MLK and So Long Allard Day

Happy MLK Day! Raise your hand if you didn’t get the day off…

All eyes are on Republican Wayne Allard today, as the two-term Senator is expected to announce that he will not seek re-election in 2008. Allard pledged to serve only two terms in the senate when he first ran in 1996, and the prevailing wisdom since late November has been that Allard would indeed call it a political career after this term is finished.

Former Rep. Scott McInnis (CD-3) has already said that he will seek the Republican nomination should Allard indeed announce he is hanging it up.

The press conference for the Allard announcement will be held around noon at the State Capitol today.

Colorado Confidential will host a Live Q&A with Rep. Morgan Carroll tonight from 7:30-8:00 p.m. Carroll will discuss her legislation to require more transparent campaign finance reporting by so-called “527 political committees.”


Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News says that legislative leaders want to “spank” the Colorado Education Department. Yes, that’s a creepy analogy, but here’s the scoop:

The heads of the House and Senate education committees want to put their criticism of the Colorado education department into law.
The swipe at the department just across Colfax Avenue from the Capitol comes in a bill to overhaul the way public schools are evaluated and to make data more comprehensible to parents and others – a major goal of Gov. Bill Ritter.

House Bill 1048 chides the department for failing to come up with such a system “despite the provision of state funding and clear statutory direction by the General Assembly.”

Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, chairman of the House education committee, said the dig is justified.

“I think rightfully so,” Merrifield said. “We should have been there long before now. We’ve given the opportunity, we’ve given the direction, we’ve given the money, and they haven’t given anything to us.”
Karen Stroup, the education department’s chief of staff, said the department has been working on program changes that will underlie a more parent-friendly accountability system. That includes a program, implemented in 2005, that allows the department to track students from school to school using an identifying number.


Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo may be getting closer to announcing a full-fledged bid for President. Anne C. Mulkern of The Denver Post previewed the weekend that was to be for Tommy T:

U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is in the key caucus state of Iowa this weekend, assessing whether he should formally announce a bid for the presidency.

“What comes out of this weekend will determine whether or not he sets up an exploratory committee,” Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa said Friday.

Tancredo, R-Colo., officially is in Iowa to publicize his book, “In Mortal Danger.” But while he’s there, he’s talking to state Republican leaders.
“Fighting for 3rd place”

Tancredo often talks about running for president as a way to publicize his hard-line views on the immigration issue. If he decides to announce, Espinosa said, it’s for that cause and not because he thinks he can win the election.

“Any bid that Tom would put up, it would be fighting for third place,” Espinosa said. “Third place would be a huge victory for Tom Tancredo.”

Is there an award for third place in a Presidential primary – sort of like when everyone on the youth soccer team gets a trophy for participation?


Governor Bill Ritter finished off his inaugural week by riding a train all over Colorado. Jeri Clausing of The Denver Post was riding shotgun:

The unwanted-candidate-turned-governor, Bill Ritter, capped off a week of inaugural celebrations Saturday, riding the rails along the Front Range with more than a hundred friends, family, supporters and lobbyists.

Ritter’s inaugural committee rented a vintage Union Pacific train for the day-long ride from Greeley to Pueblo, making stops along the way to greet supporters who braved subzero wind chills to listen to the state’s 41st governor talk about his “Colorado Promise.”

“We have an ambitious agenda,” Ritter said on a stop at Denver’s Union Station, citing two of his goals, to reform health care and cut in half the state’s nearly 30 percent dropout rate. “But we want to make sure it’s not just about us,” he said. “Having an ambitious agenda is about making leaders out of us all.”

About 200 turned out in single-digit temperatures for a pancake breakfast and speech from Ritter in a tent outside the Greeley train station. More than 100 waited near the tracks in Brighton for a chance to shake Ritter’s hand. By the time the train got to Denver, it was 30 minutes behind schedule, and fewer than 50 people were waiting to greet the governor.

That didn’t dampen any spirits. Shortly after the train pulled out for Colorado Springs, some riders – joined briefly by first lady Jeannie Ritter – were dancing in the aisles with the a cappella group the 17th Avenue Allstars. The train ride came on the heels of a Friday night inaugural dinner and concert in Denver attended by nearly 4,000 people.


The Rocky Mountain News editorial board writes today that the Denver Election Commission needs more stability in its office in order to help it to, you know, run elections correctly:

Since 1980, 11 people have served as executive director of the Denver Election Commission – and depending on the fate of the charter reform that’s on the Jan. 30 ballot, a 12th may be selected after John Gaydeski steps down this spring.

That level of turnover is a bit disturbing in an office where experience has plenty of value. And there’s more to the story. Two directors – Sam Tarkington and Arlys Ward – held the post from 1983-91 and 1991-97, respectively.

Set aside their service, and for the past 26 years, the average tenure of an election director in Denver has been about 15 months.

The current structure of the Denver Election Commission may have encouraged that degree of instability. Denver City Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez has said that several former election directors have recently let her know that answering to three bosses – the election commissioners – as the director must now do, diffuses accountability.


Things must be pretty slow down at the Colorado Springs Gazette, because the editorial board decided to trot out the old standby op/ed that it’s time for a new strategy on the war on drugs.

After four years of war in Iraq, the American people tell pollsters they’re tired of what they see as the same results for the billions we’ve spent, so the administration is reconsidering its tactics. After four decades of a failed drug war, isn’t it time to take a fresh look at what’s not working on that front?

Seriously – is there really nothing else going on in the Springs?


The blogger TakeBackTheHouse reports over at Square State about a Saturday event in Jefferson County featuring the two candidates for Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair: Vince Todd and Herb Rubenstein. You might remember Rubenstein as the chap who ran a distant third in the CD-7 primary last August.


Are you wondering how to enjoy both the National Western Stock Show and MLK Day today? Well, wonder no more. The Martin Luther King Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo is being held tonight at 6:30 p.m.

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