Read This – It’s Better Than a Robo Call

Good news! The Rockies can still technically win the pennant.

What would politics be without irritating robo-calls? I mean, besides more pleasant?

As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Two Democratic lawmakers filed separate ethics complaints Tuesday, charging that opponents of a construction defects bill lied in calls to the lawmakers’ constituents.

At issue are pre-recorded blast phone calls to senior citizens in certain Democratic lawmakers’ districts. Callers were told that their lawmaker supported a defects bill that would increase taxes. No construction defects bill existed at the time. The legislation that eventually was introduced, House Bill 1338, does not increase taxes.

“I find the practice of lying to my constituents completely unethical,” said Rep. Alice Borodkin, of Denver.

She filed a complaint against two lobbyists who oppose the bill, Steve Durham and William Mutch. Both said they had nothing to do with the calls. Mutch said a developer was behind the calls.

Rep. Nancy Todd, of Aurora, also filed an ethics complaint, outlining her concern about the calls and the difficulty in trying to find out who was responsible. “This is not OK,” Todd said. “If this kind of behavior is allowed to go through with a wink and a nod, what prevents another situation just like this from coming up?”

Durham is the lobbyist for the Colorado Association of Homebuilders. “We had nothing whatsoever to do with the calls,” Durham said.

Mutch is the executive director of Colorado Concern, an umbrella organization of top business executives statewide. Mutch said Rick Sapkin of Edgemark Development, the chairman of Colorado Concern, was behind the calls. Mutch said Sapkin was acting independently of the group. Sapkin was unavailable for comment.

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Commerce City voters have decided not to change the name of their city after all, as Monte Whaley of The Denver Post reports:

Commerce City – Voters overwhelmingly decided Tuesday to keep their city’s name, rebuffing arguments the moniker was too blue-collar for a community growing in stature.

A proposal on the ballot asking that the name “Commerce City” be dumped failed by better than a 2 to 1 margin. The measure would have had voters decide a new name in November.

Councilwoman Kathy Teter, who also won her re-election bid, said the name change idea offended many longtime residents. “These are good people in this town,” said Teter, fighting back tears. “And they have hearts and they have pride.”…

…There were 2,880 votes Tuesday, with 1,980 votes cast opposing the name change.

Supporters of the name change said the city’s current handle doesn’t reflect the new parks and expensive homes on the north side. Others – mostly those who live in the older, southern part of the city – say Commerce City is a name that is just fine.

“The name is a tradition and I think a lot of people feel that way,” said Jeannine Gravem, a four-year resident who voted against the change. Gravem said the city should adopt programs to better market itself. “Just changing its name is not going to change our image,” she said.

Kevin Priola, who owns property in southern Commerce City, said the name conjures visions of heavy industry and the city is now much more than that.

Commerce City is much more than heavy industry.

They also have a dog track.


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Democratic Presidential contender Barack Obama announced today that his campaign had raised a stunning $25 million in the first quarter of the year. As The Washington Post reports:

Democrat Barack Obama raked in $25 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party’s inevitable nominee.

The donations came from an eye-popping 100,000 donors, the campaign said in a statement Wednesday.
The figure was the latest evidence that Obama, a political newcomer who has served just two years in the Senate, has emerged as the most powerful new force in presidential politics this year. It also reinforced his status as a significant threat to Clinton, who’d hoped her own $26 million first quarter fundraising total would begin to squeeze her rivals out of contention.

The campaign reported that the figure included at least $23.5 million that he can spend on the highly competitive primary race. The Clinton campaign has yet to disclose how much they can use for the primary verses money that is designated for the general election.

Colorado’s own Tom Tancredo, who is vying for the Republican nomination for President, has raised about $1.4 million. Total.


The editorial board of the Rocky Mountain News thinks the big fundraising numbers for Presidential contenders should force us to take a new look at campaign finance reform:

he 2008 presidential hopefuls toppled a host of fund-raising records in the first quarter of 2007. The jaw-dropping totals could force out several second-tier candidates, and even a few legitimate contenders, as much as 18 months before the election. But the field for 2008 may not be set. Other serious candidates that voters already know could still jump in…

…The numbers are staggering. They provide another rebuke to the notion that the McCain-Feingold campaign law would scrub big money from politics. Indeed, the major disappointment in this scramble for dollars was Sen. John McCain himself, who raised $12.5 million – a total that failed to meet expectations for a presumed Republican favorite…

…Outsiders have it tougher now. Candidates must find thousands of donors – or like former candidates Ross Perot and Steve Forbes have massive personal wealth – to be taken seriously. The donation limits and the trend toward holding primaries earlier in the election cycle stack the deck against late entries.

The need for most candidates to beat the bushes for money years before an election if they hope to mount a credible campaign – along with the clear conflict between contribution limits and the First Amendment – remain sound reasons to raise the caps on donations if not wipe them out entirely.

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Governor Bill Ritter has authorized a big chunk of money for relief efforts in Holly, Colorado. As Felix Deligosa Jr. of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Gov. Bill Ritter has authorized up to $1 million in state funds for tornado recovery efforts in Holly and Prowers County.

“We will continue to do all we can to help the people of Holly,” Ritter said in a written statement. “I have been impressed beyond words with their resiliency and strength. Through this executive order, the state will provide financial assistance that addresses the community’s immediate needs.”

The funds will help cover costs such as temporary housing, mental-health services and infrastructure repairs. The tornado damaged about one third of the homes in Holly. Forty-eight homes were destroyed or severely damaged and are considered uninhabitable.

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Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald said yesterday that she will give up her leadership post of Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and will soon file an exploratory committee to run for congress in CD-2. As The Associated Press reports:

“I expect a primary. It will be a very attractive seat,” Fitz-Gerald said of the House race.
Other top Democrats mentioned if the seat opens up in 2008 are Rep. Alice Madden and Sen. Ron Tupa, along with Colorado Conservation Trust executive director Will Shafroth and Jared Polis, a former member of the state Board of Education and a wealthy entrepreneur.

The DLCC recruits candidates for legislative seats and helps them run campaigns. Fitz-Gerald, the first female Colorado Senate president, was selected chairwoman because Democrats took control of the state Senate and later the House.

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As George Merritt of The Denver Post explains, the Denver Election Commission is still taking heat in its final months of operation:

Denver’s delegation to the state legislature met with the city’s Election Commission on Tuesday out of concern that a troubled election last November could lead to disenfranchised voters May 1. And several legislators said state election laws need to be tweaked to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Denver moved more than 100,000 registered voters off a list of “active” voters in preparation for next month’s mail-ballot election because they did not vote in November or a special election in January. The move follows state law, but it has drawn attention because it removed more than one third of the 273,000 voters considered active in November. Only active voters will automatically be sent a ballot for the May election.

“We are kind of hanging on a state law now,” Democratic Rep. Rosemary Marshall said. “It’s almost like double jeopardy.”

Marshall and seven other Denver legislators said their concern was for thousands of residents who did not vote in November when problems with the computer system used to check in voters led to long lines…

…The trouble in November led to a January special election where voters decided to overhaul the Election Commission in favor of a single, elected clerk and recorder.

Marshall, who was a member of a Denver task force that examined the November election and recommended the overhaul, added that January’s election was a poor voting barometer, as well.

“I didn’t get a ballot in January, and I certainly voted in the November election – I was a candidate.”

Political Gravy is off tomorrow.

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Jason Bane

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