High Noon: Frack task force fail, immigrant drivers licenses cont’d, net neutrality

Susan Greene: Good morning High Nooners. Greetings from Colo Indy HQ. Thank you Dan Haley and Jon Caldara for joining us this lunch hour. Are you locked and loaded?

Hick’s oil and gas task force (wouldn’t you love to be on a task force some day? it’s so much better than a committee, even a blue ribbon committee) has come out with its recommendations. What do you make of them? Will they go anywhere or nowhere?

Dan Haley: Loaded. It’s noon after all.

Jon Caldara: Are we finished yet. I want to go to lunch.

Mike Littwin: The governor thought they were great. The oil companies thought they were great. The fractivists are locked and loaded. The first initiative is already out. House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst has said we’ll probably have to go the initiative route. So, let’s get ready to rumble.

Caldara: The “task farce” was a brilliant move by Hick to get the anti-fracking initiatives off the ballot during his election. It will do little of anything meaningful, particularly in the local control issue. Get ready for more ballot issues.

Haley: There was much speculation that the task force wouldn’t be able to agree on anything, and instead they pushed forward nine recommendations. One of them, which would give local governments more control over where large operations are sited, is very substantive and likely would head off a lot of conflict. Did locals get approval to ban oil and gas? No. That was never a serious discussion.

Caldara: I¹d expect to see some local city initiatives in 2015, then a state-wide
one in 2016.

Haley: The fracktivists declared the task force a ruse and failure before it was even over. Not shocking but it shows they were never interested in compromise or collaboration.

Littwin: Jon, are you copyrighting that?

Caldara: “Task Farce” (c) 2015 Jon Caldara

Haley: I think Jon is right. The activists are popping up in key strategic areas, such as Arapahoe County. Did you see their scary maps last week?? (being sarcastic) They’re also popping up in Jeffco this week, where there is no oil and gas development but there are lots of swing voters.

Littwin: Dan, time to do your full disclosure. But the point is that local control is at the crux of the matter. Being informed early and all is nice, I guess, but not if it doesn’t give you any authority. Do we want more local control on this issue? I guess the voters will tell us. Personally, I think the oil and gas people are making a huge mistake. Colorado loves local control.

Haley: Speaking of Dickey Lee, who’s in charge of the Democratic party these days? Is it the governor? Or is it Dickey Lee?

Caldara: I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an anti-fracking initiative in Denver, where there is no fracking. Because this issue is all about substance.

Littwin: It’s an interesting theory. Obviously, they want the Denver metro to believe it’s part of the battleground. Here’s a question: Will it be part of the battleground?

Haley: Can you just include my full disclosure from earlier debates. (I’m a consultant for O&G interests.) But Mike, it depends on what your definition of local control is. If local control means you want to ban oil and gas development, well, the state constitution, and more than three court rulings say you can’t. So, the question becomes, how can you enhance the role of local governments? This helped do that.

Caldara: Was the governor every in charge of the Dem party? He signed a magazine ban he didn’t want. Ah… Leadership.

Littwin: Who’s in charge – Dickey Lee or the guv? I think Hickenlooper might be asking that question himself. Hick has decided to take on his own party on this issue, which is fine. I don’t think we need everything to be party line, which is much of what we’re seeing in this session.

Caldara: Putting an anti-fracking ballot question in Denver would be pure symbolism, as is most of the anti-fracking argument. So, seems fitting.

Littwin: Dan, that’s what the courts say now. But when the laws change — isn’t that the whole point of the initiatives? (And Dan, kidding on the full disclosure. You are the most honest man I know. Who works for oil.)

Jon, I think the issues will be statewide, allowing significantly more local control.

Haley: Denver has some oil and gas development, so it’s more than a symbolic vote, but yes, it’s symbolic because it’s a major city in the heart of large producing state. That oil and gas development, by the way, pumps millions into Denver’s coffers, as does the fact 35 percent of the downtown office space is filled by oil and gas interests.

Caldara: Hick “took on” his own party as a matter of political survival. The Polis initiatives would have dragged Hick under and made Beauprez governor.

Haley: Not to belabor the issue, but three cities banned fracking and the courts overturned all three.

Littwin: I dream of Gov. Beauprez. No, I really do. And then I wake up laughing.

Caldara: Mike, Dan is “the most honest man I know. Who works for oil”?? I thought we all work for oil. Or was that the Koch Brothers? I get confused.

Haley: Dickey Lee and the fracktivists push Hick into the middle, which still isn’t a bad place to be in Colorado politics.

Caldara: Segway to the great pro-TABOR ruling in Aurora against the corporate welfare pipe dream of Gaylord?

Haley: Leave Bob alone. Is he your new Tancredo? As the wickedly talented Adela Kazeem once sang: Let it go.

Littwin: Could I belabor back? Because the courts ruled they didn’t have authority. A new law could change that, right?

Haley: That’s not what they ruled. I’ll send you my power point later. :)

Littwin: Jon, you’re supposedly head of a think tank. Explain that ruling. (And let me say that I agree with you in principle. Not about TABOR, of course, but all about corporate welfare.)

Caldara: Judge ruled that Aurora’s subsidy scheme violated TABOR. The “vote” for the debt and tax package was a vote of only one person. A good ruling for TABOR, taxpayer’s and against cronies.

Greene: Let’s move on to a national oil and gas issue — Obama’s Keystone veto yesterday — and the shutdown that probably won’t be. It”s getting late early for the GOP Congress.

Caldara: I love how Obama tried to make the veto about the technical process, instead of saying he hates Keystone. The man of “yes we can” and “all of the above” energy has been studying the pipeline for 6 years. Again… ah, leadership.

Haley: Whoa, Obama wasted no time, did he? And his veto was over the process, not the pipeline. God forbid the legislative branch pass a law when an executive action could do. Although, he won’t do the executive action either.

Littwin: That’s because Obama doesn’t really care about Keystone, which puts him where nearly everyone else is on Keystone. It’s a silly thing to have been arguing about all this time. Talk about symbolism. This is symbolism gone wild. It’s only about the global warming argument, and this is just the proxy.

But Jon, I really would like to know what the Gaylord ruling means.

Now, we have it. Dan is the most honest man in oil. And Jon is the least wonky person in think tankery.

Caldara: Keystone is anything but symbolic. As we type on our computers made from petroleum and powered by energy, energy independence is here, if we only poke a hole in the ground in this continent.

Jon is the least thinky person in, um, something… What are we taking about? Damn. Good thing I’m pretty.

Haley: Keystone is interesting because this is not about a pipeline — which is cleaner and safer than trucking oil, etc — it’s about not extracting those fossil fuels. It’s about keeping oil in the ground. It’s a shift for the enviros and a pretty bold one.

Littwin: Oh, come on, Jon. The oil will get here regardless. I’m pretty sure, by the way, that Canada may be on the same continent, but it is still, as of this writing, a different country.

Haley: And I love the argument about, well, most of those jobs would be in Canada. Oh, Canada! Well, we wouldn’t want to benefit an ally and trading partner. What happened to let’s love the rest of the world?

Littwin: Dan, the oil will come up. Don’t worry…

One worlders, unite!! I thought that was my people.

Haley: Well, it’s coming, as an environmentalist, I would prefer that it come by pipeline because it’s safer and cleaner. (insert happy face emoticon)

Caldara: Mike you hate our military involvement in the middle east, where much of
our oil comes from. I’d rather get it from Canada, and Colorado.

Haley: It was your people, until we started talking about oil.

Greene: What we’re talking about, JC, is — drumroll — the next issue: the legislature. The House just passed money for immigrant drivers’ licenses and, in a not exactly related issue, money for IUD for teens. Assuming these bills get to the Senate, what do you expect the Senate to do?

Haley: Sorry Susan, we’re still on oil.

Greene: I understand. Business is business.

Caldara: The state house might pass funding for IUD’s. Dangerous things. I knew a
guy who had his leg blown off from an IUD in Iraq.

Littwin: Jon, you didn’t mention Mexico. Don’t go Tancredo on me (this was an inside joke, just for Haley).

Haley: Sweet. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve come to the tasteless joke portion of our debate. I still LOL’d though.

Caldara: Good point. Pipeline helps Mexico too. Damn that free trade.

Greene: Back on track, Nooners. Chop chop.

Caldara: Look! Something shiny…

Haley: Littwin has suffered from Tancredo Derangement Syndrome since about 2002.

Littwin: The drivers’ license thing is interesting. There were only 11 votes against the House. That’s what we call bipartisan. The question is whether the Democrats can get one Republican vote in the Senate. So far, that looks like a lost cause. A couple of those Republicans represent swingy districts. You can see where we’re headed here.

Caldara: At our debate on women’s issues Susan Greene said she was “enjoying her IUD.” Of course, I’m sure many people are enjoying her IUD. Question is do we have to pay for them?

If Tancredo and Beauprez could have a baby, imagine how happy Mike would be. And they can now. Right?

Tancredo: Dan, Tancredo once said about me that reading my work was like swimming in sewage. I asked him where he did the research for that.

Haley: Congress.

Greene: But you digress Jon. And — like so many non-journalists purporting to practice journalism — are using that quote out of context.

Littwin: Yes, I’m pretty sure with the new court rulings that Tancredo and Beauprez are required to have a baby. Right?

Caldara: Two points, Haley!

Hell, if we can require them to buy insurance they don’t want…

Greene: There are five bonus points for anyone who can explain Net Neutrality…

Haley: Never really sure where these little discussions are going to take us. Never dreamed it would be to a Tancredo-Beauprez baby.

Caldara: Susan, I’ve been waiting to use that joke since I saw the recording of the debate! Don’t step on my moment.

Haley: Not sure. But I heard the term “Obamanet” the other day. That was disconcerting.

Caldara: Hey They don’t have to get married. Just a love child. (Now how Do I turn this back to an IUD joke??)

Littwin: I’m with Jon. Jokes always win.

Now, onto net neutrality. There are five bonus points if anyone can explain it.

I’ll begin.

Mike Littwin, University of Virginia … passes.

Haley: Can we move on to the Oscars now? I’m concerned about wage equality. Since I’m not getting paid to do this. And I am a man.

Caldara: You’re not getting paid? Dude. Sorry.

Haley: Worse. I’m getting 76 percent of your pay.

Caldara: Net neutrality is a way that the federal government tells private companies how to price their products.

Littwin: That’s the libertarian position. I thought net neutrality didn’t allow cable companies to own the Internet. But that’s the lefty position.

Caldara: Yes. That’s the lefty position people and companies shouldn’t be able to own what they own. Companies own there own “pipes.” So let’s nationalize them?

Littwin: I believe very strongly in paycheck equality, except any place I happen work, in which I believe in paycheck equality, but with at least one exception.

Haley: If George Soros is throwing $200 million at it, I think it’s a bad idea. Whatever it is. (I may have just crafted the Republican position on this thing.) You’re welcome.

Littwin: Not sure how net neutrality got to be about nationalization. I guess in the same way Keystone came to be about not drilling for oil.

Where’s Michael Bloomberg? I thought he had replaced Soros as the villain. The funny thing about Bloomberg, of course, is that he’s about as lefty as Jeb Bush.

Before we go, I want to mention my favorite Oscar moment, which was, of course, Sean Penn and the green card line. Isn’t the green card so pre-Obama executive order?

Caldara: What is it about the left? Why can’t you stop messing with other people’s stuff? (The choreographed response here is to say how some social-con wants to mess with your marriage or body.)

Haley: What?? Pass the legal pot, Littwin.

Did Sean Penn get a pass, cause he’s a lefty and we all know what’s in his heart?

Caldara: I missed the Oscar¹s. Thought I could get the same experience watching my 12-year-old talk about herself for four and a half hours. That way I could call it parenting.

Littwin: In which Caldara debates himself. Look, this is about huge companies debating huge companies. Some of the huge companies are on the side of the consumers. It’s a pretty easy decision unless you work for Comcast. (Dan, do you work for Comcast?)

Haley: Not yet. *fingers crossed*

Haley: My favorite part of the Oscars was the kid who gives the moving speech about being who you are, and not worrying about being weird, and how he was depressed in high school, and everyone applauded him as gay man speaking out … except he’s not gay. Oops.

Caldara: Wait. What? Littwin did you just say there are huge companies that are on the side of consumers? Isn’t that sacrilege in your religion?

Caldara: Can we end this before Littwin make the case for multi-nationals’ sweatshops.

Greene: Well, that was, as promised, a “loaded” High Noon. You covered a lot of ground. Thanks Dan, Jon and Mike, and thanks to our readers for sharing your lunch hour with us (if you’re reading this live). It’s time to wrap up, which brings me to our weekly musical selection — “Quitting Time” by the Roches, a New Jersey group that was one of my late-Cold-War favorites. If I ruled the world, The Roches would still be a household name. But I don’t, and we’re out of time. Until next Wednesday, goodbye to you all from Colo Indy HQ.

Caldara: The roches? Three sisters right? I did stage lights for them.

Greene: Yep. Love them. Free, taxpayer-funded IUDs for them all!!!


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litwin hnMike Littwin has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. A rapier wit.


dan haley Dan Haley is vice president of communications at EIS Solutions, a Colorado public relations firm and was Editorial Page Editor at the Denver Post, after being an editorial writer, assistant city editor and news reporter.


jon caldara Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, Colorado’s free-market think tank in Denver. He is a radio and TV host and one of the state’s favorite provocateurs.


sgreeneSusan Greene is moderator today. She is a longtime Colorado journalist, a former Denver Post columnist and the editor of the Colorado Independent.

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.


  1. To date, Colorado court cases on oil/gas drilling, development, and production have focused on who should have the power to tell whom to do what. If the issue is protection of the public, laws and regulations already exist – the laws and regulation governing the practice and profession of engineering. I am not an expert on oil/gas drilling, development or production, but my research to date indicates most of the problems with such are the result of casing and cementing failures (poor design and construction?). While following the laws and regulations concerning engineering work will not eliminate all of the problems they could go a long way to solving many of them.

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