote this fall on whether to continue a quest to municipalize the city’s electric utility, now in its sixth year with scant progress to show for it.

That is not the question before the City Council this week. There will be plenty of time for arguments on the merits this summer and fall, and we can guarantee that dispute will be fully aired by the usual suspects, and perhaps some new ones.

The immediate question is more limited: Should voters have an opportunity to render a verdict on one or both settlement offers from Xcel Energy, offers produced by more than a year of intensive negotiations with the city that both sides say were conducted in good faith?

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraApril 9, 20171min111

In Donald Trump’s America, the mere act of reporting news unflattering to the president is held up as evidence of bias. Journalists are slandered as “enemies of the people.”

Facts that contradict Trump’s version of reality are dismissed as “fake news.” Reporters and their news organizations are “pathetic,” “very dishonest,” “failing,” and even, in one memorable turn of phrase, “a pile of garbage.”

Trump is, of course, not the first American president to whine about the news media or try to influence coverage. President George W. Bush saw the press as elitist and “slick.” President Obama’s press operation tried to exclude Fox News reporters from interviews, blocked many officials from talking to journalists and, most troubling, prosecuted more national security whistle-blowers and leakers than all previous presidents combined.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraApril 2, 20171min210

One of the more encouraging developments during the early days of the Trump administration has been the pushback from big business on the president’s attempts to repudiate climate science and encourage a return to the dirtiest of our energy sources.

Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric, basically told employees in a blog post last week to ignore the orange man behind the curtain when it comes to climate change.

“We believe climate change is real and the science is well accepted,” Immelt wrote.

“We believe climate change should be addressed on a global basis through multinational agreements, such as the Paris Agreement,” he went on. “We hope that the United States continues to play a constructive role in furthering solutions to these challenges, and at GE, we will continue to lead with our technology and actions.”

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraMarch 19, 20172min240

Another day, another smug victory lap by oil and gas propagandists who know their industry has taken ownership of Colorado state government in its entirety and can show you the receipt in the form of an obedient legislature, docile governor and supine state courts.

We are told it is important not to normalize the machinations of the Trump administration, the abandonment of ethics, the assault on the environment. And it’s true.

The same is true in Colorado. It is important not to normalize the notion that oil wells and residential neighborhoods belong in close proximity. This is a lie propagated by the oil industry that has never before been accepted and must not be accepted now. Improvements in horizontal drilling technology make it unnecessary and we should resist it. If it is only Boulder County that resists, so be it. We can and should make it so difficult and contentious for drillers to infringe on our residential neighborhoods that it becomes more trouble than it’s worth. Already, the major industry players are avoiding Boulder County, according to former county commissioner and Boulder mayor Will Toor. It’s the “bottom-feeders” operating and hoping to operate here, he says.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera.

The Boulder Daily CameraMarch 18, 20171min230

The Justice Department asked 46 U.S. attorneys to resign Friday.

Some Democrats squawked when the dismissals were announced. “The independence of the Justice Department is at risk,” huffed Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. The dismissals, though, are routine. U.S. attorneys serve at the president’s pleasure. When the White House changes hands, they’re usually replaced.

Former President Bill Clinton asked for the resignations of 93 U.S. attorneys shortly after he took office. Former President Barack Obama gradually replaced GOP-nominated U.S. attorneys in 2009.

The most recently dismissed knew the day after the election they surely would lose their jobs. There’s no scandal here.

Read more at The Boulder Daily Camera