HAND ‘EM OVER: Todd Shepherd Sues CO Division of Insurance for Obamacare Emails

Yesterday, Complete Colorado‘s Todd Shepherd asked a court to compel the Colorado Division of Insurance to explain why it will not release emails relating to the apparently-illegal move to renew health insurance policies not in compliance with Obamacare.  To be clear, Shepherd is not suggesting that those plans should not be renewed, only that the Division of Insurance did not have the authority to unilaterally renew these plans, particularly as it was solely a political move meant to take the heat off of Sen. Mark Udall in a tough election year.

According to Shepherd’s complaint, the DOI used “deliberative privilege” to withhold the emails he requested.  Deliberative privilege is when a governmental body is in the process of making a decision and does not want the revelation of this information to color the decision-making process.  Of course, the issue here is that the decision had already been made.  That’s why the emails were requested.  So that doesn’t really apply here.

Further a Colorado court already weighed in on this one:

Conversely, postdecisional documents, communications made after the decision and designed to explain it, are not protected by the privilege.   This distinction is supported by two considerations.   First, the quality of a decision will not be affected by forced disclosure of communications occurring after the decision is finally reached.   See Sears, 421 U.S. at 151, 95 S.Ct. 1504.   Second, the public has a strong interest in the disclosure of reasons that do supply the basis for an agency policy actually adopted.   See id. at 152, 95 S.Ct. 1504;  Taxation with Representation Fund, 646 F.2d at 678.  “These reasons, if expressed within the agency, constitute the ‘working law’ of the agency,” and as such should be disclosed to the public.   Sears, 421 U.S. at 152, 95 S.Ct. 1504.8

This seems to be a pretty open and shut case, but the players in this issue have been so slimy, it will be interesting to see how the DOI tries to maneuver out of this one.  And, further, just what is in those emails that’s so bad…?

 

HICK’S LUXURY STATE: Income Inequality Grows In CO As Hick Focuses On Hipsters

“Here’s to killing the middle class”

Gov. John Hickenlooper is turning Colorado into a hipster city.  Earlier this week, Joel Kotkin wrote an interesting piece for The Washington Post about how the current liberal bastions like New York City, San Francisco, and Portland (among others) are being redesigned as playgrounds for the wealthy over the needs of the middle class.  (Via The Denver Post):

It reflects a desire to create an ideal locale for hipsters and older, sophisticated urban dwellers. It’s city as adult Disneyland or “entertainment machine,” chock-a-block with chic restaurants, shops and festivals.

Overlooked, or even disdained, is what most middle-class residents of the metropolis actually want: home ownership, rapid access to employment throughout the metropolitan area, good schools and “human scale” neighborhoods. [the Peak’s emphasis]

Whenever Hickenlooper talks about Colorado and growing the economy, it is always in the context of the luxury; whether it is praising some new micro-distillery, or talking about fostering the Denver music scene.  Hickenlooper doesn’t appear to have the appetite to do what is necessary to grow Colorado’s middle class (hell, his fellow Democrats brag about wanting to make commutes harder so people drive less.  Why don’t they just tear up all the roads in downtown, buy the land around it and just become a second Boulder where only the wealthy can afford to live?).  This is evident in the growing divide between the rich and poor in Colorado (from The Denver Post):

Colorado ranks among the top 20 states in the nation with the highest levels of income inequality, according to a new study by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

In recent years, incomes for many Coloradans have fallen behind the cost of living. Since 2007, the median income in Colorado, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen $4,400. [the Peak’s emphasis]

Hickenlooper keeps praising how great Colorado’s economy is, but he doesn’t mention the caveat that this only applies to you if he likes what you’re doing.

This goes along with the trend of hipster/luxury cities mentioned above as they’re some of the most unequal places in the country when it comes to income:

Luxury cities, increasingly, are less places of aspiration than geographies of inequality. New York, for example, is by some measurements the most unequal of major U.S. cities, with a level of inequality that approximates South Africa before apartheid

Other luxury cities exhibit somewhat similar patterns. A recent Brookings report found that virtually all the most unequal metropolitan areas… are luxury regions, including San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. [the Peak's emphasis]

Liberal policies exacerbate income inequality and kill off the middle class?  We’re.  So.  Shocked.  Good thing Democrats have appointed themselves the party most likely to help the poor.  Without such labels, looking just at results, people might assume Democrats are just a bunch of privileged assholes.  They’re like the Apple of political parties.

 

THAT WAS QUICK: The Truce Ends as Fractivists File Initiatives for 2016

Phil Doe, fractivist

Little more than two weeks after Gov. John Hickenlooper and liberal U.S. Rep. Jared Polis came to a deal to pull the punitive anti-fracking initiatives that Polis was pushing, it would appear that the truce ended.  That didn’t last long.  The question is – did Polis reneg on the deal or are fractivists out of his control?

On August 18th, Phil Doe (the guy who called Loveland opponent BJ Nikkel a Nazi and a dog) and Barbara Mill-Bria filed a petition with the Secretary of State’s office for a measure to be placed on either the 2015 or 2016 ballot that is scarier than the initiatives that the state just scrapped.  It’s a constitutional amendment that would create the concept of “Public Trust Resources”, making clean air, water, and natural resources public commodities.  The measure would place the burden of proof on companies to prove that energy development activities are safe.  Translation: Even if there is no proof that fracking is unsafe (and currently, there is none), companies can be liable for damages if an “action or policy has a suspected risk of substantially impairing public trust resources”. Companies must first prove that the activity is safe even “in the absence of scientific consensus“. (the Peak‘s emphasis)

From the initiative:

IF AN ACTION OR POLICY HAS A SUSPECTED RISK OF SUBSTANTIALLY IMPAIRING PUBLIC TRUST RESOURCES, IN THE ABSENCE OF SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS THAT THE ACTION OR POLICY IS HARMFUL, THE BURDEN OF PROOF THAT IT IS NOT HARMFUL FALLS ON THOSE PROPOSING TO TAKE THE ACTION. THE STATE SHALL SEEK NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGES FROM THOSE ENTITIES THAT CAUSE SUBSTANTIAL IMPAIRMENT OF PUBLIC TRUST RESOURCES AND USE SUCH FUNDS TO REMEDIATE THE HARM.

Essentially, this is asking the oil and gas industry – or any other industry for that matter – to prove that something doesn’t exist.  Additionally, the concept of “public trust” laws essentially takes a nuclear bomb to any sort of property rights – all the land is everybody’s right, so anybody can sue to protect it.

And, here’s another really scary part of this proposed initiative.  It would make executives criminally liable if they “manipulate data” – think of this as Sarbanes-Oxley for the oil and gas industry. From the initiative:

ANY PERSON, CORPORATION, OR OTHER ENTITY FOUND TO BE MANIPULATING DATA, REPORTS, OR SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION IN AN ATTEMPT TO UTILIZE PUBLIC TRUST RESOURCES FOR PRIVATE PROFIT SHALL BE REFERRED FOR PROSECUTION FOR ANY CRIMINAL OFFENSES THAT MAY APPLY IN ADDITION TO OTHER PENALTIES THE STATE MAY IMPOSE, INCLUDING LOSS OF CHARTER TO OPERATE IN THE STATE.

But all of this detail brings us back to our original question – did Polis reneg or are the fractivists out of his control?  Here’s what Loveland Energy Action Project spokeswoman, B.J. Nikkel told The Observer about Polis not getting his hands dirty in Loveland:

“I find it rather disingenuous that he supposedly takes no position, because it’s more than obvious to everyone in Colorado that he has been spending his fortune encouraging other communities to enact precisely the same ban that Loveland now faces.”

Polis claims that he wasn’t involved with the Loveland effort which featured Doe (see above), yet a review of the groups involved show that’s unlikely. From Big Green Radicals:

Anti-fracking activists branded this fight as a “grassroots” quest led by local Loveland citizens, but the usual big green suspects were actually behind the campaign. The Sierra Club used its vast resources to run an aggressive ground game endorsing the fracking ban and working its get-out-the-vote machine. Also heavily involved in the campaign was Frack Free Colorado, a “local” group founded by New York-based celebrities. Even the supposedly hyper-local group Protect Our Loveland used the help of Local Control Colorado (which is dominated by Washington D.C.-based Food & Water Watch).

Guess how many of these organizations are the beneficiaries of Polis’ generous funding?  Decide for yourself whether Polis held up his end of the bargain or if he’s lost control of his base.

 

FLASHBACK: Obama Nails McCain on Voting with Bush 90%, What About Udall’s 99%?

Courtesy of Breitbart

Today’s The Spot blog by Lynn Bartels looked back to six years ago today when then-Sen. Barack Obama accepted here in Denver (Greek columns and all) the Democratic party’s nomination to be its candidate for the President of the United States.  But, a little bit of clicking led us to the actual coverage from the event.  It featured a partial transcript of Obama’s acceptance speech, in which he railed against his opponent, Sen. John McCain, for voting with President Bush 90% of the time.  In comparison, Obama’s lackey, our own liberal Sen. Mark Udall, has voted with Obama 99% of the time. What would Obama think?

Here’s the transcript:

Then Obama launched into an attack on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who he said has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time.

“What does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?” he asked. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.”

Comparing McCain’s 90% of the time with Bush to Udall’s 99% of the time with Obama, McCain certainly does look like a “maverick”.  But, really, what hypocrites Obama and Udall are.  We suspect, if given the opportunity, Obama would never criticize Udall in the same way for surpassing McCain’s loyalty to Bush.

 

OPERATIVE ERROR: Colorado Leftie Opens Udall Up To Masshole Attacks

(mediatrackers.org)

As campaign season revs up to full bore, it’s easy for political operatives from either side to be blinded by the feeling to always need to attack to lose sight of the entire battlefield.  Colorado Leftie Laura Chapin made this classic mistake last night, as she thought a quick tweet could score her and her side some cheap points easily.  Unfortunately for her, it opened up a whole other flank with which to attack Sen. Mark Udall.

The tweet:

 

Chapin’s attack is based off a story The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels published earlier.  Unfortunately for Chapin, it doesn’t appear she read all the way through the article as Rep. Cory Gardner’s visit to the “frat” he belonged to was more Boy Scouts of America than Animal House.  As Bartels writes:

U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner got a celebrity welcome when he stopped by his old fraternity at Colorado State University…

Yes, Cory Gardner, the former ram handler at CSU, the former state lawmaker, the Republican congressman from Yuma trying to take down U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat. The Cory Gardner who, while a college student was, get ready, a Democrat

He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science from CSU in 1997. He was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity, which is part Colorado State University’s sorority and fraternity system but without the Greek letters. In other words no hazing, secret handshakes or wild pledge parties.

According it its website, FarmHouse “follows four main aspects in building men throughout their time in college — spiritual, intellectual, social/moral and physical.” [the Peak’s emphasis]

To draw attention to such a positive Gardner piece was idiotic by Chapin.  Which part did she think Colorado voters would most be disgusted by?  That Gardner went to college in-state?  That he was such a loyal Ram, he actually handled CSU’s mascot?  That it’s really easy for him to work across the aisle because at one point he was sitting on the other side (before he came to his senses, ‘natch)?  That Gardner’s such a good guy his “fraternity experience” has more in common with 4H than keg stands?

If that wasn’t bad enough, this gives us a fine excuse to turn a light on Udall’s own education experience.  Spoiler alert PeakNation™, you won’t see Udall drop by his alma mater anytime soon when he has a few spare minutes to kill.  Why’s that?  It’s because the born-and-raised Arizonan went to a small, elitist college in Massachusetts, Williams College.  Williams College is for those who think Harvard is too Plebian.  Tuition, room, and board last year was a cool $61,000 for just one year.  That’s more than the average Colorado family makes in a year.

It’s only after Udall matriculated at the uber-liberal Williams College for four years that he finally made it out to Colorado.  We’re betting the closest Udall ever got to having an open mind and considering any side but his own was when he drove through Kansas on his way out to school.  Just kidding, Senator’s sons don’t drive across the country.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank Chapin for highlighting the collegiate difference between Colorado through-and-through Gardner, and Masshole Udall.

 

NOT INSPIRING: Group Bolstering Hick’s Economic Creds Ignores Economic Realities

What do you mean I can’t take credit for our labor force?

A recently-surfaced 501c(4), Inspire Colorado, is busy pushing positive economic messages into social media to support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s uphill re-election effort. Its website has tons of shareable memes in support of Hickenlooper and the economy, boasting concepts like job growth, innovation, labor supply and more.  Let’s dismantle this a bit.

First of all, unfortunately, John Hickenlooper cannot take credit for Colorado’s great labor supply or its innovation.  The natural beauty of Colorado attracts highly-skilled workers from across the country and the fact that they’re innovative should be no shock.  It would almost be like Hick taking credit for Colorado having a hard-working labor force.  Try as he might, nothing he’s done has inspired hard work – or innovation for that matter.

But, economic growth – he could be responsible for that, right?  Wrong.  Here are some stats on Hickenlooper’s economy:

  • Pew reports that there are zero states in which the percentage of people employed has gone up.  Zero. Not even Colorado. We are still lagging in economic recovery.
  • Everyone was excited last month when the jobs report showed that Colorado had added 3,000 new jobs…until we all realized it was all government hiring. Sad trombone. So, not only is the private sector not hiring, but now the private sector is saddled with more government spending that they must fund.
  • Speaking of, Hick has overseen an unprecedented expansion of state government. At one point, the government expanded 10% over a nine month stretch.  Not even liberal bastions like Illinois and New York can boast of such expansion.
  • Since 2012, the rest of the country received more venture capital funds to aid with startups. Not Colorado. The turbulent political environment caused by a lack of leadership by Hick is causing investors to flee.  This means that alllllll those innovators that Colorado has are spinning their wheels waiting for investment that may never come.  Thanks, Hick.
  • Colorado is falling behind its neighbors in economic growth.
  • Labor participation remains low, meaning that unemployment may be coming down, but that’s largely due to government hiring and people removing themselves from the workforce entirely.  That’s not a good thing.
  • Since Hick took the reins, Colorado has fallen in several economic indicators.

We’re not trying to be Debbie Downers here, but Coloradans deserve to be armed with facts, not fluff, when it comes to their economic well-being.  Hickenlooper’s uncertain regulatory regime in Colorado is gunking up our state’s economic engine. Unfortunately, we’re feeling less inspired and more skeptical when it comes to Inspire Colorado.

 

MRS. CARBON TAX: Udall’s Wife In DiCaprio Video Calling For Carbon Tax

“Round of applause for a carbon tax!”

Let’s revisit what Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters, said about Sen. Mark Udall and his wife, Maggie Fox, just a couple of weeks ago:

Not only does he vote right almost all the time, he’s a champion… His wife Maggie comes out of the movement as well. She gets it.  It’s a team that works all the time.” [the Peak’s emphasis]

“It’s a team that works all the time.”  Keep that in mind PeakNation™, as we catch up on what Maggie Fox has been doing since she was dumped by Al Gore.

The Free Beacon reported this week that Fox showed up in an anti-oil, anti-fracking video produced by Mr. “Never Let Go”, Leonardo DiCaprio:

Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall’s (Colo.) wife called for a carbon tax while appearing in a new anti-oil video produced by Leonardo DiCaprio…

“They’re ready to understand that carbon pollution is causing this challenge and that there is a simple solution: put a price on carbon pollution,” she says. [the Peak's emphasis]

We’ve already covered this earlier this month with an Economist’s article that points out, even when all externalities of carbon pollution are factored in, it would take a carbon tax of $185 a ton to make solar power competitive with coal.  Wind power is even more unaffordable.  In the movie, DiCaprio is calling for a carbon tax of anywhere from $20-$100, that is still $85 short of making solar competitive, but $5 more than the cap and trade price of carbon ($15) in Europe that has harmed their economy.  A carbon tax in Australia that was roughly $22.50 just got repealed because of the harm it was doing to their economy.

Which brings us back to our main point: if Maggie Fox and her husband Mark Udall are in favor of a carbon tax, what do they believe the price should be?  Udall on his official website calls for a “common-sense price on carbon,” but as far as we can tell, such a price doesn’t exists.  A $20 price on carbon is well below making renewable energy competitive, yet already too prohibitively high that it begins to harm an entire country’s economy.  Can someone ask Udall what he, his wife, and Leo think would be an appropriate price for a carbon tax?

In the meantime, enjoy watching this video with the scary music and oversimplifications.  Pay attention to that part where they tout what Australia has done with nary a mention of the recent repeal; or, how they completely ignore that Norway is one of the biggest oil exporters in the world.  Even our very own Boulder gets a shout-out, never-us-mind that at a median family income of $113K a year, Boulderites are more than able to cushion the increase in the karma carbon price.

Given another six years in the Senate, how high will Mark Udall raise our taxes just so his wife can continue to hang out with movie stars like Leonardo?

 

THE BIG MO: Tides Continues to Shift Against Fractivists

Just a year ago it looked like the anti-fracking movement had all the momentum. Environmental groups created false fears about flood-contaminated water just as four communities across Colorado were set to vote on energy bans. Their deception proved to be successful as all four passed in November. It was a foregone conclusion that fractivists would take their efforts statewide. 

Fast forward 9 months and the tides have turned dramatically. In June, voters rejected a fracking moratorium in Loveland. In July and August, judges overturned fracking bans in Longmont, Fort Collins and Lafayette. The courts are sending a clear message to hardline environmentalists that their efforts have been in vain.

Let’s also not forget that fractivists were let down by their leader, Rep. Jared Polis, when he pulled his statewide initiatives earlier this month.

So we’re left wondering: when will these guys learn their lesson?

If fractivists want to be a constructive part of the conversation, they need to work within the stakeholder process and respect Colorado’s already robust regulatory structure.  The ballot box is no longer a viable path for them.

 

BAD NEWS UDALL: WaPo- Obama Is Dragging Party Down

“Besides voting with Obama 99% of the time… I don’t know him.”

In their “70 days until the election” piece, The Washington Post points out some uncomfortable truths for Sen. Mark Udall.  The number one item, and the item Udall can’t run away from even though he’s doing his best to hide from it, is that President Obama is hugely unpopular across the entire country right now, especially in a state like Colorado that hasn’t appreciated his heavy-handed, Washington-bureaucratic style.  As The WaPo writes:

1.       President Obama isn’t helping his party. Whether it’s the perceived disconnect between his needs/wants and those of Democrats on the ballot this fall or his plan to issue an executive order on immigration sometime this fall or his desultory approval ratings, Obama looks like a weight pulling down his party. I’ve heard countless anecdotes about polling conducted in House races that should be competitive for Democrats where Obama’s ratings are in the high to even mid 30s — making it virtually impossible for a candidate of his party to win. It’s hard to imagine anything happening to change that reality since opinion is so locked in on the president. [the Peak’s emphasis]

This all just gives us another excuse to play this video, while bringing up the fact that for the past six years Udall couldn’t have possibly been more in Obama’s pocket if he tried.  Udall’s support for Obama’s extreme agenda has never fallen below 91%, while four of the years being 95+, last year going as high as 99%.  Udall can’t escape a simple fact: a vote for him is a vote for Obama and all Obama has been doing.  Perhaps, instead of skipping his own fundraiser featuring Obama, he should have spent some of the past six years choosing Colorado over pleasing Obama.

The Washington Post goes on to make the point that control of the Senate is coming down to a few key states, Colorado among them.  If Colorado boots Udall out, Republicans are all but assured control of the Senate.  For a President who had zero executive experience coming into the job, who had next to nil experience reaching and working across the aisle, maybe a united Congress will finally force Obama to get off his high horse and work for the good of the country.  Either way, a Republican Congress and an Obama White House will be good for the two parties to define themselves going into the 2016 Presidential election.  No longer will either party be able to hide behind the do-nothing Senate Harry Reid has been leading.  A Republican Congress will send Obama bills, which he can either sign or veto.  Thus, when it comes time to assign blame, the American public will know which party to hold accountable.

On the bright side for Udall, once he loses he no longer needs to hide his extremist environmental views, and he can go hiking any day of the week he wants to.  Really, a vote against Udall is just a vote to set him free.

 

PeakFeed: Coffman’s First Ad Talks Bipartisan Support of Women

In the first television ad from Rep. Mike Coffman, Coffman sets the record straight about his support of women.  Not only does the ad highlight his work in the Colorado state legislature to prohibit health insurers from gender discrimination in pricing for which the Colorado Women’s Lobby honored him, but he also talks about his support for sexual assault reform in the military and for the Violence Against Women Act.  In his press release, Coffman says that he is particularly proud of the bipartisan work that led to the sexual assault reform in the military.  From the press release:

“I am proud that Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier and I were able to pass legislation strengthening protections for victims of sexual assault in the military.  We must never let the young men and women who risk their lives defending our country fear retaliation for coming forward against their assailants.”

Watch the ad below:

From the ad:

Voice Over: “Disturbing reports of sexual assault in the military. A marine, Mike Coffman, took action, passing a bipartisan bill with stronger protections for victims. It’s not the first time.  Coffman made Colorado a leader in ending gender discrimination, preventing insurance companies from charging women more than men. And, Coffman bucked his own party to help pass the violence against women act.”

Woman: “It’s nice to know someone has our back, that’s Mike Coffman.”

 
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