The Academy Award nominees have been announced, and the big upset is this: We’ve actually seen some of the movies up for Best Picture. On to the Gravy…
Republicans and Democrats are battling it out in the state legislature over a bill about the electoral college. As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports, there was plenty of blustering to be, um, blustered yesterday:
A partisan battle over how Colorado counts its votes for president broke out in the Senate Monday with a Democrat accusing his leading Republican critic of distorting the truth about the bill.
Senate Bill 46 would put Colorado in an interstate agreement to elect the president by popular vote, instead of the electoral system currently in place.
The Senate gave initial approval to the measure; a formal vote is scheduled for Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said the current system is antiquated and causes presidential candidates to target only a handful of states.
But Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, called Gordon’s proposal a “sneaky, backdoor” way to change the voting process, a “Utopian scheme” and “end-run” around the U.S. Constitution. And Mitchell questioned why Gordon would bring back a measure similar to one voters rejected in 2004.
Gordon disputed the notion that his bill is the same as the ballot measure. “Senator Mitchell,” Gordon fumed, “you’re wrong on every single count, and usually you do a better job arguing against bills here.”
Today is the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and to mark the occasion NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado is holding a Noon rally at the State Capitol and a public education forum. For more information, visit www.prochoicecolorado.org.
President Bush will deliver his State of the Union speech tonight as the most unpopular sitting President since Richard Nixon. As The Washington Post reports, his audience in Congress will be less than friendly, as well:
President Bush plans to reach out to the opposition in his State of the Union address tonight with new and recycled proposals on health care, energy, immigration and education, but the uproar over his decision to send more U.S. troops to Iraq has eclipsed potential consensus on domestic policy.
As he addresses a Congress controlled entirely by Democrats for the first time since he took office, Bush faces deep skepticism inside the chamber, even within the House Republican leadership, which yesterday made proposals intended “to hold the Bush administration . . . accountable” for the progress of his latest Iraq plan.
The doubt on Capitol Hill reflects the continuing erosion of Bush’s public support across the country. His approval rating is at the lowest level of his presidency, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, and only twice in the past six decades has a president delivered his annual speech to the nation in a weaker condition in the polls — Harry S. Truman in the midst of the Korean War in 1952 and Richard M. Nixon in the throes of Watergate in 1974.
For the first time, majorities of Americans say Bush cannot be trusted in a crisis, has not made the country safer and should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq to avoid further casualties rather than leave them until civil order is restored. And, in a sign of intensifying opposition, a majority — 51 percent — for the first time expressed strong disapproval of Bush’s performance, compared with 17 percent who strongly approved.
“The world changed significantly on Election Day, and the only people who were surprised were them,” GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said of Bush and his aides. Now, he added, “they’ve backed themselves into a tough corner, and the problem is his continued insistence for the troop increase, which flies in the face of what 70 percent of Americans want, makes him look . . . like [he’s saying], ‘I’ll listen to you, but I’ll do what I want anyway.’ “
So, in other words, things should go well tonight.
Bush is expected to ask Congress to continue with his education program paradoxically dubbed “No Child Left Behind.” In Colorado, the program has been about as popular as a bee sting, as Allison Sherry of The Denver Post reports:
Colorado teachers, principals and administrators overwhelmingly say the federal education law No Child Left Behind is unrealistic and underfunded, according to a survey conducted by U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s office.
Almost all of those who responded to the survey – sent to all Colorado school districts as well as a handful of parent advocacy organizations and administrators – said the law’s goal of all students reaching 100 percent proficiency by the 2013-14 school year was not achievable.
Teachers also said they favor charting student academic growth over time, versus the law’s comparison of the same grade levels year after year.
Roughly 2,000 people responded to the survey, sent out last summer, incuding 1,600 teachers, 119 principals and 117 parents.
Colorado Confidential’s Kerri Rebresh reports that the Denver Election Commission didn’t coordinate its mailings with the post office in advance of an all-mail ballot special election:
The Denver Election Commission failed to coordinate with the U.S. Postal Service when it mailed ballots for the Jan. 30 special election, USPS district manager Dean Granholm said Monday in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Coffman.
Granholm said the DEC’s lack of compliance with USPS guidelines resulted in address problems, added work for postal employees and an extra $22,500 in costs for the city. The DEC’s blunders in the Nov. 7 election resulted in the current special election being called. Voters are being asked if the DEC should be replaced by a clerk and recorder.
An all-mail election demands that the Postal Service and election offices work together, but officials in Denver would not cooperate, Granholm said.
“Unfortunately, Denver City and County did not provide communication needed to achieve success,” the letter said. “They did not send any information regarding the date of the election, volume of the mailing, the design of the absentee ballot envelopes, the final packet, or the actual date of mailing until it was too late to make any needed changes.”
It would be hard to be more inept than the Denver Election Commission if you were trying to screw up on purpose. It really would.
Republicans in the state legislature are continuing their strategy of proposing bills that have no hope of passage in order to force Democrats to vote them down. As the Rocky Mountain News reports:
Two Republican lawmakers announced Monday that they will sponsor legislation to ban abortion in Colorado, except in cases where the life of the mother is in question.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said their bill will be similar to the abortion ban passed by the South Dakota Legislature in 2005. A key difference is that Democrats control the legislature in Colorado, and for that reason the bill is not expected to pass.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican legislators! Working hard to introduce legislation that will never pass!
Meanwhile, The Denver Post has a quick rundown of some of the things that the Democratic-controlled legislature did get done yesterday:
The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill (House Bill 1001) to implement Amendment 42, which raises the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, adjusted annually for inflation.
The House gave initial approval to a measure (House Bill 1005) that adds people with disabilities to the Amber Alert missing-person program after families testified that the first few hours are critical in tracking down a missing person.
The full Senate backed a proposal (Senate Bill 26) to allow school districts to seek property tax increases for full-day kindergarten. The measure now heads to the House.
The full Senate backed a measure (Senate Bill 20) listing the qualifications for the state education commissioner and requiring an annual evaluation, taking into account the comments of school superintendents. The measure now moves to the House.
The full Senate gave initial backing to a proposal (Senate Bill 47) that would bar the use of video-lottery terminals unless their use is approved by voters. The measure must pass another vote in the Senate to move ahead.
Colorado Confidential was in the Rocky Mountain News today, courtesy of intrepid CoCo reporter Cara DeGette. The News ran an item based on DeGette’s story that angry activists have commandeered several Web sites with URLs like DenverDNC.org. As DeGette reported yesterday:
Terming it a “lack of foresight” on the part of the Democrats, a group of Colorado activists have snagged a half-dozen 2008 Democratic National Convention related Web domain names – and secured another bundle of sites designed to help protesters organize long before descending en masse on the Mile High City.
Anyone who clicks on DenverDNC.org, or 2008DenverDNC.org, or multiple other related web sites will automatically be rerouted to Recreate68.org, a “Virtual Activists’ Convergence Center” designed for “people who are tired of being sold out by the Democratic Party.”