The Vicarious Victims of Violence

Published on July 23, 2012 by

In the hours following Friday's mass murder in Aurora, I made a critical decision that changed much of the way I view my own response to the horrific tragedies that too often seem to strike our great state.  I turned off my TV.  I learned a critical lesson: I have a choice other than blindly embracing a vicarious victim status of yet another round of senseless violence.  Through a series of chance encounters since then, my eyes have been opened to an opportunity to join a campaign to save an innocent boy's life from the brain cancer that has sent him to the verge of death's door.  There is no greater way to honor Friday's real victims than by commiting everything we've got to help another innocent soul escape death at the hands of cancer's ruthless crusade. Read my full report for today's Human Events here.


“BURN IN HELL”: Theater 9 Survivor Calls For Eternal Suffering Of Batman Murderer. We Agree.

In a poignant interview that aired on 850KOA in the hours before mass murderer James Holmes' arraignment in front of an Arapahoe County judge, a woman, Lynn Johnson, who faced near-death in Theater 9 with her children and their father last week called for eternal suffering for the Batman murderer, saying she felt no compassion or sympathy for him and that he should "burn in Hell".  

Implicit in Johnson's call for Holmes to burn in Hell is that first the state should put him to death. We agree.

Meanwhile, at the arraignment the public was given its first full view of the human bile that was the target of the justified "burn in Hell" epithet.  

Death penalty? Burn in Hell? We couldn’t agree more.  

James Eagan Holmes should face the full weight of our justice system and its highest punishment…the death penalty.  

And when he meets that fate, deserved that it is, he will in fact face another — burning in Hell, as the Theater 9 movie goer aptly cried this morning.  

Even the death penalty and an eternity in Hell seems too meek a fate for Holmes. But it will have to do. Anything less than the death penalty would be a moral travesty.

(Photo Credit: Twitter)


RESOURCES: Find Help and Offer Help for Aurora Shooting

Friday's massacre reminded us that it's necessary to come together as a community when terrible things happen.  In that vein, we wanted to provide a few resources to help those who were affected by the shootings, as well as point you in the right direction if you'd like to help.  We will be updating this page as we learn new information.

There has been facebook page set up to offer community resources that will be constantly updated:

If you need help:

  • Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance is available for victims of this tragedy as well. Visit their website here for more information.
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado has set up a Family Support line at 720-777-2300 to help families. The line will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and callers will be asked to provide their contact information. A behavioral health specialist will return their call within 24 hours.
  • The Children's Hospital has posted a list of things to do to help talk to your kids about the Aurora movie theater shooting. "How to Talk to Your Kids About Aurora's Movie Theater Shooting."

If you want to help:

  • If you have any information on the shooting or the shooter you are asked to call the Aurora Police tipline 303-739-1862.
  • Bonfils Blood Center is asking for blood donations, especially O negative, A negative and plasma. The need for donations will continue for many days, so if you can't get in today you are asked to call 303-366-2000 to make an appointment or go to
  • At the request of Aurora PD, donations for the victims of the theater shooting can be mailed to COVA at 90 Galapago Street, Denver CO, 80223. For tracking they ask people to mark checks with "Aurora shooting" in the memo line.



Prayer for Aurora

Like the summer swelter, coverage of the Batman massacre in Aurora was unremitting this weekend. The stories were horrifying. Tale after tale of loss and bravery and bewilderment fill the minds of all Colorado after a weekend when it was all we could think about.  

The week ahead promises more grueling images. Memorials, burials, and an arraignment this morning of the human bile who authored this misery. More on that later.  

This morning, we at the Peak join the rest of the nation in bowing our heads in prayer for the families of the victims. The week ahead, and the months and years too, promise to be more than grueling. Life will never be the same for these.  

But for these we pray for strength and peace, and for justice.



Decided to wait



SHOOTING: Estimated 12 Dead and at least 50 Injured in The Dark Knight Rises Shooting

UPDATE 2: If you'd like to make a blood donation to aid the victims of this tragedy, please visit the Bonfils Blood Center web site.

UPDATE 1: According to Fox31's Eli Stokols, Holmes went to high school in San Diego, Calif., moved to Colorado to get a PhD in neuroscience at CU-Denver in the Fall of 2011, but dropped out just last month.

This morning we woke up to learn of a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater, Century 16, that has left at least 12 dead and at least 50 injured, according to Aurora Police.  The gunman, 24-year old James Holmes, has been arrested.

FoxNews offers frightening eyewitness accounts of the shooting, which happened around 12:30 a.m. last night. According to moviegoers, Holmes entered through an emergency door, threw in a smoke bomb, and opened fire.  He was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a rifle and two handguns.

According to eyewitness, James Wilburn:

James Wilburn was sitting in the second row of theater 9 after midnight when an emergency door opened and a man entered, the Denver Post reports.

“He was dressed in black,” Wilburn told the newspaper. “Wearing a flack jacket and a gas mask.”

The man was carrying a shotgun and had a rifle strapped to his back, Wilburn said. The gunman then dropped a canister, causing a noxious gas to spew out. He raised the shotgun and repeatedly fired toward the back of the theater.

Wilburn and three friends dove to the floor, hiding behind seats in front of them. The gunman was only five or six feet away, he said.

Once the shotgun was empty, the gunman calmly dropped it to the floor, took the rifle and went on firing. Wilburn heard roughly 30 shots, the Denver Post reports.

The eyewitness accounts all convey frightening details about what transpired in the theater.  In addition to Holmes’ shooting spree, he also told police that there were explosives in his home.

Reports indicate that this is the worst mass shooting since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.


OBAMA’S CRUMMY ECONOMY – State Dems Share the Blame

As of June, 2012 data (released this morning) Colorado has 86,000 fewer people working and earning a paycheck than four years ago in June, 2008. This is the measure of Obama's economic program.

This is the worst stretch for Colorado working families in decades. Forty-one straight months with unemployment above 7.5%. 336,000 more working-aged Coloradans without paychecks.

Colorado's unemployment rate has been higher than 7.5% in 69 months since Jimmy Carter was inaugurated in January 1976. Forty-one of those months have been since Barack Obama was inaugurated [BLS and LMI data, not seasonally adjusted]. Statistically, Obama owns this – hands down. But he shares the prize with Colorado's Democratic State Legislators.

Jobs just disappeared in this terrible recession. Our state's working-aged population has grown as well. It is this combination that resulted in 336,000 more Coloradans of working age – potential workers without paychecks – than just four years ago [source: calculations from State Demographer and LMI data]. This is a massive number of “discouraged workers.” It is 6.7% of all working-aged Coloradans. Add that to this month's 8.2% unemployment rate, and you have a lot of misery.

Read on for the employment situation where you live and for reasons our state's economy lags.

Let's get local.

Here are the changes in numbers of working Coloradans for our larger counties:

  • Adams | -5,059
  • Arapahoe | -5,030
  • Boulder | -5,684
  • Broomfield | -874
  • Denver | -13,929
  • Douglas | -4,806
  • El Paso | -17,247
  • Jefferson | -13,407
  • Larimer | -614
  • Mesa | -5,253
  • Pueblo | -1,109
  • Teller | -346
  • Weld | 1,964

Here are the changes for the smaller counties (regional totals):

  • Eastern Plains | 12,323
  • Intermountain | -1,457
  • San Luis Valley+ | 374
  • Metro Fringe | -1,499
  • Western Slope | -24,557

Amid the gloom, the only bright spots are Weld County, the Eastern Plains and the counties to the south and southwest of Pueblo. But Weld County, despite employment growth, still faces 9.2% unemployment.

Why are we in this pickle?

1. Baksheesh and Backscratching.

Baksheesh: “lavish remuneration and bribes …in return for little or no services rendered.” That's Obamabucks distribution here in Colorado.

Some of the cashola went to Obama's labor union supporters. Some bought refrigerators, computers and lightbulbs. Since “very few lighting products are made in the U.S.A.,” and ditto for fridges and computers, this is Obama outsourcing. The last American made incandescent bulbs – some styles – disappeared a couple of years ago, and making some fluorescents got outlawed just last Friday. Congress really thinks you create jobs by outlawing manufacturing in the US.

And then there's Obamabucks for bankrupt Abound Solar – and it's connection to a prominent Coloradan who lavishly funds liberal and Democratic causes. They called it stimulus; to others, it's payola.

2. Tax Explosion.

Not content with stupid spending, Colorado's Democrats doubled down with tax hikes. $5.9 Billion in new taxes and so-called fees and fines. With some paying the salaries of major donors to Democratic state legislative campaigns.

As Rep. DelGrosso said, “the Democrat’s continued pursuit of a failed tax-and-spend agenda shows how out of touch Democrats are.” State Republicans' plan is simple: expose and end hidden barriers to job creation and let local governments lower business taxes if that makes sense locally.

Incompetence and graft will not get us out of this mess. And that's what Democrats have offered.

JPMorgan reports a bleak future where “real GDP has been growing at a below-trend pace since early last year. If our forecast is anywhere near correct, that pattern will persist for at least another year, and perhaps even longer.”10 Obama and the Dems offer only “same old, same old.”

Any gambler in Black Hawk would change slot machines. And Colorado voters ought to put new people in charge.


IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIVE: ProgressNow Resurrects “Gessler Watch” After the Peak Reveals Stagnant Site

Do we have to do their job and ours?

On Tuesday, the Peak goaded Colorado Democratic Party spokesman and voter registration ombudsman, Matt Inzeo, about his threats of “watching” Secretary of State Scott Gessler when we discovered a lame web site called “Gessler Watch” that hadn’t been updated in about a month. It looked like someone was asleep on the job.

Lo and behold, today ProgressNow announced that it was “relaunching” – AND is now advertising on ColoradoPols in some kind of weird liberal money HumancentiPad.

We kind of feel bad – did we get someone in trouble for not doing their job? Well, not that bad. Here’s how we envision the conversation going on Tuesday afternoon:

Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Dems: INZEEEEOOOOOO, get in here. Look at this article on the Peak. Why are you such an embarrassment to me?

Matt Inzeo :( Sniffling) Why does the Peak always pick on me? It’s not my fault my voter registration was all screwed up.

Palacio: Shut up, Inzeo, actually, it is your fault. Get those lazy operatives from ProgressNow on the phone. What the %#^@ are they doing over there?

(Distinct sound of the phone ringing)

Joanne Schwartz, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado: Hello?

Palacio: Joanne. What the $%^# are you guys doing over there, besides attracting embarrassing stories? What’s going on with GesslerWatch and why haven’t your interns updated it since JUNE? Are you Progress NOW or Progress LATER? I’ve got donors calling and freaking out about how their millions of dollars are being spent. Tim Gill, Pat Stryker, George Soros – they’re all breathing down my neck. Soros even called from Switzerland – from an appointment with his banker.  It's horrifying.

Schwartz: (trembling) I’m, I’m sorry Rick, I saw that article. It’s just that, well, you know, we did some issue polling and, um, we found that the voter ID laws that we we’ve been blasting are, um, you know, popular among the electorate.

Palacio: I DON’T CARE. Resurrect this web site NOW. And then, send a press release to The Post’s Sara Burnett. NOW. I want to see PROGRESS on this NOW.

And the rest is history. We’re just so glad that the crew at the Colorado Democratic Party and ProgressNow are such big fans of the Peak.


CONGRESSIONAL WIVES CLUB: Spouses Of Colorado Congressional Members Getting Rich Off Green Lobby

While unemployment rises in Colorado and energy industry employees from the 200 coal mine workers in Trinidad to the 405 workers at Abound Solar are being laid off, members of the Green Lobby are making out pretty well for themselves, and two of those members are directly related to Members of Congress from Colorado.

Before Solyndra lost $535 million in taxpayer money and laid off 1800 workers, Congressman Ed Perlmutter's first wife was cashing in as their lobbyist. 

From a book on Washington, DC corruption by the Washington Examiner's David Freddoso

As it sought approval for its first Department of Energy loan, Solyndra hired lobbyist Deana Perlmutter, then-wife of Democrat Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.

Congressman Perlmutter has long profited personally off his support for "green energy." A Washington Times investigation in 2009 found that Perlmutter inserted a provision into a House global warming bill that would benefit a green energy bank his family and a political donor were invested in.

Green energy cash isn't just going to the Perlmutters, but has found its way into the bank account of Senator Mark Udall's family as well. 

An editorial in The Colorado Observer yesterday noted that the majority of the Udall family income is coming from a group founded by Al Gore that has a very different legislative agenda than Colorado voters:

Maggie Fox, wife of U.S. Senator Mark Udall and CEO of the Climate Research Project, for example, made a whopping $181,891 in 2009 according to IRS documents – more than her husband’s comfortable $174,000 Senate salary. But that’s not all. Ms. Fox evidently did such a fine job in 2009 that she received a $102,000 raise in 2010, when IRS documents show that she was paid a salary of more than $283,000.

Considering the majority of the Udall family income appears to come from sources that have a specific legislative agenda in mind, it’s worth asking what the Climate Research Project is getting out of Senator Udall.

The Denver Post editorialized in 2006 that Congressman Perlmutter needed to build a "firewall" between him and his lobbyist then-wife, saying they were raising "a flag of caution." The editorial noted that "the risks of conflict are hardly theoretical. In 2005, Congress approved $750 million for projects favored by lobbyists whose relatives were involved with the bills, according to USA Today."

With Maggie Fox and her group directly targeting the US Senate for votes, and getting paid more for it than her US Senator husband, voters must wonder who exactly is pulling the strings.  

Moreover, knowing the hundreds of thousands Fox is pulling in trying to destroy the coal industry, most voters would probably recoil when she puts out statements celebrating new regulations aimed at shutting down the coal industry, and the thousands of good-paying Colorado jobs associated with it. 

What does Fox care that a coal worker's family can't put food on the table? She's still got a reservation at Morton's. 



Published on July 19, 2012 by

You don't have to agree with Colorado Attorney General John Suthers politically. I only do part of the time. But to say he's unethical?  That's a flat out lie. 

Before you disregard what I am about to say because I share Suthers' political affiliation, consider this.  I publicly supported his Democratic opponent, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett in the last election. I did so because I appreciated Garnett's willingness to spend political capital on controversial issues, including medical marijuana and sentencing reform.  I'm sure I am in the minority when I say I have tremendous admiration for both men.

In a July 17th Huffington Post column titled “John Suthers: 'Pay-to play' Campaign Contributions,” a self-described “former reporter” Phil Linsalata abandons journalistic ethics in his sloppy attack on the conservative Suthers. “Suthers has credentials that make him look almost perfect for Mitt Romney's short list of candidates for United States Attorney General — until you look a more closely,” he writes. 

Unfortunately for Linsalata, a closer look doesn't live up to the hype.  Instead, he merely repeats tired accusations, including a reference to Suthers' so-called “'Willie Horton moment,' in which Suthers, as U.S. Attorney for Colorado, signed the early release papers of a convict who then went on to kill three women and his own uncle.”  In truth, the decision was made long before Suthers entered the fray.  It was the FBI that offered the inmate a get-out-of-jail-free card in exchange for sharing information that later turned out to be false. As U.S. Attorney, Suthers signed off on the previously authorized deal.

This is the same flawed attack that proved fatal to Garnett's bid to unseat the incumbent Suthers. Voters, including some prominent liberal Democrats swayed to Suthers' camp by the move, fully rejected the thesis that a prosecutor who has spent almost his entire career fighting to put the guilty behind bars should be accountable because a single inmate he let out on the streets went on to commit horrific crimes.  I personally think Suthers puts too many people behind bars.

Next, Linsalata grossly misstates Suthers' position on Obamacare, questioning his conservative credentials over statements he made in conjunction with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent landmark health care decision. Here, Linsalata entirely omits the fact that Suthers was a national force in uniting state attorneys general to file the lawsuit seeking to strike the law.  Yes, some conservatives were outraged over Suthers' recent support for a state-level health insurance exchange.  Not surprising given that conservative lawmakers were also bitterly divided on the legislation. 

But Linsalata doesn't stop there.  He claims that Suthers is guilty of accepting “pay-to-play” campaign contributions, including $11,775 from high-interest payday loan lenders in 2010 at the same time he was “re-drafting state regulations on the short-term loan businesses.” And just who were these critics?  Linsalata quotes Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, the liberal litigation machine that has been caught in the act multiple times making false accusations and overplaying its hand.  But even Toro stopped short of a full condemnation, only going so far as to say that the scenario “looks like 'pay-to-play.'” 

The second part of the “pay-to-play” conspiracy: Suthers “was spending millions of Colorado taxpayer dollars in a failed attempt to shut them down.” Millions? This estimate has no basis in fact.  Perhaps he is talking about Suthers' unsuccessful lawsuit against lenders who use Indian Tribes as fronts to avoid having to comply with state law.  This was nowhere near a seven-figure legal battle. The argument falls flat. Suthers is unethical for taking money from payday lenders, an allegation that isn't mitigated by his state Supreme Court challenge against one of the industry's most powerful coalitions?  Those campaign contributions don't appear to be helping much. 

Linsalata falsely asserts that Suthers “assigned” Laura Udis, a “subordinate” attorney to draft payday loan regulations. In fact, Udis is the chief official for the state's Administration of the Uniform Commercial Code, a position created under administrative law and one that possesses rulemaking powers separate and distinct from Suthers' authority. The rule drafting was always under Udis's domain. Yes, Suthers has the power to hire and fire her, but beyond that, he has stayed out of the rulemaking process almost entirely.  Further, had Linsalata spoken with lenders, he would have learned that industry leaders have, at times, vocally opposed Udis's actions.  Once again, not exactly the treatment a donor might expect in exchange for campaign cash.

Linsalata concludes his argument detailing Suthers' vulnerability as a possible contender to earn Mit Romney's nod for U.S. Attorney General through two final cheap shots.  First, he cites allegedly “strong” opposition by Indian tribes.  Second, he takes issue with Suthers' reliance on staff to oversee almost all litigation in which his office is engaged. 

Would these tribes be the same ones accused of illegal coordination with the payday loan industry who allegedly gave him money in exchange for political favors? Good prosecutors should be unpopular with those targeted with legal investigations.  For a prosecutor to win 100 percent of the time, he or she must not be taking on enough tough cases.

To Linsalata's point about Suthers' allocation of time between the courtroom and other duties, he lacks a basic understanding about the duties of an attorney general.  Charged with overseeing a massive bureaucracy that necessarily devotes substantial time and resources to litigation (including several cases brought by Colorado Ethics Watch in recent years), Suthers must be careful to provide adequate attention to the department's other obligations, which include critical investigations into illegal activity and fraud, active monitoring of the legislative process, drafting of legal positions, and crisis management.

Now it's up to you to decide whether Linsalata has made his case.  Do his allegations of wrongdoing match his thesis that Suthers is culpable for the “early release of a man who went on a murder spree, [a] refusal to return questionable campaign contributions and a soft stance on Obamacare?” Based on this flimsy evidence, Linsalata fails miserably in my humble court of opinion.

Jessica K. Peck is a Denver attorney and serves as executive director of Colorado's Open Government Institute.

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