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4/3/10

Um, Sen. Bennet, who exactly is the "they" spending our tax money?

Listen to the opening line of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's new ad and ponder the phrase, "In this Washington, they spend money they don't have."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d00a6Zb8I_w

Given the running debt clock below, some suggested word changes...





"In this Washington, I help spend money you don't have."

(or)

"In this Washington, we spend money that doesn't exist."

(or)

"In this Washington, we borrow you into oblivion."


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4/2/10

Former chief Cal Marsella: RTD spent millions on studies without a financing plan

A few million here and a few million there and all of a sudden you're talking about real money. This week there was plenty of media coverage about former chief of RTD Cal Marsella's pension payout. He received $2.9 million in February from RTD when he cashed out his pension.

In a recently posted interview of Marsella (by the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization at the Regional Mass Transit Summit, May 27, 2009), he discusses the millions RTD spent on studies for additional lines before a financing plan for those lines was in place.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__AOSVvQeo0

"We had built our first few rail lines and they were so successful that the agenda in metro Denver ceased to be 'Will it work?' and it became 'When do we get ours?' Everybody wanted a line. So the board, my board of directors, said let's go out and do these major investment studies. Now, I come from the old school where you don't do the studies until you have a financing plan in place, which we didn't. The studies are not cheap, they were several million dollars apiece. But the board said 'No, we're so committed, we're going to go ahead and take a leap of faith and do these.' And I really was not supportive, but we did it, it was a board directive and we did it. In retrospect, it was the smartest thing we ever did..."

Yes, everyone wanted a line. OF COURSE everyone wanted a line.

Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute (seen in this earlier WSYS video), addresses the issue of all the metro-area cities wanting a rail line in the clip below from Jon Caldara's Independent Thinking.



http://www.youtube.com/v/tQXrpvNi_Ec


A recent Denver Post editorial makes the point that ". . . RTD is struggling financially to complete FasTracks and the district will need to convince voters at some point that it's a good steward of their money."

Millions in pension, millions in studies - it starts to add up.


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4/1/10

Enviros "storm" Sen. Bennet's office

How do environmental pressure groups get their message across to members of Congress? They "storm" district offices, like the local coalition led by 1Sky organizer Micah Parkin did on Wednesday at the Denver office of appointed U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8zHlABOBNk

They got what they came for, as Parkin announced afterward.

"His staff did make an announcement that he will be opposing attacks on the Clean Air Act, including (Republican) Sen. Murkowski from Alaska's attacks on the Clean Air Act," said Parkin. "So that is exciting, exciting news. He also said that he believed both senators from Colorado would be opposing any legislation - we've heard rumored that the legislation being put forward by (Sens.) Kerry and Lieberman and Graham, that they're looking to bow down to industry and include gutting the Clean Air Act as part of that attempt to get them to accept climate and clean energy legislation. We just heard from the senator's staff that that is not going to be anything that they're going to be willing to support."

Here's a link to The Hill about the proposed Senate legislation.

In Bennet's office, one of the activists expresses wariness about a group photo that included a Bennet staffer, saying, "You don't have permission to use the photo until you've actually issued the announcement. If we see that in your campaign literature, we're not going to be happy."

Suspicion of Bennet among some on the left has been fanned by FireDogLake.com, a left-leaning website that has torn into Bennet for his stated support of the public option in health-care reform, only to see him sidestep the issue when he could have called for a vote in the Senate.

"Michael Bennet has swindled progressive activists out of more than $70,000 in his faux grandstanding for the public option," the blog posted on Wednesday, referring to money raised via ActBlue.



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3/31/10

Rep. Kagan's poetry reading on the House floor

Regardless of whether you think "A Visit From St. Nicholas," more popularly known as "''Twas the Night before Christmas", was written by Clement Moore or Henry Livingston, Colorado state Rep. Daniel Kagan was clearly channeling one of the two in his motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes on March 11th.



http://www.youtube.com/v/AGIpE39fMG

Awesome.

There is a long history of having fun with the dispensing of the minutes from representatives on both sides of the aisle. This one is really funny.


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3/30/10

Is "Race to the Top" on the wrong track?

"For our purposes, we need to move on a reform agenda," said Gov. Bill Ritter after Colorado lost out in the first round of "Race to the Top" federal funding of school reform that may total $4.35 billion.

"And for those things that are going to cost money, we hope to get 'Race to the Top' funding in the second phase. But if we don't, we're going to have to look at how we pay for that reform agenda and not let kids lag behind."



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyUMUmQdDAM

The scramble among states for "Race to the Top" money appears compromised because the competition gives great weight to buy-in from teachers' unions and not enough focus on charter schools, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Why not pour the billions into creating more proven successes like the Denver School of Science and Technology?

That charter school, founded in 2004, serves a student body that is substantially minority and/or low income. Yet, for the third year in a row, it reported in December, 100 percent of its senior class was "accepted into a four-year college or university."

It also received a silver medal in the U.S. News & World Report analysis of "Best High Schools."



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3/29/10

Enough of Hickenlooper's "vision"; Where's his map?

More than two months since Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announced, "I want to be the next governor of Colorado," and less than seven months before early voting begins, we've yet to see a policy paper on energy, taxes, immigration, natural resources, higher education, public safety or any other issue.

Hickenlooper's campaign website consists of a biography (heavy on the "vision" thing; see screenshot above with our highlights of the word), e-mail capture, donation link, media coverage, and buttons for Facebook and Twitter, but nothing of his plan for governing Colorado.


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3/28/10

Rep. Perlmutter and the "job-creation snow job"

It's tempting to view the federal government as Big Daddy who can make the pain go away, particularly the pain of a 10.4 percent unemployment rate.

In the video below, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., makes the case for spending $600 million "for job training, for summer jobs. It's to get people back to work. When we get people back to work, when this country has employment that is better than today, then we can really take a good look at the [$12.7 trillion] debt, as [Republicans] suggest."


[Video above queued up to 1:50.]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTgttyIjLt4


Here's the problem: "When government uses transferred wealth to hire people, it is essentially transferring jobs from the private sector, not adding to the net number of jobs in the economy," wrote economist Thomas Sowell in a December column titled, "The Job-Creation Snow Job".

He wrote further, "None of this is peculiar to the current [Obama] administration. The Roosevelt administration created huge numbers of government jobs during the 1930s — and yet unemployment remained in double digits throughout FDR’s first two terms."

Meanwhile, as House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote recently, the national debt today "is on track to exceed the size of our entire economy (about $15 trillion) in just two more years."

Think that's just partisan games with numbers? Here's the fact check from Politifact.com.

Furthermore, at debt/GDP ratios "Above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more," according to "Growth in a Time of Debt," a draft research paper from professors Carmen M. Reinhart at the University of Maryland and Kenneth S. Rogoff of Harvard University that reviewed 44 countries "spanning about two hundred years."

So, piling up federal debt to create jobs will take away jobs from the private sector and could lead to slower future growth.



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