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Today is Black Friday and I’ll be striking outside the Walmart where I work while shoppers are snapping up the latest toys and cell phones for their gift lists.

For me, Walmart isn’t about gifts or giving or great deals. Far from it. It’s a symbol of my personal and economic desperation — working in a multi-billion dollar corporation that retaliates against employees who speak up for better work conditions and increased pay.

At Walmart, management has little respect for workers, whom they treat as replaceable. Even though the company publicly boasts that it schedules employees three weeks in advance, the truth is that they didn’t release the Black Friday schedules until ten days before Thanksgiving, wrecking holiday travel plans for lots of workers.

Every day I go to work, I wonder to myself, “Is this the day I’ll be fired?” The company’s chronic understaffing means we’re constantly being “written up” because we can’t meet the impossible quotas and expectations placed on us. When we try to keep up with the unrealistic demands, we’re rewarded with back problems and repetitive motion injuries, putting our jobs and employability even more at risk.

My base pay is just $10.40 an hour, even after working at Walmart for six years. And the company refuses to give most of us full-time hours, making our paychecks pretty meager. The low wages mean that my three broken teeth remain untreated by a dentist because, even though I have dental insurance, I can’t afford my copay. So I use Anbesol for my toothaches to make it through another shift.

I work hard unloading freight from boxes and stock Walmart’s shelves every day. For that, I deserve to afford the basics – a roof over my head, groceries in the kitchen and enough to see a dentist or doctor when needed.

Since so many businesses have adopted the Walmart model, good jobs are hard to find. I worry I can’t find one. I’m barely keeping my head above water, personally or financially.

The last thing I’d ever wish for my 21-year-old daughter is to some day have a job like mine. That dread has given me – and a lot of other workers – the courage to stand up against Walmart, because we’re tired, year after year, of having to demand better pay and full-time work. We’ve had enough. And we won’t be silent.

So if you’re near the Colfax and Wadsworth Walmart this morning, honk and let us know you see us, hear us and support us. Better yet, visit BlackFridayProtests.org to find out how you can help thousands of workers struggling to improve our lives. Best of all, pull off the road, park and stand with us in our effort to transform Black Friday from an annual, discounted shopping frenzy to a day of solidarity for workers who are getting a raw deal.

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It was night #2, post- the Ferguson-no-indictment decision, and things flared up in Denver.

The evening started with some speeches in front of the Capitol and then a march downtown, where activists and sympathizers for Michael Brown, his family and all of Ferguson, Missouri, tried to keep their vigil candles lit in fierce winds. The group eventually worked its way to the Denver Detention Center where in 2010 black street preacher Marvin Booker was killed at the hands of sheriffs deputies. Like police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, none of the Denver deputies was prosecuted. Although a federal jury handed down an unprecedented $4.6 million award to Booker’s family last month, criminal justice watchdogs are unsatisfied, saying Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration’s ardent defense of Booker’s death and a string of subsequent excessive force cases indicate that Denver’s second black mayor “doesn’t get it.”

“We’re out here to say to the city, the state, Ferguson and the world, ‘Wake up! Black people have been targeted too long by people in uniform,’” a hooded activist identifying himself only as “Itch,” told The Independent by phone as a gaggle of protestors chanted “Marvin Booker! Marvin Booker!”

Hancock’s administration had been beseeched by black clergy not to incite violence after the Ferguson decision by allowing police to show up in riot gear. Officers practiced restraint Monday night when the crowds were lighter. But on Tuesday, by the time protestors had marched toward I-25 with the intention of blocking it, members of a police line corralled them from marching onto the highway. Most dispersed without provocation. Some were pepper-sprayed by police. And at least three demonstrators — more by some accounts — were arrested.

ferg die 2 ferg die ferg pol

[These photos  of Tuesday’s demonstrations and police response were taken by DAM (Direct Autonomous Media), a collective aiming to make uncensored information about criminal and social justice available to the public.]

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The cries of protestors were loud and stark on this grey Tuesday afternoon:

“No justice! No peace!”

“No justice! No peace!”

Over 300 people turned up to voice their anger, frustration and incredulity in response to the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to bring any of five possible indictments – ranging from negligible manslaughter to intentional murder – against white police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August.

The call-and-response refrain “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” rang out during much of the hour long march. One protestor’s hand-drawn sign was emblazoned: “Ferguson is not just about one bad cop.” Many read: “Kneel down for Michael Brown.” Another was scrawled in thick and adamant marker: “Stop Racism.”

As the huge mass of people, mostly dressed in black, moved through the streets of downtown Colorado Springs, stopped cars, pedestrians and shoppers looked on – some voicing support, some jeering.

“[Mike Brown] robbed a convenient store!” yelled one onlooker in the face of the protestors, who marched on without paying him so much as a glance. The demonstrators, who began on the campus of Colorado College, travelled a loop of around 15 blocks before returning to the central flagpole on campus where several impassioned students delivered some rousing words through a megaphone to the gathered crowd.

#BlackLivesMatter

A photo posted by The Colorado Independent (@coloradoindependent) on

Meanwhile, Ferguson, Missouri is literally smoldering in the aftermath of the decision and protests have ignited in dozens of other cities across the country.

The outpouring of anger comes in response to the not wholly unexpected decision that “no probable cause exists” to put Officer Darren Wilson on trial for the August shooting incident which left 18-year-old Mike Brown dead on the streets of his hometown, riddled with at least six bullets.

The grand jurors heard 25 days worth of testimony from more than 60 witnesses over the past three months since the shooting. Though all of the evidence the jury reviewed has yet to be publicly disclosed, county prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch did release Officer Wilson’s hours long testimony about what exactly happened the day of Aug. 9 – an account that keeps changing and is vastly different from many other eyewitness’s.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, the decision not to indict is very, very rare: in 2010, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases. Only in 11 of those did the grand jury decline to bring an indictment. Anthony L. Fischer at the Hit & Run blog graciously did the math here, pointing out that this means that grand juries don’t deliver an indictment only 0.0067901 percent of the time.

That’s why a former New York state Chief Judge once said that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”

Today marks the first day of Ferguson Action, which lists its demands here.

See what two different Mikes — Keefe and Littwin – think about the whole thing.

The protest in Colorado Springs was organized by the Black Student Union of Colorado College.

photo of Trina Reynolds-Tyler, taken by Nat Stein

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Twitter lit up last night as news of the St Louis County grand jury decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, stoking racial tensions and anger that have simmered in Ferguson since Wilson gunned down Brown, who was unarmed, in a scuffle on August 9.

This geotag-visualization of the tweeting looks like the country (and beyond) is being consumed with the news, tiny light bulbs blinking on over millions of heads in thousands of towns coast to coast — a contagion of awareness.

In a press conference announcing the grand jury decision, Prosecutor Bob McCulloch attacked social media for fueling rumor and speculation ever since the day of the shooting.

As the Washington Post reported, McCulloch said “the most significant challenge in his three-month investigation was the insatiable 24-hour news cycle and ‘non-stop rumors on social media,’ which he said clung to any available scrap of real or imagined insight into the case.”

McCulloch’s opinion of the problem in Ferguson drew a predictably acid response on… social media — responses like this one, retweeted thousands of times.

ferguson tweet

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The protests and police clashing in Ferguson, Missouri, is more dangerous to cover as a journalist than many protests around the world because the violence seems less predictable and because journalists have been targeted by the police, said Tim Pool in an interview with Reddit users Tuesday morning.

Pool is a journalist known for his roaming live-stream reports from protest zones in the U.S. and abroad. He landed on news-reader/watcher radar while reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, when his in-the-scrum dispatches from Zuccotti Park became the go-to source on the protest encampment there and the police action that eventually shut it down. Mainstream outlets such as Time, NBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera and Vice have featured his work. In recent weeks, he has been reporting for Fusion on events in Ferguson, including the rioting and looting that followed a grand jury announcement Monday that it would not charge police officer Darren Wilson in the murder of unarmed citizen Michael Brown.

Pool, like many journalists covering Ferguson, has been surprised by the explosive nature of the clashes in the streets there and, like many Americans, he is no fan of the way the mainstream media has covered the story. Excerpts from the Reddit exchanges follow, but do go read the whole thread at Redddit.


frasier2122

What is the most shocking / dangerous place you’ve ever reported from?
permalink

Pool

Probably Ferguson.
When you’re in a conflict with clear factions you can make predictions on where you can and can’t be. I really don’t know what makes the difference but everywhere else I’ve been to has been more predictable. There was no way to predict how the police or protesters were going to react.
This is also the only place I have ever actually been shot at. In other countries factions have fought with each other, but here it seems some people just fired in any direction.
Important to point out though that some of the gunshots are fired into the air…

arksien

Ugh that’s awful. Any violence is awful, but “just for the sake of it” is pretty much the worst, ESPECIALLY when you have no idea what unlucky person is going to catch those stray bullets. Someone miles away and safe could happen to take one of the “shot in the air” bullets.

Pool

In August when someone fired into the air another man responded
“Stop wasting bullets, shoot at the cops”

Bewgs

Jesus. When you really let that sink in, that’s a pretty terrifying quote.


Mongo16

Are you aware of the theory that there wouldn’t be violent protests and looting if the Media wasn’t so focused on the violent protests and looting?

Pool

Of course, they are creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
I was told a story once in Chicago. There was this new drug they were calling “super heroin.” Several people overdosed on it and the local news reported their location and where they thought it was being sold. The next day way more people overdosed… they found out where to get it from the local news report.

RainerKoreaTrillke

How do you decide when to report on something and when to refrain for fear of that sort of thing happening? I’m a reporter myself, and I sometimes have to make similar decisions.
On contrast, in school we studied an instance where the local paper didn’t give full details about a rapist as police had an operation set up to catch him, and they were afraid too many details in the paper would scare him away. The operation failed, and a lady was assaulted in the neighborhood. Later in his career, the editor said that he regretted not giving full details.

Pool

We have to make those hard decisions. He made the right choice, he made the choice he thought was best based on the information he had at the time. Had the operation succeeded he would have been glad he did what he did.

Someone asked the other day “If protester breaks a window and there is no media around to film it, did it really happen?” We have to go and cover the story we are passionate about, sometimes it gets out of hand. I think many of the journalists here are vultures.

teethteetheat

I think it’s disgusting how self- indulgent the media have been during the Ferguson debacle. I’m sick of seeing journalists talk and talk and talk about their experiences and opinions on the matter, rather than objectively reporting the news. The 24 hour news cycle obviously fuels this. What is your opinion on the role of journalists in situations such as this?

Pool

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m doing a lot of that right now. However when I livestream I ALWAYS include filming the press. They are part of the story whether they realize it or not.
Journalists are important, but I think TV news crews are obsolete and getting in the way. Instead of getting in with the people to learn and experience they talk to each other via satellite (while in the same parking lot… ha). CNN misreported that it was smoke in August because they were in a “press zone” talking to each other via satellite while I was getting tear gassed 2 blocks away.


TyNow

Compared to other conflicts and issues around the world, how does Ferguson compare in terms of the degree of violence, government reaction (police/military force) and amount of protesters?

Pool

In the other countries I’ve been to protests are more focused on single targets. The police reaction is certainly not the most violent and the protester reaction is certainly not the most violent. However it feels so much more dangerous in Ferguson. The media is a part of the problem to the police and a lot protesters here and that makes you a part of the conflict much more than an impartial observer.

PettyPantz

When you were in Brazil, the protests were all over the place. It was as vague as ‘end corruption’ and ‘more education’, and at some point some people were asking for a military intervention (coup). Targeting government, the police, the party in power, mayors… Are you sure your translators and fixers translate and explain things well enough?

Pool

What I mean is, The other protests tend to be targeted it directly at the government where here it’s more about protesting a system. “The system” is different for everyone it means society, the government, racism, etc.

[…]

MountDiablo

Tim! Huge vice follower for the past few years, and I gotta say you’re one brave dude. The Instanbul live streams were insane! What do you think was the most shocking thing you saw there? And if you have time, the most shocking thing you’ve seen in Ferguson?

Pool

In Istanbul, the bulldozer blowing up! The most frustrating thing though was when the protesters blew up the mobile cell trucks, I needed that cell signal.
In Ferguson the most shocking thing was when the police fired on a group that was trying to help an injured woman. Ref: https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/537159957519810560

[Image: Pool via Facebook.]

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Doug Lamborn – who this week floated the idea of impeaching Barack Obama over the immigration executive order Lamborn derides as too far reaching – has introduced a bill with long arms of its own.

Colorado’s newly re-elected, 5th District Congressman wants to ban federal contracts to companies and educational institutions that boycott Israel. Lamborn’s proposal wouldn’t just concern corporations and schools, but also employees who personally, through economic pressure, try to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Technically, the bill bans boycotts on any country that has entered into a free-trade agreement with the U.S. But it’s specifically drafted to protect Israel – a pet cause for Lamborn whose re-election bids have been backed by the pro-Israel lobby.

Lamborn’s press release this week describes his measure as an effort to “thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel.

“Sadly, just yesterday we heard that some in the European Union are drafting new regulations with a similar aim. These attacks and the falsehoods being spread about Israel are harmful to any honest effort to bring peace to the region,” it reads.

Lamborn touts Israel as “the only true democracy in the Middle East, a place where all men and women enjoy freedom regardless of their faith or ethnicity. In fact Jewish owned factories and companies in Israel and in Judea and Samaria are among the chief employers of the Palestinian community. Palestinian workers get equal pay and equal treatment and enjoy benefits.”

The question of whether Palestinians are treated equally in Israel is a matter of much debate.

But Lamborn has it right about Israel’s broad and progressive workplace protections. That country’s 1988 equal opportunity law says an employer “shall not discriminate among his employees or among persons seeking employment on account of their sex, sexual tendencies, personal status or because of their age, race, religion, nationality, country of origin, views, party or duration of reserve service.”

Closer to home, Lamborn’s views on workplace protections are vastly less progressive. He has voted against several key worker-protection bills, including the 2007 Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

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As Democratic politicians across the country were defending President Obama’s controversial new immigration policy, Gov. John Hickenlooper went rogue.

In an interview on the day before Obama’s speech, Hickenlooper not only criticized Obama’s approach to immigration reform, but he also said that many young undocumented Latinos weren’t interested in becoming American citizens.

Hickenlooper’s words rattled much of the Colorado immigrant-rights community, particularly in light of the fact that he was just re-elected with heavy Latino support.

“It’s kind of shocking, what he said,” said Ramon Madera, an Arvada businessman and Mexican immigrant who volunteered this election season urging people to re-elect the governor. “I’ve got to say, when I was making those phone calls, I really didn’t know that’s the way he thinks.”

Hickenlooper told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that Obama’s executive action will “be very combustible.”

“What’s amazing to me is, a lot of young Latinos, the vast majority don’t care about a pathway to citizenship,” the governor said. “They want to be able to get on an airplane and get down to Mexico City and visit their grandparents. And they want to get a job and be able to get paid over the table. Why don’t we just take the pathway to citizenship and say, ‘We’re not going to worry about it.’ Let’s have a robust guest worker system where everybody gets five years and we secure the border and we actually hold business accountable if they’re going to pay people under the table.”

Hickenlooper and his staff didn’t respond to inquiries Thursday about his comments.

An election-eve poll by Latinodecisions.com shows Hickenlooper was poised to draw 70 percent of the Latino vote compared to Bob Beauprez’s 28 percent in the Nov. 4th election. Exit polls showed Latinos voting Democratic nationally by a 62-38 margin.

Hans Meyer, a leading immigration attorney in Denver and longtime immigrants’ rights activist, had harsher words about what he called the “deep irony” of Hick’s comments.

“There were so many people in the Latino community who worked to get him elected — so many people in the Latino community who, two weeks after the election, Gov. Hickenlooper appears to have forgotten.

“Gov. Hickenlooper inhabits a different world than most people in the immigrant community. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s just wrong. The vast majority of my clients are willing to do anything that the government asks to be allowed to stay here,” Meyer continued. “Here we have a state governor expressing an opinion about a community he’s not a member of and doesn’t work with on a regular basis about an issue of law about which he appears to know very little.”

Meyer likened Hickenlooper’s comments Wednesday to “the sort of thoughtless quip someone would throw out at a happy hour after a couple of drinks.”

Adrian Naza is a 19-year-old University of Colorado Denver student who is U.S. born, grew up in Aurora and the son of parents who immigrated 25 years ago. Because they’re still undocumented, they’ve lived for years in fear of possible deportation from the country they’ve made their home.

Naza calls Hickenlooper’s take on young Latinos “off the mark.”

“I feel like our communities migrate to different countries for various reasons and our young people — especially those who are undocumented or those like myself whose parents are undocumented — have never gone back to their home country. I’ve never been to Mexico. I’d like to visit, but the United States is my country,” he said.

“It’s painful for me to hear that people think we’re not appreciative. It’s hard to hear that people think we just want to travel back and forth and don’t want to stay here and contribute to this economy and this country. This is the only home I have ever known.”

Of the estimated 4 million immigrants who qualify under Obama’s executive order, about 90,000 people are affected in Colorado, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. independent think tank tracking immigration worldwide.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal blog heralded Hickenlooper for running a campaign based on the economy, not social issues. Immigration wasn’t one of his talking points.

“This isn’t an issue that the governor has weighed in on to a large degree in his time leading Colorado, so his comments in The Journal seemed to be a little bit out of the blue,” said Patty Kupfer of America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund, national immigration reform groups.

Kupfer took umbrage with Hickenlooper’s description of Obama’s executive action as “combustible.”

“Helping millions of people and solving problems in their lives is not combustible, it’s leadership.”

She also dismissed his “dismissal of the pathway to citizenship” – an approach reformers believe is the only lasting solution to a decades-old immigration morass.

“I think he’s misinformed on the actual support that’s out there nationally to a pathway to citizenship. The idea that we have millions of people living in the shadows, don’t speak the language and not participating in our society – that’s not what Americans want,” she said. “We’d like to work with the governor to have him talk with some immigrants in the state, the broader public.”

In the hours before Obama’s speech at 6 p.m. Thursday, Kupfer said she wanted to focus on what she called “an historic victory” and not anything Hickenlooper said.

“The governor’s comments aren’t going to stand in the way of what this night means to millions of people and the deep problems it will solve in their lives.”

The harshest words about Hickenlooper’s comments came Thursday from the Colorado Latino Forum.

“We are so disappointed in John Hickenlooper because the things he said in The Wall Street Journal article weren’t the things he said three weeks ago when he was running for re-election,” said board chair Julie Gonzales. “Immigrant communities for so long and Latino voters have held a pathway to citizenship as a cornerstone, as a marker to determine whether the bills being proposed are meaningful or not. And to see Governor Hickenlooper try to bargain away comprehensive immigration reform’s pathway to citizenship before we even have a bill on the table, I don’t even have words to describe how frustrating that is.”

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Congressman Doug Lamborn represents Colorado’s deep-red 5th district centered around Colorado Springs. He is Colorado’s member of what conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer once derided as the Republican “suicide caucus” — the group of 80 far-right members of Congress determined to oppose President Obama and Democratic lawmakers at every turn and occasionally at very high cost.

Capitol Hill Republicans in general are enraged that the president plans to issue an executive order tomorrow lifting the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented residents as a way to push forward stalled immigration reform policy. Critics say Republican anger at the long-expected news is exaggerated, that it’s of a piece with the kind of knee-jerk anti-Obama sentiment that has reduced some of the party’s members — particularly members of the suicide caucus — to caricature-like opposition figures whose ideas on how to govern the country have narrowed to mostly just attacking the president.

Lamborn is a reliable example. Today, he asked constituents how they think Congress should respond to the planned executive order. The multiple-choice answer options Lamborn provided suggest the breadth of his thinking on how to approach policy disagreement in Washington.

lamborn survey

A photo of the survey was tweeted out by Ethan Susseles earlier today under the words “Congrats, Colorado.” Susseles was campaign spokesman this year for Lamborn’s Democratic opponent, Irv Halter, a retired Air Force officer who lost after arguing that Lamborn is an ideologue and under-qualified to represent the 5th District in Congress.

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Just after she was elected the first female Democratic Speaker of the House, Boulder Rep. Dicky Lee Hullinghorst was tasked with replacing two of the most powerful women in the state.

Two seats had been cleared on the Joint Budget Committee, which hammers out the first draft of the state’s $20 billion budget, after Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) left to fill Hullinghorst’s former position as House Majority leader and Rep. Jenise May lost her supposedly safe seat by 106 votes.

On Wednesday, Hullinghorst announced that she had chosen Reps. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Dave Young (D-Greeley) to fill the posts.

“Millie and Dave are two of the most intelligent, hardest working, most dedicated people I have ever known,” said Hullinghorst in a release.

“I am very confident that they will thrive under the heavy demands of JBC service. Their record of bipartisanship and their Western Slope and Northern Colorado perspectives will help assure that the state budget supports all areas of Colorado.”

Both Hamner and Young emphasized their bipartisan records in anticipation of serving on a six-person committee that is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

In May, House Republicans selected Rep. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) to replace Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen), who was term limited. The other new face on the committee is Sen. Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City), who joins JBC veteran Sen. Ken Lambert (R-Colorado Springs). Republicans hold a majority in the senate and can appoint two members to the JBC. Lambert was unanimously elected to chair the committee. Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), who chaired the committee in 2012, will also return as a member this year.

[Photo by Eric.]

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President Obama will announce on Thursday that he will take executive action to advance long-stalled reforms of the nation’s immigration policy, mainly by lifting the threat of deportation for law-abiding undocumented immigrants with citizen or legal-resident family members in the country.

The president confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon in a video posted to Facebook.

“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken,” he said, sitting casually on his Oval Office desk. “Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too Long. And so what I’m going to be laying out is the things I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.”

The formal announcement of the planned executive action is scheduled for Thursday night at 8 p.m. Obama will then travel to Nevada on Friday to elaborate on the move.

The action on deportations may well affect more than 5 million people now living illegally in the country.

Frustrated immigration reform advocates are applauding the move. Congress for years has been tied up by hard-line opponents of any reform that would include the kind of “amnesty” that would halt deportations, even though finding and deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants who live and work in the country is well beyond the scope of law enforcement.

Republican members of Congress have argued that the president’s planned action is an unconstitutional workaround the legislative process, though most legal scholars disagree with that characterization. The president has the power as the chief executive to lay out rules to enact laws, including laws governing immigrant deportations. Past presidents, including Republicans George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, took similar if likely smaller actions.

In a blog post, the White House echoed Obama’s description of the move when it referred to it as “a step forward in the president’s plan to work with Congress on passing common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.”

Republicans have said that the action would sour relations between the White House and Capitol Hill and promise a rocky road ahead in negotiations between the White House and what will be a two-chamber Republican-controlled Congress next year.

The executive action in no way would prevent Congress from passing any variety of immigration-reform legislation its members and leaders can agree to pass.

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Human rights and transparency advocates have been urging U.S. Sen. Mark Udall to release a classified report on the CIA’s alleged use of torture. Udall has been at the center of debate about how heavily the report should be redacted before its release to the public. Udall has pushed for as much transparency as possible, looking to the “truth and reconciliation” approach forged in recent decades in countries like South Africa, which have sought to overcome histories marked by civil conflict.

In his first interview since losing his reelection bid to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, Udall told The Denver Post that he hasn’t taken the option of ‘leaking’ the report off the table.

“Transparency and disclosure are critical to the work of the Senate intelligence committee and our democracy so I’m going to keep all options on the table to ensure the truth comes out,” Udall told the Post.

He was referring to the privilege provided to members of Congress through the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate Clause,” in which Udall could read the report into the record on the floor of the Senate because lawmakers are immune from prosecution when speaking officially in the chambers.

Click here to read the Post’s full story.

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After a shakeup that has had ballot counters working for days after the election tallying close races, the state Senate has flipped by one seat to Republican control, 18 seats to 17 seats. Democrats retain control of the House, though the scale of their majority remains in flux. Ballots arestill being reviewed in two close races where Democratic incumbents Rep. Jenice May (D-Aurora) and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) trail their Republican opponents by a few hundred votes.

Even if both May and McLachlan lose, Democrats will still hold a 34-31 majority in the chamber and have scheduled their leadership election for this Friday morning.

Currently, House Majority Leader Dicky Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) is running unopposed for Speaker of the House. Denver Reps. Crisanta Duran and Dan Pabon are both running for Majority Leader and Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) is running against Beth McCann (D-Denver) for Assistant Majority Leader. Rep. Sue Ryden, who nearly lost her Aurora seat in the Republican wave, runs unopposed for Majority Whip.

Though the balance of power was split in the state legislature up until 2013 when Democrats took control of the House as part of the wave that reelected President Barack Obama, Republicans have not controlled the Senate in a decade. Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman (R- Colorado Springs) is considered a shoe-in to replace President Morgan Carroll (D-Denver).

The return to a purple statehouse is widely considered a boon for Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose path to reelection narrowed considerably after he signed controversial policies passed by the all-Democratic legislature in 2013 that concerned issues including gun control and rural renewable energy standards.

 

[Image by John Maushammer

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With control of the state Senate hinging on a single race, all eyes remain on the Resolution Room at the Adams County Government Center in Brighton.

In Senate District 24, former Colorado Rep. Judy Solano, a Democrat, continues to close the lead held by Republican Beth Martinez Humenik. Results posted Friday at lunchtime showed Humenik still leading by 703 votes out of more than 47,500 counted.

If Humenik hangs on to win, Republicans will control the Senate with an 18-17 majority. Adams County officials say about 6,500 ballots remain, a number that keeps rising as out-of-town ballots, military ballots and responses from signature and ID cures trickle in.

Election judges in Brighton must also examine thousands of ballots by hand to determine voter intent, a process reminiscent of the Bush versus Gore race in Florida in 2000, minus hanging chads and a secretary of state in bad makeup. Along with the usual issues — coffee stains, bad erasures, postal damage, inability to bubble in circles — some voters chose to write in their choices for the Adams County surveyor post that no one ran for.

Writing someone in for surveyor may have seemed funny to some Adams County voters, but members of the General Assembly are not amused. They had to postpone Thursday’s traditional leadership elections because nobody knows which party will be leading which chamber.

In the last three days, Humenik’s advantage has diminished some 500 votes from about 1,200 on election night.

Democrats currently enjoy a 34-31 lead in the House, with Rep. Joe Salazar (HD-31) hanging on by 104 votes over Republican challenger Carol Beckler. In Arapahoe County, Democrat Rep. Daniel Kagan (HD-3) now has a solid hold on his seat, 430 votes ahead of Republican Candice Benge.

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On Election Night, Christy LeLait, executive director of Peak Dems, groaned at the thought of being represented in Congress for two more years by Doug Lamborn.

“We need someone who can actually represent us,” she told the Colorado Independent. “It has been eight years… Last time I saw him at a town hall was in 2010!”

This campaign season, the 5th District Republican congressman never debated his Democratic opponent, retired Air Force General Irv Halter. Lamborn said Halter “should have been more civil” if he expected Lamborn to participate in an official debate. “There was name-calling,” Lamborbn said.

Lamborn’s remarks come roughly four minutes into nearly 10 minutes of raw footage from an interview the congressman gave to Channel 5 News in Colorado Springs. It’s a remarkably fresh exchange, especially given the way candidates for office worked to control their image this election cycle — mainly by avoiding direct contact or by strictly prescribing interactions with the news media.

The interview came as Lamborn was making national headlines for telling a small group of “liberty voters” in a bar basement that he and other Republican members of Congress were encouraging military officers to resign to protest President Obama’s policies.

Lamborn didn’t address that issue with interviewer Adam Atchison, deferring instead to his communications director Jarred Rego. Lamborn’s eyes shifted between Atchison and Rego as they spoke about him. The exchange begins at the 5:10 mark in the video.

“You mentioned… that you had encouraged or at least had spoken to military leaders about the option maybe to resign if they didn’t agree with President Obama’s military policy. Why did you do that? What are your thoughts?” Atchison said.

“Adam, we’ve actually, we’re going ahead and just, we’ve gotten a written statement on that from me,” said Rego. “We’re treating all the TV stations equally on that one, so I can go ahead and send that one to you as soon as we get back to the office.”

Reporters across the state this year echoed the frustration vented on some level by LeLait. In clutches outside political rallies, in editorials — even on occasion with the candidates in live debate — they ruminated on the absurd way public figures running for public office were treating on-the-record questions about policy positions or voting records as something akin to an invasion of privacy, as though attending a campaign rally with a notebook marked you out as paparazzi.

Lamborn’s El Paso County district, brimming with military bases and defense contractor-businesses, is heavily conservative, but it includes large pockets of Democratic voters. Even though Lamborn defeated Halter by a wide margin, drawing 60 percent of the vote based mainly on party identification, he will remain a top electoral target. He has struggled to ward off primary challenges ever since 2007, when he first landed his seat in Congress.

With reporting by Rebecca Celli.

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In a night of many Republican victories, none was sweeter for those at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center Tuesday night than the Senate win by Congressman Cory Gardner.

Yuma resident Gardner defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in a race that weekend polls showed was separated only by two points. Gardner’s margin of victory turned out to be about 6 percent as of press time.

During the Republican victory celebration, everyone was a resident of Yuma, Colorado. Or they wanted to be.

“Is anyone here from Yuma?” asked Gardner to the cheers of hundreds packed into the Hyatt on Election Night. While Fox News called the race for Gardner earlier in the evening, it wasn’t until after 10 p.m. that Udall made his concession speech, and Gardner was on the stage at the Hyatt just a few minutes later.

“Tonight, we shook up the Senate…As Republicans in Colorado, we’ve gotten used to the saying, ‘Wait until the next election.’ It finally happened!”

Although the crowd at the victory party had thinned a little by the time Gardner hit the stage, supporters were boisterous and thrilled with what some said was the election’s biggest prize: a Republican senator, the first since Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne Allard ended their Senate tenures in 2005 and 2009, respectively.

Udall, jokingly quoting his late father — longtime Arizona Congressman Morris “Mo” Udall after losing his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 — said: “The voters have spoken, the blankety-blanks.”

Gardner, who represents the eastern plains 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, will return to Washington as part of the U.S. Senate’s new Republican majority, gleaned after Republicans picked up at least seven seats as of press time. (They only needed six.)

Gardner recounted that he began his run for the Senate in Boulder nine months ago, and realized then, the great challenge “we would face to get to this day…We have signed up to be the tip of the spear, the vanguard of the movement that is sweeping our nation, and fundamentally change the dysfunction of Washington, D.C.”

In his speech, Gardner reached out to those who didn’t vote for him, stating that the Coloradans aren’t red nor blue, but that they have a clear message for Washington politicians: “Get your job done and get the heck out of the way.”

The second-term Congressman who worked for three years as an aide to Sen. Allard portrays himself as an outsider in Washington – a place he called “out of step, out of touch and out of time.

“Tonight we commit to building a government we can be proud of,” he said. “It was not a message for Republicans nor against Democrats, but a warning to those who fail to courageously act on our nation’s challenges.”

Udall supporters, meanwhile, felt that their candidate simply was a victim of a nationwide Republican tidal wave fueled by President Obama’s weak approval ratings and the “sinister” influence of dark money pumped into Colorado’s and other races by deep-pocketed conservative groups such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers, whose super-PACs don’t disclose their contributors.

“I think what we’re seeing is the voters did not do their due diligence, and they’re going to find out that Cory Gardner is a Tea Party-type candidate,” Monta Lee Dakin, a 63-year-old Udall volunteer from Littleton said of the Senator-elect who has ranked the 10th most conservative House member.

“It was more than Obama. It was dark money, because the economy is pretty good right now and things are moving in the right direction. I think that (money) persuaded people who do not always do their homework.”

Democratic State Sen. Angela Williams of Denver credited Gardner with being a “bright, charismatic man” who ran a strong campaign in a favorable political climate.

“Cory had a message that said it’s time for a change, and it looks like it worked,” she said, acknowledging that she was in “shock” about the election outcome.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Udall’s colleague from Colorado and the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee responsible for drumming up support for Senate candidates nationwide, said he knew the task would be difficult this year — but didn’t expect the drubbing that his side would take.

“This cycle has been a very, very difficult one for our folks, and we knew it would be from the start because of the geography and how red the terrain is,” Bennet said at a campaign rally hours before the polls closed.

What followed was a red tide that easily gave the GOP control of the Senate and swept candidates like Gardner — once considered an underdog — to a sound victory.

Gardner got into the race relatively late, in February after several other Republicans, including Weld County DA Ken Buck and State Rep. Amy Stephens, had declared their intentions months earlier. Once announced, however, the other Republican challengers dropped out and endorsed his candidacy.

Gardner was attacked early and often on his co-sponsorship of a federal personhood bill, at the same time that a state ballot initiative on issue was also in play for voters in Colorado. He declined to fully explain why he supported personhood legislation in DC but not at home.

The state ballot measure, Amendment 67, was overwhelmingly rejected by voters on Tuesday, 64 percent to 36 percent. The margin of defeat for Amendment 67 indicates that while voters don’t like the personhood movement (and have spurned it in three successive elections), its presence on the ballot did not carry over into enough votes to change the outcome for Udall.

The incumbent had made personhood and his support for reproductive rights such major issues his early campaigning that he derisively earned the nickname “Mark Uterus.”

Udall is highly respected on the Hill and often passionate – and deeply knowledgeable — about pet issues such as national surveillance. But conventional wisdom among Democratic insiders is that he ran a lackluster campaign compared with that of the highly disciplined, close-to-the-vest Gardner, and, although he hadn’t done much divisively wrong in the Senate, he hadn’t done enough right to stave off the Congressman’s challenge.

Up and down the ticket in Colorado, the GOP claimed victory: in the statewide races for Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General, in many legislative seats and even in Congressional races that seemed competitive, including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s easy victory over Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House. Even in the governor’s race, populist Democrat John Hickenlooper barely staved off defeat by challenger Bob Beauprez, who lost 2006 previous bid to run the state by 17 points.

The Gardner-Udall race was the most expensive Senate race in Colorado history, with nearly $29 million raised between the two candidates. Udall won the fundraising battle, bringing in more than $18 million, according to the website Open Secrets. Gardner raised $10.6 million as of the end of October. Among the top ten Senate races in 2014, based on fundraising, Udall v. Gardner ranked sixth at $29.8 million (which includes funds raised for minor party or independent candidates).