Political Gravy is Also a Good Place to Live

So, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck?


Jon Caldara of the conservative Independence Institute plans to challenge Gov. Bill Ritter’s property tax freeze plan for education funding. As Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

The Golden-based Independence Institute said Tuesday it intends to sue to halt Gov. Bill Ritter’s tax plan.

“This insult to the taxpayers will be challenged,” Independence Institute President Jon Caldara said.
Caldara said the institute is lining up plaintiffs and attorneys and discussing ways to fund a lawsuit.

However, Caldara said, the Institute might step aside if someone has a better strategy to oppose Ritter’s plan.
The institute, a free-market think-tank, has a long record of bringing legal actions or running issue campaigns at the ballot box. The institute sued to halt campaign finance limits proposed by Colorado Common Cause. It also ran court challenges to a ballot item that would have authorized state funds to build a monorail through the mountains.

Under Ritter’s plan, property tax rates will be frozen at current levels, eliminating tax cuts that otherwise would have taken place under a 1994 school finance law. Although the rate is frozen, not increased, homeowners’ tax bills will rise as property values rise. Revenue to school districts also will increase as new properties are added to the tax rolls.

Ritter will sign the bill containing his tax plan today. It is estimated to raise $48 million of new money in 2008.

Ritter might be worried if it was anyone other than Caldara leading the way. Caldara has made his name as a political commentator on radio and television, but whenever he’s jumped into the political arena himself, he’s come out bloodied. Caldara may have singlehandedly destroyed the opposition’s hopes of stopping Referendum C in 2005, and every ballot measure he supported in 2006 was soundly crushed.


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The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is taking more hits for the actions of an employee. As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Secretary of State Mike Coffman’s office says a worker who sold election information on the side appears to have violated personnel rules.

The employee did not access state data for his business, a spokesman for Coffman said.

Coffman has moved Dan Kopelman, his $85,000-a-year elections technology manager, out of the elections division.

“His job duties are being evaluated as part of our internal investigation,” Coffman’s spokesman, Jonathan Tee, said Tuesday.

Coffman also asked the state auditor to conduct an audit. His request to Auditor Sally Symanski Tuesday afternoon came several hours after a group called Colorado Citizens for Ethics requested an audit.
What, if any, possible sanctions Kopelman faces will be determined when the investigation is finished, Tee said.
Kopelman has directed all calls to Tee.

Kopelman owns and operates PoliticalLiveWires.com, a right- leaning campaign consulting business that advertises the sale of updated voter information and touts past efforts in setting up mostly GOP Web sites.
The investigation began Thursday, when an Internet blogger asked Coffman about the appropriateness of Kopelman’s side job. Coffman ordered that -PoliticalLiveWires.com be shut down, which it was, Tee said.

“Mr. Kopelman appears to have violated two rules of the state personnel rules,” Tee said.

“He engaged in outside employment without gaining permission from his state employer, and he conducted activities incompatible with his state employment, namely hosting a partisan Web site which solicited the sale of targeted voter files, while working in the Elections Division of the Department of State.”

I find it hard to believe that Kopelman did not access any state elections data as part of his side job. If he hadn’t, what would have been his selling point? Buy incomplete voter files here!.

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Colorado Democrats are considering two sites for their 2008 state convention, according to Dem Notes:

I’ve received word that we have two bids for the State Convention and Assembly:  one from Broomfield Dems, the other from El Paso County Dems.  The deadline was yesterday, so the Site Selection Committee will be meeting in the weeks ahead, including site visits, in the hopes that we’ll have a recommendation for the Executive Committee by mid-June.  I haven’t seen either bid, but I know that the State Party should be well-served by either location for our 2008 State Assembly and Convention!

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Norton!

As The Denver Post reports:

ProgressNowAction.org, a Denver-based liberal advocacy group, is calling for a federal investigation of the relationship between former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Royal Dutch Shell’s oil shale operations in northwest Colorado.

The group alleges that Norton may have used her influence at the federal agency to approve Shell’s leases in Colorado, followed by Shell hiring Norton as a general counsel for the company’s “unconventional resources” unit that includes oil shale development.

Norton resigned from Interior in March 2006. Shell was awarded the federal leases in November 2006. Shell hired Norton in December 2006.

Norton is also a former Colorado attorney general.


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When you’re in front, all of the bullets come from the back. Republican Presidential frontrunner Rudy Giuliani is learning that lesson as fellow GOPers attack him on the abortion issue. As The Washington Post reports:

GOP rivals pounced on former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani this week after fumbling explanations of his support for abortion rights again exposed his biggest vulnerability in the quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Giuliani’s rambling and sometimes contradictory responses on abortion during last week’s Republican presidential debate in California provided an opening for the other GOP hopefuls, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who declared Monday that an abortion rights candidate violates one of the “fundamental principles of a conservative.”

That was followed up yesterday by the revival of stories noting that Giuliani had contributed to Planned Parenthood in the 1990s, sparking outrage on conservative blogs and a lengthy, uncomfortable appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio program.

“When you have a cut on your leg and it’s bleeding slightly, you don’t go into shark-infested waters,” noted a top strategist for a rival campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in commenting about another candidate’s weaknesses. “On this, in particular, he is way outside the mainstream of the Republican Party.”

Said Bay Buchanan, a senior adviser to Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), another presidential hopeful: “What’s happening now is it’s becoming apparent who Giuliani really is. He exposed himself to be someone who is very much pro-choice but would like to hide the matter.”

On Ingraham’s show, Giuliani forcefully defended his views on abortion, saying he has long been personally opposed to abortion but supports a woman’s right to have one if she chooses.

Under grilling by Ingraham, Giuliani said his financial support for Planned Parenthood — he gave about $900 in the mid-1990s — was driven by a desire to increase adoptions in New York City. Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of reproductive services, including abortion, also counsels about adoption and parenting.

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As our own Wendy Norris can attest, Fort Collins isn’t a bad place to live. As The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports:

Fort Collins is the eighth-best place to live in the United States, according to a new book.
The 848-page book, “Cities Ranked & Rated,” by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander, rated cities in 10 categories, from the economy to the arts. It gave most weight to cost of living, climate and quality of life.

In 1986, Sperling created Money magazine’s first Best Places to Live list. Last year, Fort Collins topped the list.
Colorado Springs was No. 4 on the list. Modesto, Calif., was at the bottom of the rankings of 375 metropolitan areas.

The recent rankings update those given in 2004 by the authors, who gave more weight to affordable housing and reasonable commuting times in the recent addition.

Gainesville, Fla., ranked No. 1, up from No. 56, benefits from “a strong concentration of young people and active retirees.”

With a population of 248,000, Gainesville’s only drawbacks are hot, sticky summers and a relatively high violent crime rate, most of it drug-related, the book said.

I love that last line. “Gainesville’s only drawbacks are hot, sticky summers and a relatively high violent crime rate…” Really? Is that all? I may be in the minority here, but I’d rather not live in a place that is obscenely hot and not very safe.

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Jason Bane

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