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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 23, 20177min680

The Trump administration’s talk of a major infrastructure bill should not only look at modernizing the nation’s highways and broadband, but it also needs to lay a new foundation for water infrastructure, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said Wednesday.

The Denver Democrat touched on a variety of issues during a luncheon speech at the Colorado Water Congress summer conference in Steamboat Springs. He was scheduled to host a town hall in Steamboat later in the afternoon, the most recent in a series of a 17 public meetings around Colorado that Bennet has convened during the congressional August recess.

“We need to make sure our water systems gets just as much attention as highways and broadband,” Bennet told the audience of more than 300.

He explained that members of Congress are looking for ways to bring the public and private sectors together and inject new capital into rural water projects. He is already talking to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, local banks and investment companies to think that through. He asked the audience, which includes virtually every major water official in the state, to help figure out how to develop ideas to finance projects in ways that he said should make sense.

Bennet has already had a fair amount of success in finding federal funding for Colorado water. In the past few years, collaborating with other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, Bennet said the state has won funding from the Department of Agriculture through the 2014 farm bill for water projects. That brought in about $26 million for projects impacting the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers, the new Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Loveland and other projects across the state.

Bennet also said he has invited the new secretary of agriculture, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, to visit Colorado to see the condition of the state’s national forests. “If you live downstream of Colorado,” and Bennet said millions of people in 18 states do, “you should care about the health of our forests.”

“We’ve done a lot of work together on water and climate,” Bennet said. “The country is looking for leadership in a way that isn’t partisan, and Colorado is a perfect leader to meet that challenge.”

In a question and answer session following his remarks, audience members were just as interested in seeing what Bennet can do to address Washington gridlock as they were on climate change and water issues.

“I spent my whole first term trying to demonstrate to the people of Colorado that their government could still work, at a time when we thought it was pretty dysfunctional,” he said.

Few senators were going home to talk about what they accomplished with members of the other party, he said, preferring to spend time lambasting the other side.

Bennet pointed to several instances in which he worked with Republican senators during his first term, including as a member of the so-called “Gang of eight,” a group of four Democratic and four Republican senators that crafted immigration reform legislation. The measure overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Senate in 2013 but never came up for a vote in the House.

He also noted more successful efforts to speed up timelines for drug approvals with the Food and Drug Administration, legislation developed with Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina; and his work on the Every Student Succeeds Act, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

But the 2016 election has produced a new level of dysfunction, he indicated. “Now it’s a little bit different – we have the dysfunction we’ve had before, and the budget issues from before. The priorities of Washington are decoupled from the priorities of Colorado” and the rest of the country. He said he could not have ever imagined that Trump “would be the remedy for that gap.”

Today, not only does Washington still operate in dysfunction, but that is now overlaid with a rejection of traditional American values, Bennet said. “When I think of President Trump, I do not think about the people in my state who are conservative. I don’t see their agenda in what he’s doing.”

Bennet said the mission of all Americans today must be to stand up for the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, checks and balances in government, and for the importance of the free press. And “we have to hold people in my job to a much higher standard. If we held our members of Congress to the same standards as county commissioners, this nonsense would be over in a minute.”

There’s a fundamental concern about where the nation is headed, and “it’s all of our job to figure out how to fix it,” Bennet concluded.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 20, 201710min410

National news, from white nationalists to Trump to town halls, ran deep through Colorado politics this past week.

Here are the stories that the staff of Colorado Politics, home to the state’s deepest coverage of the topics, thinks you should keep in mind as the issues play out.

 

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Judith Dominguez, at left, and her wife, Patricia Martinez, are suing Cherry Creek Mortgage based in Greenwood Village. (Photo via CBSLosAngeles.)

5. Armstrong’s company under fire

A lesbian couple in California say the Greenwood Village-based mortgage company started by former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong of Colorado espouses family values that aren’t their family’s values. LGBTQ activists in Colorado applauded the lawsuit against Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. this week after the couple’s spousal insurance was revoked and the insurer began trying to collect more than $50,000 in previously covered medical bills.

Read the full story here.

 

"White nationalists, white supremacists, they're not a part of anybody's base. They're not a part of this country. They're a part of hatred, they're a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that," U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)
“White nationalists, white supremacists, they’re not a part of anybody’s base. They’re not a part of this country. They’re a part of hatred, they’re a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)

4. One side in Colorado on “both sides”

Colorado’s congressional delegation did some rare in highly partisan politics this week: They agreed. After President Trump equivocated on who was to blame for the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va., Republicans and Democrats said there were no ifs, ands or buts. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong,” said usual Trump backer Doug Lamborn, the Republican representative from Colorado Springs.

Read the full story here.

 

"I may be the only Republican attorney general in the country who walks in a Pride parade, and if that is true, I’m going to be challenging all of my colleagues to do this," says Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman at the Denver Pride Equality Rally on Sunday, June 18, 2017, on the west steps of the state Capitol. Among those on stage with her are Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Chris Kennedy, all Democrats. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
“I may be the only Republican attorney general in the country who walks in a Pride parade, and if that is true, I’m going to be challenging all of my colleagues to do this,” says Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman at the Denver Pride Equality Rally on Sunday, June 18, 2017, on the west steps of the state Capitol. Among those on stage with her are Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Chris Kennedy, all Democrats. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

3. Well, that kinda answers it

The will-they or won’t-they question is getting a bit silly for state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and, perhaps a little less certain, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, for next year’s governor’s race. Both showed up at the Republican Governors Association meeting, our Ernest Luning reported (as usual for Colorado Politics, ahead of everyone else). Maybe they just wanted to see what a Republican governor looks like. It’s been awhile since Colorado had one. Peter Marcus all but pinned down a slippery Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne this week, as well.

Read the full story here.

 

White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

2. Cheyenne Mountain reconsidered after Charlottesville

A convention at Cheyenne Mountain Resort next spring of the alt-right group VDARE, which has direct connections to the organizer of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., drew a strong backlash in El Paso County. Ultimately Cheyenne Mountain took sides, too, cancelling the conference without condemning the group or even saying why VDARE wasn’t welcome. In the immediate aftermath, former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo said VDARE was unfairly maligned, though VDARE’s leader ultimately stood with Jason Kessler, the white supremacist rally organizer.

Read the full story here.

 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

1. Cory Gardner never had a chance

For months liberal activists have demanded Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner hold a town hall meeting to “face” his constituents. Gardner appeased them on Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Lakewood. So what did the people who so desperately wanted to hear from him do? They refused to listen, instead booing and shouting such political discourse as, “You suck.” The protest spectacle that left Gardner looking like the reasonable and cooperative side of the discussion. “I’m trying to answer,” he said to the frequently disruptive crowd in Colorado Springs. “But I don’t get the chance.” Liberals overplayed their hand and crowned Gardner the political winner.

Read the full story here.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 16, 201710min601

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner kept his cool even as hundreds of constituents lost theirs time and again Tuesday afternoon at a town hall meeting in Lakewood. After going more than a year without holding a traditional town hall —Gardner has held several tele-town halls and numerous roundtable discussions with small groups —the Colorado Republican held three in one day, starting in Colorado Springs and finishing in Lakewood, with a stop in Greeley in between.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 9, 20174min250

… eggs and tomatoes. Not to mention any of the invective hurled at some Republicans who’ve encountered angry constituents (and activists, too) in recent months. And never mind the invective stored up in reserve for those Republicans whom Democrats accuse of ducking gatherings with constituents amid the never-ending congressional debate over repealing Obamacare.

At any rate, Colorado’s Democratic senior U.S. senator will be hosting “a Town Hall meeting on Friday in Aspen to listen to Coloradans’ concerns and respond to questions,” according to a press release issued today by the lawmaker’s office. That’s unabashedly blue and celebrity-stoked Aspen in unapologetically left-ish Pitkin County.

And why not? Aspenites aren’t just beautiful people (though plenty certainly are that); they’re constituents, too. Besides, there’s no rule that says Bennet can’t take a break from all the partisan back-and-forth and just chillax a bit with the like-minded.

OK, so did you notice how the announcement as quoted capitalizes “Town Hall” even though of course it’s not a proper noun? A subliminal message, perhaps? As if to say, “OUR party thinks town halls are REALLY important. The other party? Not so much.”

Or, are we overthinking this? Yes, probably so. It’s all that party-vs.-party acrimony these days; you could cut the tension with a knife! And it’s obviously getting to us.

Anyway, here are the details of Bennet’s town hall — or Town Hall, if you prefer — from the press release:

We encourage people to arrive early, as space is limited. Questions from the audience will be chosen randomly. Those unable to attend the Town Hall can follow Senator Bennet on Twitter and Facebook for updates the day of the event.

Media is welcome to live stream the event. If you plan to live stream, please RSVP by sending an email to Shannon_Beckham@Bennet.Senate.Gov.​

Who:               U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)

What:              Aspen Town Hall

When:             Friday, August 11, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. MT Doors open at 3:00 p.m. MT

Where:            Aspen High School, Black Box Theater, 235 High School Road, Aspen, CO 81611

 


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 8, 20174min531

Republican plans to overturn Obamacare might be on the ropes, but Democrats aren't letting up. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez plans to join Gov. John Hickenlooper and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, along with activists, on the steps of the Colorado Capitol for a rally Tuesday morning against attempts to "strip and sabotage health care from millions of Americans," organizers said.