INCONSISTENT MESSAGE: What is Hick’s Real Goal for the Oil and Gas Commission?

For Gov. John Hickenlooper sticking his foot in his mouth comes as naturally as breathing.  It’s almost like he couldn’t survive if he didn’t do it at least once a week.

His latest misstep comes on the heels of his announcement about yet another commission that will focus on oil and gas issues. In an AP story August 6, Hickenlooper clearly states that the commission’s “success is dependent upon it ending in regulation.”

Now, Hick is trying to say he actually never said that.  Even though he said it on-the-record and in a room full of reporters.

Hick’s comments didn’t go over well with folks who believe that Colorado already has the most robust oil and gas regulations in the state.  Or with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, who believes that the commission should ask whether more regulations are even the answer in the first place. 

Maybe that’s why Hick is trying to back track or flip flop or whatever you want to call it these days.  Colorado Community Media explains:

According to the Associated Press, Hickenlooper said the task force’s “success is dependent upon it ending in regulation…”

…. Hickenlooper, in an interview with Colorado Community Media, insisted that’s not what he said, even though he made his comments in front of a group of reporters.

“What I said was legislation,” the governor said. “Go back and look at the quotes. I never said we needed more regulation. Now, we might. Again, this is the whole point of getting people from all the different viewpoints in the same room and letting them have a discussion in such a way to try to figure out: `Is there a compromise here?’” [Peak emphasis]

Come on, man, just own it already.  Didn’t your mother ever teach you that lying makes it so much worse in the end?


HISTORY LESSON FOR HICK: The Blue Ribbon Commissions That Went Nowhere

There is nothing Democrats seem to love more than a good ol’ fashion Blue Ribbon Commission.  Former Gov. Bill Ritter was famous for creating them on everything from healthcare and education to transportation.  It actually became a joke that anytime Ritter was too scared to take a position on real issues he would convene a blue ribbon commission to study it.  

Sometimes these commissions would make policy recommendations.  However, even when that is the case, there is never enough political will to implement the suggestions.

Take President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – better known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission.  It detailed a $2.5 trillion deficit reduction plan that is now collecting dust on a shelf in the White House. Obama even went to great lengths to distance himself from its recommendations.

These blue ribbon panels/commissions/boards – whatever you want to call them – produced absolutely bupkis.  All they do is waste time and money and give politicos like Gov. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Jared Polis more empty talking points.

That is why the creation of yet another blue ribbon panel to study the issue of oil and gas is such a massive failure of leadership.  A similar commission was created two years ago on this exact same issue.  We’ve been there.  We’ve done that.   

Isn’t it time for a new approach?


BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE FRACKING DEAL: How a Country Boy from Sterling Made a Liberal Oligarch Blink

The fracking ban deal seemed to appear out of nowhere on Monday, but the one thing stopping Rep. Jared Polis and his cadre of radical environmentalists was initiative 121, which would have prevented local communities that banned energy development from receiving state tax dollars from energy development. This initiative was a firewall that prevented radical environmentalists from seriously damaging Colorado’s economy.

We’re taking you behind the scenes with Republican Representative Jerry Sonnenberg to see how it all went down.  If anyone deserves major props in this battle its Sonnenberg as well as his partner in crime on this issue, Rep. Frank McNulty.  Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) head Tisha Schuller also praised their efforts in the fight to save Colorado’s oil and gas industry:

“This is a victory for bipartisan common sense and common ground.  I thank state Representatives Frank McNulty and Jerry Sonnenberg for their leadership and unwavering support.  Despite the great intent of initiative 121, their decision to pull the measure means initiatives 88 and 89 won’t be on the ballot,  which could have put Colorado’s economic future at risk.  We thank Representative McNulty and Representative Sonnenberg for their stalwart support of this vital industry.”

So this has been a whirlwind week. As you and Rep. McNulty said in a statement, Polis caved, Colorado won. How are you feeling about it all?

We eliminated a risky situation, so I am happy to be helpful to create that stability that oil and gas obviously needed. I had hoped to not pull the initiative immediately, as we still had roughly a month to see how the initiatives and the signatures played out. I believe Polis was under so much pressure to pull this from his own party, I think he would have done so, but our friends within energy wanted the stability of no initiatives immediately.

When did it first occur to you that your initiative – which would have prohibited cities that ban drilling from receiving energy revenues – was such a major source of leverage in fighting Polis?

We actually filed it to combat and create leverage as well as an alternative to what Polis was doing, so we knew from the beginning that we would be able to, at a minimum, provide help to the industry on the ballot.

Do you plan to push the proposal again? 

I indeed plan to bring it back, either again through legislation, as I have done in a couple of different legislation sessions or in 2016 to combat another fractivist set of initiatives.

How much do you think the decision of Polis to withdrawal was driven by concerns that his initiative would jeopardize the re-election of Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper? 

I think that was the whole driving force for him to withdraw. He was under so much pressure from within his own party.

The Boulder fractivists are pissed off at Jared Polis. Do you feel bad for Polis?

I indeed did feel bad for him…for possibly a second when I may have been weak.

One conservative group ran a TV ad ridiculing the anti-fracking crowd as “flat earthers” and, well, freaks. Agree?

I don’t know if I would go that far, but I indeed view them as people not in touch with reality. There were a number of folks that said my initiative should have said that if a community prohibits oil and gas production, we shut off their energy supply so no natural gas or electric heat and no car. These anti-fracking folks want their cake, and eat it too, which is not right.

Tell us about this task force that Hick appointed to look at the state’ oil and gas regulations. are you worried it is a stalking horse for Polis to come back in 2016 with a similar ban? 

That is always a concern, but I have already had a number of conversations with the Governor’s office to make sure this is a balanced commission. Although I don’t believe it will be balanced, my hope is to have enough input on members that I can move the discussion at least a little. A commission is the standard path for this Governor. Whether it is S.B. 252 when they pass a bill and then create a task force to fix it, which was a total failure, or this commission where they put forward an initiative and then create a task force to fix it. It is governing by extortion.

Do you think Polis’ retreat is evidence that the Sierra Club and environmentalists lost the frack wars?

I don’t think there is any question they lost, but will the voters remember this conversation 90 days from now? Will those voters remember that our Governor didn’t stand up to Polis months ago and tell him that his initiatives are damaging to the economy instead of negotiating with, what I consider, an eco-terrorist in Polis. This was a mess and not handled well by the administration or by Polis. Understand that the Governor called me and said we have a deal to remove the Polis initiatives which included my initiative. I asked “who was we” as this was the first I had heard of it. My fear is that oil and gas will not do everything they can to elect Republicans so that we have a new Governor or control of the Senate and House, and that if this commission comes up with a hair-brained suggestion, there will be no back stop when the legislation moves forward.


SAVED BY 121: How Far Would Polis Have Gone Without Consequences?

Polis is a bloody mess after sticking his nose in the fracking debate

Tonight, the proponents of ballot initiative 121, which would have prevented local governments that ban fracking from benefiting from state energy development funds, was pulled by its sponsors as part of a deal to prevent Rep. Jared Polis (D-Not the Middle Class) from annihilating Colorado’s oil and gas industry.

And, so we find ourselves right back where we started. How ridiculous has this entire episode been?  The fractivists long had the entire Colorado fracking industry in their sights ever since a few small victories in Colorado’s liberal enclaves had them dreaming about ending a $29 billion part of Colorado’s economy.

Without the trump card of initiative 121, who knows what kind of torture Polis would have exacted on the Colorado economy and Colorado’s families to ensure the largesse of his second? third? who knows? vacation home. Here’s what state Reps. McNulty and Sonnenberg, backers of the initiatives had to say:

McNulty: “For months we’ve asked Polis to pull his initiatives in favor of a more constructive approach. Proposed measure 121 framed the issue and allowed us to do that. It’s now up to Polis to make good on his promise to end his economic brinkmanship, as he promised he would earlier today.’

Sonnenberg: “Jared Polis‘ campaign to decimate oil and gas development was a heavy handed fool’s errand from the start. When the Governor called Frank and me late last night, we were both sort of stunned that, after all these months of chest thumping, Polis would just fold up. His polling no doubt showed that his anti-fracking crusade was destined to fail.”

Of course, had Gov. John Hickenlooper been even a half-decent leader, Colorado would never have been threatened by a handful of fringe eco-extremists to begin with.  But, at least 121 helped force his hand.


THE DEAL THAT WASN’T: Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Mission Accomplished

Only in Democratic politics could two politicians up for election declare with a straight face that a deal has been reached when, in fact, a deal on fracking initiatives is far from final.

This morning, Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis held a press conference to announce that they had come to a compromise.  The two laid out the compromise.  The only problem?  There were several items they listed as part of the compromise that weren’t actually compromises and that they had no authorization to promise.  For example, Hick told attendees that Polis would scrap Initiatives 88 and 89 if the proponents of 121 and 137 would do likewise; however, Rep. Frank McNulty, who is behind Initiative 137, said that his team had no plans to scrap their effort.

Even the journalists were confused.  Perhaps 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman best described it:

He noted that this “was announced with all the fanfare of a done deal, but it’s clearly not a done deal.”

Then, a few short hours later, Polis submitted signatures for the two ballot initiatives that he was sponsoring – 141,000 for Amendment 88 and about 120,000 for Amendment 89.

Let’s recap: Hickenlooper and Polis gather everyone together this morning to talk about how great they are and the grand compromise they had reached.  Hickenlooper promised things he couldn’t deliver.  Udall offered a statement praising the deal.  Polis submitted signatures.  No compromise was reached.  Talk about the height of incompetence. The only way Hickenlooper could have made it worse for himself if he had hung a “Mission Accomplished” banner above his head.

Or, just this:



POLITICAL CONVENIENCE: Polis/Hick Frack Deal Made By Two Dems to Benefit Two Dems

Courtesy of Brandon Rittiman’s Twitter feed

UPDATE #2: And the extortion continues with Polis now agreeing to pull his measures only if McNulty and Sonnenberg pull theirs.  ”Compromise” may be a bad word for Republicans, but at least they know what it means.  Can someone get John Hickenlooper and Jared Polis a dictionary, please?

UPDATE: Apparently, President Barack Obama called U.S. Rep. Jared Polis last night to ask him to pull initiatives 88 and 89.  Let’s pause to consider this for one second.  Polis is so far left on this issue that the President, no friend of traditional energy development, is actually more moderate on this issue.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  The deal allegedly reached by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and Governor John Hickenlooper to pull anti-fracking ballot initiatives 88 and 89 is a deal made by two Democrats up for re-election to benefit two Democrats up for re-election.  How do we know?  Was the industry involved in this?  No.  That’s how.

Here are the details of the deal.  Polis will pull 88 and 89. Hickenlooper will convene a “blue ribbon panel” to ” recommend bills for next year’s legislative session, made up of representatives from local communities, the oil and gas industry, and local government officials.”  Despite early reports that 88 and 89 would be pulled in exchange for 121 and 137 to be pulled, that is inaccurate.  Rumor has it that Hick tried to pressure Reps. Sonnenberg and McNulty to pull their initiatives and they said no.

Here’s how this benefits Hickenlooper and Polis.  Polis was prepared to submit 200,000 signatures for both initiatives.  That might sound like a lot; however, that’s only approximately 100,000 per initiative, not nearly enough to account for signatures that might be invalidated.  The bare minimum for signatures to be on the ballot would be 86,000.  Experts say that they would need at least 125,000 to be safe.  Polis and all his money fell 50,000 short of the safety number.  Coming to a deal now just gives Polis’ massive failure cover.

And, then, we turn to Hickenlooper.  Hickenlooper desperately needed a win for his re-election campaign.  This deal allows him to declare victory without ever having to take a stand.  As usual.  It’s TBD 24/7 in Hickenlooper’s reality.

Of course, now that these two anti-fracking initiatives are off the ballot, Democrats don’t have to worry about the initiatives helping to turn out every single Republican in the state.  This would have been a huge problem for Sen. Mark Udall, whose re-election bid is in serious trouble.

Of course, everyone wants to know if Polis will re-direct the funds he planned to use to push these two ill-advised initiatives to Hickenlooper’s campaign as he allegedly promised.


WILL POLIS BLINK? Compromise Negotiations Underway, Business Group Redoubles Efforts

Today, the political class is waiting with baited breath to see if Polis goes through with submitting signatures for his anti-fracking ballot measures or if he backs down.

The pressure on Polis to drop his initiatives has come from both sides of the aisle and across all sectors of the business community.   While it doesn’t behoove Polis politically to press on, he’s also backed himself into quite the corner. 

The Denver Post is reporting that as of this morning Gov. Hickenlooper is still trying to broker a compromise despite his failed effort to do so earlier this summer.  From the Post:

Under the proposal, two initiatives aimed at tightening controls would be withdrawn and two so-called pro-industry initiatives would also be pulled back. 

Whether Hick will be able to come up with something that is truly bipartisan and not just an appeasement to Polis is still in question.   One of the pro-industry initiatives is sponsored by Rep. Frank McNulty and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg – neither of whom would be motivated to do Polis or Hick any favors.

On top of that, the pro-energy coalition Vital for Colorado has made a direct appeal to Polis asking that he stand down and withdraw his anti-fracking measures.  Then last week, the group took out a full-page ad in The Colorado Statesman highlighting their letter, and they hosted a joint tele-Town hall with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association to educate voters about Polis’s damaging initiatives.

With pressure continuing to mount – even up up to the last possible second – we have to ask, will Polis blink?


RACE TO WATCH: Are Unions Seeking Revenge Via the CD6 CU Regent Seat?

John Carson

Right now, Republicans now control the nine-member University of Colorado Regents board by five to four, but all that could change if Pat Stryker, Jared Polis, and their union BFFs have their way.  The CD6 seat, currently held by Republican Jim Geddes, is up for grabs and Republican John Carson and Democrat Naquetta Ricks competing for the seat.

Democrats aren’t going to let this one go easily.  According to the July 1 campaign finance report, Ricks has raised $37,563 from top donors like Pat Stryker ($400), Jared Polis ($400), Mark Udall ($100), as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers ($4,250), and the Pipefitters Local 208 union ($200).

But, why would Dems care about controlling this board?  Because Republicans, led by Regents Sue Sharkey and Geddes, have pushed an academic-freedom agenda aimed at countering the deep liberal bias at CU-Boulder. Here are just two exmples:

  • In September 2013, the board voted to add “political affiliation or political philosophy” to its non-discrimination clause, which is believed to be a national first.
  • The board also approved a “campus climate survey” to examine all forms of discrimination at CU, including political discrimination.

But, perhaps even more of a motive for union involvement was Carson’s role on the Douglas County School Board.  Carson was the president of the school board when it allowed its contract with the DougCo teachers union, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers, to expire on June 30, 2012.

Just yesterday, The Colorado Observer reported a 25% drop in union membership.  From the article:

The teachers’ union representing the Douglas County school system has lost one-quarter of its membership, signaling a growing frustration within the ranks that dues are used to finance politics instead of professional development.

It is critical to keep a Republican in the spot.  While CU Regent is often overlooked, it would appear that this is one race worth watching.


BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Polis, Perlmutter Both Vote Against Energy Jobs In Their Districts

We’ve written at length about the all the jobs created by oil and gas in Colorado, and the economic benefits the industry provides.  That is why we love a new data that parses out those statewide jobs numbers by congressional district and calls out members who are voting against their own constituents. 

(According a story in the Washington Examiner, the data was courtesy of John Dunham and Associates via Western Energy Alliance.)

Basically, WEA has compiled a list of 20 congressmen who voted against the Keystone XL pipeline and in favor of Pres. Obama’s overreaching emissions standards.  Both votes directly threaten the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars their districts receive from the oil and gas industry.

It’s no surprise that Rep. Jared Polis votes against energy jobs in his own district, but guess who else made the list?  Rep. Ed Perlmutter.  According to WEA, 5,224 of Perlmutter’s constituents make their living off of the oil and gas industry.  These workers make $358 million in wages and produce $1.3 billion in economic output.

The numbers for Polis are even more striking – 7,056 of his constituents make their living off of oil and gas, which translates to nearly $438 million of wages.  Polis has made it clear that he doesn’t give a sh*t about those 7,056 jobs.  It’s probably safe to say in light of his recent behavior that Polis even looks down on those jobs.

But what about Perlmutter?  Does he share Polis’s view about oil and gas workers?  Or will he find the courage to publicly oppose the Polis initiatives and stand up for his constituents?


EXPECTING VISITORS? Polis Cleans Up Wikipedia Page

It would seem embattled Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is doing some renovations on his Wikipedia page, according to @congressedits, a bot that tweets anonymous Wikipedia edits that are made from IP addresses in the US Congress.

The big question is – does this mean he is preparing for an announcement, and, if so, what would that announcement be?  Is it that Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally will reward his bad behavior by giving him the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee?  Or, will Polis, who has few friends left in his own party after the bungled fracking ban ballot initiatives negotiations, give the Democratic Party the middle finger and switch to an Independent?

We’ll walk you through the changes, and you decide.  Here they are:

1) Changed his occupation from Businessman to Politician (we suppose that is more accurate these days)

2) Switched the order of his occupations from “entrepreneur, philanthropist, and politician” to “politician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist” (see above)

3) Changed the description of how was founded from “Polis along with his parents” to “Schutz (that’s his mom), with help from Polis”.

4) Gave additional details on the transaction when Blue Mountain sold, changed from “which he sold to Excite@Home three years later in a deal worth $780 million” to “Schutz sold to Excite@Home in 1999 for $430 million in stock and $350 million in cash”

5) Added Republicans creds: “In February 1998, Polis founded ProFlowers, an online florist, in La Jolla, California. In December of that year, former Reagan economist Dr. Arthur Laffer began advising Polis and joined ProFlowers as a Director. ProFlowers, later renamed Provide Commerce, Inc., went public on NASDAQ as PRVD on December 17, 2003. In 2005, Provide Commerce was acquired by media conglomerate Liberty Media Corporation for $477 million.”

Noting the hire of Art Laffer, a Republican, and his sale to Liberty Media, run by Republicans, might seem odd for someone about to step into leadership at DCCC.  But, maybe not.  Polis is known to surprise.  And, maybe this all means nothing.  But, we usually don’t deep clean our house unless we’re expecting visitors.

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