DROPPING DOWN: Colorado Slides in Multiple Economic Rankings

Hick toasts the Republican counties that keep him afloat

Good ol’ J.W. Hickenlooper the second would like Coloradans to believe he’s a business-friendly governor.  Slick Hick says, “come look at these nice statistics that tell you how fabulous I am for businesses.”  But, like a man who has come by wealth through inheritance, Hick is only skating by on the great resources Colorado has to offer, and not enhancing them.

The American Legislative Exchange Council released its annual state economic outlook for 2014: Colorado has fallen to 22nd.  After years of consistently ranking in the top ten (#2 in ’09, #2 in ’10, #6 in ’11, #8 in ’12) Colorado has dropped dramatically over the past two years, ranking 16th last year and fallen a further six spots this year.  The six spot drop from 2013 tied Colorado for the second worst drop of all fifty states.

With Slick Hick adding over 24,000 pages of regulations in 2012 and 2013 alone, along with the 10th highest tax increases among the all fifty states over the same period, this tumble in the rankings should come as no surprise.  Luckily for El Deuce (get it? because Hick’s the second) the conservative-bastion that is Douglas County—still considered business friendly—has the jobs rolling in, while Weld County has been pumping out more gas and jobs to keep other traditional metrics of Colorado’s economy afloat.

How much is Douglas County’s 5.9% and Weld County’s 5% growth rate compensating for other counties with lackluster growth across Colorado?  Certainly Colorado’s unemployment would be higher without the thousands of jobs those two counties have brought in.

But it’s not just ALEC that has downgraded the economic environment in Colorado.  George Mason University’s Mercatus Center economic and personal freedom rankings have Colorado falling steeply to 19th in the country when just back in 2007 we were 4th.  Hell, even under former Democratic governor Bill Ritter we only slipped to 7th in 2009.  Since then, and since having J.W. Hick in charge for the past four years, we have slipped a further twelve spots.

While Colorado continues to look pretty compared to the rust-belted states to the East, and the impossibly over-regulated by hippies states to the West, we sure are the ugliest economic step-sister when it comes to the states most like us.  If Slick Hick isn’t replaced this November, we can resign ourselves to an economy more suited to Cleveland than Salt Lake City.

 

JUDGE BY ACTIONS NOT WORDS: Udall’s Own Words Doom his Campaign

When your opponents can bury you with your own words, your political career is not long for this world.  Liberal Senator Mark Udall’s campaign team thought it’d be smart to tweet out a link to an old story on how much Udall is such a mountain climber (new drinking game: drink every time Udall mentions mountain climbing or Hickenlooper mentions beer or geology… just kidding – alcohol poisoning sucks!).  The problem with the story?  When Udall utters this line we bet he’d now wished he didn’t:

Udall said. “I’m much more inclined to look at what people do, as opposed to what they say.” [the Peak emphasis]

Oh, the irony.  Just this week Udall started a tour of Colorado, ironically called True to Colorado (from the man caught in “The Lie of the Year”?) where he hopes people pay attention to only his words and not his extremely liberal record of the past six years.  From the heights of hypocrisy, Udall has repeatedly tried these past few days to make this his motto:

“At the heart of freedom is the freedom to be left alone.”

First from his speech to the Democratic Assembly, to a campaign video, and finally in a tweet, Udall has been using this line.  Pretty words Udall, but like you said yourself, let’s examine your actions.  You’ve voted 99% of the time with Obama.  You want to pass more regulation on equal pay, when you yourself pay your female staff 84 cents to every male staff dollar.  You said yourself you were proud to cast the deciding vote on a bill that stripped 337,000 Coloradans of health insurance plans they liked, while making a drastic overhaul to an industry that is 1/6th of the entire United States economy:

“I look forward to casting that last vote.”

If you believe the heart of freedom is the freedom to be left alone, why were you proud to be the deciding vote on such an intrusive bill into the most private matters of Coloradans?

You took our health plans, you took our doctors, and you took our freedom to choose.  The only freedom you’ve left us is the freedom to be free of you.  Come November we’ll finally free ourselves to be left alone from you.

 

HICK OFF THE HOOK: Hey IEC, Your Liberal Biases Are Showing

Today, the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) dismissed Compass Colorado’s ethics complaint against liberal Governor John Hickenlooper.  The complaint alleged that Hickenlooper used state staff to plan a Democratic Governors Association (DGA) fundraiser and for accepting gifts in excess of the amount allowed by Colorado’s Amendment 41.

The vote to dismiss was four to one.  Former Republican state Rep. Matt Smith was the lone voice of dissent.  Shocking.  Or not – because the commission is comprised of Democratic-loving folks.  First, we have two former Democratic state legislators – former Rep. Rosemary Marshall and Sen. Bob Bacon.  Each has given money to Governor Hickenlooper.  Then, we have Bill Leone who also gave money to Hick and also was appointed to this position by Hick. Coincidence?  TBD.

With all of these sticky conflicts of interest, one would think that the conflicted members of the commission would recuse themselves.  But, they had the opportunity to do so and did not.  Compass Colorado filed a change of venue request to move the hearings from the IEC to an administrative law judge.  The IEC denied the request.

The dismissal is the latest in a string of questionable ethics in this fairness theater that the IEC has tried to perpetuate.  Earlier this month, it was revealed that the IEC investigator had released a draft of the investigators’ report to the Hickenlooper administration before anyone else had the opportunity to see it.

There is no word yet on whether Compass Colorado will appeal the ruling.

 

GAME OF METAPHORS: Statesman Depicts Hickenlooper as Game of Thrones’ Joffrey

This past weekend at the state assemblies The Colorado Statesmen put out it’s usual double issue.  This year’s edition featured a clever cover based off the popular TV series “Game of Thrones”.  Now, either the illustrator doesn’t have a good grasp of the show, or he or she just really despises liberal Governor John Hickenlooper.   Why else would you dare have Hickenlooper dressed up as one of the most despised villains in recent memory?

Now PeakNation™ put your spoiler-alert and geek hats on as we’re about to get a little nerdy.  George R.R. Martin, the author behind the books that became “Game of Thrones” has received many accolades for creating a plot this is unpredictable, and a boy-king (Joffrey) who is universally reviled.  Joffrey is a toxic mixture of a coward who over-compensates to hide his weaknesses, a petulant child who believes he can do no wrong, and a ruthless craven who takes any dissension towards his decrees as open rebellion instead of wise counsel.  But, we’re sure any semblance between King Joffrey and Hickenlooper is purely coincidental.

Yet, [SPOILER ALERT!] this past weekend did not end well for Joffrey, and could be the beginning of the end for Hickenlooper.   In a show known for pulling no punches, in just the second episode of the season, “Game of Thrones” didn’t bat an eye in killing off one of its greatest villains.  As Joffrey sat among his “loyal” subjects during his wedding feast, one had the audacity to poison him.  And as Hickenlooper stood before his “loyal” Democrats, fractivists could not resist standing up and shouting their protests before Hick was even a minute into his speech.  Both are men who would like to believe they are above the game they play, but refusal (or the appearance of refusing) is just another tactic to be deployed.

While Joffrey believed he was invincible because of his family’s wealth and power, Hickenlooper believes his shi poo doesn’t stink because he opened a bar before he came into politics; each man’s condescension to those who disagree with them is palpable.  The former lost his life this past weekend for refusing to play the game; will the latter lose his election in November for much the same?

As for us here at The Peak, we’ll continue to listen to what our little birds have to say, knowing the political game is only the result of five million Coloradans figuring out how to live together.  This means no one is above the game.  Not even boy-kings and boy-governors who’d like to believe otherwise.

 

PETULANT CHILD: Hickenlooper’s So-Called Transparency Hides Darker Plots

We knew liberal Governor John Hickenlooper didn’t know how to lead, but when did he turn into such a whiny child?

Fighting an ethics complaint against him, that receiving over $13,000 in hotel rooms and waived fees from the Democratic Governors Association does not qualify as a “gift”— which, in light of the DGA raising over more than $5.5 million in donations from event attendees makes us concur with Hick on this point; it’s not a gift, more of a commission—Hickenlooper resorts to the ol’ legal concept of, “but Mom, other people are doing it!”

In an interview with 850KOA-AM (as reported by The Colorado Observer) Hick says all the other governor’s did it, so why can’t he:

“My gosh—I mean, Gov. [Bill] Owens did this for the Republican Governors Association, Gov. [Bill] Ritter did it for the Democratic Governors Association…”

My gosh indeed!  The first issue here is that Gov. Owens wasn’t governor under Amendment 41.  But, really, the clear rebuttal here comes from the infamous court case Little Billy v. No Dessert Until You Eat Your Vegetables:

“And if everyone else was jumping off a cliff, would you also?”

At which point Hick stomped his feet really hard on the steps as he was sent to his room for a timeout.

Hissy fit aside, it’s becoming clearer day by day Hickenlooper and his posse are not what they seem.  For a man who wants to portray himself as Colorado’s version of Mr. Smith goes to Denver, the fact that he’s given max donors politically-appointed jobs that make over $200K a year, or that his right-hand man is plotting with the EPA on how to hurt rural Coloradans (while trying to hide any Hick involvement in it), to his chief-of-staff not even receiving or sending a single email over a few day period, has got to have everyone wondering: what the hell is Hickenlooper hiding behind all those kegs?

For a man who has nothing to hide, Hick and his people sure aren’t very transparent.

 

DIRTY WORK: Hickenlooper Leverages EPA to Attack Rural Coloradans

Liberal Governor John Hickenlooper and his staff felt pretty safe from the reach of Colorado’s Open Records Act (CORA) by using their personal emails.  How else can you explain the blatant disregard chief strategist for Hickenlooper, Alan Salazar, has for rural Coloradans?  Unlucky for Hick and Salazar, communications with the EPA fall under the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the Competitive Enterprise Institute got their hands on them, as Complete Colorado reports:

Top administration officials for Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the Environmental Protection Agency for help killing a 2012 Republican-sponsored water bill that would have saved rural Colorado water districts and their customers millions of dollars, according to recently obtained emails. [the Peak emphasis]

It was reported last week Salazar took quite the umbrage when someone had the gall to call him and Hick’s administration a “slippery lot.”  The self-awareness shown by Salazar in these emails shows that label more than fits.

Salazar, using his AOL account, emailed Martin’s private account about the then-pending legislation and his “Thoughts on Nutrients Response” following the bill’s 8-5 approval from the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources committee to the House Committee on Appropriations on March 12, 2012.

…Salazar wrote, “1. My sense is that it’s fine to take some time with the response. Doesn’t have to be soon – maybe better if it’s not too quick. 2. Specificity and direction with regard to the questions posed would also be helpful. 3. We don’t want to expose the administration to political fire. [the Peak emphasis]

Not only did Salazar want the EPA to kill a bill that would help rural Coloradans, but he wanted to make sure none of the blowback could be traced to Hickenlooper’s administration.  This isn’t just slippery, this is dirty, underhanded, and conniving, the exact opposite of everything Hickenlooper has portrayed himself as.  That is why this email correspondence is so damaging to Hickenlooper.  It casts every fortunate coincidence that has happened during his term in a whole new light.  How many times has a timely report or study come out during a heated debate that swung the debate in Hickenlooper’s favor?

That Hickenlooper happy-go-lucky persona has just turned into something more sinister.

 

FACT CHECK: Executive Director of CDHCP Claims Medicaid Expansion Will Reduce ER Visits

A Denver Post story today details how Obamacare wasn’t so much about making private insurance affordable as expanding government-run healthcare:

In Denver, 2½ times as many people enrolled in the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program from October through the first quarter of 2014 as those who signed up for private insurance through the state exchange, state figures show. [the Peak emphasis]

State Sen. Kent Lambert argues this will end up as unfunded mandate by the Federal government, as Colorado in the future will have to come up for the funds to support this expansion of Medicaid.

It’s a huge burden on taxpayers,” Lambert said. “Colorado made a decision, the governor made a decision under Democratic leadership to expand the criteria for Medicaid to a much larger population, and the federal government also expanded Medicaid.” [the Peak emphasis]

The Hickenlooper administration believes this is false, as the expansion of Medicaid will result in fewer ER visits and more preventive care:

Susan Birch, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the Medicaid expansion will not impact the state budget but will help get costs under control.

Taxpayers are paying for these people in emergency rooms and jails,” she said. “It’s far cheaper to coordinate care and keep asthma under control, keep diabetes from resulting in amputation.” [the Peak emphasis]

In the immortal words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”  According to a Harvard study reported on by The Washington Post back in January, the expansion of Medicaid actually does the opposite, it results in more ER visits:

As the health-care law expands Medicaid to cover millions more Americans, a new Harvard University study finds that enrollment in public program significantly increases enrollees’ use of emergency departments.

The research, published Thursday in the journal Science, showed a 40 percent increase in emergency department visits among those low-income adults in Oregon who gained Medicaid coverage in 2008 through a state lottery. [the Peak emphasis]

Not only will Colorado be on the hook to the tune of over $70 million next year to cover the Medicaid patients, according to the Joint Budget Committee, but we can now expect emergency rooms to be even more crowded.  The worst of both worlds.

Peak Fact Check Verdict™: You’re full of it.

 

HARD PRESSED: Hickenlooper Administration Wilting under Tough Questions

Does liberal Governor John Hickenlooper have toddlers working for him?  That’s the sense one gets when a spokesman for Hickenlooper would rather walk away from a question then actually answer something that might be pertinent to the people of Colorado.

In the first of multiple disturbing stories about Hick’s administration in The Denver Post today, it’s revealed the Colorado Department of Human Services has been abusing a waiver system to hire out-of-staters for jobs specifically meant for Coloradans.  The most blatant of the violations?  Giving a no-bid contract to get an out-of-state worker here, then hiring her as the contract expired saying she was now a Coloradan:

CDHS gave Nikki Hatch, who served under Bicha in Wisconsin as the director of performance and quality assurance, a $72,000, no-bid contract for which she moved into the state, thereby gaining residency.

Eighteen days later, after signing the contract for Hatch to conduct an analysis of strategic outcomes and data, CDHS posted an opening for a deputy director of operations and chief of staff, which noted it was only open to Colorado residents.

In July, a month before the contract was to be completed, Hatch was hired for the position at $138,000 a year under a Senior Executive Services contract. [the Peak emphasis]

It’s obvious that Hickenlooper and his cronies know how bad this looks because they threw up so many road blocks to prevent stories like these from coming out.

“From what I have gathered, very recently our residency waivers have come under scrutiny through a CORA request so (DPA is) going to be more selective on approving these,” wrote CDHS human resources staffer Daryn Ridenour in a March 6 e-mail.

Shouldn’t they have been selective with the waivers the entire time?  You must be doing something wrong if you change your behavior only when you know someone is now watching you.

The obfuscation was so bad on this issue, The Post wrote a second article just on the hoops they had to jump through to get this information:

While touting transparency, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s staff delayed access to state appointment records and asked for hundreds of dollars to provide additional documentation of the people who moved from protected to at-will positions.

When asked about the tactics, Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said the requests were not relevant to the state employment system.

When The Post pressed on the lack of transparency, Brown walked away from the discussion. [the Peak emphasis]

This isn’t the first time that the Hickenlooper administration has acted like a child when pressed by the media.  He threatened to cut off media access to 9News and Jace Larson for asking about Hick’s connection to Evan Ebel, the former inmate who murdered the state’s corrections chief, Tom Clements.

Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see The Denver Post isn’t going to be bullied by Hickenlooper’s administration that has skated too long on his “I’m just a drunk bartender” story.  And it looks like Colorado has a new Kyle Clark in Arthur Kane, a man who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.

 

BIG SPENDER: Hick’s Employment Overhaul More Like Spending Spree

Ooops! Another Hicken-Blooper!

The Denver Post dropped a bomb on liberal Governor John Hickenlooper this morning.  Remember that employee overhaul that we all voted on that he promised wouldn’t cost Colorado taxpayers money?  Yeah, not surprisingly, it actually costs taxpayers money – tens of millions, in fact. The bait and switch happened on Amendment S, which allows the Governor to staff up quickly to more “effectively” implement the policies that he’s charged with implementing.  Hindsight being 20/20, of course that would translate into a bloated bureaucracy.

While the blue book that accompanied the voting suggested that the financial impact would be minimal, The Denver Post‘s analysis found the reality to be far different:

However, new hiring and moving worker positions from rank-and-file to at-will, while also increasing rank-and-file levels, resulted in a net increase of more than 300 at-will employees — who serve at the pleasure of their bosses and don’t receive traditional state worker protections — in executive branch employees between November 2012 and January of this year, The Post’s analysis found….

…The increase for at-will executive branch salaries jumped more than 91 percent over total at-will salaries in 2012 — from $31.4 million to $59.5 million — for the period.

The natural question is who will pay for all of these salaries.  This analysis also brings up an important point – Hick is batting zero for two on the amendments.  He backed this in 2012 and, then, Amendment 66 – the billion dollar tax increase – in 2013.  Can Colorado afford another term of Hick’s hikes?

 

PEAKFEED: Brophy Helps Colorado Break Up with Hick

In one of the most creative ads of the election season thus far, Republican state Sen. and candidate for Governor Greg Brophy offered Coloradans a way out of its unhealthy relationship with liberal Governor John Hickenlooper – a “Dear John” letter.  Just watch.

From the ad:

Dear John,

I think we need to go our separate ways.  Please know that it’s not you, it’s me.   We’ve grown apart these past three years and I blame myself. I built up unrealistic expectations of you to be someone you just are not. I see that now and I apologize.

I’ll always remember with fondness how we first met at that bar of yours in Lodo.  You were so low-key and approachable.  I’ve come to see how that bar and it’s success is a fundamental part of who you are.  No matter where we go or what we do together, you never miss an opportunity to remind me of that place or beer.  Again, I blame myself for taking you away from the only place you’ve been truly happy.  It’s a big part of why I want to set you free.

Before we moved in together, you made me think you’re someone you’re not.  Those funny, quirky commercials.  Your claims that you believed what I do. Your pledged commitment to be an average, moderate guy. It sounded so reasonable, but it wasn’t really you. I need someone else, someone who puts me first instead  of his friends or party.

You said how much you supported the plain and well-known rules I’ve chosen to live by.  You even took an oath to uphold and live by them, John.  Yet when it mattered most, in that important Dunlap matter, you ignored my rules and said maybe the person after you could follow my rules.  Well, that’s the person I need now.

You keep imposing new and more restrictive rules on what I can  do and how I have to do it.  At first, I thought it was because you cared, but now I see it’s because you don’t trust me. Remember that time one of your friends said I couldn’t be trusted with a handgun because I might mistakenly get scared I could be raped and accidentally shoot someone on campus?  You never stood up for me or my rights.  No other person in this country has gone as far as you have to limit my rights with the stroke of a pen.

You only seem to care about the Denver part of me.  It would be one thing if you ignored the other parts of me, but it’s worse than that.  You abuse my rural parts and put unfair demands on them to act like Denver.  You could have said no to the ridiculous renewable energy demands that your friends put on me.  But, again, you chose them over me.  I need someone who cares about all of me, even when there aren’t fires or floods to draw them there.  You even changed my logo to some generic green triangle.  Why am I not good enough for you the way I am.

You’re such a nice guy.  I know there is another, much better situation out there waiting for you.  Maybe you could go back to your great bar, relax and just go back to being a bartender.  I wish you all the best, John.  I’ll think of you with every beer.

Fondly,

Colorado

P.S., Maybe this will give you the time you need to focus on that Hillary you keep talking about.  Good luck with her, she seems perfect for you.

 
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