Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 7, 20183min5821

No sooner had Hot Sheet taken note of Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s feature-length profile by Politico this week — depicting him as a pol who can work both sides of the aisle while keeping the White House at bay — than Gardner’s own communications staff sent this press release over the transom:

Washington, DC – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today announced Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been awarded their Legislative Action Award. The awards are presented annually to members of Congress within their first six years in office who work to build consensus, elevate the tenor of the debate, practice civility, and advance legislation on pressing issues.

The organization’s president, Jason Grumet, was quoted:

“Senator Cory Gardner demonstrates the power of strong principles combined with a willingness to reach across the political aisle on issues of consequence to the nation. … On matters as diverse and important as immigration, cybersecurity, and the threat from North Korea, Senator Gardner’s primary focus has been on action and results. He is at once a proud member of his party and an effective legislator who places the interests of the country first.” 

Quite a tribute — and one of obvious value to Team Gardner these days. As noted in the Politico story on the senator published Monday, “Gardner is going to need bipartisan accomplishments to survive his own swing-state reelection race in 2020.”

And he certainly is a swing-state GOP senator who has felt the heat of near constant scrutiny, especially since Donald Trump’s upset victory in November 2016. Gardner’s every vote, policy position and public utterance are being dissected and analyzed in an attempt to label him “too extreme for Colorado” as his 2020 re-election bid approaches. So, a plaudit attesting to Gardner’s bipartisan bona fides couldn’t come at a better time.

The Bipartisan Policy Center is a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., founded in 2007 by four former Senate majority leaders — two from each party: Republicans Howard Baker and Bob Dole, and Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 18, 20184min3010
Indivisible Denver members gather recently for a New Year’s rally in solidarity with immigrants. (via Facebook)

… The state’s Republican first-term U.S. senator is already in favor of  it. In fact, he and fellow Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, co-sponsored legislation last fall — the DREAM Act of 2017 — to do just that after President Trump had rescinded the executive order that had been used to implement the policy under the Obama administration. The legislation would allow those brought to the U.S. as kids without documentation — they’re still subject to deportation despite growing up as Americans — to remain in the country. The bipartisan bill would reinstate the intent of former President Obama’s much-debated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or “DACA.”

And yet, the protests-are-us rabble rouser Indivisible Denver staged a rally Wednesday in support of the DREAM Act that included a march on — you’ve guessed it! — Gardner’s office. The announcement via Facebook referenced the senator’s downtown Denver digs almost as if it were the campus quad back in the day: “We will meet at Benedict Fountain Park and host a press conference at 5:30. Afterwards, we shall march around Sen. Gardner’s office to gain more public support for a clean Dream Act.”

So, what’s up with that? Could be that Gardner’s office is already such a familiar landmark to Indivisible and other all-causes-left-of-center groups that they knew no one would get lost en route. Stalking the the senator has become almost a full-time endeavor for the in-crowd of devoted Democratic-leaning demonstrators, who have a bone to pick with him over just about anything, anytime — and anywhere.

Could also be that, as we know all too well by now, every year is an election year — never mind what you learned in civics class about the six-year terms of U.S. senators. No self-respecting, left-leaning group worth its salt is going to pass up an opportunity to throw darts at a Republican if there’s a chance he can be knocked off in the next face-off. Especially in perennially purple Colorado. We get it.

So, apparently, did some of the news media that covered the rally.

Denver Channel 4’s veteran news hound Rick Sallinger noted in the web edition of his report on the rally that, “Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet have expressed sympathy and support for the demonstrators’ plight.”


Kara MasonKara MasonJanuary 18, 20183min9070

Sometimes San Luis Valley law enforcement officers will wait to make an arrest until after the person has received medical care, according to local officials.

The reason they wait, according to the Valley Courier which reported the story last week, is because Medicaid will cover the medical costs. But once a person is arrested they lose most Medicaid benefits, and with a good number of inmates relying on Medicaid — more than 40 percent of the San Luis Valley’s population relies on the federal program — the tab is rapidly growing for local jails.

“We just really believe that that is an injustice,” Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis reportedly said during a meeting with aides from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office.

The Valley Courier continues on the situation the rural southern region of the state is facing:

“I’m aghast that we treat our mental health in jail by putting them in jail,” Rio Grande Hospital CEO Arlene Harms said. “I just think that’s awful.”

Medicaid does cover the cost if an inmate stays at a hospital for 24 hours or longer. However, that doesn’t take care of quick visits to the pharmacy, dentist, emergency or clinic, which are the majority of visits.

For example, Jackson said an inmate that Alamosa County housed out in Custer County due to lack of beds suffered from an apparent heart attack. Custer County was ill equipped to handle the situation so they flew the inmate to Pueblo. The issue turned out to be an anxiety attack and because the inmate was discharged in less than 24 hours Alamosa County was left with a $23,000 flight bill.

To make matters worse, hospitals aren’t reimbursed through the hospital provider fee when treating jail populations, according to the Valley Courier’s reporting.

The news outlet adds that one solution local governments are considering is better utilizing ankle monitoring programs, since that wouldn’t terminate medical care.

And as for help from Congress and Gardner?

The senator’s aides said they couldn’t make any promises, but the meeting was good insight into the problem several southern Colorado communities are facing.


Kelly SloanKelly SloanDecember 19, 20176min3230

Roy Moore lost his bid for U.S. Senate in Alabama last week, and Democrats around the nation celebrated – rightly so, inasmuch as the victory in deepest-of-deep-red Alabama chiseled the GOP Senate majority to a bare 51-49. In their exuberance, many Democrats and liberals hailed the election as a bellwether for the mid-term elections, a catalyst setting off a chain of victories in a Democratic sweep in 2018.


Kara MasonKara MasonNovember 29, 20173min3470

The spirit of two Colorado mountaineers is a little closer to living on in the form of mountains, with this week’s House passage of H.R. 2768.

CD3 U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are working to pass a bill through Congress that would name two peaks on the border of San Miguel and Dolores Counties after Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff. Both died in 2006 during an avalanche on Genyen Peak in Tibet.

“Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff were celebrated mountaineers, but they were also known for their tireless advocacy for human rights, dedication to philanthropy, and stewardship of the environment,” Tipton said in a statement. “Through the designation of these peaks, their legacy and life’s work will live on for generations to come.”

The two peaks, located in Uncompahgre National Forest, are just more than 13,000 feet and will be called “Fowler Peak” and “Boskoff Peak,” respectively.

The duo were longtime residents of San Miguel County, according to the bill. But they loved mountaineering and traveled the world for it. Each had summited the world’s tallest mountains, including Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Fowler was an author, guide and filmmaker, according to the bill. Boskoff was one of the country’s top female alpinists.

Both were also known as advocates. They supported rights of porters and Sherpas, women’s education, gender equality and global literacy.

“The two are remembered not only as internationally acclaimed climbers, but also as mentors to school students and troubled youth,” said San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May in a statement in May. “Naming these peaks for them would serve as a perpetual reminder of the couple’s contributions to climbing, youth, and protecting the outdoors.”

With the passage of the bill, all documents, maps and records will refer to the two peaks by their new names.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 31, 20175min27200

Remember the federally funded, and forever foundering, EAGLE-Net Alliance? That was the epic project, launched in 2010, that was supposed to bridge Colorado’s rural “digital divide” using some $100 million in seed money from the Obama administration’s economic “stimulus package.”

The premise was to bring high-speed internet to remote communities in the high country and on the Eastern Plains — while also of course creating jobs in the wake of the Great Recession. Maybe it was that mixed mission that doomed it from the start — kind of like the dessert topping that’s also a floor wax — and the state-and-federal government venture eventually crashed and burned. It was dogged all along by allegations of financial mismanagement; duplicating the service of private providers, and bypassing communities that actually could have used its help. Ultimately, its federal funding stream was halted. The entity was dissolved last June.

Now, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is calling for transparency and accountability in the disposition of the former EAGLE-Net’s assets. That presumably includes the fiber-optic line and other infrastructure from the incomplete network EAGLE-Net was supposed to build.

In a press release today, Gardner’s office touts a letter from the Yuma Republican to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “requesting that any transfer of EAGLE-Net Alliance’s former assets be delayed until a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator is confirmed.” The letter reads in part:

As NTIA considers how it will proceed with reallocating EAGLE-Net’s assets, the process should remain public and transparent. Since receiving its award of more than $100 million of taxpayer money in 2010, EAGLE-Net was plagued with issues surrounding transparency and appropriate use of those funds. NTIA has an opportunity to end that concerning history and to ensure the public has a full accounting of next steps for those taxpayer-funded assets. I look forward to such an open process once a new NTIA Administrator has taken office.

Gardner, who hails from just the kind of rural farm community that was supposed to benefit from EAGLE-Net’s efforts, was an early critic of the project while still in the U.S. House. For years, he called for greater scrutiny of its operations.

His letter was welcomed by private providers of rural broadband. They long had criticized EAGLE-Net for cherry-picking their markets and for laying cable alongside their own telecommunications lines, in which they had invested millions of dollars. Their trade group, the Colorado Telecommunications Association, issued a statement from Executive Vice President Pete Kirchhof:

“Colorado’s rural broadband providers thank Senator Gardner for his continued work to bring accountability to the now defunct EAGLE-Net Alliance. … Since its inception, our members have voiced their concerns about the lack of transparency and oversight at the quasi-governmental EAGLE-Net. This entity, which was funded with taxpayer stimulus money, spent nearly $100 million to build a broadband network to connect rural communities across our state. In several instances, they installed broadband where it wasn’t needed and ignored areas of Colorado that could have used its support. Now, with EAGLE-Net out of business, we need to find out who controls this taxpayer-funded network and how rural communities may be able to access it to improve their broadband. Hopefully, Senator Gardner’s efforts will help answer those questions.”