Political Gravy is No More

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You probably know more about the Roan Plateau after the last month than you ever knew before. I know a LOT more, particularly since I didn’t know there was such a thing in Colorado. Anyway, Sen. Ken Salazar is vowing a Roan showdown, as Todd Hartman of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar will block confirmation of President Bush’s nominee to run the federal Bureau of Land Management if the agency doesn’t give Colorado more time to review BLM plans for drilling atop the Roan Plateau.

“I’m doing it because of the fact the Department of the Interior and BLM have not been responsive in not allowing at least 120 days for Gov. (Bill) Ritter and others to review the Roan management plan,” Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, said during a telephone news conference Thursday.

Salazar’s move to block James Caswell’s nomination to lead the BLM comes a day after political maneuvers in the House killed an effort by two Colorado congressmen – Democrats Mark Udall and John Salazar – to deny funds to the BLM in 2008 for use in leasing lands on the plateau for oil and gas drilling.

Udall and John Salazar issued a joint statement blaming the Bush administration for “strong-arm” tactics in attaching a “highly speculative” cost estimate to their amendment, leading to its demise Wednesday.

The Roan Plateau, which reaches 9,000 feet in northwestern Colorado, has become a political flash point, with industry and business interests eager to reach its massive stores of natural gas. But environmentalists, hunters and other recreationists are wary of the impact on a region prized for its wildlife and scenery.


The Supreme Court is moving further to the right, as The Washington Post explains:

The Supreme Court’s decision overturning school desegregation policies in two U.S. cities yesterday culminates a fractious term in which the new Roberts court moved the law significantly to the right, legal analysts said.

In a series of 5 to 4 decisions this term, the court also upheld a federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure and gutted a key provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Along with yesterday’s schools case, each of these decisions left open the possibility of more change in areas of the law on which the court had seemingly ruled definitively within the past decade.

“Conservatives got everything they could reasonably have hoped for out of the term,” said Thomas C. Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in Supreme Court litigation. “The table is set, particularly if there are more changes in the court, for wholesale changes in constitutional law. There were some incremental steps, but they were in a distinct direction and a uniform direction.”

That may be so, but I didn’t see any landmark decision in the Anna Nicole Smith case. So there.


The saga of the so-called “Denver Three” continues, and now it comes with another – SHOCKING! – revelation that the Bush Administration really doesn’t want anything to do with people who don’t agree with them. As Ann Imse of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Two people ejected from a Bush speech in Denver over a bumper sticker have filed a second lawsuit, claiming a White House manual unlawfully bars potential critics of the president from public events.

The Presidential Advance Manual calls for Bush volunteers to distribute tickets in a manner to deter protesters and to stop demonstrators from entering. It also calls for “rally squads” to drown out demonstrators and get between them and news cameras. The manual was obtained through a deposition in a West Virginia case.

The new lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C., by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Leslie Weise and Alexander Young in Denver, and two people arrested at a presidential event in West Virginia because they were wearing anti-Bush T-shirts.

The lawsuit is aimed at Gregory Jenkins, a former deputy assistant to President Bush and White House director of advance, who ordered the four removed.
The combination of the manual and the exclusion of people who had not disrupted events “suggests there is a formal, official policy of trying to keep hidden from the press and the president anyone who disagrees with the president,” said ACLU attorney Chris Hansen.

Hansen is arguing that people can be ejected from official presidential events “only upon disruption,” and not because of their viewpoints. He wants a federal judge to declare unconstitutional the policy of excluding people from presidential events due to their viewpoints or on the assumption they will become disruptive.

In other words, it is official White House policy that you don’t get to see the President unless you agree with him. I guess that keeps things simple and easy to manage. There are only about 30 people on that list anymore.


Democrats held another Presidential debate last night at Howard University, and I helped live-blog the event for the Rocky Mountain News blog “Back Roads to the White House”.

My impressions? Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Christopher Dodd did well. Barack Obama bombed, and Mike Gravel is every American’s weird, crazy great-uncle.

The Washington Post offered their take on the debate as well:

The forum at Howard University seemed to be a guaranteed fit for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the only black candidate in the race. He repeatedly discussed racial disparity, education and AIDS and used his unique status to call for greater responsibility from African Americans, one of his frequent themes. But the audience largely embraced the other seven Democrats on stage as well, applauding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) when she called for a greater focus on AIDS research and cheering Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) when he called for an end to the Iraq war.


Colorado needs more money to pay for roads. Either that, or we need more flying cars.

As Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Colorado could face its largest tax increase in history if state officials choose to ask voters in 2008 for new revenues to meet future transportation needs, Colorado Department of Transportation Director Russell George said Thursday. George, whose comments came at the 85th annual Colorado Municipal League conference, told a group of more than 170 local government leaders that the state’s projected needs are “mind boggling.”

George said by 2030, just to maintain the current level of road and bridge quality, the state is projected to face a shortfall of $59 billion. If Colorado were to get everything the state wants in terms of new or improved transportation infrastructure, George said the state is projected to face a $103 billion shortfall.

“Somewhere in the recent past, maybe for the first time … we cannot see how we can keep doing what we’re doing,” George said of funding the state’s needs.
George said solely fulfilling those needs through a new, voter-approved tax or fee increase, would be the largest of its kind in the state’s history.

“If we accept these large numbers of need over the next, say, 20 or 30 years, those numbers are very large,” George said. “And if the public chose to do that (approve a ballot measure to fund transportation), it would result in a significant tax.”

“The budget challenge, as Russ stated it, cannot be overstated,” Colorado Transportation Commissioner Doug Aden said.

Aden, who also addressed municipal leaders, said Colorado is facing a “really dark cloud on the horizon.”
Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who spoke alongside Aden and George, said the state needs to look into new revenue streams because the gas tax is falling short. Kennedy said because of pushes for more fuel-efficient vehicles, moves to phase out gasoline and the failure of the Legislature to periodically update the gas tax, that traditional transportation revenue source is drying up.

Republicans responded with more cries about “tax and spend Democrats” before someone finally reminded them that George is actually a Republican. D’oh!


Speaking of money, the Democratic National Committee could use some, as Chuck Plunkett of The Denver Post reports:

Nearly a month after missing its first fundraising milestone, the Denver committee hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention remains $1.5 million short, a source close to the committee said Thursday.

Denver’s host committee has banked only $500,000 more since June 1, when donors had sent in checks totaling $5.5 million, the source said.

The committee’s contract with the Democratic Party required that it have $7.5 million by that date.
Officials at the host committee and at the Democratic National Convention Committee had no comment on the shortfall.

The convention contract sets a series of four deadlines for cash deposits into a bank account that ultimately calls for $40.6 million by next summer. The contract calls for another $15 million in donated goods and services.

The convention is set for Aug. 25-28 next year, and observers have said that money can be difficult to raise this far out, when even those corporations and individuals who are willing to donate usually have budget constraints that prevent immediate cash deposits.

There are many donors, for example, who pledged immediate support but who have no plans for depositing actual cash until next year.

“This is by far the toughest money to raise, because it’s so early,” said Chris Gates, a member of the Denver host committee, in an interview last month. Gates, the Colorado party chair during the 2004 convention in Boston, is a veteran of several Democratic conventions.

Don’t look at me. I gave at the, um, office.


Democratic State Rep. Paul Weissmann is considering joining the field of prospective candidates for Boulder County Commissioner, as John Fryar of The Longmont Daily Times Call Gazette Journal Post reports:

Louisville City Councilman Don Brown has dropped out of the contest for a vacant Boulder County commissioner’s seat, but veteran state lawmaker Paul Weissmann is considering joining the field of prospective candidates…

…As many as six other eastern Boulder County Democrats, though, are still courting their county party’s vacancy committee members for support and votes next Monday night, when that panel meets to fill the seat opened by County Commissioner Tom Mayer’s death Friday.

State Rep. Weissmann said in a Tuesday night e-mail that he’d talk with his wife about the possibility of adding his name to that list as he drives back to Louisville from their ninth wedding anniversary vacation to North Dakota and Montana.

“I am very familiar with the area that Tom focused on while a commissioner, human services,” Weissmann wrote. “My legislative experience in that area helps.”
Weissmann said he’ll probably have made a decision by today about whether to seek the Boulder County Democratic Party vacancy committee’s appointment.

Weissman is such a romantic – a wedding anniversary vacation in North Dakota?


Well, that’s it for today’s Political Gravy. And that’s it for my role in Political Gravy in general. It’s been fun after nearly a year of these daily rundowns, but it’s time for me to blog off into the sunset. I’ll still be lingering around the Internet tubes, but I won’t be here at Colorado Confidential after today.

So thanks, dear friends, for a good ride. Read you later.

By the way, you can  see me this Sunday on 9News’ “Your Show”, which airs at 6:00 p.m. on Channel 20. I’ll be talking with host Adam Schrager and Republican Brad Jones about the Internet’s effect on politics.

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