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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 31, 20175min220

As reported the other day via Colorado Peak Politics, Jared Polis — who amassed a fortune as an internet wunderkind almost before he was old enough to shave — has come out in defense of Amazon’s impending acquisition of Whole Foods. Meaning, the reputedly liberal gubernatorial candidate and 2nd Congressional District Democratic representative discounts the possibility that the recently announced deal flouts federal antitrust laws.

Peak Politics had cited a report by CNBC, quoting Polis as well as conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, of California, essentially in support of the deal. For a fire-breathing free-marketeer like Issa, that’s unsurprising, but here’s Polis:

“Of course I think both Democrats and Republicans believe in antitrust, and they also believe with the development of new technologies we should update what antitrust means in a digital era…”

Republican-leaning Peak saw it as an example of Polis blowing hot and cold on the issue because in the same CNBC report, he also is paraphrased saying any congressional antitrust hearings are moot because his Democratic minority doesn’t run the floor show in the U.S. House. Peak also suggests Polis might be singing a different turn if Amazon weren’t helmed by his fellow Net-repreneur and left-leaner (and relatively new Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos.

Let’s defer to the Peak-sters on all that — and instead consider a Fortune.com report quoting another Democratic member of Congress who vents some of his party’s more familiar concerns about the Amazon deal:

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, (Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Rep. David) Cicilline called for a hearing looking into the Amazon-Whole Foods deal.

“Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods raises important questions concerning competition policy, such as how the transaction will affect the future of retail grocery stores,” Cicilline wrote. “Some have also raised concerns that the transaction will also increase Amazon’s online dominance, enabling it to prioritize its products and services over competitors.”

By all indicators, Cicilline’s request will go nowhere, as Polis pointed out. What’s noteworthy for Coloradans, though, is how far outside the Democratic safe space Polis is willing to go on free-market economics — anathema to a significant wing of his party and hardly the hallmark of populist Benie-nomics..

By the lights of his campaign website, Cicilline seems very much a traditional New England Democrat — vowing to recapture old-economy manufacturing jobs. (You do have to question the political value of Cicilline’s target, though: the quintessential virtual vendor buying the quintessential yup-scale grocer — arguably, a big “who cares?” to the blue-collar crowd he’s playing to.)

Polis, in stark contrast, is all about the economy of tomorrow. Here’s more from the CNBC report:

“By really nurturing and helping capital formation and issues around startup companies, we’re encouraging the creation of tomorrow’s great success stories,” Polis said.

Capital formation? Success stories? He could be Rich Uncle Penny Bags (aka the Monopoly man)! OK, that’s unfair. Point is, the congressman is no foe of the free market. He made so much of his own money there, after all.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 27, 20175min201

Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics shot some snark at Denver Mayor Michael Hancock over his appearance at, and tweets from, this week’s annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami.

The confab’s near-consensus on the issue du jour, climate change, was that the nation’s cities should move ahead on their own in tackling the challenge now that the Trump administration has said the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Hancock joined a host of big-city mayors in including New York’s Bill de Blasio in committing to their own local climate-action plans to implement at least some of the Paris accord’s goals.

Peak Politics takes note of Hancock’s tweet:

…and then mockingly recaps some of the objectives of the mayors organization, whose most prominent members tend to be Democrats:

What will Hancock and these mayors do to stop global climate change?

Spend taxpayer money to buy new things, It’s how Democrats solve every problem they encounter!

A whole new fleet of cars that run on electricity fueled by coal will be needed for city employees. And brand new green buildings! They want new construction and development of buildings, which will also provide new jobs for their union buddies. — Bonus.

Last, but not least, they will make plans, plans to save the planet.

It won’t exactly fall in line with the Paris Agreement, but that’s not the point. The point is to criticize President Trump.

If Hancock really wanted to cut down on climate change, he could have just signed that silly letter from his desk in Denver and saved taxpayers, and the planet, from the climate-killing fumes spewed from that First Class trip to Miami.

But tell that to the Pueblo City Council, which voted unanimously Monday to follow suit with the mayors meeting in Miami as well as with some other Colorado cities, including Denver and Fort Collins, in affirming support for the Paris accord.

Reported the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper:

District 2 Councilman Larry Atencio had asked for the resolution and noted that council voted earlier this year to have the city become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2035.

 “It makes sense that we should acknowledge that climate change is real and we’re doing our part,” he said.
Yup; right in the heart of Colorado’s new Trump Country, Pueblo County — which went for the president last Nov. 8 when the state as a whole turned away.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 21, 20173min60

A $4.5 million grant announced this week to help Colorado study good government may have impressed Gov. John Hickenlooper and perhaps a host of others, but it doesn’t sit well with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics.

You’ll recall ColoradoPolitics.com’s Joey Bunch reported on the windfall Tuesday:

The grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will launch the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at the still new Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at the University of Denver.

“The lab is the first program of its kind in Colorado,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “We owe it to the citizens of our state to ensure that the programs we undertake deliver on what they set out to do.”

The government research partnership will help state official more fully evaluate policies and come up with ways to improve existing programs, as well as other new ways to benefit Coloradans, according to the governor’s office.

Peak Politics, in a blog post Tuesday, questions the motives behind the grant and smells a rat:

…if the Arnolds are involved, there must be a liberal campaign angle.

Over the past few years, Arnold and his wife have given over $500,000 to liberal causes here, which includes $300,000 to the pro-Amendment 66 campaign and $150,000 given to the despicable Mainstream Colorado, which reached a new low by using the murder of Jessica Ridgeway to score political points. Nationally, the Arnolds have funded some exceptionally liberal projects …

Peak goes on to name them. Whether the Arnolds’ philanthropy is a good or bad thing depends on your political stripe. Always interesting to follow the money, though.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 15, 20173min72

The correct answer is: The other side!

Pro-GOP blog Colorado Peak Politics points a finger at “Safe Campus Colorado, founded by Congressional District Two candidate Ken Toltz,” who Peak says posted a tweet “politicizing the terrible shooting” of Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others at a congressional baseball practice near Washington, D.C.

Peak adds:

It’s unclear whether Toltz is in charge of his group’s Twitter account, but is the leader of the organization and, as such, is held responsible for the group’s actions. Nonetheless, he’s shown that he’s unfit to run for office since the tweet is still up.

At the very least, Toltz needs to apologize to the victims of today’s shooting.

Democratic-friendly blog Colorado Pols meanwhile points to, “a fundraising email sent earlier today from GOP Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, invoking today’s shooting…”

The letter opens:

Unruly protesters trashing Civic Center Park and clashing with cops in the streets.

Mock beheadings of President Trump by Kathy Griffin.

And now an ASSASSINATION attempt on Republican lawmakers!

The hate-inspired violent rhetoric against conservatives and Republicans was already at an all-time fever pitch before today, but now it just got very real.

The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!

Pols observes:

Neville and Republicans he supports via the Colorado Liberty PAC have ceded the high ground. They have politicized this man’s horrific actions in exactly the way they refused to accept with countervailing examples — like the man who walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November of 2015 and started shooting. …

And that rank hypocrisy still wasn’t enough. They tried to make money off it.

Clear enough?


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 12, 20176min120
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis addresses Colorado Democrats at the state party's biennial reorganization meeting on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the Marriott City Center in Denver. Polis plans to announce he's running for governor on Monday, June 12, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

For his fellow Democrats, 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder represents a political game-changer with his announcement over the weekend he intends to run for Colorado governor in 2018. He’s super-smart, super-rich and enough of a nonconformist to capture the imagination of voters.

For Republicans, Polis is a game-changer, too, but of a different sort: He’s a standing spoof of every GOP stereotype of the political left: supercilious, super-silly and enough of a nonconformist to be too zany for prime-time politics.

Democrats will point out Polis — a wunderkind who turned his folks’ greeting-card biz into a digital phenomenon and made himself a fortune — has managed to get himself elected to Congress five times. Republicans will say, yeah, but that’s representing Boulder. Democrats will point out Polis’s first run for office was in a statewide race that landed him an at-large seat on the State Board of Education (a post subsequently eliminated). Republicans will say, yeah, but nobody knew him then. Or paid attention to the race.

And so it goes.

That Colorado’s two major political parties harbor starkly different views about the politics of any candidate is of course only natural. But about a candidate’s viability? Probably has something to do with Polis’s persona and image; it might also signify how polarized our political culture has become nationally, with Colorado representing a microcosm.

In any event, consider this snapshot of those sharply contrasting views, enunciated by leftwardly tilted Colorado Pols and Colorado Peak Politics over on the right.

Here’s a snippet from Pols:

…Polis’ bold campaign theme of 100% renewable energy could resonate with a segment of the Democratic base that’s been discontented for a number of years in Colorado as the battles over oil and gas development along the urbanizing Front Range have escalated. Polis has been a leader in that complicated and fractious battle, and if he retains the trust of the environmental left going into this race it could be a crucial edge.

Obviously, Polis’ entry into the 2018 gubernatorial race forces all of us to reset our calculations here. But the biggest takeaway for today is the fact that Democrats are feeling very good about 2018, and there’s going to be healthy competition for what could be the fruits of an historic victory. Between Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, Democrats have a choice of two of the biggest names in Colorado politics–and that’s got to feel better than a primary between a district attorney and a couple of unknown rich guys.

…And from Peak:

… (H)e will focus on moving the state to 100 percent renewable energy 20 years after his term ends, provide free, all day preschool for toddlers and kindergarten for kids, and encourage companies to give employees stock options.

Here’s how that will work.

via GIPHY

… On the bright side, we won’t have to be embarrassed by his presence in Congress anymore. He’ll step down after his term finishes this year.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 7, 20173min60
iStock image / maxsattana

 

… what other state agencies might have a similarly freewheeling approach with the public’s checkbook. So surmises conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics.

ColoradoPolitics.com’s Peter Marcus reported earlier this week on a state audit that found none of the $1.9 million in incentives awarded to film projects shot in Colorado had met all the criteria for the subsidies. Marcus writes that the audit “identified $129,000 for projects that did not qualify for incentives and another $1.8 million for projects for which the Office of Film, Television, and Media ‘lacked documentation to substantiate they qualified.'”

Peak Politics pounces upon the findings to propose a list of other worthy prospects for an audit. Some of the suggested targets are among the usual suspects — and regular whipping boys — for those on the right side of the political fence:

  • Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
  • Connect for Health Colorado
  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Energy Office
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Some of targets are repeat offenders and invite follow-up scrutiny by the lights of Republicans and conservatives. For example, Health Care Policy and Financing (you may know it as “HickPuff”; no relation to the guv), which manages Medicaid for the state; Peak notes a 2016 audit found some Medicaid recipients were ineligible but not removed from the rolls.

And then there’s the Energy Office, much unloved by Republicans who are ever wary of the office’s original green-energy-promoting mandate. Peak observes:

This is the office that lost like $200 million a few years ago. The state auditor just finished up an audit in January, but for the love of God, you lose $200 million, you should be audited always.



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 12, 20172min60

… we turn to conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, which happily plays skunk at the picnic with its “Gold Dome duds: Who came out worse for the wear this legislative session?

Peak pulls no punches in pulling for the political right, and not surprisingly, its take on who/what came out of the 2017 session as the biggest losers tends to zing the left. Pols such as pot-stirring populist AG candidate and state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and newly minted congressional hopeful Andy Kerr, the Democratic state senator from Lakewood, get to be the butt of some of Peak’s barbs.

The blog tops its list of losers with the legislative Democratic leadership, which earns the dubious distinction in Peak’s eyes for “failing to negotiate in good faith” on assorted issues.

Still, there also are some ideology-neutral losers by the lights of Peak Politics. Like construction defects reform (“…is the watered-down version better than nothing?” asks the ever-anonymous Peak); “people who hate the smell of pot,” and Colorado drivers (“…who were hoping for a fix to our state’s transportation woes”).

By the way, Peak Politics preceded Gold Dome duds with an earlier blog post on the winners it feels emerged from the session. That list isn’t nearly so sour — things like charter schools and “people who like cheap and reliable energy” — and thus isn’t as fun. (Read: “Winners: Honoring those who cause the dome to shine a little brighter.”)

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 9, 20174min80

Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics alerts us to a new foray by a Texas-based, gas-industry-backed group that seeks to take its fight against fracking’s foes to the Supreme Court of the Internet, aka Google. There’s probably grist here for both sides in Colorado’s perennial fracking debate in the wake of last month’s deadly explosion at home in Firestone.

The FrackFeed campaign wrote an “open letter” to Google this week taking it up on its headline-making pledge to lower the search rankings of “content on the web [that] has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.” By the lights of FrackFeed, that applies to propaganda ginned up and churned out by anti-fracking groups.

The lengthy and extensively footnoted letter asserts:

We believe many of the most prominent anti-fracking websites have content that is misleading, false, or offensive — if not all three. As a result, we urge you to consider purging or demoting these websites from your algorithm, which in turn will encourage a more honest public discussion about hydraulic fracturing, and oil and natural gas development in general.

FrackFeed’s Exhibit A:

For example, Sierra Club, one of America’s oldest and largest environmentalist organizations, declares on its website: “Fracking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans.” … The group provides no evidence to support this, likely because numerous peer-reviewed studies have concluded the exact opposite. … Experts from the the U.S. Government Accountability Office met with regulatory officials in eight of the largest oil and gas producing states in the country, and concluded “the hydraulic fracturing process has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination within their states.” …

It probably goes without saying that there’s no word yet from Google on whether it will agree to sentence the likes of the Sierra Club to Internet Purgatory; we’ll just assume that’s not about to happen. The letter acknowledges as much in its conclusion:

Claims made by the radical environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing are protected by the First Amendment. Groups that wish to peddle misleading information about oil and natural gas are fully within their rights to do so. Many of the groups engaging in anti-fracking advocacy have devoted significant resources to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a result they receive significant web traffic.

But that is no reason for Google to reward such misinformation with its powerful search engine. We urge you consider adding these groups’ websites to your review of fake news and the kinds of content that you do not wish to promote.

Then again, the real intended recipient of such “open letters” is the political world. So, here you go. And here’s the link again to the full letter.

 



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 3, 20174min21

Hat tip to Colorado Peak Politics for this heads-up — though we’re not sure we buy into the spin: Pro-GOP Peak of course doesn’t miss a chance to take a shot at Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper — and chortles at how far down the totem pole he is rated in an appraisal of potential presidential contenders this week by CNN political handicapper Chris Cillizza.

OK, but even if this latest rendition of who’ll-run-for-president-in-2020 doesn’t give Hickenlooper a whole lot of hope, it does at least keep hope alive for the former brewer and petroleum geologist whose geek-to-guv saga charms us still.

And, frankly, Cillizza’s analysis doesn’t give most of the presumed contenders a whole lot of credit; the headline reads, “There are at least 22 Democrats thinking about running for president in 2020.” More cattle call than beauty pageant.

Rather than assign all the prospects specific ranks, this review assigns them tiers — and Colorado’s governor lands in the third, which also is labeled “(There’s a chance but…).” Yes, parentheses and all. Here’s what Cillizza had to say:

Quietly, the governor of Colorado made it to the final cut of Clinton’s vice presidential list. He has a powerful story — small businessman, mayor of Denver, two term governor — and represents a part of the county where Democrats are growing. But, he is very low-key — and may be too moderate for Democratic primary voters.

That’s it. Probably the most humbling part of it for the governor this time around isn’t so much what Beltway super-insider Cillizza is / isn’t saying about him but rather the company he keeps on Tier No. 3.

Sure, there’s Martin O’Malley, the outspoken former Maryland governor who has stirred a pot or two and created a bit of buzz. But Hick also shares the space with the likes of Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton. Nothing disreputable about any of them, to be sure. Just sort of also-ran.

More humbling still for those stranded on Tier No. 3, even some of those deemed worthy of Tier No. 2 aren’t exactly head-turners, like Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. (On the other hand, Al Franken, the comedian-turned-U.S. senator-from-Minnesota, is also on Tier 2. Love him or hate him, he is worthy of at least that level of distinction, no?)

Meanwhile, Tier No. 1 is reserved for the three Democratic bigs alone: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Cillizza also includes a category, “No Tier (Rich businesspeople who’ve never run for anything before),” and you probably can guess some of the names. Check it out for yourselves; here’s the link again.

By the way, Cillizza includes this note on his methodology, for those who are curious:

These names — and the groups they fall into — are based on email exchanges with more than a dozen national Democratic strategists, many of whom are veterans of the Obama and Clinton campaigns.